In the midst of a political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe that made it difficult to access food locally, former Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) representative Esther Tchando turned to the bread recipes in the cookbook, More-with-Less.
“That bread was so precious because you couldn’t even find it on the shelf. I was able to share … bread with people who really appreciated it because it was something no one can find,” she said about the scarce years of 2007 to 2009. Her children also took bread to share with children at school, she said. “The empty stomach doesn't have ear to listen.”
To get supplies for MCC to distribute, Tchando recalls waiting in line for hours to cross the border into Botswana or South Africa. In the process, she was able to get ingredients for bread.
MCC photo/Lynn Longenecker
Tchando, who currently manages a Ten Thousand Villages store in Oakville, Ont., said she also used the cookbook while she and her husband, Marcellin Danhoundo, served with MCC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The family, originally from the country of Benin, now lives in Hamilton, Ont., where Tchando likes to cook "Coconut Rice" from the cookbook.
“Working with MCC and using More-with-Less has taught me to live simply but also to share. Where you are serving, people are in need. Whatever you have, you share with other people.”
The new 40th anniversary edition, More-with-Less: Timeless recipes and inspiration for simple, joyful eating is available for sharing and for use this holiday season. Released recently by MCC and publisher Herald Press, the book benefits MCC’s relief, development and peacebuilding work around the world.
The updated classic, originally written in 1976 by MCCer Doris Janzen Longacre, has healthy, wholesome recipes, cooking tips and commentary on living with less that users of the cookbook have come to know and love.
Updated by award-winning food writer Rachel Marie Stone, the new book has colorful photos, new recipes and labels to identify gluten-free and vegetarian dishes.
Although the principal benefit to MCC is the funding the book generates to help people around the world, other MCC workers, in addition to Tchando, have found the cookbook to be useful in their own cooking too.
Paul Shetler Fast and his wife, Rebecca, MCC representatives in Haiti, love to cook together. Living in a country where access to certain foods can be challenging has shown them how valuable a cookbook like More-with-Less is.
Photo courtesy of the Shetler Fasts
The Shetler Fasts are from Pittsburgh and write a food blog, The Hungry Hounds, which highlights the simple, tasty foods they are making in Haiti.
“Moving to Haiti has taught us again the value and necessity of working with what you have and maximizing the value of what can be found locally. In a context where butter costs $12 a pound, it’s nice to have a cookbook that gives you other options,” Paul Shetler Fast said, referring to a page of substitutions. “When you need to substitute 'basics' like buttermilk or baking powder, it’s nice to have a trusted source that can walk you through making that happen.”
Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi is an MCC area director for Southeast Asia, with her husband Dan. The Jantzis are from Lowville, N.Y. Currently they live in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but they also have served in Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. She has used More-with-Less since it was released 40 years ago.
MCC photo/Dan Jantzi
Over the years, she has hosted many international guests. Often she’s used an idea in More-with-Less to serve leftover food along with one new dish to keep from wasting food.
“If you’ve been hosting guests for a while and you’re still hosting, you’ve accumulated a lot of leftovers. You put it all out and then add one new thing. I’ve done that so many times,” she said.
For Jantzi, More-with-Less is a way of living. “It’s a cookbook that’s more than a cookbook. It’s a lifestyle. It’s something you can’t get just by looking up individual recipes online. It’s a whole package of looking at food and faithfulness,” she said.