I have recently moved to a part of Morgan County that puts me within a 10-minute drive of two unique businesses — one a bakery/deli/grocery store and the other a buffet restaurant open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Both are owned by Mennonite families, and both are very popular in this part of the county. People even detour off of I-65 to find them.
For me, it was a short drive down to the end of Barkley Bridge Road to Lebanon Baptist Church. I turned right onto Highway 55 and was immediately greeted by signs at mailboxes saying things like “Repent and turn back to God” and “Keep Yourself Pure.” It was as if I’d entered a different world, a less “worldly” world.
I continued to McKendree Methodist Church. To turn left, means you’re a short distance from Dutch Oven Bakery, Home of Anna Mary’s Cakes on Evergreen Road, and a right turn will lead you to The Old Cookstove on Reeder Road.
If there are smells in heaven, I imagine cinnamon and rising yeast bread will be two of them. Oh my! In the front door of Dutch Oven Bakery, you will immediately encounter a newly-added deli station offering sandwiches and salads. To the left are shelves of freshly-baked breads and gourmet coffees, and through the opening, you can see more bakers hard at work in a spotlessly clean area. If you turn right, you will find a large selection of baked and canned goods, candies, jams, pickles and spices. All made by the Mennonites and their Amish associates. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and I promise it’s worth the trip.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between Mennonites and Amish, especially when you notice the white caps of the women and their simple, traditional skirts and blouses. From what I’ve read, Amish people hold to the old beliefs and live without electricity or motorized vehicles, while the Mennonites have found those conveniences to be a useful part of their livelihoods and homes. Both believe in simple living and in salvation through Jesus Christ. I find no fault in either of those things, do you? I really liked seeing Bible verses on many of the products. What a delicious way to share God’s Word.
Here’s a look at the items that ended up back in my kitchen. You’ll probably notice the scales tipped in favor of sweets.
On the buffet you can expect to find anywhere from 6 to 10 different meats and 15-20 different vegetables, in addition to a salad bar. All kinds of homemade desserts are ready and waiting (go early for the best selection!), with homemade ice cream probably heading the line-up. Friday nights feature a seafood buffet. Children ages 1-4 are free, ages 5-7 are $5.00 each, ages 8-11 are $7.00 each, and everyone 12 and over will pay $12.95.
The motto at The Old Cookstove is “Delicious Home Cooking in a Delightful Rustic Home,” and I believe that paints a true picture. It is not a hip, trendy kind of place in any sense of the word. They even sell quilts, candles and assorted jams and pickles.
A church busload of senior adults was just finishing supper when we arrived. We could see why it would be popular with that age group. It was cooking very much like my grandmother used to do.