By Kevin Williams
CAPTION: Spellbinder cookies cooling in an Amish home.
“Spellbinder Cookies” are popular as a carry-in cookie to Amish church services, but the origin of the name is unclear.
By the way, a side note, speaking of spellbinding, you can get some spellingbinding photos in Amish country, but you want to be respectful. Here is my advice:
Over 20 years ago when I first start studying and spending time with the Amish there was one main rule outsiders had to embrace: whatever you do, do NOT photograph them. I even heard stories about some Amish who had angrily grabbed the cameras of outsiders and run over them with their buggy. Sheesh, that made me think twice about taking out my point-and-shoot camera that I got free with my Time Magazine subscription. You know, the kind of camera that actually took old film that used to be sold in rolls? Remember Time Magazine?
I’m not sure if any cameras were ever actually run over by buggies, it could have been a “rural legend.” But clearly most Amish were very opposed to photography. Today, it’s more complicated. Not all Amish interpret Exodus as constituting a prohibition on photographs. To be sure many Old Order Amish and Mennonites still very much object to being photographed. Others, however, say “well, if you catch us in a documentary type photograph….it’s okay, just as long as we aren’t posing.” If they are out baling hay, for instance, or putting up a barn. The posing is viewed as vain or frivolous and perhaps a more blatant violation of Exodus. And still other Amish have no qualms about being photographed, they just don’t want to be photographed for fear of being ostracized by others who don’t feel the same way. So where does this leave the visitor to Amish country?
My advice remains: don’t photograph them and that is based more on common courtesy than theology. Would you want someone photographing you out hanging wash? Or your children playing? The answer is probably – if you are like me – no. Now, I do think it is perfectly permissible to ask if it’s okay to get a photo if you already have a rapport with an Amish friend. I just think sometimes even asking puts pressure on an Amish person. So follow the “golden rule” and use your own judgment and I think you’ll be fine. Personally, I think photographing a buggy from behind is probably okay.
A blogger on another website said of the cookies:
These cookies truly are spellbinding. They are good on their own, but once you add the icing, they are simply amazing!
4 cups brown sugar
4 cups shortening
4 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoon baking soda
6 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups oatmeal
4 cups coconut (optional)
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
6 cups flour
Add to the first mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour or leave set overnight. Then form balls and roll n crushed cornflakes. Press cookie down. Bake at 400 for 10 – 12 minutes.
1 /2 cup margarine
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons hot water
4 teaspoons vanilla
Cool cookies and then add the warm glaze.
Note: I added 1 cup crushed Corn Flakes to the cookie dough instead of rolling the balls in it.