Beginning a new year and a new decade

A new year, a new decade lies before us. What does it hold for us? Only God knows. A new year always seems like a fresh start or new beginning to break some old habits or make new resolutions. It doesn’t take a new year to start fresh, though. Our God is such a great help and we have much to thank him for during this past year.

Baby Allison is 12 days old today. She is back to her birth weight now, 6 pounds and 1 ounce. She went down to 5 pounds and 10 ounces. She is doing good but daughter Elizabeth is still a little anemic and feeling as well as can be expected.

Daughter Lovina is helping daughter Elizabeth and Tim with household duties this week. Little T.J. is a busy body and keeps them on their feet.

Daughters Verena and Lovina were staying with them last week, assisting them with their work and children. Last Thursday I also spent the day there, helping out with the work and spoiling the grandbabies.

Last week we washed their bedding and, since it was a nice sunshiny day in the upper 40’s, I hung the quilts and sheets out on the line to dry and then put them back on their beds. Daughter Susan and children also came in the afternoon. With five children age three and under, it takes a lot of care with the little ones but is so much fun.

Sunday, our family and Mose, Susan, and children went to Tim and Elizabeth’s house and took in dinner. We had barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, lettuce salad, blueberry pie, and jello cake. Sisters Verena and Susan also came and stayed to eat dinner with us.

Monday, January 6 was Old Christmas (Epiphany), a holiday that the Amish in this community honor. Those that gathered at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house for the noon meal were brother Albert, Sarah Irene, and their children Leanna, Andrew, Susan, and Sylvia; sister Emma, Jacob, and their sons Jacob Jr., Benjamin, and Steven; niece Elizabeth and Manuel; niece Emma, Menno, and Jessica; Mose, Susan, Jennifer, and Ryan; my husband Joe and I and children Verena, Benjamin, Loretta, Joseph, Lovina, and Kevin, and Loretta’s special friend Dustin.

With everyone bringing food, we had a good dinner. On the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, meatballs, corn, potato salad, cheese, hot peppers, bread, butter, jelly, a variety of pies, peach dessert, brownies, cookies, etc. A variety of snacks were also set out, such as party mix, deer jerky, Christmas candy, etc.

The afternoon was spent playing games. Brother Albert, brother-in-law Jacob, and my husband Joe teamed up against their wives in Aggravation. The game’s name proved true for the women’s team. We lost almost every game, but it still was fun! Other Aggravation games were also being played, as well as Ten Thousand with dice. The house was a bit noisy from all the games being played in the same room. The Aggravation boards were made by nephew Jacob. He makes them to earn money, as he is limited in what he can do by his muscular dystrophy. He still has both legs/feet in casts up to his knees. He seems to be doing okay with the surgery so far. He will need lots of therapy after he’s out of the casts.

Daughter Verena has been going to the eye doctor about a scratch on her cornea that flared up. She has already made two trips to the eye doctor and needs to go back again tomorrow to have the contact lens that the doctor put in removed. They want to check if it’s doing better. Our eye doctor in town has several locations and wasn’t in the office nearby so Verena needs to go to the other office, 25 miles away. It sure isn’t cheap with all the trips, but it’s worth taking care of it. She was so miserable and had lots of pain since Monday morning.

Until next week—God bless!

 

Brownies

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick margarine
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Frosting:

1 stick margarine, melted
4 teaspoons cocoa
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons milk

Mix sugar, flour, and salt; set aside. Bring to a boil the margarine, cocoa, water, and shortening and pour it over the sugar, flour and salt mixture. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, soda, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour into a greased cookie sheet pan with edges. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Frosting: Mix the frosting ingredients well and pour over brownies while hot.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Welcoming the new year and a new granddaughter

This is the final day of 2019. A new year lies before us. What does it hold in store for you and me? Only God knows the answer. May He be our guide as we enter the new year in 2020. He has bestowed so many blessings upon us. Let us be forever thankful!

We awoke this morning to a world of white. The ground is covered in snow and it is still snowing and blowing outside. After some mild weather during the Christmas holiday, we are now getting some real winter weather. We had days with temperatures in the 60s, but we like winter weather when it’s winter. We cannot control the weather, so we accept what we are given.

Now I must announce the birth of our fifth grandchild. Allison Lovina was welcomed to our world with much love. She was born to daughter Elizabeth and Tim, weighing 6 pounds 1 ounce, 18 1/2 inches long, on December 27, 2019 at 1:16 p.m. Daughter Elizabeth had preeclampsia, so a C-section was scheduled three weeks earlier to prevent complications. We are thankful mother and baby are doing fine. This brought us much more excitement the week of Christmas than we expected. She’s a precious little sweetie and has won our hearts already. She joins Abigail Elizabeth, 3, and Timothy Josiah, 1. Of course Abigail already rocks her and sings to her. T.J. on the other hand isn’t too happy to share Allison with his mommy.

Abigail and T.J. stayed here for a few days while Tim and Elizabeth were at the hospital. I went up with them to be there when the baby was born. Tim and I enjoyed the newborn while Elizabeth recovered from surgery. Later my husband Joe and daughters Verena and Lovina brought the children to the hospital to meet their little sister. I went back home with them afterward. The children did pretty good staying with us, although nighttime was a little hard for T.J. He is a busybody and likes to wake up early. He discovers everything and tries to climb on anything he can. He would tell me he wants to eat and would point at the highchair. So sweet!

Daughters Verena and Lovina are helping out with the children and household duties at Tim and Elizabeth’s house. I am sure the children are getting plenty of care and hugs from their aunts. Tim is off work this week so it’s a nice time to enjoy the new addition to their home.

When baby Allison was discharged, she weighed 5 pounds 11 ounces, but the doctor said it’s normal for babies to lose a little weight after birth. Today Tim and Elizabeth took baby Allison to their pediatrician for a checkup.

The day after Christmas was a full day cutting up our beef. By the end of the day the meat was ground into hamburger and almost 400 hamburger patties were made, bagged, and frozen. Steaks were also sliced, bagged, and frozen. Mose and Susan were given a vacuum sealer for Christmas, so we put that to use. We feel so thankful that we could fill the freezer for the year ahead. My husband Joe used the new dehydrator he got for his birthday and has made lots of deer jerky already.

Our Christmas Day was spent at home. Mose and Susan and children and Loretta’s special friend Dustin were our supper guests. Before supper the girls and I and Jennifer and Ryan walked over to my sisters Verena and Susan’s house for a while to wish them a Merry Christmas. It was a nice spring-like day, so unlike other years at Christmas. The new year looks like it will start cold and snowy.

Happy 2020 to all and God bless!

 

Simple One Dish Meal

2 pounds ground beef
4–6 cups potatoes, diced
1–2 quarts corn
1 tablespoon salt
seasoning to taste

Brown ground beef in a large skillet and remove to a separate bowl. Add potatoes and 1/2 cup water to the skillet and cover. Cook until potatoes are slightly tender. Add browned ground beef, corn, and salt. Season to taste.

Optional: add any variation of garlic, onion, peppers, black beans, sweet potatoes, buttercup or butternut squash, cubed.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

Gift exchange, games, and food highlight the Eicher family’s Christmas gathering

 Christmas Day is tomorrow. Son Joseph just left for work and the rest of the family is still sleeping. Our family Christmas is over for this year. We will still get together with my sisters for a Christmas gift exchange and meal. This year it will be at sister Emma and Jacob’s house.

Saturday my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, and Loretta’s special friend Dustin butchered a beef we raised for meat. We raise a few calves so that we have our own beef to butcher. A correction to one of my recent columns: we raise steers to butcher, not cows. (Every writer needs to grin-and-bear-it at times when words get changed in their writing making a different meaning.) A cow is a heifer that has had a calf and we think the meat from a steer is better for steaks. We never butcher a cow.

The big beef is hanging in our pole barn reminding us how much work lies ahead this week yet. Our plans are to start working on that Thursday and Friday. It will be nice to fill the freezer and canning jars with meat.

The dining table is set and ready for the Eicher family’s breakfast the morning of their Christmas gathering. Everyone spent the night at Joe and Lovina’s and began their day of celebration eating breakfast together around the family table. Photo provided.

Our family had a nice Christmas gathering on Sunday. We set the table for all of us. We are 17 now but one-year-old T.J. sits in the highchair and Ryan doesn’t eat table food yet. We had a breakfast casserole that we made the night before and put it in the oven so it was ready to eat when everyone woke up. Also on the menu were homemade bread, butter and jelly, cheese, hot peppers, donuts and cookies, chocolate milk, orange juice, and coffee. It is nice to have something easy so we don’t spend our time together making food. Joe put a turkey on the grill so it would be ready to eat later on. After dishes were washed, we passed out gifts. The children exchanged names so it was interesting to see who had each other’s names. It was also Joe’s birthday so he received nice birthday/Christmas gifts. It is always fun to see the excitement of the little children when they open their gifts.

A variety of snacks along with grilled turkey were enjoyed throughout the day at the Eicher family’s Christmas gathering. Photo provided.

We played games and had snacks and turkey later on. A variety of snacks included veggies and dip, fruit and dip, meat and cheese roll-ups, party mix, Rice Krispy treats, venison jerky, cheeseball and crackers, Christmas goodies, etc. There was much more than we needed but when everyone brings a few things, it adds up. The turkey and snacks were our food for the rest of the day. We have so much to be thankful for, so let’s remember to thank God for everything.

One of the new games we played was a game given to daughter Loretta from Dustin called Marble Chase. It is exciting and keeps your interest.

Son Benjamin left around 4:00 p.m. to join the youth for a Christmas supper and singing. They opened a plastic wrap ball of gifts which I imagine was exciting. Benjamin also joined the youth  one evening last week to go Christmas caroling at the homes of older people in our community. They gathered at the community center afterwards for a pizza supper.

Also one evening last week my sisters Verena and Susan made supper for us and sent it over. They always wanted to make a meal for me since my surgery. It was a treat to get out of cooking one evening. They made mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and meatloaf. Also cookies and Christmas candy.

We are getting Christmas plates of goodies from our neighbors and we still haven’t made much more than party mix and cookies. I really don’t think we will as there are so many goodies around already. Maybe next week we can get around to making something for the neighbors.

I am hoping a few of the girls can go help daughter Elizabeth today. Doctors orders are that she doesn’t do any work, but with one- and three-year-old children that is hard for a mother to do without extra help. She said Tim will be off work today to do her laundry, but I still feel like someone should go help out. Entertaining the children is a help already.

Wishing you readers a blessed Christmas and God’s many blessings to all!

 

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

5 cups popped popcorn
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place popcorn and peanuts in a large bowl; set aside.

Sauce: In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat bring brown sugar and corn syrup to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter, and vanilla. Quickly pour over popcorn mixture and mix well. When cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 10 2-1/2-inch balls. Let stand at room temperature until firm, then wrap in plastic wrap.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Delicious food and family time mark birthday and Christmas celebrations

After today my husband Joe and son Benjamin will be off from the factory for a two-week holiday break. Son Kevin has a half day of school tomorrow and then he will also be home for two weeks. Son Joseph works construction, so they take advantage of working every day the weather permits. I don’t expect much quietness in the next two weeks, but we are hoping to butcher beef and pork if time allows before they go back.

December 17 was grandson Timothy’s (T.J’s.) first birthday. Our whole family went to daughter Elizabeth’s for supper in honor of his birthday. She made homemade pizza and had cake and ice cream. I took macaroni salad and chips. Daughter Susan brought a pudding. Elizabeth’s pizza was very good as usual. She had a little cake for T.J. to have fun with and then a bigger cake for the rest of us.

Elizabeth said T.J. recently pushed the step stool up to the kitchen sink and was crawling in the sink. A good thing she got him before he turned on the faucets. He had fun tearing the wrapping off his presents on his birthday. He didn’t get the idea to blow out his single candle, though. After we ate, we played games and visited. Of course, the grandchildren enjoyed playing with T.J.’s new toys.

On our way home we came upon an accident and help was just arriving. A 56-year-old man from a town close to us was killed in the accident. I feel sorry for the family with the upcoming holidays.

On Sunday, our church had our Christmas potluck. I made a breakfast casserole to take. I don’t have a recipe, but I put in eggs, potatoes, onions, bacon, ham, mushrooms, green peppers, cheese, then topped it with sausage gravy. It must have been good because it was gone before I went through the line. There were six casseroles, a variety of salads, pies, cakes, puddings, bars, cookies, and so much more. By the time everyone brings something it adds up to a lot of food.

On our way home we stopped in at sister Emma and Jacob’s to visit with Jacob, Jr. He is doing well since his surgery on both his feet. Wish him a great recovery.

Yesterday some of the children and I were gone all day for appointments. The drive was two hours and we were halfway home when our driver Beth got a call from her sister who had taken daughter Elizabeth to the doctor. Her blood pressure was dangerously high, so the doctor admitted her to the hospital. Son-in-law Tim wanted to bring the children over to our house, then go back to the hospital with Elizabeth. We went past Tim and Elizabeth’s house and brought Abigail and T.J. home with us.

We made a supper of spaghetti and ham and cheese sandwiches, since Joe and son Benjamin each got a 14-pound ham from their employer for Christmas. The children were hungry as it was getting late when we had everything ready. T.J. still eats better when someone feeds him, but he can feed himself also.

Elizabeth was released from the hospital last night but needs to go back for more tests today or tomorrow. T.J. was so happy to see his dad and mom come back to get him. Both children were easy to have here as they are used to being here.

Sunday my husband, Joe, will be 51. The family is coming home for Christmas that day. Joe will get birthday and Christmas gifts the same day. Everyone plans to come Saturday night for supper and stay for the night. Always so good to have the whole family under the same roof.

As we celebrate the holiday with family and friends let us remember that baby born in a stable and grew up to die and become salvation for all who accept it.

We want to make party mix for the holidays. I’ll share the recipe I use. I add more of the ingredients I like best.

A blessed holiday season to all!

 

Party Mix

3 cups Corn Chex
2 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
1 cup Cheerios
1 cup Cheez-Its
1 cup garlic bagel chips
1 cup butter twist pretzels

Sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Melt butter in pan and add seasonings. Mix with the rest of the ingredients and bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees stirring every 15 minutes. Optional: Sprinkle on more Worcestershire sauce during baking if you like a stronger flavor.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

A winter afternoon baking and decorating Christmas cookies with grandchildren

Everything is quiet right now at the Eicher house. Everyone has gone to bed except a few of the girls and me. There was too much action earlier today to think of writing.

Daughters Elizabeth, Susan, and their four little ones came this morning to spend the day. Our breakfast meal consisted of eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast, and cheese. After breakfast Elizabeth and daughter Verena washed dishes, and daughter Lovina mixed up a batch of sour cream cut out cookies. I helped give Susan some pointers on sewing. She doesn’t quite know all the steps of sewing a shirt for her husband Mose. She did well and it was finished to take home. She wrote down step by step notes and will try to sew one at home.

Daughter Loretta’s special friend Dustin came to pick her up to attend a visitation of his foreman who found out he had cancer sixteen days before he died. So sad for the loved ones left behind. Dustin is a group leader at work and his foreman was who he went to for advice. I’m sure he will be greatly missed.

Our lunch was a kettle of soup and ham and cheese sandwiches. Dustin and Loretta came back home and Dustin ate lunch here before heading home. The little children are always glad to see Dustin and tease him. Abigail, 3, and Jennifer, 23 months, love to get him to chase them.

Lovina enjoyed decorating Christmas cut out cookies with her grandchildren. Find the recipe in this week’s column. Photo provided.

After lunch we rolled out and baked the cookies. Abigail loves the rolling pin and making cut outs of bells, trees, stars, snowmen, gingerbread men, and candy canes. After the cookies are cooled the decorating is done. Abigail and Jennifer love the sprinkles and sample cookies more than decorating. So much cuteness! Little T.J. crawls on the step stool and wants to help too but is done helping after getting a cookie.

T.J. is a little busybody. He loves to check out every cabinet door. He gets a lot of help from Jennifer. When Elizabeth says “Timothy Josiah” to get his attention he still looks like he isn’t sure she means him because everyone calls him T.J. He will be one-year old next week. Ryan is sitting in the highchair looking at everyone and always smiling.

December 10 was daughter Verena’s 22nd birthday. On Sunday we had company in honor of her birthday. The menu was pizza, banana poppers, hot wings, veggies and dip, fruit and dip, chips, salsa, brownies, cake and ice cream. Some of the food was brought in so we had an easy meal. I have a hard time grasping that Verena is 22 already. She is a great daughter and always so caring. So many evenings before I go to bed, she massages my feet. How relaxing! My mother did foot reflexology and I miss that. Verena must take after her grandma.

Lovina’s family and friends gathered for a meal and cake to celebrate daughter Verena’s 22nd birthday. Photo provided.

Our supper tonight was omelets. Some of the girls and I weren’t hungry, so it was easy to make an omelet for those that wanted one. Ham, bacon, black olives, mushrooms, and cheese were the toppings.

Tomorrow, nephew Jacob (son of sister Emma and Jacob), 20, will have surgery for his muscular dystrophy. He decided to try the surgery after seeing the results his younger brother Steven received from the surgery. Our prayers are with him that he will have success.

Steven, 12, spent Sunday evening here and went on the bus with son Kevin, 14, on Monday morning. Steven is back on his feet and uses a walker for some support but can walk without it. He is still in therapy but the surgery was a success for him.

Until having children of my own with disabilities I never fully understood the battle they face at times. But they are always cheerful and there is never a dull moment. It has made them so much more thoughtful of others which is a blessing.

God bless!

 

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting:

1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until a soft dough is formed. On a floured surface, roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Frosting: Cream shortening, vanilla, and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Gradually add milk and the remaining powdered sugar, beating constantly. Add more powdered sugar for desired consistency. Add food coloring if you like. Spread frosting on cookies and decorate with sprinkles and chocolate chips if desired. Let set before storing.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

Gratitude for Thanksgiving Gatherings and Christmas Preparations

We are already in the last month of 2019! December came upon us so fast. Christmas is three weeks from today. The year is almost over. As we prepare for the holidays let us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

A homemade trash can turkey roaster, which you can read about in today’s column. Photo provided.

Our family will come home for Christmas on December 22, which is also my husband Joe’s 51st birthday. We will have a birthday supper for him the night before we celebrate Christmas. Usually, everyone comes the night before and they stay overnight. It’s always enjoyable to have everyone here.

Thanksgiving Day was enjoyable at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. She made way too much food and sent leftovers home with everyone. Emma stuffed two turkeys with dressing and her son-in-law, Menno, cooked a trash can turkey outside. This was the first time I had turkey fixed like that. He bought a big metal trash can to put over the turkey, which was put on a rod over a foil pan. Charcoal was put around and on top of the trash can to cook the turkey.

Lovina and family enjoyed an abundance of food on Thanksgiving day as they gathered at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. Photo provided.

Also on the menu, besides turkey and dressing, were mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables, corn, hot peppers, deviled eggs, several salads, veggies and dip, cheese, homemade bread, butter, grape jelly, cherry and pecan pie, pumpkin roll, and cheesecake. I’m sure I might have missed something, but there was more than enough food. Are we thankful enough that we have plenty to eat? So many are less fortunate or not able to be with family on days like that. Our God has given us so many blessings which we often take for granted.

Saturday we were surprised to see brother Albert and his wife Sarah Irene, and their daughter Irene and her husband, Levi Jr., who came for a short visit. They had recently butchered hogs, so they brought us some fresh sausage and pon hoss. Pon hoss is always a favorite food around here. We plan to butcher hogs too and are also raising a cow to butcher. Hopefully, maybe over their two-week holiday break, we can work that in. It is a lot of work but will be worth it to have the freezers and jars filled with meat again. Daughter Loretta and son Kevin each shot a deer this season, so that helps with the meat. We want to make jerky yet, too.

On Sunday I went to church for the first time since my surgery. It was nice to see everyone again. Church services were held at son-in-law Tim’s brother’s house in the basement. There were many visitors, so the basement was filled to capacity. Daughter Elizabeth and her children were unable to attend as Elizabeth wasn’t feeling well. I told Tim to bring her over to our house for supper and that was like medicine to her. She was feeling much better. Mose and Susan and Loretta’s special friend were also here for supper. The men grilled 20 pounds of chicken on the grill while we made creamed potatoes to go with it. Also on the menu were colby cheese, veggies and dip, oatmeal pie, and ice cream. An easy supper for me. After supper we played 10,000 with dice, which is always a fun and challenging game.

Our church will have Christmas services next time we meet, so all the women wrote on a list what they will bring to our annual Christmas potluck. I will take a casserole.

Today, daughters Elizabeth and Susan plan to come for the day with their children. I have the gifts wrapped for the grandchildren and have them on top of my cupboard. Abigail, 3, keeps asking me if she can open her gift. She asked if she has to wait until Jesus’s birthday. It will be three days earlier when she gets to open it, since we will have our family Christmas sooner.

Until next week, God bless!

 

Honey Pumpkin Pie
2 cups pumpkin (canned)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup honey
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth; pour into pastry shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the center of the pie.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

A foggy morning and Thanksgiving pumpkin roll

The sun is trying to peep through the fog. It is very foggy this morning and visibility isn’t very good. The fog light on top of the bus was bright, though, when Kevin left for school. I always pray that everyone will be safe as they leave for work and school on foggy mornings like today.

I am writing this column earlier this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Everyone has a three-day week for work and school. We will have Thanksgiving dinner at sister Emma and Jacob’s house this year. With Jacob and Emma’s family, sisters Verena and Susan, and all of our family, we now total 29. Mose and daughter Susan and children won’t be able to go to Jacob and Emma’s because they are getting together with Mose’s family this year. Spending time with loved ones is always a good way to spend Thanksgiving Day.

Lovina’s husband, Joe, gives grilling a turkey on his new Weber grill a try. The turkey turned out juicy and everyone liked it fixed like that. Photo provided.

My husband Joe and son Benjamin each received a turkey from their employer. Joe put one on the grill last Saturday and it tasted very good.

The new Weber grill that the children gave Joe last year for his 50th birthday has a lower rack for roasting a turkey. We were surprised that it only took a little over two hours for the turkey to be cooked. It was juicy and everyone liked it fixed like that.

Every year for Thanksgiving dinner, sister Emma and I take turns hosting the meal. We usually set the table, and it seems that we need to keep adding tables in order to set a place for all of us, but it’s always enjoyable. With both of us having married children, we don’t get together as often as we would like. We now have to fix two turkeys instead of one. Our Thanksgiving dinner menus usually include turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, vegetables, cheese, salad, etc. I always like having a pumpkin roll and pumpkin pies on the menu. Daughter Elizabeth is making the pumpkin roll this year. I will take a salad, veggies and dip, and homemade bread.

I’m writing this part of the column later. Daughters Loretta and Lovina are washing laundry. Daughter Verena is mopping the floors. The girls want to clean a few windows this afternoon. It doesn’t take long to get fingerprints on the windows with the little grandchildren looking out of them when they come.

Yesterday, daughters Elizabeth and Susan and children came for the day. They usually come on Wednesdays, but with Thanksgiving this week, they decided to come earlier in the week. Elizabeth couldn’t do laundry yesterday because they are installing a new water heater. The girls decided to enjoy the little sweeties and wait to wash our laundry until today.

On Sunday our family had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. After dishes were washed, some of us played Ten Thousand with dice. It was fun. As we played, we snacked on deer jerky that Tim made. It was very good and I loved it. I really don’t care for venison so Tim was surprised that I liked it. He asked Elizabeth if her mother knew that it was deer jerky and not beef jerky. I guess he was surprised that I liked it so much. I can’t even explain it myself. I don’t eat much venison, but I love the summer sausage and jerky.

On Sunday for brunch, Elizabeth fixed a good meal of pancakes, scrambled eggs, baked French toast, and smoked sausage. She also had dirt pudding and ice cream, and we took cherry and oatmeal pies. Susan brought chocolate milk, and Elizabeth served grape juice and orange juice.

This was the first time that I rode in the buggy since my surgery. It seemed like the road was bumpier than usual, and I felt worn out that night. I felt refreshed, though, to not have to cook all day and to get out of the house.

My wish is for all of you readers to have a happy Thanksgiving! Let us remember to thank God for our blessings, not only on Thanksgiving Day but every day of the year.

Try this pumpkin roll recipe that we make every year. God bless!

 

Pumpkin Roll

confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 11 x 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside. On a clean surface, lay out a clean lint-free dish towel that is slightly larger than the jelly roll pan. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the surface of the towel.

In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Add sugar, lemon juice, and pumpkin, and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, and beat until smooth. Pour pumpkin mixture into the parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately flip over onto the prepared dish towel. Gently and quickly peel off the parchment paper. Roll up the cake and towel together. Place in refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until completely cool.

Filling: Beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Unroll cake, removing the towel; spread filling over cake and reroll.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing and serving.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies on a winter day

Diary of November 20, 2019

Lovina’s family enjoys the heat from their coal stove on these fall days with cooler temperatures. Photo: provided

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings! I pack my husband Joe and son Benjamin’s lunches for work. Joe goes to the basement to add coal to the stove. Benjamin takes care of adding coal to the stove in the pole barn (we heat one side somewhat because of the battery packs for the solar panels). It’s not as warm out there as in the house, but it keeps the pipes from freezing.

3:30 a.m. Joe and Benjamin leave for work. I take a little nap in my recliner.

4:15 a.m. Son Joseph gets up and goes to the barn to feed the animals. I pack his lunch and make him a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. He works outside most days, so something warm to eat is good, I think.

4:45 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. They have an hour or more to get to their job site, so they go earlier. I decide to work on a puzzle I received from daughter Elizabeth and Tim. It’s a 1000 piece puzzle and has a red barn, silo, and a pasture with horses in it. I started this puzzle Sunday afternoon.

6:00 a.m. I wake up son Kevin to get ready for the school bus. The school serves breakfast, so he eats at school.

6:45 a.m. Kevin leaves for school. I get some bills ready for the mail, then take a shower and relax in my recliner for a while. Of course, I doze off. It’s been five weeks since my surgery and I get tired easily, it seems.

8:30 a.m. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children arrive. Susan picked up Elizabeth and children with their horse and buggy. They bring in the little ones, and the girls and I take their coats, scarves, etc. off and, of course, hug the little sweeties. Elizabeth and Susan unhitch the horse and put him in the horse stall in the barn with hay for the day. Everyone gets warmed up from the drive over. The covered buggy makes the drive a lot warmer than when I used to go to my mother for the day with an open buggy.

9:15 a.m. The girls have breakfast ready for everyone. On the menu are scrambled eggs, ham, and toast. Also, rhubarb juice and hot chocolate.

10:00 a.m. Daughter Susan and I need to go to the bank today, so everyone else washes the dishes and keeps watch on the little ones until we’re back.

11:45 a.m. Susan and I are back. The girls are baking chocolate chip cookies and Elizabeth is sewing a dress for Abigail. Abigail needs more dresses, so Elizabeth decided to sew one while she’s here.

1:00 p.m. Lunch is potato soup, fried chicken, ice cream, and cookies fresh from the oven. After lunch I simply enjoy time with all my sweet grandchildren. Abigail is amazed at the puzzle and says it looks pretty.

It is so cute to see Abigail, 3, Jennifer, 22 months, and T.J., 11 months, playing church. They all have books and dolls in their hands and are sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, singing at the top of their voices. So precious!

3:30 p.m. Kevin is home from school. Abigail follows him around asking questions. She likes her Uncle Kevin and enjoys it when he entertains her.

4:00 p.m. Joseph is home from work and gets the horse hitched to the buggy for the girls to leave for home. It takes a while to get all the children bundled up and out to the buggy. Baby Ryan is cooing and smiling even though he’s bundled up. A reader sent Susan a bunting and it helps to keep his feet warm. Susan appreciated all the gifts sent to them for Baby Ryan.

4:30 p.m. Joe and Benjamin are home. Joe and the boys do the chores, which ends up taking a while. It’s cloudy, so our generator needs to charge our solar battery. The generator doesn’t want to stay running, so they work on it but can’t figure out the problem. We borrow my sisters Verena and Susan’s generator for the night. We usually don’t need to run a generator unless we have quite a few cloudy days—then the battery pack needs to be charged up again. Verena and Susan send leftovers from their supper with the boys. Our supper is mashed potato casserole, mac and cheese, and baked and fried chicken. With our leftovers and theirs, it was an easy supper.

9:30 p.m. Bedtime, finally!

This week I’ll share the outrageous chocolate chip cookie recipe for those of you that don’t have it. It’s a favorite of ours! God’s blessings to all!

 

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups (4 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and mix with the sugars, peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs. Stir until creamy and smooth. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Mix the dough until thoroughly blended. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10–15 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

Winter Weather and Chocolate Pecan Caramels

The leaves are not all off our trees yet. We didn’t get around to raking up the ones on the ground, either. “Old Man Winter” arrived before we were prepared. In the last few days it snowed and snowed. I would guess that we received about eight more inches of snow. This morning the temperature was five degrees. Burr! Our coal is burning away faster than we want it to. It’s always a hard time of year, it seems, but God will provide!

We feel blessed that my husband Joe has found a steady job now. It’s been a hard seven months to not have steady work. I really hope and pray that this will work for him. I didn’t even complain about having to set an alarm for 3 a.m. once again. Son-in-law Mose and son Benjamin have also started at the same factory. They build horse trailers, so it’s a different line of work than RVs. Joe and Benjamin leave at 3:30 a.m., and Joseph has been leaving at 5 a.m. Joseph does the morning chores in the barn and Joe and Benjamin refuel the coal stoves before leaving.

My surgery was four weeks ago, so I am looking forward to getting the okay from the doctor to be allowed to do my normal work.

Joseph has to make sure he dresses warmly enough to work outside in this weather. Yesterday the lady they were working for brought them warm gloves and some treats. She told them that she will serve them pizza today. It is a treat to have something warm served when they are working in the cold.

Two vehicles slid into the ditch close by our house in the last few days. Both times the wrecker was needed to pull them out. The newspaper stated that there were 32 slide offs in our county in one day. The roads are slippery, so I hope everyone drives safe!

The world looks beautiful outside, though, with the tree branches covered with snow. Our solar panels are also covered with snow, which is a bad thing for us. The battery can’t charge as well until the sun melts the snow off the panels. The metal roof would be too dangerous to go up on to wipe off the snow. Joe started our generator last night to charge the battery. Maybe we will get some warmer temperatures in the next few days.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan plan to come home tomorrow. They usually come home on Wednesdays, but it was too cold this morning. I look forward to seeing all my grandchildren again.

Happy 60th anniversary to Joe’s aunt MaryAnn and uncle Joe. We were invited recently to their open house. I didn’t feel up to traveling that far, and it was the same day as church services at sister Emma and Jacob’s. We were sorry we couldn’t attend. MaryAnn is a sister to Joe’s mother Salome (she passed away at age 54). I want to write a letter and send a card to Joe and MaryAnn. They always remember to send cards to us when we have misfortunes. Joe’s family lived beside Joe and MaryAnn until Joe was 16 years old, so he has many fond memories of them.

Our sympathy goes to my good friend Ruth and her husband Jim and family. Jim’s father passed away this week at age 90. Although it’s hard to see a parent suffer, it hurts to let go. May God help Jim’s 89-year-old mother through this trial in life. Our sympathy also to the extended family.

God’s blessings to all! Try these chocolate pecan caramels for your Christmas gatherings with friends and family this holiday season.

Chocolate Pecan Caramels

1 tbsp plus 1 cup softened butter (no substitutes), divided
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil; butter the foil with 1 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with pecans and chocolate chips; set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 1 cup butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm-ball stage). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan (do not scrape saucepan). Cool completely before cutting. Yield: about 2 ½ lbs. or 6 ¾ dozen.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

First snow, Sunday rest, and a family celebration

The ground had a thin layer of snow this morning. Our leaves are still not raked up. Maybe snow will cover them. Out of sight—out of mind. I’m just not ready for snow but we will take whatever the good Lord sends our way. Snowflakes are lightly falling as I write this.

Daughter Verena, 21, is washing dishes and doing the usual morning work. Daughters Loretta, 19, and Lovina, 15, are in the basement washing clothes. They will hang the laundry on the lines in the basement today to dry. We usually leave it to hang overnight and fold it the next day. It is a chilly 31 degrees outside so it’s best to dry the clothes indoors.

I had another doctor appointment this week and the doctor says that I have at least four more weeks of taking it easy and being careful about what I do. What a challenge it is, but may God grant me the patience to be content while my body heals.

Church services were held on Sunday at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. Lots of visitors were there and it sounds like their garage was filled to capacity. Everyone from our family attended except Loretta and her special friend Dustin and me. They stayed here with me, as I am not up to sitting in church that long yet. My husband Joe came home in the afternoon but some of the children stayed at Jacob and Emma’s for a hay-stack supper. It was a quiet day, but I had a nice restful day. Dustin and Loretta made the meals and I just sat in my recliner feeling lazy.

After supper I was surprised to be presented with a Sunshine Box from our church families. Sisters Verena and Susan brought the gifts, which are all nice and useful. I feel so unworthy of it all, but I want to thank everyone for the cards, gifts, letters, etc. that were given to me. It helps to know others care.

Yesterday, niece Elizabeth had a Pampered Chef bridal shower at my sister Emma’s house for my niece Emma. This was a belated shower, but Emma will still get much use out of the items she received. A good lunch was served to everyone afterwards. Our friend Beth took the girls and I with her van.

It was good to get out of the house awhile. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan with their little ones were there as well. It was nice to spend time with them. Granddaughter Abigail, 3, was singing a song she made up about her and granddaughter Jennifer, 22 months. As she sang, she hopped and skipped in circles. It was just so cute! Ten-month-old T.J. is at a challenging stage since he can walk and tries climbing stairs, chairs, or whatever he can. He is quite a handful for daughter Elizabeth right now. He comes up to kiss me, smiling his sweet smile. Ryan, 3 months, is smiling and cooing, winning all our hearts. Jennifer loves to hold her baby brother. What does this world have in store for these sweet innocent children? It is good that we don’t know the future. Let us take one day at a time and praise God daily for his many blessings!

Friday evening, daughter Elizabeth and Tim brought supper in for us. On the menu were potato casserole, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, cupcakes, finger jello, and homemade bread. Daughter Susan, Mose, and family joined us, and Susan brought chocolate pie. It was greatly appreciated!

Tomorrow we travel to Ann Arbor with our friend Beth for our children’s annual appointment with the team of doctors for muscular dystrophy. It’s always a long day of testing.

God’s blessings to all!

Lovina shares a recipe for Cheese Broccoli Soup in this week’s column. Photo credit: D. Lucas Landis/©MennoMedia

 

Cheese Broccoli Soup

3/8 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon salad oil
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups (4 oz.) fine noodles
1 10-ounce package of frozen broccoli (may use fresh)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
3 cups milk
1/2 pound American cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Sauté onion in oil; add water and bouillon cubes and heat to boiling until cubes are dissolved. Gradually add noodles and continue boiling uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir in broccoli and garlic salt; cook 4 minutes more. Add milk, cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until cheese melts, stirring constantly.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.