Favorite Christmas goodies from the Eicher home to yours!

A simple way to turn standard chocolate chip cookies into festive goodies is to add colored M&M’s, or just use red and green M&M’s available at Christmas. Photo by Lucas Landis-Swartzentruber

Favorite Christmas goodies from the Eicher home to yours!

We are still busy getting prepared for niece Emma’s wedding next week. So this week I will share some recipes that we use over the holidays. Sour cream cut-out cookies are still our favorite Christmas cookie to decorate.

Enjoy! God bless you all!

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

This is an easy Christmas cookie that the kids like to cut out and decorate. It takes a lot longer when they help, but they enjoy it. Some of the shapes we cut them into include a Christmas tree and a bell. Sometimes I have to watch the younger children as they like to eat the dough. But with the raw eggs in there I don’t like them to. (And if you don’t have sour cream, here’s a substitute: Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 3/4 cup milk. Let set 5 or more minutes. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter. Mix well.)

1 cup (2 sticks) 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

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until a soft, firm dough is formed. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place them on prepared baking sheet. Gather leftover dough, re-roll, and cut some more until all the dough is used up.

Bake until just turning golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 18 – 24 cookies, depending on shapes.

Frosting:
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
Food coloring (optional)
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

To make frosting: Cream shortening with vanilla and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to give you your desired thickness. Food coloring can also be added if you like. Spread the frosting on the cookies and decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips. Let the frosting set before storing.

Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Blend well. Chill dough at least one hour before handling. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Use gingerbread-man cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and decorate.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

20 ounces canned sweet or maraschino cherries, drained; reserve juice to add to batter
1/4 pound soft butter
1/2 cup cherry juice
2 pounds powdered sugar
Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix powdered sugar, juice, and butter thoroughly (handles better if you chill for awhile). Make small balls, press flat and cover cherries. Dip in chocolate within 2 two hours or it will be hard to dip. (Maraschino cherries make these easier to dip as they usually have stems on them.)

Peanut Butter Cups

1 pound of margarine
2 pounds of peanut butter
3 pounds of powdered sugar
Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix peanut butter and margarine, then work in powdered sugar. Shape into balls the size of big marbles. Dip in melted chocolate.

Mint Patties

1 box powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg (unbeaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 drops peppermint oil
Semi-sweet chocolate

Mix together real good and shape into patties. Dip in hot melted semi-sweet chocolate. Cool.

Note: this recipe contains one egg which is not cooked. Perhaps look for other alternatives, such as found here. Or simply leave the egg out. Thank you to RN Marjorie for alerting us to the potential risk for salmonella here.

Peanut Butter Fingers
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips

Frosting:
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Cream well the butter and sugars. Blend in peanut butter, egg, salt, and vanilla. Stir in flour and  oatmeal. Spread in greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 19-20 minutes Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes. Spread chocolate, then spread peanut butter frosting on top; swirl.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Lovina answers reader questions about Amish clothing traditions

This week my husband Joe, and son Benjamin, 19, are off all week for Thanksgiving. Son Joseph, 16, has off Thanksgiving Day and Friday, as well as Lovina, 14, and Kevin, 13 from school. So it seems as if this week will go faster than usual.

Saturday our three sons and Joe went to help at sister Emma and Jacob’s house again, preparing for the upcoming wedding of niece Emma and Menno on December 7. Menno’s family was there also helping. I decided to stay here and keep sewing. I did make a potato casserole to send along with Joe and the boys, to make lunchtime a little easier for Emma and her daughters.

Today Joe and Benjamin are helping son-in-law Mose replace some windows in their house. This should make their house warmer this winter. With the windows out, the house is cold so daughter Susan and baby Jennifer came here for the day. Susan brought her sewing along to work on here. After the girls and I washed our laundry, I also sewed and managed to get my dress and part of my cape sewn too.

Recently a reader asked what a cape is. It is the triangular piece of fabric that goes from the waist and over our shoulders and crosses in front. Then the apron is put over the bottom of the cape and belted around the waist. In our community capes are usually worn to church weddings and special occasions. For church, a white cape and apron is worn, but for a wedding we wear the same color cape and apron as our dress color and material, which we call a “dress suit.” I hope that explains enough on the cape.

I do not get to see your questions on the website, so I appreciate my editors taking time to print them out and mail them to me. I was encouraged by all of your kind words, so I want to say thank you!

Front of typical cape, apron and dress for a wedding in Lovina’s community.
The same dress for a wedding, showing cape and apron from back.

Another question was about what an Amish bride wears. This can vary from one community to the next. In some communities the brides will wear a black dress with white cape and apron. In our community, the bride chooses her color of dress, but wears a white cape and apron. Also in our church community, a bride wears a black covering to the wedding service. After she is married she changes to a white covering and won’t wear a black covering again. The unmarried girls wear black coverings to church services, but wear white coverings at all other times.

Daughter Elizabeth was married in a burgundy color dress and our daughter Susan chose a green dress. I hope this explains it well enough.

Some brides sew their own dresses, while other have their mother or someone else sew it. Daughter Elizabeth sewed her own wedding dress but I sewed Susan’s wedding dress. I made my own wedding dress but I didn’t have a choice in the color because all brides in that community wore black dresses with a white cape and apron to get married.

Another question a reader asked was why we use sawdust in horse stalls instead of straw. I think it is just whatever someone prefers. Joe thinks it’s easier to muck out the sawdust and we can also get it free from local saw mills.

To the reader wondering what we use to wash windows, we use white vinegar and warm water, using cheesecloth towels to wipe dry—and any rag to wash. Do not use any fabric softener to wash the cheesecloth towels.

A reader requested my Sloppy Joe recipe. I try to make it similar to son-in-law Moses’s “recipe” but since he doesn’t have a recipe and just puts in a little of this and that, I tried to write down amounts. Add or take out any of the ingredients if you prefer. Our children love when Moses makes Sloppy Joes. Enjoy!

God’s blessings to all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sloppy Joe Recipe

1 pound sausage
1 pound venison (ground)
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt or powder
1 teaspoon onion salt or powder
½ cup BBQ sauce (any type)
1 tablespoon mustard
½ cup ketchup

Brown sausage and venison together in skillet or large pan. Add rest of ingredients, stir well, and heat through. Serves 12 or so. Other seasonings of your choice can be added.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Tim’s sister-in-law lands 17 point buck with a bow

Tim’s sister-in-law lands 17 point buck with a bow

We awoke this morning to more snow, adding to our already snow-covered white world. It has been snowing all morning. We had our first snow earlier than usual and it is staying with all the cold temperatures.

Last Friday, November 9, we had a snow-covered ground. Traveling the two hours plus to Ann Arbor and back seemed to go well even with the snow still coming down. Saturday morning we awoke to around five more inches of snow. The snow is very pretty this morning and sticking to everything. Thanksgiving Day is next week but our children say the snow makes it seem like we are closer to the Christmas season.

Today is also a very important day for deer hunters. It’s opening day for shotgun season to hunt deer. Daughter Susan and Mose and baby Jennifer are spending a few days at Mose’s brother’s house an hour-and-a-half north of here. Mose will go hunting with his brothers.

Son-in-law Timothy was excited last week when he was deer hunting with bow and arrow. He shot a 12-point buck. Although I do not understand all the deer-talk they were saying this buck had a 21 1/2-inch spread. I think if you are a deer hunter you will know what that means. So after Timothy let us know about the buck our three boys thought they had to go see this buck. He will make some nice meat for their freezer.

Timothy’s sister-in-law has also been hunting which I’m sure is nice for her after having 12 children. I can imagine the excitement when she shot a 17-point buck with her bow. That is a nice rack to have for helping put meat up for the winter.

Last Saturday our family helped Jacob and Emma with cleaning and preparing for the December 7 wedding of their daughter Emma and Menno. Some of Menno’s family plus Timothy’s and Moses’s were also there helping.

Saturday evening after we were done at Jacob’s house, Joe and I stopped by Mose and Susan’s house. They decided to pack their clothes and come to our house for the night and be there on Sunday. Of course Grandpa and Grandma offered to bring 10-month old Jennifer back with us. How sweet to have her cuddle in my arms on the way home. She fell asleep as we traveled the snow-covered roads with our covered buggy and our horse Midnight.

Midnight was a hard horse for my husband Joe to train. Now she has proven to be a safe and sound horse for us except she still needs to get used to water puddles in the road. She doesn’t mind the smaller puddles but if there is a bigger puddle she gets scared of going through it.

Before Jennifer fell asleep she was saying in Dutch (high German), “Horsey, horsey.” She already loves horses and when she sees one she gets excited and will make a clip-clop noise with her tongue. How precious! As she slept in my arms I thought of how it was when I held our first six children when they were that age. In weather like that with open buggies we wanted their face protected from the wind so they didn’t get to watch the horse running through the snow at a young age in the winter months. On Saturday evening we didn’t have our heater going but it was still fairly warm in our buggy.

My editors sent me a copy of emails and comments from readers. I do not get to see those so they are kind enough to copy and send them to me. The day I received this pack in the mail had not been a good day for me. After sitting down and reading all these encouraging words from you readers, I felt so much better and refreshed. If the column encourages you in any way, please give God the honor and glory as without his help I couldn’t do it. It seems at times that I do not have time to write but it makes it well worth it, too, when I read your kind words.

God bless you all and stay safe in this weather if you are having snow and ice.

Mystery Bars

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sifted flour

Mix together for two minutes. Pat into bottom of 9 x 12 inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, mix the following together:

2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup nuts (optional)

Beat for two minutes. Add nuts. Beat enough to blend. Spread over partly baked dough. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut while warm. Makes 2 dozen.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

The lowdown on the services of a wedding wagon

The lowdown on the services of a wedding wagon

November is bringing cold rainy weather. Leaves are all over our front yard from all the big trees there. The beauty of the season is upon us!

Congratulations to niece Emma and Menno! They set December 7 for their wedding date where they will exchange vows in holy matrimony. Wedding services will be held in their neighbor’s pole barn, close by parents Jacob and Emma; the wedding meals and reception will then be at the home of Jacob and Emma. This wedding will make a change for Jacob and Emma’s family with the first of their children leaving home. Menno owns a home not too far from Jacob and Emma so they have a house to move in to.

This announcement has put a lot more on our agenda. Our family all has a part in the wedding one way or another. That means lots of new clothes and lots of time at the sewing machine. I already have daughter Verena and Loretta’s dresses, capes, and aprons cut out and plan to start sewing those today. I need to get more material this week yet so I can cut out more outfits. Daughter Verena is done helping the family from our church so she can now help with the sewing. Emma has chosen the color aqua for the tablewaiters and turquoise for the cooks. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan also need to sew for themselves and their little girls. It will be a busy month!

Saturday our family will go help Jacob and Emma get ready for the upcoming wedding. Many hands make lighter work. At least at this time of the year there will be no grass to mow and no garden to take care of and of course no flies.

I was asked to be one of the head cooks so I will need to be there most of the wedding week preparing the jobs for all the other cooks. For now we will concentrate mostly on getting our sewing done so we can help over at Jacob and Emma’s house more often as the wedding draws near.

Jacob’s have a nice big pole barn that is insulated and that will be where all the tables will be set. A wedding wagon will be rented in which to do most of the cooking. Chicken will be on the menu and that will be grilled outside. We can not order the weather but I do hope they have a nice sunny day and not too cold. Jacob’s also have a big entrance/garage attached to their house so there will be plenty of heated space for guests to visit in.

The outside of a wedding wagon looks like an RV.

For those of you who don’t know what a wedding wagon is: it is like an RV with a ramp added on, with six or seven propane gas stoves and ovens in it. There are also several sinks with hot and cold running water. Dishes, cookware, and everything you need for the food part of an Amish wedding come with the rental package. There are also tables and a refrigeration unit.

The inside of the wedding wagon is a portable kitchen that families rent for the week of the wedding.

This makes it so much easier now than how it was when Joe and I were married in 1993. We had to gather extra kerosene stoves from neighbors and families and set them all up in our wash house/buggy shed building. Mom had to get out all her dishes, glasses, cookware and borrow from others if she didn’t have enough of something. Then after the wedding, all of this had to be delivered back to everyone. Now, afterwards, we can just have people help pack up all the dishes, tables, etc. into the wedding wagon. Usually the church’s benches (which come in a separate wagon) are used for seating guests for the service.

Tomorrow some of our children and I will travel to Ann Arbor to the children’s hospital for their annual muscular dystrophy checkup. Its usually a long day with all the testing, and driving over two hours each way.

Now I must get started with my work. I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement! I wish all of you a good week and may God bless you always! Here’s a recipe shared by a reader.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped peeled baking apples
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add sour cream. Stir in sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, vanilla and salt; mix well. Stir in apples. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine brown sugar and remaining flour; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of pie. Return to oven for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve or cover and refrigerate. Yield: 8 servings.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

When you wake up with someone knocking at your door

Photo by Grant Beachy

When you wake up with someone knocking at your door

I am waiting for everyone to be ready for supper. On the menu are cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese. Sweet onions from the garden will be good on the hamburgers although my husband Joe and I are probably the only ones that add onions to our sandwich.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their sweet little girls spent the day here. We didn’t accomplish much besides enjoying each other’s company. Daughter Verena is still helping out with the family from our church. She was home early afternoon so still had time to enjoy her nieces.

Daughter Elizabeth copied a dress pattern for a friend. A good idea for duplicating patterns is using wrapping paper. It works great for tracing patterns.

It turned out to be a nice day with the sun shining after quite a rainy morning. Daughter Loretta took Abigail outside for awhile. Abigail likes to write on the sidewalks with chalk. I bought her some chalk as she loves it and it entertains her for quite a while.

Photo by Grant Beachy

On Saturday, sisters Verena and Susan had an auction for family members. They needed to downsize in a lot of things so they decided to have a family auction instead of a garage sale. Not everyone was able to make it but all the siblings did. Brother Amos’s wife Nancy was there as well, and we were happy she could come. Brother Amos was greatly missed. His 57th birthday was yesterday. Rest in peace, Amos—you will always be remembered at our family gatherings.

Nephew Marvin (son of brother Albert and Sarah Irene) did a lot of the auctioneering and does a very good job at it. Everyone liked the bargains and all had a great time. Lunch was mostly brought in with Verena and Susan furnishing ham and hot dog sandwiches and pop. The auction ended around 5:00 p.m. It wasn’t a great day for an auction weather wise, but they were glad for the extra space in their pole barn.

Jacob and Emma and family plus our family helped get everything ready for the auction. It took a lot of time to get the items organized but we were all glad to help out.

Last night sons Benjamin and Joseph plus Joe and I went over to help clean up their yard and move everything back in place. We burned a lot of trash for them. Earlier in the day Loretta and I did laundry which was extra big. Hanging up the laundry and carrying most of it in, already seemed like a day’s work. After coming home from my sisters and getting supper it made for a late night.

So it was a bad start this morning when we woke up to the sound of someone knocking on our door. Yes—we slept right through our alarm that was set for 2:50 a.m. and it was Joe’s driver waiting.

What a bad way to start the day. After getting Joe on his way, son Joseph’s ride came early so it was rush, rush for awhile. I was so much awake that I couldn’t fall back to sleep before I had to get the children up for school. Son Benjamin is off this week as the RV factory he works for has a week off due to not enough orders. So he’s cleaning out the barn and hauling manure this week. He’s also doing a lot of odds and ends for me. Abigail and Jennifer like their Uncle Benjamin. He pays a lot of attention to them.

I talked with neighbor Irene this afternoon. Our prayers are with her as she is recovering from a hospital stay. She is 90 years old and was always active so this is hard for her. She is on oxygen and will be laid up for a while. I hope we can help cheer up her days. She helped us out a lot in the years since we moved across the road from her. May God help her be patient as she heals.

God bless all of you as well!

Blueberry Buckle

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups blueberries, well drained

Topping:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 8x8x2-inch pan. Blend all batter ingredients except blueberries. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds, then stir in blueberries. Spread in pan.

Topping: Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle over batter in pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Rereading early columns is an occasion to ponder life’s many changes

Timothy and Elizabeth’s new colt from mother Shiann. As Lovina reminisces and reflects here, life is always moving on.

Rereading early columns is an occasion to ponder life’s many changes

 Supper dishes are washed, and most of the family is relaxing and getting showered before bedtime. Hamburger potato casserole was on the menu for tonight.

As I sit here in my recliner writing, my mind goes back to 16 years ago, when I first started penning my first column. Mother had just died unexpectedly, while attending a few book signings in Missouri. She was 66. Life changed so much for our family on that day.

I was nervous when I wrote that first column. I was 31 years old, and my husband Joe and I had six children. Joseph was our baby, only three months old. Loretta was two, Benjamin three, Verena four. Susan was six and in kindergarten. Elizabeth was eight and in second grade. By now, 16 years later, there have been so many changes!

Rereading my earlier columns brings back memories of those years when our children were so young. In one column I wrote that I had water heating on the stove to wash the laundry. Now I have hot running water, powered by solar, and I can put the hose right into my Maytag washing machine. Now that my washing machine is powered by the solar panels on our pole barn, there is no more carrying water to get that job done.

I also wrote about my sisters coming to help in preparations for upcoming church services. It said sister Emma cleaned all three of my kerosene stoves and we cleaned all the kerosene lights. Now I have a propane gas stove and propane and battery lights.

It was hard to go on, with both my parents gone from us so suddenly. Dad had passed away a little over two years before Mother. At the time, it seemed almost impossible for life to go on without them. Remembering my mother’s words—things she always said—helped me a lot. She always said, “God makes no mistakes.” So why would we want to question His ways?

I also wrote in one of my first columns that I was trying to get the buggy blankets dried, as we had been caught in a rain. Yes, we had open buggies in those days, and those winter rides could get pretty cold! In rainy weather we had umbrellas to keep us dry as much as possible. We now have covered buggies and heaters to install in the cold winter months.

As 2002 ended and we started the new year 2003, we faced another year of changes. Our home place was sold, as were all our parents’ belongings. Life went on, but there was always someone missing from our lives. As we entered the year 2004 we started thinking we need a change. So after much thought and many prayers, we packed our belongings and with our six children made the move to Michigan. It was a big change to move a few hours from our home and with the children still young, and it was a busy time for all of us. It was a big change—but sometimes change is good!

The girls attended a new school and made new friends. In May daughter Lovina was born to us. There were complications, and I spent a week in the hospital after her birth.

Sisters Verena and Susan and sister Emma, Jacob and family also made the move to Michigan. We were glad to have family join us. In 2005 we were blessed with our eighth child, Kevin.

The years have gone by so fast, and of course all the children are older. I used to think that life would eventually slow down, but it seems to only get busier with the years! Then again, it could be that this grandma is just slowing down gradually. We have had so many blessings throughout the years that far outnumber the bad times. May God be with us as we travel into the unknown future. And we wish God’s many blessings to all of you as well!

This week I will share the recipe I received from a reader in Kansas. It’s very easy to make.

Brownie Muffins

1 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 18 cupcake cups with paper liners. Melt butter and chocolate chips together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Let cool. Beat eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Mix flour and vanilla into egg mixture. Fold in chocolate mixture until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared cupcake cups, filling them about 1/2 full.

Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or with moist crumbs.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

To follow Lovina around for the day, you’d have to rise at three

Diary of October 16, 2018

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings. It’s time to pack my husband Joe’s lunch, make some coffee for his coffee mug and fill his water jug with ice water. The 45-minute ride to work is enough time for him to enjoy the coffee. Joe is leaving 20 minutes earlier due to having a different ride than usual. Those 20 minutes make quite a bit of a difference this early in the morning! The man who picks him up works in the same place, so their hours are the same. They also pick up son-in-law Mose, as he works with them.

After Joe leaves, I usually take a nap on my recliner. But today I know this column needs to be written. (I’m writing a diary of the day before.)

3:25 a.m. Husband Joe leaves for work.

3:45 a.m. Son Joseph, 16, gets ready for work while I pack his lunch and fill his water jug with ice water.

4:00 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. Son Benjamin, 19, gets up to feed the horses hay before getting ready for his ride. I fill his water jug. Benjamin prefers to wait to eat lunch when he comes home. He takes some snacks but he’s usually home by 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. Joseph has a new ride too, so he leaves 30 minutes earlier than he used to.

4:30 a.m. Benjamin leaves for work and I go back to bed, setting my alarm for 6:00 a.m.

6:00 a.m. I wake up daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13. Lovina showers at night and Kevin showers in the morning. Kevin always needs a little time to get his muscles loosened up to walk, so it takes him awhile to get ready.

6:45 a.m. The bus is here, and Lovina and Kevin leave. I relax in my recliner until it’s daylight outside. I decide to go check up on the horses in the barn, as the dogs keep barking. Usually the horses are outside in the pasture, but they needed to be inside this morning as they are all going to be reshod. The horses get impatient and kick at the box stalls, making the dogs bark, but all looks fine. A man and two young boys from our church will put new shoes on the horses today and then turn them out to pasture.

8:30 a.m. Daughter Verena is leaving to go help a family in our church. Daughter Loretta washes dishes while I gather the dirty clothes. It was rainy yesterday so laundry was put off until today.

10:30 a.m. Loretta and I are finally started washing laundry in the basement. I hang out the clothes on the lines. It sure is cold and windy! The sun is shining, which helps a bit. It’s still only 48 degrees outside. Sure feels cozy in the house. My husband, Joe, started the coal stove on Saturday. The guys are now here in the barn, putting the shoes on our horses. We have four horses and our pony, Stormy, that need to be reshod.

12:30 p.m. Lines are filled with clothes, and they are drying really well. The bed sheets are dry already, so I take them off. It’s so windy that it’s like they want to keep blowing off! Loretta and I take a break and eat lunch. Joe is home from work already.

1:30 p.m. Ben comes home.

2:15 p.m. Verena gets back home. She said several ladies were there helping today, and they canned more than 40 quarts of applesauce.

3:00 p.m. Joseph is home.

3:30 p.m. Lovina and Kevin are now home from school. We are getting the clothes in and folding laundry. Joe and the boys and Lovina are bagging up a load of sawdust that was delivered today. They use sawdust instead of straw for bedding in the barn.

5:30 p.m. Mose, Susan and Jennifer come, but they have had supper already. We are excited to see little Jennifer, since we didn’t see her for almost a week. Joe and Mose are working three-day weeks, so Mose and Susan spent several days at his brother’s house one-and-one-half hours from here. His brother is building a new house so they worked on that, and Mose also did some deer hunting. Jennifer was happy to see us again and just chattered away.

Abigail’s outdoor buddies rest on the patio. Frisky, the Australian Shepherd dog, and Kitty, their cat, get along great.

7:00 p.m. Pizza is on the menu for supper, and it’s about time to call it a day. Mose and Susan leave for home.

9:30 p.m. Everyone has gone to bed. Good night, and God bless you all!

Crescent Rolls

1/2 cup butter, chilled
1 package instant yeast
1/4 cup water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk, scalded

Melt butter, then chill again until set; this makes your crust flaky. Dissolve yeast in water. Mix flour, salt and sugar together. Mix in butter. Beat egg and milk and yeast mixture. Mix just until it hangs together. Roll out on a 12 x 17-inch cookie sheet if you plan to use it as a crust, or shape into crescent-shaped rolls. Let rise. Bake at 350 degrees until firm. These beat the store-bought crescent rolls in a tube.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Garage sales yield great bargains, including gifts for the grandchildren (of course)

Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, just left for school. It’s cold and windy outside, and the temperature has dropped to 54 degrees. We had just enjoyed a few nice warm and sunny days until yesterday, when it was rainy and cooler.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their little girls came to our house yesterday morning. Daughters Verena and Loretta kept Abigail and Jennifer here while Elizabeth, Susan and I went to the “community building.” There were 24 families from our community having garage sales with booths inside the building.

I always have fun going to garage sales, and I did really well. With the cost of fabric so high, it’s so much cheaper to buy clothes that are sewn up already at garage sale prices. I bought quite a few days’ worth of sewing! I brought home some pants for the boys, dresses and coverings for the girls, and of course some dresses for my little granddaughters.

When we got home, Abigail tried on the new clothes. She does well dressing herself. Jennifer couldn’t care less what dresses she has! I also was able to get a baby swing and stroller that were in good shape for a few dollars each. They will come in handy when my grandchildren come. And yes, I did buy some toys for the granddaughters to play with when at our house. It seems I don’t have many toys to keep them entertained. They both like to look at books, and they also liked the wooden blocks I brought home.

Elizabeth and Susan found good bargains on clothes, so it was worth it for them as well. We stopped at a few more garage sales on our way home. Elizabeth said Abigail hadn’t wanted to go to bed the night before, so Elizabeth told her when she wakes up, she can go to Grandma’s. When Abigail opened her eyes the next morning she smiled and said, “Going to Grandma’s!” and was wide awake. How precious!

Lovina’s daughter Loretta and her friend Dustin prepared grilled whole chickens and salmon (wrapped in foil).

Loretta’s special friend Dustin’s birthday was on Monday, October 8, so Loretta went to their house in honor of his birthday. On Sunday evening Dustin and Loretta prepared supper on the grill for our family, also in honor of his birthday. Timothy, Elizabeth, Abigail, Mose, Susan and Jennifer joined us for supper. On the menu were grilled whole chickens, French fries, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, veggies and dip, cake and ice cream. The chicken was grilled and seasoned just right and was very juicy. It was a treat to me that supper was being prepared and I could just spend time with my granddaughters. Jennifer likes to gnaw at an apple; I think it feels good to her gums, with more teeth pushing through.

Next week’s plans include daughter Verena helping a lady from our church district who is on bedrest. Verena will watch her two little boys and get meals for them. Our church ladies are taking turns taking in supper, so there should be plenty of leftovers. It’s so good to help each other! I remember after my surgery how helpful it was to have people bring supper over to us almost every other night. That meant a lot to me.

We have now scheduled son Kevin’s surgeries for next year. He will have the heel lengthening surgeries done to help him get his balance better. He has what is called “limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A,” and he seems to have a hard time lately. The doctor doing his surgery at the children’s hospital is the same one who did both our daughters’ surgeries, so we know he’s in good hands.

The first foot surgery will be in January, and then the second foot in March. Hopefully it will all be healed for him when the warm days come next spring. Kevin will have many weeks in a wheelchair while recuperating. He won’t be allowed to put any weight on the foot for six weeks or more. I’m sure that going to school will help him pass the time.

God’s blessings!

Carrot Casserole

1 (2-pound) package carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 stick butter
1 sleeve (about 35) Ritz crackers, crushed

Boil carrots for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and slice into smaller pieces if desired. Add onion, sugar, cheese and mayonnaise. Stir and place in casserole dish. Melt butter and stir in crushed crackers. Spread on top of carrots. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Grandma Lovina’s dilemma: Which granddaughter to pick up when the buggy arrives?

It’s 6:45 a.m. and daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, just left for school. It’s still quite dark outside. Daylight Savings Time lasts until November, so it seems most of the school year it’s dark when they leave with the bus.

I think this is my favorite time of the day. After the morning rush of getting everyone off to work and school, I get a little time to read, write or just relax for a bit before starting my day. Right now I’m debating if we should wash laundry today. I’m waiting to see if it will be a nice day for it to dry.

Yesterday daughter Elizabeth, with little Abigail, and daughter Susan, with her Jennifer, came here with Susan’s and Mose’s horse and buggy. The horse, Rex, is a little hyper when he starts out. So very early in the morning, Mose helped Susan get on her way to Timothy and Elizabeth’s house, which is two miles away, before he left for work. When Susan and Jennifer arrived, Timothy was still home to take care of the horse before he left for work. Susan and Jennifer napped there at Timothy and Elizabeth’s house until it was daylight, and then they all traveled the six-and-a-half miles to our place.

Grandma was excited, as always, to go out to the buggy and carry both little girls inside! I’m not sure how long it will be until they get too big for me to carry at the same time. But it’s so hard to choose which little girl to carry inside, so I always just carry both! Jennifer was sleeping, and when she awoke in my arms she smiled and smiled at me. She is starting to say “Amen” when we get done saying our prayer before we eat. So precious!

I made Egg Dutch for our breakfast, along with toast and cheese. While we were eating, Elizabeth said she hadn’t gotten her laundry done yet. I told her we would all go over to her house after breakfast and help her wash her laundry. She was very glad for our help. While we were hanging up the rest of the laundry, Susan and Loretta went over to Susan and Mose’s house and took her clothes off the lines. She had it still hanging from the day before, because it rained before it was dry. Elizabeth made soup and sandwiches for our lunch. After lunch Elizabeth, Susan and I brought all the laundry in while Verena and Loretta washed dishes and cleaned up the house. We folded most of the laundry and then we all headed back to our house.

Timothy and Mose had plans to go hunting together, so the girls stayed here for awhile before heading back home. It was a nice day to help each other. And what a sunshiny, warm autumn day, with temperature reaching the upper 80s! I’m sure days like that are numbered this year.

Sons Benjamin, 19, and Joseph, 16, went to help a family from our church district one evening this week. The husband is laid up from a farm accident and can’t work for several weeks. His wife is also not allowed to do much, as she is also under a doctor’s care. The boys carried a large pile of wood inside for them. We wish both of them health and a complete recovery. They have three small children.

Saturday was also a nice day, so the boys went fishing on the lake with Dustin, Loretta’s special friend. They were fishing for pike but didn’t have much success. They said it was relaxing, though, so no time was wasted.

Also on Saturday daughter Verena left with Emma and her special friend Menno to visit friends in a community about one-and-a-half hours away. They had supper with one of their friends.

Rainbow hues strike the eye as two-year-old granddaughter Abigail’s homemade dresses dry after washing.

As I was hanging out clothes on the lines at Timothy and Elizabeth’s house, it was so peaceful. They have 31 acres and the woods and river are right behind their house. A very lovely and scenic setting. Leaves have a tinge of color so it won’t be long before we will see our Master Artist’s magnificent scenery.

God’s blessings to all!

Pumpkin Pie Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2–3 cups sugar (use more or less sugar as desired)
1 cup oil (or applesauce)
4 eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1/2 cup water

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. In a separate bowl beat together sugar, oil (or applesauce), eggs and pumpkin. To this, add flour mixture alternately with the water. Pour into two large greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Note: For best flavor, store wrapped in plastic wrap for one day at room temperature before serving.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Fall dinners mean batter up for fried fish, vegetables and onion rings

This column will wrap up September. October starts on Monday already! It’s a big day for deer hunters with the season opening.

Son-in-law Mose took our son Kevin, 13, out hunting on Saturday, when the youth hunt was held. Kevin shot his first deer, so that was exciting for him. Mose said the first thing Kevin said when he saw the deer lying there was, “Is that even enough meat to feed all eight of us?” Mose helped with the processing. Kevin was really tired from walking through the woods but was glad he finally was able to go hunting. He passed his hunter’s safety course two years ago but had never gone hunting until Saturday.

My husband Joe and I are on our way to see the dentist in a town around 45 minutes away. Our local dentist referred Joe to this dentist, as he wasn’t sure if the tooth could be pulled or would need surgery to have it extracted. Our good friend Beth is taking us. She is always so patient when she takes us to appointments. Joe doesn’t have to work tomorrow, so he hopes to make deer jerky with some of the meat from Kevin’s deer. He has the meat marinating in the refrigerator.

Last weekend son Benjamin and daughter Loretta went salmon fishing with Loretta’s special friend Dustin’s family. They had a nice time even though they didn’t catch any salmon. A few others who were along caught salmon. It’s a big fish to catch!

Then last night Loretta went to Dustin’s parents’ house, where his family enjoyed some of the salmon that Dustin’s brother caught. The meal was also in honor of Dustin’s brother Daniel’s 17th birthday.

Our married daughters and granddaughters came home yesterday

Lovina and Joe’s horse Ginger has a five-month-old filly, Sugar, pictured here beside Buddy the border collie.

for the day. Then our sons-in-law came in the evening, and they were all here for supper before leaving for home. It’s always so fun to spend time with the sweet little granddaughters!

Recently we went to niece Emma’s special friend Menno’s house for a fish fry. We were served a delicious supper. Menno lives on the property son-in-law Timothy lived on before he was married. So it always brings back memories going to his house. It was a nice evening, and we ate outside under canopies. All our family was there along with sister Emma, Jacob and family and sisters Verena and Susan. The fish was deep fried outdoors in a propane deep-fryer. People played outdoor games such as cornhole and horseshoe toss.

I will share the recipe at the end of the column for the breading we use for fish, zucchini, onion rings or whatever you wish to deep fry. A reader requested this recipe. I have shared it already, but I’ll post it again for new readers or those of you who might have missed it.

I am having a hard time concentrating on getting this written while we are driving along such scenic roads! Leaves are starting to turn color.

Grapes are ready at the u-pick place, so the girls and I want to go pick some grapes to put into grape juice. Hopefully we can go tomorrow.

We are now sitting in the waiting room. We’re finished with all the paperwork, and I’m going to bring this column to an end until next week. God bless you all!

Batter for Deep-Fat Frying

1/2 cup milk
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (or seasoning of your choice)

Mix together all ingredients and stir until lumps are smooth. Dip fish fillets or sliced vegetables in the batter. Drop in hot oil in a deep frying pan or Dutch oven. Fry until golden brown.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.