Christmas memories linger: brunch, family . . . and a big ball of plastic wrap

A brand new year lies before us! 2018 is here, and I want to wish all of you a blessed new year, lots of love and good health! We do not know what the new year holds, but we know God is in control. Let us trust him to lead the way.

I had a nice two-week break from writing this column. It went so fast, though, that I can’t believe it is time for me to pen it again! I appreciated the girls giving me a break over the busy holiday season. I still have a few late Christmas cards to get out in the mail for family. I am wanting to enclose a letter before sending the cards. To me, a letter with a Christmas card is worth more even if it is late.

Tomorrow my husband, Joe, will take off from work to go with daughter Verena and me to a children’s hospital in Ann Arbor (Mich.) for an appointment for Verena. She is meeting with the surgeon. We aren’t sure if they will plan a surgery or not. The roads aren’t in the best shape and it keeps snowing, so we pray for a safe journey there and back. It’s over a two-hour drive and with the traffic, sometimes more.

We had a nice Christmas Eve with our children here all day. The married girls and family came home the evening before and spent the night here. We had a big breakfast brunch: fried eggs, potatoes, bacon, cheese, toast, butter, strawberry jam, hot peppers, coffee, vegetable juice, orange juice, milk, hot chocolate, oranges and cookies. We set our table for fourteen with Abigail in the high chair. Nephew Henry is still staying with us, so he had Christmas with our family.

We ate our brunch around 9:30, and then we washed dishes after that before opening our gifts. We had a lot of fun with a big ball of plastic wrap. Everyone stood around the table and took turns unwrapping the plastic wrap, which was filled with little gifts. The dice was passed, and the person rolling a six could unwrap the plastic and keep whatever gifts were falling out until the next person got a six. Then the dice was passed, on and on around the table, until the ball was all unwrapped and the “grand prize” was won at the end of the ball. It is an exciting game and included the whole family—except for Abigail, who just stared at us with big eyes trying to figure out what all the excitement was about!

After our gifts were opened, everyone brought out snacks, which was quite a variety of food. There were veggies and dip, cheeseball and crackers, bologna and cheese roll-ups, party mix, peanut butter balls, chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter fudge, chips and salsa, peanuts and M&M’s mixed together and probably more than I can’t remember now. We played games such as Aggravation, Phase 10, Life on the Farm, and Corn Hole all afternoon.

Time went too fast, though, and before we knew it, it was time for everyone to leave. Daughter Loretta went home with Dustin, as his family was having Christmas together on Christmas day. I made a soup for anyone who was still hungry enough in the evening to eat.

Fresh bacon for the Eicher family.

On December 26, Joe and our sons, plus Timothy, Mose, Dustin and Henry butchered our two hogs. I never had to go help, as they did it all in good time. Pon hoss was made in the big kettle outdoors. It was a cold morning of nine degrees when they started. Joe and the boys and Dustin ground the sausage and sliced the pork chops and ham the next day. Joe sure enjoyed using his new meat slicer. The bacon is sliced nice and thin as well. The meat slicer was Joe’s birthday gift. His birthday was December 22, and everyone came for grilled hot wings, deep fried jalapeño poppers, French fries and mushrooms—and of course, ice cream and cake. On butchering day, then, we had mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, corn, salad, French-fried tenderloin, peanut butter pies, cherry delight and cake.

Next week I will write about our day with my three sisters and the gift exchange we had on New Year’s Day at Jacob and Emma’s house.

Foremost on our minds is Jacob’s dad, who is also Joe’s uncle. He is in very bad shape, suffering from a stroke he had on New Year’s Day. We were all at Jacobs’ when they received the call. Jacob and Emma left that evening for Berne to visit with him, but there isn’t much hope for recovery. We pray and let it all in God’s hands.

God bless!

Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6–8 boneless pork chops

Mushroom gravy:

1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
4 ounces mushroom stems and pieces
2 cups milk

Combine the first four ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Reserve three tablespoons of mixture. Add pork chops one at a time and toss to coat. In a large skillet, sauté chops in butter until golden brown. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

To make the gravy, sauté the onions and green peppers in the same skillet. Drain the mushrooms. Add and sauté with the onions and peppers until tender. Stir in reserved flour mix; gradually add milk until blended. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2–3 minutes until thickened. Pour over chops. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 50–60 minutes. Serves 6–8.

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.

Daughter, 13, writes her first column for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen

By Lovina Eicher, age 13

Greetings to readers around the world! This will be my first time ever writing this column. I am Lovina’s daughter Lovina, age 13. I am writing the column for a school project for my teacher (Mom).

On winter days like this I like to go sledding, then come inside and cuddle on the couch sipping hot chocolate. On warmer days I spend time outside with the horses, ponies and dogs. For now I have to deal with the cold weather! I love the snow, going sledding with my brothers, making all of them hot chocolate, staying warm and writing crazy stories. I love every part of winter.

Today I’m staying the night with my sister Verena at sister Susan and Mose’s house. Mose and Susan have moved into their new home now. Their house is cozy and warm. We brought Verena’s Yorkie dog, Ricky, with us. He propped himself in front of the stove and refuses to move.

Mose and Susan have a pellet stove. It is hopper fed and it makes a nice cozy heat. At home our coal stove is in the basement so Ricky doesn’t get to lay in front of it. With all the people we have at home, I’m not used to this quietness here at Mose and Susan’s house.

Today at church we had a potluck Christmas dinner. Every family brings a dish of food. They have casseroles, salads, fruits, pies, cakes, and the list continues. Sometimes I want to try everything but that wouldn’t be possible because I can’t eat that much.

Abby (Abigail) was at church today. I love spoiling her! She sure doesn’t like to sit quiet in church. She is always so full of energy and wants to run around. It seems Abby is growing up so fast that I can’t keep up with her. She’s starting to say words and know what they mean. I’m happy to say that she is my niece! She always makes my day even better.

Yesterday I helped sister Susan give her dog, Tippy, and Verena’s dog, Ricky, a bath. Today they are dirty again. They are kind of like the boys—never staying clean. The dogs like to jump in the snow and get soaking wet. Then they lay on the vent where the heat comes up from the basement to dry.

I’m excited for Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I can’t believe it’s that close already. There is snow on the ground. Dad and Mom are Christmas shopping sometimes and the days just seem to fly by. It is so cold and icy outside. Christmas is fun but the most important part is remembering the true meaning: Christ our Savior is born.

It is now Monday morning (December 17). I was so relaxed last night that I fell asleep early. Mose left for his job at the RV factory. He has their horse Rex harnessed and hitched to their buggy. Susan is coming to our house today to wash her laundry. They still aren’t set up to wash clothes at their house.

We are now at home. It was a chilly ride home. The five-and-one-half miles went fast with us three sisters chatting away. Mom made coffee soup and grilled cheese for our breakfast. Coffee soup is one of my favorite breakfast foods. It is just a little coffee with milk and some sugar added and heated. Then we put in crackers or toasted bread crumbs. Mom doesn’t think we should just eat coffee soup unless we eat something else with it. She doesn’t think it’s a healthy food.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Drive safe and stay healthy. And God bless you!

The recipe I’m going to share is very easy to make.

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter

Bring sugar and milk to a boil. Boil for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Put in an 8 x 8-inch pan and it’s done! Cool and serve.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is usually written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.

 

 

Verena writes about her recent birthday “mystery supper”

A birthday “mystery supper”

Hi! This is Verena filling in for my mother. With the upcoming holidays Mom needed a few extra columns written so I offered to write one. In this column I will write about my recent birthday party.

My birthday was December 10 and I turned 20 years old. These years sure don’t slow down! I’m officially no longer a teenager.

I can’t believe it’s this time of year again. Snow flying and icy roads. Safe travels for those of you that need to drive in bad weather.

My favorite thing I like about winter is when Mom and my sisters and I all relax around the table with hot chocolate on those cold winter mornings. Oh, and of course we love to chatter and tell stories of days when we were children.

I remember the many fun times of winter sledding. I still enjoy it very much. Of course, I’m now the one driving our pony Stormy with a metal sled tied to the back of the pony cart. I drive fast trying to throw someone off into the snow—especially my ornery brothers. We have a nice open hayfield where we go sledding.

On Sunday, December 10, I had my friends and family over for a birthday supper. I wanted to do a little something different, so we had a mystery supper. It was quite interesting such as “Idaho’s pride and joy” was mashed potatoes, “gold digger” was a fork, “silvery moon” was a spoon and “happy harvest” was corn. I had no idea what anything was but knowing my mom very well (she made the menu) I figured out a lot. I ended up with a salad but no ranch dressing and no fork. I ate my salad with a spoon which was a little complicated. Also a few people ended up with no fork or spoon. I ended up with mashed potatoes and no gravy. Some got ranch dressing but no salad. One of them had to eat corn without any silverware. We had a good laugh at some of them trying to eat. I appreciated all the gifts I received.

The menu was hot wings, mashed potatoes, gravy, pork chops, corn, salad, veggies and cheese. For dessert we had dirt pudding and birthday bars. Later ice cream and cake was served. After everyone had their plate and we tried to eat what we had with what we ordered, we could go get whatever food (and silverware) we wanted. I had 20 friends here and then Dad and Mom, Timothy and Elizabeth, and Mose and Susan served our food to us. We had to mark six items from the menu. While the servers filled our orders we sang Christmas carols.

Mose and Susan are now happily enjoying their new home. They are loving every bit of it. We really miss not seeing them every day. They still have a lot to unpack so we assisted Susan one day. Sister Elizabeth, Nikiah (who Elizabeth babysits) and my sweet little niece Abigail were also there.

We sure enjoy little Abby. She loves taking my covering off my head and taking out my hair clips. She will then put them all back in my hair. Shoes are another thing she’s discovered. She’ll take my shoes off and try putting them on her little feet. She likes to walk around with “big girl” shoes. She’s been getting all her teeth so that makes her unhappy once in a while.

I have a few favorite quotes and I’d love to share one with you all (author unknown): “If you want to read a powerful love story don’t look in romance novels; look in the Bible. Jesus gave his life on a cross. It was the most perfect and painful act of love in history and he did it for you and me.”

Merry Christmas and may God be with each and every one of you as you travel into the New Year of 2018. God bless you!

I will share a recipe for white Christmas cookies but they are good any time of the year.

White Christmas Cookies

1 cup Crisco
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
5 cups flour (approximate)
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon vanilla

Cream Crisco and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, soda, salt and extracts. Add cream; mix well. Roll out very thin and cut into various shapes. Decorate with colored sugar sprinkles or whatever you like. Bake at 350 degrees for 5–8 minutes. Store in tightly-covered container.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.

 

Painting, packing, plus home-demonstration parties

A cold morning of 11 degrees. It’s freezing and as Abigail would say, “Brrrr – cold!”

Eleven days until Christmas day. I just can’t believe how much faster every year goes by. Life goes on. Changes are made, some good, some bad. The most important part in life is to always let God guide us into the unknown future. He already knows what lies before us. He knows all the changes 2018 will bring. And he alone can help us accept whatever those changes will be.

Our big change here at the Eicher homestead right now is packing Mose and Susan’s belongings and moving them five-and-one-half miles away to their new home.

Mose and Susan’s house is almost done. The flooring is being laid. It takes a little more time to remodel an old farm house but it’s looking better. Last Friday the girls and I helped paint the walls and ceilings. Mose helped us after he came home from work. My muscles were sore the next day. We gave both bedrooms, living room, and dining room two coats of paint. Mose had to go get more paint. New drywall always seems to absorb more paint. We used a “paint plus primer” so that was easier to have it all in one. We were almost done and saw we needed still more paint so nephew Henry went to town and bought more paint. That was a long day to get the painting all done.

Mose and I finished up around 7:30 p.m. I was tired but it felt good to have accomplished our goal. And what a surprise to come home with supper all made. Loretta’s special friend Dustin came to help us after he was off work. He also did some more jobs for Mose while he was there that needed to be done before they move in. Dustin and Loretta came home earlier and prepared supper on the grill which he brought in. They had steak, red potatoes and mushrooms on the grill along with cheese for our supper. It was all very delicious and very much appreciated after a hard day’s work! Lord willing, we plan to move Mose and Susan’s belongings on Saturday.

A beautiful finished omelet.

Tuesday evening we went to a presentation about stainless steel cookware. The man showed us how to cook without water or oil in pans. He prepared supper for the six couples that were there. We were served chicken, potatoes, green beans and carrots all cooked in his cookware. Also an apple cake was prepared on top of the stove in a covered skillet. He showed us ways to use the cookware to eat healthier. I saw a few of the men (including my husband Joe) sneak some salt on their food. I never add much salt to my food because Joe always adds salt without tasting it first. My children grew up not tasting much salt on their food and don’t mind potatoes without salt. We use mostly sea salt for our table salt. It was an interesting evening and I learned a few things. He also prepared an omelet for us without having to flip the omelet, but still fully cooking it.

Last night the girls and I made omelets for everyone for supper. We made a total of 14 omelets using my stainless steel frying pan I’ve had for years, but cooking them a little differently.

Prepped up to make omelets for the whole family.

Friday evening daughter Loretta is hosting a Tupperware wedding shower for Dustin’s brother’s wife, Lisa. We will serve supper to the guests after the party. Hopefully Lisa will have a successful party and pick out some free Tupperware for her new home. Jake and Lisa were married in May so a homemaker can always use some more containers, choppers, etc.

It helps to have everything organized and ready to go before you start.

Now I must get busy. We will wash laundry today. It is nice to see the sun come out because our battery packs were getting low storing solar. With our water running off solar we need a charged battery. We do have a back-up generator but if we don’t need to waste gas its better.

I wish all of you a blessed Christmas and God’s blessings in 2018 and always! Safe travels and good health to all!

Thank you for all your support and encouragement through 2017!

Pancake Pizza

3 cups cake batter
1 dozen eggs, scrambled
1 cup cheese
6 cups sausage gravy (a recipe for sausage gravy is in my new cookbook)
1 pound bacon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour batter into 9×13 greased and floured cake pan. Bake 15 minutes or until done. Remove from oven.

While pancake is baking, scramble eggs in a large skillet. Layer eggs and cheese on top of baked pancake. Make a sausage gravy and put on top of eggs and cheese. Fry and crumble the bacon. Sprinkle on top of the gravy. Serve with or without maple syrup.

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.

 

 

Eichers attend early “Bethlehem” play by the Amish community

Eichers attend early “Bethlehem” play by the Amish community

Supper was later than usual tonight. The men were working on Mose and Susan’s house, sanding drywall. Mose and Susan bought the paint for the house today. Hopefully by Friday we can start painting.

Daughter Elizabeth, Abigail and Nikiah (the little girl Elizabeth babysits for) came here for the day. We all went to a local Amish store that is having a sale this week. They have daily drawings. Son Benjamin was a lucky winner. He won a big musical clock today. The grand prize drawing is two bus tickets for a round trip to Florida. The store had a discount storewide so we purchased some shoes, boots, coats, and the like.

My husband Joe grilled two whole chickens on the grill to go along with the rest of our supper. Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail ate supper with us before leaving for home. Abigail makes all the animal sounds when we ask her how the puppy, kitty, and more, go. It is so cute listening to her chatter. We see her grow and learn from week to week.

Our whole family enjoyed Friday evening at the Community Youth Center where daughter Verena was a servant in the “Bethlehem Inn” play acted out by some of the Amish in this community. A vegetable stew was made in a black kettle outside. When the guests arrived we walked through the little town of Bethlehem where people were all dressed as they did in those days. People were selling eggs, fruits, nuts; there was a blacksmith shop, and even a jail. When my husband Joe couldn’t find his ticket for the play right away he was taken to jail for a few minutes. (This was all in fun but gave everyone a glimpse of what it might have been like back then.) There were beggars coming around to people as they walked through town. It was all a person’s imagination of what it might have been like on the night Jesus our Savior was born.

We were then ushered into the inn (the community center) where tables were set up. The whole building was lit by candle and lantern light. We were served the vegetable stew and dinner rolls. There were bowls of grapes and cheese on the tables. While we were eating, one of the scenes was Joseph and Mary coming to ask if they could have a room in the inn for the night. They were turned away and later when the inn staff heard of the bright star on top of the manger where baby Jesus was born, we were all lined up to walk outside past the scene of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. There would be so much more to share but space in this column will not allow it. My friends Ruth and Karen went with us and they were amazed at what the community did to put on this play. It was all on a donation basis and the money will be put into making improvements in the building. This play was given three nights and a few hundred people could attend each evening.

While the guests filed back inside after seeing baby Jesus, we were handed a plate of warm brownies with a scoop of ice cream on top. The guests all sang two songs together before parting for home. It was a spiritually fun evening, to enjoy with family and friends.

It was also so nice to meet all of the readers that attended the book signings in Highland and Crown Point, Ind., this past Saturday, Dec. 2. We had a very good turnout and unfortunately ran out of books. We ordered more and they will be signed and delivered to the Crown Point store before Christmas. Our regrets to anyone for whom this was an inconvenience.

The readers were very encouraging to me and I want to thank everyone that attended. I was very excited when Aunt Caroline Coblentz, plus my cousin David and his wife Karen came to our Crown Point signing. What a good surprise. I miss seeing another cousin, Larry Coblentz in the crowd. He would come to a lot of my signings. He passed away from cancer a few years ago. A big thanks to my friend Ruth and also to Karen for driving us there and back. Also to my husband Joe and daughters Verena and Lovina for going along for support. Verena did a great job running the cash register for me.

God’s blessings! Here’s some hot soup for a cold night.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced or shredded cabbage
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup rice or barley
1 cup tomato or V8 juice
4 cups water
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary

Fry hamburger with onions and garlic until no longer pink; drain fat. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for one hour. Serves 6.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.

Holidays mean feeding 26 mouths and learning the perils of mail-order shopping

We had a rainy morning, but now the sun is shining brightly. Tomorrow we enter December and still no snow. Hopefully we won’t get it all at once! The temperature is showing 42 degrees.

Daughter Elizabeth and Abigail are here for the day. Elizabeth takes care of a little four-year-old girl named Nikiah every day while her mother works. Her mother is a friend Susan used to work with. With Nikiah and Abigail, she has her hands full. Nikiah likes to dress in Amish clothes when she comes here, and she likes to ride in the buggy with Elizabeth and Abigail. She calls me “Mom” because I’m the “Mom” around here.

Daughter Susan just left for a doctor appointment. Elizabeth brought a French toast casserole for our breakfast. The girls are washing dishes and sweeping floors and, of course, visiting. I am debating if I should move to my desk in our bedroom. If I’m not careful, I’ll start writing what they are saying! Ha, ha!

After I have this column written, we have plans to go to an Amish general store that just opened a few miles from here. They have an open house this week. Daughter Verena volunteered to stay here with Nikiah and Abigail.

Feeding 26 people on Thanksgiving Day requires a long table.

On Thanksgiving Day we had a total of twenty-six here. Jacob, sister Emma, Elizabeth and special friend Manuel; Emma and special friend Menno; Jacob Jr., Benjamin and Steven; sisters Verena and Susan; Timothy, daughter Elizabeth and Abigail; Mose and daughter Susan; Loretta’s special friend Dustin and nephew Henry all joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.

On the menu were two big turkeys (one was a smoked turkey), mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, corn, lettuce salad, veggies and dip, deviled eggs, cheese, homemade bread and dinner rolls, apple, pumpkin, cherry, and peanut butter pies, pumpkin roll, fresh fruit mixture and ice cream. Needless to say, not many were hungry for dessert with dinner! Before everyone left I put out all the food again so they could eat something.

Lovina’s Thanksgiving menu included these mouthwatering dishes.

But we still had more food left over, so I took it along to Mose and Susan’s house the next day. Jacob and sons, Menno, Manuel, Timothy, Dustin and Joe and our sons assisted son-in-law Mose in putting up new drywall in their house they will move to. We women and girls heated up the leftover food from Thanksgiving Day here at our house and took it over there for those hardworking men and boys. We all ate in the garage, since the house was dusty. Mose and Susan really appreciated all the help they had. A lot was accomplished that day. Most of the drywall was hung. Last night my husband Joe went with Mose to get a stove and new flooring for the house. The house is ready for drywall mudding once the heat is going in the house.

I am doing a lot of mail-order Christmas shopping and decided to send off for a meat saw for my husband Joe for his birthday, which is on December 22. He will be 49 this year. The UPS truck drove in, and I didn’t think anything of it when Joe said he would go out to get the package. I just didn’t think his gift would be arriving yet!

So I didn’t know which way to look when Joe walked inside with the box, which clearly showed that it was the meat saw. He had a big smile on his face and asked where I want the box. I knew I couldn’t make him believe that it was for someone else, so I just told him happy birthday. He was very glad for it, as he had been wanting one for a while. His birthday is so close to Christmas, so I guess it’s nice to have his gift early for once.

God’s blessings to all!

60-Minute Dinner Rolls

2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup warm milk
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted

Add yeast and sugar to warm milk and let stand for 15 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir well and let stand in warm place approximately 20 minutes, until double in size. Form into 24 egg-sized rolls. Place on a well-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

 Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.

 

Where Lovina hopes to be over a bug at Thanksgiving!

Where Lovina hopes to be over a bug at Thanksgiving!

It’s Wednesday morning and we have lots to do today. I think I have some kind of stomach flu. It makes me feel weak so I haven’t moved too far from my recliner yet. Hopefully I will feel better soon. I do not have time to be sick! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and I need to be well for my guests.

The school is having their annual Thanksgiving feast today. I won’t be able to make it but maybe the girls can go. Son Kevin, 12, wanted me to come, but I can’t when I’m feeling like this.

The Living Skills class always prepares and serves the feast. The menu is turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, corn, squash, applesauce, squash bread, and homemade pies. I don’t think this would be possible without the guiding hands of teacher Mr. Ultz. He has worked many years at the school and taught many students how to cook. The school would be lost without him for this class. It would take lots of patience to teach all the students how to cook. He has taught cooking to all eight of our children.

The girls or I usually fry the eggs for breakfast but one Saturday morning, my youngest son Kevin told me he would fry our eggs. He said Mr. Ultz taught him how to fry them so I showed Kevin how I fry six to eight eggs at one time on my griddle. Kevin fried up all two dozen eggs for breakfast that morning! He did a very good job. When we have fried potatoes we all like eggs fried over-easy. Son-in-law Mose does not like his eggs over-easy so it is always nice to have someone that will eat the eggs that break in the skillet and turn out well-done.

An Ohio buggy on a rainy day. Photo by M. Davis

We have not had more than a few snow flurries this season. Yesterday we had rain. Daughter Susan and I took our buggy and horse Mighty to town to get groceries. It rained on the way home. We have a small trailer that we pull behind the buggy to get groceries. On days when it’s cold and rainy, it makes me glad for our covered buggies. I was raised in a community with open buggies and how well I remember the cold rides. Our buggy has a heater but it’s not hooked up right now. We wait until it gets colder. I wear glasses, so when it rained in the open buggies and if I was driving, my glasses would be hard to see out of. We have hand-operated windshield wipers on our buggy now. Even though the wipers are hand operated (with batteries), it really helps to have them wiping off the outside of the windshield. Plus, I am always glad to have Mighty in town. He’s safe around traffic.

Last Saturday my husband Joe, sons Benjamin, Joseph and Kevin, and nephew Henry all assisted Mose and Susan with blowing in insulation in their house walls and attic. Joe and Mose were over there one afternoon after work this week and also put new drywall up in the bedroom. They want to put new drywall in the dining room and living room. They will also take out a wall and add a hallway going to the bathroom from the living room. The insulation and drywall will make the house so much easier to heat. The carpet was pulled out and new floors will be put in after the painting is done.

I have two turkeys to get ready today to put in the oven early in the morning. I always like to have the dressing mixed together and the potatoes peeled and in chunks. It makes it so much easier if all of this is done before tomorrow morning.

Last night son-in-law Moses shot his first doe this hunting season. That is now the third deer that is getting processed here. Loretta was fortunate enough to get two deer in this first hunting season for her.

I’ll close with a delicious recipe for another day! And I wish each of you a blessed Thanksgiving tomorrow. For those of you that have to travel—safe travels to you. God bless you!

Loaded Chicken and Potatoes

2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
6-8 medium red potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
½ tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 cups fiesta blend cheese (or your favorite kinds)
1 cup bacon bits
1 cup diced green onions

Mix oil and seasonings. Add chicken and potatoes. Stir to coat and carefully transfer into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 55-60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes until cooked through, crisp and browned on outside. Top with cheese, bacon and onions. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted. Serve with hot sauce and/or Ranch dressing or sour cream.

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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 mothers can’t sleep until all the children are home

When mothers can’t sleep until all the children are home

It is Thursday morning and time to get this column written. Time goes so fast from week to week. How can it be Thanksgiving Day next week already? We will be hosting the Thanksgiving meal here for sisters Verena, Susan, Emma and Jacob and families, and our family. We four sisters get together every year on Thanksgiving Day unless there are other plans. We all exchange names for Christmas. We are a total of 25 now. We usually set the table for all of us which makes a pretty long table already.

We will have turkey and all the trimmings. Daughter Elizabeth wants to make all the pies for Thanksgiving this year. She is getting to be a good pie baker. My sisters usually all bring food as well so we end up with lots more food then we need.

My husband Joe and the boys are off to work this morning. It’s a little rushed on the mornings they all leave around the same time. Getting all those lunches packed and water jugs filled with water and ice takes time. I also make coffee for Joe and nephew Henry to take along in a coffee mug. Our sons don’t drink coffee. Joe and I are the only ones that do. Mose and Susan like tea instead. I remember my mother would have a cup of warm tea by all our plates for breakfast sometimes. Our children drink iced tea better than warm tea. They would also choose hot chocolate over tea in the cold winter mornings.

I put a salad in Joe’s lunch today. It’s hard to keep up with who likes what in their lunch. Son Benjamin always wanted ham sandwiches. One day he was so tired of ham and didn’t want any more. I started making burrito wraps and then that didn’t sound good any more. If they don’t have a way to heat up food it’s hard to think of what to put in their lunch. I heat up soup once in a while and put it in a thermos to keep it warm. It’s easiest packing your own lunch because you know what you are hungry for more than anyone else. Son Kevin, 12, packs his own school lunch every morning.

Yesterday my daughters and I spent the day at daughter Elizabeth’s house. They will be hosting church services in January or February so she is getting her closets cleaned and organized already. She has two spare bedrooms on the main level that they mostly use when they have overnight company. The one bedroom she does use for her sewing room as well. She has those two rooms cleaned. We helped her clean out the closet in the hallway area. Son-in-law Timothy put up three shelves in it so she can put all her cleaning supplies, rags, brooms, stock pots, etc. in there. We turned the laundry room she had into a baby room for Abigail. We moved the changing table, dresser and all of Abigail’s clothes in there. Timothy had moved the washing machine down to the basement earlier this fall so Elizabeth washes clothes down there now.

Abigail’s crib is in Timothy and Elizabeth’s bedroom. I know the feeling that it is nice to have your little one close by during the night hours. I well remember the sleepless nights caring for the children. There are nights when I can’t sleep now waiting until the last one is home. I don’t think a mother every stops looking after her children. The children say, “Mom go to bed, don’t wait up on us.” But until you are a parent yourself you don’t quite understand. I tell them I used to tell my mother the same thing and wonder why she couldn’t sleep until we were all home at night. God watches over us. His blessings to all!

Try this banana chocolate chip sheet cake. It is a new cake we enjoyed this week. I had ripe bananas to use up some way.

A great way to use up bananas that are getting older.

Banana Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake

1 2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup mini chocolate chips for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 1/2 x 15 inch sheet pan. Beat together butter and sugar until mixture resembles crumbs. Add eggs, vanilla and mix again. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt than gradually add to butter mixture. Add mashed bananas and buttermilk and mix together well. Fold in 2/3 cup of chocolate chips. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Note: Cake is done when corners start to pull back from sides of pan and top of cake springs back when pressed gently in the center.

Frosting: Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla; gradually add confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth. Spread evenly on cooled cake and garnish with chocolate chips.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.

 

Autumn’s “slow time” a reminder that Lovina has been writing column for 15 years

Autumn’s “slow time” a reminder that Lovina has been writing column for 15 years

We are finally seeing the sun shine after a dreary, rainy week. Why does life always seem better when the sun is shining? With our water system, freezers and other appliances working off solar power, the battery gets low when there isn’t much sun. When that happens, we have to use a generator to charge the big battery. We are always glad when the sun shines at least for a day to charge up the battery.

The Eicher household has a new hopper-fed coal stove in the basement. This stove heats the whole house. The outside jacket is on so they can route the heat upstairs or can open the door and let some of the heat into the basement when clothes are drying.

Last night daughter Loretta was excited to shoot another deer. This was a buck, and a nice-sized one. I wrote in my last letter that she uses a compound bow, but it’s actually a crossbow, not a compound bow. (I’m pretty sure other writers can relate that sometimes you mean one thing and write another!) And with me not being a hunter, I get the bows mixed up once in a while.

Loretta, Justin and Mose did not have to go far to find this deer, as Loretta had made a pretty accurate shot. Dustin dressed the deer last night for Loretta. The meat from the doe she shot last week is coming in handy. Dustin fixed the steaks on the grill, and the venison burger is getting bagged for the freezer. Son Kevin wants sloppy joe sandwiches made with the venison burger. He thinks venison makes the best sloppy joes.

We were helping over at Mose and Susan’s house on Saturday. There were still a lot of things in there from the former owners. They are going to remodel some of the rooms before they move in. That should make it heat better.

Some readers have asked what kinds of wedding gifts are received at Amish weddings. A variety of gifts are given, such as: household items, kitchen items, tools, towels, blankets, Tupperware bowls, garden tools, utensils, food choppers, clothes racks, pressure cookers and canning jars. A lot of people give money. The amount spent depends on how closely related you are to the couple. Parents and siblings and close friends usually give bigger gifts than the rest. I hope this helps answer questions.

Daughter Verena went to a practice session for the upcoming Bethlehem Inn play that will be held at the community youth center. They will act out the birth of baby Jesus. When Joseph and Mary come to the inn and are refused a place to stay, a meal will be served to the guests. We want to get tickets to go to this event.

I am now finishing this column the following morning. What a pretty sunrise in the east. Looks promising for another nice day. Daughter Elizabeth and Abigail will come to spend the day here. I want to make a breakfast casserole and put it in the oven so it’s ready when they get here. Abigail doesn’t like to be covered up in the buggy and always has cold little cheeks when she comes. She thinks she needs to help Elizabeth drive their horse, ShiAnn. She is always slapping the driving lines and saying, “Giddyap.”

Son Kevin, 12, left on the bus for another school day. With the time change—we call it changing back to “slow time”—there’s more daylight now when he leaves. It seems like we are going to bed earlier with the time change. It gets dark earlier, so I think we eat supper earlier even though it seems later. The deer hunters liked the fast time better, as they had another hour of daylight in the evenings. Joe is a morning person, so he likes the early daylight in the mornings. I really don’t mind either time, but I wish it would just stay to one! I don’t like the changing back and forth. Some of our clocks don’t ever get changed back sometimes.

This October it has been 15 years that I started penning this column. Mother wrote for 11 years before me. On September 17, it was 15 years since she passed away so suddenly. We still miss her so much. But God makes no mistakes.

God’s blessings to you!

Soup, cornbread, fresh veggies and cheese make a nice winter meal for lunch or supper. [Melodie Davis photo]
 Cornbread

1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients. Add liquids. Stir just until moistened. Do not overmix. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact 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 daughters do something their mother never even wanted to do

We have entered the eleventh month of the year already. 2017 is going fast but then every year does. It really seems like the older you get the faster it goes.

We will be having a change around here with daughter Susan and Mose being homeowners and moving in the near future. Saturday we will go help them with whatever needs to be done.

Yesterday daughter Elizabeth and Abigail came here for the day. We canned chicken broth for Susan and me. I will give some to Elizabeth since she doesn’t have any right now. It takes time to debone the meat and pressure cook the broth.

Son-in-law Timothy came here from work to drive the buggy home with Elizabeth and Abigail. He started a new job at an RV factory so his hours have changed. It always takes some getting used to a different job but it sounds like he likes it.

Abigail was her usual cute self just winning all the hearts around here. When Grandpa (my husband Joe) comes home from work she will go run so he comes after her. She takes him to the jar where he keeps suckers and reaches for one. How quickly they catch on to where candy is. She will lick the sucker for a while and then when she’s distracted we can sneak it away from her.

When we go out to the buggy to get her when they come she always has such a sweet smile for us. She was showing me her new pink mittens. I am surprised she leaves them on her little hands. Now this Grandma has to quit talking about her grandchild. I imagine all you grandparents know how precious it is to have grandchildren.

We were all excited for daughter Loretta, 17, last night. She shot her first deer with her compound bow. Son-in-law Mose and Dustin (Loretta’s special friend) helped track it down. Dustin dressed it and has it hanging ready to be cut up. Loretta never thought she would get the chance to go hunting or even be able to shoot the bow let alone hit the deer. We are happy for her. I told her she has done something I never could do.

We laughed when Mose told us about the time our daughter Susan almost shot a deer. When he asked her why she didn’t she said, “Well he was looking at me and I couldn’t pull the trigger.” When Loretta was a little girl she would go hunting with my husband Joe sometimes. She couldn’t hunt but the children liked to go sit with him in the woods. One time Joe saw a doe and it would have been a good shot but Loretta yelled to the deer so it could get away. She had been reading about Bambi and couldn’t bear to see a deer get shot. So now we are surprised she could shoot one of her own.

Last Friday was a cold and rainy day for the wedding of Melvin and Lisa in Rochester, Indiana. They had plenty of room for everyone to be inside which helped. Sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, Jacob, and sons Benjamin and Steven, Joe and I, and sons Joseph and Kevin traveled the two hour drive to Rochester to the wedding. We were served a delicious meal consisting of barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, noodles, corn, broccoli, and cauliflower salad, sliced cheese, bread buns, butter, jelly, pumpkin, apple and peanut butter pies, fresh fruit mixture, tapioca pudding, cake, etc. We had a nice time visiting with friends and family. Sister Liz and Levi were also there so five of us sisters were there.

Lovina and family get ready for fall with some great pumpkin recipes. Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis.

The girls are washing laundry and it’s another rainy day so it looks like it will be hung on the lines in the basement. God bless!

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Avoid using paper liners as they make it difficult to remove cupcakes. You can use foil liners, just spray the insides first.

Mix the pumpkin, sugars, eggs, vanilla and milk. Add the flour, spice, salt, baking powder and soda to the mixture. Fill each muffin with 1/3 cup of the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.  Serves 12.

 

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.