Helping family prepare to host church services brightens dreary winter days

We had a few days of sunshine, which we very much appreciated. A person is so much more energetic and life looks better when the day is sunny! We had a lot of gloomy January days when we didn’t see the sun too often. With all the solar panels we have, that can be a bad thing. We managed, although we had to use the generator to charge up the big battery packs when the sun didn’t shine.

Monday’s temperatures jumped up in the fifties with lots of sunshine. It was enough to give us all spring fever. We know winter isn’t over, though. And with butchering pork and beef yet ahead of us, that’s a good thing. We plan to do that as soon as we are done helping Jacob and Emma prepare for church services. We always help each other butcher pork, so we wanted to wait. January had a lot of warm days that would not have been so good for chilling the meat.

Last Saturday we assisted Jacob and Emma with cleaning for church services they will host this coming Sunday. My husband, Joe, and our sons helped hang drywall. Jacob and Emma are in the process of remodeling their house, so it’s hard to keep the dust under control. They have all the drywall hung now and will wait to finish the remodeling until after they have church services.

Church bench wagon, pulled by horses. It goes from one home hosing church services to another, bringing the necessary seating. Photo by Grant Beachy

Church services will be held in the attached garage they built onto their house last year. They will put in new floors after the painting is done. Emma is getting new kitchen cabinets sometime. I am sure she will like that because she didn’t have many before. She will be glad for more storage space.

Yesterday my sisters Verena and Susan, daughter Elizabeth and baby Abigail, daughters Susan and Verena and son Benjamin and I went to help Emma with her work. Benjamin helped clean out the tools and do the heavy lifting for us. He also started tearing out a bathroom they needed to have torn out.

Benjamin took our horse and a horse-manure spreader over to Jacob and Emma’s on Monday to help haul manure from their barn out to the field. It was such a beautiful day for the job to be done.

Tomorrow we will help Emma again. She will get more help on Friday, so things should start falling into place for Sunday.

Abigail is feeling a lot better and is sweeter than ever. She is starting to hug me when she sees me. On Friday she will be five months old.

Son-in-law Mose had a birthday Sunday, February 5. We had chicken, hot wings, and banana poppers on the grill in honor of his birthday on Sunday evening. We had chocolate and white cupcakes instead of cake. Lately there has been a lot of cake around, so it was a little different to have cupcakes. People loved the whipped-topping frosting on them. I will share the recipe at the end of this column. Cakes or cupcakes with this frosting have to be refrigerated.

I forgot to mention that sister Susan is also gaining strength and getting her health back since her recent hospital stay. My wish is for good health to all of you, and may God bless each of you!

Does anyone have a recipe for a banana roll (similar to a pumpkin roll)? A reader requested this recipe, and I don’t have one.

Whipped-Topping Frosting (for cake or cupcakes)

1 (4-oz.) box instant pudding mix, any flavor
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup milk
1 (8-oz.) container whipped topping

Add pudding mix, powdered sugar and milk in a mixing bowl. Mix until blended. Let mixture stand three minutes and then fold in whipped topping (defrost it first if it was in freezer). Spread on cake or cupcakes. Keep refrigerated.

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

Week marred by illness brightened by kind gesture

We have entered the month of February. The temperature has dropped to the teens again, and we have had several more inches of snow.

Last Friday the girls and I helped daughter Elizabeth with the final preparations for hosting church services on Sunday, January 29. Joe and I and the children went again Saturday so Joe and the boys could help Timothy set up the church benches in their basement. The girls and I helped Elizabeth peel the eggs she had cooked for egg salad. We also mixed the peanut butter spread. I made cheese spread here at home on Friday night. Elizabeth prepared two big roasters with casserole for Sunday evening. It makes it easier to have these prepared so they can simply be put in the oven Sunday afternoon for supper.

Timothy and Elizabeth were both really organized and finished everything that needed to be done by late Friday afternoon. They do not have the biggest basement to host church services in, but there was plenty of room to seat everyone. A lot of Timothy’s family from other church districts attended, but we had a few families missing from our church district. Those families were attending baptismal services in another church district. So it all worked out well.

The menu for lunch consisted of homemade wheat and white bread, egg salad, peanut butter spread, cheese spread, pickles, red beets, hot peppers, raspberry jam, butter, coffee and spearmint tea. For dessert there were chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar, and oatmeal cookies.

Loretta’s friend Dustin surprised Lovina by volunteering to make his special skillet meal. The recipe appears in this week’s column.

On Friday night after coming home from helping Elizabeth, I had a nice surprise. Loretta’s special friend Dustin came with groceries and prepared supper for us. This was such a treat to me, as I had been thinking that I would have to come home and prepare supper yet. For the recipe this week, I will share one of the dishes he made for us. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did. Since Dustin doesn’t have a recipe for this dish, he helped me write one down the best we could. I told him I would name it Dustin’s Skillet, and he laughed.

I have left the not-so-good news for last. Sister Susan had been sick for a while and couldn’t attend church services at Timothy and Elizabeth’s house. Monday morning she ended up in the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital. She was there three days and then released to come home.

Little Abigail had a cough and it worsened over the weekend. Elizabeth took her to the doctor on Monday morning. The doctor said she has bronchitis and croup. Since they don’t have insurance, the doctor said they could try treating her at home for one night, giving her breathing treatments with a nebulizer. We still have the nebulizer that we had to use a lot on son Kevin, so they borrowed that. Elizabeth took Abigail back to the doctor the next day, and she was better than before. They are still giving her the treatments, and she seems to be getting better. Sweet little baby: she could still smile at us even though she had a fever. I’m thankful sister Susan and Abigail are both on the mend. Good health means so much!

May God bless you, and may you stay healthy. Thanks to all you readers for keeping Verena and our family in your prayers.

Dustin’s Skillet

1 pound breakfast sausage
1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
12 ounces shrimp, cooked, with tails cut off
2 green peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

In a skillet, fry together sausage, bacon and shrimp until sausage and bacon are cooked. Drain grease and put skillet back on burner. Add chopped green pepper and onions. Cook briefly. Then add sliced mushrooms and stir while heating until vegetables are hot.

 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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

Can you ever have too much birthday cake?

Yesterday, January 24, was daughter Susan’s twenty-first birthday! My sister Liz also has a birthday on the same day. She turned forty eight. A happy birthday to both!

Friday evening, Mose’s family brought in supper here at Mose and Susan’s. It was a surprise for Susan. They wanted us to join them for supper. On the menu were a variety of homemade pizzas, lettuce, salad, and ice cream cake. Mose will have a birthday on February 5 so this was in honor of both of their birthdays. Mose’s brother Joe and wife Mary came for the event and spent the weekend with Mose and Susan. They live around an hour and fifteen minutes north of here.

Last night Timothy, Elizabeth and baby Abigail, Loretta’s special friend Dustin, and our family had supper over at Mose and Susan’s also in honor of her birthday. That night we had chili soup, banana pepper poppers, hot wings, macaroni salad, sliced cheese, cake, and applesauce. Mose and Susan have had their share of birthday cake.

Saturday Timothy and Elizabeth attended a late Christmas gathering for his family at his sister’s house. They are busy preparing to host church services on Sunday. Joe and I and some of the children assisted them with their work late afternoon and evening. We finished cleaning the basement where church services will be held. After we were done Timothy grilled venison burgers on the grill while we helped Elizabeth with the rest of the meal. We also enjoyed watching daughter Verena give Abigail a bath. Oh what fun to watch her kick in the water! She loves to play with the little rubber ducks in the water. She is growing so fast. She just jabbers away trying to “talk” to us. She has naturally curly hair and after it’s wet her curls are so cute.

Last week Loretta and I helped Susan with some organizing in their quarters in the pole barn. Loretta sewed curtains for some windows. Son Benjamin hung the curtain rods for us. Mose built a shelf for them to store some of their excess belongings. It makes it look a lot more organized and easier to find what they are looking for.

Tonight we made bacon, ham, and cheese omelets for everyone for supper. We told Mose and Susan to come eat with us. We added onions for those who wanted onions in theirs. We have lots of eggs so that makes an easy supper. Timothy and Elizabeth have a few chickens so their eggs are accumulating too. Elizabeth wants to make egg salad for the church lunch. I will make cheese spread for her. We have “dried up” our cow Bessie because she will be calving in March. If you wonder how that’s done, you basically just stop milking her. We first slowed down by skipping a milking every few days and then stopping. It’s different to have to buy milk again.

I will share the cheese spread recipe with you. This recipe will be in my cookbook this spring. I don’t always use the brand name Velveeta cheese. You can buy cheaper brands and it still works.

God bless you!

Homemade Church Cheese Spread
6 pounds Velveeta cheese
1 1/2 cups butter
8 cups cream

Put everything in a big roaster and bake at 150 to 200 degrees stirring every 15 minutes until all is melted. Remove from oven. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from getting a crusty top while cooling. The spread is served on a sandwich with or without meat. It is good just spread on bread with some pickles.

 

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

Scary moments for Eicher family

Scary moments for Eicher family

It is Thursday morning and past time for this column to be on its way.

Joseph, 14, Lovina, 12, and Kevin, 11, are almost ready for the school bus. Son Benjamin, 17, is hitching up a horse to take our daughter Susan to work. The temperature is staying right around the freezing mark this morning. All our snow has disappeared. The weather lately seems too warm for this time of the year. We are hoping for more cold weather next month which makes it easier to butcher beef and pork. When the temperature is cold, you can keep the meat cold while you work with it.

Our week started out differently from usual. Susan and I were washing laundry in the basement when daughter Loretta, 16, heard something fall upstairs in the hallway. She called up to daughter Verena, 19, and didn’t get an answer. Since it takes Loretta longer to climb the stairs, she yelled down to the basement for us to come help.

Verena was breathing but could not open her eyes or talk to us. I called her doctor and they said to take her to the ER. Lots of tests were done, but she would not respond. The doctors decided to transfer her to a bigger hospital an hour away. She was admitted there and a CT scan, MRI, and lots more testing was done. She started opening her eyes and finally said a few words to me. Tuesday evening she was released and we brought her home. The doctors think it was due to some recent head trauma that caused her to black out like that. She has a history of lots of small concussions since a bad one in 2009 in which she lost over a year of her memory. She has been through a lot. She seems weaker than usual since she’s home and has headaches. She would be interested to hear from others that have dealt with post-concussive syndrome after a brain concussion. She has had her share of hospital visits due to past concussions. The brain is hard to figure out and doctors still have lots to study about how differently one brain heals from another.

It’s a scary moment for the family when you can’t get someone to respond and not sure what will happen. That is when we especially depend on God! He is in control. Let us trust him for he makes no mistakes.

Today we will go help daughter Elizabeth with her cleaning preparing for church services at their house. Her husband Timothy’s family went to help them on Tuesday. Church services will be there a week from Sunday. This is a new experience for them to host church services. Jacob and Emma will host services two weeks after Timothy’s so we also want to help Emma with her cleaning. It doesn’t look like there will be much time to rest this winter. Our friend Beth is going to take us to Elizabeth’s with her van. I didn’t want Verena to ride in the buggy yet. Verena will go along but can rest over there. She can help keep Baby Abigail entertained while we clean.

Time this morning is going fast and I need to be ready to go by 8:30 a.m. God’s blessings to all. Prayers would be greatly appreciated and we will do likewise in great weakness. Stay healthy!

Try this breakfast casserole. We like something like this even for supper.

Cheesy Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

8 frozen hash brown patties
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Place hash brown patties in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes or until browned, turning patties after 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Add milk, sour cream, garlic powder, mustard and pepper; mix well. Stir in bacon, 6 ounces of the cheese and onions. Pour over hash brown patties. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (add more cheese if desired).

Bake 40-50 minutes or until center is set and edges are golden brown.

 

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

 

Getting to work in snow and ice when you’re Amish—and more

We are having a thunderstorm this morning: not at all normal weather for January. The temperature is hanging around 34 degrees so some places could be icy.

Daughter Susan has to be at work by 9:00 a.m. She was going to drive the buggy but called a driver instead (“drivers” are non-Amish people that we hire to take us to and from work or town if we can’t go with a buggy and horse) to take her this morning. Son Benjamin isn’t working today so he’ll go pick her up with the horse and buggy this afternoon when she is finished with her work.

Benjamin plans to haul manure out to the fields today since the temperature has warmed up this week. He also worked at that yesterday. Our horse, Mighty, pulls the one-horse manure spreader. Our old horse, Diamond, was always the one we used to haul manure. We miss having him around after having him over twenty years.

Our new chickens have been laying an abundance of eggs. We still haven’t butchered the old hens, so they are also providing eggs.

The table is ready for a big gathering for “Old Christmas.”

Friday “Old Christmas” (January 6) that I wrote about last week ended up being a very enjoyable day. My sister Emma, Jacob and family, my sister Verena and Susan, and our family were all here. Nephew Benjamin had my name in the gift exchange. I received some dish towels and a mop bucket on wheels with a spin mop. This makes mopping so much easier for the girls. No bending over to squeeze out the mop and the bucket has a dolly with wheels to push the bucket around.

Lots of nice gifts were exchanged. Son Kevin received a game called Quick Cups which some of us played. I never heard of this game but it was fun. Each person had five different color cups and everyone took turns flipping a card. Whoever stacked the cups in order of the colors on the cards first, rang the bell and could keep that card. The person with the most cards at the end of the game won. We also enjoyed playing Mad Gab. That is always a loud, exciting game and lots of fun to try and figure out what the card says. After a haystack breakfast for brunch we enjoyed snacks in the afternoon. Veggies and dip, fruits, and venison summer sausage and venison snack sticks were among the snacks. We like to add some healthy snacks instead of so many sweets.

Saturday Joe and I and some of our children spent the day helping daughter Elizabeth and Timothy. Joe and Joseph helped Timothy lay a new hardwood floor in their living room while Verena, Lovina and I washed off the walls and ceiling and cleaned furniture from the living room. Church services will be there in two and one-half weeks so lots of cleaning is being done.

Lovina, Joe and family enjoyed putting together the biggest puzzle they’ve ever attempted.

We finished the 2000 piece puzzle we got for Christmas on Sunday afternoon. It took us two weeks to complete it. This is the biggest puzzle we have ever done. We want to glue it and get a frame made for it. Challenging but fun!

Yesterday friends and family gathered for a late Tupperware wedding shower for daughter Susan at daughter Elizabeth’s house. Lunch was served afterwards. Susan received lots of nice storage containers to add to her kitchen. She appreciated everyone that contributed and also for Elizabeth opening up her home to everyone. The recipe this week comes from the woman who demonstrated the Tupperware products at the shower, which we enjoyed sampling at the end.

God’s blessings to all!

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (20-oz.) can pineapple slices, undrained
5 maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 (18.25-oz.) package yellow cake mix
water
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and brown sugar. Mix well, then spread evenly over bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Drain pineapple, reserving the juice; set aside. Arrange pineapple slices over sugar mixture, then put a cherry half in center of each pineapple slice; sprinkle with nuts. Add enough water to pineapple juice to make 1 1/3 cups liquid. In a bowl, combine cake mix, liquid, eggs and oil; whisk until blended and smooth. Pour over fruit mixture. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Carefully loosen edges of cake and invert onto 18×12-inch grooved cutting board or other large flat plate and cool slightly. Decorate with whipped topping using a frosting bag and tip, or just spoon dollops of whipped topping around the cake. Slice and serve.

 

 

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

Eichers usher in new year by doing puzzles, coloring, and celebrating Old Christmas

A brand new year—2017—awaits us. What will it hold for everyone? Although it doesn’t have to be a new year to make resolutions, it’s a good time to start. It amazes me how fast one year after another goes!

When the children were younger, winters seemed to last forever. Now it seems like I don’t have enough cold months to stay sewing at the sewing machine. It’s so hard to keep up with sewing pants for the three boys. Kevin, 11, seems to grow taller every month. Joseph, 14, is taller than Benjamin, 17, so there are no more “hand-me-downs.” Benjamin works in construction, so his pants get lots of wear and tear.

We had a very nice Christmas together with our children. Everyone gathered here on Christmas Eve and stayed for the night. It was baby Abigail’s first time sleeping at our house. So sweet to see her wake up in the morning and then give such a bright smile!

We all enjoyed breakfast together and then washed the dishes. Then we gave gifts to each other and enjoyed watching each other open them. How precious these family times are. They mean even more to me now, with two of our children no longer living in our house.

We played games, and some enjoyed coloring. A person can never get too old to color! We also started a 2,000-piece puzzle that daughter Susan and Mose gave for a gift to my husband Joe and I. We always put together 1,000-piece puzzles, so Susan wanted to challenge us even more. We now have the puzzle more than halfway done. It is a picture of a lighted cabin and two deer standing by the woods. We would like to glue this one and frame it.

I think it’s so relaxing to sit and work on the puzzle after supper on these cold winter nights. It gives a person a chance to unwind. I remember well how often, years ago, our puzzles would get pushed off the table or messed up by our little children. I imagine it won’t be long until we will have grandchildren who are old enough to enjoy trying to mess them up. Life goes on!

One day while Joe and the children were on Christmas break, we had company stop by. It was Ruth Coblentz and Rose Chapman. They are both cousins to Joe’s dad. Ruth’s husband, Dave, is deceased but was a cousin to my father. Brother Albert had sent us some pon hoss, a fried dish from leftover hog meat, from when they butchered hogs. We were having that for a late breakfast, so Ruth and Rose got to taste it too. The children love coffee soup and eggs with pon hoss. We had a nice visit with the cousins.

The Eicher family enjoyed opening gifts together on Christmas Day and then again on “Old Christmas,“ celebrated on January 6.

Friday, January 6, is what we call “Old Christmas,” and the Amish in this area honor that day. We will have my sisters here in Michigan for a gift exchange and to spend the day together. We are a total of 25 now. We already have the tables set up to seat 24 people. Abigail doesn’t need a place setting yet. Our children are always excited to set the table for all of us.

These pecan pie bars are a great snack and a family favorite. Happy 2017 and God bless!

Pecan Pie Bars

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup corn syrup
dash salt
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

In a small bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar. Gradually add flour, mixing until blended. Pat into ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–22 minutes or until golden.

In another small bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt until smooth. Pour over crust; sprinkle with pecans. Bake 40–45 minutes longer or until set. Cool. Cut into bars.

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

Lovina unveils three recipes from her forthcoming cookbook

In order to take a little time off from writing this column, I’m sharing three recipes from my cookbook coming out in April,
(Herald Press). I, and about half my family, were down with the flu as my deadline for the column approached this week, so this “vacation” comes at a good time. There is a lot of stuff going around and I know many who are sick. It is that time of year. I hope your family is well.

Enjoy trying one or more of these: the first one for caramel corn we enjoy when we have time to play games as a family, such as on New Year’s Eve or Day. The second is for a salad using uncooked frozen peas that might make you think ahead to spring; finally, an easy recipe for BBQ chicken sandwiches using chicken you’ve cooked and cut into pieces.

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis

Party or family gathering

QUICK CARAMEL CORN

1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 quarts popped popcorn

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan. Add brown sugar and corn syrup.

Heat to boiling and boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the molasses and boil for an additional 2 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.

Remove from heat and add vanilla, salt, and baking soda, stirring briskly.

Pour over popped corn and stir until popcorn is thoroughly coated.

Salad

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber – Landis

PEA AND CHEESE SALAD

1 (12-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed, or an equivalent amount fresh peas, cooked until just tender
1 cup celery, chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup Colby cheese, cubed
½ cup radishes, sliced
¼ cup green onion, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

In a medium bowl, combine the peas, celery, eggs, cheese, radishes, and green onion. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and salt. Pour mayonnaise mixture over the vegetable mixture and mix well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make sure the peas are well drained or the salad will be watery.

Meat

BBQ CHICKEN SANDWICHES

2 cups celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken, cooked and diced
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups ketchup
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven or large pan, sauté celery, onion, bell pepper, salt, and pepper in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for

1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve on buns.

Makes 15 good-sized sandwiches.

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

Eicher family’s Christmas plans; plus cookie decorating for children

Today is my husband Joe’s 48th birthday. I wish him a very happy birthday and many more healthy years ahead. I couldn’t ask for a better man to spend my life with. We were married on July 15, 1993. God blessed us with eight loving children. We have had trials and sunshine throughout the 23 years. I don’t know what we would have done without God’s guiding hand over us. I can’t thank God enough for all the blessings we have received.

Christmas is on Sunday! Our family will gather here on Saturday evening and spend the night. We are excited to have sweet little Abigail spending her first night at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Daughter Elizabeth is going to bring a big breakfast casserole so we will have an easy breakfast. After dishes are done we will give each other gifts. Let us not forget that Christmas is not about gifts but about Jesus Christ’s birth in that manger so long ago. Life is so much easier for us than the hardships they experienced back then. Let us give thanks daily for this!

Our church district had the annual Christmas potluck after services on Sunday. The tables were filled with casseroles, salads, pies, desserts, bars, etc. More than enough food for everyone. I took pasta salad.

We stopped in at Jacob and Emma’s house on our way home from church. Timothy and Elizabeth also dropped in. We enjoyed oranges, peanuts and party mix as a snack. Sister Emma gave Elizabeth some of Marilyn’s clothes. This was a sad feeling but Emma felt like she wanted Abigail to have Marilyn’s clothes. For those of you new to this column, Marilyn was born to Jacob and Emma in 2009. At the tender age of eight-and-a-half months, she died suddenly. This left all of us in shock, and especially sister Emma, Jacob and family. She was such a sweet little angel loved by all. She was the only baby in our families at the time making her even more precious. We don’t understand God’s plans all the time but we know God doesn’t make mistakes. We need to trust God to help us someday understand.

On Monday we had very cold weather causing all the schools in the county to close. Our mercury dropped all the way down to minus 11 degrees, and never warmed up to more than six degrees all day. With the children being home, we cleaned the basement and did laundry. It seems the basement doesn’t take long to get disorganized in this house. With the coal stove going down there, it also gets really dusty fast.

Today is Joe’s last day to go to work until January 3. Also, the children will be dismissed at noon today and then are also off until the third.

I will share a new recipe for Christmas cookies daughter Susan is trying out in her kitchen. Our three youngest children will decorate them with Susan and big sister Verena supervising. Meanwhile, I’m happy to do mending in a quiet house.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Uncle Menno Coblenz as he recovers from heart bypass surgery. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery.

I wish all of you readers a Merry Christmas and God’s richest blessings in the New Year 2017.

White Christmas Cookies

1 cup Crisco
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
5 cups flour, approximately
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup cream or milk
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring

Cream Crisco and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.
Add flour, soda, salt and flavorings. Mix well.
Add milk or cream. Mix well.

Roll out very thin and cut with cookie cutters. 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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

“Mystery” biscuits make simple and appealing treat during busy Christmas season

A snowy Tuesday December evening! We received about seven inches of snow over the weekend. It makes for good sledding.

Daughters Susan and Verena mixed up some biscuits and then went out sledding with son Joseph, 14, and daughter Lovina, 12. I’m making sausage gravy and trying to write and watch the gravy at the same time. The biscuits are baking, and son Kevin, 11, is frying the eggs. He learned how to fry eggs in cooking class at school, so he is glad to try his skills at cooking here at home.

Son-in-law Mose is hunting tonight. Son Benjamin just came home from work. Husband Joe is taking a shower.

Daughter Loretta, 16, went with her special friend Dustin’s family to their school Christmas program. Dustin’s youngest sister, Rebecca, is in the program. She is in kindergarten. She was born nine years after the youngest of her six siblings, so is the only one still in school from their family.

It sure is different now that we don’t have any children in elementary school who have a Christmas program. Our youngest child, Kevin, enjoys middle school, where he switches classes every hour. He says the day goes much faster.

This is now after supper. Some of the children are playing Poppa’s Pizza Topple. It’s a game where you have to balance the pizza toppings on the pizza, which the pizza guy is holding.

Susan still comes over to our house to read a chapter from the Bible every day with the rest of her siblings. They each take turns reading a verse. I feel so thankful that they read the Bible every day. Life is so busy, and it is so often pushed aside. How comforting to read the words written by God! As parents, we have a great responsibility, and I realize this more and more as the children get older. We can’t say enough prayers for them as they grow up in a world filled with so much hate and sin. May God give us the strength to stay faithful to his will.

A store-bought birthday cake is a special treat in the Eicher family; this one is for daughter Verena's 19th birthday.
A store-bought birthday cake is a special treat in the Eicher family; this one is for daughter Verena’s 19th birthday.

Daughter Verena turned nineteen on Sunday. Our married daughters and family and Dustin were here Sunday evening in honor of her birthday. On the menu were chili soup, hot wings, jalapeño poppers, macaroni salad, cheese, cake and ice cream. The men fixed the hot food out in the kettle and on the grill. The girls and I enjoyed the break and took turns holding dear little Abigail. She giggled out loud for the first time. All those “firsts” are so precious.

I want to thank all the readers who have sent cards and money since my surgery. It is greatly appreciated. Hospital expenses are high these days, but our health cannot be neglected all the time. I do feel so much better since the surgery. I want to get to my sewing again. The boys need more pants.

I will sign off for this time. May God bless each of you! And may all of you with health problems recuperate to a complete recovery! We often take good health for granted until we don’t have it.

I will share the recipe we use almost all the time for our biscuits. The mayonnaise and milk give these biscuits a very moist texture. I think that is why they are so popular with the children in my house.

Mystery Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or 12 muffin cups and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Blend in the mayonnaise, milk and sugar until the mixture is creamy. Drop by the tablespoon onto the baking sheet or fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake until golden brown, 18–20 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

Heaps of dessert but no salad at your last potluck? Take a lesson from Lovina and friends

Six weeks ago today I had my surgery. I am feeling pretty good but am still being careful about my blood clot. It gets better every day.

On Sunday I went to church for the first time since my surgery. I appreciated all the “welcome backs” and concerns for my health. On our way home Joe and I stopped in to visit with brother-in-law Jacob (sister Emma’s husband). He was home from church with a bad backache. They had a vanload of visitors from Berne, Indiana, including Jacob’s brother Martin and wife Edith and family. Also visiting were niece Elizabeth and Samuel and their daughter LaRose.

LaRose is sister Liz and Levi’s first and only grandchild. She was a year old on November 10. She’s running all over already. She’s a little cutie! It looks like she keeps her mother busy. I imagine that sister Liz and Levi have many fun times with little LaRose.

The grandfather, Levi had hip replacement surgery last week, so he will be laid up a long time. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery!

Our annual church Christmas potluck dinner will be in two weeks after church services. On Sunday, all the women wrote down what dishes they will bring. Usually, while we are eating the Sunday meal a few weeks before Christmas, the women pass a tablet around the table. Everyone chooses what they will bring, such as a casserole, salad or dessert. This way we don’t end up with more salads than desserts or the other way around.

Daughter Loretta, 16, traveled to Ohio to a family gathering with her special friend, Dustin, and his family. They had a six-hour drive there, so they left Friday evening and returned Saturday evening.

Sunday evening Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail, Dustin, and all of us ate supper over at Mose and Susan’s. Joe made chili in the kettle over an open fire, and he also grilled chicken. Mose baked a cake and we also had ice cream. Some of the children played games, and Joe and I had fun enjoying baby Abigail. She is such a sweetie and is growing so fast!

Daughter Verena will turn 19 on Saturday, December 10. It doesn’t seem possible that she is that old.

Yesterday Verena and daughter Susan spent the day helping daughter Elizabeth with her work. Church services will be held at Timothy and Elizabeth’s in January, so Elizabeth is getting a head start with her cleaning. With a baby in the house, time is limited. Life changes, and the baby’s needs always come first.

Crystal’s puppies are four weeks old, and they plan to sell them to good homes when they get old enough. It’s just too much to have five little puppies in the house yet. They are very cute and playful.

So adorable: one of Elizabeth’s puppies born to her Yorkie, Crystal, soon after Elizabeth’s baby girl, Abigail was born.
So adorable: one of Elizabeth’s puppies born to her Yorkie, Crystal, soon after Elizabeth’s baby girl, Abigail was born.

I received a get-well card from Uncle Elmer and Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma had written a letter as well, which I appreciated. It is always nice hearing from my mother’s sisters. She had in her letter that Cousin Leah is home from the hospital after her accident, but has lots of healing to do yet. Our prayers are with her and the family!

Correction: I want to make a correction with an error that occurred in one of my recent letters. The two young girls that were killed in the tragic buggy accident were cousins to each other, not to me. It was a bit of a confusion to people who know me, so I wanted to make sure that is corrected. God bless!

Gold Rush Brunch Casserole

8 eggs, beaten
1 pound frozen Tater Tots or hash brown patties, thawed
1 pound sausage or ham, cubed
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2–1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

Scramble eggs on stovetop and set aside. Place potatoes in bottom of greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Fry meat lightly and layer on top of potatoes along with onion and parsley. Layer scrambled eggs on top of meat. Layer cheese on top of eggs. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk flour into butter, gradually adding milk. Cook and stir until thickened and boiling. Add pepper, salt and sour cream; mix well. Remove sauce from heat and pour evenly over casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 30–40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Yields 6–8 servings.

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 Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.