Canning, cleaning, and “flying” horses fill Lovina’s week

It is 10:00 p.m. Wednesday evening. Everyone has headed to bed except the girls and me.

I forgot all about writing this column until after daughter Elizabeth, Timothy and Abigail left for home. They came over for a while after supper. We had so much fun with Abigail. I was helping her walk and let go of her hands and she stood by herself for quite a while until she noticed I had let go of her hands. She will be eleven months old tomorrow. Time sure goes way too fast.

We are still busy cleaning for the church services we will host in two weeks from Sunday. The girls have been cleaning out drawers and kitchen cabinets. I am sorting through dishes that I hardly use. I am giving them to my daughters and what they don’t need I will put in a garage sale. What doesn’t sell I will put in our local free store. It’s like they say—one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Over the years things accumulate and I like to get rid of things that just sit around.

Yesterday we washed off walls, ceiling and windows in Joe’s and my bedroom. We also have a bathroom beside our bedroom so that was cleaned from top to bottom. We cleaned furniture, curtains and the bedding was washed and put back on. Today I cleaned our closet. My mending is piling up though and I keep hoping to get it caught up before church.

On Friday evening, neighbors, friends, and family will gather to help my sisters Verena and Susan move their furniture back to their house. It has been stored in our basement for over three months since their fire. The construction on their house is now done. It is a good thing that we can now clean our basement next week.

My tomatoes are ready to start canning. I will start with tomato juice since I ran out. I have plenty of V-8 canned yet, but it is too spicy to put in soup alone. I sometimes mix it with tomato juice.

I canned dill pickles for daughter Susan last Saturday. Mose’s mother sent dill and other pickles home with Mose and Susan Friday evening. Mose and Susan went to his grandma’s sale of her personal belongings so I thought I would can the pickles for her.

Son Kevin, 11, has been doing odds-and-ends jobs for us. He always has the dogs trailing after him. They just adore him. Daughter Verena’s Yorkie puppy Ricky is almost six months old and is looking like a little fur ball. She took him to the vet for another round of shots.

Kevin was burning trash out in the barnyard while we were washing clothes in the basement one day this week. Daughter Susan looked up and saw our whole herd of horses and ponies go flying past the window. They headed straight for neighbor Joe’s yard and galloped north. Our pony Stormy was in the lead like usual.

Susan ran to get a scoop of grain so she could bribe the horses into coming back. Fortunately, my husband Joe and son-in-law Mose had an early day and had just come home from work. I’m not sure if Stormy saw Susan shaking the scoop of grain but he decided to circle around the fence around our field and head back home. Once they were in our yard we corralled them back through the gate. I think Kevin won’t forget to chain the gate next time he burns trash. The gate was shut but not chained and it seems those ponies know exactly when it’s open.

Try this lettuce salad if you want to make a salad the day before serving it.

God’s blessings to all!

Layered Lettuce Salad

1 head lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup celery, diced
4 eggs, hard cooked and diced
1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas, uncooked
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
8 slices bacon, fried and diced
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Layer the first seven ingredients in a 9×13-inch dish. Mix mayonnaise with sugar. Spread on top as if frosting. Top with cheese. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. At serving time, garnish with additional bacon and parsley if desired.

 

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, 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 sell their cow, get ready to host church services

It’s around 5:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning. My husband Joe left at 3:50 a.m. for the RV factory. About a month ago, son-in-law Mose started working at the same RV factory. They leave and come home at the same time.

Sons Benjamin, 18, and Joseph, 15, left at 5:15 a.m. to go help nephew Noah.

Daughter Susan quit working quite some time ago so she is a big help to me. Susan and Mose have been shopping for a place but it seems like nothing has come up that suits them. They need some acreage for their horses and it seems the places for sale have either too many or not enough acres. We don’t mind having them here beside us. I know the feeling that you want something to call your own. When Joe and I were first married we lived with my parents for a while before we moved into a mobile home on the other side of the drive from my parents and lived in that. We lived there until after we had Elizabeth and Susan. We bought a house several miles from my parents and lived there until we moved here in Michigan in 2004.

After much thought we decided to sell our cow Bessie to a close-by dairy farm. She gave way more milk than we could use and with the boys leaving so early it made an extra chore before they left. I’m sure Bessie will be much happier with other milk cows. Joseph was usually the one who milked Bessie mornings and evenings. He said it helped build up his arm muscles. Bessie was a good cow and I hope she does well for her new owners.

On Saturday, Aug. 5, Mose and Susan will have their first anniversary. How can it be a year already? And Aug. 14 is Timothy and Elizabeth’s second anniversary.

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth (and Abigail), Susan, and Lovina, 13, went garage saling with Elizabeth’s horse and buggy pulling our buggy trailer. There were around ten garage sales at Amish places so they were able to buy some clothes as well. Abigail thinks she has to hold the driving lines and tell the horse giddy up. Elizabeth said when they pass another buggy Abigail waves and says, “Hi!” Then she goes back to telling the horse to go.

Steven, son of sister Emma and Jacob, had his tenth birthday on Sunday, July 30. He was very excited to get to sit with the boys in church now. After the boys and girls turn ten they don’t have to sit with their parents. Son Kevin, 11, was so glad Steven could come in with him.

Today daughter Elizabeth and Abigail and sister Emma and Steven will come to help us prepare for the upcoming church services we will host in three weeks. It looks like we will be canning hot peppers and pickles. We are planning to wash out cabinets also and wash laundry if weather permits. Daughter Susan will also come over to help so we should get something accomplished today with all the help.

Friday Joe and I, along with daughter Verena, 19, and son Kevin, 11, traveled to Berne, Ind., with my good friend Ruth. We met readers and signed books at the Faith and Life Books and Gifts store in Berne. This was during the busiest time of the year for Berne—the Swiss Days Festival. After not being there for 14 or 15 years it has really expanded throughout the streets. I think the reader there for the signing who was from farthest away was Sharon from California. Then I found out she is a cousin to Aunt Gyneth Coblentz—a small world!

We stopped in to say hi to sister Leah and Paul. Then we stopped by my home place, where I was born and raised and lived until I was married with two children—bittersweet memories! We also went by the house Joe and I lived in for eight years. We stopped in and said hi to our old neighbor Emma, then we went to visit sister Liz, Levi, and daughters. Liz had surgery and was still recovering from that. She wasn’t feeling too good while we were there. Before heading for home we stopped at brother Amos and Nancy’s but no one was home so we headed back to Michigan. A big thanks to Ruth for once again taking time out of her life and away from her family to drive us!

God’s blessings!

Fried Corn

4 ears fresh sweet corn
2 strips crisp bacon and drippings
1 small onion, minced
Salt and pepper

Cut uncooked corn from cob and add to bacon drippings. Add onion, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat in a frying pan, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender, about 15 minutes. Crumble bacon over top.

 

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.

Elizabeth hosts the family for brunch, family games, and birthdays

This column will bring us more than halfway through 2017 already!

My arms are sore this morning from all the painting we did yesterday. Sister Emma and I helped paint three rooms at our sisters Verena and Susan’s house yesterday. The new floor will be put down next week so we wanted the painting done before that.

Tuesday evening Verena and Susan moved back to their house. Most of their furniture is still here in our basement. They do not have hot water yet and no refrigerator but they are using a cooler with ice for now. It doesn’t take much food for the two of them. I told them they can come over to use our shower since they don’t have the water heater hooked up yet. Also their laundry can be washed here for now, but they are just glad to at least be back in their home after three months. They appreciated all the gifts of money from readers. With sister Verena’s health not being the best lately and unable to work a lot, it helped out more than you know. Verena couldn’t help paint yesterday as her feet hurt to walk on them. The swelling has gone down some.

While we were painting, daughter Verena, 19, took our pony Stormy and the pony cruiser, to drive Loretta, 17, Lovina, 13, and Kevin, 11, to the dentist to have their teeth cleaned. Good ole Stormy—what would we do without him? He has taken us many miles over the years we have had him.

For Sunday, daughter Elizabeth and husband Timothy served a brunch for our family, sister Emma, Jacob and family, and sisters Verena and Susan. It was delicious. She made a big roaster full of Breakfast Casserole and French Toast (Overnight) Casserole (page 53 of my new cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook) and she also made pancakes, served with their own maple syrup. We all took in a dish or two of dessert so we ended up having way more food than we needed.

Also on the menu were peanut butter pudding, Rice Krispie treats, Jello cake, watermelon, peaches, chocolate crinkle cookies, coffee, juice (rhubarb, grape, and orange), chocolate milk, and homemade bread, butter and jam.

After the dishes were washed we played games outside. We played croquet as well as “Aggravation” under the shade tree. As usual there was a lot of excitement in the Aggravation game.

Elizabeth made root beer floats for everyone later in the day. And of course little Abigail received the most attention. Every time I see that little girl she has learned to do more new things. When we have a silent prayer before we eat she will fold her hands together to pray. But this only lasts for a few seconds, just long enough for all of us to see it; then she wants the “Amen” part to come already.

We then had birthday cake before we left for home. The cake was in honor of sons Benjamin, 18, and Joseph’s, 15, birthdays. I asked the boys if it’s okay to just have one cake for both their birthdays and they were okay with that. With so much cake around lately I thought it was wise to just have one. Joseph turned 15 on July 24 and now we won’t have a birthday in our family until September when Kevin and Abigail will have birthdays.

I was helping daughter Susan this week with canning pickles. We also made four batches freezer pickles for her. Now she should have some when they host church services in September. Mose’s parents sent her a few buckets of cucumbers so she was glad to have enough to make pickles.

I want to can and freeze some pickles too. Daughter Elizabeth is coming today and will bring cucumbers. Zucchini is in full swing and we are enjoying making different casseroles. Daughter Susan is trying to make a recipe to share with you readers—our newest invention of using our many zucchinis. God bless all of you! Meanwhile enjoy this Breakfast Casserole recipe.

Breakfast Casserole

1 pint sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
6 flour tortillas
1 dozen eggs, scrambled
1 layer fried potatoes
1 pound sausage, fried
3/4 pound cheese, shredded

Mix sour cream and soups. Put half of mixture in the bottom of a roaster (needs to be bigger than 9×13). Cut tortillas into squares and put on top of that. Layer the remaining ingredients in order. Add the rest of the sauce. Top with more cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 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 Kitchen, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying summer vegetables makes meal planning easier

Our weather has been hot and humid this week. This morning it is looking like it could rain. We need rain and it would also cool everything off.

Daughter Elizabeth and sweet little Abigail came yesterday to spend the day. We did laundry, which seemed extra huge with bedding and curtains in the wash. We washed walls and ceiling in son Benjamin’s bedroom upstairs. I still need to clean out his closet.

I have been working on my mending, which has accumulated in the past few months. It seems there is always something needing a button or has a tear here or there.

Our garden is doing well. Those weeds are trying to take over. We picked the first tomatoes from our plants. We are enjoying buttered beets from the red beets also. Zucchini and cucumbers are also ready. My cucumber plants all died but two, so I am hoping someone close by will have extra. Radishes are over but we still have lettuce, green onions, and peppers. Peas are done for the season. We had a few meals of red potatoes, too. Corn, broccoli and cabbage are coming along. I always like this time of the year when we can enjoy all the vegetables from the garden, as there is such variety to choose from. It makes meal planning so much easier.

I ordered peaches so that will be another thing off my “canning list.” I am afraid my canning will be in full swing around the time church services will be held here. We will host church one time in August and once in September. Then daughter Susan and husband Mose will also host it here once in September.

In between our church services we will have a hog roast for my family. I don’t have an exact count but think we are a total of 125 or more. It sure increased in size since the last time we took our turn to host my family. It was our turn last year but due to Susan’s wedding, my health, and then the surgery, I was unable to have it. We also canceled hosting church services here last year so that is why we have it twice this year.

I planned the hog roast for May but then sister Liz and Levi were preparing for niece Rosa’s wedding. So far it looks like it will suit all my siblings for September 16.

Sisters Verena and Susan are still living in our basement. The work at their house is progressing, with the dry wall mudding being done. The floor is on order. As soon as the drywall is done, we want to go help paint it. Two bedrooms upstairs and the bedroom and living room downstairs needed to be redone from the fire. The exterior is done now. It has been almost three months since the fire. Finally things are beginning to take shape for their house.

Son Joseph’s fifteenth birthday will be Monday, July 24. This is the third birthday in July for our family. Joe and I had our 24th anniversary on July 15 and brother Albert’s 53rd birthday was also on July 15. His sons, Albert Jr. and Andrew, were both born on Albert’s birthday in different years.

Sister Emma turned 44 on July 19, and her son Steven will be ten years old on July 30. My mother would have turned 81 on July 18 if she was still living. We get lots of cake in July.

Abigail is 10½ months old now. She is discovering everything. She stands by furniture and she discovered our open stairway steps. It looks like I’ll be getting my gate out again to block off the steps. We stayed behind Abigail to see how far up the steps she would go, and she just keeps going up one step after the other. She doesn’t realize that if she stands up she will fall back. How did the months slip by so far, that she is already this old? We sure have a lot of fun entertaining her. She loves playing in the kiddie pool and splashing water everywhere.

Broccoli from Lovina’s garden will soon be ready for a yummy and nutritious veggie casserole like this.

God bless you! Enjoy this recipe especially for fresh broccoli casserole!

Broccoli Casserole

3 cups Rice Krispies, browned in 1 stick margarine or butter
1½ cup fresh lima beans
2 cups fresh broccoli
1 cup water chestnuts
1 cup sour cream
1 package dry onion soup
1 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup

Brown Rice Krispies over low heat in butter. Set aside. Place lima beans, broccoli, and water chestnuts in 2 quart baking dish. Pour sour cream and mushroom soup over ingredients. Cover with dry onion soup mix and Rice Krispies. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

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, 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 Verena updates all the Eicher family doings: from cleaning to pontooning

Hello! I hope you are all doing well. This is Lovina’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Verena, writing. Mom was so tired so I told her I’ll take her place for this week.

Loretta received this lovely birthday gift for her 17th birthday July 1 from her mother and father.

Loretta, 17, Joseph, 14, Kevin, 11, and Mom cleaned Joseph and Kevin’s bedroom—washed the walls and ceiling, cleaned their windows and closet. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that their bedroom is probably the worst room in the house to clean. It’s always surprising what all we find in there. All the clothes they are missing show up in the room somewhere. You could say we were all relieved to check that room off our “to do” list. Now it’s just trying to keep it that way. Kevin collects everything. With Loretta cleaning in there I’m sure a lot of his collection ended up in the trash.

My bedroom is done except for a little dusting and my windows need to be cleaned. We are having church services here once in August and twice in September. One turn will be for Mose and Susan. We skipped our turn last year so that’s why we will have it twice this year.

On July 4 our family went on a hay ride. It’s always fun to have the whole family on the wagon. Especially ten-month-old Abigail. She chatted and said “hi” to everyone we passed. She is really getting into everything. She stands up along furniture and loves to take our hands and walk. She discovered our stairs and we see how far she goes up. We stay behind her to make sure she doesn’t fall back. She also discovered the kitchen cabinets.

Brother Benjamin will be eighteen years old on Friday, July 14. Hard to believe how fast time flies. I remember how slow time seemed to be while I was in school. Now time seems to not be slow enough.

Dad and brothers Benjamin and Joseph are in the process of training two-year-old Beauty and two-year-old Midnight. The horses look very much alike. Beauty is a gift to Benjamin from Mom and Dad for his eighteenth birthday. Benjamin is driving her in the buggy and she’s doing very well. Midnight is a different story. She is being difficult to train. She does well hitched double with another trained horse but after they put her alone in the buggy she doesn’t want to go.

My four-month-old Yorkshire Terrier puppy, Ricky, is doing very good. I taught him to sit, shake his paw and lay down. Now I’m teaching him to roll. He’s so playful and so much fun. Abigail gets very excited when Ricky runs to greet her when she comes.

Wednesday, July 5, our whole family rented two pontoons at a campground and spent all day on the lake. We did a lot of fishing. I discovered that I would rather fish for blue gill instead of bass. We also did a lot of swimming. It was so much fun to have Abigail in the water with us. So much laughter and fun makes great memories.

At lunch time we docked our pontoons and sat beside the lake. Dad grilled on a little grill we took along. He could only grill three big pieces of pork steak and a few hot dogs at a time. It sure was tasty as we ate it right after it was off the grill. Dad had a hard time staying ahead but he grilled meat until we all had enough. We also had chips, pickles, watermelon, macaroni salad and cookies. We didn’t have a table so we spread a blanket on the ground to put all the food on.

Sister Susan and I made supper tonight. We made cooked potatoes, BLT and sloppy joe sandwiches; fresh garden goodies always make it easier to get a meal together.

I like quotes so I’m going to share this one: “The difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.” And a verse from the Bible: “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes

1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and salt; mix well. Fold in the chocolate and peanut butter chips, set aside.

For cupcakes, in a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; mix well.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full with batter. Top each with about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25–30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 18 cupcakes Note: The filling will partially cover the top of the cupcakes.

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, 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.

With husband and children on vacation, Lovina serves up extra recipes

We recently butchered our old laying hens and canned around fifty quarts of chicken broth. My husband, Joe, and our children are home on vacation the week of July 4. So this week I’m sharing some extra recipes.

The Eicher family canned chicken broth this week—a staple for use at Amish weddings.

God’s blessings to all!

A reader recently requested a recipe for red velvet cake made with beets. Here is the recipe.

 

Red Velvet Cake with Beets

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup pureed, cooked beets
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Sift flour and baking powder together. In another large bowl, whisk together sugar, buttermilk, beets, oil, eggs, cocoa powder, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture gradually to the bowl, stirring after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

A reader also requested the recipe for Cherry Delight.

Cherry Delight

1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups whipped topping
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 28-ounce can cherry pie filling (or 1 quart canned cherry pie filling)

In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and 1 tablespoon sugar. Spread on bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking pan to form a crust. Beat together whipped topping and cream cheese, adding remaining sugar and vanilla until well blended. Smooth on top of crust. Top with cherry pie filling. Chill at least 3 hours.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon to coat the berries
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup rhubarb, chopped
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and oil until smooth. Add the egg, yogurt and almond extract to the sugar mixture and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the first four dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Add the chopped rhubarb and strawberries and lightly mix in. Place paper liners in muffin tins. Use a 1/4 cup scoop to fill the liners. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top of each muffin. Bake for 12–14 minutes or until golden on top. Makes 18 muffins.

 

Sunday Brunch Casserole

1/2 pound bacon, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
12 eggs
1 cup milk
1 16-ounce package frozen hash browns, thawed
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dill weed

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon; crumble and set aside. In the drippings, sauté onion and green pepper until tender; remove with a slotted spoon. Beat eggs and milk in a large bowl. Stir in hash browns, cheese, salt, pepper, dill weed, onion, green pepper and bacon. Transfer to a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35–45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Yields 6–8 servings.

 

Also, I need to make several corrections to the Blueberry Cobbler recipe that appeared in my column in newspapers and online the week of June 19-23. Several readers alerted me to some problems, and I have made some revisions. Thanks for your feedback!

Blueberry Cobbler

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk

Topping:
2 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix together and spread batter in a 7 x 11-inch pan or 2-quart baking dish. Mix together blueberries and sugar; pour over batter and bake at 350 degrees for 45–60 minutes or until done. Try with different types of fruit.

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, 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.

That time the toddler conspired to free the baby from the playpen . . .

Another week has gone by, and it’s time to get another column on its way. This will wrap up June already. Half of 2017 is now history.

We are invited to a wedding in Berne, Ind., tomorrow for Lana, the daughter of one of Joe’s cousins. She is getting married to my cousin’s son, Abe. It doesn’t look like it will work for us to go. It will be Joe’s last day of work before a week’s vacation. We appreciated the invitation, though.

Saturday will bring us into July. Daughter Loretta was born to us on July 1, 2000. Her birthday goes with the year, so it’s always easy to remember her age! She will be 17. Son Benjamin is 17 until July 14, when he turns 18. Loretta always teases Benjamin that she caught up with him in age—although that only lasts for two weeks.

That was a few rough years when those two were toddlers! Growing up that close in age meant there was a lot of competition between the two.

I remember one day when Loretta and Benjamin were young and we were still living in Indiana. We had an attached garage, where I did my laundry. Back then I had to heat all my water on the stove in the house and carry it to the washing machine in the garage. Joe would fill up big garbage cans with cold water for me so I didn’t have to carry all the cold water. At first we had a washing machine without a motor, so it had to be operated by hand. But that is what I had grown up with, so I was used to that.

Still, I was pretty excited the day Joe brought me home a Maytag washing machine with a motor. We had only one motor, so Joe would take it off the pump jack that pumped the water from our well and hook it up to my washing machine. So if I decided I wanted to do laundry when Joe wasn’t home, I couldn’t. Finally, I figured out how to switch it myself. If there’s a will, there’s a way!

Now to get back to the story I started: on laundry day, I would put Loretta in the playpen while I carried hot water. She could crawl by that time, and I didn’t want her to get in the way. She didn’t like not being able to get out of the playpen. One day I went in to check on her and Benjamin. He had climbed up on a chair, reached my scissors in my desk and cut a hole in the playpen netting so Loretta could crawl out.

It still makes me shudder to think how easily he could have cut himself or Loretta doing that! Loretta was all smiles about the fact that her big brother helped her escape. Needless to say, the playpen didn’t work very well after that, what with a hole in it.

Another time, after we moved to Michigan and Loretta was three and Benjamin four, I was hanging out laundry. It was chilly that day, and I thought Benjamin and Loretta were entertained enough with their toys. Joseph was taking a nap, and the three oldest were in school. I would hang out one basket of laundry and then come in the house to check on the little ones. That day I found Benjamin and Loretta scrubbing my brand-new oak kitchen table with dish soap and scouring powder! They told me they wanted to “help” me. They had managed to use up almost a bottle of dish soap and a big can of scouring powder. I caught it before it did too much damage to the finishing on the table.

Lovina shares a delicious recipe for Italian Cucumber Salad—great for using ample fresh garden cukes!

I must say that Benjamin and Loretta have both grown up to be kindhearted young teenagers. But they are typical teenagers, so life still isn’t dull with the two of them. We have five teenagers in the house, so there’s never a dull moment!

So a happy birthday to Loretta! We wish her many more happy years. We plan to get together somewhere for pizza with the family of Dustin, Loretta’s special friend, in honor of Loretta’s birthday.

My daily prayer is that God will give Joe and me guidance to show our children a good example of serving such a wonderful God that we have, in good times and bad times.

May God bless all of you!

Italian Cucumber Salad

2 cups cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup onions, sliced
1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
1/2 cup Italian dressing

Mix vegetables together. Add dressing and toss.

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, 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.

 

What happens when Lovina accidentally sleeps in—until 6:30 a.m.

It is already Thursday forenoon, and I still don’t have this column on its way! I made an attempt to write it last night after everyone went to bed, but I kept dozing off. I finally gave up and decided I would write it this morning.

Well, my day didn’t start out as intended. I woke up at 3:00 a.m., packed my husband Joe’s lunch, and went back to bed after he left at 3:40 a.m. I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. Sons Benjamin and Joseph are helping nephew Noah and his construction crew at my sisters’ house today. They will be repairing everything that was burned and damaged when lightning struck their house on April 29 and caused a house fire. Noah told the boys to meet him there at 6:30 a.m.

At 6:30 a.m., son Benjamin woke up, and I was still sound asleep. He woke me up and said he thought we overslept. He jumped on his bike and left while Joseph quickly milked our cow, Bessie, before he left. Bessie had to be in the farthest corner of the pasture field, and she seemed to walk slower to come up to the barn. It probably just seemed that way, since Joseph was in a hurry.

But if there is actually such a thing as picking a good day to oversleep, today was such a day. On other days, a driver for the crew would have had to wait for them.

Joseph was on his way thirty minutes after Benjamin left. I sent their water jugs with Joseph and told the boys we would send them something for lunch since I didn’t get their lunch packed. On warm days like this, they like meat and cheese roll-ups. I use soft tortilla shells, add some ranch dressing and meat and cheese and roll them up. Other than maybe a few protein bars, the boys don’t want much else in their lunch. It gets too warm to eat, and they would rather wait until we have supper.

I decided that since I made the boys late, I would send a morning break to all the workers there. We made breakfast burritos, iced tea and coffee, and the girls took it over to my sisters’ house.

Daughter Verena has been going with sister Susan on house-cleaning jobs the last few days. Sister Verena is laid up and under doctor’s care. Some tests were taken. Hopefully she will soon be on the mend, but for now she has to keep her legs elevated. Sisters Verena and Susan are still staying here with us since their house fire. They will be glad when they are able to get back to their own house after it is finished.

Son-in-law Mose is keeping the garden watered on dry days. Our soil is sandy, so it dries up the moisture really fast. We replanted cucumbers as some plants died off. It seems everything is a little late this year. We are having a nice, steady, drizzling rain right now.

I am writing this column in my bedroom at my desk. If too many people are around, I need to get away from all the noise so I can think better. Then again, I can’t get too relaxed or I’ll start falling asleep again!

I’m glad we did laundry yesterday when it was nice outside. We are starting to do laundry three times a week. The boys need more work pants, so until I get more pants made, I need to do laundry more often.

Daughter Elizabeth and Abigail came for the day yesterday. It looks like Abigail’s first two teeth are finally ready to pop through. My children always had teeth before they were her age. She keeps rolling her tongue where the teeth are coming through. She probably feels the tiny bumps. Her sounds are really coming out, and she just gets sweeter all the time!

The bishop for Lovina’s Amish community made this beautiful little bench for baby Abigail Elizabeth. The bishop’s wife’s name is also Elizabeth.

Try this recipe with your zucchini this year. God’s blessings to all!

Butterscotch Zucchini Bars
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups finely shredded zucchini, packed

Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butterscotch chips

Beat together eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Beat in soda, salt and baking powder. Mix in flour until well mixed. Stir in zucchini. Pour into greased 15x10x1-inch pan. Mix together brown sugar and butterscotch chips and sprinkle over batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick.

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, 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.

Hot, humid days mean it’s time for haying—and a water fight

June 14, 2017: Twenty-three years ago today my husband, Joe, and I became parents for the first time. We were blessed with a little girl. We named her after my mother, Elizabeth. Since her marriage on August 14, 2015, she goes by the name Mrs. Timothy (Elizabeth) Bontrager. A little girl, Abigail, was born to Elizabeth and Timothy on September 10, 2016. Time goes on—one generation after another.

We are having a heat wave with temperatures in the nineties, and it’s very humid! The girls and I drove the seven miles to Timothy and Elizabeth’s house this morning by buggy. We spent the day with her and Abigail. We didn’t do much besides relax, which was so nice! My sister Verena gave Abigail a little kiddie pool for a baby gift. Daughter Lovina and son Kevin filled the pool, and Abigail had so much fun under the shade tree, splashing the water. The rest of us sat around the pool. All it took was one person throwing a little water at another and, well, it turned into a big water battle! At least it cooled us off on this hot, muggy day.

Tomorrow we will attend the wedding of our neighbor boy, Melvin, to Rebecca. It is hot weather to prepare for a wedding. Now tonight we are having thunderstorms and rain. It was so dry, and we needed the rain. Son-in-law Mose tilled the garden tonight before the rain. I made quite a few gallons of iced spearmint tea, which is a good thirst quencher on these hot days.

Lovina made lots of fresh thirst-quenching mint tea this week. Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis, from The Essential Amish Cookbook.

We have our haymow almost filled with hay for next winter. We appreciated all the help we had from family and neighbors to put in over thirteen hundred bales of hay in our barn last Thursday. Lots of hot, hard work! Having hay stored for future use is a good feeling. But it’s hard on the pocketbook, with hay still a little pricey.

Construction is finally underway at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house, who had a house fire last month. The new roof was put on today. They are still living in our basement.

I want to wish Uncle Jake and Aunt Mary Coblentz a happy 60th anniversary! Wow! That is a long time to be together. I wish them more healthy and happy years together. Jake was my dad’s brother. Jake and Mary have three children: Christina, Tabitha and Cornelius. I hardly ever see them anymore. It would be nice to attend the Coblentz reunion again in July.

Tonight daughter Susan and Mose had us over for supper. They also told my sisters to come eat there too. On the menu were sausage patties, French toast and scrambled eggs. How nice to have a break from cooking. Everything was delicious! The French toast tastes real good with fresh maple syrup poured over it. It was the syrup Mose cooked off from our maple trees this spring.

The girls are cleaning out their closets in their spare time. We are getting a head start on cleaning.

Timothy and Elizabeth visited one evening with their new Amish neighbors, John and Norma. They moved nearby from a community in Indiana. They will attend our church district. They have two daughters ages three and thirteen months. I am looking forward to meeting them on Sunday.

It is 11:00 p.m. now and past my bedtime. The rest have all gone to bed. I knew I might not have time to write tomorrow morning so decided to get this written tonight yet.

I wish everyone God’s greatest blessings! Good night to all!

Try this recipe while blueberries are in season.

Blueberry Cobbler

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix together and spread batter in pan.

Topping:
2 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup boiling water

Pour over batter and bake at 325 degrees for 45–60 minutes or until done. Try with different types of fruit.

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, 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.

Son’s eighth-grade graduation tugs at Lovina’s heartstrings

It’s a sunny pleasant evening in June. The temperature stayed in the low 70s today. Tomorrow evening we will be putting in hay. It has been a good week for haymaking.

Last night our family attended the eighth-grade graduation for the class of 2017. Son Joseph was among the twenty students who graduated. Sixteen boys and four girls were in the class. Four of the boys and girls were Amish students, so this will be the last of their school education. The rest of the students will go on to high school.

It always tears at my heartstrings when another one of our eight children has their final day of school. Two out of the eight are still in school, with Lovina headed for seventh grade and Kevin for sixth grade. At the graduation, little nine-month-old Abigail enjoyed clapping with the crowd. And of course she liked to chatter while everyone else was quiet!

Daughter Elizabeth and Abigail were here today. Abigail gives kisses now, and we have just so much fun with her.

Last week niece Rosa and Menno had a nice wedding day. On the menu were: mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken and noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, broasted chicken, lettuce salad, carrot salad, sliced American and Colby cheese, homemade bread, butter, strawberry jam, cake, cookies, bars, frozen mocha dessert, mixed fresh fruit, cherry, pecan and chocolate peanut butter pies, and wedding nothings. The broasted chicken was made by brother-in-law Levi’s cousins. We had our driver pick-up time set for 5:00 a.m. and were back home around 1:00 a.m. It was a long day, but we enjoyed it.

Sisters Verena, Emma and I and a local lady from their church were the head cooks, so we had to keep everyone busy with their assigned jobs. It seemed like everything fell into place really well. Many hands make light work.

Sisters Verena and Susan went out there on Thursday morning with sister Emma and I. We helped with all the work that goes with preparing for a wedding crowd of people: “nothings” were made, seventy-five pies were baked, and vegetables were diced for dressing and salad. Sisters Verena and Susan stayed until Sunday evening to help sister Liz clean up from the wedding.

Friday is a half day of school and the last day for this term. We plan to attend the school picnic on Friday. Our youth are invited to the wedding of Richard and Hannah on Thursday evening and to the wedding of Robert and Eva on Friday night. There is also a funeral Friday. It is one of son-in-law Timothy’s aunts. Our sympathy goes to the family. Thirteen years ago, when we moved to this community, I don’t think two weddings and a funeral in two days would have been possible. Our community here has grown so much in the last few years!

This is now the following morning. It’s another beautiful day, and it’s laundry day for Loretta and me. My husband Joe, son Benjamin and daughter Verena are at their jobs. The three youngest have left for the last day of school.

Last night I finally stepped foot in our garden for the first time this year. Son-in-law Mose was tilling the garden while husband Joe and son Joseph helped me lay weed-control landscape fabric where we planted our cucumbers and watermelon. I always like to use that where my viney plants are, because it keeps the weeds down around them. We are enjoying radishes, green onions and garden lettuce.

The girls made macaroni casserole. It’s a new recipe I wanted to try, as I wrote it down for niece Rosa’s recipe shower. It was a hit in this family! It says it serves eight to ten people, but I would say twelve to fourteen. Our casserole mixture filled a 9 x 13-inch pan plus a two-quart baking dish. To those of you with small families, I would suggest cutting the recipe in half.

Lovina’s daughters made a new macaroni casserole that the whole family enjoyed.

We enjoyed meeting readers at the Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery in Shipshewana, Ind., on Saturday, June 3. We also met some more people who never read the column but were interested to find out where they can read it. After six Saturdays of book signings, I am looking forward to this Saturday at home!

Macaroni Casserole

4 cups uncooked macaroni
3 cups cooked peas
1 pound any kind of cooked meat, cubed
1 pound processed cheese, cubed
2 cups milk
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
2 teaspoons salt

Cook macaroni according to package instructions and drain; add peas and meat. In another pot, simmer cheese, milk, soup and salt until cheese is melted. Add to macaroni mixture and place in greased baking dish. Bake at 300 degrees for one hour. Serves 8–10.

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, 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.