May showers and tater tot casserole

 Today daughters Verena, 22, Loretta, 19, Lovina, 16, son Kevin, 14, and I went to assist niece Emma in preparing for hosting the next church services. Sister Emma and son Steven, niece Elizabeth, and sisters Verena and Susan were also there helping, along with my daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children.

Emma told us all to come for breakfast and she had made a breakfast casserole. Everyone took a dish, so there were four different kinds of cookies, rhubarb pie, watermelon, and cupcakes. Daughter Susan took a tater tot casserole for lunch, so that made the day easier. Their laundry was washed and the living room and kitchen walls, ceilings, furniture, and windows were all cleaned.

My grandchildren enjoyed playing with Emma’s 16-month old Jessica’s toys. They all get along, playing together nicely. T.J., 17 months, enjoyed standing outside the chicken fence, watching the chickens.

We finally had a day of sunshine after having rainy weather here in Michigan. I think my husband Joe said we had over six inches of rain this week. The gardens are still too wet to put the plants out. Today it did rain lightly for a little bit, enough to make us run to get Emma’s laundry off the lines. The laundry was mostly dry, so we hung what wasn’t dry yet in the house on clothes racks.

I had the same problem with my laundry on Tuesday when I decided to chance it. It would start raining awhile and then stop, but the wind was strong and dried it fast. My new lines held out really well in the wind. I like laundry days when there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun is shining. That is much more relaxing than not knowing when you might need to run to get the clothes in because it has started raining. We cannot control the weather, so I must not complain. Such is life!

One of the first attempts at training son Joseph’s horse, Sugar. Photo provided.

Son Joseph, 17, is out in the field, line-driving his two-year-old horse, Sugar. He is training her, and eventually wants to hitch her to the buggy. It’s always challenging, with a little excitement, when they train a horse. Sugar is doing pretty well. My husband, Joe, has trained most of the horses that we have raised, so he can give Joseph pointers on training. Sugar will be our gift to Joseph in July for his 18th birthday.

Son Benjamin, 20, left tonight to go fishing with friends. Daughter Lovina went to a friend’s house for supper. Verena made potato soup and heated up the grilled meat from last night’s supper for our supper tonight. Of course, we needed cheese and crackers to go with potato soup.

Tomorrow is Ascension Day, so everyone will be home from work. We will fast and have a prayer day in the morning. Our family is all coming for the noon meal.

After lunch, we will have an egg hunt for our grandchildren that we couldn’t have at Easter. As a treat for our children, Joe and I wrapped small gifts in plastic, making a big ball. They will take turns rolling dice until they get a six and can unwrap the ball and keep the gifts that fall out before the next person rolls a six and takes over. This is always exciting to watch, especially when they get closer to the last gift, which is the grand prize.

Friday, May 22, will be birthday number 49 for me! This is my last year in my forties, and then it’s the big 50! I really am getting old! (smile)

I’ll share the recipe for the tater tot casserole that daughter Susan took to niece Emma’s. I wish God’s blessings to each of you! Stay safe and healthy!

 

Tater Tot Casserole

2 pounds hamburger
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 pounds tater tots
1 pint sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 soup cans milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound Velveeta cheese
2 cups crushed corn flakes or Ritz crackers
1/2 cup melted margarine

Fry hamburger with onions and set aside. Put tater tots in bottom of a large casserole dish. Mix together sour cream, soup, milk, salt, and pepper and pour over tater tots. Top with cheese and fried hamburger with onions. Sprinkle with corn flakes or cracker crumbs mixed with melted margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.

Variation: Lovina’s daughter Susan uses crushed Doritos instead of corn flakes or crackers.

 

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

Birthdays and Rhubarb Custard Pie

We are having a cool May, making it a challenge to put any plants out in the garden yet. Yesterday the temperature hit the mid-60 mark, but the air had a chill in it.

Son Joseph doesn’t have to work today, so I will probably go to town with him this morning to get him new shoes and a few other things he needs for work. It is a little after 4:00 a.m. and son Benjamin left for his job. Everyone else is still in bed, so I am going to take advantage to write this column while all is quiet. Tomorrow Benjamin will be home, as they are on four-day work weeks, and Joseph will go to work. Hopefully it will be a nice day to do laundry again.

I received new cable-coated wash lines and new laundry baskets for my birthday, which is next week (May 22). I was very happy for the new lines, as I had a few lines break on me recently. It isn’t fun when your clean clothes need to be rewashed. I didn’t have cable-coated lines before, so the lines would break, and I would patch them up with wire. I think these lines should hold out for many years. It’s nice to hang up blankets and not have to watch so that they don’t touch the ground. My husband Joe and son Benjamin put the new lines up and put a fence stretcher on the end of each one so the lines stay in place.

I was also spoiled with flowers and meals brought in from my children on Mother’s Day. I felt honored and so unworthy of it all. It makes me so glad to be a mother to eight wonderful children. Each one holds a part of my heart and I can’t complain about any of them. They treat me like a queen and I thank God each day that he made me their mother. So often I fail as a mother, but I keep on doing my best, which is all we can do.

My sister Susan had her 44th birthday on Sunday, May 10 (Mother’s Day). The girls and I spent yesterday at her and sister Verena’s house. Sister Emma and her two daughters were also there. My sister Susan loves making cards and so do a few of the girls, so there was a table set up for that. Emma and I helped set up a flower bed for Susan outside, and just sitting around spoiling our grandchildren was enjoyable! I do not have enough patience to sit and make cards, but it’s nice to see the ideas they come up with. Abigail really took an interest in it.

Daughter Lovina’s 16th birthday will be in a few days, on May 18. Is it possible that 16 years went by so fast? She will be with the youth group now and son Kevin will be the only one of our children still not with the youth. That makes us feel older. Next year Kevin will also be in the youth group. Time goes much too fast.

We are enjoying many meals of asparagus and also rhubarb fixed in different ways. I still haven’t canned my rhubarb juice.

A reader has asked how we run electricity to use our vacuum sealer. We use a generator to run the meat grinder, slicer, and the sealer on the days that we butcher meat. Our solar power would not power all this, so we rely on the generator to do jobs like that.

I will share my mother’s recipe for rhubarb custard pie. This is for a 9-inch pan. When making and testing recipes for my cookbook, we discovered what a big difference it is to say “9-inch pie plate” rather than “9-inch deep pie plate.” Thus, the rhubarb custard recipe in my cookbook is a little different than my usual recipe, as I normally use the flat 9-inch pie plates. The rhubarb custard pies I made did not last long.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Rhubarb Custard Pie

1 1/2 cup rhubarb
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cream or whole milk

 

 

Mix all ingredients and pour in unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

 

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

 

Spring garden and back to work

It is 4:30 a.m. and son Joseph just left for work. They have a one-and-a-half-hour drive to the job site today, so they had to leave earlier than usual. Joseph enjoys construction work.

Son Benjamin started back to work this week at the horse trailer factory after being off since March 23. Unfortunately, the factory shut down a few lines, leading to layoffs for quite a few employees. My husband Joe was one of them. We are hoping and praying that the economy will pick up again so he can also go back to work before too long.

Son-in-law Mose was called back to work too, which was a great relief for them. The layoffs have been hard on families who struggle to make ends meet without an income. We are thankful we have canned food and a freezer of meat to rely on. Our trips to town have been few the last few months, and we realize we can make do with less. God is good and we put our full trust in him.

Son Kevin has finished a few of his school subjects, with daughter Verena now in charge as his teacher. It is a big help to me to have her explain the work to him. She keeps him motivated, as he seems to have other interests that are more fun to him.

My husband Joe has been planting more garden, and now has our potatoes out. The peas, radishes, and onions are still doing well. I really do hope it warms up to stay soon. I like to work in the garden when I can go barefoot and don’t need a jacket. Since Joe is not back to work, I haven’t had to help with the garden yet. My turn is coming though, once the weeds start taking over, and that will be here before we know it.

Sunday, we hosted church services in our pole barn, which was the first time we met since the lockdown. Our church members decided to gather for the service, and then all leave and have their lunches at home. Usually, the family hosting the church service furnishes a lunch such as sandwiches made with homemade wheat and white bread, ham, cheese or cheese spread, pickles, red beets, butter and jam, and coffee and tea. It was decided to skip the lunch and ask everyone to eat at home to honor the COVID-19 lockdown rules. It didn’t feel right not to sit and visit and have lunch with our church fellowship, but we are thankful that we could at least gather together to hear God’s word.

Church benches fill the Eicher family pole-barn for church services they hosted. Photo provided.

After preparing for church services for weeks, it is a relief to have our turn over for another year. Now we can concentrate on other work. My goal is to get some sewing done.

Our five grandchildren are really growing up fast. They each have a unique thing about them. They are so precious to us! Abigail is three and a half, Timothy (T.J.) is 17 months, and baby Allison is four months now. Allison, when put on a blanket on the floor, rolls over and over and scoots forward on her tummy, so she’s not too safe just anywhere. She’s little but mighty. Jennifer is two and Ryan is nine months. Ryan scoots on his bottom or pushes backwards on his tummy. He doesn’t like to crawl on his knees but has figured out ways to get around.

My rhubarb is looking nice and plentiful, so I want to can rhubarb juice, and of course it’s not officially spring until those first rhubarb custard pies are taken from the oven. According to my husband, Joe, that is the first thing rhubarb should be used for in the spring.

Asparagus is also on the menu now at our house. The first of it froze from that cold snap we had. There are so many ways to fix it. Stay healthy and safe!

I will share my recipe for rhubarb juice this week. We love it!

God’s blessings to all!

 

Rhubarb Juice

8 pounds rhubarb, washed and diced
8 quarts water
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen orange juice
2 (46-ounce) cans pineapple juice
4 cups sugar
2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin

Combine rhubarb and water and cook 25-30 minutes or until rhubarb is soft. Strain liquid into a bowl, discarding rhubarb. Add the orange and pineapple juices, sugar, and gelatin. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Serve the juice as is, add club soda or ginger ale, or mix with additional pineapple juice.

The juice may be frozen or canned. To can the juice, heat to 190 degrees. Ladle into hot quart jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a dampened paper towel and adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 20 minutes. Makes 8–10 quarts.

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

Sunny Spring walks and answers to reader questions

We are in week number six of the coronavirus lockdown here in Michigan. A time in our life that will never be forgotten. The fact that we are having a few days of rainy weather doesn’t do much to improve the mood. But oh how much more we appreciate those nice sunny days! We cannot control the weather so we accept what God sends and try to do our best!

April always reminds us of my husband Joe’s dear parents, who both passed away in this month. His mother Salome was only 54 years old and it has been 25 years now since she passed away. At the time, we only had one child, Elizabeth, who was a little over 10 months old. None of our children will know Grandma Eicher, but we cannot question God’s plan.

Joe’s father passed away 11 years ago at the age of 70. We lived in the same community for five years before his passing so our children were able to see him more often, although our two youngest were still three and four at the time so they really don’t remember much about having a grandparent. My parents both had died before they were born.

I remember all my grandparents very well, so it’s sad when some never meet theirs. Again, God knows best even though we question why at times. Trust and have faith!

The boys have been hauling lots of manure into the fields and the barn is being kept extra clean, since we are still waiting for church services to be continued. We will host them here in our pole barn once they decide it’s safe to meet again because of the virus.

Sunday afternoon our family went for a walk. It was a nice sunny, warm day and very enjoyable to get out of the house for a while. My sisters Verena and Susan were sitting out on their patio so we stopped and chatted with them. The walk did wonders and refreshed us all! We played several board games after coming home.

Since news is scarce, I will answer more questions from readers. My editors copy them from the website and send them to me as I don’t see them otherwise.

A reader asks about heating our homes with coal and if it causes problems health wise. We have a hopper-fed coal stove in our basement, which has vents in the floor where the heat comes up to heat the main floor and travels up our open staircase to heat the bedrooms upstairs as well. We have a vent installed to take the carbon monoxide out. We add coal twice a day and I never smell coal. The stove is very tight and doesn’t let out any fumes. None of our family has respiratory problems, but when we burned wood it bothered a few of our children when they were younger, which is why we changed to coal.

Another reader asks what laundry disinfectant I use. I used to use Germ Clean, but I haven’t been able to get it anymore from Stanley, so now I use Lysol laundry sanitizer and it seems to do well.

A reader asked if we make our own cheese and butter. I did when we had a cow but since we sold her, I buy our cheese. I buy Colby cheese by the horn from our neighbor’s store. We love Colby cheese. We use a cheese slicer and slice it off the horn. We eat cheese with our sandwiches, with crackers, and with our meals.

Now I must get this column off to my editors.

My husband Joe and I made horseradish this week from our own horseradish plant. Joe’s Uncle Solomon gave us the horseradish root so we could try growing it ourselves. I will share Uncle Solomon’s recipe. It has become a favorite side dish to have with hard-boiled eggs in this household! Add additional salt and sugar to your own taste.

God bless you!

 

In today’s column, Lovina shares a family recipe for horseradish, pictured here. Photo provided.

Uncle Solomon’s Homemade Horseradish

1 (6- to 8-inch) piece horseradish root
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt

Clean and very finely chop the horseradish root. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small bowl, adding only enough horseradish to make it the thickness and spiciness you like. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

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

Mail from readers brightens Lovina’s day

Another week has passed and not much has changed around here. We did have the temperature go down in the 20s one night. My husband Joe didn’t expect it to get that cold and had his plants in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, it is too late for some of his plants. It was so disappointing for him on his first year of planting indoors. He was ready to just give it up, but such is life at times. If at first we don’t succeed, try and try again.

We really need to find a way to put a little heat in the greenhouse so he doesn’t have to move the plants in and out of the house all the time. He moved the plants that are okay to the basement by the walkout windows that get the morning sun. This way he can keep the plants there until it warms up to stay.

Spring snow arrived last week on the Eicher farm, though it didn’t last long and wasn’t as deep as in this previous photo of the Eicher homestead. Photo provided.

Last week we had around five or more inches of snow, and we had moved the plants inside through all that. Then, when it warmed up again, Joe decided to move everything back to the greenhouse. The early flowers peeping through the snow looked so pretty. It was snow that packed well for making snowmen. I’m sure a lot of the children home from school during this COVID-19 had some fun making snowmen. They probably lasted only a few days though as the snow was gone as fast as it came.

My friend Ruth sent my mail from the Illinois post office box to my home here in Michigan. She does a good job of helping me out even when there are hundreds of miles between us. Bless her good heart! She is truly a great kind friend and does it all for free.

Now I can answer my mail and get the letters back out to you readers. Thank you for your encouragement. I needed that extra boost with not leaving the house much and a houseful of my loved ones to cook and clean for. It is true as the saying goes, “If Mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.” After weeks and weeks of being on shut down from the virus it tends to take a toll on all of us, doesn’t it? That’s why we need to ask God to lead the way.

It seems like we keep cleaning corners we don’t usually get cleaned before we host church services. And in our minds we know we need to keep everything that was cleaned staying that way. Maybe I could relax better if our turn would be past or maybe I just should not make such a big deal out of having a little dirt around because that is not at all why we go to church. After this many weeks of not seeing our church members, we will all just be happy to be able to gather for church. I’m sure the last thing on people’s mind is looking to see if everything stayed clean.

A reader asked me for a recipe for caramel pecans, which I don’t have. If anyone does and cares to share it, I’m sure she would be happy to have it.

I appreciate all the ideas for raised garden beds that were sent to me. I passed them on to Joe and hopefully next spring we will be able to try them. A reader asks what I use to clean my walls with. I use a Stanley product that used to be called Try-It but the name is now Multi-Purpose Cleaner. They also have a product called Degreaser that I use with it in the kitchen area where it tends to get greasy around the stove. Also a reader is wondering where I get the flour cloth to clean windows. I buy the flour sack towels, which can probably be found by the other dish clothes in stores such as Wal-Mart. It has saved me from using paper towels. I use white vinegar and warm water and a clean rag to wash off, and then wipe the windows with the flour sack towels. Keep in mind to never wash the towels with fabric softener though.

I will answer more questions next week. Until then—God be with all of you

Fresh or frozen strawberries whip up into a tasty frozen treat in this week’s recipe from Lovina Eicher. Photo provided.

Strawberry Freeze

Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup flour

Filling:
3 egg whites
2 cups crushed fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip or whipped cream

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and bake in bowl for 20 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Crumble 2/3 of crumbs in an 8 x 8-inch pan. Save the other 1/3 for the top.

Filling: Put egg whites, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and beat until mixture holds its shape, about 15 minutes. Mix in Cool Whip and spread over crumbs. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. Freeze at least 5 hours.

The recipe doubled will fill a 9 x 13-inch pan. If using frozen strawberries, drain off some of the juice.

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

Spring memories while staying home

As I’m writing this on April 16, I remember that thirty-nine years ago today my oldest sibling, sister Leah, and Paul were joined in holy matrimony. I was in third grade at the time and remember seeing my mother cry as the bishop was uniting Paul and Leah in marriage. I could not understand why she was crying, but of course I now know the feeling of your firstborn getting married, moving out, and starting their own life. It’s not that we do not like to see them getting married, but the changes in life we accept and trust that God plays a role in their marriage.

Another memory I have is of the day after Paul and Leah’s Thursday wedding. It was Good Friday and I remember going out to the mailbox to get the mail. For some odd reason that always reminds me that we still get mail on Good Friday. In our community we have “fast and prayer day” on Good Friday, so it always seems like a Sunday. I want to wish Paul and Leah a Happy 39th Anniversary.

Last night after supper I signed a card for them, to put in today’s mail. I wrote a letter and before I knew it I had several pages written. We don’t often see each other with the 100 plus miles between us. Actually, with this pandemic going on I don’t see any of my siblings. It has been a different spring which I’m sure many people will remember in history. We have all been home three and a half weeks, and it looks like we have another three weeks until the “stay home” order is lifted.

Our church services have been canceled again, so Lord willing we will host Rule Church here on May 3 now.

It has been a challenge trying to keep the house clean with everyone home. And keeping son Kevin, 14, busy with his schoolwork is another challenge. With everyone around he doesn’t like to be seated at the table doing schoolwork. I cannot imagine how much of the day it takes out of mothers that have quite a few in school yet. Daughter Lovina helps Kevin with figuring out problems if he needs help.

We are having cold weather again and the ground was covered with snow for a while yesterday. Hopefully it won’t hurt the flowers and plants that are peeping out in the garden already.

Lovina’s husband Joe gets a head start on planting using a greenhouse, pictured, despite a spring cold snap. Photo provided.

My husband Joe has moved his plants in from the greenhouse. He has them on tables by the window in the dining room, instead of keeping heat in the greenhouse at night, until this cold spell is over.

I hung our laundry outside this week. Although everything dried well, my fingers were cold by the time I finished hanging up the clothes. I’m not used to it anymore, with lines in our heated basement.

I have a little more painting to do in the basement, in my can room, where I keep all my canned jars of food. I need more paint rollers and brushes, but that is shut off in stores now. It’s too bad, since now people would have time to do jobs like that. It would help keep them occupied.

I have had letters from readers asking for information on where they can order my newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes. My cookbooks can be ordered online from your favorite bookstore. I am really happy about how the new cookbook turned out. So many of our favorite recipes are in there, such as Breakfast Omelet Roll, which we had Sunday morning for breakfast. We like to top it with sausage gravy.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Breakfast Omelet Roll

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 eggs
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound bacon, fried and chopped
1 cup chopped ham
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

 

Additional fillings as desired, such as mushrooms, olives, smoked sausage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut parchment paper to line a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and milk. Whisk until smooth. Add flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, then add to cream cheese mixture. Pour mixture into parchment-lined pan and bake 30–35 minutes or until puffy and golden.

Remove pan from oven and spread mustard and half the shredded cheese onto the omelet. Add the bacon, ham, onion, bell paper, any additional fillings as desired, and most of the remaining cheese. Roll up in jelly-roll fashion, removing paper as you roll. Garnish with remaining cheese. Cut into slices to serve.

 

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

Fishing outings and home projects

We are all still home from the “stay home, stay safe” order due to the coronavirus.

We were to host church services this past Sunday but church services in our community were postponed until further notice. Maybe too often we take going to church for granted. It didn’t seem right to not meet with our fellow church members to worship God. We were home reading from the scriptures in the Bible, still honoring our Heavenly Father. I know that we have so much more family time while all this is going on.

My husband Joe and the boys head for the lake with our boat when they get too bored and need a way to relax. They came home tonight with their limit of bluegill which helps a lot on the grocery bill when they aren’t bringing in money at their jobs while things are closed.

With church being delayed we have time to get some more jobs done around here. We are painting our basement walls with Drylok paint that helps keep moisture out. It seems since we had a fire a few years ago, with all the water ending up in our basement, it has been more damp down there. Hopefully sealing off the walls with white paint will also brighten it up. It’s really looking good so far.

Joe has also set up a mini greenhouse and is growing some vegetable plants from seed. It is very small but it’s a start. He enjoys doing that. I told him when he started planting seeds in trays that I am not interested in that, so he said I don’t have to help. It’s kind of like a hobby to him but it will save us money to grow our own tomato, pepper, etc. plants. If he’s willing to do it, I won’t complain.

The girls made pizza tonight using the pizza dough recipe in my new cookbook, Amish Family Recipes. I will share the recipe at the end of this column.

This is now over a day later and I neglected to finish this column. Yesterday was spent painting in the basement again. I am sore from using muscles I don’t use every day. Our basement walls have a brick like finish, so it is taking much longer than I had anticipated. I love how it looks though, so it is worthwhile.

Joe and the boys took the boat out on a nearby lake again and came home with their limit of bluegill. The fish were filleted and bagged for the freezer. We will have quite a few meals of fish now. It warmed up to 75 degrees yesterday so they were a little sunburned. Joe put some chicken on the grill and that was our supper. We sat outside and ate it from the grill. It was nice but then started cooling off fast.

This morning it’s windy and 45 degrees and the temperature keeps dropping. Joe is going to put a little heat out in the greenhouse. We had let our coal stove go out since it has been so warm. We might have to start it up again, but Joe wants to clean it up first. It shouldn’t be too long before we can let it go out for the summer.

Easter will be on Sunday, reminding us of Jesus’ resurrection. Easter brings hope! Let us keep our faith! Until next week, stay healthy, be safe, and may God bless each of you!

 

My Favorite Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour

In a medium bowl, mix water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add oil, salt, and flour and mix well. Press dough into a greased 10×15-inch jellyroll pan. Layer on sauce and toppings of choice and bake at 350 degrees until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

 

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

Spring salads and fun with grandchildren

I am writing this on the last day of March. Will April bring us nice days? We will accept what we get. My husband Joe planted peas and radishes in the garden so we will wait and see if it grows garden goodies. It sounds so good.

We had our first meal of dandelion salad this spring. Yummy! With steamed potatoes and fresh grilled ham it was a good meal. I was surprised at how many dandelion greens I could find already.

Rhubarb is coming up and soon asparagus will be popping through the soil. Joe also started some seeds in trays and hopes they will do well to plant in our garden once it warms up.

Everyone is still at home due to the coronavirus. Son Benjamin, 20, drove our horse and buggy to town to the bank and then also picked up a few groceries. So many items are limited but we have managed so far. With everyone being home a lot of neglected jobs are getting done. It does take a little more meal planning with everyone being home all day long.

The boys raked our yard and power washed our paved driveway. Everything looks so fresh and clean. I love to admire the fresh look of everything at the beginning of spring. The grass is getting greener each day. We also had a thunder storm one evening. Another sure sign that spring is here.

Son Kevin, 14, is still doing his school work here at home. Daughter Lovina has been tutoring him when he needs help. He says he wishes he could be at school. This is his last year of school. I never thought something like this would happen, which I’m sure everyone feels right now.

This month, sixteen years ago, we made the move from Indiana to Michigan. We brought our horses Diamond and Itty Bit along. Six days after we were here Itty Bit had a foal, and we named her Ginger. We don’t have Diamond and Itty Bit anymore but it is hard to believe Ginger is 16.

At the time our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was only nine. She turned 10 that June. Joseph was the youngest child until Lovina was born in May. Now Elizabeth is a Mother to three sweet little children. Susan was eight years old and now has two sweet little children of her own.

We have so much fun with our grandchildren. Each one is special to us. Abigail, 3, picked some flowers for me one day and I put them in a little cup of water. She looked so proud that I liked my flowers. I am not even sure if they are flowers or some kind of weed, but it’s the thought that counts. My daughters laughed about it, saying they wonder if I actually kept their “flowers” that long. It does almost seem like you take more time for your grandchildren. Maybe it’s because you don’t have to be a parent to them and you still get a good night’s sleep when they go home. Whatever it is, I love my children just as much and pray each day that they will lead a life with God.

May each one of you stay safe and healthy. God will provide if we trust in him. We know God doesn’t make mistakes so there is a reason for this pandemic although we do not understand it at the moment. Trust and believe and have faith. God bless and good night to all!

 

Dandelion Sour Cream Salad
4 packed cups young dandelion greens
4 hard-boiled eggs, diced

Sour cream dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
salt

Put the eggs and dandelion greens in a large bowl and pour the dressing over them.

Dressing: Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, milk, and salt to taste in a quart jar. Shake until smooth. Any unused dressing can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Variation: Substitute in season fresh-from-the-garden lettuce and endive for the dandelion greens.

 

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

Gardening and games at home

Today was such a beautiful sunny day with the temperature around 60 degrees. Everyone is home due to the coronavirus precautions. It seems so different to not set an alarm. Of course, we sleep later since no one is leaving home.

The boys took advantage of the nice day and hauled a lot of manure out to the fields. My husband Joe tilled up both gardens. The soil looks so nice and black. We also did a lot of raking outside such as flower beds beside the buildings, etc.

We would like to make one of our gardens into raised garden beds to plant vegetables. We thought this would be a way our children with handicaps could help with the gardening. They could sit in the mobility scooter and plant, pick, or weed the vegetables. With Joe and I also getting older it would be nice to not bend down to weed and harvest the vegetables.

We would like to use something affordable, but we are not sure what to use. I know some use wood but are bothered with lots of ants and bugs in the plants. We would like to use vinyl boards, but our budget couldn’t afford to that. It would last a lifetime though. Joe measured that we would need 16-foot rows and would make them 4 feet wide and two and a half feet deep. To fill our one garden we would need eight of these. Maybe we will figure something out before planting season. It would work out so well if we could somehow make it work. I am wondering if any of you readers have suggestions about what to use. Joe says he doesn’t want to have to mow under them and wants something neat in appearance. We will see, but we would appreciate any suggestions from you.

I hope to go searching for dandelion greens tomorrow. My sisters Susan and Verena found enough already to make a meal of them. Yum! Looking forward to that!

One night our family sat around the table after we ate supper looking in Country and Country Extra magazines searching for the needles they hide in there. It was a challenge to see who would find it first. The girls also had tricks for us to do with picking a chair up somehow with our head touching the wall bent halfway down. We seem to find enough to entertain us while everyone is home. Some things seem silly but as a family we need to live, laugh, and love!

Most of all, let us read from our Bibles for encouragement and pray that God will be with us during this time of trial. It’s something most people have never seen. Our hearts and prayers go to those affected by the virus. God is in control even though the road ahead looks overwhelming. I try not to think about our income not coming in like so many others also are experiencing. I am thankful for the meat in our freezers and all the vegetables we canned last year from our garden. The fruits of our labor are worth all the hard work put in the gardens. Not everyone has a garden so it’s not as easy. Our biggest challenge is getting enough supply of toilet tissue to have on hand. Every time we make a trip into town, which is sometimes longer than a week apart, the shelves are empty already.

Let us be considerate of others. Stay healthy and safe everyone. This too shall pass.

Daughter Elizabeth says she is trying out recipes from my new cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, published by Herald Press. She loves making new dishes and trying different recipes. In my cookbook I try to stay with recipes that are simple and made with ingredients you have in your kitchen. You can find the cookbook online from various booksellers.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Potato Chowder

4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup grated carrot
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
4 chicken bouillon cubes
6 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
Optional: shredded cheese

In a large kettle, combine potatoes, onion, carrots, salt, pepper, parsley, and bouillon. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables and cook until tender. Do not drain. In a separate pan, scald milk until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan. With a wire whisk, mix butter and flour with 1-1/2 cup scalded milk. Add remaining milk to vegetables, then stir in thickened milk mixture until blended. Simmer a few minutes on low heat. Yield: 8-10 servings.

 

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

Morning Maple Muffins from the new Lovina Eicher cookbook

 It’s a rainy Wednesday evening here in Michigan. Supper is over and the girls are washing dishes. I decided to sit here at the kitchen table and get started on this column. The girls are talking to each other, so my mind wanders over to them, making the task of writing a little difficult. The boys are taking their showers and things are slowing down for the day here at the Eicher farm.

The girls made hamburger potato skillet casserole for our supper. It is made with hamburger, onions, potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, and Colby cheese, layered in a skillet.

Son Kevin, 14, has been having school here at home this week due to school doors closing because of the coronavirus. Kevin’s teacher brings him his work whenever he needs some more. Kevin goes to a small public school of around 300 students in K-12 that is located about three miles from here. The Amish schools have all closed their doors as well here in Michigan.

It is hard to get groceries that are needed when the shelves are emptying fast. We have plenty of meat in the freezer and canned goods, but items such as toilet and Kleenex tissues were off the shelves. I am not one to stock up on such items, as they are usually available in the stores. Once in a while when they go on sale, I buy a few more packs than needed. Of course, with eight people in the house, it takes quite a bit already.

The first store I went to was out of toilet tissue and Kleenex. The second store had a few six-roll packs of toilet tissue left, which of course I took, but they were out of Kleenex and all the other brands except the very small purse size packs. I took some, as not everyone’s nose is okay with paper towels. Yes, fortunately, I was able to get paper towels. I know a lot of people use hankies, but I never did just because I really think it’s carrying germs to use it over and over.

I also remember well when I used cloth diapers. I was one of the mothers that, if our paycheck allowed it, added disposable diapers to our grocery list. Of course, with my children being closer in age and having more than one child in diapers, that wasn’t always possible.

I was telling our children how well I remember going to church as a little girl and, at some places, there wasn’t any toilet tissue in their outhouses—only newspaper and magazines. They were amazed that one would even consider using that. Yes, times have changed and life goes on but one thing will never change and that is our almighty God! Let us not fear but keep our trust in Him. He will take care of us in times of need. We do want to use common sense though with this virus. I pray all of you will stay healthy and safe. God will provide if we put our full trust in Him.

Lovina’s sons-in-law Tim and Mose have been busy tapping Maple trees for syrup. They use bags now to collect the sap instead of buckets.
Cooking maple syrup.
Photo provided.

Meanwhile, our sons-in-law Tim and Mose have cooked a lot of sap into maple syrup from the trees in the woods beside Tim and Elizabeth’s house. A reader asked if the bags they use are reusable; they are not. They gather the sap with the horse and wagon, and the bags are emptied into the buckets on the wagon, then taken to the cooker to cook down, which takes hours and hours.

I was very excited to receive my brand new cookbook. The pages are so crisp and new. I’m looking back at all the hard work we put into it, and now the finished product. I will share a recipe from the book that uses maple syrup.

God bless!

 

Morning Maple Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl combine milk, melted butter, maple syrup, sour cream, beaten egg, and vanilla. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

Topping: Combine flour, sugar, chopped nuts, and cinnamon; cut in cold butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before placing muffins on wire rack.

 

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