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.

 

Pie-baking, wagon-riding and book-signing usher in the month of June

We turn another page on the calendar today. Month number six already in 2017!

Tomorrow is the big day for niece Rosa and Menno. I wish them many happy, healthy years together. May God be their guide through the good and bad times in their marriage. It takes effort from both sides to make a marriage happy. And most of all, it takes prayers! Life doesn’t get easier as the years speed by. But I do think we get wiser from life’s experiences.

I am writing this column a few minutes after 4:00 a.m. Just a few short hours ago I went to bed—or so it seems. After I was in bed last night, it dawned on me that I hadn’t written the column this week. So I sat back up and reset my alarm clock for 4:00 a.m. this morning instead of 5:00 a.m. I must admit it has been nice setting our alarm at 5:00 a.m. instead of 3:00 a.m. this week. My husband, Joe, has off from work this week, so he’s getting caught up on spring work outside.

This morning at 6:00 a.m. my sisters Verena, Susan, Emma and I will drive the two hours to sister Liz and Levi’s house. Today is pie-baking day for Rosa’s wedding. It’s also the day for finishing everything else that needs to be done before the wedding tomorrow.

Daughter Elizabeth and I are both cooks, but Elizabeth decided not to go today. She thought that, with little Abigail, she might not be so much help anyway. Also it will be a long day for her tomorrow. We are to wear the color beige. Daughter Verena is a tablewaiter and will wear an ocean-blue dress. Son Benjamin is also a tablewaiter and will wear an ocean-blue shirt with black pants and vest. We are hoping for a nice day tomorrow weatherwise.

Our family spent Saturday evening and Sunday at daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s. Sunday we went on a wagon ride. Son Joseph and Lovina would get off the wagon sometimes and ride their RipStiks.

Son-in-law Mose has been taking over duties to get the garden planted this year. We are enjoying radishes and green onions from the garden. Lettuce is almost ready to use. Asparagus and rhubarb are also plentiful. I appreciate Mose’s help. This is the first year I have not helped plant the garden since we were married, which was almost twenty-four years ago. I am enjoying it, I must say.

Yesterday we did laundry. We usually wash Mose and Susan’s laundry right with ours. After we were finished, we washed my sisters Verena and Susan’s clothes for them. They were working, and so was daughter Susan. It was a very nice day to dry clothes.

It was so nice to meet the readers in Battle Creek, Mich., this past Saturday. My husband decided to go fishing, and so did sons-in-law Timothy and Mose. So daughters Elizabeth (and Abigail), Susan and Verena went with me to Battle Creek. And once again my friend Ruth put her duties aside and took the time to take us to the book signing.

Thanks for all the encouragement from readers. I enjoyed meeting all of you. Little Abigail was happy through most of the signing. She is so precious!

This week Lovina offers the recipe for this Make-Ahead Casserole, which she took along to her sister’s house for a day of preparation for her niece’s wedding.

I am making a casserole to take to sister Liz’s today. It’s called Make-Ahead Casserole. I will share the recipe this week. The instructions aren’t detailed; all the ingredients just have to be mixed together well.

God’s blessings to all!

Make-Ahead Casserole
4 cups seashell macaroni, uncooked
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 pound cheese, shredded
2 cups milk
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup butter

In the morning, mix all ingredients well. Put the mixture in a large baking pan and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve with a large lettuce and tomato salad.

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.

Remembering the deep grief of seven years ago

May 24—this date always takes my thoughts back to May 24, 2010. The day started out just like any other day. I was out on the porch watering the flowers while the children waited for the bus. The bus came and I could hear our phone ringing in the pole barn. I decided to finish watering the flowers before going to check if we had a voicemail from anyone. When the phone kept ringing and ringing I decided I had better go answer it. I will never forget how that phone call affected our lives.

I called my neighbor Ann to see if she could take me to sister Emma and Jacob’s house right away. We arrived and the first responders were already there trying to revive sweet little eight-and-one-half-month-old Marilyn. She didn’t wake up that morning.

I went with Emma to the hospital following the ambulance. Ann stayed with us. Another good friend Irene went to go pick up Jacob which was about a forty-five minute drive where he was working at the time. Ann prayed with Emma and me as we waited. It was too late to save Marilyn. Her death was ruled sudden infant death syndrome. Our hearts and minds questioned why. God doesn’t make mistakes and He needed another angel in heaven. Although I was devastated for losing my sweet little niece I could not begin to imagine what my sister was going through. The baby she had breastfed since birth, the bonding, and the joy of the family. With our youngest being almost five it seemed that Marilyn was my baby too.

The doctor said we could hold Marilyn; we wrapped a blanket around her and thought we should see her open her eyes and smile that sweet little smile of hers. Jacob arrived at the hospital. How do you tell someone they lost their child? I offered to go to school and let Jacob and Emma’s children know and bring them home. I knew that my children would want to come home too. The children were all so shocked and I tried to brace up for their sake.

It was decided that the viewing would be held at our house and the funeral at the local community building. When I arrived home there were already church and family friends cleaning everywhere. Church services had been set the day before to be held at our house in two weeks.

In my column in September, 2009, I had shared the good and exciting news: “Congratulations to sister Emma and Jacob as they are blessed with another addition to their family. Marilyn Jane was born by C-section this morning. She is a very tiny bundle weighing four pounds ten ounces and is seventeen inches long.” Weeks and months passed by and Marilyn never lacked attention.

How well I remember the day before Marilyn’s death. We all went to church and when Jacob and Emma arrived at church, our daughter Loretta (age 9 at that time) ran like usual to get baby Marilyn and brought her to me. Marilyn was so happy to see me and gave me a baby hug. That evening Jacob and Emma and family came to our house for a pork chop supper in honor of my birthday (May 22).

My oldest daughter Elizabeth (almost 16 at the time), sister Emma, and I sat in the yard with Marilyn and watched the rest play basketball. As usual, baby Marilyn was passed back and forth. Little did we realize these were our final hours with her.

Seven years have passed and I miss our sweet little angel. My granddaughter Abigail is now the age Marilyn was at that time. She wore Marilyn’s dresses when she was younger but is bigger than Marilyn was at this age, so she has outgrown them.

Happy birthday cake for Lovina.

My sisters Verena and Susan, and our married children brought supper in for my forty-sixth birthday which was Monday, May 22. After eating, we all went on a hayride. It was so enjoyable sitting on the bales of hay and being all together with my family. It was a bit chilly so we wrapped little Abigail up warm. We stopped in to say “hi” to Jacob, Emma, and family while on the hayride.

A big thank you to all who offered good wishes for my birthday. I also want to thank the many readers who showed up at the book signings in Goshen, Ind. at Better World Books, and at Barnes & Noble in nearby Mishawaka. So much encouragement from all of you! God bless you all!

Rhubarb Bars

1 cup flour
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine

Cut in margarine to the flour and powdered sugar. Mix well and pat crumb mixture into bottom of 9×13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes.

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups rhubarb chopped

Meanwhile, mix additional dry ingredients listed above. Add beaten eggs. Stir in chopped rhubarb. Spoon on baked crust and bake for additional 35-45 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.

 

Never a dull moment: remembering when baby Lovina was born

Today, May 18, is daughter Lovina’s thirteenth birthday. She is now a teenager. We now have five teenagers in the house so you can imagine there isn’t one dull moment.

I will never forget the day Lovina was born. I had gall bladder attacks before I had her which turned into pancreatitis. Lovina came three weeks early. She was born by emergency C-section and we were both in the hospital for a week as I had severe complications. I was so sick and was battling fever and my one lung almost collapsed. Due to being so sick, I wasn’t allowed to see the baby for two days. My husband Joe wanted to name the baby after me since she was born four days before my birthday. I spent my thirty-third birthday in the hospital and my gift was getting moved to a regular room from ICU. While I was in ICU Joe would go down a lot to the nursery and give Lovina her bottle. This was so different from my first six children that I had in my own bedroom. Joe’s aunt Sylvia was my midwife and she was always good at what she did.

Bessie and seven-week-old calf enjoy quiet moments in the pasture.

While I was in the hospital my sisters Verena and Susan stayed with our six children. Elizabeth was almost ten at the time and Joseph was twenty-two months. They had their hands full. Sister Emma and Jacob’s property was sold by public auction during this time so my sisters took all six children along to Indiana for the sale. Jacob and Emma helped out a lot too. And also our church families and neighbors. All this is just a memory to us now, but certain memories stand out more than others.

Lovina is now a sweet young girl and almost done with sixth grade. Lovina wants cupcakes for her birthday instead of a cake. She likes a whipped topping frosting. We are giving her a ripstick for her birthday. Joseph has a ripstick he got as a gift for Christmas. Lovina loves riding it. For those of you who don’t know what a ripstick is, it’s a caster board with two narrow platforms known as decks that are joined by a bar that has a strong spring. It’s on two wheels. I could never keep my balance to even try riding it.

Last Thursday my sisters Verena and Susan and I went to help at our neighbors to prepare for their daughter’s wedding. Vegetables were chopped, pies and bread baked, etc. All the women bring a dish so it makes having lunch easier.

Verena and Susan had a house to clean in the afternoon. I came home and we washed our clothes. Daughter Susan came home from work and helped get the clothes hung outside. They all dried really fast.

The wedding was on Friday for Regina and Wayne. Sisters Verena and Susan, daughter Susan, and I were all cooks at the wedding. Daughter Susan’s and my assignment was to make coffee all day for everyone. We used two big one-hundred cup drip-o-later coffee makers. We made a total of 500 cups of coffee for the whole day.

The menu consisted of barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, dressing, broccoli and cauliflower salad, homemade bread, rhubarb jam, butter, mocha dessert, fresh fruit mixture, pecan, peanut butter, and lemon pies, and candy bars. Ice cream was added to the menu in the evening. After a cold rainy week, Friday turned out to be perfect for a wedding day.

I sewed daughter Verena a black dress yesterday. She will wear a black dress with white cape and apron to church services while she follows instructions for baptism. What a joyful feeling to parents when your child wants to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. God is so good to us. Do we thank Him enough for His many blessings?

I need to get back to my work. I want to thank the readers that came to the book signing in Fort Wayne, Ind., this past Saturday. Also the ladies from the quilting group at the Amigo Centre. I appreciated all the encouragement! God be with all of you!

I had a request recently from a reader for peanut butter brownies. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Brownies

2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix butter, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Spread evenly into a well-greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 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.

 

 

 

 

Corralling nine horses: all in a day’s work for Lovina

Diary of May 10, 2017

7:00 a.m. Lovina and Kevin leave for school with the bus. Joseph bikes to school because he can be home 45 minutes longer. With the chores he does, biking doesn’t make him so rushed. School is only three miles from here so it doesn’t take him long.

7:30 a.m. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for my sisters Verena, Susan (staying with us after their house fire), and son Joseph, for their breakfast. Verena and Susan leave for work.

7:45 a.m. Joseph bikes to school. Daughter Verena doesn’t have to work today so I let her and Loretta sleep in until everyone else is gone for the day. They get the job of washing the dishes and cleaning up the house. Verena cleans some windows. She makes scrambled eggs and toast for herself, Loretta, and me. I can relax better by sitting down and eating breakfast after everyone else has left.

9:00 a.m. I start sewing on Susan’s dress, cape, and apron. I had a late start. Had to do some book work first, answer some mail, pay some bills, and now I can feel relaxed to sew.

1:30 p.m. So much for being relaxed. Verena looked out and saw our horses all out in the yard, happily eating grass. We have quite a few horses so they need to be caught and put back inside the fence. Usually one of them is a troublemaker and takes off running away. I caught our pony Stormy, and two-year-old Beauty that the boys are training to drive. The rest took off. Verena almost caught Tough Boy (Mose and Susan’s pony) but he decided to pull away and join the rest! I knew Verena, Loretta, and I wouldn’t be able to get them all in when they took off down the road and back behind our neighbor’s field. I called the school and asked them to send Joseph home to help. Our neighbor Joe drove his four-wheeler to go herd them back up while Joseph, the girls, and I tried to help chase them in through the gate. What a relief when the last one was inside. We have five horses and two ponies, and Mose and Susan have one horse and one pony. So all together there were nine head of horses. We chained the gate and were trying to figure out how they opened it. Then we saw our miniature pony Prancer go up and take the chain in his mouth and wiggle it back and forth. Joseph tied a rope to secure it better.

2:45 p.m. It was too late for Joseph to go back to school so he took our mower over to my sisters’ place and mowed their grass for them.

3:00 p.m. Lovina and Kevin came home from school on the bus. I am finally finished with daughter Susan’s dress, cape, and apron. She was happy to see it done when she came home from work.

4:00 p.m. Verena and I leave for town as I need some groceries.

6:00 p.m. We are back. Chores are done and the boys are out in the field line-driving Beauty. Beauty will be Benjamin’s horse once she’s trained. She will be his eighteenth birthday gift from us.

7:00 p.m. My sisters Verena and Susan are home from their jobs. They had extra cleaning to do so they worked later than normal.

A surprise for Susan’s (Lovina’s sister) birthday.

7:30 p.m. We are having pizza, ice cream, and a cake for my sister Susan’s birthday. She was surprised when she came home to see the cake, flower, and balloons we had for her. Loretta’s friend Dustin, Mose, and daughter Susan joined us for supper.

9:30 p.m. Everyone is ready for bed. Dustin, Mose, and Susan left. Now I sit here trying to stay awake and write this column. I feel sorry for the editor that gets to edit the column this week. My writing is showing exactly how tired I am.

We were glad to meet with column readers at Dorothy’s Hallmark Bookstore in Warsaw, Ind., last Saturday. I heard so much encouragement. May God bless you all! And thanks to Dorothy and staff for once again treating us so well. And also to Ruth Boss furnishing transportation and support!

Asparagus Hot Dish

1/2 cup butter
1 cup colby cheese, cubed
4 cups soft bread, cubed
1 cup asparagus, cooked
2 cups chicken meat, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk

Melt butter. Pour over cubed cheese and bread cubes. Put half of mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish. Put drained asparagus on top of bread mixture and chicken on top of asparagus. Mix can of soup with milk and pour over chicken. Add remaining bread mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Do not cover.

 

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.