Garage sales and that first batch of dandelion greens

It is 5:30 a.m. on a Thursday here in Michigan. It sounds windy outside. Temperature shows 38 degrees. It feels good to have heat coming up through the vent from our coal stove in the basement. After having 70-degree weather the house was too warm, so we let the fire in the stove go out. Yesterday morning my husband Joe started it again. Today daughters Elizabeth and Susan have plans to come, so at least it will be nice and cozy for the little sweeties.

Usually the girls come on a Wednesday, but on Tuesday my sister Emma and her daughters Elizabeth and Emma, my daughters Elizabeth and Susan, and I went to the Amish garage sales. We took Emma’s baby Jessica and grandson baby Timothy along. Granddaughters Abigail and Jennifer stayed here with daughters Verena and Loretta. Of course sister Emma and I had almost more fun helping out with our grandchildren than shopping.

Our daughters were fortunate to get many good bargains in clothes. With material so high it pays to get garage sale priced clothes (and including the time it saves), and it was also fun just spending the day together. I saved myself quite a few days of sewing with the clothes I bought, and the prices were reasonable. It seems the boys are always in need of pants and I was able to get some in their size.

While we were garage saleing my husband Joe was home planting some early garden. Now let’s hope it doesn’t get too cold and we will have the fruits of his labor next month. Joe would like to buy or make a little greenhouse so he could experiment starting a garden a lot earlier. I have no interest in doing that, but if he’s willing to do the work I’m all for it.

We enjoyed our first meal of dandelion greens this week. We eat them in a salad with homemade sour cream and hardboiled eggs diced up in it. Yummy! Some of the children just don’t get the excitement I have when I bring in that first batch of dandelion greens.

Son Benjamin, 19, left for work at 4:30 a.m. and son Joseph, 16, left for work at 5:00 a.m. At 6:00 a.m. daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, get up to get ready for the bus. Lovina leaves at 6:45 a.m. and Kevin’s bus comes at 7:00 a.m. or later. He is still riding to school with the county bus, as he needs the lift for his wheelchair.

When the girls come home today we will probably work at somemore cleaning. I am trying to stay calm and not think about the sewing I need to get done for the upcoming wedding of niece Elizabeth and Manuel, along with all the cleaning. It all usually falls into place, and it’s not that we can’t host church services with some dirty corners. That is not at all the point of cleaning, for it is just a deadline to get it all done so it’s cleaned for a while.

Last Sunday our neighbors hosted church services and had the youth singing in the evening. It was warm enough to take Kevin with the pony cruiser and our pony Stormy. It’s easier for Kevin to get in than the buggy. We all went back for supper and singing in the evening. Tim and Elizabeth and Mose and Susan came here after church and went back for supper and singing too. The afternoon was spent relaxing and resting and the little ones took naps.

Daughter Verena’s friends came through to pick her up to go to the singing. Sons Benjamin and Joseph spent all weekend in Indiana at their friend’s house. They weren’t home in time to go to the singing. By 8:30 p.m. everyone was back home, so it was nice to all get to bed early.

This week I will share a recipe a reader sent to me. God bless you!

 

Zucchini Fritters

1 pound zucchini, unpeeled and grated
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh chives, minced
1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil, stirring well. Heat oil to 375 degrees F. Drop mixture by tablespoons into hot oil. Cook until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

Yields about 1 dozen fritters.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

Helping hands make light work; words of encouragement lighten spirits

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children came for the day. We cleaned Loretta and Lovina’s bedroom upstairs. We washed off the walls and ceiling, cleaned the furniture, washed the curtains and bedding, cleaned out the closet, and so on.

On Saturday my sisters Verena and Susan came to help us, so we cleaned Verena’s bedroom thoroughly. Now next on our agenda is tackling the boys’ bedrooms. Although the boys’ bedrooms always collect more dirt, I think cleaning the girls rooms takes more time. They have many more knickknacks sitting around than the boys. I also think the girls have more clothes than the boys. I appreciated all the help from everyone.

Yesterday was a long day it seemed, especially battling this cold. I am losing my voice, so I think everyone should enjoy the peacefulness. A person doesn’t realize how much they need to talk until it’s hard to. Maybe its just us, but around here “Mom” is the person everyone asks where their things are amongst a lot more questions.

My husband Joe was hauling manure out to the fields all day yesterday. Today he is finding inside jobs to do as it is rainy.

Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, are on spring break this week from school. I think Lovina thinks we waited to start with the cleaning until she’s home from school. She has been a great help this week. Kevin has 25 more days until he gets his cast removed and gets an air cast.

Today daughters Verena, Loretta, and Lovina and son Kevin took a break from the work. They went to daughter Elizabeth’s to spend the day there. The little girl, Nikiah, that Elizabeth used to babysit for is on spring break, so she’s spending the day at Elizabeth’s. I had plans to also go but didn’t feel like leaving this morning after all. I am sure granddaughter Abigail will be excited to see Nikiah again.

The grass is looking greener every day. Hopefully soon I can go outside and collect some dandelion greens for dandelion salad. I always look forward to that each spring. We like to eat the salad over boiled or steamed potatoes with bacon or fresh ham.

Our neighbors had the youth singing on Sunday evening. We were also invited but we didn’t go. It sounded fun, but it was cold and windy and felt good to just stay home and make it an early night. We were also invited to supper at Dustin’s brother’s house, where his parents hosted church services that day. Maybe if it would have been a nice sunny, warm day we would have gone to one place or the other. Its hard to get Kevin in the buggy with his needing a wheelchair yet. Hopefully soon it will be warm enough for him to go with the pony and pony buggy. Daughters Verena and Loretta attended church services hosted by Dustin’s parents on Sunday.

I want to wish Melodie (one of my former editors) a happy retirement! May God bless her for all the great work she has done. I imagine she will enjoy more time with her family.

I also want to thank everyone for the cards, letters, and gifts that were sent to son Kevin and me. It was greatly appreciated. So many words of encouragement! God bless you all for caring!

When life gets busy and I sometimes think I don’t have enough time to write this column, then I think of all you readers who have always encouraged me. Thank you for that, and God’s blessings to all!

 

Barbecue Hamburgers 

1 1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup tomato juice
A few drops liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Form into patties and grill. Serves 6.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

 

Supper, brunch, and maple syrup: Spring brings school celebrations and rising sap

We are at the end of March already. Temperatures are staying above the freezing mark on most days.

Tuesday evening our whole family attended the exit interviews for the eighth-grade class. Once again Mr. Ultz did an outstanding job having the 23 eighth graders make supper for all their families. On the menu were potatoes, ham, green beans, dinner rolls, and a salad bar, along with brownies and ice cream for dessert. As we finished up with our meal, comedian speaker Craig Tornquist entertained the group. Mr. Ultz has been teaching at the school for 46 or 47 years and Craig has been entertaining and speaking to the eighth-grade class for 20 years at our school. We were then able to watch daughter Lovina, 14, and the other eighth graders present their portfolios to the teacher.

Even though we have done this with our other children, it is always fun each time. Abigail and Jennifer were amazed at all the bright lights in the gymnasium and at everything in the middle school classroom. Son-in-law Tim took Abigail outside for a while on the playground. She had lots to tell us when she came back inside.

Yesterday my sisters Verena, Emma, and Susan, nieces Elizabeth and Emma and baby Jessica, my daughters Elizabeth and Susan, along with their children, all came here for a brunch and to just spend time together.

My friend Ann from Grand Rapids, Michigan, came to spend the day with us as well. And then we also had a surprise visit from Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty from Geneva, Indiana.

Usually, when we are all together, we are working on cleaning or something, and I thought we all needed this break and time to catch up. It was enjoyable, and now with my three grandchildren and sister Emma’s first grandchild, it is quite entertaining.

On our menu for brunch was a breakfast casserole, cheese, homemade bread, butter and jellies, hot peppers, also lots of desserts, as everyone brought something. Cherry, blackberry, and rhubarb pies, Reese’s peanut butter pudding, cherry-blueberry delight, and cake were the desserts, and of course it was much more than we could eat. Coffee, grape and orange juice, V-8 juice, milk, and lemonade were the drinks.

Joe and I, along with my sisters Verena and Susan, attended the funeral services of Joe’s aunt Mary Jane in Berne, Indiana, on Saturday. This is sister-in-law Nancy’s mother. It was a big funeral and we saw a lot of Joe’s aunts and uncles and cousins we don’t see often.

Before starting home we stopped in to visit with sister Liz and Levi. They were busy processing a beef. Their son Levi Jr. and Arlene and baby Ella Nicole were also there helping. Levi and Liz had four children, and now with three of them married they only have their youngest daughter, Suzanne, 18, at home with them. I can’t imagine our house that empty, and I hope it won’t be for many years.

My husband Joe is still looking around and waiting to hear an answer on another job. Meanwhile he’s getting work done around here that needs to be done.

Lovina’s sons-in-law Tim and Mose have cooked many gallons of sap into maple syrup this spring.

Sons-in-law Tim and Mose have cooked many gallons of sap into maple syrup this spring. It is a good year for maple syrup and they are running around 30 gallons of sap to one gallon of maple syrup.

Son Kevin, 13, is back to school this week after his surgery on his right foot. The county bus picks him up and drops him off every day. They have a lift for his wheelchair. Next week is spring break so he has a break again.

We are starting to clean for our upcoming church services that we will host in early May. Daughter Lovina remarked that she already knows what she will be doing on spring break.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Cappuccino Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk and instant coffee granules; stir until dissolved. Cool the melted butter for a few minutes. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter and mix lightly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Do not overmix! Fold in mini chocolate chips. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375 degrees for 17–20 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

After many years of hard labor, what do you get?

Spring begins—or that is what the calendar says. Rhubarbs are starting to peep through. Robins are flying around with the smell of skunk nearby, so I think we are very close to a warmer world.

It gives one more hope when the sun shines! Last Wednesday the RV factory where my husband Joe worked, and dedicated over 14 years of hard labor, had a huge layoff. Joe was among the ones laid off with not much promise of being hired back.

Quite a few men that were there longer than Joe were also laid off. Son-in-law Mose was also laid off so he is also disappointed to be without work. They were not given a notice earlier about who was being laid off, so it makes it hard to plan ahead.

It is hard on these men that have families and need to provide for them. Joe has been looking around for work but so far nothing has come up. Our world seems dark but we must keep going. God will provide a way if we trust in him. I am glad it isn’t my job to make decisions on who to lay off. To these men who put so many years in, getting up early to make it to work by 5:00 a.m., this all makes it very hard to accept. All we can do is pray for a brighter future.

Son Kevin, age 13, had surgery on his right foot this week. It is the same surgery he had on his left foot in January. Dr. Caird once again did a great job with the surgery in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I really do hope these eight weeks will go faster for Kevin than the last surgery. With the snow gone and warmer temperatures he can maybe go outside more with his wheelchair. He needs to be in a wheelchair due to his muscular dystrophy. We are hoping once he’s out of the cast and both feet in shoes, his balance will be much better.

Yesterday daughter Loretta, 18, and I washed laundry. For the first time this year I hung it all outside to dry. Most of it was dry to fold and put away. That’s always a good feeling especially after a winter of clothes drying on the lines in the basement. This was also the first time I helped with laundry since my surgery six weeks ago. I’m feeling I need to get my strength back. I am still sore and want to try and slowly get back into my work. I must say I was tired after the laundry was all put away. Daughter Verena fried chicken and made vegetable soup for our supper while Loretta, Lovina, and I put away the clothes.

Sunday evening, daughter Elizabeth, Tim and their children; daughter Susan, Mose and Jennifer; and Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin were our supper guests. We had baked chicken, scalloped potatoes and baked beans—a nice oven meal. Saturday evening our supper was brought in by sister Emma, Jacob and sons, Manuel and Elizabeth; plus Menno, Emma and baby Jessica. Tim’s, Mose’s and Dustin were also here and brought dessert along. Supper was mashed potatoes, beef and noodles, corn, peas, barbequed chicken, dinner rolls, dirt pudding, jello cake and chocolate cake. Everything was delicious and much appreciated.

We played games and enjoyed entertaining the little ones. This was Jessica’s first time being here. She is a sweetie! Abigail adored her. Jennifer has been walking for a while now and likes to try to climb the open stairs, so we need to keep the gate on. Baby Timothy is the only boy with all the little girls. He is so active already!

We heard the news that Joe’s Aunt Mary Jane, 83, died in Berne, Indiana. This would be sister-in-law Nancy’s mother. The funeral is Saturday. Our sympathy goes to the family. This will be hard on Nancy after losing her husband (my brother Amos) last year.

I was grateful daughter Lovina wrote the column for me last week. She’s the comedian in our family! God bless you and please pray for us! You readers are greatly appreciated.

 

Taco Ring

4 cups ground beef, browned and drained
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons water
2 (8-ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1 medium green bell pepper
1 cup salsa
3 cups lettuce, shredded
1 medium tomato
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup pitted olives
sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine ground beef, taco seasoning, cheese and water. Unroll crescent rolls and separate into triangles laying them in a circle on a large round pan with wide ends overlapping in center and points toward the outside. There should be a 5-inch diameter opening in the center.

Scoop meat mixture onto widest end of each triangle. Bring points of triangles up and tuck under wide ends of dough at center of ring. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut off top of bell pepper; discard top membranes and seeds and fill pepper with salsa. Garnish dough with sour cream and then decorate with lettuce, tomato, onions and olives. Place pepper in the middle of the ring. Slice and serve.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

With tongue in cheek, young Lovina says: Homework should be illegal

Dear readers. Today I, Lovina (youngest daughter of Lovina), thought I’d give Mom a little break and write her weekly column. In case any of you are confused, I was named after my Mom so we share the same name.

Although I’m not as busy as my Mom, it takes 90 percent of my energy to put so much brain into schoolwork! I think homework should be illegal, it is physically and mentally too stressful for our bodies.

For instance, when I ask Mom to help me with my homework, it doesn’t really get me anywhere. She’s smart but she wastes ten percent of the little time I have by doing the multiplication problems on paper instead of using the calculator.

I never thought I needed school. I always knew I was born a natural genius. Just don’t go asking any family members; they probably have stories that would tell you differently. Anyway, there’s no trying to get out of school now. Although I did try to get people to fall for my theory about being a natural genius, I gave up since this is my last year.

I’m going to be graduating from eighth grade middle school in May. Time flies, it seems like yesterday I was in kindergarten. Even though sometimes I forget I’m not an adult yet.

Sometime this month we are going to present our school portfolios. I think there is a special name for it, but I forget. After presenting our portfolio to our parents and some other people, we will serve them dinner. The best part is that we eighth graders get to bake the food for them ourselves. If I’m any good at that kind of stuff like my Mom is, then the food should be edible. The school also hires a comedian to come in and be funny, I think. I’m nervous abut presenting the portfolio but other then that it sounds like fun.

Right now Loretta and Verena are making cookies. I should be helping them but I get the fun part of eating them.

The weather here has warmed up a lot today. I can’t complain, I’ve been looking forward to it warming up. Earlier this week I had just started thinking that winter had left us … and then of course it snowed. On the bright side, there is still no doubt of me being a genius. I’m right 99.9 percent of the time. Apparently when it snowed that was the one percent of time I was wrong.

I should go get started on supper, and then go outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. My brothers Joseph and Ben are doing chores. Kevin is reading his new sets of books that Mom got him. He is very proud of his books and gives me strict instructions on how to use them properly if I ask to read one.

Kevin asks me the most random questions that even I don’t know what they mean. Then when I can’t make sense of it, I sit in silence, which rarely happens with me. What else is there to do when my head is spinning in confusion?

Anyway, I’m going to help Mom and my sister make supper. Or the next question Kevin will be asking is, “Is supper ready yet?”

God bless you all! I will share one of my favorite recipes.

Oatmeal Pie

2 eggs, slightly beaten

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup white corn syrup

3/4 cup quick oats

1/4 cup melted butter

 

Combine eggs, sugar, and corn syrup and mix well. Add oats and butter and mix well. Pour into a 9-inch pie shell. Bake at 400 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, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

Rosy red cheeks, giggles and smiles brighten Lovina’s day

Rosy red cheeks, giggles and smiles brighten Lovina’s day

We are into the first week of March already! Even though everything is covered with snow again along with some single digit temperatures on a few mornings, I keep telling myself that March is also when the calendar says spring arrives. Think spring!

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their sweet little ones came to spend the day. Susan brought their buggy and horse and picked up Elizabeth. The little girls were bundled up but still had little cold red cheeks when we took off their coats. Son Joseph, 16, carried in all three children and then unhitched the horse and put him in the barn. I’m sure after the drive here my daughters were glad to have Joseph take over with the horse.

How fun for Grandma to sit there and help take off their coats and see the smiling little faces. Even baby Timothy giggled for me. He is 11 weeks old and a little over 11 pounds now. I had not seen the girls and their little ones since Friday evening and that seems long for me.

Friday evening Tim and Elizabeth brought in our supper. Mose and Susan also came with dessert. When Mose and Susan brought our meal, Elizabeth made the dessert for her as well.

Our supper was meatballs, lasagna, dinner rolls and dirt pudding. Elizabeth made the dinner rolls after she was here so they were warm from the oven when we ate. It was greatly appreciated. She left the leftovers here so we had another meal from it.

Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, left for school a half hour ago. I showered and washed my hair and decided to write this column as my hair dries. I plan to go with daughter Verena to her eye appointment. She went last week from a previous scratch in her eye causing problems again. Now it should be healed enough to test her vision. She had not had her eyes tested for almost four years. She wore glasses when she was younger. At one time we had our six oldest wearing glasses plus myself. There for awhile we were at the eye doctor a lot, with either a bent or broken frame. Joseph was good at losing his at school since he only needed them to read. Now Elizabeth is the only one besides me that still needs her glasses. I don’t miss having to worry about all their glasses. We also had to make sure we had different frames so no one would get mixed up which pair was theirs.

Saturday evening Elizabeth and Tim had supper brought in to them from Elizabeth’s three friends and families. Those four friends are now all mothers and I’m sure their conversations are much different from when they were teenagers. It is so nice that they all get together yet. Abigail was glad to have little friends to play with.

Sunday husband Joe, Kevin, and I were home alone with the rest all at different places. Son Benjamin, 19, was at Mose and Susan’s as they had some of Mose’s family there for the weekend. Daughters Verena, 21, and Lovina spent Saturday night and Sunday at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house. Sounds like they had a nice time there. Joseph went with Dustin and daughter Loretta, 18, to church which Dustin’s brother Clint and family were hosting at a neighbor’s place. Joe, Kevin and I played games, rested and did some reading. The day went pretty fast and I was glad for the extra naps.

I want to apologize for a mistake in my last recipe, Tater Tot Skillet Casserole. It should have said 4 cups of tater tots, not 1 cup. I rushed and that is why they say haste makes waste. Hopefully most of you caught the mistake if you tried the recipe already. God bless!

60 Minute Dinner Rolls

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

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

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

 

Remembering a beloved neighbor, and her first plate of cookies

Remembering a beloved neighbor, and her first plate of cookies

Daughters Verena and Loretta are making supper. On the menu is tater tot casserole, rare beef, and cheese. The casserole is a new recipe they are trying out. Rare beef is thinly sliced steak from our beef we butchered. It’s heavily salted and peppered, then deep-fried in oil. Verena will do the deep frying. The girls insist I still stay out of the kitchen at meal time. They make sure I don’t overstep my boundaries or do anything I’m not allowed to do.

Loretta and Joseph are still washing laundry twice a week and I’m amazed at how well it gets done. I almost think they get it done faster than when I’m down there helping. I am learning how hard it is to be patient but I think it is a good thing for me. Life doesn’t always go as we want it to. I feel this helps me understand the struggle my children who have special needs encounter on a daily basis.

Foremost on our minds tonight is the sad news of neighbor Irene’s passing. Our hearts ache for her family and our sympathy goes to them as well. Irene had her 91st birthday on February 9.

Fifteen years ago when we moved here to our home in Michigan, we met Irene. She lived across the road from us and came over to meet us with a plate of cookies. Through the years Irene was always willing to run me to town to a doctor with one of the children or to just get some groceries. Or then she would come over with extra vegetables from her garden. I would try to return the favors with a loaf of homemade bread, etc. I always felt that Irene would keep an eye on our animals and homestead when we were gone all day. Needless to say, our dear Irene will be missed!

Irene’s grandson Joe is also our neighbor and his daughter Jaelyn has spent lots of time visiting over here, or the children with her at her dad’s or grandma’s. I am sure this will greatly affect their lives. They were with Irene so much. Rest in peace, Irene. You were so greatly loved and will be missed!

Our thoughts and prayers are also with cousin Amos, wife Barbara and family. Last week they laid to rest their 22-year-old daughter Edna. Her death was caused by an accident at work. Such a tragedy! Our sympathy to the family.

Son Kevin is wearing his air cast and is getting around with the aid of a walker. He can now go to school with the school bus. He is tired after a day at school. Another week of the air cast, and then he can try to walk with a shoe.

Kevin and I both say thanks for all the cards, letters and gifts that were sent to us. Mail time is special and Kevin loves to come home to mail. Thanks to my friend Ruth that brings our mail from you readers. We appreciate all the kindness!

Last but not least I want to announce that niece Elizabeth was published to be married to Manuel on May 24. We wish them much happiness as they exchange vows until death do them part. May God be their guide always. Sewing machines will be busy this spring as we sew for this upcoming wedding.

Joe and Joseph are getting a lot of work done outside in the barn, building more horse stalls and hauling manure this week while Joe is off work.

Tomorrow evening daughter Elizabeth and Tim will bring our supper in. Last Friday evening daughter Susan and Mose brought us supper. It is greatly appreciated. Sons-in-law Tim and Mose are starting to cook the maple syrup they’ve tapped from trees.

God’s blessings to all!

Tater Tot Casserole

4 cups frozen tater tots
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound ground beef
1 envelope (.75 ounce) mushroom gravy mix
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix tater tots and shredded cheese. Set aside.

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, brown beef over medium heat until completely browned. Stir in gravy mix then milk, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened (about 1 minute). Stir in vegetables. Top with potato mixture. Bake 25–35 minutes until sauce bubbles and tater tots are crisp. (If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, bake in a 9×9-inch pan.)

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

 

When the factory doesn’t have work, try not to worry

It’s 4:30 a.m. and son Benjamin, 19, just left for work. My husband Joe left over an hour ago to travel to his job. Joe has been working at the RV factory for over 14 years now. He has a 45-minute drive to and from the factory. With the road conditions this winter we can’t be thankful enough when they get there and back safely every day. Son-in-law Mose and Joe ride with a man who also works there and doesn’t live too far from us.

Next week there isn’t any work at the RV factory so Joe has a week off again. It sure makes a few more worries to not have that paycheck. I often think of the words “why worry if you can pray?” God always provides some way or another. Do we thank him enough for our many blessings?

Joe and son Joseph, 16, have plans to build a few extra horse stalls in our barn as we are in need of more. We can get lumber really reasonable from a man in our church district that has a sawmill.

This morning we leave at 6:00 a.m. for Ann Arbor. Daughter Loretta, 18, has an appointment there. Also son Kevin, 13, has an appointment at the children’s hospital. He hopes to get his cast removed and get an air cast. He will be so happy to be out of the wheelchair. It’s been a long six weeks for him. We really appreciated all the cards and gifts given to him. This week the Amish School in our church district sent little gifts from their 19 students. How thoughtful! The small gifts were wrapped with calendar pages which looked really nice. I am hoping the highways are cleared off for today’s travels. Son Joseph will go with us to help with Kevin’s wheelchair.

Last week the doctor only took out half of my staples so I had the rest removed this week. No lifting yet so I need to be careful when my sweet little granddaughters come up and reach for me. They can not understand why grandma doesn’t carry them. I am trying to be careful as I have a blood clot in my leg. Last report from the doctor is that it is shrinking so I just need to be patient.

My sister Liz also had surgery and ended up in the hospital again with influenza and pneumonia. She was dismissed yesterday. We live two hours apart so its not so easy to visit. She isn’t allowed to be around anyone with coughs or colds for a while. We wish her a speedy recovery!

We also received word that my Uncle Elmer, 79, and Aunt Emma, 78, aren’t doing well. Emma is my mother’s sister. Elmer has stage-4 cancer and I didn’t hear what was wrong with Emma but it sounds like they both had hospital stays. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

We had more snow and ice this week. I sure am ready for spring! The temperature is 36 degrees this morning so at least it is warmer than it was.

Neighbor Susan, her daughter Melinda and her two little ones came for a visit one afternoon. My daughters were happy to see Susan brought our supper along. It gave them a break from cooking.

Last night they made a taco supper which is a pretty easy meal but always delicious! We had tortilla chips or soft tortilla shells along with taco seasoned hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, cheese, salsa and ranch dressing.

Until next week—God bless!

Cut-Out Cream Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup margarine
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
5 cups flour

Mix together all ingredients except flour. Fold in flour; dough will be soft. Chill for a few hours. Roll shapes and sprinkle with sugar or frost. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

Puzzles, laundry training, ouchies: Lovina, while recuperating, won’t get bored

It is now eight days since my surgery and I seem to be doing better every day. I had a few days after the surgery that I was running a high temperature so that made everything seem worse. Now I have a bad head cold but it is also getting better.

Abigail, 2, and baby Timothy are here this forenoon. Daughter Elizabeth had an eye appointment so she dropped them off on her way to town. We are enjoying having them here. Abigail is sitting beside me at the kitchen table looking at books. She loves books but now she decided she wants to write my column too. I gave her a pencil and paper and as she scribbles I wonder what goes through her mind. How precious!

Since having my surgery I haven’t had a chance to get bored. I get many visits from my children and grandchildren which keeps me entertained. I wasn’t up to visiting much but just having them here was nice.

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan along with their children came to spend the day. The day went too fast! Abigail asked Elizabeth why grandma has an ouchie but didn’t get a baby like she did when she had an ouchie. Such sweet innocence!

Son Joseph, 16, and daughter Loretta, 18, are downstairs washing laundry. Loretta is training Joseph pretty good in how to hang up laundry. She told me she’s glad I’m not down there to see how he hangs the clothes up because I would probably laugh.

Daughter Verena just changed baby Timothy’s diaper and he decided he wasn’t done. He can really smile at us now and coos. He is really content when he is here without his mother.

Sister Emma and Jacob are grandparents for the first time and are very excited to have Jessica Rose join their family. Jessica was born to Menno and Emma on January 30. Joe and I went over to meet her the Sunday before my surgery. She is a sweetie!

The girls are doing a good job fulfilling my duties in the kitchen. They are more than happy if someone shows up at the door with supper ready for us. It is greatly appreciated.

Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, had a few days off from school again due to ice and snow. Son Benjamin, 19, also had a few days home from the factory due to bad weather. The factory Joe works in kept working so they just needed to allow extra time to get there. I for myself am ready for spring but we cannot control the weather so we need to be content with what we get.

This afternoon I have an appointment at the doctor to have my staples removed. Next week son Kevin will be able to have his cast removed after six weeks of wearing it. He will have an air cast for two weeks but will at least be allowed to put weight on it. His next surgery is planned for the middle of March and then he will start all over again. I know this has been really hard on his patience but going to school every day helped. Usually after a day at school he is ready for an early night.

The Eicher’s latest puzzle of a typical Amish farm scene is glued and ready to hang, called “Cuttin’ Barley.”

We have completed the 1000-piece puzzle that Kevin received. It is an Amish Country puzzle named “Cuttin’ Barley.” We glued it for Kevin to hang in his bedroom. Now we are working on a 500-piece puzzle called “The Last Day of Summer.” For myself I like the 1000-piece puzzles as they seem more of a challenge.

This week I will share a recipe for hot dog sauce that a reader, Joyce, from Indiana shared with me. Enjoy! God’s blessings to all!

Hot Dog Sauce

1 pound hamburger
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon oregano
1 can tomato sauce
1 can water
1/2 cup ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

Brown hamburger in enough water to cover the bottom of pan. Break up meat and as it cooks add remaining ingredients. Simmer for one hour. Serve over hot dogs.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.

Elizabeth writes column as Lovina heals from surgery

Cold winds caused some drifting, but the biggest event was the -13 degrees temperatures.

Elizabeth writes column as Lovina heals from surgery

Hello folks! This is Elizabeth, Lovina’s oldest daughter, taking my Mom’s spot penning her weekly column. Today she underwent surgery (postponed a week because of extreme cold). Hopefully all heals well and she soon feels 100 percent again. My Dad, my brothers Joseph, 16, and Kevin, 13; my sisters Susan (with her daughter Jennifer), Verena, 21, Loretta, 18, and Lovina, 14, plus my children and I all went with her to the hospital.

As most of you probably know Tim and I welcomed an addition to our family last December. Timothy Josiah (also known as T.J.) is a joy! Abigail loves her little brother. Most days she enjoys being the “big sister” but we still have those moments when she also wants to be the “baby!” And that’s okay with me because before long she’ll outgrow this stage. Abigail is an adventurous little girl and we have no dull moments when she’s around.

Since I’ve become Mom for the second time, life has sped up another notch. I do love being a mother! Someday I’ll probably miss the toys scattered on the floor, the ABC magnets on the fridge, the finger smudges on everything, baby bouncer on the kitchen table, baby swing in the living room, pacifiers, diapers, potty training—the list goes on. To me Abigail and Timothy are worth it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My cousin Emma and Menno became first time parents on January 30 welcoming a baby girl; Jessica Rose, weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces and 19 1/2-inches long. This is the first grandbaby for Uncle Jacob and Aunt Emma. Though I have yet to see her, I’m told she’s a cutie. I dug some pink material out of my cedar chest to sew a baby dress for her.

Getting around in buggies on the snow and ice with cold temperatures? Not for the faint of heart.
Most owners put their horses inside, or have the horses wear blankets in extremely cold weather. This was a brief stop/wait for Mr. Horse.

Last week we had a very cold spell for a couple days. A low of -13 degrees, a high of zero degrees with a wind chill of -42 degrees. Due to the cold, schools, factories, and more were closed for a few days. Other than going out to do chores, Tim stayed inside with me and the children. He kept the horses in the barn. It was much too cold for them to stay outdoors.

For supper tonight we had a breakfast meal: potatoes, eggs, bacon and cheese. Abigail is asleep on daddy’s lap. She loves to hear stories so Tim was telling her a few. Now he’s reading a book while she dozes, content in daddy’s arms. Timothy, 7 weeks old, is in his swing watching his toys swing back and forth. He’s smiling and cooing sweetly!

Tim got a few nights of ice-fishing in. He never got a chance to go last winter. Tim’s a fisherman so it’s nevermind the weather—cold or hot, snowy or sunny. I’ve gone ice-fishing one time. I can’t say it wasn’t fun because I enjoyed it, but I prefer to fish from inside a boat or off land. Seems safer to me.

When Abigail heard Tim was going fishing, she got out her life jacket, little pink fishing pole and swim clothes. She wanted to go along but didn’t realize it’s called “ice-fishing” for a reason. She was disappointed when she had to stay home.

During that cold spell Tim started a 1000-piece puzzle titled “Northern Tranquility.” We enjoy doing puzzles of cabin/cottage by any sort of body of water. We’ve completed a total of six puzzles which are glued and hung. Abigail wanted to help with the puzzle. She got quite a few pieces together, though not correctly. In the process, she knocked down some pieces, so I suppose time will tell if we’re missing any pieces.

Tim went back to work this week at the RV factory. He had last week off due to the factory being low in orders. I did enjoy having him home. He helps me out a lot with the children and household chores, and cutting wood. Before long he’ll be collecting maple sap.

While we were at the hospital today Abigail discovered a vending machine in the waiting room. She was very curious wondering what kind of fridge had glass doors. She saw it had a keyhole so she asked me for a key. I told her it used money to get a snack or drink out of it. Then of course she asked for quarters. I suppose those snacks and drinks looked better than the ones I had in the diaper bag. Kevin gave her 75 cents to get juice. Abigail was amazed how the juice came out of an opening near the bottom of the machine but never “moved” from the glass display.

I’ll share a favorite recipe of Tim’s. Even though it’s called spicy steak roast, it’s not that spicy.

Spicy Steak Roast

 Venison or beef steaks, sliced thin
6 medium potatoes, sliced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Arrange steaks in a single layer in a roaster pan. Add sliced potatoes and carrots. Combine the rest of the ingredients and spread over meat, potatoes and carrots. Cover with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Enjoy!

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available 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.