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.

 

Life with children is more than just the work waiting for us

We are all home on this Wednesday. Our thermometer still shows -14 and the wind chill is -45. It is cold and windy with snow blowing. We are staying pretty warm here in the house. It is a little cooler in here than other days with that strong wind blowing outside. We hardly see any traffic go by. Joe’s RV factory shut down for the rest of the week and school was closed all week, so far.

My surgery was rescheduled for next week because of the cold weather. Its so nice to not have to go outdoors today. Joe and the boys did the chores and the horses are in the barn for the day. It sure wouldn’t take long to get frostbite in these temperatures.

Sunday the temperature was mostly in the single digits. Our daughter Lovina stayed home from church with Kevin with his cast since it was cold and snowing. Church families all brought gifts to church for Kevin, and my sisters Verena and Susan brought them to him after church. He received many nice things to pass the time while he’s in his cast. The kindness from everyone was greatly appreciated!

Our church had five new babies born in December and January. Four boys and one girl. Grandson Timothy, and a little one named Caleb made their first appearance in church. The other babies that we still didn’t get to see are Titus, Jayden and Velda.

On Monday daughter Elizabeth had a doctor appointment. We had the joy of watching baby Timothy and two-year-old Abigail while mommy went to her appointment. Timothy did really well for us; we had lots of fun holding him and of course spoiling Abigail.

Some of the Eicher beef will likely end up in a tasty and warming pot roast such as this, or beef stew for a cold day.

Last Friday Tim, Elizabeth and children, Mose, Susan and Jennifer came to cut up the beef quarters we gave to them. Lovina and Kevin went to school. Verena and Loretta watched the little ones here in the house while Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph and I helped Tims’ and Moses’ with the beef. Hamburger was ground and packaged, steaks cut and sliced, beef chunks and hamburger processed. Mose also made some beef bologna to put in cans and process. We were all tired by evening but so glad to have it all done for them. I remember how hard it was to get things done with little ones to care for. We had a casserole for supper and I made rare beef for everyone after we were done. Tims left for home and Mose and Susan decided to spend the night here and wait to take their meat home in the morning. Susan and I put on a few more pressure cookers the next morning from the jars of meat that didn’t get canned the day before. We had four pressure cookers going, so it went fast.

It was so nice to do all this outside in the heated pole barn. I remember having to cut up beef in the house and what a mess it was to clean up. Now this is so much easier. The hot water pipe froze out there, so we had to heat some water, but the cold water worked and the bathroom still worked. We need to do some more insulating out there for colder winters.

Kevin received a few puzzles among the gifts sent from church so we are going to start a 1000 piece this week. I have some mending I need to do yet, but I enjoy putting together 1000 piece puzzles. If we look only at the work waiting, we would never do anything else.

I will share a recipe for rigatoni and cheese casserole I made for supper Sunday evening when Tims’, Moses’, and Dustin were here. I didn’t have mozzarella cheese so I used Colby and it still tasted good. I used fresh hamburger that was ground on Friday.

As I write here by the kitchen table, I cannot believe how cold that wind sounds outside. Stay warm and safe everyone! God’s blessings to all!

Rigatoni and Cheese Casserole

1 16-ounce box rigatoni noodles, cooked
1 pound ground beef
2 26-ounce jars spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
16 ounces cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
4 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan over medium heat, brown beef. Then add pasta sauce and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese with 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and eggs. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish and spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce/beef mixture over the bottom. Top with half the noodles, cheese mixture and repeat in layers until everything is used up. Sprinkle remaining 3 cups of mozzarella cheese over top. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 10–12 servings.

 

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.

Eight inches of snow and family birthdays bring January to a close

Twenty-three years ago today, January 24, we were blessed with our second daughter, Susan. Susan is now a wife and mother. Time goes too fast for me! Happy 23rd birthday, Susan!

Today is also my sister Liz’s 50th birthday. Liz is a little over two years older than I am. I am not looking forward to seeing that big 50 when I get there. But why complain if we have good health? Happy 50th, Liz!

Lovina, 14, and Kevin, 13, are on their way to school after having the day off yesterday. We had freezing rain and ice everywhere. There were so many accidents. I wish all the best to anyone who had an accident or fall during those few days.

Last weekend we received almost eight inches of snow so the children had some fun sledding. Kevin wasn’t too happy that he had to watch from inside the house. He’s not allowed to get his cast wet, so there was no going out in the snow for him.

Sons-in-law Tim and Mose, Dustin (Loretta’s special friend), husband Joe and sons Benjamin and Joseph dressed the big beef on Saturday that we gave to Tims’ and Moses’ for their Christmas. It is hanging out in the cold pole barn. Tomorrow plans are for Tim, Elizabeth and children, Mose, Susan and Jennifer to come here and cut up the beef. The girls are bringing their pressure cookers and canning jars, freezer bags, and other supplies. We will process and package all their meat in the heated part of our pole barn. It will be nice for them to have the mess all out there.

Joe, Tim, Mose and son Benjamin are all off work tomorrow. Dustin isn’t working either so I’m not sure if he will come to help. In any case, we will have plenty help.

Baby Timothy will be six weeks old on Monday. He is nine pounds now and 21 inches already— two pounds heavier and two inches longer than when he was born. Abigail is starting to love her little brother Timmy. She loves to help Elizabeth take care of him.

On Friday evening our family all gathered at daughter Susan and Mose’s house in honor of Jennifer’s first birthday. Pizza casserole, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, grilled deer steaks and pork chops, pudding, brownies and cupcakes were on the menu.

Jennifer enjoyed her first chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She loved getting to eat a whole one but mostly licked the frosting. Needless to say, she needed a bath afterward! When we arrived at Mose and Susan’s, there wasn’t any snow on the ground. By the time we left, there were quite a few inches and it was snowing hard all the way home. The wind made for some pretty huge drifts.

On Saturday while some worked on the beef, some cleaned out our driveway and sidewalks. Elizabeth and baby Timothy didn’t come along on Saturday. Abigail was excited she could still come with Daddy. She was all bundled up when Tim brought her in through the snow. Of course the girls and I had fun having her here. Daughter Susan and Jennifer came with Mose and spent the day here also.

This morning I will go to the hospital to have some tests done. I’m hoping that won’t take too long so we can do our laundry when I get home. Tomorrow we will be busy working on the beef.

Kevin seems to be doing okay with his casted leg and foot. Being stuck in his wheelchair does irritate him. He’s had a few tumbles out of the wheelchair from leaning too far forward trying to reach for something. He doesn’t like to ask us to get something for him; he wants to fend for himself. That’s a good thing, I guess. He has four more weeks until his appointment at the hospital in Ann Arbor. We are hoping they will remove the cast and put on an air cast.

I must get busy. My work doesn’t do itself, so I had better get with it. Stay safe and healthy! A reader requested the following recipe. God’s blessings to all!

Shoestring Apple Pie is the recipe of the week, but Lovina also baked an oatmeal pie, which her family clearly enjoyed.

Shoestring Apple Pie

2 cups shredded apples
1 (9-inch) pie crust, unbaked
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 heaping tablespoons flour
2 eggs, well beaten
2–3 tablespoons butter, melted
cinnamon

Place shredded apples in unbaked pie shell. Mix sugar, water, flour and eggs. Pour over apples. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn down to 325 degrees and bake just until set. Best if you let it set or refrigerate for at least 6 hours before eating.

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.

Lovina asks about oldest reader; plus life heads back to a welcome routine

All is quiet here at the Eichers this morning except the yapping of daughter Verena’s Yorkie puppies. They are really playful but she is eager to sell them as they are now eating well on their own. If anyone knows of someone needing a nice house companion, let me know. These dogs do not shed hair so that is another good thing about them. Son Kevin will not like to see them go but we already have Ricky and Ruby here in the house.

Kevin has returned to school  yesterday for the first day since his surgery. A bus with a lift picks him up every morning at 7:00 a.m. and brings him home after school. This should help make his days go by faster. Daughter Lovina goes on their regular bus and leaves about 15 minutes earlier.

Last night daughter Elizabeth, Tim, Abigail and baby Timothy came for supper. We had mashed potatoes, beef and noodles, cheese, bread, butter, grape jelly, canned peaches and cookies. I hadn’t seen them for nine days so I was excited to spend time with the little ones. Baby Timothy is doing well and is four-and-a-half weeks old now.

Daughter Verena spent a few days over at Tim and Elizabeth’s helping out with household duties. Abigail is a busy body so she keeps Elizabeth on the run. Verena brought their laundry back with her. Tim washed their laundry last week but I told him we can do it this week. He has been battling a cold so I’m sure he was glad to not do it.

Today Verena will go with Elizabeth and her children to the children’s doctor appointments. It will make it easier for Elizabeth to have someone help with Abigail and baby Timothy. Daughter Susan needs to go to town so she will leave Jennifer here with Loretta and I. How fun!

Jennifer had her first birthday on January 15. On Friday evening we’ll all go to Mose and Susan’s house to see Jennifer eat her cake. Jennifer is taking a few steps but is still scared to go too far.

Grandchildren are special! Abigail kept asking Elizabeth when she can go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house again. This was the first time Tims were here since Kevin’s surgery. Abigail was fascinated by Kevin’s “big band aid.” She sat by her uncle Kevin most of the evening and he entertained her.

My husband Joe went back to work on Monday after being off for three weeks. They will only have four-day work weeks as of now. Life now seems a little more back to a routine since the holidays.

Daughter Verena also spent a day this week with my niece Emma (the one that just got married) at her new home. It was different for the two cousins spending the day together again. They did Emma’s laundry as they visited and then had lunch together there.

I’m relieved that our meat butchering, canning and freezing is now done for the year. We will not butcher hogs this year as we still have plenty of sausage in the freezer. We are still able to enjoy fresh pon hoss that Jacob and Emma brought over.

Pon hoss is a winter specialty breakfast (or supper) of sautéed cakes, made from pork broth cooked with cornmeal after butchering. Serve up with apple butter or local favorite condiment!

Joe and the children packaged over 200 hamburger patties for the freezer. He has a hamburger patty maker he attaches to our meat grinder so it went fast. He said it took them only a half hour. They had an assembly line going with someone putting the paper between the patties and some bagging them, etc. Many hands make light work, as most know! Working together as a family strengthens that family bond, I think.

The canned meat jars were cleaned and carried to the basement and put on the shelves in our canning room. So nice to see the freezer and shelves filling up. We need to thank our Heavenly Father for all the bounties he provides. Are we thankful enough?

I just answered a reader’s letter from Minnesota. Martha is 102 and still baking. May God bless her with good health and happiness. Are any of my readers older than Martha?

God bless!

Chuck Wagon Hot Dish

1 pound hamburger, fried and drained
6 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups diced, partially cooked carrots
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 large onion, diced
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
3 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
pepper to taste
shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients together and bake in covered pan at 350 degrees for one hour. Top with a little cheese just before serving.

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.

Surgery for Kevin and more ahead as winter finally arrives

 We finally have real winter weather. Snow! Cold! Wind! Needless to say it feels good to be inside a warm cozy house this morning with the outside temperature at 23 degrees.

Daughter Lovina, 14, just left for school. Son Benjamin left for his job at the RV factory around 4:30 a.m. and the rest of the family is at home. My husband Joe will return to work on Monday, January 14, after being off work for three weeks.

Kevin after surgery on his left foot.

Yesterday we spent the day at C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Son Kevin, 13, had surgery (heel lengthening due to his muscular dystrophy) on his left foot. His foot and leg are in a cast up to his knee. Once again we are thankful for the great work of Dr. Caird and staff. She is such a great person! We thank God for His protecting hand. Now we hope God grants Kevin the patience to endure the recovery time. He will be in this cast for six to eight weeks and is not allowed to put any weight on it. With his muscular dystrophy he isn’t able to balance crutches, so he will be in a wheel chair. After this left foot is healed, he will have the same surgery done on his right foot. That surgery is scheduled for March.

We do not have any bedrooms on our first floor except the master bedroom so we set up a bed for Kevin in a corner of our living room. He is still asleep this morning so the pain level must not be too bad at this point. I imagine once the numbness wears off he will have more pain. Dr. Caird explained to us that with this kind of surgery the muscles are really stretched tight and most of the pain comes from muscle spasms and not from the incision.

Son Joseph, 16, went along to the hospital for Kevin’s surgery. Joe and I were glad he did as not only did he keep Kevin from getting too depressed, he also helped get Kevin in and out of the van. Our Amish driver friend Beth took us at 4:00 a.m. for the two-and-a-half hour trip to the hospital. Kevin was Dr. Caird’s first surgery patient of the day so we had to be there early. Joseph doesn’t have a job right now but I am so glad for his help with Kevin here at home. I know he is eager to get back to work since helping me doesn’t earn money for him. He has saved me so many steps. With the girls’ handicap in going up and down the stairs, tasks such as bringing up dry laundry from the basement and taking the folded clothes up to the childrens’ bedrooms is hard for them. Joseph can do all the carrying up and down the steps for me and run other errands.

In a few weeks I will have surgery so I will be laid up as well for a while. This will be a trial for me as I have a hard time following doctor’s orders but I need to be patient if I want to heal.

Sunday, January 6, we hosted our Christmas gathering with my sisters Verena and Susan and Emma, Jacob and family. We were a total of 16 when the four of us sisters made the move to Michigan in 2004. We now have a total of 27 when we get together. This year instead of exchanging names we each brought a gift. We played Swap Bingo which went pretty well and everyone seemed happy with the gift they ended up with. After that I had wrapped a gift for everyone to open taking turns with big oven mitts. They had to throw dice until they had a “1” and then put on the oven mitts and try to tear the wrapping off to open the gift! Sometimes a person would not even have the mitts on when the next person grabbed the mitts. To their surprise though when they opened the first box there was another box wrapped and another so they had to unwrap until they saw the gift. Son-in-law Mose was the winner. The last box was especially hard to open since I used some wide clear tape to close the box. We also played Bingo until everyone had a small gift from Joe and me.

Brunch was a haystack breakfast which consisted of biscuits, scrambled eggs, hash browns, meat (bacon, smokies, ham), tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, salsa, cheese sauce and all topped off with sausage gravy. Also fruit and dip and apple cinnamon cake, chocolate milk, white milk, orange juice, V-8 juice, and coffee.

I had a turkey roasting in the oven to serve with all the snacks we had, before everyone left for home. We ate out in the heated pole barn as I have a kitchen area out there. This way the house stayed clean for our gathering Sunday morning. As always, we had fun spoiling Abigail, Jennifer, and baby Timothy.

God’s blessings to all!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups water
1/2 cup flour
2 cups light cream or milk
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté mushrooms and onions together in butter until tender. Combine 2/3 of mixture with water. Simmer 20 minutes. Sauté remaining mushroom and onion mixture with flour for several minutes. Slowly add milk and cook until thickened. Gently add to the simmering water mix and heat through.

 

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.

Any guesses who shouted “Happy New Year” to the neighbors?

Lovina’s newest grandchild, Timothy, has a cozy outfit to keep him warm riding in the buggy.

A brand-new year lies before us! What does it hold? Last year brought us two more grandchildren who bring us joy. But Joe and I each had a brother pass away unexpectedly which brought much sadness into our lives. We need to remember that God is in control and to fully put our trust in Him. He knows best and makes no mistakes.

Our year started out with our whole family coming for the night on New Year’s Eve. We played games around the kitchen table until midnight. (Sometimes I think I’m getting too old for this. Ha, ha!) My bed looks so much more inviting than staying up late in the evening.

Abigail was wide awake at the time the New Year came in and had fun going outside to shout “Happy New Year” to any of the neighbors who were still awake. Of course the other children outdid her little voice. They decided to go out to the pole barn where our phone is and leave voicemails on some friends’ and families’ phones saying, “Happy New Year!”

The next morning we had a late breakfast together, or rather brunch. We didn’t do much else other than wash dishes and clean up the house. Games were played and we had fun spoiling the little ones. Baby Timothy is so sweet to hold. Abigail and Jennifer on the other hand take up way more energy to entertain. So precious to us!

Church services were held at Jacob and Emma’s house on Sunday. Joe and I went to assist them with their work the Thursday before. I’m sure they are ready to relax now that their daughter’s wedding and hosting church services are over.

We will host the Christmas gathering for our Michigan family. Every year Jacob and Emma, and Joe and I, take turns hosting the gathering of us four sisters here in the community. Since our extended family gets together in the summer months now, it is nice to get together with those in our community. We are now a total of 27. We will get together on Sunday, January 6 for a 10:00 a.m. brunch and gift exchange. We also play games after dishes are washed; snacks are served in the afternoon before everyone leaves for home.

Son Benjamin, 19, will return to work at the RV factory on January 8. Son Kevin, 13, and daughter Lovina, 14, go back to school on January 7. My husband Joe has another week off. It’s not often that he has three weeks off for Christmas. Although its nice to get some work done around home its harder to not have a paycheck for three weeks. Joe has been at this factory 14 years. In  March it will be 15 years that we moved here from Indiana. Years go by much too fast!

Joe and our sons-in-law were disappointed to not go on their ice-fishing trip last week after all, but I’m sure it was smarter with the weather being warmer than usual. Our weather has sure been warmer than most winters and no snow over the holidays. Usually, they can go sledding in the fields this time of year.

Lovina’s children love this thinly sliced and fried beef hot out of the pan and covered with cheese. Yum.

Now that the holidays are over, we think of work, or so it seems. Yesterday sons Benjamin, Joseph, Joe and I cut up the beef we had hanging in the cold part of the pole barn. What a big job but I think we did well even though we were all tired by night time. Of course we couldn’t do that without having what we call rare beef for supper. We slice steak real thin and put salt and black pepper on both sides, and then deep fry it in oil. The oil has to be really hot; then take a slice and stir once, flip and stir again and its ready to eat. Usually I make it while they eat it. It’s best to eat fresh from the pan. It’s a greasy job but a favorite meat around here. Our children like eating Colby cheese with it.

Today the hamburger will be ground, steaks sliced, beef chunks canned, and I will also can a little hamburger. The rest will be packaged for the freezer. It looks like another busy day.

The girls did the housework, folded laundry, etc., while we worked on the beef. I enjoyed coming back to a clean house after working out in the pole barn all day. But we are so thankful for the meat to put in the freezer for the year ahead. So many are less fortunate!

Next week our church members that are able will go help can meat to send to other countries or to those that have no food. God bless everyone!

Apple Butter Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup apple butter

Sift flour and spices and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add flour and spice mix to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture, alternately with buttermilk. Then stir in apple butter and pour into greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 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.

 

Abigail sings “We wish you a Merry Christmas” while the dishes get washed

Family Bibles are used in devotions, as Lovina mentions in this column, and at other times. These are in German.

Christmas 2018 is now history. We hope you all had a blessed Christmas with loved ones, and remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season! Our wish is for God’s blessings on each of you in the coming New Year, 2019, and always.

We had a very nice Christmas with our whole family here several nights and on Christmas Day. Everyone came over Christmas Eve. Baby Timothy—Elizabeth and Tim’s newest—is nine days old today but they still came over. We tried to make Elizabeth take it easy but with two little ones to care for, she is kept busy. Of course while Abigail is here with us she is pretty well occupied. We had a light supper for whoever didn’t eat before they came on Christmas Eve. Everyone went to bed early to get rested for Christmas morning. Elizabeth had a doctor appointment earlier on Christmas Eve, so she was more than tired.

Christmas morning it was so good to wake up and know that our whole family of 16 were all here. How sweet to greet the grandchildren in the morning! After devotions with the family, we had a 10 o’clock brunch. On the menu were fried eggs, potatoes, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy, cheese, hot peppers, clementines, cookies, orange juice, white or chocolate milk, and coffee. We set the table for 14 and Jennifer sat in the high chair. Baby Timothy was passed around and not left too long in the crib. He is a quiet baby other than when he wants to be fed. Abigail was a little more fussy so this makes it nicer for Elizabeth.

The dishes were washed up quickly with everyone’s help. Abigail loves singing and wanted to sing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” while we washed dishes. She really knows the words to the song if we ask her what words come next.

Jennifer is walking behind a push toy and will stand alone if she’s not thinking about it. When she realizes she’s standing all alone, she grabs for support.

After dishes were put away, we all gathered to open gifts. The children and in-laws all exchanged names so it was interesting to see who had whose name and what they had shopped to buy them. After that our children wanted to give their gifts to Joe and me. They gave us some nice, useful gifts. We then passed out our gifts to the children and grandchildren. Everyone was happy for what they received. We need to remember the true meaning of Christmas, but we can also have joy in giving. I really enjoy giving gifts that the children need. For our married daughters and families, we raised a beef, for them to share the meat. It is something they can use.

After gifts were all passed out, we played games together; I had fun entertaining the grandchildren.

Later in the day we got out snacks that everyone brought. I put a turkey in the oven to cook through the day, so we enjoyed that with the meal. Later in the evening we made an easy supper of grilled cheese sandwiches for whoever was still hungry.

Tim, Mose, and Dustin went to deliver presents and do evening chores over at Tim’s and Moses’s places. They all decided to spend the night here again. This morning Dustin and Mose went hunting. Tim and Elizabeth took baby Timothy for a check up at the doctor’s office. Abigail stayed here with us. I made a breakfast casserole for everyone to enjoy around 9:30 a.m.

Mose and Dustin helped Joe and the boys dress our beef and hang it in the pole barn to chill. It is a big beef and looks like work for next week. Tomorrow, plans are to go help Jacob and Emma prepare for church services they will host at their house Sunday.

On Friday, Joe and our sons-in-law have a paid trip to Cadillac, Michigan, to go ice fishing for the day. Elizabeth and Susan and their littles ones will come here to spend the day with us.

Blessings to all! Enjoy this recipe for something different!

Cheddar Chicken Salad Casserole

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup cooked rice
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the chicken, rice, eggs and onion in a medium bowl. Stir in lemon juice, soup, mayonnaise and cheese. Season with black pepper. Spoon the chicken mixture into a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.

 

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 at 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.

 

A little bundle of joy before Christmas makes Lovina a grandma again

First, I need to share our very exciting news: my husband Joe and I are grandparents for the third time!

We welcome our first grandson, Timothy Josiah, born to daughter Elizabeth and Timothy on December 17. He weighed 7 pounds and is 19 inches long. He was born at 5:11 a.m. by C-section. I went to the hospital with Timothy and Elizabeth on Sunday evening. By the next morning complications had set in, and the doctor decided the baby needed to be born by C-section. Elizabeth was looking forward to a natural birth this time, but it would have been dangerous for her and the baby.

Timothy Josiah is greeted by his two-year-old sister, Abigail. She loves the baby but is not so sure she wants to share her daddy and mommy! It is hard for her to understand that she has to share her parents. She stayed at our house the several nights her parents were at the hospital. She slept with her Aunt Verena both nights. I was at the hospital the first night, but Abigail chose Verena over me when it came to rocking her to sleep!

So we now have three grandchildren: Abigail is two, Jennifer is 11 months, and our newest addition is two days. He is a sweetie and is very alert. Daughters Verena and Loretta are spending the night at Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. They made supper for them with fried chicken on the menu. I plan to go help spoil him tomorrow.

I want to bake bread in the morning to give to the children’s teachers for Christmas gifts. I will mix the dough up early so it can start rising.

Saturday, December 22, my husband Joe will have his 50th birthday. We don’t have any special plans, but I would love to do something special for the Big 50. With the holidays so close and the new grandbaby, it seems everyone’s schedule is full enough!

We received a wedding invitation for a nephew’s wedding. Congratulations go to John and Brooke! They planned a March 15 wedding at the bride’s home in Elkmont, Alabama. John is Joe’s sister Carol and Pete’s son from Tennessee.

Verena’s Yorkie gave birth to two puppies the same week as a third grandchild arrived for Lovina and Joe.

Daughter Verena’s dogs, Ruby and Ricky, are parents to two cute little puppies. Ruby is a good mother to her little ones. Verena wants to sell the puppies when the time comes.

We recently had our family here in honor of daughter Verena’s 21st birthday. Fried potatoes and grilled chicken were on the menu, along with cake and ice cream. After supper, everyone sat around the tables. We all had two little cups and a straw, with eight Skittle candies in one of the cups. The object of the game was to see which team (men against women) could suck the candies with a straw and move them from one cup to the next without using their hands.

Do I need to mention the winning team? Yes, of course, the women’s team won! We heard plenty of remarks from the men saying we are “windier” so we could do the job faster. It was so hard to do it without laughing. I really do think this was work for some of the men. I will be quiet now, just in case one of them happens to read this column. The girls suggest we not play this game again due to the men being so bad at it. Ha ha! Anyway: happy birthday, Verena!

Readers have been requesting the recipe for dinner rolls from Emma and Menno’s wedding, so I’ll include that here.

I wish everyone God’s greatest blessings over this holiday season. Let us remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Peace on earth!

Refrigerator Dinner Rolls
Makes 2 dozen rolls

1 cup warm water (105–115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
additional melted butter

Combine warm water and yeast in a large bowl. (Do not use quick-rising dry yeast, as it’s designed to raise breads quickly.) Let mixture stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is too stiff to mix (you may not need as much flour as listed). Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 4 days.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Turn the chilled dough out on a lightly floured board. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth round ball. Cover and let rise until double in size (about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 15–20 minutes. Brush warm rolls with melted butter.

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 at 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.

Serving as head cook for 1,000 wedding meals leaves Lovina a bit tired

The wedding for Menno and Emma is now history. We wish them a long and happy married life together, with God guiding their way. Once again we do all that work for just one day, but it’s a special day they will always remember. When two become one in a marriage until death do them part, it takes effort from both to make it a happy marriage. My prayer is for every couple to have a blessed marriage.

The cold weather made it harder to prepare for this wedding than for most, but we actually stayed pretty warm all day. The building in which the tables were set up seemed warm. The wedding wagon [a rented unit in which the food is prepared] was throwing a lot of heat, and with the big tall propane heaters the building warmed up. Wedding services were held on Friday at their neighbors’, in a big heated building.

Their neighbor lady Laura and I were head cooks, so our job was to make sure we had all the ingredients there to feed 1,000 people or more for the day. Six hundred pounds of chicken were grilled by Menno’s uncle. They started at 3:30 a.m. Four hundred pounds of potatoes were bought.

The wedding wagon came with plate settings for 360, but there was only room for 260 plate settings. We needed to save room in the building for heaters and a place to fill the serving bowls of food, which we would have done outside in warm weather.

Many neighbors, church members and family brought their buggies to help with food preparation before the wedding of Lovina’s niece. Photo courtesy of Ruth Boss.

Laura and I were there Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the Friday wedding. Cooks came on Wednesday and Thursday to help prepare food and do jobs that could be done before the actual wedding day. Sixty-four pies were baked, the chicken cut up and washed, 30 loaves of bread toasted for dressing, pudding prepared for peanut butter pie and dirt pudding, vegetables diced and shredded, plus so many more jobs completed.

The menu consisted of chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, noodles, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, dinner rolls, fruit topped with Danish dessert, angel food cake, dirt pudding, cherry, pecan and peanut butter pies, and candy bars. Ice cream was added to the menu for the evening meal.

Daughters Verena and Loretta and sons Benjamin and Joseph were all tablewaiters at the wedding (Loretta’s partner was her boyfriend Dustin). Daughter Lovina was a coffee server and son Kevin was a helper. He had to help pass the guestbook around and passed out little gifts to the guests such as pens with the bride and groom’s names and wedding date on it and also letter openers with the same on it. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan were cooks and their job was to make the many hundreds of dinner rolls fresh for the noon meal.

With the girls and I being there every day, our laundry kept piling up at home. On Saturday morning we finally washed our laundry, which was bigger than normal and then headed over to see if Jacob and Emma still needed help cleaning up. They had the cleaning up pretty well finished, and Menno and Emma were opening their wedding gifts. This is usually done on the day of the wedding under a tent, but with it being so cold outside, the tent wouldn’t have worked. I almost liked it better this way, because they could take their time and enjoy opening their gifts. Menno’s family was there to watch them open the gifts. I have to admit that I was tired by Saturday, so I didn’t mind getting out of cleaning up (smile!).

I want to thank my good friend Ruth for all she did to help us out over the wedding, and also for penning this column for me last week. My mind was going a thousand different directions, and I couldn’t concentrate to write.

I want to wish my daughter Verena a happy 21st birthday, which was on December 10. She is a great daughter, and I don’t know what I’d do without her or any of my children. It’s just so hard to believe she’s 21! Her two nieces adore their Aunt Verena.

God’s blessings to all!

Snowball Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup walnuts
powdered sugar (for coating cookies)

Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together. Crush walnuts until fine. Add to butter mixture. Slowly add flour to mixture until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill several hours.

After chilled, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drop the dough by small scoops onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool, then roll in powdered sugar.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.