Editor’s Note: Lovina Eicher is busy with preparations for her daughter Susan’s wedding. Guest columnist Ruth Boss, an “English” friend of Lovina’s, provides a ringside seat for the big August 5 wedding.
Wedding preparations have been in full swing all week for Susan and Mose’s wedding this Friday. Last Saturday the wedding wagons were delivered: a cook wagon, a refrigerated wagon, and a supply wagon holding all the serving dishes, plates and silverware.
Family members and friends pitched in to get the tables set up in the shed, or pole barn. Susan has chosen green for her wedding color, so cooks, table waiters, attendants, coffee servers, family members and anyone else helping will be wearing hunter green, sage, mint, or grass green shades.
The cooks began arriving very early Wednesday morning. By 7 a.m. the cook wagon was filled with women making cinnamon pudding. It is baked and will be cut into small pieces and layered with whipped topping and topped with nuts. It can be served right out of the pan as a cake. Other cooks started making the angel food cakes, all made from scratch. Some of the egg whites that Lovina had frozen ahead of time for the wedding weren’t stiffening up, so someone was sent to Susan’s (who is a baker) house down the street to get the jar she had in her refrigerator.
Next came baking pecan pies. By now the wedding wagon was very warm, with seven ovens and cooktops going! Other pie shells were baked to be used to make fresh strawberry pie, which is Susan’s favorite. Other cooks cleaned, chopped and bagged celery, carrots and onions to be used in the dressing. Some cooked, deboned and shredded chicken to be used in the stuffing and noodles.
At mid-morning, all the women stopped for a coffee break with cookies and bars that the women had brought to share. Family members and friends who don’t live close by used this opportunity to catch up on news from back home. Neighbors chatted about their families, new recipes and local news. Some of the cooks are young mothers and brought their young children with them. The older children seem to enjoy watching over the babies as their moms work.
Next, Lovina’s sisters began the time-consuming job of making “Nothings,” which are a traditional wedding treat from their home town of Berne, Indiana. Nothings are made from special dough that is rolled thin and then deep-fat fried. This is very hard work, and it took the sisters a few hours to get all the dough rolled. Once the Nothings are puffy, they are taken out of the oil, drained and topped with sugar. The stacks of Nothings were covered and will be passed at the meal as a special treat.
At noon, the helpers enjoyed a delicious meal of casseroles, salads and desserts, all provided by the cooks. All together there are 52 cooks helping with the wedding. They will make homemade bread, chop broccoli and cauliflower for salad, clean strawberries and finish up whatever else needs to be done. All the cooks will assemble the morning of the wedding to peel and cook potatoes, assemble hot foods to cook, and prepare salads. They will ready dishes to begin the first serving at about noon, after the marriage ceremony, which will start about 9 a.m.
This is a big undertaking! What strikes me as I observe the work being done is that there is no arguing or complaining from anyone. Everyone is excited and willing to work. There is laughter and horseplay. The Amish focus a lot on family togetherness and don’t have many of the distractions that we English people have. Lovina’s family is close-knit and loving. They have hard times and disappointments like everyone else, but their faith in God and close family sustains them through those times.
This week, as the Eicher family gets ready for Mose and Susan’s big day, will be filled with hard work, amazing food, good conversation and lots of laughter.
Here is a recipe for a small quantity of Amish Wedding Nothings.
1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup cream (3 large “cook spoons” of heavy cream)
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar (for topping only)
2-3 cups shortening (for frying, may need to adjust for size of pan or kettle)
Beat egg and stir in cream, salt, and enough flour to make elastic dough. Make 6 or 7 balls out of the dough. Roll out each ball of dough very flat and thin, about 1/16-inch think. Cut about six 3-inch slits in the middle of the circles.
Heat shortening in a large kettle over high heat (or use an electric frying pan with a temperature control). When the shortening is 365 degrees, test a piece of dough to see if it sizzles; put a rolled-out Nothing into the kettle or fry pan. Fry one at a time, unless you have a huge kettle. Turn each piece over with forks or large spatula once it turns golden on the bottom. Remove from oil and place on plate covered with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top while warm. Stack the Nothings on top of each other to serve. Makes 6-7.
Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.