All posts by Lovinas Amish Kitchen

Hot summer days and extended family gatherings

 It’s another hot day with high humidity here in Michigan. Every day the temperature has been in the 90’s. Yesterday afternoon we did get a much-needed rain shower. We would have needed to start watering the garden, so the rain was much appreciated. Because our house is surrounded by shade trees and a wraparound porch, we don’t get too much sun shining in our windows. Our living room, dining room, and kitchen are all open concept, so the breeze flows through really nicely.

Tomorrow, niece Elizabeth is surprising her mom (my sister Emma) for her forty-seventh birthday, which will be on July 19. She has invited Emma’s sisters, sister-in-laws, and some nieces for the birthday surprise. Elizabeth will serve lunch to all of us, and we are each taking a dish. I do hope we will surprise Emma. It is always fun to get together with siblings and family.

On Saturday, July 11, our whole family has plans to travel to Monroe, IN, to attend the annual Ben and Elizabeth Coblentz family gathering at my oldest sister Leah and Paul’s house. I have lost count of how many members are in the family. Nephew Paul Jr. is making a family record book with the birth and marriage dates for all my siblings and their children and grandchildren. It will be interesting and make it easy to look up everyone.

Our whole family, Jacob and sister Emma’s family, and my sisters Verena and Susan are renting a bus to take us to the gathering. It will be fun to all travel together and I can only imagine it will be pretty loud on the bus.

Son Benjamin and son-in-law Mose are back to work now after having a week off from the factory. Production is still picking up so hopefully my husband Joe will get called back soon. While they were off, they were working on Mose and Susan’s house quite often.

Joe and I didn’t do anything special over the fourth of July weekend, but most of our children went camping with friends. It was a quiet weekend but that didn’t bother me. I hope everyone had a safe holiday. It is only through Jesus Christ that we have true freedom from the bondage of sin, through His sacrifice on the cross! God bless America! Let us be thankful for the freedom we still have. Prayers are needed so much in our world that is so full of sin and hatred. In God we trust!

Son Joseph didn’t have to work today, so my husband Joe and he are getting a lot accomplished outside. Daughter Lovina made lemonade and I made iced tea to drink on these hot days. Rhubarb juice is another thirst quencher on these hot days.

I am receiving quite a few letters from readers requesting the recipe for rhubarb juice. I shared it in my column on May 11, and it is also included in my cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook. My friend Ruth brought my reader mail from Illinois, and I want to try and answer those letters. I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement.

Granddaughter Jennifer, 2 1/2, and grandson Ryan, 11 months, are sitting on the steps of the stairway singing. Jennifer has her doll in her hand and her little diaper bag beside her. She loves purses or any small bags. She fills them with toys or whatever she finds. When we are missing something, we look in Jennifer’s purse. Smile! Such precious angels! God bless!

 

Yellow Squash Dish
4 cups yellow squash, cut up
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, cut up
4-5 slices American or Velveeta cheese
1-2 Tbsp. bacon grease
Salt and pepper

Cook squash, onion, and tomatoes in bacon grease. Cook until most of liquid is cooked out. Pour into a serving bowl. Lay cheese slices on top and cover. Let sit until cheese melts and serve.

 

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

July birthdays, family reunions, and tomato gravy

It’s July 1—today we enter the month of July, and 2020 is already halfway over. It has been quite a year to remember. I do not think many of us want to repeat such a year. When I see people in town shopping with masks on, what I miss the most is not being able to see a smile on a stranger’s face as I pass by, say “hi,” and smile. It’s hard to tell if other people are smiling or frowning under a mask. I will be so glad when life is all back to normal. It has been such a tiring year. My husband Joe is still laid off from the factory but stays busy helping son-in-law Mose with remodeling. Mose and son Benjamin are on vacation this week, so they are working over at the house every day this week so far. The dusty work is done now, and they should be ready to start framing the new walls soon. A lot of the family have plans over the July 4 holiday, so not much will get done there this weekend.

Today is our fifth child Loretta’s twentieth birthday. It is 5:30 a.m. as I write this, so she is still in bed and I haven’t told her happy birthday yet. Can it be possible that twenty years have passed since her birth? In two weeks, on July 14, son Benjamin will turn twenty-one. On July 24 son Joseph will be eighteen, and on July 27 grandson Ryan will be a year old. Joe and I will have been married for twenty-seven years on July 15. Brother Albert, who shares his birthday with two sons and a daughter-in-law, will be fifty-six on July 15. Sister Emma will be forty-seven on July 19. Emma’s youngest son Steven’s birthday is on July 30, and brother-in-law Paul’s is on July 31. July 18 was my dear mother’s birthday. In July we have lots of cake for everyone, but I sometimes just make one cake for all three of our children because we get tired of cake if we have it too often.

On July 11, my oldest sister Leah and Paul are hosting my family’s annual gathering. The siblings take turns hosting each year. My sisters Verena and Susan take their turn together, so each sibling hosts once every seven years. A lot of changes happen in those seven years, and also quite an increase in family members. After our parents both passed, we decided to start taking turns so that at least once a year we can all get together. The sibling hosting the gathering furnishes the hot food and everyone else brings a dish or two and a snack for the afternoon. We end up with a variety of food and more than enough.

In September, it will be eighteen years since dear Mother’s sudden death, and it was twenty years in May that my dear dad passed. Precious memories how they linger. Brother Amos will be greatly missed too.

My dad’s side of the family, the Coblentz’s, had chosen July 11 for their reunion date this year. Due to the virus and family coming from so many different states, they decided to cancel it. This is probably the first time ever that they have cancelled, but it’s the first time for a lot of cancellations this year, such as church, school, and weddings. It will be a year everyone will always remember.

Daughter Elizabeth is planning to come to our house today. She needs new dresses so I told her to bring her material and we will try to help her get something sewed. With three little ones, she keeps busy. Elizabeth and her husband Tim painted a bedroom and put new flooring down. Three-year-old Abigail helped her Daddy paint. Elizabeth said she did a pretty good job and it kept her entertained. Tim painted over it afterwards, but it is so good to invest time in the sweet, innocent little ones. They will always remember something like that.

Stay healthy, stay safe, trust in God. May He bless each of you!

 

Tomatoes from the Eicher family garden.

A reader requested a tomato gravy recipe. I’ll share my sister Liz’s recipe.

Tomato Gravy
1 quart of tomato juice
salt
pepper
3 cups of milk, divided
brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour

In two-quart pan, bring tomato juice to a boil; add salt, pepper, and brown sugar to taste. Add 2 cups of milk all at once and heat. Do not let the tomato juice and milk mixture boil, as it may curdle. Separately, mix flour with enough of the remaining 1 cup of milk to make gravy. When tomato juice and milk mixture is hot, but not boiling, add gravy mixture and stir constantly until it boils.

 

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

Summer rain, Father’s Day, and home renovations

 Recently, we received over an inch of much-needed rain. The grass was turning brown, so the rain will help the grass and the crops in the fields. The irrigation system has been running in the big farmers’ fields. In some places, the water from the irrigation flies over the road. When we use the covered buggy for transportation, we can close the doors and windows to pass through those places, but when we use an open pony buggy and Stormy, our pony, we tend to get wet. The water felt good on those hot days, though. One time I was holding grandson Ryan while he was sleeping, but he opened his eyes when he felt the sprinkles from the irrigation. It is cold water, and I tried to cover him as much as I could.

Along with the rain, we’ve had cooler temperatures and less humidity, which made for a better night’s sleep. I have been having a lot of pain in my shoulder, as am still bothered by a pinched nerve. It is tedious to lay on and makes nighttime a little more restless. I hung out a lot of laundry yesterday, which probably made it worse. I should take more time to ice and heat it to help the healing process, but before I know it, the day goes by and I have put it off. Then it feels worse during the night.

Saturday, my husband Joe and sons assisted son-in-law Mose in gutting out the inside of their house and tearing down some inside walls. Needless to say, there was a lot of dust. A few others were also there helping.

Daughter Susan and I made a casserole and took it over for their lunch. It was a hot day, so the dust mess seemed worse. We set up the food under the shade tree so they could eat away from the dusty house.

Sunday was Father’s Day. Daughter Loretta and her special friend Dustin hosted a supper at Dustin’s house in honor of both their fathers. They invited Dustin’s whole family and Loretta’s family, including both their married siblings and families.

Dustin and Loretta made a campfire stew in the kettle outdoors and grilled chicken. Also on the menu were cottage cheese, dill pickles, Colby and hot pepper cheese, chips, a deer jerky cheeseball and crackers, and chocolate cake. They presented a vanilla ice cream cake with “Happy Father’s Day” on it to their fathers.

They put the food underneath a canopy, and everyone ate outdoors. After supper, outdoor games such as croquet were played.

This was a nice, honorable event for both their fathers, and they did a great job of hosting all of us.

Dustin has been remodeling his house when he gets time. He bought the farm that belonged to our neighbor Irene, across the road from us. I still miss not seeing Irene sitting outside when I’m hanging out laundry or working in the garden. On Sunday evening when I sat under the shade tree where she always sat, memories of her were refreshed. She was a good neighbor to us through all the years we lived across the road. Rest in peace, Irene—you will always be remembered for your kindness!

This week, I will share a recipe for banana bread that a reader from Ohio sent to me. Thank you, Rhoda!

God’s blessings to all!

 

Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 ripe bananas
2 cups milk
3 cups all-purpose flour

Mix the first six ingredients together. Mash the bananas and beat into the first mixture. Batter will be thin. Alternately add flour and milk. Pour into 3 greased loaf pans.

 

Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
nuts, optional

Mix together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Yield: 3 loaves.

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

Early summer brings garden growth and baby chicks

It is Tuesday evening here in Michigan at the Eicher homestead. All is quiet with only son Kevin and daughter Loretta home with Joe and me. The rest of our children here at home went to a wedding for supper. Daughter Susan and Mose are making living quarters in the finished side of our pole barn. They are over at their home tonight working on their garden, house, etc. We are enjoying having our grandchildren living next door to us for the time being.

This afternoon I went over with Susan to help her pack up the final boxes in their house. The house is empty, now, ready to be remodeled. This will involve a lot of time and labor but will be worth it once they are done with everything.

Sunday evening our family went to daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house in honor of her 26th birthday. Tim grilled chicken, and Elizabeth had cheesy potatoes to go with it. I took a lettuce salad and dessert was an ice cream cake. Tim surprised Elizabeth with the ice cream cake.

We attended church that morning and then came home for a while. Before heading over to Tim and Elizabeth’s for supper, we stopped in to see how brother-in-law Jacob (sister Emma’s husband) was recovering from his recent hospital stay. He had a mishap falling from a ladder and breaking some ribs, and he had to be sent by ambulance to a bigger hospital due to his lungs filling up with blood. He is home now doing as well as can be expected but is still under doctor’s care. Jacob and Emma had their 25th anniversary on Monday, June 15th. We wish them many more happy, healthy years together!

As I write this column my husband Joe is outside preparing supper for us. On the menu is chicken and fries in the deep fryer. I went outside and tasted the marinated chicken breasts, and they are delicious.

Orderly rows of vegetables are springing up in Lovina’s garden as temperatures warm up.

Our gardens seem to be doing okay. Everything is later than usual, but we are enjoying fresh green onions and lettuce from the garden. We had radishes but those are over, and more are coming along. Joe hoed and tilled both gardens early this morning while it was nice and cool. Ten-month-old Ryan spotted Grandpa out there and took off out of the pole barn in his walker. Granddaughter Abigail said she doesn’t want Jennifer to live close to Grandma and Grandpa. She told Jennifer to not play with our toys all the time. Daughter Elizabeth and her three children are planning to come tomorrow for the day. Daughter Susan said she will make breakfast burritos for our breakfast, so that will be nice.

Mose and Susan have some baby chicks in a box in the pole barn. Jennifer and Ryan like to watch them. I remember when our children were younger, and we once had around 50 baby chicks in the house because it was still too cold to put them outside. Daughter Loretta would always sit and watch the chicks. Soon after that our bathroom toilet in the basement clogged up and Loretta confessed that she was holding a baby chick and thought it was so cute that she squeezed it too tight. It stopped moving, so she took it down to the basement and dipped its head in the toilet to try to revive it. When she discovered it was dead, she was too scared to tell us what she did, so she flushed it down the toilet. We had a laugh about that after we found out what she did. So we teased Loretta and told her not to go close to the new baby chicks in the pole barn this time!

I will share the recipe for breakfast burritos with you this week. God bless!

 

Breakfast Burritos

 2 pounds bacon
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup margarine or butter
15 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
10 slices cheddar cheese
10 (8 1/2-inch) flour tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fry the bacon until crisp in a large, heavy skillet. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool slightly, then crumble and set aside. Pour all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease out of the skillet, then add the bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion and fry until tender. Drain, then stir in the crumbled bacon.

In a large skillet over low heat, melt the margarine and scramble the eggs. Lay each tortilla in the center of a square of aluminum foil. Place a slice of cheese in the center of each tortilla, then divide the meat mixture equally among the tortillas, followed by the scrambled eggs. Fold the bottom of each tortilla over the filling, then fold in the sides and finish rolling up the tortilla. Wrap the burritos in the foil, then place them on a baking sheet and bake until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Serves 10.

 

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

A fun day out for Amish garage sales

 Son Joseph’s ride is late, so I decided to write this column while we wait. Some of the neighbors are without electricity from some storms that blew down trees. We didn’t get much of anything here. We had a little rain which we needed badly.

Yesterday was a long, tiring, but fun day! My sister Emma and her daughters, my five daughters and I, and also grandson Ryan and granddaughter Allison went to the Amish garage sales in a nearby community. Our driver had a big van and pulled a trailer to put all our “goodies” in. My granddaughters Abigail, 3, and Jennifer, 2, and grandson T.J., 17 months, stayed at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house while we went to the garage sales. Niece Emma’s little 16-month-old Jessica also stayed at my sisters’, so they had four children, age 3 and under, to keep them more than busy. Son Kevin and nephew Steven stayed there too, so they could help with the little ones.

We found lots of nice bargains and came home with many weeks’ worth of sewing done. I have a hard time not buying some clothes for my little grandchildren. We probably went to 25 garage sales or more (we kind of lost count). The trailer was filled with furniture, clothes, groceries, etc. when we came home. Then came the fun of unloading everything at the right house. I was tired and so was everyone else. My husband Joe made supper on the grill, so I was glad to not have to do that after the long day. It was a fun day spent together and worth our time!

After a fun day out, Lovina enjoys her husband Joe cooking supper on the grill.
Photo: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

We want to go over to Mose and daughter Susan’s house today and help her start packing up her dishes, etc. Mose wants to remodel the whole house, put new siding and windows on the outside and fully remodel the inside. They have an old farm house, and it seems one repair after another comes up. They decided to just empty most of the house and dig in and see what needs repairing. There will be a lot of dust, so they will make their living quarters in our pole barn part where we host church services as their house gets a makeover. It will be so much nicer once it’s all done. They have a hard-to-heat house in the winter months, so this should help tremendously. We sure aren’t going to complain to have Jennifer and Ryan living next door to us for several weeks. I can already see Jennifer coming walking over here. She likes to act bigger than her age and can really roll her eyes when you tell her something she doesn’t like to hear. So precious!

On Sunday, June 14, our firstborn Elizabeth will have her 26th birthday. Time does have a way of slipping by. We wish her a Happy Birthday and many more happy healthy years. She is a busy mother of three children with the oldest being 3.

Thursday is the first wedding of the year in our community. I am so glad we are finally out of the lockdown here in Michigan. Our five oldest here at home are with the youth group and plan to attend the 7:00 p.m. supper at the wedding. It is being held in our local community building. A lot of the youth have not been together since March due to the singings, weddings, and Saturday evenings at the community building being cancelled.

Daughter Lovina’s special friend Matthew is spending several weeks with his parents in Montana. After not having seen most of his family for six months, this will be a happy reunion! Matthew’s brother and two sisters were in Michigan for a wedding, so they traveled back with Matthew by train. That was several days of riding the train. Glad they made it home safely!

This week I’ll share a recipe for Caramel Pecans. A reader had requested it, and I didn’t have one. Another reader kindly sent one to me. Thank you! Stay safe, stay healthy and God bless!

 

Caramel Pecans

1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups halved pecans

In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, stir and melt brown sugar and water until rapidly bubbling. Add pecans, stirring thoroughly to coat. Stir and cook 3-4 minutes until fragrant and most of the liquid has evaporated. (But not so long that the sugars burn.)

Spread pecans in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet using a fork to separate them. Let stand at room temperature about an hour until fully cooled, set, and dry. (Pecans will be slightly tacky to the touch.)

Break apart any pecan clusters and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, in the refrigerator for several weeks, or up to two months in the freezer.

 

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

 

Summer brings outdoor church and rhubarb treats

We have turned another page on our calendar. June is here! Our hay is cut and now we have the challenge of getting it raked and baled before it rains again.

Yesterday was pretty warm with the temperature reaching the 90s. This morning at 4:30 a.m. the thermometer shows 72 degrees. It feels good to have it cool down at night. After having several days of the temperature not going much over 60 degrees and going down to 40 degrees at night, this feels different.

Son Benjamin, 20, left for work at 3:30 a.m., and son Joseph, 17, just left a little before 4:30. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children have plans to come today, so I thought I better write this while everything is quiet. It is so nice when the weather is good for the little children to play outside.

Lovina has been canning juice from this year’s large rhubarb harvest, pictured. Photo provided.

I am hoping we will be able to can more rhubarb juice today. Last week we made 43 quarts, and I still have so much rhubarb. Daughter Susan will take some rhubarb to make more juice for them.

We have also been enjoying fresh tea from our garden. My patch is a mixture of spearmint and peppermint. A glass of iced tea hits the spot on hot days. I want to make tea concentrate to use later when tea isn’t in season. You can freeze it.

Church services were held at niece Emma and Menno’s house under a tent on Sunday. With the temperature going down to 40 degrees overnight, that morning it was a little chilly at first. Usually this time of the year it’s okay to have church under a tent. It warmed up to almost 70 degrees so all worked out. We went back for supper in the evening. Menno and Emma live on the place son-in-law Tim had before he was married. Brings back memories of the times we spent there.

Daughter Loretta, 19, is following instruction class in preparation for baptism this fall. It always makes us as parents so thankful when another one of our children wants to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. It truly brings joy to our hearts, and we thank God for His many blessings.

The weeds are already popping up in the gardens. I haven’t been out there much since my husband Joe is still laid off from work. He keeps the weeding and tilling under control. This week he is trimming around all our fence rows. It makes it look so much better.

The bus stopped through picking up son Kevin’s schoolwork this week. Is it possible that our eight children have all completed their school years?

Monday we couldn’t wash laundry as we ran out of laundry soap, so we decided to wait to do laundry until Tuesday. Joe and I went to town with the buggy to get a few groceries, and we also had to go to the bank. It will be so nice once you can walk into the banks again after this lockdown is lifted next week.

Life has not been the same since March. Churches cancelled, weddings postponed, schools closed. May we all turn to God and trust that He controls everything. Some day we will understand all this confusion. Have faith!

All of my book signings were also postponed. I look forward to meeting many of you readers. God’s many blessings as we travel into the unknown future! Take care! Stay safe and healthy!

I will share a recipe for rhubarb bars which I made to take to niece Emma and Menno’s for Sunday night supper.

 

Lovina made this double batch of rhubarb bars to take to niece Emma and Menno’s on Sunday evening for supper. See recipe in today’s column. Photo provided.

Go Anywhere Rhubarb Bars

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter

Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups finely-chopped rhubarb

Crust: Combine flour and powdered sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into bottom of a greased 7 x 11-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Filling: Combine the first 4 ingredients, stir in rhubarb, and pour over warm crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until done.

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

Camping and Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Another week has gone by and it’s time to pen this column again. It is 4:30 a.m. and both boys are off to work. The rest are still asleep. I could use a few more winks myself, but first I need to make sure this column is done.

We had a few warm days with the temperature almost hitting 90 degrees. We had thunder in the distance last night, but the storm missed us.

This is son Kevin’s last week of “school” before they come around to pick up his completed work. I wish he would have been able to have his 8th grade graduation, but such is life. It will really be different to not have any of our children in school anymore. It’s another reminder that we aren’t getting any younger.

Our whole family went camping over Memorial Day weekend. It was enjoyable to spend a few days and nights together. It was so enjoyable to wake up and see the grandchildren still sound asleep from a hard day.

A pontoon boat is just one of several boats the Eichers enjoyed riding and fishing from while camping. Photo provided.

We enjoyed pontoon rides, fishing, swimming, campfires, and, of course, making s’mores—those sticky, messy s’mores. Grandson T.J. was bound and determined to roast his own marshmallows for his s’more. Of course, we didn’t let him eat that marshmallow. It was dragged around in the sand before it ever hit the fire. He had so much fun doing that, and he doesn’t know we switched the marshmallow with a clean one. That little boy puts in many miles in a day’s time. When granddaughter Jennifer, age two, and T.J. get together, you better be on the lookout. Those two can find something to get into pretty fast. Such sweet and precious blessings. Abigail had lots of fun in the water, but she decided one time down the water slide was enough. She didn’t like the big splash-landing in the lake.

The Eichers enjoyed camping at a private spot on a nearby lake over the Memorial Day weekend. Photo provided.

The men did a lot of fishing, so we will have a fish fry one night with all the fish they caught. We also depended on them to do the grilling. Camping is fun, but it always seems like we snack too much.

Ryan is 10 months old today. He enjoyed the pontoon rides and swinging in the swing by the lake. Baby Allison is 5 months old today. She is such a bright-eyed, active little girl. She has bright blue eyes and not much hair. Abigail loves holding her little sister.

It is funny to see Ryan and Jennifer get into a little squabble about wanting the same thing. Ryan’s scream can get loud when he’s annoyed. Jennifer has an ornery look on her face and you can almost see when she’s ready to start some mischief. I could go on and on about my sweet little grandchildren, to which I’m sure all you grandmothers can relate. Our family, when together, is a total of 19 already, so we are quite a group.

Loretta’s special friend Dustin went with us. Also, daughter Lovina has a special friend too now. His name is Matthew, and he also went camping with us. There was not one dull moment all weekend and by the time Tuesday morning came around, I was still tired. Tired, but happy I could spend celebrating my birthday weekend with my loving family making memories, precious memories! Do I thank God often enough for all the blessings in life? With my husband Joe still laid off from work, the load seems a little heavier, but we are so blessed and need to be thankful for all we have.

Daughter Lovina, son Kevin, and I helped Joe finish planting the rest of the gardens. I really hope to get some more sweet corn in there somewhere.

Thank you to the readers, friends, and family for your birthday cards and gifts. May God bless you for your kindness! It was greatly appreciated. Take care. Stay healthy and safe!

 

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 ounces Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla
12 ounces fresh strawberries, diced

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan. Sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in lemon zest and set aside. With a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time then stir in lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and yogurt, mixing just until incorporated. Toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and gently stir them into the batter. Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at least 20 minutes in pan, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Glaze: Whisk together and drizzle over top of cake when completely cooled.

 

 

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

May showers and tater tot casserole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tater Tot Casserole

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

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

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

 

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

Birthdays and Rhubarb Custard Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

 

Rhubarb Custard Pie

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Spring garden and back to work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

 

Rhubarb Juice

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

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

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

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