Category Archives: Cakes

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.

Mail from readers brightens Lovina’s day

Another week has passed and not much has changed around here. We did have the temperature go down in the 20s one night. My husband Joe didn’t expect it to get that cold and had his plants in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, it is too late for some of his plants. It was so disappointing for him on his first year of planting indoors. He was ready to just give it up, but such is life at times. If at first we don’t succeed, try and try again.

We really need to find a way to put a little heat in the greenhouse so he doesn’t have to move the plants in and out of the house all the time. He moved the plants that are okay to the basement by the walkout windows that get the morning sun. This way he can keep the plants there until it warms up to stay.

Spring snow arrived last week on the Eicher farm, though it didn’t last long and wasn’t as deep as in this previous photo of the Eicher homestead. Photo provided.

Last week we had around five or more inches of snow, and we had moved the plants inside through all that. Then, when it warmed up again, Joe decided to move everything back to the greenhouse. The early flowers peeping through the snow looked so pretty. It was snow that packed well for making snowmen. I’m sure a lot of the children home from school during this COVID-19 had some fun making snowmen. They probably lasted only a few days though as the snow was gone as fast as it came.

My friend Ruth sent my mail from the Illinois post office box to my home here in Michigan. She does a good job of helping me out even when there are hundreds of miles between us. Bless her good heart! She is truly a great kind friend and does it all for free.

Now I can answer my mail and get the letters back out to you readers. Thank you for your encouragement. I needed that extra boost with not leaving the house much and a houseful of my loved ones to cook and clean for. It is true as the saying goes, “If Mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.” After weeks and weeks of being on shut down from the virus it tends to take a toll on all of us, doesn’t it? That’s why we need to ask God to lead the way.

It seems like we keep cleaning corners we don’t usually get cleaned before we host church services. And in our minds we know we need to keep everything that was cleaned staying that way. Maybe I could relax better if our turn would be past or maybe I just should not make such a big deal out of having a little dirt around because that is not at all why we go to church. After this many weeks of not seeing our church members, we will all just be happy to be able to gather for church. I’m sure the last thing on people’s mind is looking to see if everything stayed clean.

A reader asked me for a recipe for caramel pecans, which I don’t have. If anyone does and cares to share it, I’m sure she would be happy to have it.

I appreciate all the ideas for raised garden beds that were sent to me. I passed them on to Joe and hopefully next spring we will be able to try them. A reader asks what I use to clean my walls with. I use a Stanley product that used to be called Try-It but the name is now Multi-Purpose Cleaner. They also have a product called Degreaser that I use with it in the kitchen area where it tends to get greasy around the stove. Also a reader is wondering where I get the flour cloth to clean windows. I buy the flour sack towels, which can probably be found by the other dish clothes in stores such as Wal-Mart. It has saved me from using paper towels. I use white vinegar and warm water and a clean rag to wash off, and then wipe the windows with the flour sack towels. Keep in mind to never wash the towels with fabric softener though.

I will answer more questions next week. Until then—God be with all of you

Fresh or frozen strawberries whip up into a tasty frozen treat in this week’s recipe from Lovina Eicher. Photo provided.

Strawberry Freeze

Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup flour

Filling:
3 egg whites
2 cups crushed fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip or whipped cream

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and bake in bowl for 20 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Crumble 2/3 of crumbs in an 8 x 8-inch pan. Save the other 1/3 for the top.

Filling: Put egg whites, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and beat until mixture holds its shape, about 15 minutes. Mix in Cool Whip and spread over crumbs. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. Freeze at least 5 hours.

The recipe doubled will fill a 9 x 13-inch pan. If using frozen strawberries, drain off some of the juice.

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.

Eicher family celebrates a winter birthday with chocolate fudge cake

Diary of January 15, 2020

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings—time to start a new day. My husband Joe and son Benjamin, 20, get ready for work. They refuel both coal stoves for the day while I pack their lunches and make  grilled cheese sandwiches for their breakfast.

3:35 a.m. Joe and Benjamin leave for work. I go back to bed to catch a few more winks.

4:30 a.m. Son Joseph, 17, goes out to feed the animals while I pack his lunch and make him a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast.

5:00 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. They have an hour drive to where they are putting up a pole barn, so he’s leaving earlier than usual. I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. and take a nap on my recliner. I feel extra tired this morning and an extra hour of napping makes a lot of difference.

6:00 a.m. Son Kevin, 14, gets ready for another school day. We have had a mild winter, so he hasn’t had any days home from school.

6:45 a.m. Kevin leaves for school. Daughter Lovina, 15, is helping at my daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house and will come home with Elizabeth and children for the day. Daughter Susan and children will come with them.

I get some mail ready, and then, with the help of daughters Verena and Loretta, fold laundry that was washed on Monday. Son Benjamin carried the baskets of laundry up from the basement for us last night but we didn’t get it folded and put away. We also make sausage gravy and biscuits so that breakfast is ready when my daughters and grandchildren arrive.

9:15 a.m. Our friend Beth has a 14-passenger van, so she picks up all of them. Of course, it takes time to fasten all five car seats in the van. They are glad to have Lovina to help.

9:45 a.m. They arrive here and all the little ones are brought into the house. Beth won’t be able to take them home, so all the car seats are taken out of the van. Sons-in-law Tim and Mose will bring the buggies tonight to take them home. It is Jennifer’s second birthday today, so we sing “Happy Birthday” to her. She just smiles and tries to put two of her fingers up when we ask how old she is.

10:30 a.m. We are finally eating breakfast. I fried eggs, and we have cheese along with the biscuits and gravy. One-year-old T.J. doesn’t want his mom to feed him and comes to grandma to be fed. So sweet and precious! Baby Ryan is almost six months and enjoys being in the walker and playing with toys. He’s such a calm little guy and so patient. Susan breastfeeds him, so he doesn’t eat food yet. Abigail, 3, prefers her aunts over her grandma. They are more interesting to her, which I understand. She does like me but prefers to hang out with them. She loves books, as do all the children. Jennifer and T.J. will sit on the bottom step of the stairs and sing really loudly. They hold their books, pretending they are in church.

1:45 p.m. The day is going fast. Susan brought sewing along, so she is making a new shirt for Ryan and finishing one the same color for Mose. The girls made a light lunch of sandwiches and tater tots.

3:00 p.m. Joe and Benjamin are back home. They have fun with the little ones.

3:30 p.m. Kevin comes home from school. We get Abigail, Jennifer, and T.J. dressed for going outside. Lovina and Kevin give them rides in the little wagon. I tell Elizabeth to go take a nap, and we enjoy little 19-day-old Allison. She is so petite and has a great smile already. She lets everyone know when she is hungry.

4:00 p.m. Joseph is home too now, so the guys do evening chores. After they are done, they grill chicken and steak for our supper. It’s so handy to go to the freezer for meat when you need to make a meal. The girls make a cake for Jennifer. Mose and Susan will have a birthday party for her, but we thought we’d make a cake for her tonight.

6:30 p.m. Supper is ready. On the menu are vegetable soup, cheese, chicken, and steak, plus ice cream and cake. We lit two candles for Jennifer to blow out, but she wasn’t too enthused about doing that. She loved the cake, though.

7:30 p.m. Verena, Loretta, Lovina, and I wash dishes while they get all the tired little ones dressed to go home. It was a long but enjoyable day!

I’ll share the recipe for the chocolate fudge cake we made for Jennifer’s birthday. God’s blessings to all!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

2 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour milk
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup boiling water

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, salt, oil, sour milk, and flour. In a small bowl combine and stir well the cocoa, baking soda, vanilla, and boiling water. Add to the cake mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 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, will be available in April 2020 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.

 

Lovina’s friend Ruth offers sneak peek into Amish wedding preparations

In this week’s column Lovina’s English (non-Amish) friend Ruth Boss gives us a glimpse into Lovina’s busy week as head cook for her niece’s wedding.

This week I helped with preparations for the wedding for Lovina’s niece Emma. As an outsider, I am impressed by how beautifully orchestrated these events are. Family, neighbors and the church community all pitch in to help with the work of hosting weddings.

When I arrived on Tuesday noon at Jacob and Emma’s, preparations were already in full swing. The wedding wagons (mobile kitchen trailers that the Amish rent for hosting weddings), were already in place, and the house was busy with activities. Lovina and the other head cook, Laura, were making a final shopping list. Outside a team was setting up a large tent where friends and family can gather while they wait for the wedding meal to be served. In the shed, the tables are set up and the dishes are already in place for the first meal seating.

Jacob and Emma had already picked up the 400 pounds of potatoes and a few other items from the local bulk food store. So with list in hand, several of us set out to finish the shopping. Some of the things on the list were 20 gallons of milk, 30 dozen eggs, 25 packets of cream cheese, and 20 heads of lettuce.

Early Wednesday morning I picked up Lovina, Laura, and Laura’s daughter Rhonda to head to Jacob’s house. It was still dark as the cooks and helpers began to arrive by horse and buggy. Lovina’s sisters quickly started on their list of cleaning chores. Other women went out to the wedding wagon to make cakes and pies. On their list was cherry pie, pecan pie, angel food cakes and crumbs for the peanut butter pie.

The women put together the many pies assembly-line style; here the crimpers go to work.

Everyone seemed to know their job and quickly went to work. Lovina’s neighbor Susan was in charge of making pie crusts. When the dough was ready, it went to women who rolled it out, and then to a crust-filler, and finally a woman making lattice tops and crimped edges.

On the other end of the wagon a helper whipped egg whites and added ingredients to make angel food cakes. There was lively conversation as neighbors, family and friends caught up on news and activities. In the main house, small children were cared for by some of the older girls.

Several decorated angel food cakes are ready for the Friday wedding and feasting.

At noon all the helpers shared a lunch of casseroles, salads, and desserts, all brought by the women who came to help. After lunch the 500 pounds of chicken leg quarters had to be cleaned and cut into pieces to be ready for grilling on Friday.

Thursday morning also started early, with more than 25 women showing up to help with the food prep, cleaning and sewing that remained. In the wedding wagon, the cooks were busy again. In Jacob and Emma’s house, Lovina’s daughters Elizabeth and Susan were mixing up dough to make rolls for the wedding. The dough has to be refrigerated overnight and then needs to rise, so they were doing a test recipe to make sure the rolls turned out. Emma was doing the last of her sewing for the wedding, and another friend was finishing up a quilt that will hang in the special corner where the bride and groom will sit during the wedding meal. Friends and family were washing windows, polishing furniture, and sweeping and mopping floors. At noon those present gathered to share a meal of dishes they had brought.

The women making rolls made a test recipe to make sure they turned out right.

Amish weddings in this area have a noon meal, a five o’clock meal, and then a late evening meal for the youth. So it is normal to be feeding more than 1,000 people in one day. This community of people, who don’t rely on text messages or social media to keep in touch, look forward to these events. They have good old-fashioned conversation and enjoy the time they spend together.

I enjoyed the time I spent helping this week, and I was grateful for new friendships. It became clear to me that despite the obvious differences in our lifestyles, we have much in common. We share the same core values rooted in our faith, and enjoy similar interests like cooking, gardening and sharing stories about children and grandchildren.

In next week’s column Lovina will write more about the wedding day. For now, I’ll share a recipe for delicious and easy bars that Lovina’s neighbor Susie brought along on Thursday for coffee time.

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cake mix, oil and 1 egg until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of these crumbs and place the remainder in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Pat the crumbs down in the baking dish. With a mixer, beat the remaining egg, sugar and cream cheese until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Carefully place this mixture on top of crumbs in pan and spread over all. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When cooled, cut into squares.

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.

Horses escape in the wee hours—but sons and daughters save the day

Our Sunday church services are set here for August 12. So right now we are extra busy cleaning everything. I know that we could have church services here without everything clean. To us though, that is our way of getting everything clean again. It gives us a goal to reach. We host church services once a year so at least once a year everything gets cleaned. It is always a good feeling and makes us feel like something got accomplished.

Joseph, 16, Lovina, 14, and I went out in the garden this morning and pulled a lot of weeds. It was 65 degrees so it was nice and cool to get that job done. We also pulled most of the onions. We need to hang those up to dry so they can be used this winter.

We are enjoying cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, green peppers and hot peppers from our gardens. Our sweet corn is not ready yet but Mose and Susan brought us a meal of it.

Joseph’s 16th birthday was on Tuesday, July 24. We had the sweet corn, cucumber salad, sliced tomatoes, green beans (with potatoes, onions, and carrots diced in) and hot wings for his birthday supper. Benjamin and Joseph grilled the wings on the charcoal grill. For dessert we had cake and watermelon. The cake was for both boys since we didn’t have a cake on Benjamin’s birthday. There are too many birthdays in July and sometimes too much cake. The boys wanted me to get one cake for both of them. Sometimes I just have a hard time with the fact that both boys are this old already. That also makes me appreciate that they are both healthy as far as we know and makes me remember others that are less fortunate healthwise.

Our sympathy especially goes to Rebecca, David, and daughter as they mourn the death of their 17-year-old son Joshua. We only know them through the letters daughter Verena and Rebecca have exchanged. Joshua died due to complications from muscular dystrophy. His brother also passed away from Duchenne muscular dystrophy at a young age. Rebecca and David have only their 18-year-old daughter now and I can’t imagine the pain and sorrow this family is experiencing. May God give them strength to go on.

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan came home for the day and of course our little sweeties Abigail and Jennifer came also. The young mothers brought breakfast for us which was French toast, pancakes, maple syrup, venison summer sausage, and brownies. That made my morning! Especially after a rude awakening: right before my husband Joe left for work, our neighbor Joe stopped to let us know our horses and ponies were out. They ran in the bean field so he closed the gate as he was on his way to work. My husband Joe’s ride was also here so I woke up the boys and they had to walk through the wet beans that are waist high to chase the horses into the other field. They came in all wet from the beans. Benjamin had time to change clothes as he had to leave for work at 4:30 a.m.

The horses had broken the chain off the gate and that’s how they escaped. They stopped in my garden to eat some sweet corn, the way it looks. I’m just thankful they didn’t cause an accident on the road.

With the girls all being home yesterday, we cleaned the basement, including the windows and bathroom down there. We also pressure washed the siding on the wrap-around porch and the floor and railings. I am so glad that is done.

God’s blessings to all!

This week I will share a recipe I received from a reader—peanut butter sheet cake. Thanks Neva!

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda

Bring peanut butter, water, and butter or margarine to a rapid boil. Pour over flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Mix and add the eggs and buttermilk or sour cream. Pour batter into a greased sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Frosting:

1 stick margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Bring margarine, peanut butter, and buttermilk to a rapid boil. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Frost cake while both are still warm.

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.

 

 

Lovina’s diary offers glimpse of an Amish woman’s ordinary day

Lovina’s diary offers glimpse of an Amish woman’s ordinary day

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings—time to get up and pack husband Joe’s lunch, fill his water jug with ice and water, make a pot of coffee, etc.

3:45 a.m. Joe’s ride is here to go work in the factory. In January it was 13 years ago that he started working there. On March 20 it will be 14 years that we made the move to Michigan from Indiana.

4:00 a.m. Son Benjamin, 18, is up and getting ready for his job at the RV factory. He usually packs his own lunch. He does well to always hear his alarm.

4:30 a.m. Benjamin leaves for work; he only has a 15-minute drive to the factory where he works. A coworker picks him up and brings him home.

4:40 a.m. Nephew Henry leaves for work. He works for a local Amish family. They build trusses for lumber companies, if I understand correctly. I go back to bed for awhile and take advantage of getting some more sleep!

5:45 a.m. Son Joseph gets up to do our morning chores. I pack his lunch.

6:30 a.m. Joseph leaves to go help our nephew Noah on his construction crew. Son Kevin, 12, is getting ready for school.

6:45 a.m. The bus is here. Kevin leaves. I take a little nap on my recliner. I have a headache and think it might help.

8:00 a.m. I feel much better. The girls are up, and we are getting breakfast started. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan have plans to come for the day. It sure is hard to get used to the time change again! I really wish the time would stay one way or another all year long.

8:30 a.m. The girls have arrived. Susan picked up Elizabeth this week with their horse and buggy. Elizabeth and Susan come together each week, taking turns driving their horses and buggies. We bring the girls Abigail, Jennifer and Nikiah (the girl Elizabeth babysits) in from the buggy. They get plenty of hugs and kisses from Grandma and all the aunts. Abigail wants to get Ruby (Verena’s little puppy) right away. She can carry her around. Jennifer smiles at us in recognition. At eight weeks old, she is learning new things all the time.

9:30 a.m. Breakfast is ready. Abigail likes to sit in a booster seat on a “real” chair at the table instead of a high chair. Baby Jennifer gets to lie on a blanket in the middle of the big table so we can all watch her while we eat! Our breakfast is scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, pon hoss (from Jacob’s butchering), coffee soup, homemade bread, butter, strawberry jam, cheese. We also have milk, grape juice, and coffee.

10:30 a.m. Dishes are being washed. Sometimes when too much is going on in the house, like today, Lovina does her schoolwork in the heated pole barn. She also works ahead on some days so she can enjoy her little nieces when they come.

We do some odds and end jobs around the house, but nothing too much. Mostly we visit and enjoy our time together. The girls were working on some names they are making out of plastic canvas. A man from our church is also here (out in the barn) putting new shoes on our horses.

12:30 p.m. Elizabeth feeds Nikiah a lunch before her mother comes to pick her up after she’s done working.

1:00 p.m. Nikiah leaves with her mother. I make a one-kettle soup for our lunch.

1:30 p.m. Ready to eat lunch! My husband Joe comes home from work. Abigail wants Grandpa to show her the Country magazine after she’s done eating. He holds baby Jennifer while we eat. Benjamin comes home while we’re eating and eats a bowl of soup too. He then leaves to take his buggy to the repair shop.

3:30 p.m. The girls and their babies are leaving for their homes. Joe and Joseph are burning some trash. Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty Coblentz come for a visit. Today is their 48th anniversary. We wish them more happy, healthy years together.

5:00 p.m. Daughter Loretta leaves with her special friend, Dustin, to go to the hospital. Dustin’s mother had surgery today.

6:45 p.m. Supper tonight is pizza!

9:30 p.m. Loretta is back home, and everyone is getting ready for bed.

God’s blessings to all!

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

 Frosting:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons milk
1 pound powdered sugar

Cake: In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, soda and salt; set aside. Combine butter, water and peanut butter in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Pour over flour mixture. Add milk, vanilla and eggs; mix. Pour in a greased 11 x 15-inch baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Frosting: Bring butter, peanut butter and milk to a boil in saucepan. Mix in powdered sugar. Pour warm frosting over cooled cake.

 

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.

 

 

When mothers can’t sleep until all the children are home

When mothers can’t sleep until all the children are home

It is Thursday morning and time to get this column written. Time goes so fast from week to week. How can it be Thanksgiving Day next week already? We will be hosting the Thanksgiving meal here for sisters Verena, Susan, Emma and Jacob and families, and our family. We four sisters get together every year on Thanksgiving Day unless there are other plans. We all exchange names for Christmas. We are a total of 25 now. We usually set the table for all of us which makes a pretty long table already.

We will have turkey and all the trimmings. Daughter Elizabeth wants to make all the pies for Thanksgiving this year. She is getting to be a good pie baker. My sisters usually all bring food as well so we end up with lots more food then we need.

My husband Joe and the boys are off to work this morning. It’s a little rushed on the mornings they all leave around the same time. Getting all those lunches packed and water jugs filled with water and ice takes time. I also make coffee for Joe and nephew Henry to take along in a coffee mug. Our sons don’t drink coffee. Joe and I are the only ones that do. Mose and Susan like tea instead. I remember my mother would have a cup of warm tea by all our plates for breakfast sometimes. Our children drink iced tea better than warm tea. They would also choose hot chocolate over tea in the cold winter mornings.

I put a salad in Joe’s lunch today. It’s hard to keep up with who likes what in their lunch. Son Benjamin always wanted ham sandwiches. One day he was so tired of ham and didn’t want any more. I started making burrito wraps and then that didn’t sound good any more. If they don’t have a way to heat up food it’s hard to think of what to put in their lunch. I heat up soup once in a while and put it in a thermos to keep it warm. It’s easiest packing your own lunch because you know what you are hungry for more than anyone else. Son Kevin, 12, packs his own school lunch every morning.

Yesterday my daughters and I spent the day at daughter Elizabeth’s house. They will be hosting church services in January or February so she is getting her closets cleaned and organized already. She has two spare bedrooms on the main level that they mostly use when they have overnight company. The one bedroom she does use for her sewing room as well. She has those two rooms cleaned. We helped her clean out the closet in the hallway area. Son-in-law Timothy put up three shelves in it so she can put all her cleaning supplies, rags, brooms, stock pots, etc. in there. We turned the laundry room she had into a baby room for Abigail. We moved the changing table, dresser and all of Abigail’s clothes in there. Timothy had moved the washing machine down to the basement earlier this fall so Elizabeth washes clothes down there now.

Abigail’s crib is in Timothy and Elizabeth’s bedroom. I know the feeling that it is nice to have your little one close by during the night hours. I well remember the sleepless nights caring for the children. There are nights when I can’t sleep now waiting until the last one is home. I don’t think a mother every stops looking after her children. The children say, “Mom go to bed, don’t wait up on us.” But until you are a parent yourself you don’t quite understand. I tell them I used to tell my mother the same thing and wonder why she couldn’t sleep until we were all home at night. God watches over us. His blessings to all!

Try this banana chocolate chip sheet cake. It is a new cake we enjoyed this week. I had ripe bananas to use up some way.

A great way to use up bananas that are getting older.

Banana Chocolate Chip Sheet Cake

1 2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup mini chocolate chips for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 1/2 x 15 inch sheet pan. Beat together butter and sugar until mixture resembles crumbs. Add eggs, vanilla and mix again. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt than gradually add to butter mixture. Add mashed bananas and buttermilk and mix together well. Fold in 2/3 cup of chocolate chips. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Note: Cake is done when corners start to pull back from sides of pan and top of cake springs back when pressed gently in the center.

Frosting: Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla; gradually add confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth. Spread evenly on cooled cake and garnish with chocolate chips.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish 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.

 

When daughters do something their mother never even wanted to do

We have entered the eleventh month of the year already. 2017 is going fast but then every year does. It really seems like the older you get the faster it goes.

We will be having a change around here with daughter Susan and Mose being homeowners and moving in the near future. Saturday we will go help them with whatever needs to be done.

Yesterday daughter Elizabeth and Abigail came here for the day. We canned chicken broth for Susan and me. I will give some to Elizabeth since she doesn’t have any right now. It takes time to debone the meat and pressure cook the broth.

Son-in-law Timothy came here from work to drive the buggy home with Elizabeth and Abigail. He started a new job at an RV factory so his hours have changed. It always takes some getting used to a different job but it sounds like he likes it.

Abigail was her usual cute self just winning all the hearts around here. When Grandpa (my husband Joe) comes home from work she will go run so he comes after her. She takes him to the jar where he keeps suckers and reaches for one. How quickly they catch on to where candy is. She will lick the sucker for a while and then when she’s distracted we can sneak it away from her.

When we go out to the buggy to get her when they come she always has such a sweet smile for us. She was showing me her new pink mittens. I am surprised she leaves them on her little hands. Now this Grandma has to quit talking about her grandchild. I imagine all you grandparents know how precious it is to have grandchildren.

We were all excited for daughter Loretta, 17, last night. She shot her first deer with her compound bow. Son-in-law Mose and Dustin (Loretta’s special friend) helped track it down. Dustin dressed it and has it hanging ready to be cut up. Loretta never thought she would get the chance to go hunting or even be able to shoot the bow let alone hit the deer. We are happy for her. I told her she has done something I never could do.

We laughed when Mose told us about the time our daughter Susan almost shot a deer. When he asked her why she didn’t she said, “Well he was looking at me and I couldn’t pull the trigger.” When Loretta was a little girl she would go hunting with my husband Joe sometimes. She couldn’t hunt but the children liked to go sit with him in the woods. One time Joe saw a doe and it would have been a good shot but Loretta yelled to the deer so it could get away. She had been reading about Bambi and couldn’t bear to see a deer get shot. So now we are surprised she could shoot one of her own.

Last Friday was a cold and rainy day for the wedding of Melvin and Lisa in Rochester, Indiana. They had plenty of room for everyone to be inside which helped. Sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, Jacob, and sons Benjamin and Steven, Joe and I, and sons Joseph and Kevin traveled the two hour drive to Rochester to the wedding. We were served a delicious meal consisting of barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, noodles, corn, broccoli, and cauliflower salad, sliced cheese, bread buns, butter, jelly, pumpkin, apple and peanut butter pies, fresh fruit mixture, tapioca pudding, cake, etc. We had a nice time visiting with friends and family. Sister Liz and Levi were also there so five of us sisters were there.

Lovina and family get ready for fall with some great pumpkin recipes. Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis.

The girls are washing laundry and it’s another rainy day so it looks like it will be hung on the lines in the basement. God bless!

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Avoid using paper liners as they make it difficult to remove cupcakes. You can use foil liners, just spray the insides first.

Mix the pumpkin, sugars, eggs, vanilla and milk. Add the flour, spice, salt, baking powder and soda to the mixture. Fill each muffin with 1/3 cup of the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.  Serves 12.

 

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.