Category Archives: Casseroles

Wedding travel preparations both planned and unexpected

It’s 4:45 a.m. as I sit by the kitchen table writing. The boys already left for work. Their bags are packed and ready for our departure to Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. They will work a half day, come home, shower, and be ready to go.

Our plans had to be adjusted somewhat because we were at the emergency room last night with daughter Susan. Her husband Mose and two-month old baby Ryan and I went along. I went along to help take care of Ryan while Susan was in so much pain. She didn’t feel like breastfeeding, but we had no other way to feed him as he refuses the bottle.

Susan had a sharp pain on her lower right side which we expected was her appendix. After a CT scan and other tests, the doctor discovered she has a lodged kidney stone, as well as kidney and urinary tract infections. She was given pain medicine and several antibiotics which helped relieve some of the pain, but now it’s just trying to get the stone to pass. I have never had this happen to me, but it sounds like a painful ordeal.

We arrived back here at our house close to midnight and Mose and Susan, Jennifer, 20 months, and baby Ryan stayed here for the night. Mose needs to go into town this morning after the pharmacy opens to get more antibiotics for Susan. She said the pain has moved down some so maybe she will pass the stone before we leave. She is still planning to go along to the wedding in Kentucky if the pain doesn’t get worse. The doctor thought that with the antibiotic she will be fine to go, and then have a follow-up with her doctor after we are back home. I really do hope it doesn’t get worse. We will help her finish her packing.

We are leaving in two vans with our friends Beth and Julie as our drivers. They are sisters so it will be enjoyable for them to spend the time together. We have six motel rooms booked and hope and pray we have safe travels and arrive at the motel before too late. I left my cousin Dave a voicemail and asked where the best motels are or closest ones to his house. He called back and left a voicemail for us with the information.

I managed to get seven new shirts sewn for Joe and the boys to wear on our trip. My sewing machine sews on the buttonholes and buttons, but making the buttonhole is still my least favorite part of sewing. In Indiana we had snaps on the shirts, which I didn’t care to sew on by hand either, so it’s always something in life that we dislike doing. Take the good with the bad and it usually makes a happy medium.

I held baby Ryan for a little bit this morning and he was just smiling and cooing. Now he’s happily eating. He must be getting plenty to eat as Susan said he weighs 15 pounds already. He’s over 25 inches long already as well, so he’s probably going to be tall.

I awoke to Joseph’s driver sitting in our driveway, so it was a little rush until he was leaving. It seems like we only just went to bed, and my alarm just wasn’t loud enough to wake tired me. I thought I better write this column before the rest wake up or I won’t be able to concentrate. Son Kevin, 14, leaves at 6:45 a.m. for school, so I need to wake him up at 6:00 a.m. so he can shower and finish packing his clothes. We will pick him up at school after lunch.

Our plans are to stay in Kentucky Thursday evening as well, and if all goes well go see the Noah’s Ark they built in Kentucky on Friday before heading home. It is around 300 miles to the wedding place from our house. Hopefully the little ones will be contented in their car seats for the trip.

Space is up and I will write more next week about our trip.

This is an easy Sunday dinner recipe. I put this dish, chicken, and baked beans in the oven on Sunday morning and they make a quick, easy noon meal. God bless!

Scalloped Potatoes
8 cups thinly sliced potatoes, cooked*
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Mix all ingredients together or layer them in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*Note: I don’t fully cook the potatoes and just let it bake longer. Add more milk if it’s too dry.

 

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.

Who wants to cook when the temperature is nearing 100 degrees?

It is a hot, humid July evening. I am sitting outside on our porch but can hardly feel any breeze. The mercury on the thermometer still shows 95 degrees at 8 p.m. Hopefully it will cool off soon!

My husband Joe is doing much better, and the doctor had good news for him. All the tests came back okay. He needs to stay on the antibiotics for now, but the wound is almost healed. This heat doesn’t help the swelling of his legs, but they look much better. Joel loves salt, and having to do without has been hard for him but he is getting used to it. I’m getting used to cooking without it and letting everyone season their own food.

One morning when it was nice and cool Joe and I went out in the garden and pulled a lot of weeds. Before we knew it, three and a half hours had passed, so we came in for a break. The heat was getting worse by noon, but the garden looks much better. And cucumbers and zucchini are ready to use now. Tomatoes are on the way. Sweet corn really grew with the recent rain we had. We have much to be thankful for.

We received the sad news that Joe’s aunt Josephine, age 81, passed away yesterday. Josephine lost her first husband Leroy when they lived in Milroy, Indiana. She remarried to Jerome from Nappanee, Indiana, where she lived since her marriage to him. Leroy and Josephine had seven children. Our sympathy goes to the family. The funeral is Saturday in Nappanee.

Since March, Joe and I have had two uncles and three aunts pass away. It gives us a sad feeling to lose uncles and aunts with both sets of parents gone too. Josephine was a sister to Joe’s mother. She was two years older than her. Joe’s mother died 24 years ago at the age of 54. Our children never knew their grandmother. Daughter Elizabeth was 10 months old when she died, so she also doesn’t remember her. Joe’s three younger sisters were 15, 16, and 17 when their mother passed away. I often think how I would have felt to lose my mother at that age. You often hear people say you only live once, but actually that isn’t true—it’s more like we only die once. Let us be ready when our time comes, leaving good memories for all our loved ones to remember us by.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan came for the day along with sweet little Abigail, Jennifer, and baby T.J. When I call him Timothy, Abigail reminds me that he’s T.J. and her little brother and she’s the big sister. Abigail and Jennifer are starting to team up, which isn’t always so good. Today their mothers discovered them with my Kleenex box, which was quite full. They had already emptied half the box, pulling the Kleenex and throwing them in the air. It was hard not to laugh when the little sweeties didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong. We had a nice day doing nothing but meals and visiting and trying to stay cool.

I tried a new recipe (a breakfast skillet) for our breakfast and then we had (don’t be surprised) frozen pizzas for our lunch. Yes, that doesn’t sound like Amish cooking, but with the heat it was just perfect for us. Having solar powered freezers, it is easier to have those things on hand, although I don’t do it often. Joe doesn’t care for those. He likes homemade pizza, but who wants to cook when the temperature is close to 100 degrees?

Elizabeth and children went home and Mose came to pick Susan up. He is helping Joe fill in some holes in our paved driveway. The driveway was paved when we bought this place 15 years ago and has had a lot of neglect.

Let’s leave the future in God’s hands. May he bless each of you. Stay cool!

Try this breakfast skillet.

Breakfast Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
½ cup diced green bell peppers
½ cup diced onions
1 dozen eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
1 cup milk
¼ cup flour

Heat oil in a large skillet. Stir all remaining ingredients together, then pour into the hot skillet. Cover. Cook a few minutes, then gently run a spatula along the edges and underneath, letting egg run to the sides. Cover again and continue cooking until eggs are set.

 

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

When Mom’s menu ideas run low, the kids can help

It is almost time to start supper. I’m debating what we will make tonight. I’ll ask the children for suggestions. Sometimes that makes it easier!

Last night we came home late after helping at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Loretta grilled hamburgers and potatoes on the gas grill, so that was an easy supper. It’s nice to have frozen hamburger patties from butchering last winter. When you want to take beef from the freezer to the grill, it’s quick and easy. We had lettuce and green onions from the garden to eat with the hamburgers.

I have lots of leaf lettuce ready in the garden. I would like to cut it and wash it to serve with lunch at Tim and Elizabeth’s house on Sunday. They are hosting church services, which will be held under a tent.

Last Friday sister Emma and her two daughters Elizabeth and Emma and baby Jessica, daughter Susan and Jennifer and my daughters and I assisted daughter Elizabeth with her work. A lot was accomplished. My daughters and I will go help a few more days this week.

Elizabeth will have her 25th birthday on Friday, June 14. It’s hard to believe our firstborn has reached 25! We wish her many more happy, healthy years. Her two little ones keep her busy. Abigail is a little busybody and says she is baby Timothy’s big sister. Jennifer loves to go lie down on Abigail’s bed when we are all there. It is a wooden toddler bed with side rails. One day while we were cleaning, Jennifer laid down on Abigail’s bed and fell asleep. Abigail didn’t care to see Jennifer sleeping in her bed! Mose and Susan hope to get a toddler bed for Jennifer. She likes the idea that she can get out by herself. Her crib is too penned in for her! It seems the grandchildren grow so fast and learn new things as they older.

When I think of the Michigan family that lost their six-year-old daughter and four- and two-year-old sons in the recent buggy accident, my heart aches. Such tender, sweet ages. Our sympathy goes to the parents as they grieve for their three children. May God help them through this tragedy and help them accept the changes in their life. We wish a complete and speedy recovery to the mother and three-year-old. Although I do not personally know them, they are distant relatives of ours. Their names are in our family record book. God makes no mistakes.

I am taking son Kevin to therapy twice a week. This is to help with the surgeries he had. After he learns how to do the exercises here at home, he can quit going to therapy.

Farmers are taking advantage of the weather to get crops out and hay put in. We had a wet and cool spring. My husband Joe and son Joseph finished planting our garden on Saturday. The rains helped what was planted already to grow, but it looks like it will be a later season.

After I began writing this afternoon, Verena started a hamburger-potato skillet cooking on the stove for our supper. She layers hamburger, onions, shredded potatoes and cream of mushroom soup (without milk added). You cover skillet and let cook on low until potatoes are soft, then add cheese of your choice on top and let it melt. Season the potatoes before cooking. It’s a quick, easy meal.

Here is a recipe for potato bars. It’s a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

God bless and stay safe!

Potato Bars

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard
10 medium potatoes
cheese of your choice
2 tablespoons Ranch dressing

Fry and drain ground beef and onions. Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, chili powder and mustard. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside and keep hot.

Cook, mash and season potatoes to taste (or use leftover mashed potatoes). Spread in a cake pan and cover with meat mixture. Top with cheese. Drizzle ranch dressing over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until hot.

 

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.

So much sewing keeps Lovina busy

Saturday our family assisted daughter Elizabeth and Tim with their work. Church services will be held at their house next so lots of cleaning is getting done. A big tent will be set up for the services to be held under that day.

My husband Joe has most of the gardens filled now. Everything is getting planted late from all the wet weather we are having. Farmers have a hard time getting their crops planted. Hay is cut but hard to dry and get put in with all the rain. Our soil is sandy so the garden dries off fast.

Friday is the wedding for Dustin’s cousin in this community. Daughter Loretta and Dustin were asked to be table waiters at the wedding. Loretta needs to wear a mint green-colored dress, cape, and apron. It still needs to be cut out and sewed. I have only tomorrow to sew it. I hope to start early in the morning. If I can stay with it, I should get it done in a few hours. It just seemed like I had so much sewing lately that this was pushed to the bottom of the list.

Last week I sewed daughter Lovina’s dress for her graduation. Her Amish friend in eighth grade wanted Lovina and her to have matching color dresses for their graduation.

After this I should be able to do other sewing that was pushed back from the weddings. At niece Elizabeth’s wedding Lovina and Kevin had to wear the color mint green. Kevin had to wear gray sharkskin color pants. Verena and Loretta wore purple dresses and Benjamin and Joseph wore black vests and pants with white shirts. I had to wear a green apple color.

Daughter Lovina was helping at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s several days this week. Baby Timothy wasn’t feeling the best and after a doctor visit it was confirmed he had an ear infection. He is such a sweetie, always so bright-eyed and active.

Foremost on our minds today was receiving the sad news that my cousin Cornelius passed away. He was only 57 but was diagnosed last August with that dreadful disease—cancer! Several months before his diagnosis he lost his dad Jake (my uncle). My sympathy goes out to Cornelius’s wife Andrea and children. Also to Aunt Mary (his mother) and extended family. May God help guide them through this time of sorrow. Rest in peace, Cornelius. You will be missed! Due to the many miles between us, we won’t be able to attend the funeral.

Daughter Elizabeth and children, daughter Susan and Jennifer, daughter Verena, and I attended the school picnic on May 31, the last day of this school term. The little girls enjoyed the playground equipment. They had fun sitting in the grass eating their picnic lunch.

I didn’t feel like I had time to attend the picnic but with only having one more child in school after this year I wanted to take time to enjoy it. So often we let our busy life take away the things that matter the most.

Although I haven’t been out fishing on the lake yet this year the rest of the family is bringing in some nice meals of fresh fish.

Brother-in-law Levi and son Levi Jr. went fishing with my husband Joe and son-in-law Mose the day before niece Elizabeth’s wedding. Joe took our boat and Mose took his boat, and they fished at a nearby lake. They brought home a lot of bluegill. They were only a few from their allowed limit. They had an enjoyable day.

Son Benjamin went fishing with some friends on Lake Erie one day. They all caught their limit of walleyes. He had a fun time on that big lake.

Zucchini season will soon be here. Try this recipe.

Breakfast Zucchini Casserole

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup peppers, finely chopped
1 dozen eggs
2 cups Bisquick*
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cooked meat of choice: sausage, diced ham, smokie links, or bacon
6 cups zucchini, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Sauté onions and peppers in butter. Beat eggs; add all ingredients to beaten eggs except the cheese. Put into a 9×13-inch pan, setting it into a larger pan with water. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour covered with foil. Uncover. Bake another 30 minutes, then top with cheese.

Variation: Use shredded cooked potatoes instead of zucchini.

*Instead of Bisquick mix use 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

 

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.

Final cleaning tasks—including 42 windows—before holding Sunday services

The first day of May has arrived with it being a rather cloudy day. At 7 a.m. the sun is now out and shining so bright.

Daughter Verena and sons Benjamin and Joseph left tonight to attend a local wedding. They invited (as most couples in this community do) the youth for a 7 p.m. supper. Joseph came home from work around 6 p.m. and showered and left. He is working one-and-a-half hours from home, so it makes a longer day. He seems to enjoy his new job.

My husband Joe is outside doing some power washing. Loretta, Lovina, and Kevin are all reading or resting. I wanted to get this column written before I’m too tired.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and little ones came home for the day. They washed off walls, ceiling, cabinets, shower, etc., in the main bathroom. More windows were cleaned. Our house has 42 windows, so it takes a lot of cleaning. This is on three levels, with 22 of the windows being on the main level.

Communion services will be held here Sunday. On Saturday, Tim, Elizabeth, and children Abigail and Timothy, Mose, Susan and Jennifer, sisters Verena and Susan and daughter Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin were all here helping us clean. The men and boys took care of cleaning the pole barn floor, windows, etc., where church services will be held in. The women helped here in the house. A lot was accomplished, and their help was greatly appreciated.

On Sunday our whole family came home for lunch, which consisted of mashed potatoes, noodles, dressing, meat loaf, creamed asparagus (our first of the season), lettuce salad, cheese, hot peppers, celery, and carrot sticks. For dessert, Elizabeth brought a dirt pudding. We opened the dining room table and set the table for everyone.

I forgot to mention we also had hard-boiled colored Easter eggs and horseradish. Abigail and Jennifer colored eggs at Tim’s house on Friday and brought some here. We didn’t color any this year as we were gone all day on Easter and didn’t have the family home.

It warmed up nice in the afternoon and the men and boys went out to play croquet. The rest of us played Phase 10 here in the house. We decided to have an egg toss just for fun. Everyone had a partner and it was a little messy for a few people, but we had lots of laughs. Tim and Elizabeth were the winners. Our friends John and Carol were driving past and saw us outside and stopped to visit. John is a cousin to Joe’s late father. Before the children left for home, I heated up the leftovers for whoever was hungry. It was a nice enjoyable day making memories.

We received the sad news tonight that Uncle Elmer from Berne, Indiana, passed away. He doesn’t have to suffer any longer but will be greatly missed. Our sympathy goes to Aunt Emma (my mother’s sister) and extended family. He suffered much pain from that dreaded disease—cancer. May he rest in peace now. The funeral is planned for Saturday and our plans are to attend. This will shorten us by a day in preparing for communion on Sunday but somehow, we will manage. Sisters Verena and Susan plan to come help tomorrow so we should get a lot more accomplished.

On Monday my husband Joe, son Kevin, and I traveled to Ann Arbor to the C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital to have Kevin’s cast removed. He now wears an air cast for two weeks. Thanks to all who remembered him.

Once again I want to thank all of you readers for your thoughtfulness and encouragement. It helps to know others care, and may God bless each of you richly as we travel into the unknown future!

Breakfast Zucchini Casserole

1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped bell peppers
2 tablespoons butter
1 dozen eggs
2 cups Bisquick mix*
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cooked meat of your choice: sausage, diced ham, smokie links, bacon
6 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Sauté onions and peppers in butter. Beat eggs; add the sautéed onions and peppers and all the remaining ingredients to beaten eggs except cheese. Put into a 9 x 13-inch pan, setting it into a larger pan filled partway with water. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, covered with tinfoil. Uncover. Bake another 30 minutes, then top with cheese.

Variations: Use shredded cooked potatoes instead of zucchini. *Instead of Bisquick mix, use 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

 

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.

Giving everything a thorough cleaning—but not without enjoying the company

Thursday morning and it’s almost 5 a.m. This column needs to be written, although my eyes still want to close for some more sleep. At least it’s not 3 a.m. That is the one thing I don’t miss from my husband not working at the RV factory. Son Joseph, 16, is waiting on his ride to go to work. Son Benjamin left for work at 4:30 a.m. The rest are still in bed. I feel extra tired this morning, but we did have a long day yesterday.

Yesterday my sister Emma, her daughters Elizabeth and Emma, and baby Jessica, along with my daughters Elizabeth and Susan and grandchildren, Abigail, Jennifer, and baby Timothy, all came here to assist us with cleaning for our upcoming church services. We will host here May 5. It will be communion services, so that usually lasts all day. We serve lunch halfway through the day, to a few tables of people at a time, until everyone is fed. Communion is usually around 3 p.m.

Anyways, back to my much-appreciated help . . . We accomplished so much yesterday but still had a nice day spent together. Walls, ceilings, furniture, etc. were cleaned from top to bottom in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Curtains were washed and quickly dried with the nice, breezy, sunshiny day. Everything looks so crisp and clean this morning, and the curtains look nice and white hanging on the sparkling windows. I love to admire the clean windows because I know before long they will be speckled by flies resting on them. They used white vinegar and water to clean them, and that works really good.

Last week one day, daughters Verena and Loretta washed out both my cupboards. On Saturday my sisters Verena and Susan came to help, so they helped my daughters clean out cabinets. I really appreciated their help too.

I still need to defrost the freezer on our propane refrigerator and clean out the refrigerator. Also, my gas stove and oven need a thorough cleaning.

Everyone came for breakfast yesterday so I made a casserole with shredded hash browns, scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, chopped green peppers and onions, shredded cheese, and topped with gravy. My sister Emma brought cherry coffee cake that was still warm, so that went good for dessert.

We enjoyed the four little ones. They are so precious and so much fun. Abigail wanted to help me hang out the laundry, so I told her to hand me the washcloths and a clothespin with each one. That kept her entertained for a while. She wanted to swing on the swing that hangs from our tree branch, so I lowered the seat for her. Jennifer came outside for a while, enjoying the nice day. She kept picking up little twigs and bringing them to me.

The two babies, Jessica (almost 3 months) and Timothy (4 months), took a nap on Kevin’s bed, which is still in our living room since his first surgery. Timothy is quite active and was entertained rolling over and trying to grab Jessica’s face after he awoke. The baby swing bouncer also entertained the babies while their mothers worked.

For lunch, daughter Susan brought spaghetti and meatballs and we also had leftover tacos from last night’s supper. Along with the coffee cake for dessert, it made a quick, easy meal.

While we were cleaning my husband Joe was outside in the garden planting early red potatoes. He also has sweet onions he wants to plant and some more seeds to get out in the garden. Our radishes and lettuce are up from his previous gardening. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and let them survive. It’s all controlled by God, so we trust in Him. He knows best!

I hope everyone had a nice Easter! God’s blessings to all!

Hamburger Potato Casserole

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups macaroni or shells
1 pint pizza sauce
2 quarts cubed potatoes
3 cups milk
2 rounded tablespoons flour
1 pound Velveeta cheese, melted

Place ground beef and onions in a large skillet. Add pepper and 1 teaspoon salt (or as desired) and cook over medium heat until brown. Pour into a big roasting pan or two large baking dishes.

Cook macaroni until soft, drain, then add pizza sauce. Pour on top of meat.

Cook potatoes until soft. Drain, then add milk, 2 teaspoons salt, and flour. Add cheese and pour over macaroni. Bake in a 350 degree F oven until it’s hot. Feeds a family of 12.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Taco Ring

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

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

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

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

Remembering a beloved neighbor, and her first plate of cookies

Remembering a beloved neighbor, and her first plate of cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

Tater Tot Casserole

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rigatoni and Cheese Casserole

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless!

Chuck Wagon Hot Dish

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

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

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