Category Archives: Desserts

Family members of all ages gather for fall cleanup and share a good meal

The leaves have changed color at Lovina’s home as October ends. Read more about the family’s fall cleanup in today’s column. Photo Credit: D. Lucas Landis / ©MennoMedia

 The last day of October has arrived already. To some today is Halloween, but we don’t celebrate it so for us it’s just another day.

Son Joseph, 17, just left for work a few minutes ago. It will soon be time to wake son Kevin, 14, to get ready for school. Since my surgery Joseph has been packing his lunch and making his own breakfast. So far, his alarm clock always wakes him up. Son Benjamin, 20, always gets up and packs his own lunch, but he’s not working this week. It’s another week of no work at the RV factory. I think its good for the boys to get used to waking up with their own alarm clocks and being responsible to get up on their own.

Benjamin has been cleaning up outside this week and cleaning out the pole barn on both sides. It’s looking pretty good. It’s nice to have all that done before the snow flies. We have lots of leaves that need to be raked, but it has been rainy the last few days, so they are really wet now.

Yesterday the girls and I went to sister Emma and her husband Jacob’s house to assist them in preparing for church services they host on Sunday. Of course I just went along to “sit and do nothing” but I could help keep the children entertained. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their little ones were also there helping. Emma’s two married daughters, Elizabeth and Emma, and her nine-month-old daughter Jessica were also there. I told sister Emma that three-and-a-half years ago there weren’t any little children when we got together, and now there’s five between the ages of three months and three years.

Our friend Beth took us to and from Jacob’s with her minivan since I didn’t want to ride in the buggy yet. My surgery was only two weeks ago, so I want to be careful.

Daughter Verena, 21, made a casserole the night before to take along so Emma wouldn’t have to make lunch. Daughter Elizabeth made a chocolate cake and daughter Susan made apple goodie (which is similar to apple crisp). Lunch was easy and didn’t take up anyone’s time to prepare, so they could all keep cleaning. They cleaned windows, cabinets, and furniture, etc.

Jacob and Emma’s son Steven, 12, still has both of his legs and feet in a cast. He had the same surgery son Kevin had earlier this year. It’s heel lengthening surgery due to their muscular dystrophy. The county bus takes Steven to and from school. They have a van lift so he can stay in the wheelchair.

On Tuesday we had a visit from Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty. It’s hard to believe Uncle Joe is 77 already. He gets around good for his age. Betty said he raked all their leaves. It’s a blessing to have good health at that age. Joe is one of my dad’s brothers. Dad’s oldest brother, Albert Jr, is 90, then William (Bill), 81 and Menno, 80. His brother Robert (Bob) will be 79 soon. Dad’s two youngest brothers are Melvin, 74, and Amos, 72. They are always so active that I really didn’t realize that they are that old already. There is never a dull moment when the brothers get together. It always makes memories of dad surface when I see my uncles. Dad came from a family of 13 children. Three boys and three girls have passed away and are greatly missed when the others all get together.

I will share a recipe for sour cream apple squares since it’s apple season.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Sour Cream Apple Squares

2 cups flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups peeled and diced apples
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and butter. Mix until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Press 2 3/4 cups crumbs into ungreased 9×13-inch pan. To remaining mixture add cinnamon, soda, salt, sour cream, vanilla, and egg. Blend well. Stir in apples. Spoon evenly over base. Bake 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into 12-15 squares. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

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.

Lovina heals from surgery and enjoys time with grandchildren

I am still taking life at a much slower pace this week. Last week daughter Elizabeth took my place writing this column, which I appreciated.

I had hernia surgery, and the doctor added mesh, so I hope for good results. Earlier this year, in February, I had a hernia that was also repaired with mesh. The doctor says that one is doing well, so hopefully I will be done with surgeries for a while. My regret is that my doctor will be retiring from being a surgeon. In the last fifteen and a half years he has done all eight surgeries I’ve had and always did a great job. When we moved to Michigan, I didn’t have a doctor yet when I had daughter Lovina by emergency c-section and had complications which made me have a hospital stay of a week. This was when I met my current doctor and he did a wonderful job. Seven weeks after Lovina was born I had my gall bladder removed, also. I will miss not having him for my surgeon, but he will still be my doctor for a few more years.

We have had supper brought in three times this week and that has really been a great help to the girls. It is greatly appreciated, and may God bless those who brought food for their kindness!

We were finally able to get some coal, so the house is more comfortable with the coal stove going. We had some pretty chilly days, and when you aren’t active with work it’s more noticeable. Cold weather approached us pretty fast. It was as if we skipped autumn.

Monday and Tuesday were both rainy and with no heat in the house it was a challenge to get the laundry dried. I wish we had more clotheslines on the porch. We filled up what we do have and hung clothes out on the lines between showers. When you have nasty weather and laundry that needs to be dried, the rain makes a lot more work. At least next time the clothes can be dried in the basement if the weather isn’t good.

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children came home for the day. The children can’t understand why grandmother doesn’t come out and carry them in like usual. My doctor’s orders are to not lift over 15 pounds and all the children are over that. I can hold them on my lap though, if they hold still.

I sat by the table with Abigail, 3, and Jennifer, 21 months, and colored in coloring books. Abigail didn’t like how Jennifer wanted to scribble up the whole picture. Jennifer didn’t like that Abigail had the newest colors, so it was interesting to sit between them and keep peace. It always amazes me how young children can be so forgiving and, in a few minutes, forget what their quarrel was about. Let us take an example from these little angels to forgive and forget.

This evening daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Tim will leave their children here while they attend the viewing/visitation of Tim’s 50-year-old cousin Richard. Richard was biking when he was struck by a driver in a hit and run. Another truck came along and didn’t see him lying on the road. Richard died later at the hospital due to injuries from the accident. Richard’s wife died last year from cancer, also at the age of 50. Our sympathy goes to the children and loved ones losing both parents so young and close together. Such a tragedy! May God help them through this trial.

I have an appointment this afternoon at the doctor’s office to have some of my staples removed. I will be so glad once this is all over. Patience is not my strong point. It is hard for me to not be able to work like I usually do, but I think its good for me to see how others have it who cannot do everything they want. I need to be thankful for my blessings.

Space is up so until next time—God bless!

This week I will share the recipe for pumpkin bars which daughter Elizabeth made and brought here for us to eat. Delicious!

 

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Icing:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until light and fluffy. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix until thoroughly combined and batter is smooth. Spread batter into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before icing. Cut into bars. Makes 48 small or 24 large bars.

Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

 

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.

 

Lovina’s daughter, Elizabeth, shares pumpkin treats as temperatures drop

Hello to all my Mother’s readers! This is Elizabeth, Lovina’s firstborn. Once again, I’m taking the pen in my own hand and writing this for Mom. She is having surgery on Wednesday—again. This is her second surgery this year. The first one was in February. Both surgeries have been to fix hernias. Another larger hernia popped up next to the one that was fixed in February. Hopefully this will be the last surgery. Prayers and best wishes are being sent your way, Mom!

Dad, sisters Verena, 21, Loretta, 19, Lovina, 15, Susan (along with her children, Jennifer, 1, and Ryan, 2-1/2 months), brother Kevin, 14, and me and my little bunch (Abigail, 3, and TJ, 9 months) will all go to the hospital with Mom. Both Benjamin, 20, and Joseph, 17, have jobs and will be working during that time.

It is a very chilly October morning, the coldest yet this season at 34 degrees. Our propane heater is getting its first workout for the season. It feels good to have a little heat in the house. Husband Tim is out back in his tree stand hunting. Deer season opened the first of October. He thought this would be a great morning to be out there since the temperature dropped overnight.

Abigail is still asleep. She’s not an early riser. Quite opposite of her brother. TJ is always awake before or right at the first signs of daybreak. Perhaps that will change as he gets older. While I write this he has been here and there and everywhere. TJ is at that stage where cupboards have become his play place. Then we’ve got Abigail, Mom’s little helper who knows cupboards are not to play in. So, she takes matters in her own hands, which does not always end in the best results. Ha! Her brother is a bit too strong for her to pick him up and move him.

On October 8, my sister Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin had his 25th birthday. The date is also a little more special to me as that is the day TJ, our 9-month-old baby, took off walking on his own for the first time. He is still wobbly and has his tumbles, but he is definitely walking. He still crawls some though. Abigail was excited because, in her words, “Now TJ can run with me outside.” It’s probably a good thing he’s not at the running stage just yet. This Mama would never keep up. Ha! Motherhood is very rewarding, though. I’m dreading the days when they spread their wings and fly from the nest.

Today, I baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They turned out great. Sweets don’t go fast around here, so I’ll probably share most of the cookies. I also made pumpkin bars, but they are more like a cake. It’s pumpkin season and pumpkin goodies sounded good.

Tim’s brother Willie and Mary, along with their children Michael, 20, Jasmine, 16, and Mary’s nephew Jason were here for a meal recently. Tim and I made sweet banana pepper poppers, red potatoes (cooked over the campfire), and Oreo pudding. Also on the menu was a salad and chocolate peanut butter pie brought by Mary. We enjoyed having them over. Willie is Tim’s third brother out of nine siblings—five brothers and four sisters.

We have tomato plants and some pepper plants still producing in the garden. I think it’s time to pull them and say good-bye to the garden of 2019. We have not had a frost yet. Although I don’t think its far into the future. I’m looking forward to colder weather as it will give me more time indoors. I have a lot of sewing I’d like to work on. I enjoy sewing, so it’s not a chore for me if I find the time.

Tim will be having his 31st birthday on October 18. Abigail and I want to surprise him with a birthday gift, a Happy Birthday balloon and maybe a store-bought cake. We hardly every buy baked goods from a store. It is for something special if we do. I will be going to town the day before, so I can do our “secret” shopping then, if Abby doesn’t spill the beans beforehand.

Here’s the recipe for the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I made today. Enjoy! God bless!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup shortening (or lard)
2 cups white sugar
2 cups pumpkin  (I use a 15-oz can)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the shortening, sugar, and pumpkin. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop dough by tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is now available for preorder 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.

Wedding and birthday celebrations, and a visit to the Ark Encounter

We are having nice weather, but temperatures are in the 40s and 50s in the morning, which makes the house feel chilly. We haven’t bought any coal yet, so hopefully we can soon to get some heat in the house if this chilly weather continues.

Last night we were at Mose and daughter Susan’s house. My husband Joe and sons Benjamin, 20, and Joseph, 17, were helping Mose get their outdoor wood burner hooked up to their house. Mose and Susan still had thinly sliced steak in their freezer, so we had rare beef and creamed potatoes for supper. Everyone was glad for rare beef since we usually have this more often after we butcher cattle in the winter months.

We had a nice trip to Kentucky last week to attend the wedding of Joe’s nephew, Morris, and Annie. Cousin Dave has built a nice place in the hills of Kentucky with a pond behind the house and a walkout basement. It is very nice, and the men and boys admired all the deer mounts hanging in his house.

Daughter Susan and I were cooks at the wedding and our job was to help make gravy. Daughter Verena was a table waiter. The menu included mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, dressing, fried chicken, mixed vegetables, salad, cheese, bread, butter, and jam. For dessert, we had pecan, pumpkin, and cherry pies, cinnamon pudding, angel food cake with strawberry topping, and cookies. For the evening meal, we had grilled chicken and brats, and ice cream was also added to the menu. Candy bars were passed around after lunch.

We arrived in Kentucky on Wednesday evening around 9 p.m. Thursday afternoon we went to see where Joe’s sister Salome and her husband Morris and their family live. After the wedding was over, we went back to the motel. The next morning, we all headed to Williamstown, Kentucky, to the Ark Encounter. We really enjoyed our day there. Noah’s ark is sure a good look at what they endured, and it brought a better understanding to the children to see the ark in the dimensions the Bible tells that Noah and his sons built it. The place was packed with people from all over the United States. It makes one feel hopeful to see Christianity is not lost yet.

Lovina and family visited the Ark Encounter, a full-scale representation of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, KY, while traveling for a family wedding. Photo provided.

We headed back to Michigan and stopped along the way to eat. We arrived back home safe and sound a little after midnight. Everyone was ready for a good night’s sleep.

At 8:30 a.m. the next morning (Saturday), Joe and I, daughters Verena and Lovina, and son Kevin, along with my sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, Jacob and son Steven, headed for Berne, Indiana to attend the surprise birthday party for sister Liz and Levi. Liz turned 50 in January and Levi turns 50 in December. They also had their 27th wedding anniversary on October 4. This surprise was planned by their children. Chicken, pork and beans, macaroni and cheese, salads, desserts, and snacks were served. Some of the food was brought by guests.

We arrived back home after dark. Daughter Loretta, with the help of her special friend Dustin, did our laundry, so it was nice to see our clothes all clean again from the trip. Dustin’s birthday was October 8, so a Happy Birthday to him!

On Sunday we had communion at church, so it was a long day. We also ordained another minister and had a potluck dinner with the church afterward. It was good to see Monday come and things slowing down.

Lovina, husband Joe, and son-in-law Mose made their annual trek to the u-pick grape orchard to pick grapes. The grapes will be cooked and strained to make grape juice and then canned to enjoy throughout the year. Photo provided.

Son-in-law Mose, Joe, and I went to the u-pick grape orchard to pick grapes. Another job done for the year.

 

Daughter Susan is feeling better and stayed well on our trip.

Our highlight this week was seeing Tim and daughter Elizabeth’s nine-and-one-half-month-old son, T.J., walking short distances. He’s so active and almost runs instead of walks. He is so precious, as are all our grandchildren.

God’s blessings!

Apple Dumplings
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
5/8 cup milk
1 quart chopped apples, raw
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl, mix well the flour, baking powder, salt, lard, butter, and milk. Press into the bottom of a greased 8×10-inch cake pan. Mix the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and put on top of the dough.

Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup hot water (add more if too thick)

Mix the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and boil a few minutes. Pour on top of the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the apples are soft.

Delicious for supper with cold milk.

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 now available for preorder 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.

Family reunion fun with water balloons and abundant summer produce

Happy Birthday number 53 to sister Verena on August 22nd!

On Saturday, sisters Verena and Susan hosted the annual family reunion on my side of the family. It was greatly attended, with only seven of my parents’ grandchildren not attending. All of us siblings were present. Brother Amos was greatly missed. Nancy came with some of her children, who we were happy to see. It makes the circle seem a little more complete.

We were served a good meal of chicken, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, corn, and all the side dishes that were brought in. There were salads, desserts, and fruits too numerous to mention. Snacks were brought for the afternoon before parting ways to go home.

Of course, with my family the water hose was discovered, and the water balloons were soon put to use. Sister Liz and I tried to keep up with the younger ones. Some managed to stay dry. On that hot and humid day, it helped us stay cool.

Grandson Ryan was the youngest there being three weeks old that day. He seems to be gaining weight really well.

The new deck and ramp at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house came in handy. Recently, son-in-law Mose, husband Joe, and sons Benjamin and Joseph built the 12 x 24-foot deck for them. Son-in-law Tim also helped. On Saturday, they had tables set on it for some to eat while others sat by tables set in their pole barn with a canopy attached.

Sunday, we had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Tim made sausage gravy and fried potatoes over the open fire while Elizabeth baked biscuits and fried eggs in the house. Abigail and T.J. were so excited to see us. T.J. is now eight months old and all over the house, so he needs to be watched closely. He sure is active.

Yesterday daughter Susan and Jennifer and baby Ryan, daughters Verena, Loretta, Lovina, and I helped Elizabeth can salsa. When we left T.J. was waving at us.

I have corn and tomatoes that need to be canned or frozen. I will make vegetable juice with the tomatoes and the corn will probably be bagged for the freezer. That is the last of the sweet corn for us this season.

Son Kevin is getting adjusted to the new schedule of going to school each day. He gets on the bus so much easier since his surgeries earlier this year. He is still not released from therapy but is slowly learning how to continue it here at home. It’s hard for him to find energy after a day at school.

One evening, James, a friend of ours, brought us some chicken of the woods mushrooms he found. This was the first time we had that kind of mushroom. The name comes from it resembling the taste of chicken. Everyone seemed to like it. It’s always nice to try something different. I seasoned it and fried it in olive oil. James had 25–30 pounds of mushrooms.

Monday, daughter Susan and her children came here for the day. She brought her dirty laundry and we washed it here after we did ours. We were glad to have a nice day for the clothes to dry quickly on the lines so we could take them off and put more on to dry.

Susan and Mose had company again the day before so she was tired. I told her to rest while we washed the clothes. She still needs to gain back her strength. Jennifer was contented watching me hang out laundry and playing with a doll. She tries to act like she’s taking care of her doll when Susan takes care of Ryan.

Tim brought in a 25 1/2-pound watermelon out of their garden when we were there yesterday. He sent half of it home with us. God bless!

This week I will share a recipe I received from a reader. Thank you, Barb!

Snickers Pie

Crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons milk

Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-ounce cream cheese
1 Snickers bar, chopped
1 24-ounce Cool Whip (or a little less)
1 3-ounce box instant chocolate pudding

Crust: Mix dry and wet ingredients, press into a 9-inch pie plate, and mold to fit. Bake at 400 degrees for 21 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Thoroughly mix powdered sugar and cream cheese and scoop into cooled crust. Sprinkle 1/2 of chopped Snickers bar on top. Scoop Cool Whip into a large bowl and stir in chocolate pudding until smooth and not gritty. Spread on top of other layers in pie crust. Sprinkle remaining chopped Snickers bar on top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight 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.

Wedding anniversaries, funeral gatherings, and a birthday surprise

We are having rain this evening. I hear thunder in the distance. Daughter Loretta, 19, has two whole chickens on the gas grill on the porch. Red potatoes fresh from the garden are being steamed as well.

Daughters Verena, 21, and Lovina, 15, should be coming home soon. They left this morning to go wash laundry for Mose and daughter Susan. It was a nice sunshiny day, so I hope the clothes were dry before the rain.

I canned 14 quarts of vegetable juice today while Loretta did the daily cleaning and dishes. I like to cut up all the vegetables on the porch and put them through the Victoria food strainer. Filling the jars on the porch keeps all the mess out of the house. I have a garden hose on the porch to wash off all the mess after I’m done.

Four years ago, on August 14, daughter Elizabeth and Tim were married here. What a big undertaking to prepare for the wedding, and to have the first of our children move out of the house. August 5 was daughter Susan and Mose’s third anniversary. Happy anniversary to both couples. May they have many more happy, healthy years to go.

On Saturday we received the sad and shocking news of Joe’s Uncle Elmer’s death. He would have been 75 next month. He went out to do the morning chores in the barn and his son-in-law found him lying there, where they think he had a massive heart attack.

Elmer’s wife Sylvia delivered my first six children and was a great midwife. She delivered many babies in her lifetime and has been a great friend as well. Our deepest sympathy to Sylvia and her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Joe’s family were neighbors with Elmer and Sylvia, which made for a lot of memories between the two families.

August 15 was my oldest sister Leah’s 60th birthday. Her husband Paul invited all of Leah’s siblings to surprise Leah on Sunday for her birthday. Sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, Jacob and their son Steven, my husband Joe and I and son Kevin had a driver pick us up after church on Sunday. We headed south to pick up brother Albert, Sarah Irene, and their daughters Susan and Sylvia. We joined the rest of the family at Paul and Leah’s house. Paul’s married children, sister Liz and Levi and their daughter Elizabeth, Samuel and family, sister-in-law Nancy and her children, Sam and Laura and Laura’s special friend Enos were also there.

We all stayed in the living room when Leah came home and entered the house. As she walked in we started singing Happy Birthday to her. She was surprised and happy to see all of us there. We were served a good supper and enjoyed visiting before we all parted ways to go home. Brother Amos was missed not being with us. We stopped at the viewing of Uncle Elmer before heading back on the two-hour drive to Michigan. On Tuesday Joe and I attended the funeral of Uncle Elmer.

Before heading home we gathered with some of Joe’s family at a pizza place in honor of Joe’s sister Carol’s birthday. She turned 53 on August 12. They live in Tennessee and had an eight-hour drive home from there. We saw a lot of family on both sides this weekend.

School doors open for son Kevin, 13, on August 20. This is his final year of school—eighth grade. Kevin will be 14 on Labor Day, September 2.

On Saturday my sisters Verena and Susan have invited all the family for the day. More on that next week since space is limited. I’ll share the recipe for chocolate marshmallow bars that I made to take along to Leah’s birthday supper. Until next week, God bless!

Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
4 cups miniature marshmallows

Topping:
1 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups Rice Krispies

In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; gradually combine dry ingredients with the creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if desired. Spread in a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until set. Sprinkle with marshmallows; bake 2-3 minutes longer or until melted. Place pan on a wire rack. Using a knife dipped in water, spread marshmallows evenly over the top. Cool completely.

Topping: Combine chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until blended. Remove from heat; stir in Rice Krispies. Immediately spread over bars. Chill until 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.

The garden’s bounty begins

We are having great weather this week. It cools down at night for making sleeping comfortable. Very pleasant days so far. Mornings are actually chilly, with temperatures in the upper 50s. It sure beats the heat from last week.

Yesterday we canned pickles. Cucumbers and dill from the garden make such good pickles. Today we plan to can hot peppers. We are also enjoying zucchini, green peppers, and tomatoes from the garden. Also a few meals of potatoes. Sweet corn is almost ready. I love this time of year. It makes meal planning so much easier.

Yesterday was son Joseph’s 17th birthday. Joseph was eight weeks old when my dear mother passed away. I started penning this column then, taking over for my mother. She had written the column for 11 years before she passed away. With my 17 years of writing it makes 28 years of columns altogether. I like reading back through the columns, as it’s like a diary for me. I was 19 years old when Mother started penning the column. She wrote about our wedding and the births of her first six children. We will always have fond memories of her. She is still greatly missed! She did a wonderful job along with my father of raising a family of eight children. Now Joe and I have eight children also. I hope we can raise our children also teaching them the true values in life and always having God as our guide.

Our family was all here last night for supper. We had a big cake in honor of our three children who have July birthdays. Serving cake for each one separate makes too much cake in a few weeks’ time, so we often have the cake on one of their birthdays. Also on the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, cucumber salad, grilled steak, banana peppers, cheese, and ice cream. Daughter Elizabeth also brought zucchini bars.

Elizabeth and children Abigail and baby T.J. and Susan and her daughter Jennifer came for a brunch in the forenoon. Our brunch was pancakes, sausage, and eggs. The girls and Abigail went for a walk to our neighbors while Jennifer and T.J. took naps. They delivered a casserole I made for our neighbors Melvin and Rebecca who have a new little one, and they got to see the new addition. Little Zachary is two and a half weeks old now.

T.J. is seven months old and gets around fast in the walker. He also likes to sit on the floor with toys. He sure is active and always smiling.

Son Benjamin’s place of work (the RV factory) has next week off due to work being slow again. This is also where daughter Loretta’s special friend Dustin works. (A reader asked if I mean boyfriend when I say special friend, and yes, that is what I mean. Just thought I would clarify that.)

Son Kevin is keeping my hanging flowers watered on the front porch. I just reminded him that they are looking a little dry. Most times he remembers to water them when he fills the stock tanks up for the animals with the hose. My flowers do much better when someone else waters them. Although I am wondering if anyone would know if softener salt in the water could affect plants. When I watered the plants I always used water from the kitchen sink. Kevin and my husband Joe always use water from the water hydrant that doesn’t have a softener hooked up to it. I keep telling myself it was the water that never let my flowers do well for me, but maybe they just died of thirst. Smile!

I want to bring this to a close wishing you all God’s blessings! I will share a recipe for zucchini nut chip cookies for those of you who have plenty of zucchini to use up.

 

Zucchini Nut Chip Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla till creamy. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and zucchini. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375°F for 8–10 minutes.

Notes: May use carrots or sweet potatoes instead of zucchini. A good way to get some veggies into little ones.

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.

Putting up freezer jam, Virginia visitors, and a young overnight guest

Another hot week in July! Last week we had over an inch of rain but it didn’t cool off much.

Today son Kevin had a therapy appointment so I took him to town. With the heat I didn’t want to take the horse and buggy. Our friend Beth took us.

The photo caption should read: Using no-cook pectin allows freezer jam to be prepared without any cooking–an especially welcome option on hot July days.

We put 12 quarts of strawberries into freezer jam. Still need to get more, as we all love strawberry jam. I use the no-cook fruit pectin so there isn’t any cooking involved.

When we were almost done our friends Ray and Lucille from Virginia stopped by for a visit. We knew they would be stopping by so we were trying to have the jam done before they came. We still had some left to do and the women pitched in to help us. Ray and Lucille brought three other couples along. They are Old Order Mennonites, and it’s always interesting to compare our customs and communities. We served them popcorn, peanut butter swirl bars, and fresh lemonade and were rewarded with gifts from Ray and Lucille. The cheese and peaches were much appreciated. They milk cows and their milk goes to this cheese company. We sure will enjoy it. As always, we enjoyed the visit from them.

On Sunday, son Benjamin had his 20th birthday. Our family gathered at daughter Susan and Mose’s for a birthday supper for Benjamin. With the evening being hot we ate outside on the newly built deck. The deck and ramp were built one day by my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, sons-in-law Mose and Timothy, and Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin. They did some fast, good work. The ramp makes it so nice for the girls and Kevin to use instead of steps. Little Jennifer loves to run up and down the ramp.

Our 26th anniversary was on Monday, July 15. We kept the three grandchildren here in the evening while Tim and Elizabeth and Mose and Susan ran some errands. It’s always fun to have them here.

Tim and Elizabeth came for supper tonight. With it being so hot the girls made supper out on the grill, which helped keep the house cooler. Tim and Elizabeth will leave two-year-old Abigail here for the night. She is excited to stay and has her little overnight bag. She showed me her little toothbrush. She wants to sleep upstairs with the girls. They are much more fun to her than Grandma—smile!

Tomorrow is Tim’s 94-year-old grandmother’s funeral. She leaves to mourn her children, 67 grandchildren, 255 great-grandchildren, and 30 great-great-grandchildren, if I have it correct. A lot of the family is in this community, so the funeral will be largely attended, I’m sure. It sounds like it will be another hot, humid day. Tim and Elizabeth decided to leave Abigail here instead of taking her to the funeral. It was a little hard for them to leave without Abigail, but she never changed her mind and wanted to stay the night. She told Elizabeth to not be sad, “because you still have baby T.J. to hug.” T.J. is seven months old today and is such a lively, happy baby.

We received our new Michigan Amish Directory, which is so interesting to look through. The directory is renewed every four years. Michigan now has 47 Amish communities, with two being in the Upper Peninsula. It is always interesting to look through the updated information. It also says in these 47 communities that there are a total of 114 church districts and 2,673 households. In 1975 there were three Amish communities in Michigan and six church districts and 127 households.

It is later in the evening now. Abigail brushed her teeth with daughter Verena and went up to bed. She is settling down well and happy to stay all night here. I am ready to call it a day as well.

Good night to all, and God bless!

 

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup water, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin
1 quart (4 cups) stemmed and sliced strawberries
1 (9-inch) baked pie shell
Whipped cream or topping

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup water with the cornstarch. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and slowly add the cornstarch mixture. Cook until clear. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Allow to cool. Add sliced strawberries. Mix to coat. Pour into baked pie shell, then add whipped topping.

Note: Peach pie can be made in this same way. Substitute peach gelatin and 4 cups sliced peaches.

 

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.

Many blessings as newlyweds begin life as one

Tonight was daughter Lovina’s eighth-grade graduation. Her class has 23 students. Our school is a small public school and is very close-knit. Friday is the school picnic, then school doors will close for another term.

Lovina’s school days will be over. She said she will miss seeing her friends but is excited to be done. Son Kevin will be the last of our children to graduate eighth grade next year. Time goes much too fast.

I had a nice 48th birthday on May 22 even though it was spent at sister Emma and Jacob’s house preparing for the Friday wedding of niece Elizabeth and Manuel. Thank you so much for all the cards and gifts. They are greatly appreciated.

Saturday before the wedding, the cook wagon with six stoves and two stainless steel sinks and much counter space arrived. Also a portable restroom, which saves the bathroom in the house from getting used so much. A walk-in cooler and freezer were brought in, and also the storage wagon with tables and everything needed for a 360-place setting. Everything you need to cook for over 1,000 guests is included in this wedding wagon package.

Hundreds of people typically attend Amish weddings. The meal after the ceremony is served in multiple sittings. Each couple chooses special colors. Female attendants sew their dresses in these colors, and the tables at the meal are decorated in the same colors. One corner (called an “eck” in Pennsylvania Dutch) is reserved for the bride and groom and their attendants and decorated with special memorabilia. Photo by Ruth Boss

On Saturday, tables were set up and set with all the china. They were then covered to keep them clean for the next week. Also, over 30 loaves of bread were toasted for the dressing and bagged.

 

Sister Liz, Jacob and Emma’s neighbor Laura, and I were asked to be head cooks. On Saturday, Laura and I made up the grocery list with the amounts of everything needed. Emma had a good start on her shopping.

In addition to 75 pies, the cooks prepared 16 s’mores cakes for guests to enjoy at the wedding of Manuel and Elizabeth. Photo by Ruth Boss

Wednesday and Thursday, women arrived to help prepare food. They cut up 600 pounds of chicken, baked 16 cakes and 75 pies, and prepared 16 pans of orange cream cheesecake. Vegetables were shredded and diced for the dressing and salad, and so many more little jobs that needed to be done or to make less work for Friday morning. Also over 30 loaves of bread were baked.

On the wedding day almost 400 pounds of potatoes were peeled and cooked for mashed potatoes. Manuel’s uncle grilled the 600 pounds of chicken. The menu included gravy, chicken noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, hot peppers, bread, fresh rhubarb jam and butter, s’mores cake, orange cream cheesecake, rhubarb, pumpkin, and cherry pies, fresh fruit (watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries), and candy bars.

The cook wagon outfit was being picked up Saturday at 7 a.m., so all was loaded and packed back in by 10 p.m. Friday. Some of the neighbors, Timothy, Elizabeth, Mose, Susan, Joe, and I helped get everything packed. The pole barn and tent looked empty, but it makes for a quick clean up.

I wish Elizabeth and Manuel many blessings as they begin life as one. May God always be their guide. I’m sure Jacob and Emma’s house seems empty this week with Elizabeth moved to her new home and only the three boys left. Life brings changes!

A lovely quilted wall hanging with Manuel and Elizabeth’s names greeted guests at the meal after the wedding ceremony. Photo by Ruth Boss

I want to thank my friend Ruth for once again helping out at a wedding and for writing my column. She does so much for all of us. She picks up my mail and delivers it here. I am sorry for the delayed responses to readers who wrote, but that is next on my list. Thanks to all of you!

Joe’s uncle Solomon from Dundee, Ohio, came here after the wedding to spend the night. Joe and I made breakfast for him before he left Saturday morning.

We recently had a visit from Joe’s youngest sibling—his sister Susan and her sons Freddie and Seth. They stayed for supper, and the cousins didn’t take long to get reunited with each other.

God’s blessings to each and every one!

 

Orange Cream Cheesecake 

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
1 (3-ounce) package orange gelatin
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip

 Topping:
2 cups Cool Whip
1/4 cup sugar

Crust: Combine cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and butter. Press into bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Filling: Prepare gelatin according to package directions. Set aside 1/2 cup at room temperature. Chill remaining gelatin until slightly thickened, about 80 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Gradually beat in evaporated milk and lemon juice on medium speed for 2 minutes. Gradually beat in orange juice concentrate, vanilla, and room-temperature gelatin. Fold in Cool Whip and pour over prepared crust.

Topping: Beat together Cool Whip and sugar. Beat in refrigerated gelatin. Mixture will be thin. Chill for 30 minutes. Gently spoon over filling. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Note: We place mandarin orange slices on top. Delicious!

 

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.

How to cook for a wedding crowd

A guest post from Lovina’s English (non-Amish) friend Ruth Boss.

This week Lovina is busy with preparations for niece Elizabeth and Manuel’s Friday wedding, so she has asked me to share about the work being done in the days before the wedding. The wedding wagons arrived last week, so Saturday the tables were all set up in the barn and the china, silverware, and glasses were all set. The wedding wagons include a cook wagon that has two sinks, five stoves, and all the cookware needed to prepare for a large gathering. There is a refrigerated wagon and a wagon that has two self-contained washrooms. The church bench wagon supplied the benches for the dinner tables, and another church’s bench wagon was borrowed to set up benches in the barn of neighbors Andrew and Laura, where the actual ceremony will be held.

Wednesday morning it was raining heavily when the women arrived to start the cooking. On the wall inside of the cook wagon was a list of jobs to be done for that day. Each woman chose a job and quickly went to work. Bread was cubed and baked for dressing, and potatoes, carrots, and onions were chopped for the dressing also. Rhubarb was chopped for pies and jam, pie dough crust was mixed, and chocolate and vanilla cakes were baked in round pans. The women enjoy conversation while they work, catching up on things like family activities, gardening, and church events. They speak in Dutch (high German) but politely switch to English when I am in the conversation. There is a good amount of laughter and teasing, especially with Lovina’s sisters. There was even a little Amish “dancing” when a little mouse decided to make an appearance in the cook wagon in the middle of the food prep.

 

Lovina, sister Liz, and neighbor Laura are the head cooks for the wedding. After the menu is decided the head cooks determine how much food is needed and make a large grocery list. They help schedule the women who come to do the food prep and assign coffee time treats, lunch casseroles, salads, and desserts for the meals they share on workdays. The quantity of food that needs to be prepared to make 1,000 meals seems overwhelming to an outsider, but they make it seem easy and the work goes along quite seamlessly. If one person steps away from washing dishes to get finished pies from the oven, another quickly steps in and takes over the dishes. There is a quiet and simple cadence to their work, which is consistent with their lifestyle.

Thursday morning began with a good storm, but by mid-morning the sun was shining. The pie crusts were made, pie fillings were prepared, and all the pies were baked. The pumpkin pie, rhubarb pie, and cherry pie all baking at once make a delightful medley of aromas. The bread dough was also mixed, and after rising it was made into small loaves and baked. The fresh-bread smell is as mouthwatering as the pies! Outside the cook wagon the strawberries, grapes, and blueberries are being washed for the fruit salad. Yesterday’s cakes are being frosted, and the orange cheesecake dessert is being assembled.

The men set up the tent outside the barn, and tables and benches were set to accommodate all the guests. In the house the young girls are playing with the small children and the house is getting a good once-over. Windows are being shined, floors swept and mopped, and furniture polished. Next week, Lovina will share more about the special wedding day.

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.