Category Archives: Desserts

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.

 

All that goes with preparing for a wedding—and birthdays and Mother’s Day too

We had a nice sunny day in the 70s. That was a welcome change after some cool rainy weather the past week. Yesterday was also nice and sunny, making laundry dry fast. It was rainy on Monday so I spent my day sewing and we postponed washing laundry until Tuesday.

I had a good day with sewing. I sewed daughter Lovina’s dress, cape, and apron for the wedding next week of niece Elizabeth. I also sewed two shirts for son Kevin and gray pants for the wedding. Yesterday I sewed daughter Verena’s dress, cape, and apron for the wedding. Now its daughter Loretta and my suits left to sew. I am hoping to work on that tomorrow.

Today daughter Elizabeth and Susan were home with their sweet little ones. They brought their sewing for the wedding along, so I helped them instead of working on mine. Elizabeth has a two-year-old and five-month-old baby, so I know how many interruptions you can have trying to do extra sewing. Elizabeth and Tim are also hosting church services in June, so she has cleaning that needs done as well. And of course it’s time to plant the gardens.

My husband Joe has been tending to our gardens since he’s not working anywhere yet. He’s planting extra in hopes we can sell some by the road. Radishes, lettuce, and corn are up despite the cooler weather we had. Rhubarb is ready to use, so I need to make rhubarb custard pies sometime. That is one of the pies sister Emma plans to have us make for her daughter’s upcoming May 24th wedding next week. I will take my rhubarb if she needs more.

Saturday, Joe and I will go help at Jacob and Emma’s house to unload the wedding tables and dishes for the wedding. Tables will be set and all that goes with preparing for a wedding.

Last week my daughters and I and sisters Verena and Susan helped sister Emma and her daughters Elizabeth and Emma put 216 eggs into noodles. My husband Joe went along to help brother-in-law Jacob with his work. Working together making noodles is always fun. Of course, many hands make lighter work.

Saturday is also daughter Lovina’s 15th birthday, so a happy birthday goes to her.

Sunday, Jacob and Emma’s family and we and our children all gathered at my sister’s house in honor of sister Susan’s birthday. We enjoyed a haystack brunch and dessert. After dishes were washed, some played croquet outside and the rest of us played Rummikub. This was my first time playing the game. It seems similar to Phase 10 but has tiles instead of cards.

Sunday was also nephew Benjamin’s 17th birthday and Mother’s Day as well. I have some nice hanging flowers on my porch from our children. Daughter Elizabeth and Tim had their flower along in the buggy to give to me Sunday at my sister’s house. When Tim brought it in to give to me, granddaughter Abigail started crying. She said she wanted to keep the flower. She loves flowers, and it was so cute to see her want to keep it. My sister Susan went outside and picked a few flowers for Abigail, which made her happy again.

Before we all left for home, sisters Verena and Susan heated up the leftover haystack, making a casserole of everything that was left over from brunch. Everyone ate before parting ways to go home. It was an enjoyable day together!

God’s blessings to all!

 

Apple Rhubarb Crisp

2 cups apples, cut fine
2 cups rhubarb, cut fine
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar

Mix apples, rhubarb, eggs, flour, sugar, and nutmeg together. Place in baking dish.

Topping: Combine butter, flour, and brown sugar to crumbly consistency mixture. Pour over apple-rhubarb mixture. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done. Serve with milk 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, 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.

Busy hours fill the day: Diary for April 17, 2019

4:00 a.m. I get up to pack lunch for son Joseph, 16, and make him breakfast before he leaves for work. They are working an hour away so they will start out earlier than usual.

4:30 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. I go back to bed until I need to get up to wake the children for school.

6:00 a.m. Alarm rings again. Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, start getting ready. They eat breakfast at school, as the school serves free breakfasts to all the students each morning.

6:45 a.m. Lovina leaves for school.

7:15 a.m. Kevin’s bus is here to pick him up. Kevin can now wheel his wheelchair down our ramp to the bus, so no one needs to help him. Coming home it’s harder for him to wheel his wheelchair up the ramp, so someone usually pushes him in.

8:00 a.m. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and children arrive with horse and buggy. Elizabeth is driving this week. They take turns each week. Son Benjamin, 19, goes out to take care of the horse for them. I help carry in the little ones. Abigail is awake but just too tired to walk in so she still wants Grandma to carry her in the house. Jennifer is smiling and in a good mood. Baby Timothy is four months old today and is as lively as ever. He is so active and rolls over and over.  He’s not safe on a bed and moves all over already. He looks like his daddy and is always smiling. So precious when he reaches his little hands out to come to Grandma.

My husband Joe is home, so he gets to enjoy the grandchildren too. Benjamin is off work this week as the RV factory he works for is shut down this week. He has been hauling manure out to the fields every day.

8:45 a.m. We are ready to eat breakfast, which consists of fried eggs and potatoes, ham, cheese, toast, butter and jelly, and coffee and grape juice. Daughters Verena and Loretta help get the little girls fed. Abigail and Jennifer love their aunts.

9:30 a.m. Verena and Loretta wash dishes and watch the little ones while Elizabeth, Susan, and I go down to the basement to start cleaning. On Monday, Susan was here and we cleaned the can room where we have shelves of all our canned food. That is a big job done. Susan cleans the windows and Elizabeth helps me organize and mop the floors, dust, etc. With our coal stove in the basement it causes a lot of dust down there.

Joe and Benjamin are cleaning out our pole barn where we will have church services in. It seems somehow things accumulate over winter. On Monday son-in-law Mose and Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin helped Joe run new water lines in the pole barn where we have cabinets and a kitchen sink, and also to the bathroom. This winter a pipe froze, breaking the hot water line, so we didn’t have any water out there. They ran a new kind of pipe and did better insulating. I’m glad that is done. It will be nice to do my canning out there this summer.

1:00 p.m. Verena and Loretta have lunch ready so we all gather in the kitchen to eat. We have chicken noodle soup and leftover pizza from supper last night.

2:00 p.m. We all go back to our work. Verena and Loretta rock the little girls for their naps. Elizabeth fed baby Timothy and he is sleeping.

3:15 p.m. Kevin is home from school.

3:30 p.m. Lovina is home from school and gives Abigail a swing ride. Jennifer is taking a walk with Verena. She’s still learning how to walk good over bumpy surfaces.

4:30 p.m. The girls leave for home.

5:30 p.m. Joseph is home from work. Benjamin has evening chores done.

6:30 p.m. Supper is ready. Campfire stew, cheese, and crackers are on the menu.

7:30 p.m. Dishes are washed and everyone is getting cleaned up for the day.

9:30 p.m. Everyone has gone to bed. Good night to all! God bless!

Note: I would also like to mention that a reader wrote explaining that the math in the column for the week of 3/18/19 isn’t correct. So I thought I needed to give credit to daughter Lovina, who wrote the column, and mention that it wasn’t her mistake but a publishing typo.

Daughter Lovina thanks all of you for the very nice letters written to her. I also want to thank everyone for the letters and cards of encouragement to our family

 

Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars

Crumbs:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks margarine

Filling:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1 (16 oz) rhubarb filling (any kind of fruit filling is good; see recipe below)

Crumbs: Mix ingredients together, reserving 1 1/2 cups; put the rest into a 13 x 9-inch pan, pressing flat. Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

Filling: Mix cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk and pour over baked crust. Top with rhubarb filling (see below) and add the reserved crumbs on top. Bake 20–40 minutes.

Rhubarb filling:

3 cups rhubarb
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook together on medium heat.

 

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.

With tongue in cheek, young Lovina says: Homework should be illegal

Dear readers. Today I, Lovina (youngest daughter of Lovina), thought I’d give Mom a little break and write her weekly column. In case any of you are confused, I was named after my Mom so we share the same name.

Although I’m not as busy as my Mom, it takes 90 percent of my energy to put so much brain into schoolwork! I think homework should be illegal, it is physically and mentally too stressful for our bodies.

For instance, when I ask Mom to help me with my homework, it doesn’t really get me anywhere. She’s smart but she wastes ten percent of the little time I have by doing the multiplication problems on paper instead of using the calculator.

I never thought I needed school. I always knew I was born a natural genius. Just don’t go asking any family members; they probably have stories that would tell you differently. Anyway, there’s no trying to get out of school now. Although I did try to get people to fall for my theory about being a natural genius, I gave up since this is my last year.

I’m going to be graduating from eighth grade middle school in May. Time flies, it seems like yesterday I was in kindergarten. Even though sometimes I forget I’m not an adult yet.

Sometime this month we are going to present our school portfolios. I think there is a special name for it, but I forget. After presenting our portfolio to our parents and some other people, we will serve them dinner. The best part is that we eighth graders get to bake the food for them ourselves. If I’m any good at that kind of stuff like my Mom is, then the food should be edible. The school also hires a comedian to come in and be funny, I think. I’m nervous abut presenting the portfolio but other then that it sounds like fun.

Right now Loretta and Verena are making cookies. I should be helping them but I get the fun part of eating them.

The weather here has warmed up a lot today. I can’t complain, I’ve been looking forward to it warming up. Earlier this week I had just started thinking that winter had left us … and then of course it snowed. On the bright side, there is still no doubt of me being a genius. I’m right 99.9 percent of the time. Apparently when it snowed that was the one percent of time I was wrong.

I should go get started on supper, and then go outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. My brothers Joseph and Ben are doing chores. Kevin is reading his new sets of books that Mom got him. He is very proud of his books and gives me strict instructions on how to use them properly if I ask to read one.

Kevin asks me the most random questions that even I don’t know what they mean. Then when I can’t make sense of it, I sit in silence, which rarely happens with me. What else is there to do when my head is spinning in confusion?

Anyway, I’m going to help Mom and my sister make supper. Or the next question Kevin will be asking is, “Is supper ready yet?”

God bless you all! I will share one of my favorite recipes.

Oatmeal Pie

2 eggs, slightly beaten

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup white corn syrup

3/4 cup quick oats

1/4 cup melted butter

 

Combine eggs, sugar, and corn syrup and mix well. Add oats and butter and mix well. Pour into a 9-inch pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, 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 the factory doesn’t have work, try not to worry

It’s 4:30 a.m. and son Benjamin, 19, just left for work. My husband Joe left over an hour ago to travel to his job. Joe has been working at the RV factory for over 14 years now. He has a 45-minute drive to and from the factory. With the road conditions this winter we can’t be thankful enough when they get there and back safely every day. Son-in-law Mose and Joe ride with a man who also works there and doesn’t live too far from us.

Next week there isn’t any work at the RV factory so Joe has a week off again. It sure makes a few more worries to not have that paycheck. I often think of the words “why worry if you can pray?” God always provides some way or another. Do we thank him enough for our many blessings?

Joe and son Joseph, 16, have plans to build a few extra horse stalls in our barn as we are in need of more. We can get lumber really reasonable from a man in our church district that has a sawmill.

This morning we leave at 6:00 a.m. for Ann Arbor. Daughter Loretta, 18, has an appointment there. Also son Kevin, 13, has an appointment at the children’s hospital. He hopes to get his cast removed and get an air cast. He will be so happy to be out of the wheelchair. It’s been a long six weeks for him. We really appreciated all the cards and gifts given to him. This week the Amish School in our church district sent little gifts from their 19 students. How thoughtful! The small gifts were wrapped with calendar pages which looked really nice. I am hoping the highways are cleared off for today’s travels. Son Joseph will go with us to help with Kevin’s wheelchair.

Last week the doctor only took out half of my staples so I had the rest removed this week. No lifting yet so I need to be careful when my sweet little granddaughters come up and reach for me. They can not understand why grandma doesn’t carry them. I am trying to be careful as I have a blood clot in my leg. Last report from the doctor is that it is shrinking so I just need to be patient.

My sister Liz also had surgery and ended up in the hospital again with influenza and pneumonia. She was dismissed yesterday. We live two hours apart so its not so easy to visit. She isn’t allowed to be around anyone with coughs or colds for a while. We wish her a speedy recovery!

We also received word that my Uncle Elmer, 79, and Aunt Emma, 78, aren’t doing well. Emma is my mother’s sister. Elmer has stage-4 cancer and I didn’t hear what was wrong with Emma but it sounds like they both had hospital stays. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

We had more snow and ice this week. I sure am ready for spring! The temperature is 36 degrees this morning so at least it is warmer than it was.

Neighbor Susan, her daughter Melinda and her two little ones came for a visit one afternoon. My daughters were happy to see Susan brought our supper along. It gave them a break from cooking.

Last night they made a taco supper which is a pretty easy meal but always delicious! We had tortilla chips or soft tortilla shells along with taco seasoned hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, cheese, salsa and ranch dressing.

Until next week—God bless!

Cut-Out Cream Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup margarine
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
5 cups flour

Mix together all ingredients except flour. Fold in flour; dough will be soft. Chill for a few hours. Roll shapes and sprinkle with sugar or frost. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

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

Eight inches of snow and family birthdays bring January to a close

Twenty-three years ago today, January 24, we were blessed with our second daughter, Susan. Susan is now a wife and mother. Time goes too fast for me! Happy 23rd birthday, Susan!

Today is also my sister Liz’s 50th birthday. Liz is a little over two years older than I am. I am not looking forward to seeing that big 50 when I get there. But why complain if we have good health? Happy 50th, Liz!

Lovina, 14, and Kevin, 13, are on their way to school after having the day off yesterday. We had freezing rain and ice everywhere. There were so many accidents. I wish all the best to anyone who had an accident or fall during those few days.

Last weekend we received almost eight inches of snow so the children had some fun sledding. Kevin wasn’t too happy that he had to watch from inside the house. He’s not allowed to get his cast wet, so there was no going out in the snow for him.

Sons-in-law Tim and Mose, Dustin (Loretta’s special friend), husband Joe and sons Benjamin and Joseph dressed the big beef on Saturday that we gave to Tims’ and Moses’ for their Christmas. It is hanging out in the cold pole barn. Tomorrow plans are for Tim, Elizabeth and children, Mose, Susan and Jennifer to come here and cut up the beef. The girls are bringing their pressure cookers and canning jars, freezer bags, and other supplies. We will process and package all their meat in the heated part of our pole barn. It will be nice for them to have the mess all out there.

Joe, Tim, Mose and son Benjamin are all off work tomorrow. Dustin isn’t working either so I’m not sure if he will come to help. In any case, we will have plenty help.

Baby Timothy will be six weeks old on Monday. He is nine pounds now and 21 inches already— two pounds heavier and two inches longer than when he was born. Abigail is starting to love her little brother Timmy. She loves to help Elizabeth take care of him.

On Friday evening our family all gathered at daughter Susan and Mose’s house in honor of Jennifer’s first birthday. Pizza casserole, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, grilled deer steaks and pork chops, pudding, brownies and cupcakes were on the menu.

Jennifer enjoyed her first chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She loved getting to eat a whole one but mostly licked the frosting. Needless to say, she needed a bath afterward! When we arrived at Mose and Susan’s, there wasn’t any snow on the ground. By the time we left, there were quite a few inches and it was snowing hard all the way home. The wind made for some pretty huge drifts.

On Saturday while some worked on the beef, some cleaned out our driveway and sidewalks. Elizabeth and baby Timothy didn’t come along on Saturday. Abigail was excited she could still come with Daddy. She was all bundled up when Tim brought her in through the snow. Of course the girls and I had fun having her here. Daughter Susan and Jennifer came with Mose and spent the day here also.

This morning I will go to the hospital to have some tests done. I’m hoping that won’t take too long so we can do our laundry when I get home. Tomorrow we will be busy working on the beef.

Kevin seems to be doing okay with his casted leg and foot. Being stuck in his wheelchair does irritate him. He’s had a few tumbles out of the wheelchair from leaning too far forward trying to reach for something. He doesn’t like to ask us to get something for him; he wants to fend for himself. That’s a good thing, I guess. He has four more weeks until his appointment at the hospital in Ann Arbor. We are hoping they will remove the cast and put on an air cast.

I must get busy. My work doesn’t do itself, so I had better get with it. Stay safe and healthy! A reader requested the following recipe. God’s blessings to all!

Shoestring Apple Pie is the recipe of the week, but Lovina also baked an oatmeal pie, which her family clearly enjoyed.

Shoestring Apple Pie

2 cups shredded apples
1 (9-inch) pie crust, unbaked
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 heaping tablespoons flour
2 eggs, well beaten
2–3 tablespoons butter, melted
cinnamon

Place shredded apples in unbaked pie shell. Mix sugar, water, flour and eggs. Pour over apples. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn down to 325 degrees and bake just until set. Best if you let it set or refrigerate for at least 6 hours before eating.

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.

Serving as head cook for 1,000 wedding meals leaves Lovina a bit tired

The wedding for Menno and Emma is now history. We wish them a long and happy married life together, with God guiding their way. Once again we do all that work for just one day, but it’s a special day they will always remember. When two become one in a marriage until death do them part, it takes effort from both to make it a happy marriage. My prayer is for every couple to have a blessed marriage.

The cold weather made it harder to prepare for this wedding than for most, but we actually stayed pretty warm all day. The building in which the tables were set up seemed warm. The wedding wagon [a rented unit in which the food is prepared] was throwing a lot of heat, and with the big tall propane heaters the building warmed up. Wedding services were held on Friday at their neighbors’, in a big heated building.

Their neighbor lady Laura and I were head cooks, so our job was to make sure we had all the ingredients there to feed 1,000 people or more for the day. Six hundred pounds of chicken were grilled by Menno’s uncle. They started at 3:30 a.m. Four hundred pounds of potatoes were bought.

The wedding wagon came with plate settings for 360, but there was only room for 260 plate settings. We needed to save room in the building for heaters and a place to fill the serving bowls of food, which we would have done outside in warm weather.

Many neighbors, church members and family brought their buggies to help with food preparation before the wedding of Lovina’s niece. Photo courtesy of Ruth Boss.

Laura and I were there Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the Friday wedding. Cooks came on Wednesday and Thursday to help prepare food and do jobs that could be done before the actual wedding day. Sixty-four pies were baked, the chicken cut up and washed, 30 loaves of bread toasted for dressing, pudding prepared for peanut butter pie and dirt pudding, vegetables diced and shredded, plus so many more jobs completed.

The menu consisted of chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, noodles, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, dinner rolls, fruit topped with Danish dessert, angel food cake, dirt pudding, cherry, pecan and peanut butter pies, and candy bars. Ice cream was added to the menu for the evening meal.

Daughters Verena and Loretta and sons Benjamin and Joseph were all tablewaiters at the wedding (Loretta’s partner was her boyfriend Dustin). Daughter Lovina was a coffee server and son Kevin was a helper. He had to help pass the guestbook around and passed out little gifts to the guests such as pens with the bride and groom’s names and wedding date on it and also letter openers with the same on it. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan were cooks and their job was to make the many hundreds of dinner rolls fresh for the noon meal.

With the girls and I being there every day, our laundry kept piling up at home. On Saturday morning we finally washed our laundry, which was bigger than normal and then headed over to see if Jacob and Emma still needed help cleaning up. They had the cleaning up pretty well finished, and Menno and Emma were opening their wedding gifts. This is usually done on the day of the wedding under a tent, but with it being so cold outside, the tent wouldn’t have worked. I almost liked it better this way, because they could take their time and enjoy opening their gifts. Menno’s family was there to watch them open the gifts. I have to admit that I was tired by Saturday, so I didn’t mind getting out of cleaning up (smile!).

I want to thank my good friend Ruth for all she did to help us out over the wedding, and also for penning this column for me last week. My mind was going a thousand different directions, and I couldn’t concentrate to write.

I want to wish my daughter Verena a happy 21st birthday, which was on December 10. She is a great daughter, and I don’t know what I’d do without her or any of my children. It’s just so hard to believe she’s 21! Her two nieces adore their Aunt Verena.

God’s blessings to all!

Snowball Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup walnuts
powdered sugar (for coating cookies)

Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together. Crush walnuts until fine. Add to butter mixture. Slowly add flour to mixture until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill several hours.

After chilled, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drop the dough by small scoops onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool, then roll in powdered sugar.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

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

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

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Favorite Christmas goodies from the Eicher home to yours!

A simple way to turn standard chocolate chip cookies into festive goodies is to add colored M&M’s, or just use red and green M&M’s available at Christmas. Photo by Lucas Landis-Swartzentruber

Favorite Christmas goodies from the Eicher home to yours!

We are still busy getting prepared for niece Emma’s wedding next week. So this week I will share some recipes that we use over the holidays. Sour cream cut-out cookies are still our favorite Christmas cookie to decorate.

Enjoy! God bless you all!

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

This is an easy Christmas cookie that the kids like to cut out and decorate. It takes a lot longer when they help, but they enjoy it. Some of the shapes we cut them into include a Christmas tree and a bell. Sometimes I have to watch the younger children as they like to eat the dough. But with the raw eggs in there I don’t like them to. (And if you don’t have sour cream, here’s a substitute: Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 3/4 cup milk. Let set 5 or more minutes. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter. Mix well.)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until a soft, firm dough is formed. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place them on prepared baking sheet. Gather leftover dough, re-roll, and cut some more until all the dough is used up.

Bake until just turning golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 18 – 24 cookies, depending on shapes.

Frosting:
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
Food coloring (optional)
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

To make frosting: Cream shortening with vanilla and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to give you your desired thickness. Food coloring can also be added if you like. Spread the frosting on the cookies and decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips. Let the frosting set before storing.

Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Blend well. Chill dough at least one hour before handling. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Use gingerbread-man cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and decorate.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

20 ounces canned sweet or maraschino cherries, drained; reserve juice to add to batter
1/4 pound soft butter
1/2 cup cherry juice
2 pounds powdered sugar
Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix powdered sugar, juice, and butter thoroughly (handles better if you chill for awhile). Make small balls, press flat and cover cherries. Dip in chocolate within 2 two hours or it will be hard to dip. (Maraschino cherries make these easier to dip as they usually have stems on them.)

Peanut Butter Cups

1 pound of margarine
2 pounds of peanut butter
3 pounds of powdered sugar
Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix peanut butter and margarine, then work in powdered sugar. Shape into balls the size of big marbles. Dip in melted chocolate.

Mint Patties

1 box powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg (unbeaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 drops peppermint oil
Semi-sweet chocolate

Mix together real good and shape into patties. Dip in hot melted semi-sweet chocolate. Cool.

Note: this recipe contains one egg which is not cooked. Perhaps look for other alternatives, such as found here. Or simply leave the egg out. Thank you to RN Marjorie for alerting us to the potential risk for salmonella here.

Peanut Butter Fingers
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips

Frosting:
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Cream well the butter and sugars. Blend in peanut butter, egg, salt, and vanilla. Stir in flour and  oatmeal. Spread in greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 19-20 minutes Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes. Spread chocolate, then spread peanut butter frosting on top; swirl.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.