Category Archives: Desserts

An Amish baptismal service and wedding Nothings

Another week has gone by, and it’s already time to write this column and get it on its way to my editors. Once again, I’m pushing the deadline . . . it must be that I work better under pressure because it seems I so often push it off until the last minute. Or maybe that is what a lot of mothers do. Is it because we decide our family is more important than anything else?

We had a few cloudy, rainy days and now our solar battery alarm is beeping out in the pole barn. That means the generator has to be started in order to recharge the battery pack. Our water pump is run by our solar battery. So far, we have water, but as soon as it gets to be daylight, someone needs to go get gas at the gas station. Yes—at 11 p.m. last night, after everyone was already in bed, daughter Loretta could hear the battery beeping. It was too late for anyone to go get gas, the gas stations near us were closed, and we didn’t have any gas left in the jugs. Of course, during the night hours no one was using water, so it was okay until this morning when activity began again. I am waiting to take a shower until the gas is here. I do not want to risk running out of water in the middle of a shower. Hopefully once it’s daylight, the sun will come out, but the generator still needs to be started to help get the charge back in the battery pack.

Daughter Susan and children were here yesterday. Son-in-law Mose had a doctor appointment about his finger. The doctor took the stitches out but wasn’t too happy with how it’s healing. So still no “okay” to go back to work. Susan brought her laundry and washed it here. We will wash ours today if it’s a nice day.

Daughter Elizabeth and children have plans to come today. Our oldest granddaughter Abigail (Tim and Elizabeth’s daughter) will be four years old tomorrow, September 10. Abigail is a sweet little girl who is at the stage where she asks one question after another—and then asks, “but why?” We love her so much, as we do the four other grandchildren. We will go to Tim and Elizabeth’s on Friday evening in honor of sweet Abigail’s birthday. She gets so excited to have a birthday!

Yesterday we canned fifty-five quarts of vegetable juice. We didn’t make it hot, so that I can use it in place of tomato juice in soups, etc. We picked six five-gallon sized buckets of tomatoes from the garden. Potatoes need to be dug up, hot peppers picked and canned, etc. Harvesting is in full swing with the gardens. Grapes will be next on the list.

On Sunday, Mose and Susan hosted baptismal services in a big tent at their place for daughter Loretta, nephew Jacob, and another young boy in our church district, Jeremiah. They prepared for extra people and had borrowed another bench wagon from a neighboring church district. I’m doing a rough estimate, but according to how many times we had to reset the tables, I would think almost three hundred people were there in honor of the three young souls being baptized. Mose and Susan were well prepared with extra food, and we had enough for everyone. I made around two and a half big pots of coffee and we still almost ran out. This would probably total two hundred cups. We also had twelve gallons of iced tea, but it was a cool day, so people wanted more coffee instead.

Also on the menu were ham, cheese, homemade wheat and white bread (sixty loaves but we had some left), pickles, hot peppers, red beets, peanut butter spread, butter, rhubarb jam, and cookies (four different kinds). Popcorn was served while dishes were being washed.

Mose and Susan are living in their garage, but work on the house is slowly getting done. The bedroom, living room, and bathroom are drywalled, and my husband Joe started mudding the bathroom, so hopefully soon we can paint that part of the house.

Until next time—God bless! I will share the recipe for “Nothings” since I have had a lot of mail asking what they are. They are a thin pasty with sugar sprinkled on top. They are almost always served at weddings in Berne, Indiana, where we moved from over sixteen years ago. They are sometimes also called knee patches or elephant ears.

Amish Wedding Nothings for an Eicher family wedding. Photo credit: Ruth Boss.

Amish Wedding Nothings, or Knee Patches

3/4 cup cream (3 large “cookspoons” heavy cream)
1 egg, well beaten
pinch salt
2 cups flour
shortening, for frying
powdered sugar, for topping

Stir together cream, egg, salt, and enough flour to make an elastic dough. Make 7–9 balls out of the dough. Roll out each ball of dough very flat and thin, about 1/16 inch. Cut six three-inch slits, one above the other, in the middle of each round of dough.

Heat shortening in a large pot over high heat (or use an electric skillet with a temperature control). When the shortening is 365 degrees, test a small piece of dough to see if it sizzles. When oil is hot enough, put the rolled-out dough into the pot or skillet. (Fry one at a time, unless you have a huge kettle.) When the dough turns golden on the bottom, turn once with two forks or large spatula. Remove from pot and drain on plate covered with paper towels.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over top while warm. To serve, stack the Nothings on top of one another on a plate.

One batch makes 7–9 Nothings. For a wedding, we would make 12-15 batches, or more as needed.

 

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

Remembering a baby’s arrival

A happy fifteenth birthday to the last of our eight children! Son Kevin’s birthday is today. It’s amazing how the years fly by. I thought it would be interesting to share the column daughter Elizabeth wrote to help me out after Kevin was born. She was eleven years old and in fifth grade.

Written by Elizabeth in September 2005—

“I told Mom I would write for her this week as she’s very busy taking care of my new baby brother.

Baby Kevin was born September 2 at 7:27 a.m. He weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces and was 21 inches long. We are excited to have a new baby again but we try to give little sister Lovina extra attention so she doesn’t get jealous.

Aunts Verena and Susan took care of us seven children while Mom and Dad were in the hospital. They were there two days and two nights. We were glad when they came back home. Baby Kevin has yellow jaundice and was supposed to stay in the hospital, but they let Dad and Mom bring him home for treatment. We have to keep a light called a biliblanket on him. Mom has to switch the baby from its back to front every two hours. We try to help Mom at nights when we’re home from school.

Aunts Verena and Susan came last night to help, and Aunt Emma and Cousin Benjamin stayed with Mom, Joseph, Lovina, and Baby Kevin while we were in school. Emma will come again today. Our neighbors brought supper in one night which we really enjoyed.

Mom has to take Kevin to the hospital every day to get a bilirubin test on his yellow jaundice. When it gets under 10, Kevin can have the light taken off.

I have to go to bed now so I can get up earlier to help Mom pack Dad’s lunch and get his breakfast. It is hard to believe Kevin is already six days old. We really enjoy him. I hope I wrote enough.”

Elizabeth was always a letter writer and did a good job for her age. At the end of the column I will share the recipe she shared for after-school no-bake cookies.

Life back then was busy, and I always thought once the children are older it would slow down. It seems we are busy in different ways now.

Saturday, we were all helping at daughter Susan and Mose’s. While the men and boys worked on their remodeling in the house, the women and girls helped weed the garden and clean up corners outside.

Mose tied their pony outside to enjoy some grass out by an older building. All at once, we noticed the pony was going crazy and saw lots of bees swarming around him. Son-in-law Tim and son Benjamin ran to rescue the pony and were covered with bees coming at them. They both had a lot of bee stings. Benjamin’s stings started to swell, and we were worried he could be having an allergic reaction. I went to call our doctor and followed his instructions. About forty-five minutes to an hour later, Benjamin finally felt relief.

Mose is still off work from his accident. The doctor thinks it may possibly be two weeks before he returns. Life brings us disappointments, but we know God has a plan and He makes no mistakes.

Yesterday I cut out and sewed Loretta’s baptismal suit, finally fitting it into my schedule.

Daughter Verena had to go to the eye doctor as her eyes were giving her problems again. She has a scratch on her pupil from years ago when she was detasseling corn. It fires up once in awhile and swells up. The eye doctor thinks she should go to a specialist to see why it is always giving her problems.

God’s blessings to all!

 

After-School No-Bake Cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup peanut butter
5 cups corn flakes

Heat sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan just to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Measure the corn flakes into a large mixing bowl. Pour on the hot cocoa mixture and stir. Turn the coated cereal into an oblong pan. Press into an even layer. Let stand until cool before cutting into 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, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

July birthdays and zucchini bars

It’s Wednesday morning and the humidity has gone, leaving us with a much cooler morning. We had a light shower this morning, which we needed. Our hay was out last night, and hopefully the rain didn’t affect it too much.

It seems quiet around here this morning, with Mose, Susan, Jennifer, and Ryan not staying here anymore. They are living in a travel trailer (RV) at their place so that Mose can work evenings on their house. They have a gas stove and refrigerator and running water in there so they can shower, etc. They also have part of their garage set up that they can stay in during the day. Susan is still washing her laundry here because she doesn’t have water hooked up in their garage. Yesterday we washed our clothes and filled the lines and then we washed her clothes. By that time a lot of our clothes were dry so we could make space for hers.

Grandson Ryan’s first birthday cake. Photo provided.

On Monday, July 27th grandson Ryan turned a year old. They had his birthday party here at our house because there is more room. They gave Ryan a small cake to eat and did he have fun! He smashed the frosting up in his mouth. It was so cute. We sang Happy Birthday and he smiled and knew he was getting all the attention. Ryan isn’t walking yet, although he stands by himself for a little while and tried to take a few steps. He walks by furniture, and it doesn’t take him long to climb steps although we don’t let him do it without us watching him. Ryan now shares his birthdate with niece Emma and Menno’s newborn son. Menno Ray was born at 12:05 p.m. on July 27th. He joins a sister Jessica Rose, 18 months. Menno Ray also has a cousin, Austin, who turned two on July 27th. Austin’s parents, Benji and Margaret, live at the next place over from Menno and Emma and are in our church district. So three little boys all share the same day, all a year apart.

Ryan loves his Grandpa Joe. He will crawl for him, laughing when he sees him. If I want to take him away from Joe, he turns toward Joe.

Last week my daughter Elizabeth and baby Allison, daughter Susan and Ryan, and son Kevin and I went to niece Elizabeth’s to assist her in cleaning. Manuel and Elizabeth will host church services for the first time on Sunday. They live in a neighboring church district and are still renting the house they live in. Grandchildren Abigail, Jennifer, and T.J. stayed here with my other daughters so that we were able to get more done at Elizabeth’s house. Sister Emma and Steven, and niece Emma and Jessica were also there for the day. Walls, ceilings, furniture, and windows were cleaned. Many hands make lighter work!

I have cucumbers from the garden and want to can pickles this week if time allows.

I also have dark green material to sew a dress for myself for niece Laura’s wedding next week, again, only if time allows. Son Kevin and I pulled the sweet onions from our garden. Now we need to tie them up to dry under the porch by the walk-out basement.

The girls and I made supper for four families in our church who have had new babies or surgeries. Now the girls are ready to go deliver them. We made meat loaf, potato casserole, and zucchini bars, which are easy to make and use up zucchini. Our daughter Elizabeth and Tim are keeping us well supplied.

Take care, stay healthy, and God bless!

Zucchini bars for church families. Photo provided.

Zucchini Bars
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
2 teaspoons soda

Combine all ingredients and bake in a cookie sheet pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting or sprinkle with chocolate chips when almost done baking.

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat well until mixture is smooth.

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

Annual family gathering and easy peach cream pie

On Saturday, July 11th, we all were awake and ready by 5:30 a.m., waiting for our ride on the bus to Monroe, IN to sister Leah and Paul’s house for the annual Coblentz gathering. Lo and behold, 6 a.m. rolled around and still no bus. Finally, we saw a bus pass by and soon after it headed back. Somehow a few wrong numbers in an address made quite the difference. The driver must have been frustrated to have to stop at three or four of our Amish neighbors’ houses. We could see the bus pull in and out of their driveways, so finally son Benjamin jumped on his bike and waved the driver down. Everyone was waiting to load up when he pulled in, so we still made good time. We stopped at a nearby McDonalds for breakfast. Daughter Elizabeth took everyone’s order and called them in the night before, so the waiting time wasn’t as long. With only the drive-thru open, it isn’t easy for a big bus load of people. Every order was marked for each family. It all worked out well. Then we headed for the interstate while everyone enjoyed their breakfast while visiting. It was very enjoyable to all be together. With almost thirty people on the bus, it wasn’t quiet, but it was an enjoyable, fun ride. The last time Jacob and Emma, sisters Verena and Susan, and our family all fit in the same vehicle was sixteen-and-a-half years ago when we started land shopping in Michigan. Daughter Elizabeth was nine at that time and is twenty-six now.

Our family totals around 110 now and if I’m counting right, everyone was there except six nieces and nephews and their families.

The noon meal was more than enough food with all the side dishes and desserts added to the hot meal Paul and Leah provided.

I forgot to mention that the bus had a lift so nephew Jacob and daughter Loretta could take their mobility scooters along.

Of course, my parents and brother Amos were greatly missed. Invitations to the wedding of brother Amos and Nancy’s youngest daughter, Laura, were passed out. She and Enos have set August 6 for their wedding day. Amos and Nancy had ten children—eight daughters and two sons. This is their eighth wedding to prepare for. Nancy has her youngest son Sam still at home with her. The newlyweds, Enos and Laura, will make their home with Nancy and son Sam for now.

Singing took place in the afternoon and everyone brought snacks to enjoy before we headed home at 4 p.m.

We arrived home in Michigan around 6:30 p.m.

It was time to prepare for church services at a young married couple’s house a few miles from here the next day. Daughter Loretta had her fifth service of following instructions for the eighteen articles of faith that the Amish youth take before getting baptized. All the church ministry and members have been so helpful to make sure everything is easy for Loretta and nephew Jacob with their handicaps. It is greatly appreciated and makes us appreciate the love. So often, we take our health for granted and do not think of the effort it takes others to do the same things we do. It causes a lot of discouragement for them, and even for me as a parent, when they have a bad day of accepting that they cannot do what others their age can. I know they have greater compassion for others through their handicaps. May God bless the youth that take time to stop and reach out to them. You have no idea what it means when their challenge is so much greater than ours. The kingdom of heaven will have no handicaps. God bless.

Easy Peach Cream Pie

3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 (9-inch) pie crust (unbaked)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
dash of salt
1 cup heavy cream.
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place peaches in the pie crust. Beat eggs slightly in bowl; blend in sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in cream and vanilla; blend well. Pour over peaches. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, or until center shakes slightly when moved.

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

 

Wedding memories and Mother’s raisin pie

July 15 was our twenty-seventh anniversary. Lots of memories throughout the years since Joe and I were married.

Tables decorated for Lovina and Joe Eicher’s wedding in 1993. Photo provided.

 

This is what my mother wrote in her column in July 1993 about our wedding. Mother wrote,

The weather was ideal for the wedding of daughter Lovina to Joe Eicher. Lots of work at such a time.

The Tuesday before the wedding, which was Thursday, July 15, about two dozen women came to help. They baked 90 pies (oatmeal, cherry, raisin, and rhubarb) and made 14 batches of nothings. Didn’t really want that many pies, but that number came upon us before we knew or thought of it. Well anyways no worry to run out of pies.

Wednesday about a dozen girls came to peel potatoes, cut up vegetables for the dressing and make potato salad for which I had cooked a twenty-quart cooker full of potatoes. Also, the tables were set and the last minute cleaning done. Our wash house or shed saw lots of life out there, as all the work was done in there to prepare for the wedding ceremony. Wednesday evening quite a few of our friends came to see the wedding tables, and refreshments were served to the ones that came. It was an enjoyable evening.

Then came the wedding day. We started to fry chicken (300 pounds) at 4:15 a.m. which was served for dinner. Had enough for supper too and also served boneless ham. Our meals consisted of chicken and noodles, gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, chicken, buttered corn, green beans (which came out of our garden), pork and beans, potato salad, carrot salad, lettuce salad (plenty from the garden), hot peppers, Swiss cheese, fruit salad, tapioca pudding, pies, cakes, nothings, celery sticks, coffee, bread, rhubarb jam, and butter. There were around 18 skillets used to fry the chicken. We cooked 3 twenty-quart cookers of potatoes for dinner for mashed potatoes and 2 twenty-quart cookers for chicken and noodles. In the afternoon we again cooked over 3 twenty-quart cookers of potatoes to be mashed and more chicken and noodles for supper. Also 16 quarts of gravy. There were 28 women to prepare the meals. We could seat 98 people in the house and 70 in the wash house. The tool shed was cleaned out where the wedding services were held and later used to set up a table for the children for the noon and evening meals. We had quite a crowd here for both meals. Well enough of this for now. What a relief to have it over with.

I have so many precious memories of mother and how much she did for her family.

Joe was called back in to work this week after being laid off since March 23. It sure is a relief to us to have his income coming in again.

Yesterday, son Benjamin turned twenty-one, so he wanted the family to come home for supper. He ordered out pizza and wings for all of us. What a treat is was! Chips, cheeseball and crackers, and ice cream were also added to the menu. I didn’t get time to make a cake and didn’t for daughter Loretta’s birthday either. With son Joseph’s birthday coming up next week, it looks like we will have one cake for all the July birthdays. It’s almost too much cake for one month if we have three. Benjamin said he wouldn’t eat cake anyway, so he didn’t care that there wasn’t a cake.

Since I am running out of space, I will write about our family gathering at sister Leah and Paul’s house next week.

I will share the recipe for Mother’s raisin pie. God bless!

 

Raisin Pie

 2 (8-inch) unbaked pie crusts
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons clear gelatin
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use one crust to line an 8-inch pie pan. Cook the raisins with water to cover in a kettle over medium heat until plump and juicy, about 15 to 30 minutes. In a bowl, make a thickening with the gelatin, salt, sugar, vinegar, and water. Pour into the raisin mixture. Cook until the mixture is thick enough to stick to a spoon. Add more sugar if it is not sweet enough for you. Pour into the pie shell. Cover the top with the remaining pie crust and seal and flute the edges. Cut slits in the center for steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Makes 1 (8-inch) pie.

 

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

A fun day out for Amish garage sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Caramel Pecans

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Summer brings outdoor church and rhubarb treats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Go Anywhere Rhubarb Bars

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

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

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

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

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

Birthdays and Rhubarb Custard Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

 

Rhubarb Custard Pie

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Mail from readers brightens Lovina’s day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strawberry Freeze

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Cheese Favorites and Apple Cinnamon Bread

On January 31, it was two years since brother Amos passed away in his sleep and shocked all of us. He was only 56 years old and left his wife Nancy, children, grandchildren, one brother, and six sisters to mourn. He is so greatly missed by many. We know God makes no mistakes, so we do not question why.

Friday evening, we traveled the five and one-half miles to daughter Mose and Susan’s house for the birthday supper honoring Mose, Susan, and Jennifer. On the menu were tater tot casserole, barbequed chicken, coleslaw, sliced cheese, and cake.

A reader recently asked why cheese is included with most of our meals. I think our love of cheese is a family thing. I remember my parents ordering their cheese by the horn from our milkman, and the money to pay for it would just be taken out of their milk check.

After Joe and I were married we also sent milk in with a milk truck that picked up our two stainless steel cans of milk every day. We ordered our cheese from him the same way my parents did. We eat mostly colby cheese, but like Velveeta in grilled cheese sandwiches as well. We also buy Swiss cheese for a change, but our children love colby with their meals. We go through a lot of cheese; with packing lunches every day and putting some in their sandwiches, it doesn’t take long to use up a horn of cheese. My neighbor Susan has a bakery and also sells some bulk foods, so I usually order my cheese from her. It is much cheaper to buy it by the horn than by the pound.

It’s nice to have a big griddle to fry eggs when Lovina’s daughters and grandchildren come home for breakfast. Photo provided.

Friday afternoon I sent sons Benjamin, 20, and Joseph, 17, to get a few groceries for me in town. I ordered two heads of lettuce so I could make a salad to take along to Mose and Susan’s. They usually do pretty well with getting my groceries, but saw the heads of cabbage, and thinking they were lettuce, bought two heads. That is how we ended up having coleslaw for supper. We did give them a hard time about it, but I am glad they went shopping for me. Joseph always likes lettuce with his sandwich for lunch. I asked him if I should put cabbage in there instead. I told them next time to feel how much heavier cabbage is than lettuce. I can’t complain though, because they do a good job of running after my errands, and coleslaw tasted good for a change. I usually only make coleslaw when I have cabbage from my garden.

Monday, Baby Allison was a month old and Ryan was six months old. Time does not stand still! Daughter Elizabeth took Allison to the pediatrician in town for her one-month checkup. T.J., age 1, also went with her, so daughters Verena and Lovina went along to help her. Abigail, 3, stayed here with Loretta and me.

We washed our laundry in the basement and Abigail was so entertained by playing. I opened a tote of toys our children used to play with including all their tea sets and little dishes. She was so fascinated that grandma finally has more toys. I don’t usually like to set them out as there are small items that T.J. would put in his mouth.

Allison now weighs 7 pounds 4 ounces and is 20 1/2-inches long. She was 6 pounds 1 ounce and 18 1/2-inches long at birth. She’s so petite but strong. So sweet!

Daughter Lovina helped Elizabeth and Tim on Tuesday, stayed overnight, and then came home with Elizabeth and children on Wednesday. Daughter Susan and children also came for the day. Mose came after work and they stayed for supper. Elizabeth and her three children left for home around five. She sure has her hands full; T.J. does not realize that climbing chairs and running on the table is dangerous. He is quite a handful to watch but is such a sweet and lovable little boy.

When Mose and Susan left for home, they told Jennifer to say thank you to grandma. She said, “thank you and welcome.” Such precious moments the grandchildren bring to us.

 

God’s blessings to all!

 

Apple Cinnamon Bread

1/3 cup brown sugar, unpacked
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 apple, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan. In a small bowl mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Peel and chop the apple and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the white sugar and butter until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time then add vanilla.

In a larger bowl, combine flour and baking powder then stir in the sugar/butter/egg mixture. Add the milk and stir until smooth.

Pour half the batter into prepared loaf pan. Layer half the apples and half the brown sugar mixture on top. Lightly pat apple layer into batter. Pour remaining batter over the apple layer, then top with remaining apples and brown sugar mixture, and pat into batter. Swirl through all layers with a knife. Bake 30–40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

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.