Category Archives: Desserts

Never a dull moment: remembering when baby Lovina was born

Today, May 18, is daughter Lovina’s thirteenth birthday. She is now a teenager. We now have five teenagers in the house so you can imagine there isn’t one dull moment.

I will never forget the day Lovina was born. I had gall bladder attacks before I had her which turned into pancreatitis. Lovina came three weeks early. She was born by emergency C-section and we were both in the hospital for a week as I had severe complications. I was so sick and was battling fever and my one lung almost collapsed. Due to being so sick, I wasn’t allowed to see the baby for two days. My husband Joe wanted to name the baby after me since she was born four days before my birthday. I spent my thirty-third birthday in the hospital and my gift was getting moved to a regular room from ICU. While I was in ICU Joe would go down a lot to the nursery and give Lovina her bottle. This was so different from my first six children that I had in my own bedroom. Joe’s aunt Sylvia was my midwife and she was always good at what she did.

Bessie and seven-week-old calf enjoy quiet moments in the pasture.

While I was in the hospital my sisters Verena and Susan stayed with our six children. Elizabeth was almost ten at the time and Joseph was twenty-two months. They had their hands full. Sister Emma and Jacob’s property was sold by public auction during this time so my sisters took all six children along to Indiana for the sale. Jacob and Emma helped out a lot too. And also our church families and neighbors. All this is just a memory to us now, but certain memories stand out more than others.

Lovina is now a sweet young girl and almost done with sixth grade. Lovina wants cupcakes for her birthday instead of a cake. She likes a whipped topping frosting. We are giving her a ripstick for her birthday. Joseph has a ripstick he got as a gift for Christmas. Lovina loves riding it. For those of you who don’t know what a ripstick is, it’s a caster board with two narrow platforms known as decks that are joined by a bar that has a strong spring. It’s on two wheels. I could never keep my balance to even try riding it.

Last Thursday my sisters Verena and Susan and I went to help at our neighbors to prepare for their daughter’s wedding. Vegetables were chopped, pies and bread baked, etc. All the women bring a dish so it makes having lunch easier.

Verena and Susan had a house to clean in the afternoon. I came home and we washed our clothes. Daughter Susan came home from work and helped get the clothes hung outside. They all dried really fast.

The wedding was on Friday for Regina and Wayne. Sisters Verena and Susan, daughter Susan, and I were all cooks at the wedding. Daughter Susan’s and my assignment was to make coffee all day for everyone. We used two big one-hundred cup drip-o-later coffee makers. We made a total of 500 cups of coffee for the whole day.

The menu consisted of barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, dressing, broccoli and cauliflower salad, homemade bread, rhubarb jam, butter, mocha dessert, fresh fruit mixture, pecan, peanut butter, and lemon pies, and candy bars. Ice cream was added to the menu in the evening. After a cold rainy week, Friday turned out to be perfect for a wedding day.

I sewed daughter Verena a black dress yesterday. She will wear a black dress with white cape and apron to church services while she follows instructions for baptism. What a joyful feeling to parents when your child wants to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. God is so good to us. Do we thank Him enough for His many blessings?

I need to get back to my work. I want to thank the readers that came to the book signing in Fort Wayne, Ind., this past Saturday. Also the ladies from the quilting group at the Amigo Centre. I appreciated all the encouragement! God be with all of you!

I had a request recently from a reader for peanut butter brownies. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Brownies

2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix butter, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Spread evenly into a well-greased 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

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

 

 

 

 

Everyone pitches in after lightning strikes sisters’ home

Oh how good to see the sun shining this morning! We had rainy, dreary weather all weekend and until this morning (Wednesday). Is it possible that we have already entered the month of May?

Bread dough rising for 20 loaves of bread to sell at the Illinois book launch.

We had a nice time in South Holland, Illinois, over the weekend. The book signing at Peace Church was a success due to the many helping hands of the recipe testers for the new cookbook, and of course my good friend Ruth. She did more than her share to organize all this. I want to thank all the readers who came. It was so encouraging to hear your kind words. May God bless you each and every one!

The lightning struck and fire started very close to a propane tank.

We had decided to stay Saturday night in Illinois and come home Sunday. Around midnight we received a call letting us know that my sisters Verena and Susan’s house was struck by lightning and was on fire. It was windy and for a while it looked hopeless for the firefighters to save it. But the firefighters did some quick work and the structure was saved, although there was a lot of water damage.

Plans are to rebuild half of the house and try to repair the other half.

After the firefighters left they wanted someone to keep watch on the house to make sure fire didn’t start up again. Mose (son-in-law), Dustin (Loretta’s special friend) and Menno (niece Emma’s special friend) worked hard all night to move furniture out before the ceiling came down. Son-in-law Timothy also came to help once he found out what was going on. Daughter Elizabeth and little Abigail stayed at our house since it was so cold and rainy. During this time we were a few hours away. I wish I could have been there to help but a person never knows. I am just so thankful that no lives were lost. That is what matters most. Material things can be replaced but lives can’t.

This is now Thursday and I still need to finish this column. Sisters Verena and Susan are staying with us ever since the fire. Daughter Verena moved into our daughters’ Loretta and Lovina’s bedroom so my sisters can use Verena’s bedroom.

Meanwhile, amidst everything going on, I am managing to get the clothes sewn for Jake and Lisa’s wedding. Verena and Loretta’s suits are done. I have to finish my dress and then sew my cape and apron.
Next week is our neighbor girl Regina and Wayne’s wedding. I was asked to help bake pies on Thursday and cook at the wedding on Friday. It’s a busy time of the year and lots of weddings in this community. My dress for that wedding is cut out and waiting to be sewn. Daughter Susan is a cook at the wedding also. Daughter Elizabeth took Susan’s dress home to sew it for her. With Susan working full time again, it’s hard for her to find time to sew. Elizabeth was here for the day yesterday. She cut out dress pants for our son Benjamin. Loretta and I were glad for her help with the laundry. It ended up being a nice drying day for laundry.

Since I was busy sewing my husband Joe made supper on the grill. Those joining us for supper besides sisters Verena and Susan, were daughter Susan and her husband Mose, plus Moses’s brother Freeman and Loretta’s friend Dustin.

This morning sisters Verena and Susan did my weekly cleaning before they headed back to their house for the day. They are sorting through the mess and saving what is still okay. Thanks for all your prayers on their behalf. It is greatly appreciated.

I will share the recipe for frozen mocha dessert that I helped make for niece Emma’s wedding a few weeks ago. This is an easy dessert to make ahead of time if you are taking a dessert somewhere, or having company. Very tasty!

God bless you. Until next week, take care!

Frozen Mocha Dessert

2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon hot water
¼ cup melted butter
3 cups crumbled Oreo cookies
16 ounces cream cheese
½ cup chocolate syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
16 ounce container whipped topping
small amount caramel syrup

Dissolve coffee in hot water. Mix butter with cookie crumbs. Put 2 ½ cups of crumbs on bottom of pan. Reserve ½ cup for top. Combine cream cheese, coffee mixture, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate syrup. Beat well and add whipped topping. Cover and freeze a few days before serving. Drizzle with caramel syrup before serving.

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

 

Spring break brings emptier nest for Eichers; plus exciting birth to announce!

It has been rainy and cool all week—not the best weather for the children while they are on spring break from school! I was hoping we could get the yard raked up this week, but I’m sure we will have nicer days to work outside. There is plenty to do otherwise. The boys have been getting the barn cleaned out.

Our cow Bessie decided to have her calf on the last day of March. We had the veterinarian come out and check on her the night before, as she was ten days past her due date. He thought it might be a few days yet. But the next day while Loretta was finishing up with washing the breakfast dishes, she saw that Bessie was trying to deliver out in the field. Son Benjamin was home, so he tried to get her to come up from the field to get her in the barn.

Bessie gave birth to a healthy calf this week, right out in the field.

She wouldn’t move, so I called the veterinarian and he said to let her where she was and told me we should help her. Benjamin, Verena, and I tried to help her, but we needed another guy to help, so we asked our neighbor. With all three of us, we were able to help Bessie deliver a big bull calf. We were glad all was well with Bessie and the calf. Bessie is a good mother, and the calf is lively out in the field during the days when it’s not raining.

The house seems empty this week without daughter Verena home. She is in Rhode Island right now, but they stopped at places of interest on the way to Rhode Island. She traveled through nine states on the way there. They slept in Pittsburgh one night and in New York City the next night. She was able to tour the Crayola Factory in Easton, Pa. I am sure she will have many stories to tell us once she’s home. We really miss her!

The house seems even emptier the last few days. Daughter Lovina is at daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. I am sure she’s having fun entertaining Abigail. They will come here today. I am hoping we can get some wedding clothes sewn. Verena is tablewaiter next week in niece Emma and Johnny’s wedding and needs to wear a dress of green apple color. I am a cook and will wear a dark tan dress. It will be nice to see the family again.

I don’t have too many details yet, but my oldest nephew Ben (son of sister Leah and Paul) had a scare recently with his wife Rosemarie. Rosemarie had a baby girl (by C-section) named Elizabeth. A few days after she was home, Rosemarie was rushed to the hospital because a blood clot traveled to her lungs. My sister Leah took care of the newborn while Ben stayed with Rosemarie in the hospital. Rosemarie is back home and I haven’t heard how she is doing recently. We wish her a speedy and complete recovery. Our prayers are with them.

On Sunday we enjoyed a haystack dinner at my sisters Verena and Susan’s. Jacob, Emma and sons Benjamin and Steven, Timothy, Elizabeth, Abigail and Loretta’s special friend Dustin were also there.

God’s blessings to all!

Overnight Cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream sugars and shortening. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients and blend. Divide into three parts and form into rolls. Chill in refrigerator overnight. Slice off cookie-sized pieces and bake at 400 degrees for eight minutes or until done. Pecans or walnuts can be pressed into center of dough before baking.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017, 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.

Real winter returns—a bonus when preserving meat for next year

The Eichers freeze the hamburgers individually on cookie sheets before packaging, to make it easier to use just several at a time.

We are having real winter weather again here in southern Michigan. The temperature has been staying cold. It sure was nice to have cold weather to get our beef all cut up. As much as I would have liked spring-like weather, I was glad for some cold weather because of the beef. Our steaks are all sliced, beef chunks canned, and I also canned some hamburger. The canned meats make it easy to make some casseroles, soups, and more. Plus we made several hundred hamburger patties. We froze them on cookie sheets individually so that when we package them, they don’t stick together. If we only want one or two, then we can just take those out without thawing the whole bag.

We are trying to adjust to daylight savings time again. I really wish it would just stay one way or the other. Like many people, I do not like the changing of clocks.

I attended a quilting today. The quilts are being made for a benefit auction for our local Community Health Center. The quilting days are divided up among our local Amish church districts into different days to go quilt. The women all pack a lunch so no one has to stop to make food for everyone.

Last week I went to a quilting at neighbor Susan’s house. This quilt was also being made for a benefit auction for an Amish man who has spent months in the hospital from being burnt almost all over his body. It is a miracle that he lived. Our neighbor served all of us ladies a good lunch.

Sunday we attended church in a nearby community. Niece Susan (brother Amos and Nancy’s oldest daughter) and her husband Joe hosted church in their district. They moved to that area from Berne, Indiana. Brother Amos, Nancy, and their children Lisa (and her special friend, Matthew), Laura, and Sam were also there. Also Jacob, Emma and some of their family and sisters Verena and Susan went. So five out of us eight siblings were there at the same service which doesn’t happen too often. I also had the chance to visit with several cousins that were there who I hardly ever see.

We received invitations to niece Emma Coblentz (brother Albert and Sarah’s daughter) and Johnny’s wedding. They chose April 14 (Good Friday) to exchange their vows. Sewing time! Daughter Verena is a table waiter and needs a green apple-colored dress. Cooks need to wear a dark tan color dress. Daughters Elizabeth, Susan, and I are all cooks at the wedding. Timothy, Elizabeth, Mose, and Susan are evening servers as well. Joe was asked to help grill chicken and to also help wash dishes in the evening and get the dishes packed back in the wedding wagon.

Thursday evening our whole family attended son Joseph’s freshman orientation and exit interviews about their portfolios. Joseph and his eighth grade class made supper for their families and served them. Their teacher, Mr. Ultz, did a great job in directing these eighth graders in the cooking class. Joseph will be the sixth of our eight children to be finished with his school years. Where does time go? Thirteen years ago we made the move to Michigan. We enjoy our home here and cannot thank God enough for all the blessings we have received. God bless you all!

Coconut Pie

4 rounded tablespoons flour
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 1/2 cups cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coconut
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs whites, separated
3 unbaked pie crusts

Mix in the order given. Beat egg whites last until stiff peaks form, and add  to filling. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake at 350 degrees until firm, usually about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. Makes 3 delicious pies.

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017, 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 daughter shares the news and a recipe for whoopie pies

Hi! This is Verena, 19, filling in for Mom this week. I had the urge to do some writing, and I thought Mom would be happy to have a break.

This last week has been absolutely beautiful spring weather. It’s hard to believe it’s only February. I will be happy to see summer come.

I started working at a daycare several days a week. I love the job—probably because I have always loved being around children. Right now we only have children from age one to five at the daycare. We might have a few babies to take care of later this year. Sometimes I also babysit for a family with three little boys, ages one, three, and five. They keep me busy but are fun to take care of. I enjoy being around children and watching over the dear little ones. The innocent mind of a young child makes me want to be a child again, with no worries in life.

Tomorrow my sister Elizabeth and my little niece Abigail will come here. I will go with Elizabeth to a Tupperware party. I’m so excited to get to see Abigail again. She is my whole world! I really enjoy being an aunt. Abigail is like therapy to me, on days when life doesn’t look too bright. She sure knows how to brighten up my days. I dream about the days when she will be old enough for me to take her on walks, pony rides, etc.

The exciting news of this week: the Teacup Yorkie puppy I have been waiting for was born yesterday. I had wanted a female but the mother only had two males. I decided I will take a male, which I’m sure will be just as cute and fun. I will name him Ricky. Thank you to the readers who have contributed money to help make it possible for me to get this puppy. I love dogs so much, and having my own little puppy in the house to take care of will be awesome! Now I have to wait for six to eight weeks until I can have the puppy. The lady who has the puppies said I can come visit whenever I want to.

The Eichers are happy to have the use of a cooker to help in the boiling-off process for the maple syrup.

Brother-in-law Mose has been keeping very busy with cooking maple syrup. The sap has really been running from our maple trees. The sugar content is low this year, and it’s averaging about 60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. There is a lot of work involved in cooking maple syrup. We really love the maple syrup on our pancakes, scrambled eggs and French toast. While it is still warm, it is also really good on a dip of vanilla ice cream.

On Saturday we butchered the three hogs we raised. We had an early start, so most of the butchering was done by 2:00 p.m. We still had to clean up everything and Dad sliced all the pork chops, ham and bacon yet in the afternoon. One of the hogs was for Mose and Susan. My parents gave it to them to help with starting out on their own.

Those here to help with the butchering were Aunts Verena and Susan, Uncle Jacob and Aunt Emma and sons Jacob, Benjamin, and Steven, their daughter Emma and her friend Menno, my sister Elizabeth, Timothy, and Abigail, sister Loretta’s friend Dustin, and then Mose and Susan and our family.

We made the pon hoss out in the big black kettle and rendered the lard as well. Everyone was here for breakfast and lunch. Our lunch meal was mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, fried tenderloin, corn, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, dirt pudding, finger jello, oatmeal whoopie pies, brownie delight, and chocolate brownies.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers, cards, etc., after my hospital stay. It was all greatly appreciated. I am doing better than expected. God is great!

I saw the rough copy of Mom’s new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, which comes out in April. I love it! I enjoyed helping to test the recipes and learning a thing or two from it.

It turned out really well, which makes all the hard work worth it!

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Cookies

4 cups brown sugar
1 cup lard or shortening
4 eggs
4 teaspoons baking soda
6 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups flour
4 cups oatmeal (quick oats)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream the sugar and lard or shortening. Add eggs. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water; stir into sugar mixture. Add the buttermilk and salt. Mix flour, oatmeal, cinnamon and baking powder. Add to batter. Bake at 400 degrees until done, about 10–13 minutes. Cool completely. These cookies should turn out soft and chewy.

Filling

2 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup shortening, softened
4 tablespoons milk

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, cream the shortening, adding a little of egg white mixture at a time. Add milk and remaining powdered sugar alternately. Beat well. Spread filling between two cookies.

Note: This a fairly large recipe and the amount it makes varies depending on how large you make each cookie; you use two cookies to make one whoopie pie, so that’s why the quantities are big. You can easily halve this recipe if you want to try it.

 Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Getting to work in snow and ice when you’re Amish—and more

We are having a thunderstorm this morning: not at all normal weather for January. The temperature is hanging around 34 degrees so some places could be icy.

Daughter Susan has to be at work by 9:00 a.m. She was going to drive the buggy but called a driver instead (“drivers” are non-Amish people that we hire to take us to and from work or town if we can’t go with a buggy and horse) to take her this morning. Son Benjamin isn’t working today so he’ll go pick her up with the horse and buggy this afternoon when she is finished with her work.

Benjamin plans to haul manure out to the fields today since the temperature has warmed up this week. He also worked at that yesterday. Our horse, Mighty, pulls the one-horse manure spreader. Our old horse, Diamond, was always the one we used to haul manure. We miss having him around after having him over twenty years.

Our new chickens have been laying an abundance of eggs. We still haven’t butchered the old hens, so they are also providing eggs.

The table is ready for a big gathering for “Old Christmas.”

Friday “Old Christmas” (January 6) that I wrote about last week ended up being a very enjoyable day. My sister Emma, Jacob and family, my sister Verena and Susan, and our family were all here. Nephew Benjamin had my name in the gift exchange. I received some dish towels and a mop bucket on wheels with a spin mop. This makes mopping so much easier for the girls. No bending over to squeeze out the mop and the bucket has a dolly with wheels to push the bucket around.

Lots of nice gifts were exchanged. Son Kevin received a game called Quick Cups which some of us played. I never heard of this game but it was fun. Each person had five different color cups and everyone took turns flipping a card. Whoever stacked the cups in order of the colors on the cards first, rang the bell and could keep that card. The person with the most cards at the end of the game won. We also enjoyed playing Mad Gab. That is always a loud, exciting game and lots of fun to try and figure out what the card says. After a haystack breakfast for brunch we enjoyed snacks in the afternoon. Veggies and dip, fruits, and venison summer sausage and venison snack sticks were among the snacks. We like to add some healthy snacks instead of so many sweets.

Saturday Joe and I and some of our children spent the day helping daughter Elizabeth and Timothy. Joe and Joseph helped Timothy lay a new hardwood floor in their living room while Verena, Lovina and I washed off the walls and ceiling and cleaned furniture from the living room. Church services will be there in two and one-half weeks so lots of cleaning is being done.

Lovina, Joe and family enjoyed putting together the biggest puzzle they’ve ever attempted.

We finished the 2000 piece puzzle we got for Christmas on Sunday afternoon. It took us two weeks to complete it. This is the biggest puzzle we have ever done. We want to glue it and get a frame made for it. Challenging but fun!

Yesterday friends and family gathered for a late Tupperware wedding shower for daughter Susan at daughter Elizabeth’s house. Lunch was served afterwards. Susan received lots of nice storage containers to add to her kitchen. She appreciated everyone that contributed and also for Elizabeth opening up her home to everyone. The recipe this week comes from the woman who demonstrated the Tupperware products at the shower, which we enjoyed sampling at the end.

God’s blessings to all!

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (20-oz.) can pineapple slices, undrained
5 maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 (18.25-oz.) package yellow cake mix
water
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and brown sugar. Mix well, then spread evenly over bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Drain pineapple, reserving the juice; set aside. Arrange pineapple slices over sugar mixture, then put a cherry half in center of each pineapple slice; sprinkle with nuts. Add enough water to pineapple juice to make 1 1/3 cups liquid. In a bowl, combine cake mix, liquid, eggs and oil; whisk until blended and smooth. Pour over fruit mixture. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Carefully loosen edges of cake and invert onto 18×12-inch grooved cutting board or other large flat plate and cool slightly. Decorate with whipped topping using a frosting bag and tip, or just spoon dollops of whipped topping around the cake. Slice and serve.

 

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Eichers usher in new year by doing puzzles, coloring, and celebrating Old Christmas

A brand new year—2017—awaits us. What will it hold for everyone? Although it doesn’t have to be a new year to make resolutions, it’s a good time to start. It amazes me how fast one year after another goes!

When the children were younger, winters seemed to last forever. Now it seems like I don’t have enough cold months to stay sewing at the sewing machine. It’s so hard to keep up with sewing pants for the three boys. Kevin, 11, seems to grow taller every month. Joseph, 14, is taller than Benjamin, 17, so there are no more “hand-me-downs.” Benjamin works in construction, so his pants get lots of wear and tear.

We had a very nice Christmas together with our children. Everyone gathered here on Christmas Eve and stayed for the night. It was baby Abigail’s first time sleeping at our house. So sweet to see her wake up in the morning and then give such a bright smile!

We all enjoyed breakfast together and then washed the dishes. Then we gave gifts to each other and enjoyed watching each other open them. How precious these family times are. They mean even more to me now, with two of our children no longer living in our house.

We played games, and some enjoyed coloring. A person can never get too old to color! We also started a 2,000-piece puzzle that daughter Susan and Mose gave for a gift to my husband Joe and I. We always put together 1,000-piece puzzles, so Susan wanted to challenge us even more. We now have the puzzle more than halfway done. It is a picture of a lighted cabin and two deer standing by the woods. We would like to glue this one and frame it.

I think it’s so relaxing to sit and work on the puzzle after supper on these cold winter nights. It gives a person a chance to unwind. I remember well how often, years ago, our puzzles would get pushed off the table or messed up by our little children. I imagine it won’t be long until we will have grandchildren who are old enough to enjoy trying to mess them up. Life goes on!

One day while Joe and the children were on Christmas break, we had company stop by. It was Ruth Coblentz and Rose Chapman. They are both cousins to Joe’s dad. Ruth’s husband, Dave, is deceased but was a cousin to my father. Brother Albert had sent us some pon hoss, a fried dish from leftover hog meat, from when they butchered hogs. We were having that for a late breakfast, so Ruth and Rose got to taste it too. The children love coffee soup and eggs with pon hoss. We had a nice visit with the cousins.

The Eicher family enjoyed opening gifts together on Christmas Day and then again on “Old Christmas,“ celebrated on January 6.

Friday, January 6, is what we call “Old Christmas,” and the Amish in this area honor that day. We will have my sisters here in Michigan for a gift exchange and to spend the day together. We are a total of 25 now. We already have the tables set up to seat 24 people. Abigail doesn’t need a place setting yet. Our children are always excited to set the table for all of us.

These pecan pie bars are a great snack and a family favorite. Happy 2017 and God bless!

Pecan Pie Bars

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup corn syrup
dash salt
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

In a small bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar. Gradually add flour, mixing until blended. Pat into ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–22 minutes or until golden.

In another small bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt until smooth. Pour over crust; sprinkle with pecans. Bake 40–45 minutes longer or until set. Cool. Cut into bars.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Eichers exchange names for Christmas

Today wraps up the month of November! While the children were waiting for the bus this morning, they said that Christmas is only 25 days away. I am having a harder time getting into the season this year. Even though we enjoy getting together with family and sharing gifts, let us always remember the true meaning of Christmas: the day Jesus our Savior was born.

Tonight a nativity scene is being played out at our local youth center. Tickets were sold out before I had the chance to get any. My sisters Verena and Susan are helping out, so I have some details from them. Everyone in the cast will dress as they did in those days, and live animals will be used to play out the scenes of how Jesus was born. A meal will be served afterward. The money raised will be used to help with the costs of running the youth center.

We spent Thanksgiving Day with Jacob, Emma and family at their house. With both our families and sisters Verena and Susan, we make a total of 25. Mose and Susan had Thanksgiving this year with his parents. We exchanged names after lunch for a Christmas gift exchange, which will be held here at our house. We haven’t decided when to have it yet.

A total of 25 enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner together at this long table.
A total of 25 enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner together at this long table.

Emma prepared two turkeys and all the trimmings. With all the food everyone had brought, the table was more than filled. Everyone took leftovers home for the next day. Granddaughter Abigail had the most attention all day. She is so precious to all of us! Her black hair and blue eyes and the dimples in her cheeks are adorable. Of course, all grandmothers love their grandchildren. For me it’s still a new feeling. God has been more than good to us, and we need to thank him all the time for our blessings, not just on holidays such as Thanksgiving.

Son Benjamin went hunting with son-in-law Timothy and was happy to shoot a deer. He ground the meat on Monday when he didn’t have work. It’s nice to have more meat in the freezer.

Recently Joe’s sister Esther and David and baby David Tyrell (age 3 1/2 months) had supper here. It was our first time to meet baby David. Our marrieds were here for supper as well. Needless to say Abigail and David were the center of attention. Our evening was spent singing together, which is always enjoyable.

Sunday was our week off of church, and we spent it at Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. We had a brunch, with this delicious menu: gold rush breakfast casserole (I need to ask her for the recipe), pancakes, baked French toast, milk, grape juice, orange juice, coffee and V-8 juice. We also had cherry pie and Swiss roll bars. After the dishes were washed, we played games and visited. The men and boys went for a walk through the woods while we stayed with Abigail, spoiling her.

Daughters Elizabeth (and Abigail) and Susan and I went grocery shopping after Abigail’s doctor appointment on Tuesday. We met up with Ruth Coblentz. It sounds like she has many lonely days since her husband Dave passed away in August. Dave was a cousin to my father. To all the Coblentz relatives who read this column: after talking with Ruth, I found out I made a mistake in my August column. Dad’s cousins Dave and Leroy were not brothers but cousins to each other. With my parents no longer around to answer my questions, I misunderstood how the relationship was. It was nice being able to talk with Ruth again even though the visit was short.

My thoughts and prayers go to the families affected by the Tennessee fires. I can’t imagine what they are going through. Prayers also for the families of the young people who died in the recent car-buggy accidents. God be with everyone and help ease their pain!

For this week’s recipe, I am sharing one of the recipes from my upcoming cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, which will be out next spring. This fudge is different because of the soda crackers added to it. My mother always made fudge around Christmastime, and then we wouldn’t have it again for a year. Give this one a try over the holidays. God bless!

Peanut Butter Cracker Fudge
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 box soda crackers, crushed

In a saucepan, bring sugar, butter, and milk to a boil and boil for one minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, vanilla and crushed crackers. Spread into greased 8×8-inch baking pan and allow to cool. Cut into one-inch squares.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. Readers can contact 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 appreciates family and community help after surgery

We have entered the month of November this week. Son-in-law Mose and sons Benjamin and Joseph have been working nights to get all the leaves raked and burnt. We have lots of trees so this can seem like a never-ending job.

It seems like a while since I penned this column although it’s only been two weeks. Last week daughter Elizabeth offered to write as I was unable to.

I spent several days in the hospital having major surgery. I lost several units of blood so I still feel weak from that. The next six weeks of healing time will probably go slowly for me. I went to the doctor this week to have half of the staples removed. I was having pain in my leg and the doctor said it’s a blood clot. Now I need to take care of that so I have been keeping my recliner occupied a lot.

I cannot express enough thanks to all who have helped out. The day of the surgery I had my husband Joe, daughters Elizabeth (and baby Abigail), Susan, Verena, and Loretta, son Benjamin, sisters Verena, Emma, and Susan, and my good friend Ruth all at the hospital. What a support I felt. I went into surgery at 11:00 a.m. It was after 6:00 p.m. when I finally woke up after surgery. This was a long day of waiting for all of them. I know they were all concerned about me when it took longer than expected. May God bless them all for caring! This is called love! I am thankful that all is going as good as can be expected.

I am also so blessed to have such a caring church family and neighbors. So many meals have been brought in for us. This makes it so much easier on the girls. I feel so blessed and hope to return the kindness someday.

Yesterday Elizabeth and Abigail spent the day here. Oh what a fun pastime Abigail was to me! She looks at me and coos and smiles. It’s so precious to just “talk” to her and watch her angelic face light up.

birthdaypartyeditedverenabirthdaypartyeditedSister Susan accomplished her goal to surprise sister Verena on October 22 at the Community Youth Center for a fiftieth birthday surprise. birthdaypartyeditedroomVerena’s birthday was on August 22. Friends and relatives gathered there and Susan had lots of food for everyone to enjoy while they visited. All eight of us siblings were there. It was nice to see everyone again.

The blocks and mortar are here for the chimney that will be put up in our pole barn. Hopefully it will get done this week yet. We have had really nice warm weather lately which is a good thing with Mose and Susan only having a heater to heat their living quarters. After the chimney is up they will put in a coal stove and burn hard coal.

We have our coal stove going in the basement but some days we just have to open windows when it’s warm outside and bring some of that warm air in upstairs. It gets too chilly when we don’t have any heat in the house. It’s unusually warm for November it seems. Tuesday was such a nice and sunny day. The girls washed loads of laundry and it all dried and was folded and put away by evening. Days like that will be few with cold weather just around the corner. Try this recipe during apple harvest.

God bless you all!

Danish Apple Cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Topping:
4 cups sliced apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

Combine crust ingredients and press into bottom and sides of spring form pan. Mix softened cream cheese, egg, sugar, cream of tartar and spread over crust. Mix topping ingredients and pour over all. Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

birthdaypartyedited birthdaypartyeditedroom birthdaypartyeditedverena

An Eicher family friend lifts the veil on Susan’s wedding preparations

Editor’s Note: Lovina Eicher is busy with preparations for her daughter Susan’s wedding. Guest columnist Ruth Boss, an “English” friend of Lovina’s, provides a ringside seat for the big August 5 wedding.

Wedding preparations have been in full swing all week for Susan and Mose’s wedding this Friday. Last Saturday the wedding wagons were delivered: a cook wagon, a refrigerated wagon, and a supply wagon holding all the serving dishes, plates and silverware.

Family members and friends pitched in to get the tables set up in the shed, or pole barn. Susan has chosen green for her wedding color, so cooks, table waiters, attendants, coffee servers, family members and anyone else helping will be wearing hunter green, sage, mint, or grass green shades.

Friends, neighbors and family came by buggy to help during the days before Susan and Mose's wedding
Friends, neighbors and family came by buggy to help during the days before Susan and Mose’s wedding.

The cooks began arriving very early Wednesday morning. By 7 a.m. the cook wagon was filled with women making cinnamon pudding. It is baked and will be cut into small pieces and layered with whipped topping and topped with nuts. It can be served right out of the pan as a cake. Other cooks started making the angel food cakes, all made from scratch. Some of the egg whites that Lovina had frozen ahead of time for the wedding weren’t stiffening up, so someone was sent to Susan’s (who is a baker) house down the street to get the jar she had in her refrigerator.

Next came baking pecan pies. By now the wedding wagon was very warm, with seven ovens and cooktops going! Other pie shells were baked to be used to make fresh strawberry pie, which is Susan’s favorite. Other cooks cleaned, chopped and bagged celery, carrots and onions to be used in the dressing. Some cooked, deboned and shredded chicken to be used in the stuffing and noodles.

Women helping Lovina prepare for the wedding made many classic, lattice-topped cherry pies.
Women helping Lovina prepare for the wedding made many classic, lattice-topped cherry pies.

At mid-morning, all the women stopped for a coffee break with cookies and bars that the women had brought to share. Family members and friends who don’t live close by used this opportunity to catch up on news from back home. Neighbors chatted about their families, new recipes and local news. Some of the cooks are young mothers and brought their young children with them. The older children seem to enjoy watching over the babies as their moms work.

Next, Lovina’s sisters began the time-consuming job of making “Nothings,” which are a traditional wedding treat from their home town of Berne, Indiana. Nothings are made from special dough that is rolled thin and then deep-fat fried. This is very hard work, and it took the sisters a few hours to get all the dough rolled. Once the Nothings are puffy, they are taken out of the oil, drained and topped with sugar. The stacks of Nothings were covered and will be passed at the meal as a special treat.

BrocAndCalifSaladAt noon, the helpers enjoyed a delicious meal of casseroles, salads and desserts, all provided by the cooks. All together there are 52 cooks helping with the wedding. They will make homemade bread, chop broccoli and cauliflower for salad, clean strawberries and finish up whatever else needs to be done. All the cooks will assemble the morning of the wedding to peel and cook potatoes, assemble hot foods to cook, and prepare salads. They will ready dishes to begin the first serving at about noon, after the marriage ceremony, which will start about 9 a.m.

This is a big undertaking! What strikes me as I observe the work being done is that there is no arguing or complaining from anyone. Everyone is excited and willing to work. There is laughter and horseplay. The Amish focus a lot on family togetherness and don’t have many of the distractions that we English people have. Lovina’s family is close-knit and loving. They have hard times and disappointments like everyone else, but their faith in God and close family sustains them through those times.

The table, or "eck corner," for the wedding party is set days in advance, as the family finishes final details.
The table, or “eck corner,” for the wedding party is set days in advance, as the family finishes final details.

This week, as the Eicher family gets ready for Mose and Susan’s big day, will be filled with hard work, amazing food, good conversation and lots of laughter.

Here is a recipe for a small quantity of Amish Wedding Nothings.

NothingsOnTables2Amish Wedding Nothings

1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup cream (3 large “cook spoons” of heavy cream)
salt
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar (for topping only)
2-3 cups shortening (for frying, may need to adjust for size of pan or kettle)

Beat egg and stir in cream, salt, and enough flour to make elastic dough. Make 6 or 7 balls out of the dough. Roll out each ball of dough very flat and thin, about 1/16-inch think. Cut about six 3-inch slits in the middle of the circles.

Heat shortening in a large kettle over high heat (or use an electric frying pan with a temperature control). When the shortening is 365 degrees, test a piece of dough to see if it sizzles; put a rolled-out Nothing into the kettle or fry pan. Fry one at a time, unless you have a huge kettle. Turn each piece over with forks or large spatula once it turns golden on the bottom. Remove from oil and place on plate covered with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top while warm. Stack the Nothings on top of each other to serve. Makes 6-7.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.