Category Archives: Desserts

Gift exchange, games, and food highlight the Eicher family’s Christmas gathering

 Christmas Day is tomorrow. Son Joseph just left for work and the rest of the family is still sleeping. Our family Christmas is over for this year. We will still get together with my sisters for a Christmas gift exchange and meal. This year it will be at sister Emma and Jacob’s house.

Saturday my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, and Loretta’s special friend Dustin butchered a beef we raised for meat. We raise a few calves so that we have our own beef to butcher. A correction to one of my recent columns: we raise steers to butcher, not cows. (Every writer needs to grin-and-bear-it at times when words get changed in their writing making a different meaning.) A cow is a heifer that has had a calf and we think the meat from a steer is better for steaks. We never butcher a cow.

The big beef is hanging in our pole barn reminding us how much work lies ahead this week yet. Our plans are to start working on that Thursday and Friday. It will be nice to fill the freezer and canning jars with meat.

The dining table is set and ready for the Eicher family’s breakfast the morning of their Christmas gathering. Everyone spent the night at Joe and Lovina’s and began their day of celebration eating breakfast together around the family table. Photo provided.

Our family had a nice Christmas gathering on Sunday. We set the table for all of us. We are 17 now but one-year-old T.J. sits in the highchair and Ryan doesn’t eat table food yet. We had a breakfast casserole that we made the night before and put it in the oven so it was ready to eat when everyone woke up. Also on the menu were homemade bread, butter and jelly, cheese, hot peppers, donuts and cookies, chocolate milk, orange juice, and coffee. It is nice to have something easy so we don’t spend our time together making food. Joe put a turkey on the grill so it would be ready to eat later on. After dishes were washed, we passed out gifts. The children exchanged names so it was interesting to see who had each other’s names. It was also Joe’s birthday so he received nice birthday/Christmas gifts. It is always fun to see the excitement of the little children when they open their gifts.

A variety of snacks along with grilled turkey were enjoyed throughout the day at the Eicher family’s Christmas gathering. Photo provided.

We played games and had snacks and turkey later on. A variety of snacks included veggies and dip, fruit and dip, meat and cheese roll-ups, party mix, Rice Krispy treats, venison jerky, cheeseball and crackers, Christmas goodies, etc. There was much more than we needed but when everyone brings a few things, it adds up. The turkey and snacks were our food for the rest of the day. We have so much to be thankful for, so let’s remember to thank God for everything.

One of the new games we played was a game given to daughter Loretta from Dustin called Marble Chase. It is exciting and keeps your interest.

Son Benjamin left around 4:00 p.m. to join the youth for a Christmas supper and singing. They opened a plastic wrap ball of gifts which I imagine was exciting. Benjamin also joined the youth  one evening last week to go Christmas caroling at the homes of older people in our community. They gathered at the community center afterwards for a pizza supper.

Also one evening last week my sisters Verena and Susan made supper for us and sent it over. They always wanted to make a meal for me since my surgery. It was a treat to get out of cooking one evening. They made mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and meatloaf. Also cookies and Christmas candy.

We are getting Christmas plates of goodies from our neighbors and we still haven’t made much more than party mix and cookies. I really don’t think we will as there are so many goodies around already. Maybe next week we can get around to making something for the neighbors.

I am hoping a few of the girls can go help daughter Elizabeth today. Doctors orders are that she doesn’t do any work, but with one- and three-year-old children that is hard for a mother to do without extra help. She said Tim will be off work today to do her laundry, but I still feel like someone should go help out. Entertaining the children is a help already.

Wishing you readers a blessed Christmas and God’s many blessings to all!

 

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

5 cups popped popcorn
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place popcorn and peanuts in a large bowl; set aside.

Sauce: In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat bring brown sugar and corn syrup to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter, and vanilla. Quickly pour over popcorn mixture and mix well. When cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 10 2-1/2-inch balls. Let stand at room temperature until firm, then wrap in plastic wrap.

 

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.

A winter afternoon baking and decorating Christmas cookies with grandchildren

Everything is quiet right now at the Eicher house. Everyone has gone to bed except a few of the girls and me. There was too much action earlier today to think of writing.

Daughters Elizabeth, Susan, and their four little ones came this morning to spend the day. Our breakfast meal consisted of eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast, and cheese. After breakfast Elizabeth and daughter Verena washed dishes, and daughter Lovina mixed up a batch of sour cream cut out cookies. I helped give Susan some pointers on sewing. She doesn’t quite know all the steps of sewing a shirt for her husband Mose. She did well and it was finished to take home. She wrote down step by step notes and will try to sew one at home.

Daughter Loretta’s special friend Dustin came to pick her up to attend a visitation of his foreman who found out he had cancer sixteen days before he died. So sad for the loved ones left behind. Dustin is a group leader at work and his foreman was who he went to for advice. I’m sure he will be greatly missed.

Our lunch was a kettle of soup and ham and cheese sandwiches. Dustin and Loretta came back home and Dustin ate lunch here before heading home. The little children are always glad to see Dustin and tease him. Abigail, 3, and Jennifer, 23 months, love to get him to chase them.

Lovina enjoyed decorating Christmas cut out cookies with her grandchildren. Find the recipe in this week’s column. Photo provided.

After lunch we rolled out and baked the cookies. Abigail loves the rolling pin and making cut outs of bells, trees, stars, snowmen, gingerbread men, and candy canes. After the cookies are cooled the decorating is done. Abigail and Jennifer love the sprinkles and sample cookies more than decorating. So much cuteness! Little T.J. crawls on the step stool and wants to help too but is done helping after getting a cookie.

T.J. is a little busybody. He loves to check out every cabinet door. He gets a lot of help from Jennifer. When Elizabeth says “Timothy Josiah” to get his attention he still looks like he isn’t sure she means him because everyone calls him T.J. He will be one-year old next week. Ryan is sitting in the highchair looking at everyone and always smiling.

December 10 was daughter Verena’s 22nd birthday. On Sunday we had company in honor of her birthday. The menu was pizza, banana poppers, hot wings, veggies and dip, fruit and dip, chips, salsa, brownies, cake and ice cream. Some of the food was brought in so we had an easy meal. I have a hard time grasping that Verena is 22 already. She is a great daughter and always so caring. So many evenings before I go to bed, she massages my feet. How relaxing! My mother did foot reflexology and I miss that. Verena must take after her grandma.

Lovina’s family and friends gathered for a meal and cake to celebrate daughter Verena’s 22nd birthday. Photo provided.

Our supper tonight was omelets. Some of the girls and I weren’t hungry, so it was easy to make an omelet for those that wanted one. Ham, bacon, black olives, mushrooms, and cheese were the toppings.

Tomorrow, nephew Jacob (son of sister Emma and Jacob), 20, will have surgery for his muscular dystrophy. He decided to try the surgery after seeing the results his younger brother Steven received from the surgery. Our prayers are with him that he will have success.

Steven, 12, spent Sunday evening here and went on the bus with son Kevin, 14, on Monday morning. Steven is back on his feet and uses a walker for some support but can walk without it. He is still in therapy but the surgery was a success for him.

Until having children of my own with disabilities I never fully understood the battle they face at times. But they are always cheerful and there is never a dull moment. It has made them so much more thoughtful of others which is a blessing.

God bless!

 

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

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

Frosting:

1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until a soft dough is formed. On a floured surface, roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Frosting: Cream shortening, vanilla, and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Gradually add milk and the remaining powdered sugar, beating constantly. Add more powdered sugar for desired consistency. Add food coloring if you like. Spread frosting on cookies and decorate with sprinkles and chocolate chips if desired. Let set before storing.

 

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.

 

Gratitude for Thanksgiving Gatherings and Christmas Preparations

We are already in the last month of 2019! December came upon us so fast. Christmas is three weeks from today. The year is almost over. As we prepare for the holidays let us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

A homemade trash can turkey roaster, which you can read about in today’s column. Photo provided.

Our family will come home for Christmas on December 22, which is also my husband Joe’s 51st birthday. We will have a birthday supper for him the night before we celebrate Christmas. Usually, everyone comes the night before and they stay overnight. It’s always enjoyable to have everyone here.

Thanksgiving Day was enjoyable at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. She made way too much food and sent leftovers home with everyone. Emma stuffed two turkeys with dressing and her son-in-law, Menno, cooked a trash can turkey outside. This was the first time I had turkey fixed like that. He bought a big metal trash can to put over the turkey, which was put on a rod over a foil pan. Charcoal was put around and on top of the trash can to cook the turkey.

Lovina and family enjoyed an abundance of food on Thanksgiving day as they gathered at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. Photo provided.

Also on the menu, besides turkey and dressing, were mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables, corn, hot peppers, deviled eggs, several salads, veggies and dip, cheese, homemade bread, butter, grape jelly, cherry and pecan pie, pumpkin roll, and cheesecake. I’m sure I might have missed something, but there was more than enough food. Are we thankful enough that we have plenty to eat? So many are less fortunate or not able to be with family on days like that. Our God has given us so many blessings which we often take for granted.

Saturday we were surprised to see brother Albert and his wife Sarah Irene, and their daughter Irene and her husband, Levi Jr., who came for a short visit. They had recently butchered hogs, so they brought us some fresh sausage and pon hoss. Pon hoss is always a favorite food around here. We plan to butcher hogs too and are also raising a cow to butcher. Hopefully, maybe over their two-week holiday break, we can work that in. It is a lot of work but will be worth it to have the freezers and jars filled with meat again. Daughter Loretta and son Kevin each shot a deer this season, so that helps with the meat. We want to make jerky yet, too.

On Sunday I went to church for the first time since my surgery. It was nice to see everyone again. Church services were held at son-in-law Tim’s brother’s house in the basement. There were many visitors, so the basement was filled to capacity. Daughter Elizabeth and her children were unable to attend as Elizabeth wasn’t feeling well. I told Tim to bring her over to our house for supper and that was like medicine to her. She was feeling much better. Mose and Susan and Loretta’s special friend were also here for supper. The men grilled 20 pounds of chicken on the grill while we made creamed potatoes to go with it. Also on the menu were colby cheese, veggies and dip, oatmeal pie, and ice cream. An easy supper for me. After supper we played 10,000 with dice, which is always a fun and challenging game.

Our church will have Christmas services next time we meet, so all the women wrote on a list what they will bring to our annual Christmas potluck. I will take a casserole.

Today, daughters Elizabeth and Susan plan to come for the day with their children. I have the gifts wrapped for the grandchildren and have them on top of my cupboard. Abigail, 3, keeps asking me if she can open her gift. She asked if she has to wait until Jesus’s birthday. It will be three days earlier when she gets to open it, since we will have our family Christmas sooner.

Until next week, God bless!

 

Honey Pumpkin Pie
2 cups pumpkin (canned)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup honey
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth; pour into pastry shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the center of the 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, 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.

A foggy morning and Thanksgiving pumpkin roll

The sun is trying to peep through the fog. It is very foggy this morning and visibility isn’t very good. The fog light on top of the bus was bright, though, when Kevin left for school. I always pray that everyone will be safe as they leave for work and school on foggy mornings like today.

I am writing this column earlier this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Everyone has a three-day week for work and school. We will have Thanksgiving dinner at sister Emma and Jacob’s house this year. With Jacob and Emma’s family, sisters Verena and Susan, and all of our family, we now total 29. Mose and daughter Susan and children won’t be able to go to Jacob and Emma’s because they are getting together with Mose’s family this year. Spending time with loved ones is always a good way to spend Thanksgiving Day.

Lovina’s husband, Joe, gives grilling a turkey on his new Weber grill a try. The turkey turned out juicy and everyone liked it fixed like that. Photo provided.

My husband Joe and son Benjamin each received a turkey from their employer. Joe put one on the grill last Saturday and it tasted very good.

The new Weber grill that the children gave Joe last year for his 50th birthday has a lower rack for roasting a turkey. We were surprised that it only took a little over two hours for the turkey to be cooked. It was juicy and everyone liked it fixed like that.

Every year for Thanksgiving dinner, sister Emma and I take turns hosting the meal. We usually set the table, and it seems that we need to keep adding tables in order to set a place for all of us, but it’s always enjoyable. With both of us having married children, we don’t get together as often as we would like. We now have to fix two turkeys instead of one. Our Thanksgiving dinner menus usually include turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, vegetables, cheese, salad, etc. I always like having a pumpkin roll and pumpkin pies on the menu. Daughter Elizabeth is making the pumpkin roll this year. I will take a salad, veggies and dip, and homemade bread.

I’m writing this part of the column later. Daughters Loretta and Lovina are washing laundry. Daughter Verena is mopping the floors. The girls want to clean a few windows this afternoon. It doesn’t take long to get fingerprints on the windows with the little grandchildren looking out of them when they come.

Yesterday, daughters Elizabeth and Susan and children came for the day. They usually come on Wednesdays, but with Thanksgiving this week, they decided to come earlier in the week. Elizabeth couldn’t do laundry yesterday because they are installing a new water heater. The girls decided to enjoy the little sweeties and wait to wash our laundry until today.

On Sunday our family had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. After dishes were washed, some of us played Ten Thousand with dice. It was fun. As we played, we snacked on deer jerky that Tim made. It was very good and I loved it. I really don’t care for venison so Tim was surprised that I liked it. He asked Elizabeth if her mother knew that it was deer jerky and not beef jerky. I guess he was surprised that I liked it so much. I can’t even explain it myself. I don’t eat much venison, but I love the summer sausage and jerky.

On Sunday for brunch, Elizabeth fixed a good meal of pancakes, scrambled eggs, baked French toast, and smoked sausage. She also had dirt pudding and ice cream, and we took cherry and oatmeal pies. Susan brought chocolate milk, and Elizabeth served grape juice and orange juice.

This was the first time that I rode in the buggy since my surgery. It seemed like the road was bumpier than usual, and I felt worn out that night. I felt refreshed, though, to not have to cook all day and to get out of the house.

My wish is for all of you readers to have a happy Thanksgiving! Let us remember to thank God for our blessings, not only on Thanksgiving Day but every day of the year.

Try this pumpkin roll recipe that we make every year. God bless!

 

Pumpkin Roll

confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 11 x 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside. On a clean surface, lay out a clean lint-free dish towel that is slightly larger than the jelly roll pan. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the surface of the towel.

In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Add sugar, lemon juice, and pumpkin, and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, and beat until smooth. Pour pumpkin mixture into the parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately flip over onto the prepared dish towel. Gently and quickly peel off the parchment paper. Roll up the cake and towel together. Place in refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until completely cool.

Filling: Beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Unroll cake, removing the towel; spread filling over cake and reroll.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing and serving.

 

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.

 

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies on a winter day

Diary of November 20, 2019

Lovina’s family enjoys the heat from their coal stove on these fall days with cooler temperatures. Photo: provided

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings! I pack my husband Joe and son Benjamin’s lunches for work. Joe goes to the basement to add coal to the stove. Benjamin takes care of adding coal to the stove in the pole barn (we heat one side somewhat because of the battery packs for the solar panels). It’s not as warm out there as in the house, but it keeps the pipes from freezing.

3:30 a.m. Joe and Benjamin leave for work. I take a little nap in my recliner.

4:15 a.m. Son Joseph gets up and goes to the barn to feed the animals. I pack his lunch and make him a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. He works outside most days, so something warm to eat is good, I think.

4:45 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. They have an hour or more to get to their job site, so they go earlier. I decide to work on a puzzle I received from daughter Elizabeth and Tim. It’s a 1000 piece puzzle and has a red barn, silo, and a pasture with horses in it. I started this puzzle Sunday afternoon.

6:00 a.m. I wake up son Kevin to get ready for the school bus. The school serves breakfast, so he eats at school.

6:45 a.m. Kevin leaves for school. I get some bills ready for the mail, then take a shower and relax in my recliner for a while. Of course, I doze off. It’s been five weeks since my surgery and I get tired easily, it seems.

8:30 a.m. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children arrive. Susan picked up Elizabeth and children with their horse and buggy. They bring in the little ones, and the girls and I take their coats, scarves, etc. off and, of course, hug the little sweeties. Elizabeth and Susan unhitch the horse and put him in the horse stall in the barn with hay for the day. Everyone gets warmed up from the drive over. The covered buggy makes the drive a lot warmer than when I used to go to my mother for the day with an open buggy.

9:15 a.m. The girls have breakfast ready for everyone. On the menu are scrambled eggs, ham, and toast. Also, rhubarb juice and hot chocolate.

10:00 a.m. Daughter Susan and I need to go to the bank today, so everyone else washes the dishes and keeps watch on the little ones until we’re back.

11:45 a.m. Susan and I are back. The girls are baking chocolate chip cookies and Elizabeth is sewing a dress for Abigail. Abigail needs more dresses, so Elizabeth decided to sew one while she’s here.

1:00 p.m. Lunch is potato soup, fried chicken, ice cream, and cookies fresh from the oven. After lunch I simply enjoy time with all my sweet grandchildren. Abigail is amazed at the puzzle and says it looks pretty.

It is so cute to see Abigail, 3, Jennifer, 22 months, and T.J., 11 months, playing church. They all have books and dolls in their hands and are sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, singing at the top of their voices. So precious!

3:30 p.m. Kevin is home from school. Abigail follows him around asking questions. She likes her Uncle Kevin and enjoys it when he entertains her.

4:00 p.m. Joseph is home from work and gets the horse hitched to the buggy for the girls to leave for home. It takes a while to get all the children bundled up and out to the buggy. Baby Ryan is cooing and smiling even though he’s bundled up. A reader sent Susan a bunting and it helps to keep his feet warm. Susan appreciated all the gifts sent to them for Baby Ryan.

4:30 p.m. Joe and Benjamin are home. Joe and the boys do the chores, which ends up taking a while. It’s cloudy, so our generator needs to charge our solar battery. The generator doesn’t want to stay running, so they work on it but can’t figure out the problem. We borrow my sisters Verena and Susan’s generator for the night. We usually don’t need to run a generator unless we have quite a few cloudy days—then the battery pack needs to be charged up again. Verena and Susan send leftovers from their supper with the boys. Our supper is mashed potato casserole, mac and cheese, and baked and fried chicken. With our leftovers and theirs, it was an easy supper.

9:30 p.m. Bedtime, finally!

This week I’ll share the outrageous chocolate chip cookie recipe for those of you that don’t have it. It’s a favorite of ours! God’s blessings to all!

 

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups (4 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and mix with the sugars, peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs. Stir until creamy and smooth. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Mix the dough until thoroughly blended. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10–15 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

 

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.

 

Winter Weather and Chocolate Pecan Caramels

The leaves are not all off our trees yet. We didn’t get around to raking up the ones on the ground, either. “Old Man Winter” arrived before we were prepared. In the last few days it snowed and snowed. I would guess that we received about eight more inches of snow. This morning the temperature was five degrees. Burr! Our coal is burning away faster than we want it to. It’s always a hard time of year, it seems, but God will provide!

We feel blessed that my husband Joe has found a steady job now. It’s been a hard seven months to not have steady work. I really hope and pray that this will work for him. I didn’t even complain about having to set an alarm for 3 a.m. once again. Son-in-law Mose and son Benjamin have also started at the same factory. They build horse trailers, so it’s a different line of work than RVs. Joe and Benjamin leave at 3:30 a.m., and Joseph has been leaving at 5 a.m. Joseph does the morning chores in the barn and Joe and Benjamin refuel the coal stoves before leaving.

My surgery was four weeks ago, so I am looking forward to getting the okay from the doctor to be allowed to do my normal work.

Joseph has to make sure he dresses warmly enough to work outside in this weather. Yesterday the lady they were working for brought them warm gloves and some treats. She told them that she will serve them pizza today. It is a treat to have something warm served when they are working in the cold.

Two vehicles slid into the ditch close by our house in the last few days. Both times the wrecker was needed to pull them out. The newspaper stated that there were 32 slide offs in our county in one day. The roads are slippery, so I hope everyone drives safe!

The world looks beautiful outside, though, with the tree branches covered with snow. Our solar panels are also covered with snow, which is a bad thing for us. The battery can’t charge as well until the sun melts the snow off the panels. The metal roof would be too dangerous to go up on to wipe off the snow. Joe started our generator last night to charge the battery. Maybe we will get some warmer temperatures in the next few days.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan plan to come home tomorrow. They usually come home on Wednesdays, but it was too cold this morning. I look forward to seeing all my grandchildren again.

Happy 60th anniversary to Joe’s aunt MaryAnn and uncle Joe. We were invited recently to their open house. I didn’t feel up to traveling that far, and it was the same day as church services at sister Emma and Jacob’s. We were sorry we couldn’t attend. MaryAnn is a sister to Joe’s mother Salome (she passed away at age 54). I want to write a letter and send a card to Joe and MaryAnn. They always remember to send cards to us when we have misfortunes. Joe’s family lived beside Joe and MaryAnn until Joe was 16 years old, so he has many fond memories of them.

Our sympathy goes to my good friend Ruth and her husband Jim and family. Jim’s father passed away this week at age 90. Although it’s hard to see a parent suffer, it hurts to let go. May God help Jim’s 89-year-old mother through this trial in life. Our sympathy also to the extended family.

God’s blessings to all! Try these chocolate pecan caramels for your Christmas gatherings with friends and family this holiday season.

Chocolate Pecan Caramels

1 tbsp plus 1 cup softened butter (no substitutes), divided
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil; butter the foil with 1 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with pecans and chocolate chips; set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 1 cup butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm-ball stage). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan (do not scrape saucepan). Cool completely before cutting. Yield: about 2 ½ lbs. or 6 ¾ dozen.

 

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

 

Sour Cream Apple Squares

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

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

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Lovina heals from surgery and enjoys time with grandchildren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space is up so until next time—God bless!

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

 

Pumpkin Bars

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

Icing:

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

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

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

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

God’s blessings!

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

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

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

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

Delicious for supper with cold milk.

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