Category Archives: Jams and Jellies

Apple-butter-sweet memories in times of loss

It’s a beautiful Tuesday morning with a lot of sunshine. How we treasure mornings and days like this. We didn’t wash laundry yesterday due to the dreary, rainy weather. Now today we were blessed with a nice day to dry the laundry. This afternoon I will take son Kevin for his therapy appointment and get some groceries while I’m in town.

Last week Joe’s Uncle Phillip was laid to rest, and now we receive the sad news of another family member that passed away. My Aunt Lizzie, age 85, died yesterday forenoon, and her funeral will be held on Thursday in Bryant, Indiana.

Aunt Lizzie was my mother’s only brother Chris’s wife. Uncle Chris and her son Danny preceded her in death. She leaves to mourn nine more children, 73 grandchildren, and 99 great-grandchildren.

I have so many memories of Uncle Chris, Aunt Lizzie, and family from my younger years. We would help each other with hog butchering, putting up hay, and so on. And every year we would make gallons and gallons of apple cider at Uncle Chris’s house. The evening before we would all gather around their big kitchen table and peel apples for apple butter day the next day. Uncle Chris would cook down the apples in his big outdoor copper kettle, making the perfect-tasting apple butter! The apple butter would be processed into canning jars, and everyone took their share home. In my growing-up years we always had a dish of apple butter on the table. Apple butter sandwiches were also a snack we would have when coming home from school hungry.

It takes many hands to schnitz—peel, core, and slice—enough apples for apple butter. Apples, cider, and sugar are traditionally cooked in a kettle over a fire for many hours until the mixture is reduced to a thick, creamy consistency. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

Another fond memory I have of Uncle Chris and Aunt Lizzie is driving with them to church with their team of horses and their big bobsled. They would come driving in on a cold snowy Sunday morning on their way to church and take our family along. Uncle Chris would be standing in the front driving the team. He would always wear a long black wool overcoat in the winter. Bales of straw were stacked on either side of the bobsled where my mother, dad, Aunt Lizzie, and all of us children snuggled under big buggy robes to keep us warm.

After Joe and I were married, Uncle Chris and Aunt Lizzie would stop in for a short visit if they were driving by. Aunt Lizzie was always more quiet but always friendly. She will be missed by many. Our sympathy goes to the family. How well I know what they are going through to be without parents. God helps us through these trials of life.

My sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma and Jacob, brother Albert and Sarah, and Joe and I have plans to all drive together to go to the funeral. I am so glad that we have others to go along with us so the cost isn’t so much. Traveling to Ohio alone was quite expensive, but we want to attend the funerals if we can to show our support. God will bless us in another way if we do a good deed.

We enjoyed helping to package 7,000 gift/care packages last week for the Christmas Behind Bars program. For over three hours we filled bags. The care packages usually include Bibles, devotional books, hygiene items, and snack items. After the bags were filled, they were all loaded into a semi-trailer ready to travel south to a prison. If I remember right, I think they said Alabama. It was a good experience for Joe and I and the children. So often we get busy with our own lives and don’t take time to reach out to others.

Apples destined to be cooked down into apple butter—the perfect sandwich spread for an afternoon snack. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

This week I am sharing the recipe for cider apple butter that is in my mother’s words, so it might not be a recipe you will make in that amount, but for sentimental reasons I felt led to share it with you readers. God bless!

Cider Apple Butter

12 gallons schnitz apples*
20 gallons cider
12 pounds sugar

Makes 9 gallons apple butter. It takes 2 bushels of apples to schnitz the 12 gallons. Greens are good for cooking but McIntosh apples seem to cook up better.

*Schnitz refers to peeling, coring, and slicing apples.

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

God’s blessings as we travel into the unknown future

Where should I begin? This week is going much too fast for me.

Friday and Saturday were spent helping out at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. The tent was set up and benches set up under the tent. Friday was Elizabeth’s birthday, although she didn’t take much time to think about it.

Benches set up for Sunday services. After the service, the benches serve as tables for the lunch meal. Photo credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

Sunday morning brought many visitors from other church districts and communities. The tent was filled to capacity. After the services the benches were used to make five tables to serve the meal. The tablecloths were rolled out on the tables; glasses, coffee cups, and silverware were placed at each setting.

It was Father’s Day, and I hope all fathers out there had a nice day with their family. In honor of Father’s Day, ice cream was served to everyone after the lunch. On the menu for lunch were homemade white and wheat bread, cheese spread, peanut butter spread, ham, pickles, pickled red beets, hot peppers, fresh garden lettuce, strawberry jam, butter cookies, and coffee and iced tea (also made fresh with tea leaves from sister Emma’s garden). Popcorn was served as visiting was done, and the dishes were washed and packed up to put back in the bench wagon for the next service.

Sunday evening we received the sad news that my husband Joe’s Uncle Phillip from Dundee, Ohio, had passed away. Phillip’s death was a shock to all of us. He was never married but left to mourn many siblings and nieces and nephews. Phillip was a brother to Joe’s dad. They were 17 siblings, with Phillip being the sixth one laid to rest. Phillip, age 67, enjoyed spending time with family and friends and fishing trips to Canada. Rest in peace, Uncle Phillip! You will be greatly missed.

We spent several days in the Sugarcreek, Ohio, area and attended the viewing/visitation on Tuesday and the funeral on Wednesday. Joe’s sister Esther and brother Benjamin both live in that area, so we got to visit with them. Also his sister Carol from Tennessee and his sister Loretta from Michigan and their families. And many uncles, aunts, and cousins of Joe’s were there. I met some more of my readers and appreciate the encouragement! We arrived home last night.

This morning seems hard to get started after all the traveling, but I need to make a salad to take to the visitation/viewing of a man from our community. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan are taking a dessert. I will drop the food off on my way to town for son Kevin’s therapy appointment. I won’t be able to stay and help, as we already have plans to help package gifts for the Christmas Behind Bars program.

The wagon loaded with benches for the Sunday service. The wagon travels from home to home as families host Sunday services. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

We will travel to Shipshewana, Indiana, for this with other members from the community that are also volunteering to help. Joe and I, sons Benjamin, 19, and Joseph, 16, and daughter Lovina, 15, will go along to help.

The girls will have granddaughter Abigail here today, which they will enjoy. Daughter Elizabeth is going to a workday at Tim’s sister’s house. Not having to keep an eye on Abigail, 2, will let her get more work done. Abigail is at the age where she can be in one place one minute and in another so fast.

It is another rainy day here in Michigan. We have had so much rain. We saw a lot of flooding while traveling. Makes us appreciate the sunny days so much more. I need to get busy. There’s much to do, and time does not stand still.

I want to wish all of you God’s richest blessings as we travel into the unknown future. As the minister at Uncle Phillip’s funeral reminded us, death is final, and there isn’t any limit to how young our age is when our time here on earth is done. Let us pray for one another and for peace in the world! Take care!

Try this version of rhubarb jam. It has pineapple added to it. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Jam

4 cups chopped rhubarb4 cups sugar
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (6-ounce) package strawberry-flavored gelatin

Bring rhubarb, sugar, and pineapple to a boil in a saucepan. Boil gently for 12 minutes. Add gelatin and boil for 1 additional minute. Place into sterilized jars and seal.

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

Using up scraps to make matching dresses for the grandbabies

Using up scraps to make matching dresses for the grandbabies

The sun is out! The sky is so lovely today. What a great master artist we have. Only He could paint a picture like this. The temperature is at 36 degrees.

The Eicher sewing machine gets plenty of use!

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan spent the day here yesterday and of course sweet little Abigail and Jennifer. My daughters were occupied cutting out and sewing baby dresses. They were using up some scraps of material I have. It seems so much of the time I have just enough material left that I can’t make a shirt for the boys or a dress for the girls. So now it can get used on the little grandbabies. The girls decided to cut out matching dresses for Abigail and Jennifer to wear to church on Sunday.

I went with Susan to Jennifer’s one-month checkup at the doctor. She weighs 10 pounds 7 ounces now. She weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces at birth so she’s doing well on gaining. She was 20 inches at birth and is 22 inches long now. Monday she will be six weeks old. I miss not seeing her every day since they moved back home. It’s good for them to be able to be back in their own house now.

Daughter Verena was glad for the extra activity yesterday and entertaining Abigail and holding Jennifer. She has days when she gets bored with her cast on. Once the weather gets nicer outside and warmer, she can go outside more often. She had some visitors Sunday afternoon. Timothy and Elizabeth told us to come for supper. Timothy grilled hamburgers and Elizabeth made macaroni and cheese, chips and ice cream. They also told Mose and Susan to come over so they drove the two miles. The whole family was there and it was an enjoyable evening. The boys put Verena in the buggy for the drive to Timothy’s. It was refreshing for her to go on a buggy ride.

Saturday husband Joe and the boys plan to dress and hang our beef. Timothy and Mose will come help too. One half of the beef will go to Mose and Susan. We have another beef we are raising that we still need to butcher yet this winter. We decided to butcher one at a time. It will be nice to have that big job done. We will cut up, can, and bag the meat for the freezer at our house.

The mail just came and had a card and letter from sister-in-law Nancy’s sister Sharon (Nancy and Sharon are cousins to my husband Joe). Sharon said in her letter that Nancy hasn’t been sleeping well at night which is understandable. Wish I could be closer to visit more often. I am glad Nancy’s parents and her siblings all live close to her.

Daughter Verena has been writing and sending cards to Nancy and her ten children. It gives her something to do. She looks forward to mail time.

I answered a lot of reader mail this morning. I was getting behind like usual. A big thank you to all you readers that sent the recipes I requested. I will share them in future columns. I will not be able to share all of them but will look through them.

Our sympathy goes to the family of Marcella, age 88, from Minnesota. She was daughter Elizabeth’s pen pal for over three years. Marcella and her niece Rachel traveled from Minnesota in 2015 to come here to Michigan for Elizabeth and Timothy’s wedding.

Lots of flu going around. Stay healthy everyone!

God’s blessings to all!

Tomato Jelly

4 cups peeled chopped tomatoes
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is okay too)

Boil ingredients together 20 minutes. Turn off and add a 3-ounce box of strawberry jello. May be canned or frozen.

Note: One recipe says to add one 3-ounce box of jello and another one said two.

 

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

 

 

 

Maple syrup spring gives way to Amish wedding season

March 31—the last day of March! Hopefully April will bring us nicer, warmer weather.

On Saturday Mose cooked up the rest of the sap into maple syrup. Our trees are done now for this year. I think we have more than a year’s supply of maple syrup now. It sure takes a lot of work and time to cook maple syrup!

The Eichers finished making maple syrup last week.
The Eichers finished making maple syrup last week.

Saturday evening we attended the annual spring program for the school. Around 40 youth were in the program. It takes a lot of work for these boys and girls. It was held at our local community building and lasted three hours. They did a good job! Everyone was treated to popcorn after the program.

Sunday forenoon Joe and I and daughters Verena, Loretta, and Lovina and sons Joseph and Kevin headed for Berne, Ind. Sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, her husband Jacob, and their sons, Benjamin and Steven, also went with us. We attended the viewing and visitation of a friend. Our sympathy goes to the family.

We visited with sister Liz and family at the visitation. We stopped in at brother Amos and Nancy’s house and visited with them. Our next stop was with sister Leah and Paul. We had nice visits with everybody and were served good snacks at both places.

It was good to see everyone again. We also visited with some friends, uncles, aunts and cousins at the visitation. We arrived back home around 9:00 p.m.

Daughter Verena is mopping our floors and then plans to bake cookies. Her cookies don’t last too long around here. This time she plans to make peanut butter cookies. Tomorrow she is starting a new job, so I will miss her help on the days she will work. She isn’t sure how it will work out, but hopefully she’ll like it.

Next week our four school-aged children will be home for spring break. Joe and I and some of the children plan to attend the wedding in Rochester, Ind., on Good Friday. Our blessings to Joe’s cousin Benjamin and Elizabeth. May God be their guide as they unite in holy matrimony.

Three more couples in our community have been published for May and June weddings. It looks like wedding season is in full swing.

Easter is on Sunday. Hopefully the children can color some eggs on Saturday. A blessed Easter to everyone. Let us remember what this day is about—that Jesus died for all of us so that our sins can be forgiven.

This week I’ll share my rhubarb jam recipe. I have had several requests for it, so I want to share it before the rhubarb is ready to use.

 This week Lovina readies readers for spring by sharing her recipe for rhubarb jam.
This week Lovina readies readers for spring by sharing her recipe for rhubarb jam.

Rhubarb Preserves

5 cups rhubarb, finely diced
4 cups white sugar
1 3-ounce box strawberry gelatin

Combine rhubarb and sugar and let stand in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Pour into jars and seal while hot, or freeze.

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.