Category Archives: Pies

Annual family gathering and easy peach cream pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easy Peach Cream Pie

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

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

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

 

Wedding memories and Mother’s raisin pie

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Raisin Pie

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

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

 

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

Birthdays and Rhubarb Custard Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

 

Rhubarb Custard Pie

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Mail from readers brightens Lovina’s day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strawberry Freeze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Lemon pie recipe from Lovina’s next cookbook, Amish Family Recipes: A Cookbook across the Generations

A big thank-you to all you readers who came to my book signing at the Nappanee Public Library last Saturday. Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement.

Thank you to my great friend Ruth for furnishing the transportation and always being so helpful in any way she can. Thanks also to my daughters Verena, 21, and Lovina, 15, for attending with me. Their support and help always mean so much.

I want to thank Brittney from the library for hosting the event. Before leaving for home we had a nice fun time with a reader named Jessica, her mother, and her three children. Jessica’s grandmother is battling that dreadful disease dementia, but always finds comfort holding my columns in her hand. May God be with her and her loving family as they go through a heart-breaking trial in life.

Son Kevin, 14, went hunting Saturday with son-in-law Mose as his guide. It was youth season and Kevin shot a doe which provided us with quite a big amount of meat. My husband Joe cut it up and got it ready for the freezer. Last year Kevin also shot a deer during youth season. Mose also was his guide last year. With his disability Kevin appreciates the help from Mose in making it possible for him to hunt. It gives him a happy feeling to be helping with providing food for the table as well.

I want to share the great news of my next cookbook, coming in April 2020. My family and I have worked hard on these recipes and had photographers here for four days taking photos of food. I appreciate their respect in keeping us out of the pictures except for our hands. My friend Ruth also worked hard in getting the cookbook typed for the publisher and helping test recipes or having others help test them. My daughters spent many hours preparing food for this cookbook. The cookbook will be called Amish Family Recipes: A Cookbook across the Generations and  published by Herald Press. I am excited to see the finished result and hope you readers will enjoy the many recipes included in this book. I will share a recipe this week from the new cookbook.

Daughter Elizabeth and children Abigail, 3, and T.J., 9 months, and daughter Susan and children Jennifer, 20 months, and baby Ryan, 7-1/2 weeks, came for the day. Fun, fun, fun for this Grandma but I admit I feel tired tonight. It is always so sweet to see the little rays of sunshine. They grow so fast and I want to treasure every moment I can spend with them. As I was hanging out laundry, Abigail trailed behind me asking one question after another. Such sweet innocent children. She loves to say her prayer out loud when we eat. Jennifer also likes to bow her head and pray, peeking up to see if we are seeing what she is doing.

Tuesday is already the wedding day of nephew Marvin and Lori. We have plans to attend. It will be different not to help cook at a family wedding, but they do things differently there than we do in Michigan.

A reader asked several questions about our weddings. They wondered if the cost of our weddings is high. I would think the highest cost is the food and the rented wedding cook wagons and cooler. Our clothes are all sewn at home so the cost of that isn’t as much, and we have weddings at our homes so there’s no cost for that. All our help is free too, although we do buy small gifts of appreciation for the cooks, table waiters, etc. These gifts are tools, Tupperware, towels, dishes, kitchen items, bedding or just anything useful. More questions will be answered in future columns, but space is limited for now.

God bless all of you!

 

Lemon Pie

 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 tablespoons sugar
1 regular 9-inch pie shell, baked

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, 1-1/4 cups sugar, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Separate eggs from yolks, then beat yolks and add to cornstarch mixture. Slowly stir in boiling water. Over medium heat, bring mixture to boiling and cook on slow boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into pie shell.

Separately beat eggs whites until stiff but not dry. Beat in 6 tablespoons sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Spread the meringue over top of pie, spreading to the edge to seal in the filling.

Bake in 425-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until meringue is browned. Cool on rack away from draft. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 

Recipe is from Lovina Eicher’s forthcoming cookbook, Amish Family Recipes: A Cookbook across the Generations, and can be preordered from Amazon or wherever books are sold.

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.

Family reunion fun with water balloons and abundant summer produce

Happy Birthday number 53 to sister Verena on August 22nd!

On Saturday, sisters Verena and Susan hosted the annual family reunion on my side of the family. It was greatly attended, with only seven of my parents’ grandchildren not attending. All of us siblings were present. Brother Amos was greatly missed. Nancy came with some of her children, who we were happy to see. It makes the circle seem a little more complete.

We were served a good meal of chicken, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, corn, and all the side dishes that were brought in. There were salads, desserts, and fruits too numerous to mention. Snacks were brought for the afternoon before parting ways to go home.

Of course, with my family the water hose was discovered, and the water balloons were soon put to use. Sister Liz and I tried to keep up with the younger ones. Some managed to stay dry. On that hot and humid day, it helped us stay cool.

Grandson Ryan was the youngest there being three weeks old that day. He seems to be gaining weight really well.

The new deck and ramp at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house came in handy. Recently, son-in-law Mose, husband Joe, and sons Benjamin and Joseph built the 12 x 24-foot deck for them. Son-in-law Tim also helped. On Saturday, they had tables set on it for some to eat while others sat by tables set in their pole barn with a canopy attached.

Sunday, we had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Tim made sausage gravy and fried potatoes over the open fire while Elizabeth baked biscuits and fried eggs in the house. Abigail and T.J. were so excited to see us. T.J. is now eight months old and all over the house, so he needs to be watched closely. He sure is active.

Yesterday daughter Susan and Jennifer and baby Ryan, daughters Verena, Loretta, Lovina, and I helped Elizabeth can salsa. When we left T.J. was waving at us.

I have corn and tomatoes that need to be canned or frozen. I will make vegetable juice with the tomatoes and the corn will probably be bagged for the freezer. That is the last of the sweet corn for us this season.

Son Kevin is getting adjusted to the new schedule of going to school each day. He gets on the bus so much easier since his surgeries earlier this year. He is still not released from therapy but is slowly learning how to continue it here at home. It’s hard for him to find energy after a day at school.

One evening, James, a friend of ours, brought us some chicken of the woods mushrooms he found. This was the first time we had that kind of mushroom. The name comes from it resembling the taste of chicken. Everyone seemed to like it. It’s always nice to try something different. I seasoned it and fried it in olive oil. James had 25–30 pounds of mushrooms.

Monday, daughter Susan and her children came here for the day. She brought her dirty laundry and we washed it here after we did ours. We were glad to have a nice day for the clothes to dry quickly on the lines so we could take them off and put more on to dry.

Susan and Mose had company again the day before so she was tired. I told her to rest while we washed the clothes. She still needs to gain back her strength. Jennifer was contented watching me hang out laundry and playing with a doll. She tries to act like she’s taking care of her doll when Susan takes care of Ryan.

Tim brought in a 25 1/2-pound watermelon out of their garden when we were there yesterday. He sent half of it home with us. God bless!

This week I will share a recipe I received from a reader. Thank you, Barb!

Snickers Pie

Crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons milk

Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-ounce cream cheese
1 Snickers bar, chopped
1 24-ounce Cool Whip (or a little less)
1 3-ounce box instant chocolate pudding

Crust: Mix dry and wet ingredients, press into a 9-inch pie plate, and mold to fit. Bake at 400 degrees for 21 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Thoroughly mix powdered sugar and cream cheese and scoop into cooled crust. Sprinkle 1/2 of chopped Snickers bar on top. Scoop Cool Whip into a large bowl and stir in chocolate pudding until smooth and not gritty. Spread on top of other layers in pie crust. Sprinkle remaining chopped Snickers bar on top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.

 

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.

Putting up freezer jam, Virginia visitors, and a young overnight guest

Another hot week in July! Last week we had over an inch of rain but it didn’t cool off much.

Today son Kevin had a therapy appointment so I took him to town. With the heat I didn’t want to take the horse and buggy. Our friend Beth took us.

The photo caption should read: Using no-cook pectin allows freezer jam to be prepared without any cooking–an especially welcome option on hot July days.

We put 12 quarts of strawberries into freezer jam. Still need to get more, as we all love strawberry jam. I use the no-cook fruit pectin so there isn’t any cooking involved.

When we were almost done our friends Ray and Lucille from Virginia stopped by for a visit. We knew they would be stopping by so we were trying to have the jam done before they came. We still had some left to do and the women pitched in to help us. Ray and Lucille brought three other couples along. They are Old Order Mennonites, and it’s always interesting to compare our customs and communities. We served them popcorn, peanut butter swirl bars, and fresh lemonade and were rewarded with gifts from Ray and Lucille. The cheese and peaches were much appreciated. They milk cows and their milk goes to this cheese company. We sure will enjoy it. As always, we enjoyed the visit from them.

On Sunday, son Benjamin had his 20th birthday. Our family gathered at daughter Susan and Mose’s for a birthday supper for Benjamin. With the evening being hot we ate outside on the newly built deck. The deck and ramp were built one day by my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, sons-in-law Mose and Timothy, and Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin. They did some fast, good work. The ramp makes it so nice for the girls and Kevin to use instead of steps. Little Jennifer loves to run up and down the ramp.

Our 26th anniversary was on Monday, July 15. We kept the three grandchildren here in the evening while Tim and Elizabeth and Mose and Susan ran some errands. It’s always fun to have them here.

Tim and Elizabeth came for supper tonight. With it being so hot the girls made supper out on the grill, which helped keep the house cooler. Tim and Elizabeth will leave two-year-old Abigail here for the night. She is excited to stay and has her little overnight bag. She showed me her little toothbrush. She wants to sleep upstairs with the girls. They are much more fun to her than Grandma—smile!

Tomorrow is Tim’s 94-year-old grandmother’s funeral. She leaves to mourn her children, 67 grandchildren, 255 great-grandchildren, and 30 great-great-grandchildren, if I have it correct. A lot of the family is in this community, so the funeral will be largely attended, I’m sure. It sounds like it will be another hot, humid day. Tim and Elizabeth decided to leave Abigail here instead of taking her to the funeral. It was a little hard for them to leave without Abigail, but she never changed her mind and wanted to stay the night. She told Elizabeth to not be sad, “because you still have baby T.J. to hug.” T.J. is seven months old today and is such a lively, happy baby.

We received our new Michigan Amish Directory, which is so interesting to look through. The directory is renewed every four years. Michigan now has 47 Amish communities, with two being in the Upper Peninsula. It is always interesting to look through the updated information. It also says in these 47 communities that there are a total of 114 church districts and 2,673 households. In 1975 there were three Amish communities in Michigan and six church districts and 127 households.

It is later in the evening now. Abigail brushed her teeth with daughter Verena and went up to bed. She is settling down well and happy to stay all night here. I am ready to call it a day as well.

Good night to all, and God bless!

 

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup water, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin
1 quart (4 cups) stemmed and sliced strawberries
1 (9-inch) baked pie shell
Whipped cream or topping

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup water with the cornstarch. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and slowly add the cornstarch mixture. Cook until clear. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Allow to cool. Add sliced strawberries. Mix to coat. Pour into baked pie shell, then add whipped topping.

Note: Peach pie can be made in this same way. Substitute peach gelatin and 4 cups sliced peaches.

 

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.

Many blessings as newlyweds begin life as one

Tonight was daughter Lovina’s eighth-grade graduation. Her class has 23 students. Our school is a small public school and is very close-knit. Friday is the school picnic, then school doors will close for another term.

Lovina’s school days will be over. She said she will miss seeing her friends but is excited to be done. Son Kevin will be the last of our children to graduate eighth grade next year. Time goes much too fast.

I had a nice 48th birthday on May 22 even though it was spent at sister Emma and Jacob’s house preparing for the Friday wedding of niece Elizabeth and Manuel. Thank you so much for all the cards and gifts. They are greatly appreciated.

Saturday before the wedding, the cook wagon with six stoves and two stainless steel sinks and much counter space arrived. Also a portable restroom, which saves the bathroom in the house from getting used so much. A walk-in cooler and freezer were brought in, and also the storage wagon with tables and everything needed for a 360-place setting. Everything you need to cook for over 1,000 guests is included in this wedding wagon package.

Hundreds of people typically attend Amish weddings. The meal after the ceremony is served in multiple sittings. Each couple chooses special colors. Female attendants sew their dresses in these colors, and the tables at the meal are decorated in the same colors. One corner (called an “eck” in Pennsylvania Dutch) is reserved for the bride and groom and their attendants and decorated with special memorabilia. Photo by Ruth Boss

On Saturday, tables were set up and set with all the china. They were then covered to keep them clean for the next week. Also, over 30 loaves of bread were toasted for the dressing and bagged.

 

Sister Liz, Jacob and Emma’s neighbor Laura, and I were asked to be head cooks. On Saturday, Laura and I made up the grocery list with the amounts of everything needed. Emma had a good start on her shopping.

In addition to 75 pies, the cooks prepared 16 s’mores cakes for guests to enjoy at the wedding of Manuel and Elizabeth. Photo by Ruth Boss

Wednesday and Thursday, women arrived to help prepare food. They cut up 600 pounds of chicken, baked 16 cakes and 75 pies, and prepared 16 pans of orange cream cheesecake. Vegetables were shredded and diced for the dressing and salad, and so many more little jobs that needed to be done or to make less work for Friday morning. Also over 30 loaves of bread were baked.

On the wedding day almost 400 pounds of potatoes were peeled and cooked for mashed potatoes. Manuel’s uncle grilled the 600 pounds of chicken. The menu included gravy, chicken noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, hot peppers, bread, fresh rhubarb jam and butter, s’mores cake, orange cream cheesecake, rhubarb, pumpkin, and cherry pies, fresh fruit (watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries), and candy bars.

The cook wagon outfit was being picked up Saturday at 7 a.m., so all was loaded and packed back in by 10 p.m. Friday. Some of the neighbors, Timothy, Elizabeth, Mose, Susan, Joe, and I helped get everything packed. The pole barn and tent looked empty, but it makes for a quick clean up.

I wish Elizabeth and Manuel many blessings as they begin life as one. May God always be their guide. I’m sure Jacob and Emma’s house seems empty this week with Elizabeth moved to her new home and only the three boys left. Life brings changes!

A lovely quilted wall hanging with Manuel and Elizabeth’s names greeted guests at the meal after the wedding ceremony. Photo by Ruth Boss

I want to thank my friend Ruth for once again helping out at a wedding and for writing my column. She does so much for all of us. She picks up my mail and delivers it here. I am sorry for the delayed responses to readers who wrote, but that is next on my list. Thanks to all of you!

Joe’s uncle Solomon from Dundee, Ohio, came here after the wedding to spend the night. Joe and I made breakfast for him before he left Saturday morning.

We recently had a visit from Joe’s youngest sibling—his sister Susan and her sons Freddie and Seth. They stayed for supper, and the cousins didn’t take long to get reunited with each other.

God’s blessings to each and every one!

 

Orange Cream Cheesecake 

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
1 (3-ounce) package orange gelatin
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip

 Topping:
2 cups Cool Whip
1/4 cup sugar

Crust: Combine cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and butter. Press into bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Filling: Prepare gelatin according to package directions. Set aside 1/2 cup at room temperature. Chill remaining gelatin until slightly thickened, about 80 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Gradually beat in evaporated milk and lemon juice on medium speed for 2 minutes. Gradually beat in orange juice concentrate, vanilla, and room-temperature gelatin. Fold in Cool Whip and pour over prepared crust.

Topping: Beat together Cool Whip and sugar. Beat in refrigerated gelatin. Mixture will be thin. Chill for 30 minutes. Gently spoon over filling. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Note: We place mandarin orange slices on top. Delicious!

 

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

How to cook for a wedding crowd

A guest post from Lovina’s English (non-Amish) friend Ruth Boss.

This week Lovina is busy with preparations for niece Elizabeth and Manuel’s Friday wedding, so she has asked me to share about the work being done in the days before the wedding. The wedding wagons arrived last week, so Saturday the tables were all set up in the barn and the china, silverware, and glasses were all set. The wedding wagons include a cook wagon that has two sinks, five stoves, and all the cookware needed to prepare for a large gathering. There is a refrigerated wagon and a wagon that has two self-contained washrooms. The church bench wagon supplied the benches for the dinner tables, and another church’s bench wagon was borrowed to set up benches in the barn of neighbors Andrew and Laura, where the actual ceremony will be held.

Wednesday morning it was raining heavily when the women arrived to start the cooking. On the wall inside of the cook wagon was a list of jobs to be done for that day. Each woman chose a job and quickly went to work. Bread was cubed and baked for dressing, and potatoes, carrots, and onions were chopped for the dressing also. Rhubarb was chopped for pies and jam, pie dough crust was mixed, and chocolate and vanilla cakes were baked in round pans. The women enjoy conversation while they work, catching up on things like family activities, gardening, and church events. They speak in Dutch (high German) but politely switch to English when I am in the conversation. There is a good amount of laughter and teasing, especially with Lovina’s sisters. There was even a little Amish “dancing” when a little mouse decided to make an appearance in the cook wagon in the middle of the food prep.

 

Lovina, sister Liz, and neighbor Laura are the head cooks for the wedding. After the menu is decided the head cooks determine how much food is needed and make a large grocery list. They help schedule the women who come to do the food prep and assign coffee time treats, lunch casseroles, salads, and desserts for the meals they share on workdays. The quantity of food that needs to be prepared to make 1,000 meals seems overwhelming to an outsider, but they make it seem easy and the work goes along quite seamlessly. If one person steps away from washing dishes to get finished pies from the oven, another quickly steps in and takes over the dishes. There is a quiet and simple cadence to their work, which is consistent with their lifestyle.

Thursday morning began with a good storm, but by mid-morning the sun was shining. The pie crusts were made, pie fillings were prepared, and all the pies were baked. The pumpkin pie, rhubarb pie, and cherry pie all baking at once make a delightful medley of aromas. The bread dough was also mixed, and after rising it was made into small loaves and baked. The fresh-bread smell is as mouthwatering as the pies! Outside the cook wagon the strawberries, grapes, and blueberries are being washed for the fruit salad. Yesterday’s cakes are being frosted, and the orange cheesecake dessert is being assembled.

The men set up the tent outside the barn, and tables and benches were set to accommodate all the guests. In the house the young girls are playing with the small children and the house is getting a good once-over. Windows are being shined, floors swept and mopped, and furniture polished. Next week, Lovina will share more about the special wedding day.

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