Category Archives: Pies

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.

 

All that goes with preparing for a wedding—and birthdays and Mother’s Day too

We had a nice sunny day in the 70s. That was a welcome change after some cool rainy weather the past week. Yesterday was also nice and sunny, making laundry dry fast. It was rainy on Monday so I spent my day sewing and we postponed washing laundry until Tuesday.

I had a good day with sewing. I sewed daughter Lovina’s dress, cape, and apron for the wedding next week of niece Elizabeth. I also sewed two shirts for son Kevin and gray pants for the wedding. Yesterday I sewed daughter Verena’s dress, cape, and apron for the wedding. Now its daughter Loretta and my suits left to sew. I am hoping to work on that tomorrow.

Today daughter Elizabeth and Susan were home with their sweet little ones. They brought their sewing for the wedding along, so I helped them instead of working on mine. Elizabeth has a two-year-old and five-month-old baby, so I know how many interruptions you can have trying to do extra sewing. Elizabeth and Tim are also hosting church services in June, so she has cleaning that needs done as well. And of course it’s time to plant the gardens.

My husband Joe has been tending to our gardens since he’s not working anywhere yet. He’s planting extra in hopes we can sell some by the road. Radishes, lettuce, and corn are up despite the cooler weather we had. Rhubarb is ready to use, so I need to make rhubarb custard pies sometime. That is one of the pies sister Emma plans to have us make for her daughter’s upcoming May 24th wedding next week. I will take my rhubarb if she needs more.

Saturday, Joe and I will go help at Jacob and Emma’s house to unload the wedding tables and dishes for the wedding. Tables will be set and all that goes with preparing for a wedding.

Last week my daughters and I and sisters Verena and Susan helped sister Emma and her daughters Elizabeth and Emma put 216 eggs into noodles. My husband Joe went along to help brother-in-law Jacob with his work. Working together making noodles is always fun. Of course, many hands make lighter work.

Saturday is also daughter Lovina’s 15th birthday, so a happy birthday goes to her.

Sunday, Jacob and Emma’s family and we and our children all gathered at my sister’s house in honor of sister Susan’s birthday. We enjoyed a haystack brunch and dessert. After dishes were washed, some played croquet outside and the rest of us played Rummikub. This was my first time playing the game. It seems similar to Phase 10 but has tiles instead of cards.

Sunday was also nephew Benjamin’s 17th birthday and Mother’s Day as well. I have some nice hanging flowers on my porch from our children. Daughter Elizabeth and Tim had their flower along in the buggy to give to me Sunday at my sister’s house. When Tim brought it in to give to me, granddaughter Abigail started crying. She said she wanted to keep the flower. She loves flowers, and it was so cute to see her want to keep it. My sister Susan went outside and picked a few flowers for Abigail, which made her happy again.

Before we all left for home, sisters Verena and Susan heated up the leftover haystack, making a casserole of everything that was left over from brunch. Everyone ate before parting ways to go home. It was an enjoyable day together!

God’s blessings to all!

 

Apple Rhubarb Crisp

2 cups apples, cut fine
2 cups rhubarb, cut fine
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar

Mix apples, rhubarb, eggs, flour, sugar, and nutmeg together. Place in baking dish.

Topping: Combine butter, flour, and brown sugar to crumbly consistency mixture. Pour over apple-rhubarb mixture. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done. Serve with milk 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, 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.

With tongue in cheek, young Lovina says: Homework should be illegal

Dear readers. Today I, Lovina (youngest daughter of Lovina), thought I’d give Mom a little break and write her weekly column. In case any of you are confused, I was named after my Mom so we share the same name.

Although I’m not as busy as my Mom, it takes 90 percent of my energy to put so much brain into schoolwork! I think homework should be illegal, it is physically and mentally too stressful for our bodies.

For instance, when I ask Mom to help me with my homework, it doesn’t really get me anywhere. She’s smart but she wastes ten percent of the little time I have by doing the multiplication problems on paper instead of using the calculator.

I never thought I needed school. I always knew I was born a natural genius. Just don’t go asking any family members; they probably have stories that would tell you differently. Anyway, there’s no trying to get out of school now. Although I did try to get people to fall for my theory about being a natural genius, I gave up since this is my last year.

I’m going to be graduating from eighth grade middle school in May. Time flies, it seems like yesterday I was in kindergarten. Even though sometimes I forget I’m not an adult yet.

Sometime this month we are going to present our school portfolios. I think there is a special name for it, but I forget. After presenting our portfolio to our parents and some other people, we will serve them dinner. The best part is that we eighth graders get to bake the food for them ourselves. If I’m any good at that kind of stuff like my Mom is, then the food should be edible. The school also hires a comedian to come in and be funny, I think. I’m nervous abut presenting the portfolio but other then that it sounds like fun.

Right now Loretta and Verena are making cookies. I should be helping them but I get the fun part of eating them.

The weather here has warmed up a lot today. I can’t complain, I’ve been looking forward to it warming up. Earlier this week I had just started thinking that winter had left us … and then of course it snowed. On the bright side, there is still no doubt of me being a genius. I’m right 99.9 percent of the time. Apparently when it snowed that was the one percent of time I was wrong.

I should go get started on supper, and then go outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. My brothers Joseph and Ben are doing chores. Kevin is reading his new sets of books that Mom got him. He is very proud of his books and gives me strict instructions on how to use them properly if I ask to read one.

Kevin asks me the most random questions that even I don’t know what they mean. Then when I can’t make sense of it, I sit in silence, which rarely happens with me. What else is there to do when my head is spinning in confusion?

Anyway, I’m going to help Mom and my sister make supper. Or the next question Kevin will be asking is, “Is supper ready yet?”

God bless you all! I will share one of my favorite recipes.

Oatmeal Pie

2 eggs, slightly beaten

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup white corn syrup

3/4 cup quick oats

1/4 cup melted butter

 

Combine eggs, sugar, and corn syrup and mix well. Add oats and butter and mix well. Pour into a 9-inch pie shell. Bake at 400 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, 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.

Eight inches of snow and family birthdays bring January to a close

Twenty-three years ago today, January 24, we were blessed with our second daughter, Susan. Susan is now a wife and mother. Time goes too fast for me! Happy 23rd birthday, Susan!

Today is also my sister Liz’s 50th birthday. Liz is a little over two years older than I am. I am not looking forward to seeing that big 50 when I get there. But why complain if we have good health? Happy 50th, Liz!

Lovina, 14, and Kevin, 13, are on their way to school after having the day off yesterday. We had freezing rain and ice everywhere. There were so many accidents. I wish all the best to anyone who had an accident or fall during those few days.

Last weekend we received almost eight inches of snow so the children had some fun sledding. Kevin wasn’t too happy that he had to watch from inside the house. He’s not allowed to get his cast wet, so there was no going out in the snow for him.

Sons-in-law Tim and Mose, Dustin (Loretta’s special friend), husband Joe and sons Benjamin and Joseph dressed the big beef on Saturday that we gave to Tims’ and Moses’ for their Christmas. It is hanging out in the cold pole barn. Tomorrow plans are for Tim, Elizabeth and children, Mose, Susan and Jennifer to come here and cut up the beef. The girls are bringing their pressure cookers and canning jars, freezer bags, and other supplies. We will process and package all their meat in the heated part of our pole barn. It will be nice for them to have the mess all out there.

Joe, Tim, Mose and son Benjamin are all off work tomorrow. Dustin isn’t working either so I’m not sure if he will come to help. In any case, we will have plenty help.

Baby Timothy will be six weeks old on Monday. He is nine pounds now and 21 inches already— two pounds heavier and two inches longer than when he was born. Abigail is starting to love her little brother Timmy. She loves to help Elizabeth take care of him.

On Friday evening our family all gathered at daughter Susan and Mose’s house in honor of Jennifer’s first birthday. Pizza casserole, cottage cheese, sliced cheese, grilled deer steaks and pork chops, pudding, brownies and cupcakes were on the menu.

Jennifer enjoyed her first chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She loved getting to eat a whole one but mostly licked the frosting. Needless to say, she needed a bath afterward! When we arrived at Mose and Susan’s, there wasn’t any snow on the ground. By the time we left, there were quite a few inches and it was snowing hard all the way home. The wind made for some pretty huge drifts.

On Saturday while some worked on the beef, some cleaned out our driveway and sidewalks. Elizabeth and baby Timothy didn’t come along on Saturday. Abigail was excited she could still come with Daddy. She was all bundled up when Tim brought her in through the snow. Of course the girls and I had fun having her here. Daughter Susan and Jennifer came with Mose and spent the day here also.

This morning I will go to the hospital to have some tests done. I’m hoping that won’t take too long so we can do our laundry when I get home. Tomorrow we will be busy working on the beef.

Kevin seems to be doing okay with his casted leg and foot. Being stuck in his wheelchair does irritate him. He’s had a few tumbles out of the wheelchair from leaning too far forward trying to reach for something. He doesn’t like to ask us to get something for him; he wants to fend for himself. That’s a good thing, I guess. He has four more weeks until his appointment at the hospital in Ann Arbor. We are hoping they will remove the cast and put on an air cast.

I must get busy. My work doesn’t do itself, so I had better get with it. Stay safe and healthy! A reader requested the following recipe. God’s blessings to all!

Shoestring Apple Pie is the recipe of the week, but Lovina also baked an oatmeal pie, which her family clearly enjoyed.

Shoestring Apple Pie

2 cups shredded apples
1 (9-inch) pie crust, unbaked
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 heaping tablespoons flour
2 eggs, well beaten
2–3 tablespoons butter, melted
cinnamon

Place shredded apples in unbaked pie shell. Mix sugar, water, flour and eggs. Pour over apples. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn down to 325 degrees and bake just until set. Best if you let it set or refrigerate for at least 6 hours before eating.

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.

The lowdown on the services of a wedding wagon

The lowdown on the services of a wedding wagon

November is bringing cold rainy weather. Leaves are all over our front yard from all the big trees there. The beauty of the season is upon us!

Congratulations to niece Emma and Menno! They set December 7 for their wedding date where they will exchange vows in holy matrimony. Wedding services will be held in their neighbor’s pole barn, close by parents Jacob and Emma; the wedding meals and reception will then be at the home of Jacob and Emma. This wedding will make a change for Jacob and Emma’s family with the first of their children leaving home. Menno owns a home not too far from Jacob and Emma so they have a house to move in to.

This announcement has put a lot more on our agenda. Our family all has a part in the wedding one way or another. That means lots of new clothes and lots of time at the sewing machine. I already have daughter Verena and Loretta’s dresses, capes, and aprons cut out and plan to start sewing those today. I need to get more material this week yet so I can cut out more outfits. Daughter Verena is done helping the family from our church so she can now help with the sewing. Emma has chosen the color aqua for the tablewaiters and turquoise for the cooks. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan also need to sew for themselves and their little girls. It will be a busy month!

Saturday our family will go help Jacob and Emma get ready for the upcoming wedding. Many hands make lighter work. At least at this time of the year there will be no grass to mow and no garden to take care of and of course no flies.

I was asked to be one of the head cooks so I will need to be there most of the wedding week preparing the jobs for all the other cooks. For now we will concentrate mostly on getting our sewing done so we can help over at Jacob and Emma’s house more often as the wedding draws near.

Jacob’s have a nice big pole barn that is insulated and that will be where all the tables will be set. A wedding wagon will be rented in which to do most of the cooking. Chicken will be on the menu and that will be grilled outside. We can not order the weather but I do hope they have a nice sunny day and not too cold. Jacob’s also have a big entrance/garage attached to their house so there will be plenty of heated space for guests to visit in.

The outside of a wedding wagon looks like an RV.

For those of you who don’t know what a wedding wagon is: it is like an RV with a ramp added on, with six or seven propane gas stoves and ovens in it. There are also several sinks with hot and cold running water. Dishes, cookware, and everything you need for the food part of an Amish wedding come with the rental package. There are also tables and a refrigeration unit.

The inside of the wedding wagon is a portable kitchen that families rent for the week of the wedding.

This makes it so much easier now than how it was when Joe and I were married in 1993. We had to gather extra kerosene stoves from neighbors and families and set them all up in our wash house/buggy shed building. Mom had to get out all her dishes, glasses, cookware and borrow from others if she didn’t have enough of something. Then after the wedding, all of this had to be delivered back to everyone. Now, afterwards, we can just have people help pack up all the dishes, tables, etc. into the wedding wagon. Usually the church’s benches (which come in a separate wagon) are used for seating guests for the service.

Tomorrow some of our children and I will travel to Ann Arbor to the children’s hospital for their annual muscular dystrophy checkup. Its usually a long day with all the testing, and driving over two hours each way.

Now I must get started with my work. I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement! I wish all of you a good week and may God bless you always! Here’s a recipe shared by a reader.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped peeled baking apples
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add sour cream. Stir in sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, vanilla and salt; mix well. Stir in apples. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine brown sugar and remaining flour; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of pie. Return to oven for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve or cover and refrigerate. Yield: 8 servings.

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.

 

Missing loved ones at a family reunion  

Photo by Grant Beachy

Missing loved ones at a family reunion

It was another hot and humid day with temperatures in the 90’s. Now we are having a thunderstorm. It might cool off after this. We are also getting a good soaking rain which we needed.

On Saturday we all attended the family gathering for my family at sister Emma and  Jacob’s. They had roasted a hog for the meat. I will try to remember some of the other foods brought in. Emma made several casseroles and then there was overnight salad, taco salad, cucumber salad, sliced tomatoes, hot peppers, cheese (several varieties), salsa, chips, venison, summer sausage, apple, cherry and bread pies, doughnuts, a variety of cookies, puddings, cakes, watermelon, cinnamon bread and so much!

I probably forgot to mention Sister Leah made the bread pie. I remember Mother making this pie a lot when she had an extra pie crust that needed to be filled when she was making pies. I will share her recipe of bread pie at the end of the column. It isn’t very hard to make at all and tastes better than you would think. It was always named Poor Man’s Bread Pie, probably because of the simple ingredients it takes.

If I counted right, the total of all our family members would be 133 without counting the ones that have passed away such as my dear parents, brother Amos, nieces Mary Shetler and Marilyn Schwartz. I counted around 75 (more or less) of our family who made it to the gathering. It was a low attendance this year. It is so hard to pick a day that suits everyone to come.

Also, it was my brother Amos and Nancy’s 35th wedding anniversary on Saturday. Although he has passed away our minds still were with him and Nancy. Nancy and family didn’t come for the gathering except their oldest daughter Susan, husband Joe, and family. They live in a community nearby, around 18-20 miles from here. We were glad to see them come but I know the day was hard on Susan. We all felt the emptiness and missed the presence of Amos and family.

Jacob and Emma had three big balls of gifts wrapped by plastic wrap to open; one was for the siblings, one for the nieces and nephews, and one for the great nieces and nephews. This is where one person is given the ball to unwrap and keep whatever little gifts fall out until the next person throws a certain number on a dice and then the ball gets passed on and on and at the end is the grand prize. It was exciting once the ball came close to being totally unwrapped.

Sister Liz won the grand prize for the siblings’ game which was $50.00 in a Tupperware container. Brother Albert’s daughter Sylvia won the same prize for the nieces and nephews’ game and LaRose (granddaughter of sister Liz and Levi) won the grand prize of the great nieces and nephews’ game which was a Tupperware tea set and $20. This was generous of Jacob and Emma to do this for everyone. Emma said she thought we might not feel like singing with brother Amos’s recent passing so she thought this would be better.

Before the six of us sisters parted, our daughters talked us into at least yodeling together for them so we sang a few yodeling numbers. What just made it worthwhile was little Abigail standing there trying to help us. When we would finish a song she would tell us to sing more.

Snacks were set out that everyone brought to enjoy before we all left for home. Next year, sisters Verena and Susan will take their turn hosting. Will we still all be together? Only God knows the future. Live every day as though it is your last.

On Sunday, September 2, son Kevin had his 13th birthday. We now have five teenagers in this house. Kevin had several friends come home from school with him Tuesday night and spend the night and go back on the bus with him the next day in honor of his birthday. The boys had a lot of fun!

On Sunday those here for an outdoor brunch were Jacob and Emma and family, Menno and Manuel, Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail, Mose, Susan and Jennifer, Dustin, and sisters Verena and Susan. We made sausage gravy in a kettle over an open fire and cooked bacon on the grill. We also made biscuits plus ham and cheese omelet roll in the oven here in the house.

No more space to write so I’ll sign off wishing you all God’s blessings.

Poor Man’s Bread Pie

Bread crumbs
1 tablespoon flour
6 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Milk

In an unbaked 9-inch pie shell, fill with crumbs of bread (can use up older pieces of bread) until full. Mix together flour, sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over bread crumbs. Fill crust with milk. Bake in a 375-degree oven until well set.

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.

 

Nothing better in late winter than visits from Grandma’s little sweeties

We have entered the month of March, and it is definitely coming in like a lion! It is rainy, cold and windy here in our part of Michigan. We had several nice sunny days with temperatures hitting the upper 50s and lower 60s. It spoiled us and we really wanted it to stay. It sounds like we might get more snow though, so we better just be patient.

Our week has been spent cutting up beef, pressure canning, grinding hamburger and slicing steaks, and of course, bagging the meat for the freezer. Last Saturday we decided to butcher both beefs instead of waiting for another time. So we have double the work. My husband, Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, son-in-law Timothy, son-in-law Mose and Loretta’s special friend Dustin helped dress the beef on Saturday. Timothy, Elizabeth, Mose and Susan have also been helping to cut it up. Work goes much faster with so many helping.

Lovina and Joe’s granddaughter Abigail gets excited when her parents’ buggy pulls in to Grandma’s house.

Elizabeth said when they came driving with their buggy, little Abigail spotted our house and said, “Grandma!” She was a little busybody last night. She loves to color and write. I’m amazed at how well she holds her pencil. Jennifer is such a sweetie too. She smiles often, and Susan said she reaches for the toys she hangs in her swing. I was so busy that I didn’t get to spend enough time with the sweeties last night.

I made rare beef for supper for everyone. The girls had made a casserole as well. I have mentioned before how we make rare beef. We slice the most tender steak into really thin pieces. I deep-fried it in olive oil last night. Some use oil and some use lard. You make sure your oil is really hot and then take a piece and stir around, flip over, stir once and it’s done. We put salt and black pepper on both sides of every slice before we start. We put on a lot of black pepper. It’s spicy, but it just doesn’t taste right without that much.

We didn’t put much pepper on Abigail’s pieces, but she still didn’t care for it! I remember when our children were younger they would have a glass of water to dip the meat in so some of the pepper would come off. I wouldn’t put on as much pepper when they were younger.

My grandpa Graber was an expert at deep-frying rare beef. Then my mother took after him and always made it for our family. Now I can see how she was probably glad once everyone had their share! I make the rare beef while everyone else eats so that it’s fresh. It doesn’t taste as good when it has cooled off.

Sunday we went to church and then stopped in to visit Jacob and Emma. Jacob wasn’t feeling well enough to come to church.

We ended up at Mose and Susan’s house for supper. Timothy and Elizabeth and Abigail, Dustin and nephew Henry were all there, plus all of our family. Mose grilled brats and Susan made pizza casserole. It was nice to get out of cooking. I spoiled Jennifer and Abigail while the girls made supper. Daughter Verena was glad to get out of the house for a while. She elevated her leg all day, as she lost her balance and fell on her cast. She had quite a bit of pain so I called the doctor. It helps to elevate it more often, and now Verena says it is feeling better. In three weeks we will go back to the doctor and see how it’s doing. I hope it is healing well!

I want to thank everyone for the sympathy cards you sent. May God bless you for your kindness!

A reader shared her recipe for butterscotch pie with me. She says it’s much easier to make than mine. I’ll share it with all of you as well. Thanks, Patricia!

Butterscotch Pie

1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1 1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pie crust, baked

Mix brown sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan; stir in water, milk and butter. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Boil one minute. Stir 1/2 of mixture into egg yolks, then blend into remaining mixture with vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Chill. When cold, top with whipped cream topping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coconut Pie

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

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

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017, available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Meat aplenty: Making pon hoss and cutting up beef

Saturday we left at 6:00 a.m. to go help sister Emma and Jacob butcher three hogs. One of the hogs was for Menno (Menno is a special friend of niece Emma, 19—Emma and Jacob’s daughter). Menno lives alone in the house Timothy (married to our Elizabeth) used to live in before he moved to the bigger place they have now.

My sisters Verena and Susan, Timothy, Elizabeth, Abigail, Mose, Susan, and Dustin (Loretta’s special friend) were all there to help too. Many hands make lighter work and we were mostly done by early afternoon. We made pon hoss from the broth and meat cooked from the pork bones. Flour, salt, and pepper is added to thicken it to make what we call pon hoss. After the pon hoss has firmed up in pans, you can cut it in slices and cover with flour and fry it. Our children love pon hoss fried for breakfast. I must say I do like pon hoss, but I’m always glad when the last of it is fried up. This year we did put a few pans in the freezer. We will see how it tastes after it’s been frozen awhile.

I think people in some areas call pon hoss “scrapple.” But we do not put any pork liver in our pon hoss—only the meat cooked from the bones. My parents would always make liver pudding and use some of the meat from the bones. We don’t make liver pudding because it seems Joe is the only one that cares for it around here.

My husband Joe took our meat slicer along and sliced all the ham, bacon, and pork chops for Jacob’s and Menno. Everything was bagged and put in the freezer. Some of the sausage was canned.

Beef will supply food for the family for many months.

Our big project for this week is to cut up our big beef that’s butchered and hanging out in the pole barn. We are glad the temperature has dropped. The thermometer is at the 30 degree mark and it should chill the beef well. We will start cutting it up tomorrow afternoon and finish Saturday if we don’t get it finished. The pole barn isn’t heated so it makes a nice big cooler for the meat.

Sunday evening Timothy, Elizabeth, Abigail, Mose, Susan, and Dustin were our supper guests. The men and boys played horseshoes outside. They were a gift Tim received at Christmas so he brought the game along. It was a very pleasant, warmer day so they were glad to be outdoors. The girls and I made supper, visited, and took turns spoiling little Abigail. She is growing so fast! She hugs us and holds her lips to our cheek like she’s kissing us. She will be six months old tomorrow already! She weighs fifteen pounds now and is twenty-six inches long. One day when we prayed before we ate, she put her hands together and acted like she was praying too. I will quit for now with stories about Abigail. Every grandma knows these feelings and knows how precious grandchildren are.

I am getting so many letters from readers asking where my new cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry can be purchased. I thought I would share in the column where it can be preordered. You can call 800-245-7894 to preorder from the publisher, or if you go online, you can order from Amazon and other stores online. It comes out April 17. I appreciate all the interest in the new cookbook. It was quite an adventure to make my first cookbook without a co-author. I have so many people to acknowledge in the book. Without them I could not have done it! God bless!

Sour Cream Apple Pie

1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups tart apples, peeled and sliced or diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Beat first 7 ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Stir in apples and pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients, mixing to make crumbs. Remove pie from oven and cover with crumb mixture. Return to oven for 20 minutes, or until crumbs are nicely browned. If necessary, cover crimped edge of crust with foil to prevent over browning.

 

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