Category Archives: Side Dishes

Cold Settles in at the Eicher Homestead

It is Saturday evening here at the Eicher homestead. It is 7 p.m. and the mercury on the thermometer is down to 33 degrees. We are having snow flurries all day, with no accumulation though. I think our warm weather is history for 2022. Last Saturday I was out without a coat raking leaves, and now today, with a high of 36 degrees, I limited outdoor work to only the necessity.

It is a quiet night here. The three boys and Lovina all had plans tonight, and all left before supper. My husband Joe is showering now, and we will call it an early night. Our church services are hosted by a family that lives 11 miles from here. Everyone will need to make an early start.

Last night we had our whole family here for supper. It has been awhile since everyone was home, at least at the same time. The menfolk grilled 20 pounds of chicken as well as some wings. We made mashed potatoes and noodles along with cheese and then brownies, jello cake, and ice cream for dessert.

The grandchildren had a great time with Grandma’s new toys (from Karen in Kansas). They were quite entertained all night. After supper we all gathered around the table and sang songs. Making memories as a family is so very precious to me. The little grandchildren enjoyed listening to all of us singing. And when Grandpa Joe started playing the harmonica, they were amazed and sat there and stared at him. Joe doesn’t often play it anymore, so he had to get some practice, but they enjoyed it just the same. Joe has some very talented harmonica players in his family. I never could get the hang of it, so I would always tease Joe that I’m not windy enough to play it.

Today the boys and Joe tackled the job of organizing our pole barn, on the tool shed side and the side where we have church and large gatherings, etc. It looks quite a lot better. Joe started the coal stove in there, and it’s much cooler than the house it but keeps the water from freezing. Also the battery pack from our solar power needs a little heat in the cold months.

Sister Verena was here a few days and nights. She went home today. I think she likes to leave once in a while for a change of mind. It’s lonely for her, living alone. Last Sunday our family had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Sister Verena joined us there, too.

Tim and Elizabeth had a delicious meal of ham and cheese oven omelet, biscuits, sausage gravy, etc. I took cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies. Dessert also was ice cream and gelatin.

We played games in the afternoon and were served good snacks, with one being venison summer sausage that Tim made. It is very good! He also made good jerky.

Son-in-law Dustin harvested an eight-point buck this week. It helps fill the freezer for them.

This is now Monday. Grandson Denzel is now four months old. He’s around 15 pounds. He sure is a happy baby. He giggles so easy. Yesterday I was holding him in church, and he looked over towards the men and spotted his daddy (Dustin). He started grinning and reaching to want to go there. Dustin came to get him, and I could hear him giggling over there. Granddaughter Andrea (daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s) is now nine months. I held her during church, too. She’s very active and pushes the push toy around and gets around walking by furniture or crawling. They grow so fast.

I will share the recipe for my dressing that I use for Thanksgiving dinner.

God bless!

Dressing
2 tablespoons chicken-flavored soup base
2 cups hot water (use potato water, if you have some)
10 slices bread, crumbled
4 eggs
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery or celery leaves
1/4 cup chopped onions

Dissolve soup base in hot water, then add rest of ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish or cake pan and 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 wherever books are sold.  Because Lovina is Old Order Amish, she does not have email or a telephone in her home. Lovina does not respond to comments on this website, if you would like to contact her directly, click here.

Lovina’s Community Pulls Together for Benefit Dinner

Our house feels nice and cozy since Joe started our coal stove in the basement. With the temperature outside at 61 degrees, it’s almost too warm, so I have some windows open. It’s too cold in here without heat and too warm with heat. I imagine it won’t be long before we will be needing the coal stove going full blast.

Saturday we plan to attend my family gathering at brother Albert’s.

Yesterday I spent the day at Susan’s friend Ervin’s house. Susan and I washed off walls and ceilings, cabinets, etc. Ervin has most of his belongings there but has a lot of unpacking to do. The children were excited to show me their bedrooms.

All five children had a disappointment on Sunday night. Ervin and Susan had bought them a miniature pony that had just been weaned from his mom. They led this pony everywhere and became attached to him fast. He was a calm little pony, just perfect to entertain five little children. On Sunday night they saw it wasn’t acting right and called the vet. But before he came out, the pony died. The vet thinks it had something to do with being away from his mom and maybe developing parasites. He said weanlings have been known to do this. Well, little four-year-old Jennifer’s explanation was, “We need to get a pony that’s not allergic to our food.” She thinks the pony was allergic.

A small portion of the 1200 pounds of grilled chicken prepared for this week’s benefit dinner. Photo provided.

We had a good outcome with the benefit grilled chicken and pulled pork dinner on Friday evening, to help Dustin and Loretta with hospital and ongoing medical expenses. We appreciated everyone that helped in any way. It takes many hands to do a benefit like this.

The menu was pulled pork, grilled chicken, chicken noodle soup, baked beans, potato salad, peanut butter, strawberry, pecan, and pumpkin pies, lemonade, and coffee. To prepare for this we had one hog roasted, but we ran out so we could’ve had two. We had 1200 pounds of grilled chicken and it took 700 pounds. (The rest was taken around to places in a nearby community for donation.) It is so hard to know how much to have as you don’t have any idea how many people will show up, and we had carry-outs available, too. We bought 80 pounds of noodles from an Amish bulk food store, and 75 quarts of chicken broth were donated by the local families. There were 23 kettles (12-quart size) of chicken noodle soup made. It took 21 kettles. Women in the community made 30 gallons of potato salad and 30 gallons of baked beans. We had more than enough of that. Close to 130 pies came in, and we ran out of strawberry and peanut butter pies.

Son-in-law Dustin had a birthday on Saturday, October 8 (the day after the benefit). Loretta baked him a cake and brought it here Sunday for our noon meal. Daughter Elizabeth, Tim, and four children, daughter Susan and two children, Ervin and three children, daughter Verena, and sister Verena were all here. We had mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken noodles, chicken, baked beans, potato salad, pecan and pumpkin pies, and cake. A lot of the food was leftovers from the benefit so the meal was easy.

Deer hunting season is in (bow season). Son-in-law Tim shot two and daughter Lovina’s special friend Daniel shot two, also. One was an eight-point buck. Tim is making jerky with some of his deer.

Sister Verena spent a few nights here. Her heat wasn’t on yet so her house was quite chilly.

God’s blessings to all!

Glazed Sweet Potatoes
2 pounds medium sweet potatoes or 2 (18-ounce cans) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup maple-flavored syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

If using fresh sweet potatoes, place in a kettle; cover with water and cook, covered for 25–35 minutes or just until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Peel and cut into chunks. Place cooked or canned sweet potatoes in a 2-quart baking dish. In a small saucepan, combine butter, syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon; cook and stir until mixture boils. Pour over potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30–40 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 wherever books are sold.  Because Lovina is Old Order Amish, she does not have email or a telephone in her home. Lovina does not respond to comments on this website, if you would like to contact her directly, click here.

Saturday Night Supper and Sunday Brunch

After my husband Joe and our sons Benjamin, twenty-two, and Joseph, nineteen, left for work, I took a shower and now want to get this column written.

Daughter Lovina will go to work this morning helping stain trim at a friend’s house. My plans are to go help daughter Loretta get her house cleaned for the Tupperware shower daughter Elizabeth is hosting for her. It’s a belated wedding shower, and lunch will be served afterward.

Sister Verena spent a few nights here again. It gets lonely for her when she doesn’t see anyone for almost a week. She came Sunday night and had supper here, then went home Tuesday.

On Monday, she went with me to daughter Loretta and Dustin’s house. We helped Loretta clean windows, wash some laundry, etc. Then in the evening, daughter Elizabeth, Tim, and four children came to help. Sons Benjamin and Joseph also came over. The men did the plumbing and installed two new toilets and a new vanity for the bathroom. They worked late to try to get the water hooked back up. Dustin was glad for their help. Elizabeth and I helped Loretta make supper which was mashed potatoes, beef and noodles, corn, mixed vegetables, etc. The rest of our family (Joe, daughter Lovina, and son Kevin) also came over to eat supper.

Their house is looking good with the remodeling they have done and much more open space. I think they will be glad when it’s all done. It still needs trim and baseboards, but at least it’s livable now. She has much more cabinet space now as well.

Sister Verena came home with us again that night. It was late by the time we came home, but at least we didn’t have far to go as Dustin and Loretta just live across the road.

The children had fun roasting hot dogs and making s’mores. Photo provided.

Saturday night, our family went to Elizabeth and Tim’s house for supper. We sat around the campfire and sang together. That was something we hadn’t done in a while. The children had fun roasting hot dogs and making s’mores. Some of us stayed the night, and some went home and came back for brunch on Sunday. Air mattresses were put up for extra beds.

It was fun to wake up and play with the little grandchildren. Andrea is almost four months old and is such a sweetie. She tries to talk, and her smile is so precious.

Of course, grandson Ryan, two, has to come with his dad Mose’s old black hat. He thinks he has to wear that all the time even though it’s much too big for his head. When Grandpa Joe puts his hat somewhere, Ryan will take his hat off and set it on top of Grandpa’s.

Brunch was delicious; the menu included biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs, cheese, hot peppers, donuts, brownies, rhubarb and grape juices, and coffee. It was an enjoyable weekend!

Yesterday, son Kevin and I washed laundry. It was a nice day to dry it. In the afternoon and evening, we had grandson T.J., three, and granddaughter Allison, two, here while Tim and Elizabeth, baby Andrea, and Abigail went shopping. It was fun to have them here. I made hamburgers on the gas grill and had buttered beets and macaroni and cheese with that.

T.J. fell asleep on the couch right before supper, so he didn’t have supper yet when Tim came back to pick them up.

Those two little ones put in so many miles in a short time. They kept Grandma busy. They slipped upstairs to daughter Lovina’s bedroom and sprayed perfume all over them, so I had to change their clothes because it was so strong. They were really giggling about it.

I soon remembered that two- and three-year-olds are not safe to be left alone long. Smile! They were enjoyable to have here. God’s blessings to all!

I want to let all readers know that the mailing address has changed, so make sure you send all mail to the new one, which is P.O. Box 234, Sturgis, Michigan 49091.

Pea and Cheese Salad
1 12–16-ounce package of frozen peas, thawed
1 cup chopped celery
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup cubed Colby cheese
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Stir into pea mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

 

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 wherever books are sold.  Because Lovina is Old Order Amish, she does not have email or a telephone in her home. Lovina does not respond to comments on this website, if you would like to contact her directly, click here.

Upcoming Graduations and Weddings

The last day of May brings us temperatures in the 80s. A nice breeze is blowing, helping us stay cool. This breeze will help our hay dry. Hopefully, it will get baled tonight.

Tonight is nephew Steven’s eighth-grade graduation, which we plan to attend. This is the last of sister Emma’s (Jacob) children to graduate from school.

Son Kevin never had his graduation since it was in 2020 when everything was shut down from COVID-19.

A trio of Lovina’s horses. Photo provided.

Emma’s son Benjamin and Crystal have been published to exchange wedding vows on August 5th Lord willing. Congratulations to them. August 5th would be daughter Susan and Mose’s sixth wedding anniversary if he were still with us. We must accept God’s plan and life goes on. Mose will never be forgotten, and we treasure the memories we have of him.

Tomorrow my husband Joe and I will attend the wedding of Jeremiah and Sarah. Jeremiah is from our church district, and they bought a place in our district to live after they are married. We have a few more wedding invitations on our fridge. Congratulations and God’s blessings to all the young couples as they unite in marriage.

We had a great turnout Friday night and the pleasure of listening to Robert Rogers tell his story. Many tears were shed as he told us about losing his wife and four children in a flash flood in Kansas in 2003. His faith in God is amazing. His encouragement to all the families that have lost loved ones is amazing.

We were also happy to meet his second wife, Inga, and their five children.   It was also great to meet Inga’s parents as well. They are readers of my column, and we had a lovely visit.

We appreciated all the church members that came in support as well. Ham and hotdog sandwiches and snacks were enjoyed afterward.

Our hearts ache for the families in Texas who lost loved ones in the school shooting. Also, for the ones who witnessed the tragedy. May God be their guide and his many blessings be showered upon them. Lots of prayers are needed!

We had a few questions about the church meal: Egg salad was made from chopped hot dogs, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and mayonnaise. This mixture is spread on homemade bread, and many add pickles on top. Some also add hot peppers.

Another question was asked if we use both the house and pole barn when we have church. Church services are held in the pole barn, but the house is open as well. The women with babies or young children use the house as a nursery to care for their little ones. With only one bathroom in the pole barn, some come in during the service to use the bathrooms in the house.

I will share the egg salad recipe we used for church. I do not add onions or celery when I make mine.

God’s blessings to all!

Egg Salad

3 pounds of hot dogs (may substitute ham)
2 1/2 dozen hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
2 cups whipped salad dressing
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Grind the hot dogs in a grinder. Place ground hot dogs in a large bowl and stir in the hard-cooked eggs, whipped salad dressing, mayonnaise, onions, and celery until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

 

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 wherever books are sold.  Because Lovina is Old Order Amish, she does not have email or a telephone in her home. Lovina does not respond to comments on this website, if you would like to contact her directly, click here.

Early springtime fun with the grandchildren—and more beef

Another week has already passed us by, and it is time to pen this column again.

My plans for today are to wash daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s laundry. Daughter Lovina assisted her with her work for several hours yesterday. I went to pick Lovina up and brought the laundry home. Today sounds like it will be a warm day to hang it outside. The sun is trying to peep out from behind the clouds.

Baby Andrea is now four weeks old. Her cute little expressions are so fun to watch. I was only able to stay a few minutes yesterday. She would change her smile to a frown then back to a smile, as if she wasn’t sure if she should be happy or sad. Such sweet, innocent little angels. What does this world hold in store for them? Only God knows! Allison, 2, still wants to be held by Grandma, too. She is gradually adjusting to the fact that her mother’s attention isn’t all on her. She has had her share of falls from climbing. She is a little tomboy and tries to keep up with active little T.J., 3.

We stopped through daughter Susan’s and got to see Jennifer, 4, and Ryan, 2, for a few minutes. The weather was so nice, and they both came running out of the door barefooted, circling around the yard—but not for long, as Susan took them inside to get shoes on. I remember on those nice, warm March days as a child we would want to go outside barefooted, too. Mom would always tell us to wait until after March is over. I can still hear her say, “NO—don’t go out barefooted, it’s still March.” Oh, thinking of those sweet memories of her still makes me miss her so much.

We ended up helping daughters Susan and Verena cut up two quarters of beef on Friday. Son-in-law Dustin and son Benjamin didn’t have to work that day. Those helping were Dustin, Loretta, sons Benjamin and Kevin, daughter Lovina, sister Verena, and me. The steaks were cut out, hamburger ground and packaged.

Vacuum sealing the ground beef was part of this weekend’s work. Photo provided.

Susan canned some of the meat. We brought the steaks and T-bones home to put in our freezer overnight. My husband Joe then cut up all the steaks on Saturday. Loretta and I vacuum sealed the meat for Susan. Now it’s all in her freezer, and I’m so glad she has beef and pork to use in the coming year.

Then on Saturday, son Benjamin and I, daughters Susan and Verena assisted Tim and Elizabeth in cutting up their two quarters of beef. The hamburger was ground and packaged, steaks and T-bones sliced and packaged, some meat canned, etc. Daughters Susan and Verena did Elizabeth’s cleaning yet before heading for home. Needless to say, this Grandma was a wee bit tired Saturday night after two days of helping cut up beef. I am so glad to help the children whenever I can.

Sunday, Joe and I, son Joseph and his special friend Grace, my sister Emma, her son Benjamin and his special friend Crystal, and my sister Verena attended church in northern Indiana to partake in the blessing of nephew Andrew’s baptism. Andrew is brother Albert and Sarah Irene’s youngest son. In the afternoon, we made a short stop at brother Albert’s house. We hadn’t seen the new house he built. It is very nice. Alberts have three daughters and one son still at home. They have eleven children and all but four married, so their house seems emptier.

A notice to readers—I will be signing books on April 2nd at the Plain and Simple Craft Show in Shipshewana, Indiana. They will have over 130 vendors there. Then on April 9th, I will be at the Nappanee, Indiana, library from 2–4 p.m. I’m looking forward to meeting old and new readers there. In Shipshewana, daughters Elizabeth and baby Andrea, daughter Susan and children, Jennifer and Ryan, and daughter Lovina will be with me. Some family members are also planning to attend the meet and greet in Nappanee with me. God bless!

This week I will share the recipes for coffee soup and pon hoss due to many requests from readers.

Pon Hoss
Pork bones
Flour
Salt
Black pepper

Place pork bones in large kettle and add enough water to cover. Cook bones until the meat comes off bones. Remove bones and skim fat from broth. Measure the quantity of broth remaining. Return meat to broth. (We grind the meat before returning it to the broth.) Then add 4 cups of flour to every gallon of juice, sifting in the flour, as well as 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper per gallon of juice. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, then pour in pans. Let cool, then slice and fry on each side until golden brown.

Coffee Soup
2 cups coffee
2 or more cups milk
1/2 cup sugar (or more, to taste)

Combine all ingredients and heat until hot, but do not boil. Pour over toasted bread or saltine crackers.

 

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 wherever books are sold.  Because Lovina is Old Order Amish, she does not have email or a telephone in her home. Lovina does not respond to comments on this website, if you would like to contact her directly, click here.

Preparing and enjoying a bounty of beef

It is a very beautiful day outside with the sun shining so brightly. The sun is welcome anytime and is much appreciated for our solar system. With gas prices so high, we don’t like to use the generator more than necessary. We run a generator to charge up our battery packs when the sun doesn’t shine for too many days in a row. Our solar power runs two freezers, and water and some lights in our pole barn. On days we wash laundry it takes more power. Also, with everyone showering and pumping water to the horses each day, it takes quite a bit.

We are all finished with our beef now. What a relief! On Friday evening we cut up all four quarters of beef. The steaks were cut out, beef chunks cut up, etc., then the rest was ready to grind for hamburger. On Saturday the hamburger was ground and the steaks, T-bones, etc., sliced. Most of the meat was vacuum sealed on Saturday. Some of the hamburger we waited to package until Monday. The meat filled our freezers, and Dustin and Loretta took their half home to put in their freezer.

These jars of canned beef were recently prepared by Lovina and family. Photo provided.

On Monday, daughter Loretta and I canned some hamburger and beef chunks. Son Joseph didn’t have to work because of the weather, so we were glad for his help to vacuum seal the hamburger and pack it in the freezers.

On Monday while we were packaging, Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty stopped in to say hi. They had brought sister Verena home. She had spent a week out in Berne, Indiana, with sister Liz and Levi. Most of the winter Verena had been staying with us or sister Emma.

Saturday, we plan to go help daughters Susan and Verena cut up two quarters of beef to put in their freezer.

Next on the agenda is to start doing some spring cleaning. Lord willing, we will host church services in May.

We have been enjoying rare beef, as we call it, since we butchered our beef. We slice the tenderest steaks very thin and put salt and pepper on both sides then swirl it in hot oil once and flip it over and swirl one again and it’s done. It is very good and our family loves it.

Saturday morning, I made fried eggs and potatoes with some fresh bacon (from our recent pork butchering). Then I also had to fry up the cow brains for Joe and some of our children that like them.

Sunday evening, our whole family was here for supper. Baby Andrea gets plenty of attention. She is such a sweetie, just like all my grandchildren are. All you Grandmas out there know the precious feeling of grandchildren, I’m sure.

For those readers that always say they like to hear our menus, I’ll share what I made Sunday night with the help of my daughters. We had mashed potatoes, beef gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, grilled T-bones and steak, sliced Colby cheese, cookies, and ice cream. The menfolk grilled the meat.

I still have paper plates left over from my trip to Sam’s Club before Dustin and Loretta’s wedding. On nights when the whole family is here, it makes it easier to use those and do less dish washing. It gives us more time to just visit. It is such a blessing to be able to work together as a family and get food stored for another year. God is good, and may His many blessings reach across the miles to all of you!

I am going to share my sister Susan’s recipe she wrote of beef and gravy when I told her how to make it. She wanted to write it down years ago so she would remember it. RIP Susan.

Beef and Gravy
4 heaping tablespoons flour
1 pint canned beef chunks
1 medium onion
Potato water (saved from cooking potatoes)

Put 4 heaping tablespoons flour in a pan and brown flour until it’s dark. Let flour cool. In a 3 1/2-quart kettle, empty 1 pint of beef and put in 2 pints of water and 1 whole onion. When it starts to boil, take out beef and put in potato water. If you don’t have potato water, then use water. Add extra water as needed. Mix the cooled flour and water to make a thickening until it is just a little watery. Then mix the beef and thickening in the kettle until it boils again. Remove the onion before serving.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold.  Because Lovina is Old Order Amish, she does not have email or a telephone in her home. Lovina does not respond to comments on this website, if you would like to contact her directly, click here.

Cherishing Time Spent with the Grandchildren

Another week has flown by, and it’s already time to pen this column again. Actually, the last column for this month. We will enter March, and soon the calendar will be saying it’s spring. My wish is that the weather will match the calendar. We had a few nice days of temperatures over 50 degrees, so we really had a little spring fever.

Sister Verena has been staying with us. She hopes to be able to stay alone again after the snowy weather is done. She has many lonely days and has been back and forth from our house to sister Emma’s. She has been talking about spending a week with sister Liz and Levi. I really wish she would. It would be a change of mind for her.

After temperatures were in the 50s yesterday, we woke up to 22 degrees, and it was snowing again.

It’s a good thing God controls the weather, and we need to accept whatever he sends to us.

Monday, I went with daughter Elizabeth and baby Andrea to her doctor’s appointment to have her staples removed.

Andrea is now nine days old and such a bundle of joy. She makes so many different facial expressions that it’s just fun holding her and watching her. Her cute little dimples when she smiles are so precious. A real blessing from God!

Andrea’s appointment at the baby doctor was canceled because the doctor was sick. Five-year-old Abigail was very concerned when she heard Andrea’s doctor was sick. She asked Elizabeth, “Mom, Oh no! Who makes the doctor better when he gets sick?”

Yesterday, grandchildren Jennifer, four, and Ryan, two, stayed here while daughter Susan went shopping. Jennifer told Susan before they came, “Mom, Grandma is a pretty girl.” I am so thankful for my sweet little innocent grandchildren. They are so much fun! The things they say and come up with are so special. Jennifer told me if Ryan starts to get fussy, you need to make him take a nap. Of course, Ryan is more interested in checking out Grandpa’s headlight and sunglasses and asking where Grandpa is.

Daughter Loretta was here, and the grandchildren love when she plays games with them. We made breakfast for them. We had eggs, potatoes, bacon, and cheese. They ate better when they could sit on both sides of Loretta.

Our plans are to dress a beef this weekend. It will be a relief to get our beef cut up and bagged and be done with putting up meat for another year. We will give Dustin and Loretta half of the beef. When our children get married, we give them a half of a beef and a hog the first winter to help them get started. My parents helped us out by giving us something to butcher when we first were married.

A reader asked if I make our own cheese. I would make cheese when we had our own cow with the excess milk. We sold our cow then, and now it’s easier just to buy the big horns of cheese.

I will share the mozzarella cheese recipe I used to use. My niece Marlene had shared it with me years ago.

God’s blessings to all!

Lovina makes mozzarella cheese from her niece Marlene’s recipe.

Mozzarella Cheese
2 gallons cold whole milk
3 teaspoons citric acid
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup cold water
1/3 rennet tablet
2 quarts water
1/2 cup salt

Put milk in a large container. Dissolve the citric acid in 1/4 cup cold water, then add to cold milk. Mix well and keep stirring until heated to 90 to 95 degrees. Remove from heat; add 1/4 cup cold water and rennet tablet. Stir well, then let sit for 1/2 hour.

Cut into squares with a long-bladed knife. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat to 110 degrees. Continue stirring to keep curds from sticking. Remove from heat and let sit 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of water with 1/2 cup salt to 175 degrees. Drain cheese in a colander for 15 minutes. Cut or pull cheese apart into small cubes and put it in a large bowl. Add hot saltwater; use a wooden spoon to stretch cheese in an upward motion until it is soft and springy. Drain in the colander. Knead a little bit as you would bread; put in a container to cool. A bread pans work well. Very good!

 

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 wherever books are sold. 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 or comments left on this site.

Daughter Susan shares her experiences

This column was written the week before Christmas.

Dear Readers,

I’m Lovina’s daughter Susan. It’s sunny and very windy today. I just finished with the laundry. I hung it all inside because it is too cold and windy outside.

Daughter Loretta made this beautiful fruit tree for the Eicher family Christmas gathering.

Today my sister Verena and I had sister Elizabeth’s children, T.J. and Allison, here while she attended her oldest daughter Abigail’s class Christmas party at school. My Jennifer and Ryan love when their cousins come over to play with them.

Last night was Abigail’s Christmas program at the school. Jennifer was really excited to see Abigail’s school. She wants to go to school now too.

It is now over a year since my dear husband Mose passed away. It seemed like a long and overwhelming year. And then other times it feels short, when I look back. I feel like the children and I came a long way. When times got hard, I would tell myself, “If life on earth has to be tough to make it to our Heavenly home, then I’ll fight the battle until the end.”

Mom took us out for the day on the anniversary of Mose’s death. She wanted to keep me busy so I didn’t sit and think about it. She took us out to eat, and we had a nice day together.

Sunday night, Martha (a widow in our community) and her five children are coming to visit. Her husband passed away from cancer. It is three years that he passed away, also in December. She has been an inspiration to me. She’s a very brave woman. We want to go to her children’s Christmas program to help support her and to just be there for them.

Recently, some of Mose’s family came to stay with me and others from his family came to also help for a weekend. They put new siding on my house. It isn’t finished yet but it is looking so much better.

My family and Mose’s family have helped me a lot through this past year. They were all a great support.

Please pray for all the families that lost loved ones and belongings in the recent tornadoes. Life is too short. It’s hard to lose one family member; I can’t imagine how the family feels that lost four. After Mose passed, the pain was so great. It felt like with every breath pain slashed through my heart.

I best be going now. I need to feed the horses, chickens, and dogs. Jennifer and Ryan like to go with me to pick up the eggs. Sometimes Ryan will let the eggs drop too hard in the bucket and break the egg.

I will share the recipe of fruit dip. I’m taking fruit and the fruit dip to Dad and Mom’s for the Christmas gathering. I think the hardest part of the day is when we all sit down at the set table and my beloved Mose isn’t there beside me. Mose enjoyed Christmas time and getting together with family. Around strangers he would be very quiet but when he knew someone he was talkative and would always have fun playing games or talk about hunting or fishing.

Someday I hope to be reunited again in Heaven.

Take care and God bless!

 

Fruit Dip

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup whipped topping
Whip all together. Serve with different kinds of fruit.

 

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 wherever books are sold. 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 Celebration and Gratitude for Help

Dustin and Loretta had perfect weather for their wedding day. All week was nice and sunny, which we were so grateful for.

We ended up with around 450 here for the noon meal and 550 for the evening meal. We could seat 350 people in one setting. Around 100 or more people eat before, such as the cooks, table waiters, special helpers, babysitters, some of the cooks’ children, and drivers that bring family and friends from farther away.

At 4:30 p.m. the tables were set for the cooks to eat supper then at 5:30 p.m. for the guests. At 7 p.m. the youth and Dustin and Loretta’s family ate.

We ended up having 600 pounds of chicken grilled. Although we had quite a bit left, I think we would’ve run out if we didn’t get another 100 pounds. A family in our church has a huge grill and grills for others, so we had them grill the chicken. We bought 400 pounds of potatoes but had 150 pounds left that didn’t get cooked for mashed potatoes. Our goal was to have 75 pies, but we ended up with around 80. Sometimes there is extra pie filling that they just use up in a few extra pies. The pecan pies were eaten except a few pieces. We had a few pumpkin pies, and a dozen or more cherry pies left.

Our menu consisted of barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered noodles, dressing (40 loaves of bread were toasted for this and took 18 dozen eggs), green beans with cheese sauce, overnight salad, and homemade bread with grape jelly and butter.

Dessert was pecan, pumpkin, and cherry pies, caramel pudding, fresh fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes), chocolate and white cupcakes, candy bars, and coffee.

The bridal party table referred to as the “Eck” was beautifully decorated in a fall theme. Photo provided.

It is tradition that the bride and groom furnish candy bars to serve after each meal. Dustin and Loretta bought 1200 for the whole day. They had quite a few left. The parents buy all the other food for the day.

Dustin’s parents have their own chickens, so they brought over 40 dozen eggs for the wedding foods. That really helped out. We don’t have chickens right now.

Loretta did a fall theme for decorating the “Eck,” the corner reserved for the bride and groom and bridal party. Her colors for the cooks and table waiters were all fall colors. Loretta chose a dark rose-colored dress for her wedding day. Dustin’s mother and I wore olive-colored dresses. The cooks wore rust. The table waiter girls wore orange dresses, and the boys wore black pants and vests with white shirts. Daughter Verena and Dustin’s brother Willie were witnesses. Daughter Lovina and her special friend Daniel (also Dustin’s brother) were the other witnesses.

Without the help of friends and family it wouldn’t be possible for us to prepare for such a big event. Many hands make lighter work.

We were so thankful for the ones that helped clean up and pack all the dishes and tables in the wedding wagon. The neighbor ladies cleaned the cook wagon, and we’re also thankful for my three head cooks that kept everything so organized.

A special thank you to my great friend Ruth for taking me shopping and not even charging me for gas. Ruth did a lot of the shopping on the final days, as I didn’t have time to go after everything.

Ruth and I went after the wedding cake the night before, and we were relieved once we had it home safely.

Our dear family members were missed very much over the wedding prep and that day. Sisters Verena, Emma, and our daughter Susan all did well to put their grief aside and be happy for the newlyweds. Daughter Loretta now lives across the road with Dustin. Today we will go help her put away the many nice gifts they received.

Dustin and Loretta want to thank those of you that sent gifts, well wishes, etc. May God bless you!

 

Green Beans with Cheese Sauce (served for lunch and supper)

8 quarts green beans, cooked or canned

Cheese Sauce
1 cup butter
1 cup milk
2 pounds Velveeta cheese
3 teaspoons Greek seasoning
3 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt

Heat sauce ingredients on low until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Place the beans in a roaster and pour over the cheese sauce. Heat at 300 degrees until hot.

Cracker Crumb Topping
15 sleeves Ritz crackers
1 3/4 cup melted butter

Crush crackers in sleeves and mix with melted butter. Spread on cookie sheets and toast in oven until browned. Use 1/2 cup crumb topping per 2-quart bowl of beans.

 

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 wherever books are sold. 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.

Travels and wedding celebrations

Another week has passed by since my last column. We made it to Kentucky and Tennessee for both weddings and are now back in Michigan. We were thankful for safe travels to and from the weddings. Dan’s (who died in the accident with son-in-law Mose) wife Jodi was our driver and she did a wonderful job. It couldn’t have been easy driving for all of us. She is a nice person to have around. I know she is still hurting just like daughter Susan, both missing their loved ones. It always makes me sad when I see Susan and her children drive in without her beloved Mose beside her. Seeing sister Emma without Jacob and sister Verena without sister Susan seems so unreal. It can get overwhelming and that is why we need to let go and let God. We need to trust his plans are different than what we want sometimes.

At Michael and Laura’s wedding I was a cook and my job was to prepare the fresh fruit for the fruit bowls. It was a good combination of strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwi. The menu consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, broccoli/cauliflower salad, bread, butter and jam, several kinds of pies, angel food cake, mixed fruit, and pudding.

In the afternoon we started out on the 4 1/2 hour drive to Tennessee. We stayed at a motel and attended the wedding at the church for Jamin and Saloma. Their weddings are different than ours as the father walks the bride down the aisle. The couple left after the wedding for their several week honeymoon. We wish both couples God’s blessings as they start their lives together as one.

The menu for this wedding was boneless chicken breasts and barbequed chicken, diced red potatoes, coleslaw, dinner rolls, ice cream, donuts, lemonade, and coffee.

We had supper with Saloma’s parents Pete and Carol (Joe’s sister) along with some of Joe’s family and others who had attended the wedding. We then headed back to the motel. The children enjoyed swimming at the pool. The next day we drove towards home about 5 1/2 hours then slept in a motel outside of Indianapolis, IN. The next day we spent the day at the Indianapolis zoo. We had a little over three hours to drive home.

We had a nice time but everyone was glad to be home again.

The Eicher family celebrated Kevin’s 16th birthday with cake and ice cream, after a supper of sausage and potatoes (recipe in this week’s column). Photo provided.

Son Kevin turned 16 on September 2nd while we were gone. Monday night we had cake and ice cream in honor of his birthday. Also on the menu were banana poppers and Italian potatoes and sausage.

We had some storms go through our area again but we didn’t get anything much. Hopefully no one else did either. Daughter Susan and children and daughter Verena came for the night.

Today Joe’s sisters and nieces will come help us clean. Plans are to clean the basement and can room, and if we get that far, our breezeway.

Saturday we have more help coming. Church services were set to be here September 19th. That isn’t far off and then the wedding of daughter Loretta and Dustin is coming up right after that.

God bless all of you as we travel into the unknown future.

Italian Sausage and Potatoes
6 potatoes, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
2 large green peppers, sliced
2 pounds Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot)
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt, pepper, oregano to taste

Mix sliced potatoes, onion, green pepper, salt, pepper, and oregano with olive oil. Bake in a 9×13 inch pan covered for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and drain. Cut sausage in pieces and add to potato mixture. Continue cooking for 1 hour or until sausage is done. Some prefer to broil uncovered, cooking until sausage is browned.

 

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 wherever books are sold. 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.