Category Archives: Snacks

Can you ever have too much birthday cake?

Yesterday, January 24, was daughter Susan’s twenty-first birthday! My sister Liz also has a birthday on the same day. She turned forty eight. A happy birthday to both!

Friday evening, Mose’s family brought in supper here at Mose and Susan’s. It was a surprise for Susan. They wanted us to join them for supper. On the menu were a variety of homemade pizzas, lettuce, salad, and ice cream cake. Mose will have a birthday on February 5 so this was in honor of both of their birthdays. Mose’s brother Joe and wife Mary came for the event and spent the weekend with Mose and Susan. They live around an hour and fifteen minutes north of here.

Last night Timothy, Elizabeth and baby Abigail, Loretta’s special friend Dustin, and our family had supper over at Mose and Susan’s also in honor of her birthday. That night we had chili soup, banana pepper poppers, hot wings, macaroni salad, sliced cheese, cake, and applesauce. Mose and Susan have had their share of birthday cake.

Saturday Timothy and Elizabeth attended a late Christmas gathering for his family at his sister’s house. They are busy preparing to host church services on Sunday. Joe and I and some of the children assisted them with their work late afternoon and evening. We finished cleaning the basement where church services will be held. After we were done Timothy grilled venison burgers on the grill while we helped Elizabeth with the rest of the meal. We also enjoyed watching daughter Verena give Abigail a bath. Oh what fun to watch her kick in the water! She loves to play with the little rubber ducks in the water. She is growing so fast. She just jabbers away trying to “talk” to us. She has naturally curly hair and after it’s wet her curls are so cute.

Last week Loretta and I helped Susan with some organizing in their quarters in the pole barn. Loretta sewed curtains for some windows. Son Benjamin hung the curtain rods for us. Mose built a shelf for them to store some of their excess belongings. It makes it look a lot more organized and easier to find what they are looking for.

Tonight we made bacon, ham, and cheese omelets for everyone for supper. We told Mose and Susan to come eat with us. We added onions for those who wanted onions in theirs. We have lots of eggs so that makes an easy supper. Timothy and Elizabeth have a few chickens so their eggs are accumulating too. Elizabeth wants to make egg salad for the church lunch. I will make cheese spread for her. We have “dried up” our cow Bessie because she will be calving in March. If you wonder how that’s done, you basically just stop milking her. We first slowed down by skipping a milking every few days and then stopping. It’s different to have to buy milk again.

I will share the cheese spread recipe with you. This recipe will be in my cookbook this spring. I don’t always use the brand name Velveeta cheese. You can buy cheaper brands and it still works.

God bless you!

Homemade Church Cheese Spread
6 pounds Velveeta cheese
1 1/2 cups butter
8 cups cream

Put everything in a big roaster and bake at 150 to 200 degrees stirring every 15 minutes until all is melted. Remove from oven. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from getting a crusty top while cooling. The spread is served on a sandwich with or without meat. It is good just spread on bread with some pickles.

 

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.

 

Lovina unveils three recipes from her forthcoming cookbook

In order to take a little time off from writing this column, I’m sharing three recipes from my cookbook coming out in April,
(Herald Press). I, and about half my family, were down with the flu as my deadline for the column approached this week, so this “vacation” comes at a good time. There is a lot of stuff going around and I know many who are sick. It is that time of year. I hope your family is well.

Enjoy trying one or more of these: the first one for caramel corn we enjoy when we have time to play games as a family, such as on New Year’s Eve or Day. The second is for a salad using uncooked frozen peas that might make you think ahead to spring; finally, an easy recipe for BBQ chicken sandwiches using chicken you’ve cooked and cut into pieces.

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis

Party or family gathering

QUICK CARAMEL CORN

1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 quarts popped popcorn

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan. Add brown sugar and corn syrup.

Heat to boiling and boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the molasses and boil for an additional 2 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.

Remove from heat and add vanilla, salt, and baking soda, stirring briskly.

Pour over popped corn and stir until popcorn is thoroughly coated.

Salad

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber – Landis

PEA AND CHEESE SALAD

1 (12-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed, or an equivalent amount fresh peas, cooked until just tender
1 cup celery, chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup Colby cheese, cubed
½ cup radishes, sliced
¼ cup green onion, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

In a medium bowl, combine the peas, celery, eggs, cheese, radishes, and green onion. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and salt. Pour mayonnaise mixture over the vegetable mixture and mix well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make sure the peas are well drained or the salad will be watery.

Meat

BBQ CHICKEN SANDWICHES

2 cups celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken, cooked and diced
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups ketchup
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven or large pan, sauté celery, onion, bell pepper, salt, and pepper in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for

1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve on buns.

Makes 15 good-sized sandwiches.

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.

Tragic buggy accidents: Grief for others weighs on Eicher hearts

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. The children have their Thanksgiving feast at school today. Their cooking class teacher has to have a lot of patience to show all the students how to prepare this meal. Daughters Verena, Loretta, son Benjamin, and I plan to attend the feast. It is rainy here so Benjamin doesn’t have construction work today. Daughters Susan and Elizabeth and baby Abigail plan to go too.

Then on Thursday, our family is invited to have Thanksgiving dinner at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. A few of the children have other plans, but the rest of the family will go.

We have so many blessings to be thankful for, and not just on Thanksgiving but all year long. Do we thank God enough for all our blessings? How thankful we should be to have a warm house to live in and a bountiful harvest stored for the coming year. And also to be able to spend the day with family.

Unfortunately not everyone will be spending their day this way. Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of the two young girls that were instantly killed in a buggy wreck this past Sunday evening. The girls, and two boys who were giving the girls a ride home, were hit from behind by a truck traveling at a high rate of speed. The girls, Michelle, age 16, and Rebecca, age 17, were cousins. (Cousins of each other, not cousins of my family.) They leave to mourn their parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and a lot of extended family. One of the boys is in the hospital in critical condition and the last we heard has not responded. I just can’t imagine how the families must feel. Let us keep them in our prayers so that God can help them through this difficult trial in life. We do not understand why things like this happen but we do know God makes no mistakes when bad things happen. The funeral for the girls will be on Thanksgiving Day.

Also in our prayers is cousin Leah as she is in the hospital in critical condition. She and her husband Joe and their two sons were in a buggy when they were also hit from behind. Leah landed in front of the car, which stopped on top of her. She has extensive head injuries. We talked to her sister Martha’s husband, David, yesterday. We haven’t heard many details so we were glad to talk with him and find out what really happened. Leah lives in the Berne, Indiana, area and is Uncle Emanuel and Aunt Leah’s oldest daughter. Her sister Martha was my age and we had so many good times growing up. Now we hardly see or hear from each other. Life gets busy with our own families.

I had another doctor appointment this week. The blood clot is still improving and I’m doing as well as can be expected since the surgery four weeks ago. I can tell my energy level isn’t normal yet but it all takes time to heal. The girls do a wonderful job helping me. I have to keep reminding myself to be careful and remember that the work won’t run away (although it would be nice if it would sometimes. Ha!).

Son-in-law Timothy brought us a deer that he shot. He had it all venison2016ground up and ready for the freezer. The family was all here Sunday evening for supper, so husband Joe grilled deer steaks on the charcoal grill, which we all enjoyed.

God bless all of you this holiday and keep you safe.

Jerky

 12 pounds lean meat (optional: beef, venison, pork)
1 cup Tender Quick
8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt petre
1 tablespoon Accent or meat tenderizer
1 cup brown sugar

Slice meat 3/16 inches thick. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Use entire seasoning for 12 pounds of meat.

Layer your meat in a tub or on trays. Using a shaker with large holes, sprinkle seasoning between each layer. Let set 24 hours. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip over, bake another 15 minutes.

Hint: We use parchment paper on bottom of trays. When finished baking, meat still looks wet. Take your meat out of tray and discard remaining juice. Meat will dry up and still be moist. Good luck!

 

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,
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.

Whew! No time to catch breath after wedding when you host church the next week

Another week has passed, and it is time to write another column.

The Eichers set up benches for church services in their new pole barn.
The Eichers set up benches for church services in their new pole barn.

Church services were held here Sunday in our new pole barn. Made a lot more room than when we had it in the basement. Benches were all filled, even though some of our church families were attending baptismal services in another church district. We had quite a few visitors from northern Indiana.

Our menu for lunch consisted of homemade wheat and white bread (out of 50 loaves, we had only a few left), smoked sausage links (which we heated up in the oven before serving), cheese spread, peanut butter spread, dill pickles, freezer pickles, red beets, hot peppers, butter, strawberry jam, coffee, iced tea and cookies. We had butterscotch, chocolate chip, sugar and ranger cookies.

We served seven tables at one time and four of them were reset, so we had eleven tables to serve altogether. I didn’t have anyone back for the evening meal like we usually do. We were all worn out from having Elizabeth’s wedding here a week before!

This week we are busy canning. Yesterday we canned 34 pints of salsa. We still have more tomatoes that need to be canned into something. I would like to make pizza and spaghetti sauce, and I also want to can some salsa for daughter Elizabeth, who just got married. She went back to work and is working ten-hour days. It wears her out to get much done in the evenings.

Our cabbage heads are ready to be harvested. We made coleslaw and chili soup for our supper last night. Sons Benjamin, 16, and Joseph, 13, took some garden goodies over to Timothy and Elizabeth. They don’t have a garden, so we want to share with them. We have green beans and hot peppers waiting here to be put into jars. I might freeze the green beans. Also have peaches coming next week.

I did take a half-day break and went to neighbor Barbara’s for a Tupperware party one day. It was a Tupperware shower for neighbor Susie, who was married on June 4. They served lunch to us before we left. Sometimes getting away from home for a while boosts your energy.

Tomorrow we plan to attend the wedding of Leander and Karen. The wedding will be about six miles from our house. Leander is a son of Joe’s cousin Leander and his wife Rosina. Son Leander recently moved to our community.

School doors will open on September 8. Our three youngest are ready for that day. Joseph will be in seventh grade, Lovina in fifth (and in middle school), and Kevin will be in fourth grade (his last year in elementary). The years keep going by way too fast!

This week Lovina shares a recipe for homemade salsa. Her recipe makes 15 pints of canned salsa.
This week Lovina shares a recipe for homemade salsa. Her recipe makes 15 pints of canned salsa.

This week I’ll share my salsa recipe with you readers. God’s blessings to all!

Salsa

14 pounds tomatoes, scalded, peeled, and diced
5 cups onions, chopped
10 green peppers, chopped
4–6 jalapeño peppers, chopped
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 cup salt
2 teaspoons oregano flakes
3 teaspoons chili powder
10–12 tablespoons Clear Jel (not instant)

Mix all of the ingredients except Clear Jel in a big pot. After the mixture boils, cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then mix Clear Jel with 1–2 cups of water before adding to the rest of the ingredients to thicken. More jalepeño peppers can be added to desired taste, and more Clear Jel can be added for a thicker salsa. Cold pack according to your canner’s instructions. Makes about 15 pints.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Lovina makes homemade mozzarella for the first time

A rainy March day as I write this! Monday it snowed enough to cover the ground with snow again. The rain this morning made all the snow disappear. It is 38 degrees so hopefully the rain helps take some of the frost away in the ground.

Eleven years ago we moved to Michigan in March, and there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground that year. Our horse Itty Bit had a foal six days after we moved. We named the filly Ginger and she is our family horse now. We still have Itty Bit too.

Mose’s grandpa Ezra, age 87, died on Friday evening. His funeral was on Tuesday. We attended the viewing/visitation on Sunday evening. Our sympathy goes to the family. May God be with them as they face this difficult trial in life. Ezra’s brother Martin died not even two weeks before.

On Friday evening and Saturday we cooked down all the sap into maple syrup. This time we ended up with two and one-half gallons of maple syrup. We now have over four gallons of maple syrup that Mose boiled off from our trees.

CannedMapleSyrup

One evening this week we had pancakes, eggs, and sausage with the fresh maple syrup. It has a very good flavor.

Yesterday I tried my first attempt at making cheese. I used a recipe for mozzarella cheese that niece Marlene Troyer gave to me. It seemed to work out well, but it is time consuming. Maybe once I get used to the steps I’ll be able to make it faster. Thanks to the readers who sent cheese recipes to me. I would like to try different kinds. Our cow Bessie keeps giving us all the milk we need and more. My husband Joe wants to get a few little pigs to feed the excess milk to.

The Eicher family cow provided milk to make mozarella cheese.

The week of April 6 our children will be home from school for spring break and they are excited. Hopefully it will be a nice warm week. They have a little over eight weeks of school left for this term. Daughter Loretta is going to graduate from eighth grade this year so she is super excited. The long school days wear her out so it will be nicer for her when she doesn’t have to leave every day.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan had a few days off of work. They were sewing on most of their time off.

Timothy and Elizabeth will be evening servers at a wedding in May. Seems the sewing is endless. Elizabeth sewed Loretta a new dress which brought a smile to Loretta’s face. Elizabeth received a sewing machine and cabinet from Timothy one year. She spends all her spare time sewing. She is really getting fast. It doesn’t take her long to cut out a dress and sew it.

I’ll share the mozzarella cheese recipe this week. God bless you all!

MozarellaCheeseEdited

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 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 set for 1/2 hour. Cut into squares with a long bladed knife. Let set 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 colander for 15 minutes. Cut or pull cheese apart into small cubes and put in a large bowl. Add hot salt water; use wooden spoon to stretch cheese in upward motion until soft and springy. Drain in colander. Knead a little bit as you would bread; put in container to cool. Bread pans work well. Very good!

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

February brings snow drifts, baptism services, and butchering

Greetings from snowy Michigan! We received more than a foot of snow over the weekend. Some had reports of 16-18 inches. It’s a pretty sight to look at. The evergreen trees have enough snow on their branches to make such nice scenery. What a wonderful creator our God is! The temperature also dipped down to almost zero degrees. The wind chill was even colder.

With all the snow and wind, the roads weren’t opened until Monday. Everyone was home—factories closed and schools all closed in the county. We did the laundry and Joe mixed the summer sausage so we could get it in bags. We hung it in the pole building to cure for a week or two. Then Joe will smoke it in the smoker. The recipe calls for 100 pounds of hamburger and sausage, so we ended up with almost 40 bags of summer sausage. We added cheddar cheese to some of it and also hot pepper cheese to some of it.

The Eicher family recipe for summer sausage is a large one—calling for 100 pounds of hamburger and sausage. They added either cheddar or hot pepper cheese to some of the sausage.
The Eicher family recipe for summer sausage is a large one—calling for 100 pounds of hamburger and sausage. They added either cheddar or hot pepper cheese to some of the sausage.

Saturday we helped Jacob and Emma with pork butchering. We made Pon Haus (similar to scrapple) out of 21 gallons of pork juice and rendered the lard.

Sunday we visited a neighboring church district to attend baptism services for four young souls. One of the boys is a brother to Mose (Susan’s friend). The building was filled to capacity with people. When we left in the morning only a few inches of snow were on the ground. By the time we started home in the afternoon, the roads had nice-sized drifts on them. Our ramp and steps to the house had quite a bit of snow on them. By the time we walked through the drifts of snow to the house, our shoes were all wet.

Our neighbor boy shoveled out our drive on Monday with their skid loader. In the yard we have huge piles of snow, which the younger children enjoy playing on.

Daughter Verena went to the community building on Saturday evening. The youth all gather there on Saturday evenings. A few sets of parents go as chaperones. Verena went home with niece Salome and some friends and spent the night at Salome’s house (Joe’s sister Loretta and her husband, Henry).

They all came to the baptism church on Sunday that we attended. Verena got to hold little Damaris, Loretta and Henry’s new baby. Sounds like she’s a real cutie! Salome will be baptized to the confession of faith in a few weeks, so we hope to attend the services in Nappanee, Ind. When children take this serious step, what a blessing it is to parents.

Tomorrow evening daughter Susan will go to her special friend Mose’s house in honor of his birthday. Happy birthday, Mose! Mose and Elizabeth’s friend, Timothy, have both been such wonderful friends to our daughters. They are always willing to pitch in and help when work needs to be done around here.

My very special friend, Ruth, will also have a birthday on Feb. 9. Happy birthday, Ruth! She has been a great help and encouragement to me to continue with this column. God bless her!

A reader requested a recipe for cashew crunch, which I didn’t have. But another reader was kind enough to send one to me. God bless!

Cashew Crunch

1 pound cashews, coarsely ground
1 5-ounce can chow mein noodles, coarsely ground
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 16-ounce package chocolate candy coating

Place cashews, noodles, and marshmallows in a large bowl. Melt coating and pour over mixture. Mix well. Pour onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and spread out. Let cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Mother-daughter bonding and festive treats for the season

First of all, a happy 17th birthday to daughter Verena today, December 10. How could those 17 years have gone by so fast? I am glad to have Verena here at home during the day. It’s good to have someone to help me with cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and all that goes with keeping a house going with a family of ten. Every one of the girls has helped me before getting a full-time job. This is a precious time to me: spending time with my daughters and making a lot of memories together that we will always treasure.

It is also a great learning experience for them to learn how to do sewing, canning, baking and cooking. I helped my mother after I was out of school, and I remember how precious it was to work and talk together. Not only was she my mother but also my best friend. I want the same friendship with my children. My daily prayer is to be a good example to my children and to always guide them to live the life God wants.

Since Verena’s special friend, Marvin, lives a couple hours away, we decided to surprise Verena on Sunday while he was here visiting in Michigan. Others who came in honor of Verena’s birthday were Timothy and Mose; Jacob, Emma and family; their daughters’ friends, Menno and Manuel; and also my sisters Verena and Susan.

On the menu was barbequed chicken, hot wings and T-bone steaks, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, dressing, corn, potato salad, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, homemade bread, butter, strawberry jam, peanut butter pies and a variety of Christmas candy. Verena had another surprise when Marvin presented a Dairy Queen ice cream cake to her with candles for her to blow out.

Lovina's family celebrated daughter Verena's 17th birthday with a surprise party.
Lovina’s family celebrated daughter Verena’s 17th birthday with a surprise party.

I forgot to mention that Barbara, a friend of our daughters, was also here for Verena’s birthday. She and Verena were born not too far apart, and Barbara’s mother and I both had the same midwife. Right after Verena was born at 6:32 a.m., someone came to our house to get the midwife, because Barbara was being born. Happy birthday wishes to Barbara!

Christmas is only a couple weeks away. Joe and I did some shopping on Saturday. Verena is wrapping some of the gifts this afternoon. I don’t mind that job, but it seems I always have something else that needs to be done. I have a meeting at the school this afternoon.

I would like to thank Carol from Washington for the four 1,000-piece puzzles she sent. We will have lots of fun putting them together this winter. And also a thank you to all the rest of you readers for your encouraging letters!

This week I’m going to share my recipe for popcorn balls. Mother made these every Christmas. She would put red food coloring in the syrup to give them a reddish color. I usually do half of them with red food coloring and half with green. It gives them a Christmas look during the holidays.

Lovina's family celebrated Verena's 17th birthday with a surprise party.
Lovina shares her recipe for popcorn balls this week.

God’s blessings to all!

Popcorn Balls

2 1/2 quarts of popcorn (popped)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
food coloring (optional)

Cook sugar, water, salt, and syrup to a very hard-ball stage (256 degrees). Add vinegar and vanilla (and food coloring if desired) to light crack stage (270 degrees). Pour slowly over popcorn. Mix well to coat every kernel. Press into balls and cool.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Did your Thanksgiving turkey have a fever?

Oh my! We are already into the last month of 2014. Where did this year go?

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. Although it’s not the only day that we need to thank God for our blessings, on that day we are especially reminded of all that we are thankful for. My list seems endless—family, friends, church, and so many more. I feel one blessing I should mention is the editors at MennoMedia. They deserve a lot of credit for the fact that this column is still going, as does my good friend Ruth, who has been by my side through good and bad. Trusted friends are rare, and they have been so good to me. Writing the columns isn’t always easy, but knowing you have a firm foundation makes it so much easier.

I also want to thank all of you readers for your words of encouragement. To those of you who send a stamped self-addressed envelope: bear with me, please. A reply will come, but forgive me for not always getting back to you sooner. Last but not least, I want to thank our Heavenly Father for his guidance through our most difficult trials.

We spent our Thanksgiving Day at brother Albert and Sarah Irene’s house. All my siblings were present, as were all the nieces, nephews, families and special friends (except for two nieces and one nephew). The family grows more every year, and although I don’t have a total, I know it’s more than 100 now.

Albert’s family grilled 140 pounds of chicken, plus they fixed two 22-pound turkeys. Needless to say, there were so many leftovers! I won’t begin to mention all the food, but a 14-foot dining table was filled to capacity. When everyone brings food, it adds up. Snacks were served before everyone left.

We four sisters here in Michigan always have a Thanksgiving meal together. This year we all gathered over at Jacob and Emma’s on Sunday. Emma fixed two turkeys stuffed with dressing. Also on the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, homemade bread, butter, jam, summer sausage, veggies and dip, hot peppers, pumpkin roll, pumpkin and peanut butter pies, a variety of Christmas candy and probably more that I can’t remember now. The table was set for 24 people, which is what we total now. After dishes were washed, we played games.

I got a laugh out of daughter Lovina. Sister Emma gave her the meat thermometer to hold in the turkey, to see if it was fully cooked. When someone asked her what she was doing, Lovina replied, “Aunt Emma wants to know if the turkey is running a fever.” We all thought it was funny!

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan are off work this week from the factory due to a cancelled order. We (Elizabeth, Susan, Verena and I) are enjoying our week. We started it out with going Christmas shopping on Monday. We had a nice time and made more memories together. It is hard to believe my three oldest daughters have grown this much.

The Christmas season is upon us. Let us remember: Jesus is the reason for the season!

For this week’s dish, I will share a few short recipes that were served as snacks at Albert’s on Thanksgiving Day.

Fruit Dip

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup brown sugar
8 ounces whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together well. Serve with apples or any fruit.

Cheese Ball

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 package dried beef, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
seasoning of your choice

Mix all ingredients together. Serve with your choice of crackers.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Wedding invitations—and soft pretzels—abound

Canning season is in full swing. This past week we canned hot peppers (Serrano), dill pickles and salsa. I have a lot more tomatoes that need to be used, and I still have plenty of tomato juice, so I will make more salsa. What a blessing to be able to fill all those empty jars again.

Last week Lovina canned Serrano peppers, which are up to five times hotter than jalapenos!
Last week Lovina canned Serrano peppers, which are up to five times hotter than jalapenos!

We now have the rest of our little chicks. We had 75 of them for two weeks and now 25 more layers came. We will butcher the 50 butchering chickens in several weeks. The other 50 will be laying hens. Once they start laying eggs we will butcher our old laying hens for chicken broth. That is always a big job!

In our community, which isn’t very big, there are five or six weddings coming up in August and September. So bear with me if I am talking a lot about weddings lately!

We have three wedding invitations on our refrigerator right now. Daughter Elizabeth’s friend Marietta will exchange vows with Enos on August 28. We were surprised to receive an invitation. Elizabeth and Timothy will be tablewaiters at their wedding. It is a little over two weeks away, and Elizabeth still needs to sew her dress for the wedding.

Yesterday Paul and Edna were published to be married on September 24. When a couple is published for marriage, the bishop announces it in front of the church. Until then it is usually kept secret, with only family members and close friends knowing about it. We are invited to this wedding as well. And we have niece Elizabeth and Samuel’s invitation on there for September 19. The youth are usually invited to a 7 p.m. supper at all of these.

It’s hard to believe Marietta will be getting married. It seems like she and Elizabeth were just young school-age girls! They had a lot of fun times together, along with friends Linda and Freda. Many nights when they stayed here for the night, I wondered if they ever slept. Now they all have special friends, and Marietta is getting married. All four girls are 20 years old or will be soon. Life goes on!

Son Joseph, 12, will have surgery this week to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. I hope everything will go okay.

My husband, Joe, is working four-day weeks at the RV factory. This week he will only work three days so he can be at the hospital when Joseph has his surgery. Elizabeth, Susan and Benjamin all left this morning for their jobs. Benjamin is helping Susan’s friend Mose at his saw mill. He enjoys it!

Soft pretzels were the treat at Lovina's house this week, made by daughter Elizabeth.
Soft pretzels, made by daughter Elizabeth, were the treat at Lovina’s house this week.

This week I will share a recipe for soft pretzels. Elizabeth asked her friend LeAnna for the recipe and made them one night. We enjoyed them with hot cheese sauce.

Soft Pretzels

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pretzel salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add butter, brown sugar and salt. Mix well. Add wheat flour and mix thoroughly. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a soft, elastic dough (you may not need all of the flour). Knead for 10 minutes and then let rise 30 minutes. Roll pieces into 12–18 long ropes, and twist each into a pretzel shape. Place on well-greased cookie sheet. Bake immediately at 450 degrees for 10–15 minutes or until golden brown. Dip in melted butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Makes 12–18 soft pretzels.

Options: You can brush on the melted butter to save on butter. Serve with hot cheese sauce.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 or at Editor@LovinasAmishKitchen.com.