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Community support in a time of heavy loss

This week’s column is written by a close friend of the family.

As many of you already know, Lovina’s son-in-law, Mose, who is married to daughter Susan, was in a serious car accident in the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 9. On Monday, December 14, Mose passed away as a result of his injuries. Mose was on his way to work with his friend and co-worker Dan, who was his driver. Another vehicle crossed the center line and hit them head on. Dan was killed instantly. Both men loved hunting and fishing and enjoyed swapping stories on their drive to and from work. The Eichers ask for prayers for Dan’s wife Jodi and their children, grandchildren, and extended family.

Mose is the son of William and Rosanna Bontrager and comes from a large family consisting of six brothers and six sisters. Mose was the seventh born, which puts him right in the middle of the family.

Today (December 16) marks one week since the crash and the family is preparing for his viewing and funeral. The viewing will be held in Joe and Lovina’s pole barn starting this afternoon into evening and will continue all day Thursday. On Friday, the funeral will be held in the pole barn followed by his burial in a nearby Amish cemetery.

Buggies lined the yard as the community gathered to mourn. Photo provided.

Within hours of the news of Mose passing was announced, church friends and family began to arrive to help with the preparations for the viewing and funeral. Men and women arrived to help clean the pole barn, house, and basement. Meals were dropped off and friends stopped by to offer words of comfort. The church wagon that holds the benches was dropped off as well as a cook wagon and cooler wagon. Two of the church women took charge of planning the meals that the family would need during the week, as well as the funeral lunch. Slips of paper with food assignments were made up and placed in a jar. As people stopped to offer their condolences they would take these slips, and will then make the breads, salads, jellos or other items that will be served at the lunch. The Amish community is caring and supportive and quickly responds when needs arise.

I had the opportunity to visit with the Eichers yesterday and they shared some sweet memories of Mose with me. Susan and Mose were married for four years and had dated for four-and-a-half years before that. They have two children, Jenny who will be 3 in January and Ryan who is 17 months. Susan told me she is feels blessed to have had Mose for all the years they had together and wouldn’t change a thing. She is grateful to have the children and will share many memories of him with them as they grow up.

Mose was a kind, generous and hard-working man. He recently took on a large house remodel project which he nearly completed. He was particularly good at fixing engines and at 10 years old he took his first engine apart. While that project did not result in a running engine it did start him down a path of many successful engine repairs. Mose was a happy, good natured person who some might describe as quiet, but those who knew him well could tell you that he loved to talk about his family and would jump at the opportunity to have a conversation about hunting or fishing.

Mose was a man of faith and he and Susan loved reading the Bible together on Sundays. Susan said if there was something she didn’t understand he would take the time to explain what it meant. She said they always prayed together in the morning. If they had a particularly busy morning and they missed their prayer time together they would both promise to pray separately. Mose made teaching his faith to his children a priority and would often talk to the children about Jesus. The family draws great comfort knowing that he is with Jesus and that they will see him again someday.

This is an unbelievable grief that is borne with the support of many, but it is still a heavy grief. Mose was loved deeply by Susan and his children. She and her family are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the readers and especially for the prayers offered on their behalf. She asks that you continue to pray for them in the weeks and months ahead as they adjust to life without their precious Mose.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now online. 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.

Giving thanks together even in hard times

Lovina’s husband, Joe, grilled their turkey this Thanksgiving. Photo provided.

Thanksgiving Day was not too eventful for us this year. My husband Joe put a turkey on the grill, and we relaxed and took the day off. Let us pray next year will be different. I decided to ask each of my children to write what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful to be the mother of my eight wonderful children. They grew up too fast. I am also thankful for my husband Joe, and my five grandchildren who have given Joe and me so much joy.

My husband Joe says he’s thankful for a loving wife, a supportive church, his family, and most of all God’s love for us!

Daughter Elizabeth: I’m thankful for food, family, friends, and faith. I’m thankful for my husband Tim and wonderful children Abigail, Timothy, and Allison. They are a gift from God. There is so much to be thankful for.

Son-in-law Tim: I’m thankful for my beautiful wife and our life together. I’m thankful for my precious children and that they are healthy. I’m thankful for my job so that I can provide for my family.

Abigail, age 4: I’m thankful for food and drinks and horses and butterflies. I’m thankful for church and books. I’m thankful for Daddy and Mom and T.J. and Allison. (Daughter Elizabeth says Abigail had a long, long list so she shortened it up, but Abigail also said she’s thankful for the little kids and pointed at T.J. and Allison).

Timothy (T.J.), 23 months: When asked what he’s thankful for said deer – buck and puppy.

Allison, 11 months, doesn’t say many words but she’s happiest when she’s breastfeeding and being held by her mother.

Daughter Susan: I’m thankful for our Heavenly Father who keeps His protecting hand over us. For the faith we can hold on to. I’m thankful for a great and loving husband and for our two most precious blessings we have—our children Jennifer and Ryan. I’m also thankful for my parents, brothers and sisters, and for having food to eat and a roof over our heads.

Son-in-law Mose: I’m thankful for my sweet wife and children, and for a place to live.

Jennifer, 2: Jesus, Dad, Mom, brother Ryan, her toys and candy. (Jennifer loves candy.)

Ryan, 16 months, doesn’t understand what we mean but he likes to talk about deer and spreads his hands to show how big it was. He loves scooting around on his little toy scooter.

Verena, 22: I am thankful for a home to live in as there are many without a home. Too often I take it for granted to have a roof over my head. God be with the ones who do not have that opportunity.

Dad and Mom have been my biggest support and made life as easy as they could for us children. I am thankful for my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

I am thankful my parents taught me about God and taught me to pray to Him. I have learned that faith, love, family, and friends are very important to me. I am thankful Jesus died on the cross so that we can be saved from sin. I am thankful we have stayed healthy so far through the year of COVID-19. To those of you affected I pray you will recover, and that peace will be back to our world. May God be with all of you.

Benjamin, 21: I am thankful for my parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and God. I am thankful to have a job I like, for my friends, and for good health.

Loretta, 20: I am thankful for parents who helped me grow to learn to respect everyone. Too often we see the bad and don’t see the good in others. I am very thankful to have my wonderful and supportive boyfriend Dustin who has helped me in so many ways. I am thankful for God, Jesus Christ, family, friends, and a home to come home to. I so often take life for granted. Life is too short to sit back and complain. Enjoy and be thankful for what you have. God bless everyone!

Joseph, 18: I am thankful for my family who have supported me and loved me as much as I love them. I’m thankful for my job. It teaches me to appreciate my good health to be able to climb and do the construction work I do. I’m also thankful for a good home to live in, but most of all for God and Jesus who died so we can be saved from our sins.

Lovina, 16: Although this year has been a long year with all that is going on with COVID-19, I am still thankful for so much. I’m very thankful for my family (even though my brothers can be a lot to deal with sometimes, ha ha).  I’m also thankful for my amazing boyfriend Daniel who is gladly willing to put up with me. I know I can be a handful at times, ha ha. God blesses us with things to be thankful for every day. I hope everyone had a great and safe Thanksgiving.

Kevin, 15: I’m thankful for food, family, a place to live, and for my cousin Steven. Most of all, I’m thankful for God. I am thankful to still be able to walk.

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

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.

 

Camping with the Eichers: Horses, wagons, boats and even a pontoon

Camping with the Eichers: Horses, wagons, boats and even a pontoon

Our whole family is spending this week (July 4) at a lake about 11 miles from our house. Timothy and Elizabeth and Mose and Susan’s places are only half that far from here. They came with horses and wagons. Timothy and Mose brought their boats and Loretta’s friend Dustin brought his pontoon.

This is July 5 and I’m sitting inside the canopy writing. The ducks are quacking away and I hear a bull frog croaking. My husband Joe went fishing with Dustin. Timothy and Mose are in their boat out on the lake. The rest are still asleep.

It was a long day yesterday. We traveled one-and-one-half hours with a driver to the community where nephew Levi and Arlene exchanged vows. It was a very hot day, but we can’t pick the weather for wedding days. I think I would rather deal with the heat than have cold rain all day long. When so much of a wedding is held in pole barns and tents it is always nicer for the ones preparing when its not cold or rainy. But we aren’t in control of the weather so we must take what we get and make the best of the situation.

I want to make breakfast after everyone is gathered. For me camping like this is more of a chore, but the memories we are making as a family are precious. Little 22-month-old Abigail is having the time of her life. She is such a busy body. She loves “swimming” in the lake with the rest. Six-month-old Jennifer is enjoying all the attention and they took her in the water too. We were all excited when her mother discovered Jennifer has two teeth popping through. Jennifer kept sticking her tongue out across her gums so we knew she was feeling something different.

This lake doesn’t have a public access so its very quiet and peaceful here. We cook with the grill and open fire a lot. We divided the family into six groups so that every day someone different cooks the main meal which is usually between lunch and supper.

I was just getting started writing this column on a picnic table outside when it started sprinkling so I decided to move under the canopy just in case it decides to rain harder. The sun was peeping through earlier but now it’s cloudy. We are catching a variety of fish such as bass, bluegill, pike, and perch.

Joe and I went home Tuesday after I came home from helping prepare for Levi and Arlene’s wedding. We did the laundry and Joe checked on all the animals. Jacob and Emma’s sons are taking care of Verena’s Yorkie dogs this week (Ricky and Ruby). They are also keeping daughter Elizabeth’s Yorkie dogs there so they have an extra chore. We told Jacob’s family to come for a cookout with us here at the lake one evening.

Sisters Verena, Emma, and I traveled the one-and-one-half hour on Tuesday to help get ready for the wedding. Sister Susan wasn’t feeling well enough to go with us. We think she overheated while mowing their grass Friday evening. There was an excessive heat warning out. After sister Verena and Susan came home from cleaning a lady from our church’s house, Susan went and mowed yet. It was very hot and humidity was high. Susan was able to attend the wedding yesterday but still feels very weak from it. The ride home from the wedding felt very good in our driver’s air-conditioned van. The trip went fast with our family all singing together on the way home.

Do I appreciate the life we have enough? So many broken families—let us pray for peace and contentment in this world. God does help those who trust in him.

It was so nice to see all my siblings at the wedding but someone special was missing. Brother Amos was greatly missed. I felt so sad for sister-in-law Nancy; she must feel so lonely at a place where we all are together. Her 13-month-old granddaughter Christine was admitted to the hospital a few days before the wedding. Nancy and her family left before supper to go visit with her daughter Lovina and Benjamin at the hospital which wasn’t too far from the wedding.

Space is running out here—maybe more about camping and the wedding next week. God be with you all!

Campfire Stew*

2 cups beef stew meat (may substitute a roast, cut into chunks)
4 cups unpeeled red potatoes, cleaned and diced
2 cups green beans, cut into small pieces
1 whole onion (used to flavor the soup; remove before eating)
4–5 beef bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put beef chunks in kettle or large pot with enough water to cover; bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Add potatoes, green beans, and onion, adding enough water so that vegetables are well covered. Add bouillon. Boil until vegetables and meat are tender. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Remove onion if you wish.

[*Recipe featured on p. 109 of The Essential Amish Cookbook]

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.

 

 

Birthday and upcoming anniversary prompt reflections for Lovina

June 14. Twenty-four years ago today I became a mother! Daughter Elizabeth is 24 and a mother herself now. In honor of her birthday, the girls and I will go to her house to spend the day with Elizabeth and her 21-month-old daughter, Abigail. We will go past daughter Susan’s house and take her and baby Jennifer with us. Elizabeth told us she will make breakfast for all of us. We will take lunch in to her. It’s always fun spending time with my children and grandchildren.

Daughter Verena regrets that she has to work and can’t spend the day with us. She just left for work at 5:30 a.m. I decided to write this column while all is quiet yet. My husband, Joe, left for work at 3:45 a.m. and son Benjamin left at 4:30 a.m. for his job.

As I sit here and think back 24 years ago, so many memories come to mind. When Elizabeth was born, Joe and I were still living with my parents. It was nice being close to my mother as I cared for my first baby. Being a mother is special, but it takes many prayers and much patience to raise children. I am far from perfect, but I want to always try my best. I have been truly blessed in so many ways.

Next month Joe and I will have our silver anniversary! Unbelievable! Twenty-five years have gone too fast!

Yesterday son Joseph and I were working in the garden. Its still too wet to till, but we were weeding. Oh my! I could not believe how the weeds grew with all the recent rain we’ve had. The tomatoes, peppers, and corn all look like they are growing well, but are behind when compared to other years. It was a wet spring and hard to get the garden planted. Farmers are having a challenge with getting all their crops out.

Tomorrow night we will put in hay. Always good to see the haymow filled for the winter.

On Sunday evening our family gathered here for supper and ate outside. The men made supper outdoors, with fish on the menu. It was enjoyable to not have to cook. It was a good thing that Elizabeth had a change of clothes along for Abigail, as she discovered all our water puddles. Then, as if running through them wasn’t getting her wet enough, she sat in a puddle! Baby Jennifer is now five months and is such a sweetie. She smiles a lot and has discovered that she can “talk.”

I managed to get the clothes for nephew Levi’s wedding cut out and now I just need to get them sewn. Next Friday daughter Susan is a cook at the wedding of their neighbor girl. She is sewing a gray dress for that wedding. She will bring it along today and we will help her get it done. Life is more demanding after you have a child, so it gets to be harder to get things accomplished. I told Susan I would rather sew than wash dishes today.

Lovina hopes that border collie Buddy stays away from any skunks outside.

There is a strong smell of a skunk coming in the windows all morning. I really hope Mr. Skunk decides to leave soon! And hopefully our border collie dog, Buddy, does not try to fight with him. But the sun is peeping through and it looks promising for a nice day. What a joy after a lot of rainy days lately.

It was a great turnout at the book signing in Colon, Michigan. Thanks to all the readers who came! All my daughters and granddaughters joined me for the evening, which makes it even more enjoyable.

Does anyone have a good recipe for peanut butter pudding? A reader requested that recipe. Meanwhile, this zucchini recipe looks good, once zucchini season starts!

God’s blessings to all!

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

4 medium (6- or 7-inch) zucchini
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Cut each zucchini in half, lengthwise. Place cut side down in large skillet; add 1/2 inch water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until zucchini are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain water.

Sauté together sausage, onion and garlic until sausage is browned; drain. Add oregano, corn and tomato. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 cup cheese; set aside.

Scoop out and discard seeds from zucchini. Spoon sausage mixture into zucchini shells. Place in greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 12–15 minutes or until heated through.

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.

Children spreading wings as Lovina plans for Ascension Day gatherings

Children spreading wings as Lovina plans for Ascension Day gatherings

It’s Wednesday evening and the house is really quiet tonight. My husband Joe, daughter Verena, and I are the only ones here.

Daughter Loretta left this afternoon with Dustin and his family to travel to Ohio. Dustin’s cousin is getting married tomorrow. Dustin and Loretta will be servers at the wedding. I actually just finished sewing Dustin’s shirt for the wedding this afternoon and finished it a little before they left. That was cutting it a little too close. Dustin’s shirt is cream-colored, worn with a vest. Loretta’s dress is a periwinkle blue. I had Loretta’s dress, cape, and apron sewn already last week.

Nephew Henry also went to this wedding. They should all be back home by Friday evening. Henry and Dustin are cousins as their dads are brothers, so the groom is a cousin to both of them.

Our children Benjamin, Joseph, Kevin, and Lovina went to sister Emma and Jacob’s house this evening and I think they were going to go over to Mose and Susan’s house too.

Chopping fresh asparagus from the garden for some creamed asparagus.
Creamed asparagus, made with a thick white sauce.

We are having a thunder storm. Joe brought in asparagus so I’m going to make creamed asparagus for supper.

 

I made four rhubarb custard pies tonight. Tomorrow is Ascension Day and also sister Susan’s birthday (May 10). This community has Fast and Prayer Day until lunch on Ascension Day in honor of Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven.

One example of a “haystack” made of layers of veggies, meats and topped with cheese.
Can she bake a rhubarb custard pie? You betcha!

Sister Susan invited us to their house for lunch tomorrow. She will have a “haystack” meal for us. I made the rhubarb custard pie to take there. Jacob and Emma and family, Timothy and Elizabeth, and Mose and Susan will all go too.

Sunday evening we went to Timothy and Elizabeth’s house for a hot dog roast, and then we made smores. It was a nice relaxing evening to sit out by the fire. We also played Dutch Blitz. I haven’t played that card game too often so I was kind of slow at the fast moving game. We played in teams then and Joe was my partner so we started winning the game.

We recently visited sister-in-law Nancy and family. Brother Amos has been gone three-and-one-half months now and is still so greatly missed. Her daughters Marlene and Lovina were home for the day. And Lisa and Laura still live there so we could visit with all of them. Sam is now done with his school years. He does a good job of keeping up with the chores around there. It just doesn’t seem right to go there and not see Amos around. God makes no mistakes!

We also stopped to visit with sister Leah and Paul before heading back to Michigan. They are adding on to their house. It will be very nice once it’s done, with some more room when they host church services.

Saturday, May 12, is nephew Benjamin’s (son of Jacob and sister Emma) 16th birthday, as well as being Mother’s Day!

A great thank you to the readers that came to see us at the book signing in Warsaw, Indiana, last Saturday. Little Abigail enjoyed chattering with everyone even though people weren’t always sure what she was saying. We appreciated the hospitality from Dorothy and staff. Like always, we were treated really well.

I will share an asparagus recipe this week since it’s in season. I like trying new ways to use it.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Asparagus Shepherd’s Pie

6 medium potatoes, diced
1–2 pounds hamburger
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10.5 ounce) can cream soup
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut in pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2–1 cup mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook potatoes until tender. Brown hamburger with onion and garlic; drain off grease. Add soup and pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Cook asparagus in small amount of water 3–4 minutes until crisp and tender. Drain and place over beef mixture. Mash the potatoes adding milk, butter, and salt; spread over asparagus. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

 

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.

 

 

Placid evening after family devotions a fitting finale for the day

Supper is over and we have had evening devotions. All the children have gone their own way now—some to bed and some reading, writing or just relaxing. I love evenings like this, when everyone is close by. Every mother has those moments, I’m sure.

Making my day even more complete was having daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their sweet little daughters, Abigail and Jennifer, home for the day. This grandma actually fell asleep holding the baby on the recliner. Jennifer loves being held and cuddled.

Elizabeth hasn’t started potty-training Abigail, but today I started asking Abigail if she has to go to potty. She even comes up to me and tells me she needs to go potty. Well, we go through the whole routine and then she just sits there. I told Elizabeth she will eventually get the hang of it. I don’t think Elizabeth is too enthused to start the potty-training process. I keep asking myself why I’m so happy to help potty-train my granddaughter when I dreaded it with my own children! Maybe it’s because I can do it for a few hours and then quit when they go home. My dad always told us if he had known that grandchildren were so much fun he would have had them first. It was just one of his many jokes.

Back to supper tonight: our menu was biscuits, sausage gravy, eggs, potatoes and cheese. Son Benjamin and nephew Henry went after a new bearing for the buggy wheel on our one buggy. Then nephews Benjamin and Steven and niece Emma came over with some pon hoss and fresh sausage. They butchered pork on Saturday.

The Eichers were happy to can and freeze food staples such as this beef, which is customary among most Amish families.

Our beef is all canned, bagged and frozen. Freezers are filled to capacity. Do we appreciate that we have plenty to eat? There are so many in this world who are less fortunate. Let us pray for those less fortunate and also pray for peace in the world. There is so much hatred. God can be our only comfort at times when all else seems to go wrong.

My husband Joe and several of the children made around 300 hamburger patties, which are all frozen individually so they can be taken apart and put right on the grill. The rest of the hamburger was bagged and canned. I like using the canned hamburger for casseroles when I’m in a hurry. I went shopping with daughters Elizabeth, Susan and Loretta on Saturday. I felt so happy coming home to find out that this big job was all done—and maybe slightly guilty for not helping!

On Sunday church services were held with Dustin’s (Loretta’s special friend) parents being hosts. Loretta, Lovina, Benjamin, Joseph and Henry attended church in their district. Joe and I were also planning to go but Joe wasn’t feeling well during the night so we changed our plans. Joe was also home from work one day, running a fever and just not feeling well at all. The next day he felt good enough to go back to work, but he was still ready to see the weekend come. Those early mornings come around so fast! So often we take our good health for granted.

Several of our children and I went to visit sister-in-law Nancy one day this week. So much sadness. I have such a hard time going there and not seeing my brother Amos come walking to greet us. He was always so overjoyed to see us when we’d stop in for a visit. Amos and Nancy’s daughters—Lovina and her daughter and Elizabeth and her son—were home for the day. And Lisa, Laura and Sam were home, so we visited with everyone.

We were happy to hear we have another nephew, Seth Paul, born to Joe’s sister Loretta and Henry on March 2. Seth makes child number eleven for them. Their oldest son, Henry, has lived with us for almost seven months now. He went home to greet his newest little brother on Friday night. That makes 59 grandchildren for Joe’s late parents. Joe’s mother died at age 54 when we only had Elizabeth. She would be so happy to see all her grandchildren now.

Daughter Verena seems to be doing okay with her cast on her leg. She is getting a little impatient and tries to busy herself writing letters to others who need cheering up.

A reader shared with me her recipe for hot wilted lettuce. She says they eat this on top of boiled potatoes.

God’s blessings to all!

Hot Lettuce

1/2-1 pound bacon
1 heaping tablespoon flour (or a little more if needed)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
1 head of lettuce, torn

Fry bacon in large skillet. Remove bacon. Stir flour into grease and brown. Put egg in medium bowl and beat a little. Add salt, sugar, vinegar and water and then add this mixture to skillet. Add lettuce (you can use more or less than a head, as desired) and crumbled-up bacon and stir briefly in skillet until lettuce wilts slightly. Serve immediately.

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.

Birthday basket full of goodies makes its rounds to the Eicher house

Daughter Susan had her 22nd birthday on January 24. We had cake and ice cream for Susan after supper.

I will never forget how glad I was when my midwife (Joe’s aunt Sylvia) arrived the day Susan was born. It was blowing snow, and the roads were drifting shut. Susan was born at 2:37 pm, and she was 6 pounds and 19 inches long. After Susan was born the storm continued, but we were finally able to find a ride to get Aunt Sylvia home.

Aunt Sylvia was a very good midwife and always by our side when I had my first six babies. She had a lot of patience. I think having quite a few children of her own made her an understanding midwife. One of the hardest things when we made the move to Michigan was not having her for my midwife and her good advice.

Susan has a January birthday—along with her new daughter and others in the family—which she celebrated with some beautiful birthday flowers.

Baby Jennifer is ten days old today. Her checkup with the doctor shows that everything looks good. She is a few ounces below her birth weight, but that’s normal. She grew an inch and is 21 inches, 8 pounds, 6 ounces now. We are still having so much fun having her at our house! They are staying here while Susan recovers from toxemia. Susan is doing better every day and gaining her strength back. She needs to go get a blood test in a few weeks and another checkup at the doctor to make sure everything is healing okay. Jennifer is nursing well, and is very demanding when feeding time comes. Mose is finding out how babies keep you awake at night. He is a good daddy, and enjoys spending time with their firstborn.

The church ladies have a birthday basket that is passed from one lady to the next when a birthday comes. On your birthday, you take out what is in it and fill it up with whatever you want to give to the person who has the next birthday after you. Edna brought the basket to Susan yesterday and took a peek at little Jennifer. Susan needs to have it filled by tomorrow for Karen’s birthday. A covered cake pan is also passed with the birthday basket. Susan received chocolate bars and now needs to bake something for Karen. The girls will probably do it for her, since she has her hands full with the baby.

Sister Liz’s 49th birthday was yesterday also. So Susan was born on her 27th birthday. We wish her a happy birthday also and good health and God’s blessings in the year ahead and always!

Meanwhile sister Emma, Jacob and family are preparing to host church services Sunday. They all had the flu after they were home from Jacob’s father’s funeral.

Daughter Verena and I went to help Emma on Tuesday. Emma has brand-new oak cabinets now and is having fun finally getting her dishes back into cabinets since they started remodeling their house.

On Saturday Joe wants to help son-in-law Timothy get some work done that he needs to do before they host the next church services. I will go along and help Elizabeth with her work. The next two weeks will go fast for them.

Son-in-law Mose went to their own place last night to check up on everything, and discovered a broken water pipe in their laundry room. It brought the ceiling down and made a huge mess. Now they will need to get that repaired before they can move back home. It seems when it rains it pours, but it could be lots worse.

Loretta is waiting on me to go help wash laundry. We hang the clothes on the lines in the basement during these cold winter months. We let it hang until the next morning before we bring it up, fold, and put away.

I was hoping to go help sister Emma again tomorrow. Time will tell if I get that far.

Stay healthy everyone! The flu is making its rounds, and I wish everyone the best of health through this flu season. God bless!

Scrambled Egg Muffins
1/2 pound pork sausage
12 eggs
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup green peppers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the sausage; drain. Beat eggs in a bowl. Add onions, green peppers and seasonings. Stir in sausage and cheese. Spoon by 1/3 cupfuls into muffin tins that are either greased or hold cupcake liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Yields one dozen.

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.

Daughter, 13, writes her first column for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen

By Lovina Eicher, age 13

Greetings to readers around the world! This will be my first time ever writing this column. I am Lovina’s daughter Lovina, age 13. I am writing the column for a school project for my teacher (Mom).

On winter days like this I like to go sledding, then come inside and cuddle on the couch sipping hot chocolate. On warmer days I spend time outside with the horses, ponies and dogs. For now I have to deal with the cold weather! I love the snow, going sledding with my brothers, making all of them hot chocolate, staying warm and writing crazy stories. I love every part of winter.

Today I’m staying the night with my sister Verena at sister Susan and Mose’s house. Mose and Susan have moved into their new home now. Their house is cozy and warm. We brought Verena’s Yorkie dog, Ricky, with us. He propped himself in front of the stove and refuses to move.

Mose and Susan have a pellet stove. It is hopper fed and it makes a nice cozy heat. At home our coal stove is in the basement so Ricky doesn’t get to lay in front of it. With all the people we have at home, I’m not used to this quietness here at Mose and Susan’s house.

Today at church we had a potluck Christmas dinner. Every family brings a dish of food. They have casseroles, salads, fruits, pies, cakes, and the list continues. Sometimes I want to try everything but that wouldn’t be possible because I can’t eat that much.

Abby (Abigail) was at church today. I love spoiling her! She sure doesn’t like to sit quiet in church. She is always so full of energy and wants to run around. It seems Abby is growing up so fast that I can’t keep up with her. She’s starting to say words and know what they mean. I’m happy to say that she is my niece! She always makes my day even better.

Yesterday I helped sister Susan give her dog, Tippy, and Verena’s dog, Ricky, a bath. Today they are dirty again. They are kind of like the boys—never staying clean. The dogs like to jump in the snow and get soaking wet. Then they lay on the vent where the heat comes up from the basement to dry.

I’m excited for Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I can’t believe it’s that close already. There is snow on the ground. Dad and Mom are Christmas shopping sometimes and the days just seem to fly by. It is so cold and icy outside. Christmas is fun but the most important part is remembering the true meaning: Christ our Savior is born.

It is now Monday morning (December 17). I was so relaxed last night that I fell asleep early. Mose left for his job at the RV factory. He has their horse Rex harnessed and hitched to their buggy. Susan is coming to our house today to wash her laundry. They still aren’t set up to wash clothes at their house.

We are now at home. It was a chilly ride home. The five-and-one-half miles went fast with us three sisters chatting away. Mom made coffee soup and grilled cheese for our breakfast. Coffee soup is one of my favorite breakfast foods. It is just a little coffee with milk and some sugar added and heated. Then we put in crackers or toasted bread crumbs. Mom doesn’t think we should just eat coffee soup unless we eat something else with it. She doesn’t think it’s a healthy food.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Drive safe and stay healthy. And God bless you!

The recipe I’m going to share is very easy to make.

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter

Bring sugar and milk to a boil. Boil for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Put in an 8 x 8-inch pan and it’s done! Cool and serve.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is usually written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new 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.