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Helping the Newlyweds and Enjoying Family Time

The temperature is staying in the low 60’s today. Leaves are falling and it’s a typical fall day. Yesterday the mercury almost reached 80 degrees, and it was a lovely day with the laundry drying very well.

I’m frying chicken for our supper tonight. Daughter Lovina is washing potatoes for steamed potatoes as well. Dustin and Loretta will join us for supper. Our house is empty without Loretta here anymore. I am glad she’s close by so we can help her. It’s hard to believe half of our eight children aren’t at home anymore.

Friday night, sons Benjamin and Kevin went to a wedding. Son Joseph and daughter Lovina went to their special friends’ house leaving just Joe and me at home. We decided to go to daughter Susan’s house for supper. We picked up sister Verena, and then daughter Elizabeth, Tim and the children also came.

Daughter Verena made supper for all of us. She made chicken casserole and apple cobbler which was delicious. It was enjoyable spending time with the grandchildren. It seemed like over the wedding we didn’t get much time to spend with them. Abigail is really enjoying school. She stayed the night with Jennifer so they were excited for their sleepover. There is still such an empty spot when we go there. It seems like Mose should be coming back from hunting and telling us about the big buck he saw.

Tim and Elizabeth bought a surrey (a two seated buggy) for their family. There will also be more room for them if they want to pick up daughters Verena and Susan to go somewhere. It seems like short years ago when we drove a surrey and had eight children with us. Life goes on and time brings so many changes…some happy, some sad.

Dustin’s birthday was October 8th so his mom and dad made supper at their house in honor of his birthday. Saturday night our family gathered at Dustin and Loretta’s house in honor of his birthday. Daughter Susan and I helped Loretta during the day with her cleaning and washing and putting away wedding gifts/dishes. One other day my sister Verena and I also helped Loretta with getting her house organized with all the new gifts they received.

It will be easier for Loretta once their house is more handicap accessible, but it all takes time and money. Nothing is cheap anymore. Starting out as a young couple takes a lot. I remember when we were first married, how one thing after another came up. And when you buy an older farmhouse you always have repairs.

What matters most is making a house a home and enjoying each other’s company. Dustin is a good son-in-law and seems like a son to me. He is a great husband to Loretta, and he says she is a great wife to him. May God always be the center of their marriage. What a blessing when you gain a son instead of lose a daughter. Dustin and Loretta appreciate all the good wishes from you readers. I am trying to talk them into writing the column next week.

A special reminder of the day, this matrimony piece made for Dustin and Loretta was part of their wedding decorations.

Loretta is having fun cooking for her and Dustin but tells me my recipes are much too big. I am having trouble downsizing with my meals so I need to learn to adjust as well.

God bless all of you and keep us in your prayers as we travel into the unknown future.

Chicken Casserole

3 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1 (7 ounce) package macaroni, cooked
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 green peppers, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and cover with buttered bread or cracker crumbs or croutons. Bake in a 9×13 inch pan for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

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.

 

Updates from a family friend

My name is Ruth and I am a long time “English” friend of Lovina.  She asked me to write the column this week because she is busy preparing for the wedding of her daughter Loretta and Dustin this Friday. The wedding will start about 9:00 a.m. and they will be married about 11:30 a.m. After the wedding a noon meal will be served. They are expecting 450-500 people for the noon meal.  Some guests will stay for the afternoon to visit and catch up, and more guests will arrive for the 5:30 pm meal. They will be ready to serve about 600 again for this meal. In the early evening the youth will gather, and they will be served a hot meal also.

The cook wagon and refrigerated wagon were delivered on Saturday, and all the tables were set up in the pole barn and set with dishes and silverware. Long plastic tablecloths were placed over the set tables to keep them clean.

Early in the week Lovina went to get groceries for the wedding. She had already been stocking up on the staples like flour, sugar, butter, etc. but most groceries need be bought fresh the week of the wedding. Just a few of the items shopped for were 400 pounds of potatoes, 20 gallons of milk, 40 heads of lettuce, 48 loaves of bread, 50 containers of whipped topping, 8 watermelons, 10 cantaloupe, and 10 bunches of celery. On Tuesday a couple of women came and cut up and toasted all the bread for the dressing. Loretta and Dustin requested that cupcakes be served as one of the desserts, so the women baked some of the cupcakes also. In total they plan on baking, frosting, and decorating over 600 cupcakes. Other desserts on the menu will be cherry pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and caramel pudding.

On Wednesday more women came and baked the cherry pies. The onions, carrots, and celery for the dressing were chopped, bagged, and labeled. They baked the rest of the cupcakes, and some were frosted and decorated. The frosting is a delicious light chocolate, and the decorations are little multicolored sprinkles in the shape of leaves.

The three head cooks for the wedding are sister Emma, niece Elizabeth, and Barbara, who is a neighbor and friend who goes to the same church. As the women arrive the head cooks give them their job for the morning, and they all quickly go about their tasks. As the women work together there is conversation and laughter as they catch up on news of family, church, and community.  Baked goodies have been brought in for morning coffee time, and casseroles and salads brought in by the women helping are shared at lunch time.

Loretta chose a fall theme for her wedding which is appropriate as the leaves are beginning to turn and pumpkins and mums can be seen on front porches. Loretta’s tables have tablecloths of yellow and red and orange, fall leaf garland is strung around the windows in the shed, and colored leaves are sprinkled down the middle of the tables. There is a chill in the early morning air but the weather this week promises to be warm and sunny during the day, which is a welcome change from the rainy days and cooler temperatures we had last week.

Dustin is putting the finishing touches on his pole barn across the street from Lovina’s. The siding is on, the concrete floor is poured, and the windows and doors are installed. Dustin is hoping to complete some work on the eaves before Friday. His pole barn is where the wedding will be held, and after the wedding the family and friends will walk across the street to Joe and Lovina’s for the noon meal.

Festive fall table decorations prepared for Loretta and Dustin’s wedding. Photo provided.

There are special touches in the decorations that honor and remember the loved ones who have passed. There are three wooden candle holders that each have an engraving with the names of Mose, sister Susan, and brother-in-law Jacob on them.  A deer that Mose shot is mounted on a special board that Emma’s son Jacob cut, finished, and engraved in his honor.  They will be missed terribly at this special celebration. As an outsider I can see that the hurt is still present but alongside the pain there is acceptance and peace. There are smiles and laughter as they share precious memories and there is special focus on making the day special for Loretta and Dustin.  May God bless this special couple as they begin their journey as husband and wife.

 

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.

 

The first tastes of spring

We are having cooler weather again this week. On Monday it was rainy, and yesterday was cloudy. At least today the sun is shining at times.

Son Joseph, 18, is home today. He has been busy outside cleaning the yard and filling in dirt on the low spots before we roll the yard.

We had success with our garage sale last week, but we still have some things left. I want to take it to a thrift store, or the free store, or give it to someone who can use it. It was time consuming to have the sale but makes more space now in my storage areas.

Our rhubarb is plentiful, so I have made quite a few rhubarb custard pies. We are also enjoying asparagus from the garden.

My husband Joe planted some more vegetables in the garden on Saturday: lettuce, radishes, peas, and corn.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, so I wish all mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day. I am blessed to have 8 wonderful children who call me Mother: Elizabeth, 26, Susan, 25, Verena, 23, Benjamin, 21, Loretta, 20, Joseph, 18, Lovina, 16, and Kevin, 15. I thank God for their love, and I hope I will always be a good example to them. It takes daily prayers to raise a family. I also have 5 precious grandchildren who call me Grandma: Abigail, 4, Jennifer, 3, Timothy (T.J.), 2, Ryan, 21 months, and Allison, 16 months.

Father’s Day will be hard on daughter Susan, to have 2 little children who won’t have a father to give their love to. Mose would buy a flower for the children to give to Susan on Mother’s Day. May God continue to guide her and comfort her. Let us remind ourselves that God makes no mistakes.

On Sunday we had communion services at our neighbors’ home. Daughter Susan and children and sister Verena were here for the night on Saturday and went to church with us.

Ryan was so excited to have a little black hat to wear to church. When we came to church, he thought he could wear it during the service, so it took a little persuading to get him to hang it up until afterward.

Sister Verena and daughter Susan and children stayed overnight again Sunday night. When Ryan woke up Monday morning Joe had left for work already. Ryan went to our bedroom, to Joe’s side of the bed, asking where Grandpa was. I told him he was working. He then pointed to the cabinet on the wall where Joe keeps his hat and asked for Joe’s hat. He thought he should have both his and Grandpa’s hat, but I told Ryan we need to leave it there for when we go to church again. Such sweet little angels. What do they have to see in the future?

I answered all the reader mail now. I want to again thank everyone for their support and encouragement. It is all greatly appreciated. May God bless all of you!

I will share the recipe for asparagus shepherd’s pie this week for those of you who love asparagus. We had asparagus last night just fried in butter.

Take care! Until next week…God bless!

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 of chicken or asparagus soup
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut in pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Boil potatoes in water until tender. Brown hamburger with onion and garlic; drain grease. Stir in soup and pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Cook asparagus in small amount of water until crisp and tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and layer over beef mixture. Drain the potatoes and mash, adding milk, butter, and salt. Spread mashed potatoes over asparagus and 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. 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.

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