Grateful for safekeeping, help from friends and children, plus dandelions!


A beautiful April spring day! Sun is shining and the mercury on the thermometer keeps rising. I love this weather and all the signs that spring is here. The tulips are looking really nice.

Everyone here at the Eicher house is gone for the day except me. My husband Joe, son Benjamin, and daughters Elizabeth, Susan, and Verena are all at their jobs working. The four youngest are at school.

It is too quiet with everyone gone except for Elizabeth’s two Yorkie dogs, Crystal and Izzy. Right now they are both sleeping.

Crytal_Izyy_JoesChair

It takes me longer to get things done without Verena’s help. Yesterday I washed all the laundry and it is surprising how much longer it takes if you do it all alone. It was a nice laundry day and the girls helped me get the clothes in and fold them after they were home from work. It goes so much faster when everyone takes their own clothes up to their bedrooms.

On Friday, son Benjamin was in a two-vehicle accident on his way home from helping Mose at his sawmill. We are thankful he wasn’t hurt and the rest involved had only minor injuries. It could have been such a different ending. God truly was watching over them. It reminds us how quickly life could change.

We are enjoying dandelion salad. I will share the recipe this week since we have quite a few new readers that might like the recipe.

We had to get back into the school routine after the children were home for a week on spring break. Joseph, 12, milks our cow Bessie before he gets ready for school in the mornings. He times himself on how long it takes to milk her. He is getting faster at it. He said he wants to milk her in eight to ten minutes like I can. I told him he has to build his muscles up and he should be able to. When we milked cows at home we had some that milked easy and some harder. Bessie is an easy cow to milk.

I want to make butter from the cream this afternoon. Susan brought a yogurt starter home from Mose’s mother Rosanna and tried her luck at making yogurt with Bessie’s milk. She tasted Rosanna’s yogurt and really liked it when she was at their house. I never made yogurt so hopefully I will learn now.

Before I go on with my work I want to answer some letters from my readers. It is a busy time of the year so please bear with me. I’ll try my best to answer everyone.

I owe a big thank you to my friends Jim and Ruth. I live in Michigan and my mail goes to South Holland, Illinois. Jim or Ruth always delivers my mail. I really do appreciate the time they take to do this.

Also, thanks to Pauline for sending the box of books for the girls. They were very excited. You will receive a personal reply from them.

May God bless everyone who has in some way helped or encouraged me to keep writing!

DandelionSaladDressing

Dandelion Sour Cream Salad

Serves 4 to 6

This is a recipe for dandelions smothered in our favorite homemade sour cream. You can, however, use just the sour cream part for other seasonal greens as well. This same sour cream is great when used with in-season, fresh-from-the-garden lettuce and endive. Home-cured ham also goes well with it. Any unused sour cream can be refrigerated for up to two days.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
Salt (to taste)
4 hard-boiled eggs, diced
4 cups packed young dandelion greens

Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, milk, and salt in a quart jar. Shake until smooth. Put the eggs and dandelion greens in a large bowl and pour the sour cream mixture over them.

 

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

DIY on the farm: Make fresh noodles and avoid naming your next dinner

April! Signs of spring are everywhere! The early spring flowers are coming through. Also, rhubarb and horseradish are pushing through the soil.

My husband, Joe, planted some radishes, peas and sweet corn this week. Time will tell if they will grow. We had rain yesterday and this forenoon. We have been getting some of the yard raked between rains. It looks like it’s turning nicer now.

The schoolchildren are enjoying their week off. Yesterday we made noodles and cheese. I tried a different noodle recipe from the one I usually use. The noodles turned out really nice. We’ll have some tonight for supper. I was clear out of noodles, so it was time to make more. I would like to make a few more batches to store for the weeks ahead. We like beef and noodles or chicken and noodles, so they don’t last long around here.

Lovina made fresh noodles last week; see the end of the column for the recipe.
Lovina made fresh noodles last week; see the end of the column for the recipe.

Joe, Elizabeth, Susan, Verena and Benjamin are all working today. If the children weren’t home on spring break, I would be the only one home. Verena is enjoying the work she does. She does some office work and helps a lady with organic gardening. They will sell produce, among other items, at flea markets this summer.

On Good Friday Joe and I and some of the children attended the wedding of Benjamin and Elizabeth. We enjoyed getting to visit with aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. We arrived back home around 5:30 p.m.

Colorful Easter eggs on the Eichers' kitchen table.
Colorful Easter eggs on the Eichers’ kitchen table.

We received several more wedding invitations. Congratulations to nephew John and Arlene! They chose May 29 for their special day. Our neighbor boy Joe and his special friend, Susie, were published in our church on Sunday for a June 4 wedding. Congratulations to them as well! I have been asked to be a cook at both weddings.

We have three little pigs here now. We have extra milk from our cow, Bessie, to help feed them. Son Kevin, 9, wondered if he could give the pigs names. I told him it would be better to not make friends with them as they will be our meat next winter.

Lovina's son Kevin suggested naming their little pigs. His mother suggested otherwise.
Lovina’s son Kevin suggested naming their little pigs. His mother suggested otherwise.

I still remember when I was a little girl and my parents butchered one of our favorite old milk cows named Whitey. We had a hard time thinking about her being the beef we were eating. After that, Dad never butchered the milk cows. He would raise other beef for that. An older cow doesn’t make good steaks like a younger steer does.

This week, I’ll share the noodle recipe with readers. God bless you!

Noodles

2 cups egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cup boiling water
9 cups flour

Beat egg yolks, add boiling water and beat quickly until foamy. Pour into flour. Stir until most of the flour is mixed in. Put a lid on the bowl and let stand 10–15 minutes. Put dough on floured table and roll out. Cut into squares and put through noodle maker or cut by hand.

Either cook noodles right away or dry for future use. To dry, lay out and turn daily for a week, then store in an airtight container. After drying, the noodles can be frozen.

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

Maple syrup spring gives way to Amish wedding season

March 31—the last day of March! Hopefully April will bring us nicer, warmer weather.

On Saturday Mose cooked up the rest of the sap into maple syrup. Our trees are done now for this year. I think we have more than a year’s supply of maple syrup now. It sure takes a lot of work and time to cook maple syrup!

The Eichers finished making maple syrup last week.
The Eichers finished making maple syrup last week.

Saturday evening we attended the annual spring program for the school. Around 40 youth were in the program. It takes a lot of work for these boys and girls. It was held at our local community building and lasted three hours. They did a good job! Everyone was treated to popcorn after the program.

Sunday forenoon Joe and I and daughters Verena, Loretta, and Lovina and sons Joseph and Kevin headed for Berne, Ind. Sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, her husband Jacob, and their sons, Benjamin and Steven, also went with us. We attended the viewing and visitation of a friend. Our sympathy goes to the family.

We visited with sister Liz and family at the visitation. We stopped in at brother Amos and Nancy’s house and visited with them. Our next stop was with sister Leah and Paul. We had nice visits with everybody and were served good snacks at both places.

It was good to see everyone again. We also visited with some friends, uncles, aunts and cousins at the visitation. We arrived back home around 9:00 p.m.

Daughter Verena is mopping our floors and then plans to bake cookies. Her cookies don’t last too long around here. This time she plans to make peanut butter cookies. Tomorrow she is starting a new job, so I will miss her help on the days she will work. She isn’t sure how it will work out, but hopefully she’ll like it.

Next week our four school-aged children will be home for spring break. Joe and I and some of the children plan to attend the wedding in Rochester, Ind., on Good Friday. Our blessings to Joe’s cousin Benjamin and Elizabeth. May God be their guide as they unite in holy matrimony.

Three more couples in our community have been published for May and June weddings. It looks like wedding season is in full swing.

Easter is on Sunday. Hopefully the children can color some eggs on Saturday. A blessed Easter to everyone. Let us remember what this day is about—that Jesus died for all of us so that our sins can be forgiven.

This week I’ll share my rhubarb jam recipe. I have had several requests for it, so I want to share it before the rhubarb is ready to use.

 This week Lovina readies readers for spring by sharing her recipe for rhubarb jam.
This week Lovina readies readers for spring by sharing her recipe for rhubarb jam.

Rhubarb Preserves

5 cups rhubarb, finely diced
4 cups white sugar
1 3-ounce box strawberry gelatin

Combine rhubarb and sugar and let stand in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Pour into jars and seal while hot, or freeze.

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

Lovina makes homemade mozzarella for the first time

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

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

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

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

CannedMapleSyrup

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

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

The Eicher family cow provided milk to make mozarella cheese.

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

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

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

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

MozarellaCheeseEdited

Mozzarella Cheese

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

Put milk in a large container. Dissolve citric acid in 1/4 cup cold water, then add to cold milk. Mix well and keep stirring until heated to 90 to 95 degrees. Remove from heat; add 1/4 cup cold water and rennet tablet. Stir well then let set for 1/2 hour. Cut into squares with a long bladed knife. Let set 5 to 10 minutes. Heat to 110 degrees. Continue stirring to keep curds from sticking. Remove from heat and let sit 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile heat 2 quarts of water with 1/2 cup salt to 175 degrees. Drain cheese in colander for 15 minutes. Cut or pull cheese apart into small cubes and put in a large bowl. Add hot salt water; use wooden spoon to stretch cheese in upward motion until soft and springy. Drain in colander. Knead a little bit as you would bread; put in container to cool. Bread pans work well. Very good!

 

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

Smells like spring: boiling fresh maple syrup and laundry drying outside

Spring will officially be here this week as I write this! Monday was a very beautiful day with the temperature going up in the 60s. We hung all the laundry outside to dry. It was so nice to be able to fold all the clothes and put them away the same day.

Susan’s friend Mose tapped all our maple trees for sap and also some of the trees at my sisters Verena and Susan’s place. He also tapped a few of neighbor Irene’s trees.

The sap is running but not as much as some years. Mose cooked the sap on Saturday and we now have fresh maple syrup. It is surprising how many gallons of sap it takes to get one gallon of maple syrup. A lot of work goes into it all.

BoilingMapleSyrup
Family friend Mose boils off some authentic maple syrup from the Eicher farm.

 

We all love the maple syrup. It tastes so much better on pancakes than pancake syrup. The children like to warm it and put it on vanilla ice cream.

CannedMapleSyrup
Five quarts of home canned real maple syrup taste way better than the store kind.

We had a nice day for Alvin and Susanna’s wedding last week. The wind was a little chilly but the sun was shining so that helped.

On the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, baked chicken, dressing, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, homemade bread, butter and strawberry jam, angel food cake with a strawberry topping, mixed fruit, and pecan, blueberry and cherry pies. Ice cream was also added for the evening meal. We wish Alvin and Susanna a long, happy married life together with all of God’s richest blessings!

We have several more wedding invitations for this spring. Joe’s cousin Ben and Elizabeth will exchange vows on April 3 in Rochester, Ind. They both lost their first partners. We wish them a happy, blessed life together!

Also, congratulations to Orlie Wayne and LaVera Ann! They will exchange vows on April 23. Joe and Orlie work at the same RV factory. We appreciate the invitations and hope to be able to attend.

We also received a “Save the Date” and an “invitation-to-follow” card from cousin Jane’s daughter Tiffany and her fiancé Samual. They plan to exchange vows on Sept. 5. Congratulations to the couple!

Our thoughts are with niece Suzanne, age 14 (sister Liz and Levi’s daughter). She has been in the hospital since Monday. She has asthmatic bronchitis pneumonia and a virus. We hope she will be well enough to go home soon and have a speedy recovery. It’s always a worry for the parents when our children are sick. Sounds like she was dehydrated with a high fever and was a very sick girl.

Sunday we had dinner with sisters Verena and Susan. Another beautiful day! The children enjoyed playing outside, biking, and riding the pony. Timothy and Mose also were there and sister Emma, Jacob, and family. Also their daughters’ friends, Menno and Manuel. Daughters Verena and Loretta spent the weekend in Indiana with friends so they weren’t there.

Joe and the boys took advantage of the nice weather on Saturday and hauled some manure out of the barn. I love spring! It’s always nice to see everything start blooming. I am keeping my eye open for those dandelion greens. Rhubarb stems should be peeping through too. This morning we had 23 degrees so we might have a few cold days yet.

A lady from our church shared this recipe with me. I bought the raised doughnut mix and cinnamon doughnut sugar at a bulk food store. I’m not sure if other stores would have it as well. Our children love these and it’s easier to make than doughnuts. Enjoy! God Bless!

RiseNRollBars1
Lovina’s recipe of the week is for an easy raised-type donut pastry, Rise and Roll Bars.

Rise and Roll Bars

2 packages yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 3/4 cups warm water
5 1/2 cups raised doughnut mix
1 1/2–2 cups cinnamon doughnut sugar (for topping)

Mix together yeast, sugar and warm water. Then add raised doughnut mix. Let rise 30–45 minutes. Knead and spread in a buttered 10 x 15 cookie sheet and let rise again for 30–45 minutes. Bake at 350° for 15–20 minutes.

Brown Sugar Frosting

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar

Cook together brown sugar and butter for 2–3 minutes. Add milk and bring to a boil. Take off heat and cool to lukewarm. Add powdered sugar. Spread bars with frosting then sprinkle with cinnamon doughnut sugar before the frosting dries.

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

Happy preparations for Thursday wedding include homemade angel food cake

We had a lot of fog this morning. The schools had a two-hour delay because of the fog. This made for some happy children!

It has been a lot warmer this week with the temperature almost reaching 50 degrees on Monday. Sure gives a person spring fever. I am hoping it will be nice and warm for Alvin and Susanna’s wedding tomorrow.

I went to help prepare for the wedding on Monday at the bride’s home. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan didn’t have to work so they helped Verena with the laundry. They hung some of it outside and it dried really well. I was glad the laundry was done when I came home.

Other women were at the bride’s home too, helping prepare for the wedding. Women made pie crusts and crushed corn flakes to mix with ranch seasoning to coat the chicken for the wedding meals. We smashed and prepared two five-gallon-sized buckets of crushed corn flakes. Then I helped make angel food cakes. All the ladies brought in something for lunch which makes it so much easier on the bride’s mother. I took macaroni salad. There was so much left over I sent it with one of the ladies to the visitation for a man from our community. He passed away on Saturday evening and has lots of relatives in this community.

Lovina and daughters have been busy sewing new outfits for the wedding where they helped as cooks or servers.
Lovina and daughters have been busy sewing new outfits for the wedding where they helped as cooks or servers.

Yesterday I spent part of the day sewing on my dress for the wedding. The cooks have to wear a plum-colored dress. Mose and Susan are witnesses and Susan has to wear a purple dress with a white cape and apron. Timothy and Elizabeth are table waiters and Elizabeth will wear a different shade of purple for her dress, cape, and apron. The boys have to wear black pants and vests with white shirts. My job at the wedding will be to help prepare the chicken. It will all be baked for both meals.

The sun is shining brightly now and the fog has faded. I still need to finish sewing my cape for tomorrow, so that’s next on my list. Our snow is disappearing fast and the ground is getting really soft. We need some sidewalks from the ramp to the driveway. Hopefully the sun will help dry out the ground. The melting snow needs somewhere to go.

The Eicher family’s new cow, Bessie, eagerly provided the cream for the butter.
The Eicher family’s new cow, Bessie, eagerly provided the cream for the butter.

The children have been helping make butter from our cow Bessie’s cream that we get from her milk. I am hoping to get a butter churn or an easier way to make butter than shaking it in a jar. It is nice to not have to buy butter and milk now. Our children like the taste of homemade butter so we will be making lots more. Everyone takes turns shaking the jars and we soon have a lump of butter formed.

Butter
Lovina and her family make butter from the milk they get from their cow, Bessie.

 

We also have our own chickens so we have eggs and can make noodles from those.

This week I will share the recipe of the angel food cakes we made for the wedding tomorrow. After helping to make so many, I memorized the recipe.

Angel Food Cake (White)

Beat until foamy:
2 cups egg whites

Add:
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond flavoring

Beat in until stiff peaks form:
1 cup of white sugar, sifted

Sift together and fold in gradually:
1 cup pastry or cake flour
1 cup powdered sugar

Pour into angel food cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cake feels springy.

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

New cow provides cream for homemade treat


March! This year is going way too fast for me!

Daughter Verena and I just came in from milking our new cow, Bessie, and doing the outside chores. Son Joseph usually takes care of feeding the horses. I left the school children sleep later this morning so there wasn’t enough time. We are getting plenty of milk from Bessie.

BessieCow

I haven’t milked a cow since I was married almost 22 years ago. It was fun to milk a cow again but not something I want to do daily. The boys have been milking Bessie at night. Until Joseph gets faster at it, Verena and I usually milk her in the mornings. I can feel my arms aren’t used to it anymore.

When I was seven years old I started helping to milk our cows at home. Every morning and evening we had 12 to 14 cows we milked by hand. When Joe and I were married my parents gave us a milk cow, but Joe always milked her as I was always busy with the little children. Now our children aren’t so little anymore; this makes a person sometimes wish time would slow down.

Friday evening quite a few people attended the birthday party for niece Salome at the community building. Our family attended and so did Timothy and Mose. Guests played basketball and volleyball and also other games. Some of us sat and visited after supper. The community building is a nice, big place to have such an event in the cold winter months.

Joe’s sister Christine, Jake, and nine children came here for the night after the birthday supper. They were here until Saturday afternoon.

Saturday morning for breakfast we had biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, cheese, hot peppers, coffee, milk, grape juice, and rhubarb juice.

For the noon meal Joe and Mose grilled ham and hot wings. Jake and his sons froze ice cream. Christine mixed the ingredients for the ice cream. We used the cream off of our cow’s milk. It sure makes so much better tasting ice cream. I also made a pasta casserole to have with the grilled meat and ice cream.

IceCream

The forenoon was spent playing games. Verena also had some friends over so there were plenty of people to play games.

Matthew (Jake and Christine’s son) and son Kevin had a hard time going to sleep Friday evening. They were so excited about being able to spend the night together.

Daughter Susan took Edwin and Rosetta (Jake and Christine’s two youngest children) for a pony ride with Tiger, our pony. Matthew and Kevin also went along. It was a cold ride but they dressed warm and enjoyed it! Daughter Lovina and Jake’s daughter Miriam also went along for the pony ride.

Kevin went to bed before dark Saturday evening and slept until the next morning. He was very tired from a long day and not sleeping much Friday evening.

Sunday we spent the day at home. Our afternoon visitors were nephews Jacob Jr. and Benjamin, and niece Emma, and her special friend Menno. Timothy and Mose were here for the day as well. The boys froze another batch of ice cream. Our children like my new ice cream recipe a lot better. I’ll share it with you this week. God’s blessings to all!

Homemade Ice Cream

6 cups cream
6 eggs
3 1/2 cups sugar
6 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 or 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Freeze in your ice cream freezer according to directions.

 

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

Eichers anticipate spring training for the pony, and homemade butter and cheese

This column will wrap up my columns for February 2015. This year is going way too fast for me to keep up. I remember Mother telling me that the older your children get, the faster time goes. I see that is very true!

I often would be glad to have one more conversation with Mother. God had other plans, and I need to accept His will. Mother always had good advice. Especially when the children were sick, she would come over and take care of everybody. Memories—I’ll treasure them always!

Lovina’s daughter Susan is looking forward to warmer weather so that she can train her miniature pony, Prancer.
Lovina’s daughter Susan is looking forward to warmer weather so that she can train her miniature pony, Prancer.

We are all well again here at the Eichers. So many blessings to thank God for! Susan is still under a doctor’s care but is back to work. The chiropractor says she has pinched nerves in her neck. Susan is active and always full of energy. She is looking forward to training Prancer, our miniature pony, as the weather warms up. Prancer will be two years old in April. Benjamin is also glad to be going back to work.

Tonight we are getting a milk cow. This has been all the boys have been talking about. We sold our cow when we lived in Indiana. Since our move to Michigan almost 11 years ago, we have not had a milking cow. We go through so many gallons of milk in a week so the milk will be good to have. I would also like to make our own butter. Another thing I would like to try that I’ve never done is making cheese. If any of you readers have a good recipe for cheese, I would be happy to have it.

Susan’s pony, Prancer, soon after he was born.
Susan’s pony, Prancer, soon after he was born.

Sunday our family, Timothy, and Mose attended the baptismal services in Nappanee, Indiana, for niece Salome. Her special friend, Myron, was also baptized with her. What a blessing to the family and church!

We were all able to meet Henry and Loretta’s sweet little Damaris. The girls and I had fun holding her during church services. She was really smiling. She’s just a tiny bundle of joy, but her smile lit up the whole room.

Niece Verena and Melvin’s little Micah is already 11 months old. He is growing fast too. He’s a sweetie! Joe’s sister Christine, husband Jake, and nine children from Hershey, Michigan, were also there. It was good to see Melvin and Verena and Jakes again.

We also met Myron’s family. Everyone was friendly. We appreciated the hospitality. It’s always nice to visit other church districts in other communities and meet new people.

Friday evening we are invited to the local community building for Salome’s 19th birthday supper. Salome was born on February 29. Jake, Christine, and family have plans to come for this. It sounds like they might come to our house to sleep on Friday and Saturday evenings. Daughter Verena has some friends coming for the night as well. Somehow we will find room for everyone—the more the merrier!

Son Kevin and Jake and Christine’s son Matthew always have so much fun together. On Sunday after church, Kevin and Matthew were walking beside each other. Both were talking at the same time. I don’t think either of them was listening to the other! We had to laugh as we watched them. Seemed like they had so much to catch up on.

I’ll share a recipe for a favorite soup of ours this week.

This week's recipe for vegetable cheese soup makes a colorful and easy dish for late winter evenings.
This week’s recipe for vegetable cheese soup makes a colorful and easy dish for late winter evenings.

Vegetable Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
pinch salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 10-ounce package mixed vegetables, cooked

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions and sauté until onions are clear. Blend in flour, milk, and salt to taste. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cooked vegetables. Let simmer for a while. You can add your own vegetables from the garden, such as corn, peas, or carrots.

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

Taste of spring and wedding invitations brighten February flu season

Oh dear! I completely forgot to write my column this week. I like to have it done on Wednesdays or before. Our four children just left for school, and I looked at the calendar and thought of the column. So before my work begins for the day, this will have to get written first.

So much has been going on here that it’s no wonder I have my days mixed up! Since last week it seems one of the children has been down with the flu. Yesterday I took daughter Susan, 19, and son Benjamin, 15, to the doctor. Susan has been having a very painful arm. The doctor says its bursitis from overusing it at her job at the RV factory. He told Susan she needs to slow down. He gave her a muscle relaxant and she needs to get a few adjustments at a chiropractor to loosen the joints. She will be home until Monday to rest the arm. She thought she should still go to work, but the doctor ordered rest.

Benjamin was having a high fever, but the doctor said it’s only a sinus infection and he tested negative for the flu. So hopefully with the medicine he will feel better. It’s hard to tell when Benjamin is sick because he keeps going. He really thought he should be able to go to work today, but I told him to wait until next week.

I’m hoping the flu has left our house now. The temperature has been cold this week, and the wind chill so much colder. We are getting more snow almost every day. I think I’m ready for spring!

We received our first wedding invitation for this year. Mose’s brother Alvin and Susanna will exchange vows on Thursday, March 12. They asked me to be a cook at their wedding and to come help a day before the wedding. Mose and Susan and Timothy and Elizabeth also have parts in the wedding. This means new dresses for Elizabeth, Susan, and I. Susan has been working on hers when time allowed the last few weeks. It only has to be hemmed and then it will be finished.

Daughter Elizabeth’s friend Timothy had the flu the last few days, so Elizabeth, 20, and Lovina, 10, went over there for a few hours last night. They washed his laundry and hung it on his enclosed porch to dry. They made supper and stayed to eat with him. Timothy bought a place of his own a few years ago. He lives by himself. With him working every day and having a few jobs after work, things can get pretty busy for him. I’m sure he was glad for the help and the company!

Several readers have asked for my recipe for rhubarb juice. I have changed the amounts of the ingredients over the years, and this is the way we like it best. Enjoy!

This week Lovina looks ahead to spring by sharing her recipe for rhubarb juice.
This week Lovina looks ahead to spring by sharing her recipe for rhubarb juice.

Rhubarb Juice

8 pounds rhubarb (can use frozen)
8 quarts water
2 12-ounce cans frozen orange juice
1 46-ounce can pineapple juice
4 cups sugar
3 3-ounce boxes strawberry gelatin

Combine rhubarb and water and cook until rhubarb is soft. Drain and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Freeze or can according to your preference.

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

Ham and bean soup warms on frosty midwinter days

The temperature has dropped down to the teens this morning. It sounds windy outside.

Today is Thursday so it’s laundry day again. We usually wash laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. Usually by the next morning the clothes are dry on the lines in the basement. Oh, how nice when spring weather comes and we can wash clothes, dry them outside, and have them folded in one day.

Daughter Loretta came home from school sick on Monday forenoon. She hasn’t been able to go back yet. I called the doctor and he thinks it is probably the flu.

Tomorrow and Monday there isn’t any school, as it’s midwinter break. My plans are to take Joseph to the dentist to get a small cavity filled and to get some groceries.

Sons Benjamin, 15, and Joseph, 12, went over to Timothy’s house two nights this week to help him with his work. They really enjoy spending time helping him.

Son Kevin, 9, usually takes care of our chickens. He has been bringing in around 40 eggs every day from the new chickens we raised this fall. Kevin still has his run-ins with the mean rooster.

Last Saturday my husband, Joe, and sons helped Jacob and Emma dress a beef. With Loretta being sick, I haven’t had time to ask if they need help this week in cutting it up.

Brother Amos is back to work but has still been having dizzy spells. He has seen several doctors, but so far they haven’t really been able to figure out what is causing them. He still works construction work—helping build Menards buildings. They have quite a few hours of traveling to do every day. I hope it’s nothing serious. Amos has always been a hard worker and it’s hard to get him to slow down. He’s ten years older than I am and will be 54 this year.

Daughters Verena, 17, and Loretta, 14, recently attended their friend Grace’s birthday party. They enjoyed the evening with friends and made some new ones.

Joe plans to smoke the summer sausage this coming Saturday. He is hoping it won’t be too cold outside.

We still have lots of snow piled outside. The driveway is cleared off and the roads are dry, which is nice to see.

This week I’ll share a recipe that I tried for ham and bean soup. Not too many in our family like ham and beans, but if you do, I would suggest you try this recipe. I sent some over to Jacob and Emma, and they really liked it.

The Eicher family enjoyed ham and bean soup recently on a cold evening and this week Lovina shares the recipe with readers.
The Eicher family enjoyed ham and bean soup recently on a cold evening and this week Lovina shares the recipe with readers.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 pound dry Great Northern beans
8 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ham hock
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 bay leaves
2 cups ham, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse beans; bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and beans and remove from heat. Let beans soak in hot water for at least an hour. Then place ham hock, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mustard, and bay leaves in the pot and return it to high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 60 more minutes. Remove ham hock, cut off meat, and discard bone. Stir in chopped ham and simmer 30 more minutes. Season with black pepper.

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