A little bundle of joy before Christmas makes Lovina a grandma again

First, I need to share our very exciting news: my husband Joe and I are grandparents for the third time!

We welcome our first grandson, Timothy Josiah, born to daughter Elizabeth and Timothy on December 17. He weighed 7 pounds and is 19 inches long. He was born at 5:11 a.m. by C-section. I went to the hospital with Timothy and Elizabeth on Sunday evening. By the next morning complications had set in, and the doctor decided the baby needed to be born by C-section. Elizabeth was looking forward to a natural birth this time, but it would have been dangerous for her and the baby.

Timothy Josiah is greeted by his two-year-old sister, Abigail. She loves the baby but is not so sure she wants to share her daddy and mommy! It is hard for her to understand that she has to share her parents. She stayed at our house the several nights her parents were at the hospital. She slept with her Aunt Verena both nights. I was at the hospital the first night, but Abigail chose Verena over me when it came to rocking her to sleep!

So we now have three grandchildren: Abigail is two, Jennifer is 11 months, and our newest addition is two days. He is a sweetie and is very alert. Daughters Verena and Loretta are spending the night at Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. They made supper for them with fried chicken on the menu. I plan to go help spoil him tomorrow.

I want to bake bread in the morning to give to the children’s teachers for Christmas gifts. I will mix the dough up early so it can start rising.

Saturday, December 22, my husband Joe will have his 50th birthday. We don’t have any special plans, but I would love to do something special for the Big 50. With the holidays so close and the new grandbaby, it seems everyone’s schedule is full enough!

We received a wedding invitation for a nephew’s wedding. Congratulations go to John and Brooke! They planned a March 15 wedding at the bride’s home in Elkmont, Alabama. John is Joe’s sister Carol and Pete’s son from Tennessee.

Verena’s Yorkie gave birth to two puppies the same week as a third grandchild arrived for Lovina and Joe.

Daughter Verena’s dogs, Ruby and Ricky, are parents to two cute little puppies. Ruby is a good mother to her little ones. Verena wants to sell the puppies when the time comes.

We recently had our family here in honor of daughter Verena’s 21st birthday. Fried potatoes and grilled chicken were on the menu, along with cake and ice cream. After supper, everyone sat around the tables. We all had two little cups and a straw, with eight Skittle candies in one of the cups. The object of the game was to see which team (men against women) could suck the candies with a straw and move them from one cup to the next without using their hands.

Do I need to mention the winning team? Yes, of course, the women’s team won! We heard plenty of remarks from the men saying we are “windier” so we could do the job faster. It was so hard to do it without laughing. I really do think this was work for some of the men. I will be quiet now, just in case one of them happens to read this column. The girls suggest we not play this game again due to the men being so bad at it. Ha ha! Anyway: happy birthday, Verena!

Readers have been requesting the recipe for dinner rolls from Emma and Menno’s wedding, so I’ll include that here.

I wish everyone God’s greatest blessings over this holiday season. Let us remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Peace on earth!

Refrigerator Dinner Rolls
Makes 2 dozen rolls

1 cup warm water (105–115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
additional melted butter

Combine warm water and yeast in a large bowl. (Do not use quick-rising dry yeast, as it’s designed to raise breads quickly.) Let mixture stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is too stiff to mix (you may not need as much flour as listed). Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 4 days.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Turn the chilled dough out on a lightly floured board. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth round ball. Cover and let rise until double in size (about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 15–20 minutes. Brush warm rolls with melted butter.

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 at 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.

Serving as head cook for 1,000 wedding meals leaves Lovina a bit tired

The wedding for Menno and Emma is now history. We wish them a long and happy married life together, with God guiding their way. Once again we do all that work for just one day, but it’s a special day they will always remember. When two become one in a marriage until death do them part, it takes effort from both to make it a happy marriage. My prayer is for every couple to have a blessed marriage.

The cold weather made it harder to prepare for this wedding than for most, but we actually stayed pretty warm all day. The building in which the tables were set up seemed warm. The wedding wagon [a rented unit in which the food is prepared] was throwing a lot of heat, and with the big tall propane heaters the building warmed up. Wedding services were held on Friday at their neighbors’, in a big heated building.

Their neighbor lady Laura and I were head cooks, so our job was to make sure we had all the ingredients there to feed 1,000 people or more for the day. Six hundred pounds of chicken were grilled by Menno’s uncle. They started at 3:30 a.m. Four hundred pounds of potatoes were bought.

The wedding wagon came with plate settings for 360, but there was only room for 260 plate settings. We needed to save room in the building for heaters and a place to fill the serving bowls of food, which we would have done outside in warm weather.

Many neighbors, church members and family brought their buggies to help with food preparation before the wedding of Lovina’s niece. Photo courtesy of Ruth Boss.

Laura and I were there Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the Friday wedding. Cooks came on Wednesday and Thursday to help prepare food and do jobs that could be done before the actual wedding day. Sixty-four pies were baked, the chicken cut up and washed, 30 loaves of bread toasted for dressing, pudding prepared for peanut butter pie and dirt pudding, vegetables diced and shredded, plus so many more jobs completed.

The menu consisted of chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, noodles, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, dinner rolls, fruit topped with Danish dessert, angel food cake, dirt pudding, cherry, pecan and peanut butter pies, and candy bars. Ice cream was added to the menu for the evening meal.

Daughters Verena and Loretta and sons Benjamin and Joseph were all tablewaiters at the wedding (Loretta’s partner was her boyfriend Dustin). Daughter Lovina was a coffee server and son Kevin was a helper. He had to help pass the guestbook around and passed out little gifts to the guests such as pens with the bride and groom’s names and wedding date on it and also letter openers with the same on it. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan were cooks and their job was to make the many hundreds of dinner rolls fresh for the noon meal.

With the girls and I being there every day, our laundry kept piling up at home. On Saturday morning we finally washed our laundry, which was bigger than normal and then headed over to see if Jacob and Emma still needed help cleaning up. They had the cleaning up pretty well finished, and Menno and Emma were opening their wedding gifts. This is usually done on the day of the wedding under a tent, but with it being so cold outside, the tent wouldn’t have worked. I almost liked it better this way, because they could take their time and enjoy opening their gifts. Menno’s family was there to watch them open the gifts. I have to admit that I was tired by Saturday, so I didn’t mind getting out of cleaning up (smile!).

I want to thank my good friend Ruth for all she did to help us out over the wedding, and also for penning this column for me last week. My mind was going a thousand different directions, and I couldn’t concentrate to write.

I want to wish my daughter Verena a happy 21st birthday, which was on December 10. She is a great daughter, and I don’t know what I’d do without her or any of my children. It’s just so hard to believe she’s 21! Her two nieces adore their Aunt Verena.

God’s blessings to all!

Snowball Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup walnuts
powdered sugar (for coating cookies)

Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together. Crush walnuts until fine. Add to butter mixture. Slowly add flour to mixture until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill several hours.

After chilled, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drop the dough by small scoops onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool, then roll in powdered sugar.

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.

Lovina’s friend Ruth offers sneak peek into Amish wedding preparations

In this week’s column Lovina’s English (non-Amish) friend Ruth Boss gives us a glimpse into Lovina’s busy week as head cook for her niece’s wedding.

This week I helped with preparations for the wedding for Lovina’s niece Emma. As an outsider, I am impressed by how beautifully orchestrated these events are. Family, neighbors and the church community all pitch in to help with the work of hosting weddings.

When I arrived on Tuesday noon at Jacob and Emma’s, preparations were already in full swing. The wedding wagons (mobile kitchen trailers that the Amish rent for hosting weddings), were already in place, and the house was busy with activities. Lovina and the other head cook, Laura, were making a final shopping list. Outside a team was setting up a large tent where friends and family can gather while they wait for the wedding meal to be served. In the shed, the tables are set up and the dishes are already in place for the first meal seating.

Jacob and Emma had already picked up the 400 pounds of potatoes and a few other items from the local bulk food store. So with list in hand, several of us set out to finish the shopping. Some of the things on the list were 20 gallons of milk, 30 dozen eggs, 25 packets of cream cheese, and 20 heads of lettuce.

Early Wednesday morning I picked up Lovina, Laura, and Laura’s daughter Rhonda to head to Jacob’s house. It was still dark as the cooks and helpers began to arrive by horse and buggy. Lovina’s sisters quickly started on their list of cleaning chores. Other women went out to the wedding wagon to make cakes and pies. On their list was cherry pie, pecan pie, angel food cakes and crumbs for the peanut butter pie.

The women put together the many pies assembly-line style; here the crimpers go to work.

Everyone seemed to know their job and quickly went to work. Lovina’s neighbor Susan was in charge of making pie crusts. When the dough was ready, it went to women who rolled it out, and then to a crust-filler, and finally a woman making lattice tops and crimped edges.

On the other end of the wagon a helper whipped egg whites and added ingredients to make angel food cakes. There was lively conversation as neighbors, family and friends caught up on news and activities. In the main house, small children were cared for by some of the older girls.

Several decorated angel food cakes are ready for the Friday wedding and feasting.

At noon all the helpers shared a lunch of casseroles, salads, and desserts, all brought by the women who came to help. After lunch the 500 pounds of chicken leg quarters had to be cleaned and cut into pieces to be ready for grilling on Friday.

Thursday morning also started early, with more than 25 women showing up to help with the food prep, cleaning and sewing that remained. In the wedding wagon, the cooks were busy again. In Jacob and Emma’s house, Lovina’s daughters Elizabeth and Susan were mixing up dough to make rolls for the wedding. The dough has to be refrigerated overnight and then needs to rise, so they were doing a test recipe to make sure the rolls turned out. Emma was doing the last of her sewing for the wedding, and another friend was finishing up a quilt that will hang in the special corner where the bride and groom will sit during the wedding meal. Friends and family were washing windows, polishing furniture, and sweeping and mopping floors. At noon those present gathered to share a meal of dishes they had brought.

The women making rolls made a test recipe to make sure they turned out right.

Amish weddings in this area have a noon meal, a five o’clock meal, and then a late evening meal for the youth. So it is normal to be feeding more than 1,000 people in one day. This community of people, who don’t rely on text messages or social media to keep in touch, look forward to these events. They have good old-fashioned conversation and enjoy the time they spend together.

I enjoyed the time I spent helping this week, and I was grateful for new friendships. It became clear to me that despite the obvious differences in our lifestyles, we have much in common. We share the same core values rooted in our faith, and enjoy similar interests like cooking, gardening and sharing stories about children and grandchildren.

In next week’s column Lovina will write more about the wedding day. For now, I’ll share a recipe for delicious and easy bars that Lovina’s neighbor Susie brought along on Thursday for coffee time.

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cake mix, oil and 1 egg until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of these crumbs and place the remainder in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Pat the crumbs down in the baking dish. With a mixer, beat the remaining egg, sugar and cream cheese until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Carefully place this mixture on top of crumbs in pan and spread over all. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When cooled, cut into squares.

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.

Favorite Christmas goodies from the Eicher home to yours!

A simple way to turn standard chocolate chip cookies into festive goodies is to add colored M&M’s, or just use red and green M&M’s available at Christmas. Photo by Lucas Landis-Swartzentruber

Favorite Christmas goodies from the Eicher home to yours!

We are still busy getting prepared for niece Emma’s wedding next week. So this week I will share some recipes that we use over the holidays. Sour cream cut-out cookies are still our favorite Christmas cookie to decorate.

Enjoy! God bless you all!

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

This is an easy Christmas cookie that the kids like to cut out and decorate. It takes a lot longer when they help, but they enjoy it. Some of the shapes we cut them into include a Christmas tree and a bell. Sometimes I have to watch the younger children as they like to eat the dough. But with the raw eggs in there I don’t like them to. (And if you don’t have sour cream, here’s a substitute: Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 3/4 cup milk. Let set 5 or more minutes. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter. Mix well.)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until a soft, firm dough is formed. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place them on prepared baking sheet. Gather leftover dough, re-roll, and cut some more until all the dough is used up.

Bake until just turning golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 18 – 24 cookies, depending on shapes.

Frosting:
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
Food coloring (optional)
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

To make frosting: Cream shortening with vanilla and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to give you your desired thickness. Food coloring can also be added if you like. Spread the frosting on the cookies and decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips. Let the frosting set before storing.

Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Blend well. Chill dough at least one hour before handling. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Use gingerbread-man cookie cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and decorate.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

20 ounces canned sweet or maraschino cherries, drained; reserve juice to add to batter
1/4 pound soft butter
1/2 cup cherry juice
2 pounds powdered sugar
Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix powdered sugar, juice, and butter thoroughly (handles better if you chill for awhile). Make small balls, press flat and cover cherries. Dip in chocolate within 2 two hours or it will be hard to dip. (Maraschino cherries make these easier to dip as they usually have stems on them.)

Peanut Butter Cups

1 pound of margarine
2 pounds of peanut butter
3 pounds of powdered sugar
Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix peanut butter and margarine, then work in powdered sugar. Shape into balls the size of big marbles. Dip in melted chocolate.

Mint Patties

1 box powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg (unbeaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 drops peppermint oil
Semi-sweet chocolate

Mix together real good and shape into patties. Dip in hot melted semi-sweet chocolate. Cool.

Note: this recipe contains one egg which is not cooked. Perhaps look for other alternatives, such as found here. Or simply leave the egg out. Thank you to RN Marjorie for alerting us to the potential risk for salmonella here.

Peanut Butter Fingers
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips

Frosting:
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Cream well the butter and sugars. Blend in peanut butter, egg, salt, and vanilla. Stir in flour and  oatmeal. Spread in greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 19-20 minutes Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes. Spread chocolate, then spread peanut butter frosting on top; swirl.

 

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.

 

Lovina answers reader questions about Amish clothing traditions

This week my husband Joe, and son Benjamin, 19, are off all week for Thanksgiving. Son Joseph, 16, has off Thanksgiving Day and Friday, as well as Lovina, 14, and Kevin, 13 from school. So it seems as if this week will go faster than usual.

Saturday our three sons and Joe went to help at sister Emma and Jacob’s house again, preparing for the upcoming wedding of niece Emma and Menno on December 7. Menno’s family was there also helping. I decided to stay here and keep sewing. I did make a potato casserole to send along with Joe and the boys, to make lunchtime a little easier for Emma and her daughters.

Today Joe and Benjamin are helping son-in-law Mose replace some windows in their house. This should make their house warmer this winter. With the windows out, the house is cold so daughter Susan and baby Jennifer came here for the day. Susan brought her sewing along to work on here. After the girls and I washed our laundry, I also sewed and managed to get my dress and part of my cape sewn too.

Recently a reader asked what a cape is. It is the triangular piece of fabric that goes from the waist and over our shoulders and crosses in front. Then the apron is put over the bottom of the cape and belted around the waist. In our community capes are usually worn to church weddings and special occasions. For church, a white cape and apron is worn, but for a wedding we wear the same color cape and apron as our dress color and material, which we call a “dress suit.” I hope that explains enough on the cape.

I do not get to see your questions on the website, so I appreciate my editors taking time to print them out and mail them to me. I was encouraged by all of your kind words, so I want to say thank you!

Front of typical cape, apron and dress for a wedding in Lovina’s community.
The same dress for a wedding, showing cape and apron from back.

Another question was about what an Amish bride wears. This can vary from one community to the next. In some communities the brides will wear a black dress with white cape and apron. In our community, the bride chooses her color of dress, but wears a white cape and apron. Also in our church community, a bride wears a black covering to the wedding service. After she is married she changes to a white covering and won’t wear a black covering again. The unmarried girls wear black coverings to church services, but wear white coverings at all other times.

Daughter Elizabeth was married in a burgundy color dress and our daughter Susan chose a green dress. I hope this explains it well enough.

Some brides sew their own dresses, while other have their mother or someone else sew it. Daughter Elizabeth sewed her own wedding dress but I sewed Susan’s wedding dress. I made my own wedding dress but I didn’t have a choice in the color because all brides in that community wore black dresses with a white cape and apron to get married.

Another question a reader asked was why we use sawdust in horse stalls instead of straw. I think it is just whatever someone prefers. Joe thinks it’s easier to muck out the sawdust and we can also get it free from local saw mills.

To the reader wondering what we use to wash windows, we use white vinegar and warm water, using cheesecloth towels to wipe dry—and any rag to wash. Do not use any fabric softener to wash the cheesecloth towels.

A reader requested my Sloppy Joe recipe. I try to make it similar to son-in-law Moses’s “recipe” but since he doesn’t have a recipe and just puts in a little of this and that, I tried to write down amounts. Add or take out any of the ingredients if you prefer. Our children love when Moses makes Sloppy Joes. Enjoy!

God’s blessings to all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sloppy Joe Recipe

1 pound sausage
1 pound venison (ground)
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt or powder
1 teaspoon onion salt or powder
½ cup BBQ sauce (any type)
1 tablespoon mustard
½ cup ketchup

Brown sausage and venison together in skillet or large pan. Add rest of ingredients, stir well, and heat through. Serves 12 or so. Other seasonings of your choice can be added.

 

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.

Tim’s sister-in-law lands 17 point buck with a bow

Tim’s sister-in-law lands 17 point buck with a bow

We awoke this morning to more snow, adding to our already snow-covered white world. It has been snowing all morning. We had our first snow earlier than usual and it is staying with all the cold temperatures.

Last Friday, November 9, we had a snow-covered ground. Traveling the two hours plus to Ann Arbor and back seemed to go well even with the snow still coming down. Saturday morning we awoke to around five more inches of snow. The snow is very pretty this morning and sticking to everything. Thanksgiving Day is next week but our children say the snow makes it seem like we are closer to the Christmas season.

Today is also a very important day for deer hunters. It’s opening day for shotgun season to hunt deer. Daughter Susan and Mose and baby Jennifer are spending a few days at Mose’s brother’s house an hour-and-a-half north of here. Mose will go hunting with his brothers.

Son-in-law Timothy was excited last week when he was deer hunting with bow and arrow. He shot a 12-point buck. Although I do not understand all the deer-talk they were saying this buck had a 21 1/2-inch spread. I think if you are a deer hunter you will know what that means. So after Timothy let us know about the buck our three boys thought they had to go see this buck. He will make some nice meat for their freezer.

Timothy’s sister-in-law has also been hunting which I’m sure is nice for her after having 12 children. I can imagine the excitement when she shot a 17-point buck with her bow. That is a nice rack to have for helping put meat up for the winter.

Last Saturday our family helped Jacob and Emma with cleaning and preparing for the December 7 wedding of their daughter Emma and Menno. Some of Menno’s family plus Timothy’s and Moses’s were also there helping.

Saturday evening after we were done at Jacob’s house, Joe and I stopped by Mose and Susan’s house. They decided to pack their clothes and come to our house for the night and be there on Sunday. Of course Grandpa and Grandma offered to bring 10-month old Jennifer back with us. How sweet to have her cuddle in my arms on the way home. She fell asleep as we traveled the snow-covered roads with our covered buggy and our horse Midnight.

Midnight was a hard horse for my husband Joe to train. Now she has proven to be a safe and sound horse for us except she still needs to get used to water puddles in the road. She doesn’t mind the smaller puddles but if there is a bigger puddle she gets scared of going through it.

Before Jennifer fell asleep she was saying in Dutch (high German), “Horsey, horsey.” She already loves horses and when she sees one she gets excited and will make a clip-clop noise with her tongue. How precious! As she slept in my arms I thought of how it was when I held our first six children when they were that age. In weather like that with open buggies we wanted their face protected from the wind so they didn’t get to watch the horse running through the snow at a young age in the winter months. On Saturday evening we didn’t have our heater going but it was still fairly warm in our buggy.

My editors sent me a copy of emails and comments from readers. I do not get to see those so they are kind enough to copy and send them to me. The day I received this pack in the mail had not been a good day for me. After sitting down and reading all these encouraging words from you readers, I felt so much better and refreshed. If the column encourages you in any way, please give God the honor and glory as without his help I couldn’t do it. It seems at times that I do not have time to write but it makes it well worth it, too, when I read your kind words.

God bless you all and stay safe in this weather if you are having snow and ice.

Mystery Bars

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sifted flour

Mix together for two minutes. Pat into bottom of 9 x 12 inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, mix the following together:

2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup nuts (optional)

Beat for two minutes. Add nuts. Beat enough to blend. Spread over partly baked dough. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut while warm. Makes 2 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.

The lowdown on the services of a wedding wagon

The lowdown on the services of a wedding wagon

November is bringing cold rainy weather. Leaves are all over our front yard from all the big trees there. The beauty of the season is upon us!

Congratulations to niece Emma and Menno! They set December 7 for their wedding date where they will exchange vows in holy matrimony. Wedding services will be held in their neighbor’s pole barn, close by parents Jacob and Emma; the wedding meals and reception will then be at the home of Jacob and Emma. This wedding will make a change for Jacob and Emma’s family with the first of their children leaving home. Menno owns a home not too far from Jacob and Emma so they have a house to move in to.

This announcement has put a lot more on our agenda. Our family all has a part in the wedding one way or another. That means lots of new clothes and lots of time at the sewing machine. I already have daughter Verena and Loretta’s dresses, capes, and aprons cut out and plan to start sewing those today. I need to get more material this week yet so I can cut out more outfits. Daughter Verena is done helping the family from our church so she can now help with the sewing. Emma has chosen the color aqua for the tablewaiters and turquoise for the cooks. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan also need to sew for themselves and their little girls. It will be a busy month!

Saturday our family will go help Jacob and Emma get ready for the upcoming wedding. Many hands make lighter work. At least at this time of the year there will be no grass to mow and no garden to take care of and of course no flies.

I was asked to be one of the head cooks so I will need to be there most of the wedding week preparing the jobs for all the other cooks. For now we will concentrate mostly on getting our sewing done so we can help over at Jacob and Emma’s house more often as the wedding draws near.

Jacob’s have a nice big pole barn that is insulated and that will be where all the tables will be set. A wedding wagon will be rented in which to do most of the cooking. Chicken will be on the menu and that will be grilled outside. We can not order the weather but I do hope they have a nice sunny day and not too cold. Jacob’s also have a big entrance/garage attached to their house so there will be plenty of heated space for guests to visit in.

The outside of a wedding wagon looks like an RV.

For those of you who don’t know what a wedding wagon is: it is like an RV with a ramp added on, with six or seven propane gas stoves and ovens in it. There are also several sinks with hot and cold running water. Dishes, cookware, and everything you need for the food part of an Amish wedding come with the rental package. There are also tables and a refrigeration unit.

The inside of the wedding wagon is a portable kitchen that families rent for the week of the wedding.

This makes it so much easier now than how it was when Joe and I were married in 1993. We had to gather extra kerosene stoves from neighbors and families and set them all up in our wash house/buggy shed building. Mom had to get out all her dishes, glasses, cookware and borrow from others if she didn’t have enough of something. Then after the wedding, all of this had to be delivered back to everyone. Now, afterwards, we can just have people help pack up all the dishes, tables, etc. into the wedding wagon. Usually the church’s benches (which come in a separate wagon) are used for seating guests for the service.

Tomorrow some of our children and I will travel to Ann Arbor to the children’s hospital for their annual muscular dystrophy checkup. Its usually a long day with all the testing, and driving over two hours each way.

Now I must get started with my work. I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement! I wish all of you a good week and may God bless you always! Here’s a recipe shared by a reader.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped peeled baking apples
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add sour cream. Stir in sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, vanilla and salt; mix well. Stir in apples. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine brown sugar and remaining flour; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of pie. Return to oven for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve or cover and refrigerate. Yield: 8 servings.

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.

 

When you wake up with someone knocking at your door

Photo by Grant Beachy

When you wake up with someone knocking at your door

I am waiting for everyone to be ready for supper. On the menu are cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese. Sweet onions from the garden will be good on the hamburgers although my husband Joe and I are probably the only ones that add onions to our sandwich.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their sweet little girls spent the day here. We didn’t accomplish much besides enjoying each other’s company. Daughter Verena is still helping out with the family from our church. She was home early afternoon so still had time to enjoy her nieces.

Daughter Elizabeth copied a dress pattern for a friend. A good idea for duplicating patterns is using wrapping paper. It works great for tracing patterns.

It turned out to be a nice day with the sun shining after quite a rainy morning. Daughter Loretta took Abigail outside for awhile. Abigail likes to write on the sidewalks with chalk. I bought her some chalk as she loves it and it entertains her for quite a while.

Photo by Grant Beachy

On Saturday, sisters Verena and Susan had an auction for family members. They needed to downsize in a lot of things so they decided to have a family auction instead of a garage sale. Not everyone was able to make it but all the siblings did. Brother Amos’s wife Nancy was there as well, and we were happy she could come. Brother Amos was greatly missed. His 57th birthday was yesterday. Rest in peace, Amos—you will always be remembered at our family gatherings.

Nephew Marvin (son of brother Albert and Sarah Irene) did a lot of the auctioneering and does a very good job at it. Everyone liked the bargains and all had a great time. Lunch was mostly brought in with Verena and Susan furnishing ham and hot dog sandwiches and pop. The auction ended around 5:00 p.m. It wasn’t a great day for an auction weather wise, but they were glad for the extra space in their pole barn.

Jacob and Emma and family plus our family helped get everything ready for the auction. It took a lot of time to get the items organized but we were all glad to help out.

Last night sons Benjamin and Joseph plus Joe and I went over to help clean up their yard and move everything back in place. We burned a lot of trash for them. Earlier in the day Loretta and I did laundry which was extra big. Hanging up the laundry and carrying most of it in, already seemed like a day’s work. After coming home from my sisters and getting supper it made for a late night.

So it was a bad start this morning when we woke up to the sound of someone knocking on our door. Yes—we slept right through our alarm that was set for 2:50 a.m. and it was Joe’s driver waiting.

What a bad way to start the day. After getting Joe on his way, son Joseph’s ride came early so it was rush, rush for awhile. I was so much awake that I couldn’t fall back to sleep before I had to get the children up for school. Son Benjamin is off this week as the RV factory he works for has a week off due to not enough orders. So he’s cleaning out the barn and hauling manure this week. He’s also doing a lot of odds and ends for me. Abigail and Jennifer like their Uncle Benjamin. He pays a lot of attention to them.

I talked with neighbor Irene this afternoon. Our prayers are with her as she is recovering from a hospital stay. She is 90 years old and was always active so this is hard for her. She is on oxygen and will be laid up for a while. I hope we can help cheer up her days. She helped us out a lot in the years since we moved across the road from her. May God help her be patient as she heals.

God bless all of you as well!

Blueberry Buckle

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups blueberries, well drained

Topping:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 8x8x2-inch pan. Blend all batter ingredients except blueberries. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds, then stir in blueberries. Spread in pan.

Topping: Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle over batter in pan. Bake for 40-50 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.

 

Rereading early columns is an occasion to ponder life’s many changes

Timothy and Elizabeth’s new colt from mother Shiann. As Lovina reminisces and reflects here, life is always moving on.

Rereading early columns is an occasion to ponder life’s many changes

 Supper dishes are washed, and most of the family is relaxing and getting showered before bedtime. Hamburger potato casserole was on the menu for tonight.

As I sit here in my recliner writing, my mind goes back to 16 years ago, when I first started penning my first column. Mother had just died unexpectedly, while attending a few book signings in Missouri. She was 66. Life changed so much for our family on that day.

I was nervous when I wrote that first column. I was 31 years old, and my husband Joe and I had six children. Joseph was our baby, only three months old. Loretta was two, Benjamin three, Verena four. Susan was six and in kindergarten. Elizabeth was eight and in second grade. By now, 16 years later, there have been so many changes!

Rereading my earlier columns brings back memories of those years when our children were so young. In one column I wrote that I had water heating on the stove to wash the laundry. Now I have hot running water, powered by solar, and I can put the hose right into my Maytag washing machine. Now that my washing machine is powered by the solar panels on our pole barn, there is no more carrying water to get that job done.

I also wrote about my sisters coming to help in preparations for upcoming church services. It said sister Emma cleaned all three of my kerosene stoves and we cleaned all the kerosene lights. Now I have a propane gas stove and propane and battery lights.

It was hard to go on, with both my parents gone from us so suddenly. Dad had passed away a little over two years before Mother. At the time, it seemed almost impossible for life to go on without them. Remembering my mother’s words—things she always said—helped me a lot. She always said, “God makes no mistakes.” So why would we want to question His ways?

I also wrote in one of my first columns that I was trying to get the buggy blankets dried, as we had been caught in a rain. Yes, we had open buggies in those days, and those winter rides could get pretty cold! In rainy weather we had umbrellas to keep us dry as much as possible. We now have covered buggies and heaters to install in the cold winter months.

As 2002 ended and we started the new year 2003, we faced another year of changes. Our home place was sold, as were all our parents’ belongings. Life went on, but there was always someone missing from our lives. As we entered the year 2004 we started thinking we need a change. So after much thought and many prayers, we packed our belongings and with our six children made the move to Michigan. It was a big change to move a few hours from our home and with the children still young, and it was a busy time for all of us. It was a big change—but sometimes change is good!

The girls attended a new school and made new friends. In May daughter Lovina was born to us. There were complications, and I spent a week in the hospital after her birth.

Sisters Verena and Susan and sister Emma, Jacob and family also made the move to Michigan. We were glad to have family join us. In 2005 we were blessed with our eighth child, Kevin.

The years have gone by so fast, and of course all the children are older. I used to think that life would eventually slow down, but it seems to only get busier with the years! Then again, it could be that this grandma is just slowing down gradually. We have had so many blessings throughout the years that far outnumber the bad times. May God be with us as we travel into the unknown future. And we wish God’s many blessings to all of you as well!

This week I will share the recipe I received from a reader in Kansas. It’s very easy to make.

Brownie Muffins

1 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 18 cupcake cups with paper liners. Melt butter and chocolate chips together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Let cool. Beat eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Mix flour and vanilla into egg mixture. Fold in chocolate mixture until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared cupcake cups, filling them about 1/2 full.

Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or with moist crumbs.

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.

To follow Lovina around for the day, you’d have to rise at three

Diary of October 16, 2018

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings. It’s time to pack my husband Joe’s lunch, make some coffee for his coffee mug and fill his water jug with ice water. The 45-minute ride to work is enough time for him to enjoy the coffee. Joe is leaving 20 minutes earlier due to having a different ride than usual. Those 20 minutes make quite a bit of a difference this early in the morning! The man who picks him up works in the same place, so their hours are the same. They also pick up son-in-law Mose, as he works with them.

After Joe leaves, I usually take a nap on my recliner. But today I know this column needs to be written. (I’m writing a diary of the day before.)

3:25 a.m. Husband Joe leaves for work.

3:45 a.m. Son Joseph, 16, gets ready for work while I pack his lunch and fill his water jug with ice water.

4:00 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. Son Benjamin, 19, gets up to feed the horses hay before getting ready for his ride. I fill his water jug. Benjamin prefers to wait to eat lunch when he comes home. He takes some snacks but he’s usually home by 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. Joseph has a new ride too, so he leaves 30 minutes earlier than he used to.

4:30 a.m. Benjamin leaves for work and I go back to bed, setting my alarm for 6:00 a.m.

6:00 a.m. I wake up daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13. Lovina showers at night and Kevin showers in the morning. Kevin always needs a little time to get his muscles loosened up to walk, so it takes him awhile to get ready.

6:45 a.m. The bus is here, and Lovina and Kevin leave. I relax in my recliner until it’s daylight outside. I decide to go check up on the horses in the barn, as the dogs keep barking. Usually the horses are outside in the pasture, but they needed to be inside this morning as they are all going to be reshod. The horses get impatient and kick at the box stalls, making the dogs bark, but all looks fine. A man and two young boys from our church will put new shoes on the horses today and then turn them out to pasture.

8:30 a.m. Daughter Verena is leaving to go help a family in our church. Daughter Loretta washes dishes while I gather the dirty clothes. It was rainy yesterday so laundry was put off until today.

10:30 a.m. Loretta and I are finally started washing laundry in the basement. I hang out the clothes on the lines. It sure is cold and windy! The sun is shining, which helps a bit. It’s still only 48 degrees outside. Sure feels cozy in the house. My husband, Joe, started the coal stove on Saturday. The guys are now here in the barn, putting the shoes on our horses. We have four horses and our pony, Stormy, that need to be reshod.

12:30 p.m. Lines are filled with clothes, and they are drying really well. The bed sheets are dry already, so I take them off. It’s so windy that it’s like they want to keep blowing off! Loretta and I take a break and eat lunch. Joe is home from work already.

1:30 p.m. Ben comes home.

2:15 p.m. Verena gets back home. She said several ladies were there helping today, and they canned more than 40 quarts of applesauce.

3:00 p.m. Joseph is home.

3:30 p.m. Lovina and Kevin are now home from school. We are getting the clothes in and folding laundry. Joe and the boys and Lovina are bagging up a load of sawdust that was delivered today. They use sawdust instead of straw for bedding in the barn.

5:30 p.m. Mose, Susan and Jennifer come, but they have had supper already. We are excited to see little Jennifer, since we didn’t see her for almost a week. Joe and Mose are working three-day weeks, so Mose and Susan spent several days at his brother’s house one-and-one-half hours from here. His brother is building a new house so they worked on that, and Mose also did some deer hunting. Jennifer was happy to see us again and just chattered away.

Abigail’s outdoor buddies rest on the patio. Frisky, the Australian Shepherd dog, and Kitty, their cat, get along great.

7:00 p.m. Pizza is on the menu for supper, and it’s about time to call it a day. Mose and Susan leave for home.

9:30 p.m. Everyone has gone to bed. Good night, and God bless you all!

Crescent Rolls

1/2 cup butter, chilled
1 package instant yeast
1/4 cup water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk, scalded

Melt butter, then chill again until set; this makes your crust flaky. Dissolve yeast in water. Mix flour, salt and sugar together. Mix in butter. Beat egg and milk and yeast mixture. Mix just until it hangs together. Roll out on a 12 x 17-inch cookie sheet if you plan to use it as a crust, or shape into crescent-shaped rolls. Let rise. Bake at 350 degrees until firm. These beat the store-bought crescent rolls in a tube.

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.