Tag Archives: Amish cooking

First snow, Sunday rest, and a family celebration

The ground had a thin layer of snow this morning. Our leaves are still not raked up. Maybe snow will cover them. Out of sight—out of mind. I’m just not ready for snow but we will take whatever the good Lord sends our way. Snowflakes are lightly falling as I write this.

Daughter Verena, 21, is washing dishes and doing the usual morning work. Daughters Loretta, 19, and Lovina, 15, are in the basement washing clothes. They will hang the laundry on the lines in the basement today to dry. We usually leave it to hang overnight and fold it the next day. It is a chilly 31 degrees outside so it’s best to dry the clothes indoors.

I had another doctor appointment this week and the doctor says that I have at least four more weeks of taking it easy and being careful about what I do. What a challenge it is, but may God grant me the patience to be content while my body heals.

Church services were held on Sunday at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. Lots of visitors were there and it sounds like their garage was filled to capacity. Everyone from our family attended except Loretta and her special friend Dustin and me. They stayed here with me, as I am not up to sitting in church that long yet. My husband Joe came home in the afternoon but some of the children stayed at Jacob and Emma’s for a hay-stack supper. It was a quiet day, but I had a nice restful day. Dustin and Loretta made the meals and I just sat in my recliner feeling lazy.

After supper I was surprised to be presented with a Sunshine Box from our church families. Sisters Verena and Susan brought the gifts, which are all nice and useful. I feel so unworthy of it all, but I want to thank everyone for the cards, gifts, letters, etc. that were given to me. It helps to know others care.

Yesterday, niece Elizabeth had a Pampered Chef bridal shower at my sister Emma’s house for my niece Emma. This was a belated shower, but Emma will still get much use out of the items she received. A good lunch was served to everyone afterwards. Our friend Beth took the girls and I with her van.

It was good to get out of the house awhile. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan with their little ones were there as well. It was nice to spend time with them. Granddaughter Abigail, 3, was singing a song she made up about her and granddaughter Jennifer, 22 months. As she sang, she hopped and skipped in circles. It was just so cute! Ten-month-old T.J. is at a challenging stage since he can walk and tries climbing stairs, chairs, or whatever he can. He is quite a handful for daughter Elizabeth right now. He comes up to kiss me, smiling his sweet smile. Ryan, 3 months, is smiling and cooing, winning all our hearts. Jennifer loves to hold her baby brother. What does this world have in store for these sweet innocent children? It is good that we don’t know the future. Let us take one day at a time and praise God daily for his many blessings!

Friday evening, daughter Elizabeth and Tim brought supper in for us. On the menu were potato casserole, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, cupcakes, finger jello, and homemade bread. Daughter Susan, Mose, and family joined us, and Susan brought chocolate pie. It was greatly appreciated!

Tomorrow we travel to Ann Arbor with our friend Beth for our children’s annual appointment with the team of doctors for muscular dystrophy. It’s always a long day of testing.

God’s blessings to all!

Lovina shares a recipe for Cheese Broccoli Soup in this week’s column. Photo credit: D. Lucas Landis/©MennoMedia

 

Cheese Broccoli Soup

3/8 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon salad oil
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups (4 oz.) fine noodles
1 10-ounce package of frozen broccoli (may use fresh)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
3 cups milk
1/2 pound American cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Sauté onion in oil; add water and bouillon cubes and heat to boiling until cubes are dissolved. Gradually add noodles and continue boiling uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir in broccoli and garlic salt; cook 4 minutes more. Add milk, cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until cheese melts, stirring constantly.

 

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, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box1689, 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.

Sewing, doctor’s appointments, and sweet and sour cabbage

Greetings from Michigan! Son Kevin just left for school. The sky is starting to lighten up. Thermometer is at the 59-degree mark.

Son Joseph left for work at 4:30 a.m. My husband Joe is fishing with a few other men from our church. I think fishing is one of his biggest stress relievers. It will be good to have fish in the freezer again.

Tuesday was a nice day for the wedding of nephew Marvin and Lori. Next week is Joe’s nephew Morris and Annie’s wedding in Kentucky. Annie is a daughter of my cousin Dave. Dave’s father Chris was my mother’s only brother, and our families were always together growing up. My sisters Verena and Susan are also invited, so plans are that they also go with our family.

Tuesday was also the funeral of son-in-law Mose’s 89-year-old grandmother Marie. Our sympathy to the family.

Our thoughts and prayers also go to the family in Vermontville, Michigan that lost their three children in an accident on the way home from school. I cannot imagine the sorrow this family is experiencing in losing a 13-year-old son and 10- and 8-year-old daughters. Their 6-year-old son was hurt and taken to the hospital. May God provide strength for this family to cope with the terrible loss. God makes no mistakes but it is our human nature to question why. God be with them!

Nephew Steven (son of sister Emma and Jacob), age 12, is having surgery today at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. It’s the same surgery son Kevin had, but Steven is getting both feet done at the same time. Daughter Loretta was 12 when she had the same surgery on both feet. Steven has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A also. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery! We have had three children have this kind of surgery done and it did help. Dr. Caird is also Steven’s surgeon, so he will have the best of care. When Steven was a baby, he had heart surgery at the same hospital, but Mott has a new hospital since then.

Son Benjamin, 20, is off work this week from the RV factory. They aren’t having production this week. Sure hope work picks up in the future.

Benjamin is doing a lot of jobs around home. He is getting our buggies repaired and has some of the wheels off and has taken them over to the buggy shop.

Son Kevin has an appointment at the doctor today and I’m not sure if a buggy will be ready to take us. Looks like our pony Stormy and the pony cruiser will have to do the job for Kevin and me. Our doctor’s office is on the outskirts of town so we won’t have more than five miles to travel.

I sewed a few shirts and a dress yesterday. Today I want to cut out and sew more shirts. The boys are low in good shirts and they never get new shirts for weddings so I thought I’ll sew for them this time.

Grapes are also ready at the U-pick but will be better picking next week, so I hope we can go pick some before we leave for Kentucky.

Benjamin picked our tomatoes and I sent them home with sister Emma and Jacob. Their tomatoes didn’t do so well. I am done with tomatoes this year except for fresh eating. I will be glad once the grape juice is done.

Last week I answered a question from a reader but the question was left out so it might have been confusing to you. The question was: what kind of gifts are given at weddings (to the bride and groom)? The answer was tools, Tupperware, towels, dishes, kitchen items, bedding or anything useful. I have also seen folding tables, chairs, grills, etc., given. There is much more, but most gifts are to help the couple start their own home and yes, sometimes they get multiples of something, but those can be given to someone else as a gift if not needed.

Space is running out so until next week—God bless!

 

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

 1 medium head cabbage

Syrup:
3 cups water
2–3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons bacon grease

 

Coarsely shred or chop cabbage.

Mix syrup ingredients in a cook pot and bring to a boil. Add chopped cabbage, turn heat down to simmer and cook 20–30 minutes or until tender. Variation: Try purple cabbage.

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.

Lemon pie recipe from Lovina’s next cookbook, Amish Family Recipes: A Cookbook across the Generations

A big thank-you to all you readers who came to my book signing at the Nappanee Public Library last Saturday. Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement.

Thank you to my great friend Ruth for furnishing the transportation and always being so helpful in any way she can. Thanks also to my daughters Verena, 21, and Lovina, 15, for attending with me. Their support and help always mean so much.

I want to thank Brittney from the library for hosting the event. Before leaving for home we had a nice fun time with a reader named Jessica, her mother, and her three children. Jessica’s grandmother is battling that dreadful disease dementia, but always finds comfort holding my columns in her hand. May God be with her and her loving family as they go through a heart-breaking trial in life.

Son Kevin, 14, went hunting Saturday with son-in-law Mose as his guide. It was youth season and Kevin shot a doe which provided us with quite a big amount of meat. My husband Joe cut it up and got it ready for the freezer. Last year Kevin also shot a deer during youth season. Mose also was his guide last year. With his disability Kevin appreciates the help from Mose in making it possible for him to hunt. It gives him a happy feeling to be helping with providing food for the table as well.

I want to share the great news of my next cookbook, coming in April 2020. My family and I have worked hard on these recipes and had photographers here for four days taking photos of food. I appreciate their respect in keeping us out of the pictures except for our hands. My friend Ruth also worked hard in getting the cookbook typed for the publisher and helping test recipes or having others help test them. My daughters spent many hours preparing food for this cookbook. The cookbook will be called Amish Family Recipes: A Cookbook across the Generations and  published by Herald Press. I am excited to see the finished result and hope you readers will enjoy the many recipes included in this book. I will share a recipe this week from the new cookbook.

Daughter Elizabeth and children Abigail, 3, and T.J., 9 months, and daughter Susan and children Jennifer, 20 months, and baby Ryan, 7-1/2 weeks, came for the day. Fun, fun, fun for this Grandma but I admit I feel tired tonight. It is always so sweet to see the little rays of sunshine. They grow so fast and I want to treasure every moment I can spend with them. As I was hanging out laundry, Abigail trailed behind me asking one question after another. Such sweet innocent children. She loves to say her prayer out loud when we eat. Jennifer also likes to bow her head and pray, peeking up to see if we are seeing what she is doing.

Tuesday is already the wedding day of nephew Marvin and Lori. We have plans to attend. It will be different not to help cook at a family wedding, but they do things differently there than we do in Michigan.

A reader asked several questions about our weddings. They wondered if the cost of our weddings is high. I would think the highest cost is the food and the rented wedding cook wagons and cooler. Our clothes are all sewn at home so the cost of that isn’t as much, and we have weddings at our homes so there’s no cost for that. All our help is free too, although we do buy small gifts of appreciation for the cooks, table waiters, etc. These gifts are tools, Tupperware, towels, dishes, kitchen items, bedding or just anything useful. More questions will be answered in future columns, but space is limited for now.

God bless all of you!

 

Lemon Pie

 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 tablespoons sugar
1 regular 9-inch pie shell, baked

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, 1-1/4 cups sugar, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Separate eggs from yolks, then beat yolks and add to cornstarch mixture. Slowly stir in boiling water. Over medium heat, bring mixture to boiling and cook on slow boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into pie shell.

Separately beat eggs whites until stiff but not dry. Beat in 6 tablespoons sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Spread the meringue over top of pie, spreading to the edge to seal in the filling.

Bake in 425-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until meringue is browned. Cool on rack away from draft. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 

Recipe is from Lovina Eicher’s forthcoming cookbook, Amish Family Recipes: A Cookbook across the Generations, and can be preordered from Amazon or wherever books are sold.

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.

Lovina shares gratitude for words of encouragement from readers

A good morning to all you wonderful readers across the miles. I am still tired at 4:45 a.m. but I need to have this column done before I leave today.

I don’t often enough thank all you readers for your kind words of encouragement. It makes writing this column so much easier. I also appreciate the patience you have when I am late in answering your letters. There are so many nice letters, but of course once in a great while an unsigned letter will be amongst my mail with criticism directed toward my writing. I remind myself that all writers get these, and of course we aren’t perfect. So I want you to know the encouragement is what makes me take this pen in hand each week even though time is limited with raising a family and being Grandma to four. In the back of my mind, I always thought that as the children grew older life would slow down or get easier, but I was wrong. With grandchildren, you reach out to help, and there are more homes that need to be cleaned, canning to be done, etc.

Today the girls and I will go help daughter Susan with laundry and canning. Daughter Elizabeth and children will also be there. We plan to can pizza sauce and pickled red beets today. Susan has tomatoes, but not quite enough, so I will take some of ours. We have already canned 85 quarts of vegetable juice this summer from our garden. I usually put tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, green peppers, hot peppers, celery, carrots, and garlic in my vegetable juice. It has a good flavor and a small glass of it with breakfast is a great drink in the mornings. My husband Joe likes his spicy so we make some with more hot peppers and then some without, or just a few, for the flavor.

Sons Benjamin, 20, and Joseph, 17, left for their jobs at 4:30 a.m. so I got up before they left. It was so tempting to crawl back in bed until son Kevin gets up for school at 6:00 a.m., especially on a chilly morning with the temperature in the mid-50s.

After school Kevin will bring home some of his friends to spend the night here. His 14th birthday is on Labor Day (September 2) this year, but they don’t have school tomorrow and he wanted to have them over when they could sleep in the next morning. It’s usually hard to get them to settle down on a school day, so it’s nicer this way.

Is it actually possible that our youngest is 14 already? Life moves right along and we can’t stop it. What counts is what we make with the life we have. Let us always make time for God each day!

On a recent Saturday we were invited, along with all the rest of the neighbors, to our neighbors Richard and Erma’s house for supper. They have a pond and said if anyone wanted to swim in the afternoon they could come earlier. Erma had told me about the invitation at our last church services. Not once did I think of it that day until I saw Erma at church services the next day. I can’t believe I forgot all about which day it was planned for. That is why I should have marked the calendar.

We are enjoying lots of garden goodies, which makes meal planning so much easier. In a few days we are already into September. I will share the recipe we will use to make the pizza sauce today.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Pizza Sauce

3 gallons tomatoes, chopped
Fresh parsley
3 to 4 onions
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oregano

 

Cook tomatoes, parsley, and onions; put through Victoria strainer to produce about 3 gallons of juice. Add the remaining ingredients to the juice and bring to a boil. Thicken with Clear Jel or Perma Flo; start with 6 to 8 tablespoons, then add more as needed to thicken to your preference. To keep Clear Jel from getting chunky, cool 1 quart of the juice and stir in Clear Jel, then combine with the rest of juice and boil well. Process according to your cooker instructions.

 

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.

Family reunion fun with water balloons and abundant summer produce

Happy Birthday number 53 to sister Verena on August 22nd!

On Saturday, sisters Verena and Susan hosted the annual family reunion on my side of the family. It was greatly attended, with only seven of my parents’ grandchildren not attending. All of us siblings were present. Brother Amos was greatly missed. Nancy came with some of her children, who we were happy to see. It makes the circle seem a little more complete.

We were served a good meal of chicken, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, corn, and all the side dishes that were brought in. There were salads, desserts, and fruits too numerous to mention. Snacks were brought for the afternoon before parting ways to go home.

Of course, with my family the water hose was discovered, and the water balloons were soon put to use. Sister Liz and I tried to keep up with the younger ones. Some managed to stay dry. On that hot and humid day, it helped us stay cool.

Grandson Ryan was the youngest there being three weeks old that day. He seems to be gaining weight really well.

The new deck and ramp at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house came in handy. Recently, son-in-law Mose, husband Joe, and sons Benjamin and Joseph built the 12 x 24-foot deck for them. Son-in-law Tim also helped. On Saturday, they had tables set on it for some to eat while others sat by tables set in their pole barn with a canopy attached.

Sunday, we had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Tim made sausage gravy and fried potatoes over the open fire while Elizabeth baked biscuits and fried eggs in the house. Abigail and T.J. were so excited to see us. T.J. is now eight months old and all over the house, so he needs to be watched closely. He sure is active.

Yesterday daughter Susan and Jennifer and baby Ryan, daughters Verena, Loretta, Lovina, and I helped Elizabeth can salsa. When we left T.J. was waving at us.

I have corn and tomatoes that need to be canned or frozen. I will make vegetable juice with the tomatoes and the corn will probably be bagged for the freezer. That is the last of the sweet corn for us this season.

Son Kevin is getting adjusted to the new schedule of going to school each day. He gets on the bus so much easier since his surgeries earlier this year. He is still not released from therapy but is slowly learning how to continue it here at home. It’s hard for him to find energy after a day at school.

One evening, James, a friend of ours, brought us some chicken of the woods mushrooms he found. This was the first time we had that kind of mushroom. The name comes from it resembling the taste of chicken. Everyone seemed to like it. It’s always nice to try something different. I seasoned it and fried it in olive oil. James had 25–30 pounds of mushrooms.

Monday, daughter Susan and her children came here for the day. She brought her dirty laundry and we washed it here after we did ours. We were glad to have a nice day for the clothes to dry quickly on the lines so we could take them off and put more on to dry.

Susan and Mose had company again the day before so she was tired. I told her to rest while we washed the clothes. She still needs to gain back her strength. Jennifer was contented watching me hang out laundry and playing with a doll. She tries to act like she’s taking care of her doll when Susan takes care of Ryan.

Tim brought in a 25 1/2-pound watermelon out of their garden when we were there yesterday. He sent half of it home with us. God bless!

This week I will share a recipe I received from a reader. Thank you, Barb!

Snickers Pie

Crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons milk

Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-ounce cream cheese
1 Snickers bar, chopped
1 24-ounce Cool Whip (or a little less)
1 3-ounce box instant chocolate pudding

Crust: Mix dry and wet ingredients, press into a 9-inch pie plate, and mold to fit. Bake at 400 degrees for 21 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Thoroughly mix powdered sugar and cream cheese and scoop into cooled crust. Sprinkle 1/2 of chopped Snickers bar on top. Scoop Cool Whip into a large bowl and stir in chocolate pudding until smooth and not gritty. Spread on top of other layers in pie crust. Sprinkle remaining chopped Snickers bar on top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.

 

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.

A grandmother’s wonderful news

We have entered the month of August and the sun is shining this morning as I sit writing at the desk. I am by the east window, but the wraparound porch keeps the sun from shining in the windows. It makes nice sleeping with the cool evenings.

First of all I want to share our wonderful news of the birth of our fourth grandchild. Ryan Isaiah Bontrager was born to daughter Susan and son-in-law Mose on July 27, 2019 at 1:56 a.m. Ryan weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and was 22 inches long. He joins his sister, Jennifer, 18 months old. Jennifer loves the baby but she doesn’t like when we hold him before we hold her first. And Mose isn’t allowed to hold Ryan; Jennifer thinks he’s only her daddy. It’s hard for her to understand that she’s not the only child anymore.

We sure have been enjoying baby Ryan. Susan is doing as well as expected. Daughter Verena and Lovina have been helping out with household duties over at Mose and Susan’s.

Today baby Ryan is five days old. Mose brought Susan and the children here for the day while he’s at work. Daughter Verena was there the last few days and came back home with them this morning. It’s nice to have her back home. She enjoys helping out with the little ones.

I closed our windows to make the house warmer for the baby. The temperature was in the 60s, so with all our windows open there was a chill in the house.

It is now later and the breakfast dishes are washed. Susan and baby Ryan are resting. Daughter Elizabeth and children Abigail and T.J. joined us for the day. The house is full of action with all the grandchildren. I love every minute of it, but this grandmother needs to finish this column. I am already past the deadline. I moved out on the porch to finish writing this. I need to concentrate, and with all these sweet babies it’s hard to do so.

Fresh dill sprigs will be placed in each jar. Photo provided.

We want to can pickles today. I didn’t have enough fresh dill, so neighbor Susan said I could have some of hers. Elizabeth and I went over there and cut a bagful, so now we can get started. Sure appreciate neighbors who are willing to loan or share with each other.

As I look across the road at neighbor Irene’s house, it gives me a lonely feeling. Irene would usually be mowing or working outside on such a nice cool day like today. Such a friendly neighbor and always willing to help. Her grandson Joe lives beside us and is also a good neighbor.

We are also enjoying tomatoes and had a few meals of sweet corn. I’m disappointed that my green beans didn’t come up. Joe planted them twice, so I am not sure why they didn’t grow. Zucchini are more than plentiful. I’m also getting a lot of cucumbers.

When pickling cucumbers come into season, it takes multiple rounds to can them all. Photo provided.

Tomato plants are loaded with tomatoes, so I think we should be canning V8 and tomato juice soon. We are out of V8, so I will be glad once we have some again. We love it with our breakfast.

Last night we were invited to neighbor’s Joas and Susan’s for a fish fry supper. They had all the families in our church district invited. The children had appointments, and with the two-hour drive we didn’t make it home in time to attend. We appreciated the invite. Mose and Susan couldn’t go with the baby so young yet. Tim and Elizabeth and children went, then stopped in here on their way home. T.J. was just so happy to see us.

I must get busy now. It’s so nice out here, but those pickles need to be canned.

Jars of sliced cucumbers ready to be filled with pickling brine and then canned. Photo provided.

This week I’ll share the recipe for vegetable juice (V8). Process it according to your canning instructions. God bless!

 

Homemade Vegetable Juice

Makes 14 quarts

I tried to sit down and make a recipe, and that is what I will share with you readers. But you can add whatever vegetables you want. There is no rule on how much of anything to put in. I always put in more tomatoes than anything else. I like to add a lot of extra jalapenos, as we like the spicy flavor they give. We love to drink this for breakfast on weekends.

15 pounds tomatoes, cut into chunks
4 onions, diced
4 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
6 large jalapenos, diced
6 small potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cucumbers, sliced
2–3 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt

Combine all the ingredients except the salt in a 3-gallon stainless steel pot over medium-high heat. Cook about 30 minutes, or until softened enough to go through a food mill or strainer. Strain and put into sterilized quart jars and add 1 teaspoon salt to every jar.

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.

Who wants to cook when the temperature is nearing 100 degrees?

It is a hot, humid July evening. I am sitting outside on our porch but can hardly feel any breeze. The mercury on the thermometer still shows 95 degrees at 8 p.m. Hopefully it will cool off soon!

My husband Joe is doing much better, and the doctor had good news for him. All the tests came back okay. He needs to stay on the antibiotics for now, but the wound is almost healed. This heat doesn’t help the swelling of his legs, but they look much better. Joel loves salt, and having to do without has been hard for him but he is getting used to it. I’m getting used to cooking without it and letting everyone season their own food.

One morning when it was nice and cool Joe and I went out in the garden and pulled a lot of weeds. Before we knew it, three and a half hours had passed, so we came in for a break. The heat was getting worse by noon, but the garden looks much better. And cucumbers and zucchini are ready to use now. Tomatoes are on the way. Sweet corn really grew with the recent rain we had. We have much to be thankful for.

We received the sad news that Joe’s aunt Josephine, age 81, passed away yesterday. Josephine lost her first husband Leroy when they lived in Milroy, Indiana. She remarried to Jerome from Nappanee, Indiana, where she lived since her marriage to him. Leroy and Josephine had seven children. Our sympathy goes to the family. The funeral is Saturday in Nappanee.

Since March, Joe and I have had two uncles and three aunts pass away. It gives us a sad feeling to lose uncles and aunts with both sets of parents gone too. Josephine was a sister to Joe’s mother. She was two years older than her. Joe’s mother died 24 years ago at the age of 54. Our children never knew their grandmother. Daughter Elizabeth was 10 months old when she died, so she also doesn’t remember her. Joe’s three younger sisters were 15, 16, and 17 when their mother passed away. I often think how I would have felt to lose my mother at that age. You often hear people say you only live once, but actually that isn’t true—it’s more like we only die once. Let us be ready when our time comes, leaving good memories for all our loved ones to remember us by.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan came for the day along with sweet little Abigail, Jennifer, and baby T.J. When I call him Timothy, Abigail reminds me that he’s T.J. and her little brother and she’s the big sister. Abigail and Jennifer are starting to team up, which isn’t always so good. Today their mothers discovered them with my Kleenex box, which was quite full. They had already emptied half the box, pulling the Kleenex and throwing them in the air. It was hard not to laugh when the little sweeties didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong. We had a nice day doing nothing but meals and visiting and trying to stay cool.

I tried a new recipe (a breakfast skillet) for our breakfast and then we had (don’t be surprised) frozen pizzas for our lunch. Yes, that doesn’t sound like Amish cooking, but with the heat it was just perfect for us. Having solar powered freezers, it is easier to have those things on hand, although I don’t do it often. Joe doesn’t care for those. He likes homemade pizza, but who wants to cook when the temperature is close to 100 degrees?

Elizabeth and children went home and Mose came to pick Susan up. He is helping Joe fill in some holes in our paved driveway. The driveway was paved when we bought this place 15 years ago and has had a lot of neglect.

Let’s leave the future in God’s hands. May he bless each of you. Stay cool!

Try this breakfast skillet.

Breakfast Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
½ cup diced green bell peppers
½ cup diced onions
1 dozen eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
1 cup milk
¼ cup flour

Heat oil in a large skillet. Stir all remaining ingredients together, then pour into the hot skillet. Cover. Cook a few minutes, then gently run a spatula along the edges and underneath, letting egg run to the sides. Cover again and continue cooking until eggs are set.

 

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.

Grandchildren add fun and happiness

We have entered the month of July. The year 2019 is halfway in the past. July 1 was daughter Loretta’s birthday. She turned 19 years old. Son Benjamin is also 19, until his birthday on July 14. It always brings back memories from that year they were born. My dad passed away at age 69 six weeks before Loretta was born. Then we had church services at our house when Loretta was five weeks old. With Loretta being our fifth child and my oldest only being six at that time, I do not know how I did it. I do remember that I said never again would I host church services with a five-week-old baby. I depended a lot on my mother and five sisters to help out and get my cleaning done for church services.

Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin, Loretta, daughter Verena, and son Kevin went fishing out on a nearby lake on Dustin’s pontoon. On Loretta’s birthday the girls helped get laundry washed before they left. In the evening, Tim, Elizabeth, Abigail, and baby Timothy, Mose, Susan, and Jennifer also came in honor of Loretta’s birthday. Pizza and chicken wings were on the menu.

Tim, Mose, Dustin, and son Benjamin are all on vacation this week. Son Benjamin is gone for three days fishing on Lake Erie with a few friends. They are camping in tents close by the lake. They planned to go walleye fishing out on the lake. I’m sure he’s having an enjoyable time, but the house seems empty without him around.

Yesterday, Tim and Elizabeth left Abigail, age two, and six-month-old baby Timothy (or T.J., as little Abigail calls him) here, as Tim and Elizabeth were heading to town with horse and buggy. We had fun watching them. Abigail likes to follow Kevin around and ask him one question after another. Kevin does pretty good entertaining her.

When she heard Loretta had a birthday, Abigail said, “My birthday is September 10 and I will be three.” I was surprised that she knew that.

The little grandchildren add so much fun and happiness to our life. My dad would always joke around and say if he had known the grandchildren would be that much fun, he would have had them first.

Tomatoes grow tall in Lovina’s garden.

We are having more goodies from the garden, although it seems later than other years. We had quite a few days of 90-degree weather with the humidity really high. Tonight we had a shower, so the rain makes it more bearable. The garden was in need of rain.

Today I went with my husband Joe to the doctor. They did an EKG and found he has fluid around his heart. He has an open wound on his leg that doesn’t want to heal, and his legs and feet are swollen bad. The doctor gave him a few antibiotics and wants to see him in a few days. They also did some more tests and blood work, which will probably let us know more when we go back. But meanwhile, the doctor ordered him to keep his feet elevated and to stay out of the hot sun. Joe sees the garden get more weeds and thinks he should go work out there. A big garden is nice to have, but it requires a lot of labor.

We traveled to Bryant, Indiana, to Aunt Lizzie’s funeral last week. We saw many uncles, aunts, cousins. It was different to not see Uncle Elmer with Aunt Emma. I’m sure it refreshed everything with losing her husband not too long ago.

Cucumber vines begin to stretch across the garden. 

After the funeral the six of us sisters walked through Aunt Lizzie’s house reminiscing of long ago. How well I remember when Uncle Chris and Aunt Lizzie packed up their belongings and we helped them move to this home. Only a pole barn to move into, but now the property has two houses, a big barn, two chicken barns. Their daughter Lovina and husband Pete and family live in the big house. I’m sure with Aunt Lizzie gone the little house will seem really empty.

Life goes on, changes are made—God helps us accept these changes, but it all takes time to heal.

God’s blessings to all!

Old-Fashioned Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1–2 tablespoons sugar, if desired

Combine cucumber, bell pepper, and onion in a bowl. Combine water, vinegar, salt, and optional sugar, and pour over vegetables. Refrigerate for a brief time before eating, or make ahead for the next meal.

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.

 

God’s blessings as we travel into the unknown future

Where should I begin? This week is going much too fast for me.

Friday and Saturday were spent helping out at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. The tent was set up and benches set up under the tent. Friday was Elizabeth’s birthday, although she didn’t take much time to think about it.

Benches set up for Sunday services. After the service, the benches serve as tables for the lunch meal. Photo credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

Sunday morning brought many visitors from other church districts and communities. The tent was filled to capacity. After the services the benches were used to make five tables to serve the meal. The tablecloths were rolled out on the tables; glasses, coffee cups, and silverware were placed at each setting.

It was Father’s Day, and I hope all fathers out there had a nice day with their family. In honor of Father’s Day, ice cream was served to everyone after the lunch. On the menu for lunch were homemade white and wheat bread, cheese spread, peanut butter spread, ham, pickles, pickled red beets, hot peppers, fresh garden lettuce, strawberry jam, butter cookies, and coffee and iced tea (also made fresh with tea leaves from sister Emma’s garden). Popcorn was served as visiting was done, and the dishes were washed and packed up to put back in the bench wagon for the next service.

Sunday evening we received the sad news that my husband Joe’s Uncle Phillip from Dundee, Ohio, had passed away. Phillip’s death was a shock to all of us. He was never married but left to mourn many siblings and nieces and nephews. Phillip was a brother to Joe’s dad. They were 17 siblings, with Phillip being the sixth one laid to rest. Phillip, age 67, enjoyed spending time with family and friends and fishing trips to Canada. Rest in peace, Uncle Phillip! You will be greatly missed.

We spent several days in the Sugarcreek, Ohio, area and attended the viewing/visitation on Tuesday and the funeral on Wednesday. Joe’s sister Esther and brother Benjamin both live in that area, so we got to visit with them. Also his sister Carol from Tennessee and his sister Loretta from Michigan and their families. And many uncles, aunts, and cousins of Joe’s were there. I met some more of my readers and appreciate the encouragement! We arrived home last night.

This morning seems hard to get started after all the traveling, but I need to make a salad to take to the visitation/viewing of a man from our community. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan are taking a dessert. I will drop the food off on my way to town for son Kevin’s therapy appointment. I won’t be able to stay and help, as we already have plans to help package gifts for the Christmas Behind Bars program.

The wagon loaded with benches for the Sunday service. The wagon travels from home to home as families host Sunday services. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

We will travel to Shipshewana, Indiana, for this with other members from the community that are also volunteering to help. Joe and I, sons Benjamin, 19, and Joseph, 16, and daughter Lovina, 15, will go along to help.

The girls will have granddaughter Abigail here today, which they will enjoy. Daughter Elizabeth is going to a workday at Tim’s sister’s house. Not having to keep an eye on Abigail, 2, will let her get more work done. Abigail is at the age where she can be in one place one minute and in another so fast.

It is another rainy day here in Michigan. We have had so much rain. We saw a lot of flooding while traveling. Makes us appreciate the sunny days so much more. I need to get busy. There’s much to do, and time does not stand still.

I want to wish all of you God’s richest blessings as we travel into the unknown future. As the minister at Uncle Phillip’s funeral reminded us, death is final, and there isn’t any limit to how young our age is when our time here on earth is done. Let us pray for one another and for peace in the world! Take care!

Try this version of rhubarb jam. It has pineapple added to it. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Jam

4 cups chopped rhubarb4 cups sugar
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (6-ounce) package strawberry-flavored gelatin

Bring rhubarb, sugar, and pineapple to a boil in a saucepan. Boil gently for 12 minutes. Add gelatin and boil for 1 additional minute. Place into sterilized jars and seal.

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.

When Mom’s menu ideas run low, the kids can help

It is almost time to start supper. I’m debating what we will make tonight. I’ll ask the children for suggestions. Sometimes that makes it easier!

Last night we came home late after helping at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Loretta grilled hamburgers and potatoes on the gas grill, so that was an easy supper. It’s nice to have frozen hamburger patties from butchering last winter. When you want to take beef from the freezer to the grill, it’s quick and easy. We had lettuce and green onions from the garden to eat with the hamburgers.

I have lots of leaf lettuce ready in the garden. I would like to cut it and wash it to serve with lunch at Tim and Elizabeth’s house on Sunday. They are hosting church services, which will be held under a tent.

Last Friday sister Emma and her two daughters Elizabeth and Emma and baby Jessica, daughter Susan and Jennifer and my daughters and I assisted daughter Elizabeth with her work. A lot was accomplished. My daughters and I will go help a few more days this week.

Elizabeth will have her 25th birthday on Friday, June 14. It’s hard to believe our firstborn has reached 25! We wish her many more happy, healthy years. Her two little ones keep her busy. Abigail is a little busybody and says she is baby Timothy’s big sister. Jennifer loves to go lie down on Abigail’s bed when we are all there. It is a wooden toddler bed with side rails. One day while we were cleaning, Jennifer laid down on Abigail’s bed and fell asleep. Abigail didn’t care to see Jennifer sleeping in her bed! Mose and Susan hope to get a toddler bed for Jennifer. She likes the idea that she can get out by herself. Her crib is too penned in for her! It seems the grandchildren grow so fast and learn new things as they older.

When I think of the Michigan family that lost their six-year-old daughter and four- and two-year-old sons in the recent buggy accident, my heart aches. Such tender, sweet ages. Our sympathy goes to the parents as they grieve for their three children. May God help them through this tragedy and help them accept the changes in their life. We wish a complete and speedy recovery to the mother and three-year-old. Although I do not personally know them, they are distant relatives of ours. Their names are in our family record book. God makes no mistakes.

I am taking son Kevin to therapy twice a week. This is to help with the surgeries he had. After he learns how to do the exercises here at home, he can quit going to therapy.

Farmers are taking advantage of the weather to get crops out and hay put in. We had a wet and cool spring. My husband Joe and son Joseph finished planting our garden on Saturday. The rains helped what was planted already to grow, but it looks like it will be a later season.

After I began writing this afternoon, Verena started a hamburger-potato skillet cooking on the stove for our supper. She layers hamburger, onions, shredded potatoes and cream of mushroom soup (without milk added). You cover skillet and let cook on low until potatoes are soft, then add cheese of your choice on top and let it melt. Season the potatoes before cooking. It’s a quick, easy meal.

Here is a recipe for potato bars. It’s a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

God bless and stay safe!

Potato Bars

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard
10 medium potatoes
cheese of your choice
2 tablespoons Ranch dressing

Fry and drain ground beef and onions. Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, chili powder and mustard. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside and keep hot.

Cook, mash and season potatoes to taste (or use leftover mashed potatoes). Spread in a cake pan and cover with meat mixture. Top with cheese. Drizzle ranch dressing over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until hot.

 

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.