Tag Archives: Amish cooking

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.

So much sewing keeps Lovina busy

Saturday our family assisted daughter Elizabeth and Tim with their work. Church services will be held at their house next so lots of cleaning is getting done. A big tent will be set up for the services to be held under that day.

My husband Joe has most of the gardens filled now. Everything is getting planted late from all the wet weather we are having. Farmers have a hard time getting their crops planted. Hay is cut but hard to dry and get put in with all the rain. Our soil is sandy so the garden dries off fast.

Friday is the wedding for Dustin’s cousin in this community. Daughter Loretta and Dustin were asked to be table waiters at the wedding. Loretta needs to wear a mint green-colored dress, cape, and apron. It still needs to be cut out and sewed. I have only tomorrow to sew it. I hope to start early in the morning. If I can stay with it, I should get it done in a few hours. It just seemed like I had so much sewing lately that this was pushed to the bottom of the list.

Last week I sewed daughter Lovina’s dress for her graduation. Her Amish friend in eighth grade wanted Lovina and her to have matching color dresses for their graduation.

After this I should be able to do other sewing that was pushed back from the weddings. At niece Elizabeth’s wedding Lovina and Kevin had to wear the color mint green. Kevin had to wear gray sharkskin color pants. Verena and Loretta wore purple dresses and Benjamin and Joseph wore black vests and pants with white shirts. I had to wear a green apple color.

Daughter Lovina was helping at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s several days this week. Baby Timothy wasn’t feeling the best and after a doctor visit it was confirmed he had an ear infection. He is such a sweetie, always so bright-eyed and active.

Foremost on our minds today was receiving the sad news that my cousin Cornelius passed away. He was only 57 but was diagnosed last August with that dreadful disease—cancer! Several months before his diagnosis he lost his dad Jake (my uncle). My sympathy goes out to Cornelius’s wife Andrea and children. Also to Aunt Mary (his mother) and extended family. May God help guide them through this time of sorrow. Rest in peace, Cornelius. You will be missed! Due to the many miles between us, we won’t be able to attend the funeral.

Daughter Elizabeth and children, daughter Susan and Jennifer, daughter Verena, and I attended the school picnic on May 31, the last day of this school term. The little girls enjoyed the playground equipment. They had fun sitting in the grass eating their picnic lunch.

I didn’t feel like I had time to attend the picnic but with only having one more child in school after this year I wanted to take time to enjoy it. So often we let our busy life take away the things that matter the most.

Although I haven’t been out fishing on the lake yet this year the rest of the family is bringing in some nice meals of fresh fish.

Brother-in-law Levi and son Levi Jr. went fishing with my husband Joe and son-in-law Mose the day before niece Elizabeth’s wedding. Joe took our boat and Mose took his boat, and they fished at a nearby lake. They brought home a lot of bluegill. They were only a few from their allowed limit. They had an enjoyable day.

Son Benjamin went fishing with some friends on Lake Erie one day. They all caught their limit of walleyes. He had a fun time on that big lake.

Zucchini season will soon be here. Try this recipe.

Breakfast Zucchini Casserole

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup peppers, finely chopped
1 dozen eggs
2 cups Bisquick*
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cooked meat of choice: sausage, diced ham, smokie links, or bacon
6 cups zucchini, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Sauté onions and peppers in butter. Beat eggs; add all ingredients to beaten eggs except the cheese. Put into a 9×13-inch pan, setting it into a larger pan with water. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour covered with foil. Uncover. Bake another 30 minutes, then top with cheese.

Variation: Use shredded cooked potatoes instead of zucchini.

*Instead of Bisquick mix use 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

 

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.

Many blessings as newlyweds begin life as one

Tonight was daughter Lovina’s eighth-grade graduation. Her class has 23 students. Our school is a small public school and is very close-knit. Friday is the school picnic, then school doors will close for another term.

Lovina’s school days will be over. She said she will miss seeing her friends but is excited to be done. Son Kevin will be the last of our children to graduate eighth grade next year. Time goes much too fast.

I had a nice 48th birthday on May 22 even though it was spent at sister Emma and Jacob’s house preparing for the Friday wedding of niece Elizabeth and Manuel. Thank you so much for all the cards and gifts. They are greatly appreciated.

Saturday before the wedding, the cook wagon with six stoves and two stainless steel sinks and much counter space arrived. Also a portable restroom, which saves the bathroom in the house from getting used so much. A walk-in cooler and freezer were brought in, and also the storage wagon with tables and everything needed for a 360-place setting. Everything you need to cook for over 1,000 guests is included in this wedding wagon package.

Hundreds of people typically attend Amish weddings. The meal after the ceremony is served in multiple sittings. Each couple chooses special colors. Female attendants sew their dresses in these colors, and the tables at the meal are decorated in the same colors. One corner (called an “eck” in Pennsylvania Dutch) is reserved for the bride and groom and their attendants and decorated with special memorabilia. Photo by Ruth Boss

On Saturday, tables were set up and set with all the china. They were then covered to keep them clean for the next week. Also, over 30 loaves of bread were toasted for the dressing and bagged.

 

Sister Liz, Jacob and Emma’s neighbor Laura, and I were asked to be head cooks. On Saturday, Laura and I made up the grocery list with the amounts of everything needed. Emma had a good start on her shopping.

In addition to 75 pies, the cooks prepared 16 s’mores cakes for guests to enjoy at the wedding of Manuel and Elizabeth. Photo by Ruth Boss

Wednesday and Thursday, women arrived to help prepare food. They cut up 600 pounds of chicken, baked 16 cakes and 75 pies, and prepared 16 pans of orange cream cheesecake. Vegetables were shredded and diced for the dressing and salad, and so many more little jobs that needed to be done or to make less work for Friday morning. Also over 30 loaves of bread were baked.

On the wedding day almost 400 pounds of potatoes were peeled and cooked for mashed potatoes. Manuel’s uncle grilled the 600 pounds of chicken. The menu included gravy, chicken noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, hot peppers, bread, fresh rhubarb jam and butter, s’mores cake, orange cream cheesecake, rhubarb, pumpkin, and cherry pies, fresh fruit (watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries), and candy bars.

The cook wagon outfit was being picked up Saturday at 7 a.m., so all was loaded and packed back in by 10 p.m. Friday. Some of the neighbors, Timothy, Elizabeth, Mose, Susan, Joe, and I helped get everything packed. The pole barn and tent looked empty, but it makes for a quick clean up.

I wish Elizabeth and Manuel many blessings as they begin life as one. May God always be their guide. I’m sure Jacob and Emma’s house seems empty this week with Elizabeth moved to her new home and only the three boys left. Life brings changes!

A lovely quilted wall hanging with Manuel and Elizabeth’s names greeted guests at the meal after the wedding ceremony. Photo by Ruth Boss

I want to thank my friend Ruth for once again helping out at a wedding and for writing my column. She does so much for all of us. She picks up my mail and delivers it here. I am sorry for the delayed responses to readers who wrote, but that is next on my list. Thanks to all of you!

Joe’s uncle Solomon from Dundee, Ohio, came here after the wedding to spend the night. Joe and I made breakfast for him before he left Saturday morning.

We recently had a visit from Joe’s youngest sibling—his sister Susan and her sons Freddie and Seth. They stayed for supper, and the cousins didn’t take long to get reunited with each other.

God’s blessings to each and every one!

 

Orange Cream Cheesecake 

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
1 (3-ounce) package orange gelatin
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip

 Topping:
2 cups Cool Whip
1/4 cup sugar

Crust: Combine cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and butter. Press into bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Filling: Prepare gelatin according to package directions. Set aside 1/2 cup at room temperature. Chill remaining gelatin until slightly thickened, about 80 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Gradually beat in evaporated milk and lemon juice on medium speed for 2 minutes. Gradually beat in orange juice concentrate, vanilla, and room-temperature gelatin. Fold in Cool Whip and pour over prepared crust.

Topping: Beat together Cool Whip and sugar. Beat in refrigerated gelatin. Mixture will be thin. Chill for 30 minutes. Gently spoon over filling. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Note: We place mandarin orange slices on top. Delicious!

 

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.

How to cook for a wedding crowd

A guest post from Lovina’s English (non-Amish) friend Ruth Boss.

This week Lovina is busy with preparations for niece Elizabeth and Manuel’s Friday wedding, so she has asked me to share about the work being done in the days before the wedding. The wedding wagons arrived last week, so Saturday the tables were all set up in the barn and the china, silverware, and glasses were all set. The wedding wagons include a cook wagon that has two sinks, five stoves, and all the cookware needed to prepare for a large gathering. There is a refrigerated wagon and a wagon that has two self-contained washrooms. The church bench wagon supplied the benches for the dinner tables, and another church’s bench wagon was borrowed to set up benches in the barn of neighbors Andrew and Laura, where the actual ceremony will be held.

Wednesday morning it was raining heavily when the women arrived to start the cooking. On the wall inside of the cook wagon was a list of jobs to be done for that day. Each woman chose a job and quickly went to work. Bread was cubed and baked for dressing, and potatoes, carrots, and onions were chopped for the dressing also. Rhubarb was chopped for pies and jam, pie dough crust was mixed, and chocolate and vanilla cakes were baked in round pans. The women enjoy conversation while they work, catching up on things like family activities, gardening, and church events. They speak in Dutch (high German) but politely switch to English when I am in the conversation. There is a good amount of laughter and teasing, especially with Lovina’s sisters. There was even a little Amish “dancing” when a little mouse decided to make an appearance in the cook wagon in the middle of the food prep.

 

Lovina, sister Liz, and neighbor Laura are the head cooks for the wedding. After the menu is decided the head cooks determine how much food is needed and make a large grocery list. They help schedule the women who come to do the food prep and assign coffee time treats, lunch casseroles, salads, and desserts for the meals they share on workdays. The quantity of food that needs to be prepared to make 1,000 meals seems overwhelming to an outsider, but they make it seem easy and the work goes along quite seamlessly. If one person steps away from washing dishes to get finished pies from the oven, another quickly steps in and takes over the dishes. There is a quiet and simple cadence to their work, which is consistent with their lifestyle.

Thursday morning began with a good storm, but by mid-morning the sun was shining. The pie crusts were made, pie fillings were prepared, and all the pies were baked. The pumpkin pie, rhubarb pie, and cherry pie all baking at once make a delightful medley of aromas. The bread dough was also mixed, and after rising it was made into small loaves and baked. The fresh-bread smell is as mouthwatering as the pies! Outside the cook wagon the strawberries, grapes, and blueberries are being washed for the fruit salad. Yesterday’s cakes are being frosted, and the orange cheesecake dessert is being assembled.

The men set up the tent outside the barn, and tables and benches were set to accommodate all the guests. In the house the young girls are playing with the small children and the house is getting a good once-over. Windows are being shined, floors swept and mopped, and furniture polished. Next week, Lovina will share more about the special wedding day.

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