Tag Archives: Amish cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

Snowball Cookies

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

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

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

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

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

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

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Sticky lessons with Gorilla glue, and happy for supper on daughter’s patio

Head: Sticky lessons with Gorilla glue, and happy for supper on daughter’s patio

It’s 8:30 p.m. and we just came home from daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. Elizabeth made supper for us. She made cooked potatoes, cooked carrots, corn, Sloppy Joe sandwiches with ice cream for dessert. It was nice to not have to cook supper tonight. And it was a wonderful evening to eat out on their patio. Mose and daughter Susan and Jennifer also came over to eat there. Elizabeth and Susan were here today with their little sweeties Abigail and Jennifer. Elizabeth asked if we want to come over for supper so we took up the offer.

Tomorrow son Kevin and I will travel to the children’s hospital in Ann Arbor. He has an appointment with the surgeon that did our daughter’s surgeries. It’s such a big hospital and I still get turned around so I am always glad when my husband Joe can go along. This time he won’t go along as they were off so many days and with the four-day work weeks they are having he’s glad for every day he can work. Next week he will have to take a day off for a dentist appointment with a specialist and possibly have surgery to remove a tooth.

The glue that my husband Joe used to fix my washing machine hose last week gave up. Daughter Loretta and I wanted to do laundry on Monday so I used Gorilla glue to glue the end back on the hose. I didn’t know that glue swells up so when I wanted to drain the water from the wash machine it wouldn’t come out. The glue had swelled up enough to plug the whole inside of the hose. I had to break the glue back out so now before we wash clothes again the hose needs to be repaired. I did figure out that you need to use Gorilla glue sparsely.

Mornings have been foggy lately. I’m hoping it won’t be tomorrow morning when we travel the two hours to the appointment.

Our one garden is all cleared out and tilled now. Not much left in the garden anymore. Autumn begins this week already. Its always nice to finish up the canning season from the gardens. I am so thankful though for every jar that was filled and all that could be frozen.

Friday night we made a kettle of campfire stew outside in the kettle over the open fire. It was a nice evening to sit around the fire. We used fresh potatoes, green beans, and onions for the stew along with chunked steak from our freezer. It was delicious.

Our thoughts went back sixteen years ago on Monday, September 17, when dear Mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, passed away. She was in Blue Springs, Missouri, when she so suddenly passed. So far from home and we felt so helpless when we heard the news. I started penning the column after her. Joseph, 16, was just a couple months old. Mother will always be remembered. Life goes on but we still have our loved ones close in our hearts!

On our way home tonight from Timothy’s house we saw so many deer. One ran in front of our horse Midnight and startled her. But it was a very peaceful evening for a buggy ride. Signs of autumn are beginning to show on the trees. Folks are digging potatoes from the fields. Gardens are looking empty.

I will share a recipe for stuffed cabbage with you. A good way to help use up your cabbage from the garden. I always plant the late cabbage.

Until next week, God’s blessings to all!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 head cabbage
1 onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons margarine
1-pound ground beef
1/2-pound ground pork (or veal)
2 cups cooked rice
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2-pound lean bacon
16-ounce can tomato sauce
8-ounce can tomatoes
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Remove core from cabbage. Scald cabbage in boiling water and remove leaves as they soften. Sauté onions in margarine very lightly; do not brown. Also sauté beef and pork. Combine meat with rice, eggs, sautéed onions, and seasoning. Mix well. Place 2 tablespoons of mixture in center of cabbage and roll. Wrap in bacon strips and insert wooden picks to hold together. Pour tomato sauce on rolls, then squeeze tomatoes from can and arrange on top of rolls. Sprinkle brown sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Hosting church brings surprise guests and plenty of fellowship

Today is the 59th birthday of my oldest sibling, sister Leah. Birthday blessings to her! Since we live two hours apart and I won’t get to see her, I sent a card and letter to her by mail.

Our children who still live at home spent today helping daughter Susan and her husband, Mose, in preparation for their upcoming hosting of church services. Also helping were sister Emma and son Steven, and my daughter Elizabeth and little Abigail. We all went over for breakfast, which was breakfast burritos, sugar cookies, peaches, and watermelon. We cleaned out cabinets, cupboards, and other items, and the boys cleaned out the barn.

Abigail kept herself entertained by playing with dolls and looking at books. She loves looking at books and really notices what a book is about. She plays “Mommy” and keeps her little “baby” happy. She asked her mother, Elizabeth, if she wanted to hold her baby. While she was handing the doll to Elizabeth, it almost dropped from her hands. Abigail said, “Be careful, Mom!” in such a grown-up voice. It was just so cute!

Baby Jennifer is seven months old today and also kept us entertained. She is just full of smiles but doesn’t like when her mom is extra busy, like today. She breastfeeds, so Jennifer enjoys those times with her mother.

We hosted church services last Sunday. There were some families missing but we had visitors, so I am guessing we had around 130 to 140 people here. It was a smaller group than I’m used to having, but it was nice to be done with the preparation. Dishes were all washed and packed up by 1:30 pm. Guests sat outside under the shade trees and enjoyed popcorn before leaving.

We had a nice surprise on Sunday morning. Sister Liz and husband Levi, nieces Suzanne and Elizabeth with Samuel and their children, LaRose and Samuel Lee, niece Rosa, Menno and baby Jeremiah, nephew Levi Jr. and Arlene all showed up for church services here. We were glad to have them! Liz and Levi were able to pick up Levi Jr. and Arlene on their way up to Michigan.

Our church lunch menu included: homemade wheat and white bread, ham, cheese spread, peanut butter spread, bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, red beans (pickled), hot peppers, strawberry jam, butter, coffee, iced tea, plus chocolate chip, sugar and oatmeal cookies.

Saturday evening before church services here, our married children with grandchildren plus Loretta’s special friend, Dustin, as well as some friends of our sons spent the night here. We have a bed and cribs in the part of the pole barn where we have church services that was made into a temporary nursery for the ladies with small babies. Mose, Susan and Jennifer slept in there (their old living quarters when they lived here). It’s nice that they have their own bathroom out there. We also have a bed and bathroom in our basement, which is where Timothy, Elizabeth, and Abigail slept. The extra boy visitors divided up between our sons’ two bedrooms. So we had enough room for everyone!

Sunday morning, I made two breakfast casseroles and put them in the oven to bake while everyone dressed for church.

After church and lunch, Liz, Levi and family headed home in the late afternoon. Jacob, sister Emma and family, and sisters Verena and Susan, along with our family, were here for supper. Our menu was grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken and noodles, gravy, peaches, cookies, sliced tomatoes, homemade bread, cheese spread, peanut butter spread, red beet pickles, hot peppers and more.

I didn’t invite more people to stay for supper, as we were so tired from all the extra work we did beforehand. Needless to say, we feel pretty relaxed this week and are taking life a little easier. God’s blessings to all!

Today’s recipe is for a super-healthy side dish that you can keep in the fridge for weeks to come. Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis.

Marinated Carrots

2 pounds carrots
1 large onion, sliced into rings
1 large green pepper, sliced
1 can tomato soup
1 cup sugar
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup salad oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Wash and scrape carrots. Cut into diagonal slices about 1 inch long. Cook in boiling water until tender. Drain and cool. In large bowl, combine carrots with onion rings and green pepper slices. Combine soup, sugar, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Pour hot mixture over carrot mixture. Cool. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight. Keeps up to a month in the refrigerator.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Grateful memories of a stranger who helped out in a time of need

I decided to write my column while sitting in the waiting room in the doctor’s office. We are two hours from home. I am always glad when we are on our way home from these visits.

My thoughts go back to one of our recent trips to see the doctor. On the way there, our driver didn’t see a ramp that must have fallen off another vehicle. Earlier we had seen a truck with a skid loader on top of its trailer, so perhaps it was a ramp that fell off that truck. Anyway, a ramp was laying in the center of the lane in which we were traveling. Our driver swerved to miss it, but it slashed open the back tire of the fourteen-passenger van. It threw us around for a while, but how thankful we were that she gained control of the van. I think back at what could have happened and how bad it could have been, with the oncoming traffic. God was watching over us!

The van didn’t have a spare tire, and we were eight miles from the nearest town. A man from the house that we were parked beside came out to see if he could help us. He drove our driver to town to get a new tire and then he helped to put it on the van. Two hours later, we were back on our way. We actually made it in time for the doctor appointments. We make these appointments quite a few months early, and we always give ourselves enough time in case we have trouble on our way.

How nice to know there are still a lot of people in this world who will take time to help someone in need. We really appreciated the time the man took to help get us on our way. He wouldn’t take any money for his help. So if by any chance you read this column—thanks again, Mark from Coldwater, Michigan! May God bless you for your kindness that day.

On Saturday my husband, Joe, sons Benjamin, 18, and Joseph, 15, and I took time to till, weed and hoe both gardens. It really is easier when we all help each other!

Last week Lovina made eight pints of strawberry jam, which is tasty on top of the homemade bread that daughter Lovina, age 14, made this week.

Daughter Lovina, 14, mixed the dough for ten loaves of bread. She still needs to ask a few questions when mixing it. She caught on quickly that you must add more flour if the dough is still sticky. I put the dough in loaf pans and put it in the oven. I am hoping she can do that part soon as well. It would save me time if she could mix and bake bread, and it’s good for her to know how to do it. Five of the loaves were to take to church at our neighbors’ place on Sunday. I sent some home with daughter Susan and Mose, and we enjoyed the fresh bread over the weekend with fresh strawberry jam. The week before I made eight pints of strawberry jam. It is a favorite around here. I still want to make lots more for the freezer.

On Friday we will attend the wedding of Rhonda and Marlin. Rhonda is a girl from our church. It has been a rainy week, so I wish them a nice day on Friday. It’s nicer for the guests as well when the day is nice. I will help Susan by taking care of Jennifer while Susan cooks.

One day last week I was making some phone calls. We have a phone in an outside building. Before I was done, the phone rang, and it was the number brother Albert and his family usually call from. I answered, and it turns out that Albert had accidentally called us instead of the repair shop he wanted. Our number was on the same page, and somehow he dialed our number. He was really surprised and didn’t recognize my voice. I thought he was teasing when he asked if this is the repair shop, so I said yes!

Anyway, it was so good to talk to him again. With brother Amos’s sudden death in January, it’s even more precious to talk to siblings. I imagine sister-in-law Sarah Irene wondered where Albert was that long, but we had a nice talk together. It seems we don’t see much of Albert and his family. We all get busy with our own families, and it’s so easy to put off getting together. Nephew Levi’s wedding is in two weeks, so we hope to see the family there.

God bless you all!

Blueberry Applesauce Bread

 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup blueberries

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, applesauce and melted butter. Add dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Fold in berries. Pour into one or two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50–60 minutes.

 Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Birthday and upcoming anniversary prompt reflections for Lovina

June 14. Twenty-four years ago today I became a mother! Daughter Elizabeth is 24 and a mother herself now. In honor of her birthday, the girls and I will go to her house to spend the day with Elizabeth and her 21-month-old daughter, Abigail. We will go past daughter Susan’s house and take her and baby Jennifer with us. Elizabeth told us she will make breakfast for all of us. We will take lunch in to her. It’s always fun spending time with my children and grandchildren.

Daughter Verena regrets that she has to work and can’t spend the day with us. She just left for work at 5:30 a.m. I decided to write this column while all is quiet yet. My husband, Joe, left for work at 3:45 a.m. and son Benjamin left at 4:30 a.m. for his job.

As I sit here and think back 24 years ago, so many memories come to mind. When Elizabeth was born, Joe and I were still living with my parents. It was nice being close to my mother as I cared for my first baby. Being a mother is special, but it takes many prayers and much patience to raise children. I am far from perfect, but I want to always try my best. I have been truly blessed in so many ways.

Next month Joe and I will have our silver anniversary! Unbelievable! Twenty-five years have gone too fast!

Yesterday son Joseph and I were working in the garden. Its still too wet to till, but we were weeding. Oh my! I could not believe how the weeds grew with all the recent rain we’ve had. The tomatoes, peppers, and corn all look like they are growing well, but are behind when compared to other years. It was a wet spring and hard to get the garden planted. Farmers are having a challenge with getting all their crops out.

Tomorrow night we will put in hay. Always good to see the haymow filled for the winter.

On Sunday evening our family gathered here for supper and ate outside. The men made supper outdoors, with fish on the menu. It was enjoyable to not have to cook. It was a good thing that Elizabeth had a change of clothes along for Abigail, as she discovered all our water puddles. Then, as if running through them wasn’t getting her wet enough, she sat in a puddle! Baby Jennifer is now five months and is such a sweetie. She smiles a lot and has discovered that she can “talk.”

I managed to get the clothes for nephew Levi’s wedding cut out and now I just need to get them sewn. Next Friday daughter Susan is a cook at the wedding of their neighbor girl. She is sewing a gray dress for that wedding. She will bring it along today and we will help her get it done. Life is more demanding after you have a child, so it gets to be harder to get things accomplished. I told Susan I would rather sew than wash dishes today.

Lovina hopes that border collie Buddy stays away from any skunks outside.

There is a strong smell of a skunk coming in the windows all morning. I really hope Mr. Skunk decides to leave soon! And hopefully our border collie dog, Buddy, does not try to fight with him. But the sun is peeping through and it looks promising for a nice day. What a joy after a lot of rainy days lately.

It was a great turnout at the book signing in Colon, Michigan. Thanks to all the readers who came! All my daughters and granddaughters joined me for the evening, which makes it even more enjoyable.

Does anyone have a good recipe for peanut butter pudding? A reader requested that recipe. Meanwhile, this zucchini recipe looks good, once zucchini season starts!

God’s blessings to all!

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

4 medium (6- or 7-inch) zucchini
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Cut each zucchini in half, lengthwise. Place cut side down in large skillet; add 1/2 inch water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until zucchini are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain water.

Sauté together sausage, onion and garlic until sausage is browned; drain. Add oregano, corn and tomato. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 cup cheese; set aside.

Scoop out and discard seeds from zucchini. Spoon sausage mixture into zucchini shells. Place in greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 12–15 minutes or until heated through.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Warming up: Dandelion greens, rhubarb, and dirt under bare toes

Warming up: Dandelion greens, rhubarb, and dirt under bare toes

We finally managed to get some garden planted. The ground still felt a little cold under my bare feet. It just doesn’t seem right to walk in that soil with shoes on. I like wearing my crocs but with all the holes they soon filled with too much dirt.

We planted sweet onions, early frosty peas, radishes, and some lettuce. Makes my mouth water to think of some fresh garden goodies.

Temperatures have been in the 50’s and lower 60’s so we still haven’t had the warmest weather but I’m sure it will be here soon. Nephew Henry didn’t have work yesterday so he enjoyed the day on the lake fishing with a friend/co-worker.

On Saturday the boys and my husband Joe tilled up the gardens. They hauled manure into the one garden and tilled it in. Now every night the boys have been raking our yard and getting it ready to mow. We have a lot of trees, so lots of sticks and leaves accumulate over the winter months.

Last night Joe had an appointment, so we stopped for some groceries too. The girls had supper ready when we came home. They made hamburger with taco seasoning, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and green peppers, and shredded cheese. Some made tacos with soft tortilla shells and others made haystacks using these ingredients, putting crushed Doritos on top. We top it with salsa and ranch dressing. Sometimes we add chopped onions.

On some evenings we have been enjoying dandelion greens salad on top of steamed potatoes. Usually we like fresh ham or bacon with that either fried or grilled. I find the dandelion greens out in the yard and edges of the garden, etc. After they are washed very well I add them to a homemade sour cream dressing made with Miracle Whip salad dressing, apple cider vinegar, salt, and milk. I put in diced hardboiled eggs. Gathering and washing the dandelion greens is not my favorite thing to do but its worth it to be able to have dandelion salad. Although some of our children turn their noses up even thinking of eating something that grows in our grass.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their little sweeties have plans to come today. Looks like it will be another laundry day if weather permits.

Sunday evening Joe and I along with Verena, Joseph, Lovina, and Kevin went to Mose and Susan’s for supper. Timothy, Elizabeth, and Abigail went there as well. Mose grilled steak and I helped Susan make a pot of chili for an enjoyable evening. Mose and Susan live on a quiet road which is always so peaceful, with the only traffic being their neighbors.

Monday evening Susan and Baby Jennifer came here while Mose and Dustin (Loretta’s special friend) went turkey hunting. I had Jennifer laughing and chattering her baby talk. So precious!

Now I will share the sad news: Uncle Jake passed away on Tuesday. He was 81 years old. Uncle Jake and Aunt Mary live in Phoenix, Arizona, so we really regret that we won’t be able to travel the many, many miles between us. Jake will be missed at the reunions. He always had a great sense of humor like my dad and all his siblings did.

Out of the 13 siblings there are seven of dad’s brothers left. It’s a sad lonely feeling when another one passes away. Our greatest sympathy to Aunt Mary, cousins Christina, Cornelius, and Tabitha and their families as they mourn the passing of their husband, father, and grandfather. Daughter Verena had just received a card and long letter from Uncle Jake and Aunt Mary a few weeks ago. It was so thoughtful of them to think of her when dealing with their own health issues.

God bless you all!

Rhubarb Bread

1 cup cut up, cooked rhubarb
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon hot water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 5×9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a small pan, place cut up rhubarb and enough water to cover the rhubarb. Heat rhubarb to boiling and then lower to simmer and cook until rhubarb is soft, maybe 10-15 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it becomes light and creamy. Add the eggs and milk and mix well.

In a small mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla; drain water from hot rhubarb and add to the batter, mixing until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Topping: Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender to mix thoroughly. Pour mixture over the bread batter. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the loaf pan then turn out onto a wire rack. Slice and eat either warm or cold.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Find out what’s new at the Eicher household!

The sun is shining bright but the mercury is only at 16 degrees. We have had our share of cold weather.

I am very excited to share the news that Joe and I are grandparents for the second time! Jennifer Susan was born at 7:46 a.m. on January 15, 2018, to daughter Susan and Mose. She was 8 pounds, 10 ounces and 20 inches long, and she has a head full of black hair.

And if that isn’t enough excitement, I have more! Susan, Mose and baby Jennifer are staying with us since they were released from the hospital. How precious to hear that sweet cry during the night hours. She’s already smiling and has won all our hearts.

Lovina’s second oldest daughter Susan and husband Mose are the happy parents of a new baby girl, who is charming the Eicher household.

Susan was diagnosed with toxemia, but she is recovering as well as can be expected. That’s why they are staying with us for awhile until she feels better. Otherwise, mother and baby are doing just fine. And little Jennifer has more babysitters than she needs. I do not hear anyone complaining—except maybe for the fact that they think they might be getting cheated out of their turn holding the baby! Even Grandpa Joe asks for his turn to hold her.

Aunt Elizabeth quickly sewed this dress for Susan and Mose’s new baby daughter, Jennifer, in a half hour.

Daughter Verena is sitting in front of a tote bag full of baby clothes, deciding what she will put on her next. Daughter Elizabeth, after hearing the news that it’s a girl, went right to work, and a half hour later had a new pink dress sewed for Jennifer.

Last night Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail came to see little Jennifer again. I told them to stay for supper. I made hamburger potato casserole and husband Joe grilled fresh pork chops from our recent hog butchering.

Sixteen-month Abigail is not so sure she likes her new little cousin, Jennifer. She was confused when she saw Aunt Susan with a baby. I am sure she will soon grow to love her little cousin and they will have lots of fun times ahead.

Mose’s four sisters came to meet their new little niece last night. Mose’s sister Hannah’s little four-year-old daughter, Alissa, is still in the hospital. She was admitted four weeks ago after suffering injuries from a buggy-car accident. Hannah, her husband Leroy and their four children were hit in their buggy by a drunk driver. All six were taken to the hospital. They have all been released now except Alissa. Christmas was a sad holiday for this family, with the day being spent mostly in the hospital. Alissa has to stay in the hospital for three more weeks until she is back at home with her family, and she has lots of therapy ahead. She will be five years old on January 20. Prayers for the family are appreciated! The horse was killed in the accident, and the buggy demolished.

Church services were set Sunday to be at Jacob and Emma’s house on January 28. I want to go help Emma tomorrow with her cleaning. Daughter Elizabeth plans to help too. Timothy and Elizabeth will host church services at their house two weeks after Jacob and Emma host, so we need to help her too.

Life seems to just get busier for this grandma! I am glad to have good health to work. So often we take our good health for granted. Having children with disabilities has taught me much patience and to take one day at a time. And I think I worry more when my daughters have babies than when I was having them myself! Susan wanted me to be there with her and Mose when Jennifer was born. We have an amazing Creator, and we thank God for all his blessings he has given to us. I wish God’s blessings on all of you as well.

I will share the hamburger potato casserole with you. It is a favorite around here and has been a favorite since I was a little girl at home. The potatoes and meat get fixed all at once in a skillet—no oven.

Take care!

Hamburger Potato Casserole
1–2 pounds raw hamburger
8–10 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
Seasonings of your choice
Colby cheese slices

Press the hamburger onto the bottom of a skillet with a lid. With a salad-maker, shred potatoes and onion on top of hamburger (you do not need to peel the potatoes). Then top with cream of mushroom soup (do not add milk). Season to taste.

Turn the burner onto a medium heat and cook until potatoes are soft, about 25–30 minutes. Layer cheese on top after the potatoes are soft. Turn off the burner and cover until cheese has melted.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Christmas memories linger: brunch, family . . . and a big ball of plastic wrap

A brand new year lies before us! 2018 is here, and I want to wish all of you a blessed new year, lots of love and good health! We do not know what the new year holds, but we know God is in control. Let us trust him to lead the way.

I had a nice two-week break from writing this column. It went so fast, though, that I can’t believe it is time for me to pen it again! I appreciated the girls giving me a break over the busy holiday season. I still have a few late Christmas cards to get out in the mail for family. I am wanting to enclose a letter before sending the cards. To me, a letter with a Christmas card is worth more even if it is late.

Tomorrow my husband, Joe, will take off from work to go with daughter Verena and me to a children’s hospital in Ann Arbor (Mich.) for an appointment for Verena. She is meeting with the surgeon. We aren’t sure if they will plan a surgery or not. The roads aren’t in the best shape and it keeps snowing, so we pray for a safe journey there and back. It’s over a two-hour drive and with the traffic, sometimes more.

We had a nice Christmas Eve with our children here all day. The married girls and family came home the evening before and spent the night here. We had a big breakfast brunch: fried eggs, potatoes, bacon, cheese, toast, butter, strawberry jam, hot peppers, coffee, vegetable juice, orange juice, milk, hot chocolate, oranges and cookies. We set our table for fourteen with Abigail in the high chair. Nephew Henry is still staying with us, so he had Christmas with our family.

We ate our brunch around 9:30, and then we washed dishes after that before opening our gifts. We had a lot of fun with a big ball of plastic wrap. Everyone stood around the table and took turns unwrapping the plastic wrap, which was filled with little gifts. The dice was passed, and the person rolling a six could unwrap the plastic and keep whatever gifts were falling out until the next person got a six. Then the dice was passed, on and on around the table, until the ball was all unwrapped and the “grand prize” was won at the end of the ball. It is an exciting game and included the whole family—except for Abigail, who just stared at us with big eyes trying to figure out what all the excitement was about!

After our gifts were opened, everyone brought out snacks, which was quite a variety of food. There were veggies and dip, cheeseball and crackers, bologna and cheese roll-ups, party mix, peanut butter balls, chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter fudge, chips and salsa, peanuts and M&M’s mixed together and probably more than I can’t remember now. We played games such as Aggravation, Phase 10, Life on the Farm, and Corn Hole all afternoon.

Time went too fast, though, and before we knew it, it was time for everyone to leave. Daughter Loretta went home with Dustin, as his family was having Christmas together on Christmas day. I made a soup for anyone who was still hungry enough in the evening to eat.

Fresh bacon for the Eicher family.

On December 26, Joe and our sons, plus Timothy, Mose, Dustin and Henry butchered our two hogs. I never had to go help, as they did it all in good time. Pon hoss was made in the big kettle outdoors. It was a cold morning of nine degrees when they started. Joe and the boys and Dustin ground the sausage and sliced the pork chops and ham the next day. Joe sure enjoyed using his new meat slicer. The bacon is sliced nice and thin as well. The meat slicer was Joe’s birthday gift. His birthday was December 22, and everyone came for grilled hot wings, deep fried jalapeño poppers, French fries and mushrooms—and of course, ice cream and cake. On butchering day, then, we had mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, corn, salad, French-fried tenderloin, peanut butter pies, cherry delight and cake.

Next week I will write about our day with my three sisters and the gift exchange we had on New Year’s Day at Jacob and Emma’s house.

Foremost on our minds is Jacob’s dad, who is also Joe’s uncle. He is in very bad shape, suffering from a stroke he had on New Year’s Day. We were all at Jacobs’ when they received the call. Jacob and Emma left that evening for Berne to visit with him, but there isn’t much hope for recovery. We pray and let it all in God’s hands.

God bless!

Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6–8 boneless pork chops

Mushroom gravy:

1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
4 ounces mushroom stems and pieces
2 cups milk

Combine the first four ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Reserve three tablespoons of mixture. Add pork chops one at a time and toss to coat. In a large skillet, sauté chops in butter until golden brown. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

To make the gravy, sauté the onions and green peppers in the same skillet. Drain the mushrooms. Add and sauté with the onions and peppers until tender. Stir in reserved flour mix; gradually add milk until blended. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2–3 minutes until thickened. Pour over chops. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 50–60 minutes. Serves 6–8.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Painting, packing, plus home-demonstration parties

A cold morning of 11 degrees. It’s freezing and as Abigail would say, “Brrrr – cold!”

Eleven days until Christmas day. I just can’t believe how much faster every year goes by. Life goes on. Changes are made, some good, some bad. The most important part in life is to always let God guide us into the unknown future. He already knows what lies before us. He knows all the changes 2018 will bring. And he alone can help us accept whatever those changes will be.

Our big change here at the Eicher homestead right now is packing Mose and Susan’s belongings and moving them five-and-one-half miles away to their new home.

Mose and Susan’s house is almost done. The flooring is being laid. It takes a little more time to remodel an old farm house but it’s looking better. Last Friday the girls and I helped paint the walls and ceilings. Mose helped us after he came home from work. My muscles were sore the next day. We gave both bedrooms, living room, and dining room two coats of paint. Mose had to go get more paint. New drywall always seems to absorb more paint. We used a “paint plus primer” so that was easier to have it all in one. We were almost done and saw we needed still more paint so nephew Henry went to town and bought more paint. That was a long day to get the painting all done.

Mose and I finished up around 7:30 p.m. I was tired but it felt good to have accomplished our goal. And what a surprise to come home with supper all made. Loretta’s special friend Dustin came to help us after he was off work. He also did some more jobs for Mose while he was there that needed to be done before they move in. Dustin and Loretta came home earlier and prepared supper on the grill which he brought in. They had steak, red potatoes and mushrooms on the grill along with cheese for our supper. It was all very delicious and very much appreciated after a hard day’s work! Lord willing, we plan to move Mose and Susan’s belongings on Saturday.

A beautiful finished omelet.

Tuesday evening we went to a presentation about stainless steel cookware. The man showed us how to cook without water or oil in pans. He prepared supper for the six couples that were there. We were served chicken, potatoes, green beans and carrots all cooked in his cookware. Also an apple cake was prepared on top of the stove in a covered skillet. He showed us ways to use the cookware to eat healthier. I saw a few of the men (including my husband Joe) sneak some salt on their food. I never add much salt to my food because Joe always adds salt without tasting it first. My children grew up not tasting much salt on their food and don’t mind potatoes without salt. We use mostly sea salt for our table salt. It was an interesting evening and I learned a few things. He also prepared an omelet for us without having to flip the omelet, but still fully cooking it.

Last night the girls and I made omelets for everyone for supper. We made a total of 14 omelets using my stainless steel frying pan I’ve had for years, but cooking them a little differently.

Prepped up to make omelets for the whole family.

Friday evening daughter Loretta is hosting a Tupperware wedding shower for Dustin’s brother’s wife, Lisa. We will serve supper to the guests after the party. Hopefully Lisa will have a successful party and pick out some free Tupperware for her new home. Jake and Lisa were married in May so a homemaker can always use some more containers, choppers, etc.

It helps to have everything organized and ready to go before you start.

Now I must get busy. We will wash laundry today. It is nice to see the sun come out because our battery packs were getting low storing solar. With our water running off solar we need a charged battery. We do have a back-up generator but if we don’t need to waste gas its better.

I wish all of you a blessed Christmas and God’s blessings in 2018 and always! Safe travels and good health to all!

Thank you for all your support and encouragement through 2017!

Pancake Pizza

3 cups cake batter
1 dozen eggs, scrambled
1 cup cheese
6 cups sausage gravy (a recipe for sausage gravy is in my new cookbook)
1 pound bacon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour batter into 9×13 greased and floured cake pan. Bake 15 minutes or until done. Remove from oven.

While pancake is baking, scramble eggs in a large skillet. Layer eggs and cheese on top of baked pancake. Make a sausage gravy and put on top of eggs and cheese. Fry and crumble the bacon. Sprinkle on top of the gravy. Serve with or without maple syrup.

 

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.