Tag Archives: Amish life

Spring memories while staying home

As I’m writing this on April 16, I remember that thirty-nine years ago today my oldest sibling, sister Leah, and Paul were joined in holy matrimony. I was in third grade at the time and remember seeing my mother cry as the bishop was uniting Paul and Leah in marriage. I could not understand why she was crying, but of course I now know the feeling of your firstborn getting married, moving out, and starting their own life. It’s not that we do not like to see them getting married, but the changes in life we accept and trust that God plays a role in their marriage.

Another memory I have is of the day after Paul and Leah’s Thursday wedding. It was Good Friday and I remember going out to the mailbox to get the mail. For some odd reason that always reminds me that we still get mail on Good Friday. In our community we have “fast and prayer day” on Good Friday, so it always seems like a Sunday. I want to wish Paul and Leah a Happy 39th Anniversary.

Last night after supper I signed a card for them, to put in today’s mail. I wrote a letter and before I knew it I had several pages written. We don’t often see each other with the 100 plus miles between us. Actually, with this pandemic going on I don’t see any of my siblings. It has been a different spring which I’m sure many people will remember in history. We have all been home three and a half weeks, and it looks like we have another three weeks until the “stay home” order is lifted.

Our church services have been canceled again, so Lord willing we will host Rule Church here on May 3 now.

It has been a challenge trying to keep the house clean with everyone home. And keeping son Kevin, 14, busy with his schoolwork is another challenge. With everyone around he doesn’t like to be seated at the table doing schoolwork. I cannot imagine how much of the day it takes out of mothers that have quite a few in school yet. Daughter Lovina helps Kevin with figuring out problems if he needs help.

We are having cold weather again and the ground was covered with snow for a while yesterday. Hopefully it won’t hurt the flowers and plants that are peeping out in the garden already.

Lovina’s husband Joe gets a head start on planting using a greenhouse, pictured, despite a spring cold snap. Photo provided.

My husband Joe has moved his plants in from the greenhouse. He has them on tables by the window in the dining room, instead of keeping heat in the greenhouse at night, until this cold spell is over.

I hung our laundry outside this week. Although everything dried well, my fingers were cold by the time I finished hanging up the clothes. I’m not used to it anymore, with lines in our heated basement.

I have a little more painting to do in the basement, in my can room, where I keep all my canned jars of food. I need more paint rollers and brushes, but that is shut off in stores now. It’s too bad, since now people would have time to do jobs like that. It would help keep them occupied.

I have had letters from readers asking for information on where they can order my newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes. My cookbooks can be ordered online from your favorite bookstore. I am really happy about how the new cookbook turned out. So many of our favorite recipes are in there, such as Breakfast Omelet Roll, which we had Sunday morning for breakfast. We like to top it with sausage gravy.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Breakfast Omelet Roll

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 eggs
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound bacon, fried and chopped
1 cup chopped ham
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

 

Additional fillings as desired, such as mushrooms, olives, smoked sausage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut parchment paper to line a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and milk. Whisk until smooth. Add flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, then add to cream cheese mixture. Pour mixture into parchment-lined pan and bake 30–35 minutes or until puffy and golden.

Remove pan from oven and spread mustard and half the shredded cheese onto the omelet. Add the bacon, ham, onion, bell paper, any additional fillings as desired, and most of the remaining cheese. Roll up in jelly-roll fashion, removing paper as you roll. Garnish with remaining cheese. Cut into slices to serve.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Fishing outings and home projects

We are all still home from the “stay home, stay safe” order due to the coronavirus.

We were to host church services this past Sunday but church services in our community were postponed until further notice. Maybe too often we take going to church for granted. It didn’t seem right to not meet with our fellow church members to worship God. We were home reading from the scriptures in the Bible, still honoring our Heavenly Father. I know that we have so much more family time while all this is going on.

My husband Joe and the boys head for the lake with our boat when they get too bored and need a way to relax. They came home tonight with their limit of bluegill which helps a lot on the grocery bill when they aren’t bringing in money at their jobs while things are closed.

With church being delayed we have time to get some more jobs done around here. We are painting our basement walls with Drylok paint that helps keep moisture out. It seems since we had a fire a few years ago, with all the water ending up in our basement, it has been more damp down there. Hopefully sealing off the walls with white paint will also brighten it up. It’s really looking good so far.

Joe has also set up a mini greenhouse and is growing some vegetable plants from seed. It is very small but it’s a start. He enjoys doing that. I told him when he started planting seeds in trays that I am not interested in that, so he said I don’t have to help. It’s kind of like a hobby to him but it will save us money to grow our own tomato, pepper, etc. plants. If he’s willing to do it, I won’t complain.

The girls made pizza tonight using the pizza dough recipe in my new cookbook, Amish Family Recipes. I will share the recipe at the end of this column.

This is now over a day later and I neglected to finish this column. Yesterday was spent painting in the basement again. I am sore from using muscles I don’t use every day. Our basement walls have a brick like finish, so it is taking much longer than I had anticipated. I love how it looks though, so it is worthwhile.

Joe and the boys took the boat out on a nearby lake again and came home with their limit of bluegill. The fish were filleted and bagged for the freezer. We will have quite a few meals of fish now. It warmed up to 75 degrees yesterday so they were a little sunburned. Joe put some chicken on the grill and that was our supper. We sat outside and ate it from the grill. It was nice but then started cooling off fast.

This morning it’s windy and 45 degrees and the temperature keeps dropping. Joe is going to put a little heat out in the greenhouse. We had let our coal stove go out since it has been so warm. We might have to start it up again, but Joe wants to clean it up first. It shouldn’t be too long before we can let it go out for the summer.

Easter will be on Sunday, reminding us of Jesus’ resurrection. Easter brings hope! Let us keep our faith! Until next week, stay healthy, be safe, and may God bless each of you!

 

My Favorite Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour

In a medium bowl, mix water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add oil, salt, and flour and mix well. Press dough into a greased 10×15-inch jellyroll pan. Layer on sauce and toppings of choice and bake at 350 degrees until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Spring salads and fun with grandchildren

I am writing this on the last day of March. Will April bring us nice days? We will accept what we get. My husband Joe planted peas and radishes in the garden so we will wait and see if it grows garden goodies. It sounds so good.

We had our first meal of dandelion salad this spring. Yummy! With steamed potatoes and fresh grilled ham it was a good meal. I was surprised at how many dandelion greens I could find already.

Rhubarb is coming up and soon asparagus will be popping through the soil. Joe also started some seeds in trays and hopes they will do well to plant in our garden once it warms up.

Everyone is still at home due to the coronavirus. Son Benjamin, 20, drove our horse and buggy to town to the bank and then also picked up a few groceries. So many items are limited but we have managed so far. With everyone being home a lot of neglected jobs are getting done. It does take a little more meal planning with everyone being home all day long.

The boys raked our yard and power washed our paved driveway. Everything looks so fresh and clean. I love to admire the fresh look of everything at the beginning of spring. The grass is getting greener each day. We also had a thunder storm one evening. Another sure sign that spring is here.

Son Kevin, 14, is still doing his school work here at home. Daughter Lovina has been tutoring him when he needs help. He says he wishes he could be at school. This is his last year of school. I never thought something like this would happen, which I’m sure everyone feels right now.

This month, sixteen years ago, we made the move from Indiana to Michigan. We brought our horses Diamond and Itty Bit along. Six days after we were here Itty Bit had a foal, and we named her Ginger. We don’t have Diamond and Itty Bit anymore but it is hard to believe Ginger is 16.

At the time our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was only nine. She turned 10 that June. Joseph was the youngest child until Lovina was born in May. Now Elizabeth is a Mother to three sweet little children. Susan was eight years old and now has two sweet little children of her own.

We have so much fun with our grandchildren. Each one is special to us. Abigail, 3, picked some flowers for me one day and I put them in a little cup of water. She looked so proud that I liked my flowers. I am not even sure if they are flowers or some kind of weed, but it’s the thought that counts. My daughters laughed about it, saying they wonder if I actually kept their “flowers” that long. It does almost seem like you take more time for your grandchildren. Maybe it’s because you don’t have to be a parent to them and you still get a good night’s sleep when they go home. Whatever it is, I love my children just as much and pray each day that they will lead a life with God.

May each one of you stay safe and healthy. God will provide if we trust in him. We know God doesn’t make mistakes so there is a reason for this pandemic although we do not understand it at the moment. Trust and believe and have faith. God bless and good night to all!

 

Dandelion Sour Cream Salad
4 packed cups young dandelion greens
4 hard-boiled eggs, diced

Sour cream dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
salt

Put the eggs and dandelion greens in a large bowl and pour the dressing over them.

Dressing: Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, milk, and salt to taste in a quart jar. Shake until smooth. Any unused dressing can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Variation: Substitute in season fresh-from-the-garden lettuce and endive for the dandelion greens.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Gardening and games at home

Today was such a beautiful sunny day with the temperature around 60 degrees. Everyone is home due to the coronavirus precautions. It seems so different to not set an alarm. Of course, we sleep later since no one is leaving home.

The boys took advantage of the nice day and hauled a lot of manure out to the fields. My husband Joe tilled up both gardens. The soil looks so nice and black. We also did a lot of raking outside such as flower beds beside the buildings, etc.

We would like to make one of our gardens into raised garden beds to plant vegetables. We thought this would be a way our children with handicaps could help with the gardening. They could sit in the mobility scooter and plant, pick, or weed the vegetables. With Joe and I also getting older it would be nice to not bend down to weed and harvest the vegetables.

We would like to use something affordable, but we are not sure what to use. I know some use wood but are bothered with lots of ants and bugs in the plants. We would like to use vinyl boards, but our budget couldn’t afford to that. It would last a lifetime though. Joe measured that we would need 16-foot rows and would make them 4 feet wide and two and a half feet deep. To fill our one garden we would need eight of these. Maybe we will figure something out before planting season. It would work out so well if we could somehow make it work. I am wondering if any of you readers have suggestions about what to use. Joe says he doesn’t want to have to mow under them and wants something neat in appearance. We will see, but we would appreciate any suggestions from you.

I hope to go searching for dandelion greens tomorrow. My sisters Susan and Verena found enough already to make a meal of them. Yum! Looking forward to that!

One night our family sat around the table after we ate supper looking in Country and Country Extra magazines searching for the needles they hide in there. It was a challenge to see who would find it first. The girls also had tricks for us to do with picking a chair up somehow with our head touching the wall bent halfway down. We seem to find enough to entertain us while everyone is home. Some things seem silly but as a family we need to live, laugh, and love!

Most of all, let us read from our Bibles for encouragement and pray that God will be with us during this time of trial. It’s something most people have never seen. Our hearts and prayers go to those affected by the virus. God is in control even though the road ahead looks overwhelming. I try not to think about our income not coming in like so many others also are experiencing. I am thankful for the meat in our freezers and all the vegetables we canned last year from our garden. The fruits of our labor are worth all the hard work put in the gardens. Not everyone has a garden so it’s not as easy. Our biggest challenge is getting enough supply of toilet tissue to have on hand. Every time we make a trip into town, which is sometimes longer than a week apart, the shelves are empty already.

Let us be considerate of others. Stay healthy and safe everyone. This too shall pass.

Daughter Elizabeth says she is trying out recipes from my new cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, published by Herald Press. She loves making new dishes and trying different recipes. In my cookbook I try to stay with recipes that are simple and made with ingredients you have in your kitchen. You can find the cookbook online from various booksellers.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Potato Chowder

4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup grated carrot
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley
4 chicken bouillon cubes
6 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
Optional: shredded cheese

In a large kettle, combine potatoes, onion, carrots, salt, pepper, parsley, and bouillon. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables and cook until tender. Do not drain. In a separate pan, scald milk until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan. With a wire whisk, mix butter and flour with 1-1/2 cup scalded milk. Add remaining milk to vegetables, then stir in thickened milk mixture until blended. Simmer a few minutes on low heat. Yield: 8-10 servings.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Morning Maple Muffins from the new Lovina Eicher cookbook

 It’s a rainy Wednesday evening here in Michigan. Supper is over and the girls are washing dishes. I decided to sit here at the kitchen table and get started on this column. The girls are talking to each other, so my mind wanders over to them, making the task of writing a little difficult. The boys are taking their showers and things are slowing down for the day here at the Eicher farm.

The girls made hamburger potato skillet casserole for our supper. It is made with hamburger, onions, potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, and Colby cheese, layered in a skillet.

Son Kevin, 14, has been having school here at home this week due to school doors closing because of the coronavirus. Kevin’s teacher brings him his work whenever he needs some more. Kevin goes to a small public school of around 300 students in K-12 that is located about three miles from here. The Amish schools have all closed their doors as well here in Michigan.

It is hard to get groceries that are needed when the shelves are emptying fast. We have plenty of meat in the freezer and canned goods, but items such as toilet and Kleenex tissues were off the shelves. I am not one to stock up on such items, as they are usually available in the stores. Once in a while when they go on sale, I buy a few more packs than needed. Of course, with eight people in the house, it takes quite a bit already.

The first store I went to was out of toilet tissue and Kleenex. The second store had a few six-roll packs of toilet tissue left, which of course I took, but they were out of Kleenex and all the other brands except the very small purse size packs. I took some, as not everyone’s nose is okay with paper towels. Yes, fortunately, I was able to get paper towels. I know a lot of people use hankies, but I never did just because I really think it’s carrying germs to use it over and over.

I also remember well when I used cloth diapers. I was one of the mothers that, if our paycheck allowed it, added disposable diapers to our grocery list. Of course, with my children being closer in age and having more than one child in diapers, that wasn’t always possible.

I was telling our children how well I remember going to church as a little girl and, at some places, there wasn’t any toilet tissue in their outhouses—only newspaper and magazines. They were amazed that one would even consider using that. Yes, times have changed and life goes on but one thing will never change and that is our almighty God! Let us not fear but keep our trust in Him. He will take care of us in times of need. We do want to use common sense though with this virus. I pray all of you will stay healthy and safe. God will provide if we put our full trust in Him.

Lovina’s sons-in-law Tim and Mose have been busy tapping Maple trees for syrup. They use bags now to collect the sap instead of buckets.
Cooking maple syrup.
Photo provided.

Meanwhile, our sons-in-law Tim and Mose have cooked a lot of sap into maple syrup from the trees in the woods beside Tim and Elizabeth’s house. A reader asked if the bags they use are reusable; they are not. They gather the sap with the horse and wagon, and the bags are emptied into the buckets on the wagon, then taken to the cooker to cook down, which takes hours and hours.

I was very excited to receive my brand new cookbook. The pages are so crisp and new. I’m looking back at all the hard work we put into it, and now the finished product. I will share a recipe from the book that uses maple syrup.

God bless!

 

Morning Maple Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl combine milk, melted butter, maple syrup, sour cream, beaten egg, and vanilla. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

Topping: Combine flour, sugar, chopped nuts, and cinnamon; cut in cold butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before placing muffins on wire rack.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Spring Cleaning and Fresh Breezes

Last week my sisters Verena and Susan did a good job cleaning the windows in the upstairs bedrooms. We like to take the screens out and bring them to the basement to spray off with soap and hot water. The summer dust accumulates on them.

Just before lunch time Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty from Geneva, Indiana, drove in. They stayed for lunch and visited with all of us. I want to wish them a happy 50th wedding anniversary on March 14. Not everyone gets to see their 50th anniversary anymore, so I think that’s special!

We also washed laundry that day and with the temperature in the 50’s and the sun shining, we hung everything outside. We washed the curtains from the bedrooms upstairs while the windows were getting cleaned. All the laundry was dry, folded, and put away again, which is a sure sign spring is not too far away. The curtains were ironed and hung back on the sparkling windows.

Along with spring cleaning in preparation for hosting church services, Lovina and daughters did many loads of laundry this week and took advantage of the sunshine and warmer temperatures to hang it outside to dry. Photo Credit: D. Lucas Landis

Monday, daughter Susan and children and daughter Verena drove the five miles to the doctor’s office to have 7 1/2-month-old Ryan checked out. He had been running a temperature and was very fussy so Susan stayed home from church with him. The doctor says he had inner ear infection and gave him an antibiotic and ear drops. I had Susan bring her laundry here, and daughter Loretta and I washed it while they were in town. We washed ours too, so we put through quite a few loads of laundry. I hung most of it outside and it dried fast in the wind. It’s always harder to hang clothes on the lines on windy days, but they dry fast.

Wednesdays are usually the day our married daughters Elizabeth and Susan come home for the day along with our five sweet grandchildren. Yesterday Elizabeth and Susan washed off the walls and ceiling in the master bedroom, and also cleaned the windows and furniture. It was relaxing to go to bed last night with our bedroom so refreshed. The master bathroom still needs to be cleaned but that won’t take long for me to do one day.

My other daughters were baking cookies and washing dishes, rocking babies, etc. They made chocolate crinkle cookies. This recipe will be in my new cookbook coming out next month. They also made ranger cookies, which are an oatmeal cookie. They wanted to make outrageous cookies but we were out of chocolate chips. Granddaughters Abigail, 3, and Jennifer, 2, love when their aunts let them help mix and bake the cookies. Some turned out very small because the little girls were helping, but they enjoyed it. Ryan is back to smiling and chattering and is acting so much better than a few days ago.

I made a list of everything we hope to accomplish in cleaning before we host church services in April. It’s not that we can’t host the services if this doesn’t get done, but I like to set a goal and the list helps to get everything done. How refreshing once the house has a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. Plans are for me to do quite a few book signings after my new cookbook is out. I know I will relax much better leaving and knowing my house is cleaned for the summer months ahead. The girls are always happy to mark things off my list. They will also be glad when we are done.

This month 16 years ago my husband Joe and I and our six children made the move here to our home in Michigan from our home in Indiana. Eight weeks later we were blessed with our seventh child, Lovina. She came earlier than expected and I had her by emergency c-section and spent a week in the hospital. Sixteen months later we added another son, Kevin, to our family. Sixteen years went by so fast! Time does not stand still.

I want to get to answering my reader mail today. I am so sorry for the delay in answering but it’s so easy to put off for another day, week, etc. God bless!

 

Chicken ’n Rice Casserole
1 cup cooked chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup cooked rice
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 hard-boiled eggs

Mix together all the ingredients and put in a two-quart casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs, crushed crackers or tortilla chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO 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.

Welcoming the new year and a new granddaughter

This is the final day of 2019. A new year lies before us. What does it hold in store for you and me? Only God knows the answer. May He be our guide as we enter the new year in 2020. He has bestowed so many blessings upon us. Let us be forever thankful!

We awoke this morning to a world of white. The ground is covered in snow and it is still snowing and blowing outside. After some mild weather during the Christmas holiday, we are now getting some real winter weather. We had days with temperatures in the 60s, but we like winter weather when it’s winter. We cannot control the weather, so we accept what we are given.

Now I must announce the birth of our fifth grandchild. Allison Lovina was welcomed to our world with much love. She was born to daughter Elizabeth and Tim, weighing 6 pounds 1 ounce, 18 1/2 inches long, on December 27, 2019 at 1:16 p.m. Daughter Elizabeth had preeclampsia, so a C-section was scheduled three weeks earlier to prevent complications. We are thankful mother and baby are doing fine. This brought us much more excitement the week of Christmas than we expected. She’s a precious little sweetie and has won our hearts already. She joins Abigail Elizabeth, 3, and Timothy Josiah, 1. Of course Abigail already rocks her and sings to her. T.J. on the other hand isn’t too happy to share Allison with his mommy.

Abigail and T.J. stayed here for a few days while Tim and Elizabeth were at the hospital. I went up with them to be there when the baby was born. Tim and I enjoyed the newborn while Elizabeth recovered from surgery. Later my husband Joe and daughters Verena and Lovina brought the children to the hospital to meet their little sister. I went back home with them afterward. The children did pretty good staying with us, although nighttime was a little hard for T.J. He is a busybody and likes to wake up early. He discovers everything and tries to climb on anything he can. He would tell me he wants to eat and would point at the highchair. So sweet!

Daughters Verena and Lovina are helping out with the children and household duties at Tim and Elizabeth’s house. I am sure the children are getting plenty of care and hugs from their aunts. Tim is off work this week so it’s a nice time to enjoy the new addition to their home.

When baby Allison was discharged, she weighed 5 pounds 11 ounces, but the doctor said it’s normal for babies to lose a little weight after birth. Today Tim and Elizabeth took baby Allison to their pediatrician for a checkup.

The day after Christmas was a full day cutting up our beef. By the end of the day the meat was ground into hamburger and almost 400 hamburger patties were made, bagged, and frozen. Steaks were also sliced, bagged, and frozen. Mose and Susan were given a vacuum sealer for Christmas, so we put that to use. We feel so thankful that we could fill the freezer for the year ahead. My husband Joe used the new dehydrator he got for his birthday and has made lots of deer jerky already.

Our Christmas Day was spent at home. Mose and Susan and children and Loretta’s special friend Dustin were our supper guests. Before supper the girls and I and Jennifer and Ryan walked over to my sisters Verena and Susan’s house for a while to wish them a Merry Christmas. It was a nice spring-like day, so unlike other years at Christmas. The new year looks like it will start cold and snowy.

Happy 2020 to all and God bless!

 

Simple One Dish Meal

2 pounds ground beef
4–6 cups potatoes, diced
1–2 quarts corn
1 tablespoon salt
seasoning to taste

Brown ground beef in a large skillet and remove to a separate bowl. Add potatoes and 1/2 cup water to the skillet and cover. Cook until potatoes are slightly tender. Add browned ground beef, corn, and salt. Season to taste.

Optional: add any variation of garlic, onion, peppers, black beans, sweet potatoes, buttercup or butternut squash, cubed.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO 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.

 

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies on a winter day

Diary of November 20, 2019

Lovina’s family enjoys the heat from their coal stove on these fall days with cooler temperatures. Photo: provided

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings! I pack my husband Joe and son Benjamin’s lunches for work. Joe goes to the basement to add coal to the stove. Benjamin takes care of adding coal to the stove in the pole barn (we heat one side somewhat because of the battery packs for the solar panels). It’s not as warm out there as in the house, but it keeps the pipes from freezing.

3:30 a.m. Joe and Benjamin leave for work. I take a little nap in my recliner.

4:15 a.m. Son Joseph gets up and goes to the barn to feed the animals. I pack his lunch and make him a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. He works outside most days, so something warm to eat is good, I think.

4:45 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. They have an hour or more to get to their job site, so they go earlier. I decide to work on a puzzle I received from daughter Elizabeth and Tim. It’s a 1000 piece puzzle and has a red barn, silo, and a pasture with horses in it. I started this puzzle Sunday afternoon.

6:00 a.m. I wake up son Kevin to get ready for the school bus. The school serves breakfast, so he eats at school.

6:45 a.m. Kevin leaves for school. I get some bills ready for the mail, then take a shower and relax in my recliner for a while. Of course, I doze off. It’s been five weeks since my surgery and I get tired easily, it seems.

8:30 a.m. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children arrive. Susan picked up Elizabeth and children with their horse and buggy. They bring in the little ones, and the girls and I take their coats, scarves, etc. off and, of course, hug the little sweeties. Elizabeth and Susan unhitch the horse and put him in the horse stall in the barn with hay for the day. Everyone gets warmed up from the drive over. The covered buggy makes the drive a lot warmer than when I used to go to my mother for the day with an open buggy.

9:15 a.m. The girls have breakfast ready for everyone. On the menu are scrambled eggs, ham, and toast. Also, rhubarb juice and hot chocolate.

10:00 a.m. Daughter Susan and I need to go to the bank today, so everyone else washes the dishes and keeps watch on the little ones until we’re back.

11:45 a.m. Susan and I are back. The girls are baking chocolate chip cookies and Elizabeth is sewing a dress for Abigail. Abigail needs more dresses, so Elizabeth decided to sew one while she’s here.

1:00 p.m. Lunch is potato soup, fried chicken, ice cream, and cookies fresh from the oven. After lunch I simply enjoy time with all my sweet grandchildren. Abigail is amazed at the puzzle and says it looks pretty.

It is so cute to see Abigail, 3, Jennifer, 22 months, and T.J., 11 months, playing church. They all have books and dolls in their hands and are sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, singing at the top of their voices. So precious!

3:30 p.m. Kevin is home from school. Abigail follows him around asking questions. She likes her Uncle Kevin and enjoys it when he entertains her.

4:00 p.m. Joseph is home from work and gets the horse hitched to the buggy for the girls to leave for home. It takes a while to get all the children bundled up and out to the buggy. Baby Ryan is cooing and smiling even though he’s bundled up. A reader sent Susan a bunting and it helps to keep his feet warm. Susan appreciated all the gifts sent to them for Baby Ryan.

4:30 p.m. Joe and Benjamin are home. Joe and the boys do the chores, which ends up taking a while. It’s cloudy, so our generator needs to charge our solar battery. The generator doesn’t want to stay running, so they work on it but can’t figure out the problem. We borrow my sisters Verena and Susan’s generator for the night. We usually don’t need to run a generator unless we have quite a few cloudy days—then the battery pack needs to be charged up again. Verena and Susan send leftovers from their supper with the boys. Our supper is mashed potato casserole, mac and cheese, and baked and fried chicken. With our leftovers and theirs, it was an easy supper.

9:30 p.m. Bedtime, finally!

This week I’ll share the outrageous chocolate chip cookie recipe for those of you that don’t have it. It’s a favorite of ours! God’s blessings to all!

 

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups (4 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and mix with the sugars, peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs. Stir until creamy and smooth. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Mix the dough until thoroughly blended. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10–15 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO 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.

 

Winter Weather and Chocolate Pecan Caramels

The leaves are not all off our trees yet. We didn’t get around to raking up the ones on the ground, either. “Old Man Winter” arrived before we were prepared. In the last few days it snowed and snowed. I would guess that we received about eight more inches of snow. This morning the temperature was five degrees. Burr! Our coal is burning away faster than we want it to. It’s always a hard time of year, it seems, but God will provide!

We feel blessed that my husband Joe has found a steady job now. It’s been a hard seven months to not have steady work. I really hope and pray that this will work for him. I didn’t even complain about having to set an alarm for 3 a.m. once again. Son-in-law Mose and son Benjamin have also started at the same factory. They build horse trailers, so it’s a different line of work than RVs. Joe and Benjamin leave at 3:30 a.m., and Joseph has been leaving at 5 a.m. Joseph does the morning chores in the barn and Joe and Benjamin refuel the coal stoves before leaving.

My surgery was four weeks ago, so I am looking forward to getting the okay from the doctor to be allowed to do my normal work.

Joseph has to make sure he dresses warmly enough to work outside in this weather. Yesterday the lady they were working for brought them warm gloves and some treats. She told them that she will serve them pizza today. It is a treat to have something warm served when they are working in the cold.

Two vehicles slid into the ditch close by our house in the last few days. Both times the wrecker was needed to pull them out. The newspaper stated that there were 32 slide offs in our county in one day. The roads are slippery, so I hope everyone drives safe!

The world looks beautiful outside, though, with the tree branches covered with snow. Our solar panels are also covered with snow, which is a bad thing for us. The battery can’t charge as well until the sun melts the snow off the panels. The metal roof would be too dangerous to go up on to wipe off the snow. Joe started our generator last night to charge the battery. Maybe we will get some warmer temperatures in the next few days.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan plan to come home tomorrow. They usually come home on Wednesdays, but it was too cold this morning. I look forward to seeing all my grandchildren again.

Happy 60th anniversary to Joe’s aunt MaryAnn and uncle Joe. We were invited recently to their open house. I didn’t feel up to traveling that far, and it was the same day as church services at sister Emma and Jacob’s. We were sorry we couldn’t attend. MaryAnn is a sister to Joe’s mother Salome (she passed away at age 54). I want to write a letter and send a card to Joe and MaryAnn. They always remember to send cards to us when we have misfortunes. Joe’s family lived beside Joe and MaryAnn until Joe was 16 years old, so he has many fond memories of them.

Our sympathy goes to my good friend Ruth and her husband Jim and family. Jim’s father passed away this week at age 90. Although it’s hard to see a parent suffer, it hurts to let go. May God help Jim’s 89-year-old mother through this trial in life. Our sympathy also to the extended family.

God’s blessings to all! Try these chocolate pecan caramels for your Christmas gatherings with friends and family this holiday season.

Chocolate Pecan Caramels

1 tbsp plus 1 cup softened butter (no substitutes), divided
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil; butter the foil with 1 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with pecans and chocolate chips; set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 1 cup butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm-ball stage). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan (do not scrape saucepan). Cool completely before cutting. Yield: about 2 ½ lbs. or 6 ¾ dozen.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO 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.

 

First snow, Sunday rest, and a family celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s blessings to all!

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

 

Cheese Broccoli Soup

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

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

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.