Tag Archives: Amish life

A grandmother’s wonderful news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Homemade Vegetable Juice

Makes 14 quarts

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

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

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

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

The garden’s bounty begins

We are having great weather this week. It cools down at night for making sleeping comfortable. Very pleasant days so far. Mornings are actually chilly, with temperatures in the upper 50s. It sure beats the heat from last week.

Yesterday we canned pickles. Cucumbers and dill from the garden make such good pickles. Today we plan to can hot peppers. We are also enjoying zucchini, green peppers, and tomatoes from the garden. Also a few meals of potatoes. Sweet corn is almost ready. I love this time of year. It makes meal planning so much easier.

Yesterday was son Joseph’s 17th birthday. Joseph was eight weeks old when my dear mother passed away. I started penning this column then, taking over for my mother. She had written the column for 11 years before she passed away. With my 17 years of writing it makes 28 years of columns altogether. I like reading back through the columns, as it’s like a diary for me. I was 19 years old when Mother started penning the column. She wrote about our wedding and the births of her first six children. We will always have fond memories of her. She is still greatly missed! She did a wonderful job along with my father of raising a family of eight children. Now Joe and I have eight children also. I hope we can raise our children also teaching them the true values in life and always having God as our guide.

Our family was all here last night for supper. We had a big cake in honor of our three children who have July birthdays. Serving cake for each one separate makes too much cake in a few weeks’ time, so we often have the cake on one of their birthdays. Also on the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, cucumber salad, grilled steak, banana peppers, cheese, and ice cream. Daughter Elizabeth also brought zucchini bars.

Elizabeth and children Abigail and baby T.J. and Susan and her daughter Jennifer came for a brunch in the forenoon. Our brunch was pancakes, sausage, and eggs. The girls and Abigail went for a walk to our neighbors while Jennifer and T.J. took naps. They delivered a casserole I made for our neighbors Melvin and Rebecca who have a new little one, and they got to see the new addition. Little Zachary is two and a half weeks old now.

T.J. is seven months old and gets around fast in the walker. He also likes to sit on the floor with toys. He sure is active and always smiling.

Son Benjamin’s place of work (the RV factory) has next week off due to work being slow again. This is also where daughter Loretta’s special friend Dustin works. (A reader asked if I mean boyfriend when I say special friend, and yes, that is what I mean. Just thought I would clarify that.)

Son Kevin is keeping my hanging flowers watered on the front porch. I just reminded him that they are looking a little dry. Most times he remembers to water them when he fills the stock tanks up for the animals with the hose. My flowers do much better when someone else waters them. Although I am wondering if anyone would know if softener salt in the water could affect plants. When I watered the plants I always used water from the kitchen sink. Kevin and my husband Joe always use water from the water hydrant that doesn’t have a softener hooked up to it. I keep telling myself it was the water that never let my flowers do well for me, but maybe they just died of thirst. Smile!

I want to bring this to a close wishing you all God’s blessings! I will share a recipe for zucchini nut chip cookies for those of you who have plenty of zucchini to use up.

 

Zucchini Nut Chip Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla till creamy. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and zucchini. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375°F for 8–10 minutes.

Notes: May use carrots or sweet potatoes instead of zucchini. A good way to get some veggies into little ones.

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

Putting up freezer jam, Virginia visitors, and a young overnight guest

Another hot week in July! Last week we had over an inch of rain but it didn’t cool off much.

Today son Kevin had a therapy appointment so I took him to town. With the heat I didn’t want to take the horse and buggy. Our friend Beth took us.

The photo caption should read: Using no-cook pectin allows freezer jam to be prepared without any cooking–an especially welcome option on hot July days.

We put 12 quarts of strawberries into freezer jam. Still need to get more, as we all love strawberry jam. I use the no-cook fruit pectin so there isn’t any cooking involved.

When we were almost done our friends Ray and Lucille from Virginia stopped by for a visit. We knew they would be stopping by so we were trying to have the jam done before they came. We still had some left to do and the women pitched in to help us. Ray and Lucille brought three other couples along. They are Old Order Mennonites, and it’s always interesting to compare our customs and communities. We served them popcorn, peanut butter swirl bars, and fresh lemonade and were rewarded with gifts from Ray and Lucille. The cheese and peaches were much appreciated. They milk cows and their milk goes to this cheese company. We sure will enjoy it. As always, we enjoyed the visit from them.

On Sunday, son Benjamin had his 20th birthday. Our family gathered at daughter Susan and Mose’s for a birthday supper for Benjamin. With the evening being hot we ate outside on the newly built deck. The deck and ramp were built one day by my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, sons-in-law Mose and Timothy, and Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin. They did some fast, good work. The ramp makes it so nice for the girls and Kevin to use instead of steps. Little Jennifer loves to run up and down the ramp.

Our 26th anniversary was on Monday, July 15. We kept the three grandchildren here in the evening while Tim and Elizabeth and Mose and Susan ran some errands. It’s always fun to have them here.

Tim and Elizabeth came for supper tonight. With it being so hot the girls made supper out on the grill, which helped keep the house cooler. Tim and Elizabeth will leave two-year-old Abigail here for the night. She is excited to stay and has her little overnight bag. She showed me her little toothbrush. She wants to sleep upstairs with the girls. They are much more fun to her than Grandma—smile!

Tomorrow is Tim’s 94-year-old grandmother’s funeral. She leaves to mourn her children, 67 grandchildren, 255 great-grandchildren, and 30 great-great-grandchildren, if I have it correct. A lot of the family is in this community, so the funeral will be largely attended, I’m sure. It sounds like it will be another hot, humid day. Tim and Elizabeth decided to leave Abigail here instead of taking her to the funeral. It was a little hard for them to leave without Abigail, but she never changed her mind and wanted to stay the night. She told Elizabeth to not be sad, “because you still have baby T.J. to hug.” T.J. is seven months old today and is such a lively, happy baby.

We received our new Michigan Amish Directory, which is so interesting to look through. The directory is renewed every four years. Michigan now has 47 Amish communities, with two being in the Upper Peninsula. It is always interesting to look through the updated information. It also says in these 47 communities that there are a total of 114 church districts and 2,673 households. In 1975 there were three Amish communities in Michigan and six church districts and 127 households.

It is later in the evening now. Abigail brushed her teeth with daughter Verena and went up to bed. She is settling down well and happy to stay all night here. I am ready to call it a day as well.

Good night to all, and God bless!

 

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup water, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin
1 quart (4 cups) stemmed and sliced strawberries
1 (9-inch) baked pie shell
Whipped cream or topping

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup water with the cornstarch. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and slowly add the cornstarch mixture. Cook until clear. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Allow to cool. Add sliced strawberries. Mix to coat. Pour into baked pie shell, then add whipped topping.

Note: Peach pie can be made in this same way. Substitute peach gelatin and 4 cups sliced peaches.

 

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

Apple-butter-sweet memories in times of loss

It’s a beautiful Tuesday morning with a lot of sunshine. How we treasure mornings and days like this. We didn’t wash laundry yesterday due to the dreary, rainy weather. Now today we were blessed with a nice day to dry the laundry. This afternoon I will take son Kevin for his therapy appointment and get some groceries while I’m in town.

Last week Joe’s Uncle Phillip was laid to rest, and now we receive the sad news of another family member that passed away. My Aunt Lizzie, age 85, died yesterday forenoon, and her funeral will be held on Thursday in Bryant, Indiana.

Aunt Lizzie was my mother’s only brother Chris’s wife. Uncle Chris and her son Danny preceded her in death. She leaves to mourn nine more children, 73 grandchildren, and 99 great-grandchildren.

I have so many memories of Uncle Chris, Aunt Lizzie, and family from my younger years. We would help each other with hog butchering, putting up hay, and so on. And every year we would make gallons and gallons of apple cider at Uncle Chris’s house. The evening before we would all gather around their big kitchen table and peel apples for apple butter day the next day. Uncle Chris would cook down the apples in his big outdoor copper kettle, making the perfect-tasting apple butter! The apple butter would be processed into canning jars, and everyone took their share home. In my growing-up years we always had a dish of apple butter on the table. Apple butter sandwiches were also a snack we would have when coming home from school hungry.

It takes many hands to schnitz—peel, core, and slice—enough apples for apple butter. Apples, cider, and sugar are traditionally cooked in a kettle over a fire for many hours until the mixture is reduced to a thick, creamy consistency. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

Another fond memory I have of Uncle Chris and Aunt Lizzie is driving with them to church with their team of horses and their big bobsled. They would come driving in on a cold snowy Sunday morning on their way to church and take our family along. Uncle Chris would be standing in the front driving the team. He would always wear a long black wool overcoat in the winter. Bales of straw were stacked on either side of the bobsled where my mother, dad, Aunt Lizzie, and all of us children snuggled under big buggy robes to keep us warm.

After Joe and I were married, Uncle Chris and Aunt Lizzie would stop in for a short visit if they were driving by. Aunt Lizzie was always more quiet but always friendly. She will be missed by many. Our sympathy goes to the family. How well I know what they are going through to be without parents. God helps us through these trials of life.

My sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma and Jacob, brother Albert and Sarah, and Joe and I have plans to all drive together to go to the funeral. I am so glad that we have others to go along with us so the cost isn’t so much. Traveling to Ohio alone was quite expensive, but we want to attend the funerals if we can to show our support. God will bless us in another way if we do a good deed.

We enjoyed helping to package 7,000 gift/care packages last week for the Christmas Behind Bars program. For over three hours we filled bags. The care packages usually include Bibles, devotional books, hygiene items, and snack items. After the bags were filled, they were all loaded into a semi-trailer ready to travel south to a prison. If I remember right, I think they said Alabama. It was a good experience for Joe and I and the children. So often we get busy with our own lives and don’t take time to reach out to others.

Apples destined to be cooked down into apple butter—the perfect sandwich spread for an afternoon snack. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

This week I am sharing the recipe for cider apple butter that is in my mother’s words, so it might not be a recipe you will make in that amount, but for sentimental reasons I felt led to share it with you readers. God bless!

Cider Apple Butter

12 gallons schnitz apples*
20 gallons cider
12 pounds sugar

Makes 9 gallons apple butter. It takes 2 bushels of apples to schnitz the 12 gallons. Greens are good for cooking but McIntosh apples seem to cook up better.

*Schnitz refers to peeling, coring, and slicing apples.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless and stay safe!

Potato Bars

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

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

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

 

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