Tag Archives: Amish life

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.

Family members of all ages gather for fall cleanup and share a good meal

The leaves have changed color at Lovina’s home as October ends. Read more about the family’s fall cleanup in today’s column. Photo Credit: D. Lucas Landis / ©MennoMedia

 The last day of October has arrived already. To some today is Halloween, but we don’t celebrate it so for us it’s just another day.

Son Joseph, 17, just left for work a few minutes ago. It will soon be time to wake son Kevin, 14, to get ready for school. Since my surgery Joseph has been packing his lunch and making his own breakfast. So far, his alarm clock always wakes him up. Son Benjamin, 20, always gets up and packs his own lunch, but he’s not working this week. It’s another week of no work at the RV factory. I think its good for the boys to get used to waking up with their own alarm clocks and being responsible to get up on their own.

Benjamin has been cleaning up outside this week and cleaning out the pole barn on both sides. It’s looking pretty good. It’s nice to have all that done before the snow flies. We have lots of leaves that need to be raked, but it has been rainy the last few days, so they are really wet now.

Yesterday the girls and I went to sister Emma and her husband Jacob’s house to assist them in preparing for church services they host on Sunday. Of course I just went along to “sit and do nothing” but I could help keep the children entertained. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their little ones were also there helping. Emma’s two married daughters, Elizabeth and Emma, and her nine-month-old daughter Jessica were also there. I told sister Emma that three-and-a-half years ago there weren’t any little children when we got together, and now there’s five between the ages of three months and three years.

Our friend Beth took us to and from Jacob’s with her minivan since I didn’t want to ride in the buggy yet. My surgery was only two weeks ago, so I want to be careful.

Daughter Verena, 21, made a casserole the night before to take along so Emma wouldn’t have to make lunch. Daughter Elizabeth made a chocolate cake and daughter Susan made apple goodie (which is similar to apple crisp). Lunch was easy and didn’t take up anyone’s time to prepare, so they could all keep cleaning. They cleaned windows, cabinets, and furniture, etc.

Jacob and Emma’s son Steven, 12, still has both of his legs and feet in a cast. He had the same surgery son Kevin had earlier this year. It’s heel lengthening surgery due to their muscular dystrophy. The county bus takes Steven to and from school. They have a van lift so he can stay in the wheelchair.

On Tuesday we had a visit from Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty. It’s hard to believe Uncle Joe is 77 already. He gets around good for his age. Betty said he raked all their leaves. It’s a blessing to have good health at that age. Joe is one of my dad’s brothers. Dad’s oldest brother, Albert Jr, is 90, then William (Bill), 81 and Menno, 80. His brother Robert (Bob) will be 79 soon. Dad’s two youngest brothers are Melvin, 74, and Amos, 72. They are always so active that I really didn’t realize that they are that old already. There is never a dull moment when the brothers get together. It always makes memories of dad surface when I see my uncles. Dad came from a family of 13 children. Three boys and three girls have passed away and are greatly missed when the others all get together.

I will share a recipe for sour cream apple squares since it’s apple season.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Sour Cream Apple Squares

2 cups flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups peeled and diced apples
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and butter. Mix until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Press 2 3/4 cups crumbs into ungreased 9×13-inch pan. To remaining mixture add cinnamon, soda, salt, sour cream, vanilla, and egg. Blend well. Stir in apples. Spoon evenly over base. Bake 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into 12-15 squares. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

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.

Wedding and birthday celebrations, and a visit to the Ark Encounter

We are having nice weather, but temperatures are in the 40s and 50s in the morning, which makes the house feel chilly. We haven’t bought any coal yet, so hopefully we can soon to get some heat in the house if this chilly weather continues.

Last night we were at Mose and daughter Susan’s house. My husband Joe and sons Benjamin, 20, and Joseph, 17, were helping Mose get their outdoor wood burner hooked up to their house. Mose and Susan still had thinly sliced steak in their freezer, so we had rare beef and creamed potatoes for supper. Everyone was glad for rare beef since we usually have this more often after we butcher cattle in the winter months.

We had a nice trip to Kentucky last week to attend the wedding of Joe’s nephew, Morris, and Annie. Cousin Dave has built a nice place in the hills of Kentucky with a pond behind the house and a walkout basement. It is very nice, and the men and boys admired all the deer mounts hanging in his house.

Daughter Susan and I were cooks at the wedding and our job was to help make gravy. Daughter Verena was a table waiter. The menu included mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, dressing, fried chicken, mixed vegetables, salad, cheese, bread, butter, and jam. For dessert, we had pecan, pumpkin, and cherry pies, cinnamon pudding, angel food cake with strawberry topping, and cookies. For the evening meal, we had grilled chicken and brats, and ice cream was also added to the menu. Candy bars were passed around after lunch.

We arrived in Kentucky on Wednesday evening around 9 p.m. Thursday afternoon we went to see where Joe’s sister Salome and her husband Morris and their family live. After the wedding was over, we went back to the motel. The next morning, we all headed to Williamstown, Kentucky, to the Ark Encounter. We really enjoyed our day there. Noah’s ark is sure a good look at what they endured, and it brought a better understanding to the children to see the ark in the dimensions the Bible tells that Noah and his sons built it. The place was packed with people from all over the United States. It makes one feel hopeful to see Christianity is not lost yet.

Lovina and family visited the Ark Encounter, a full-scale representation of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, KY, while traveling for a family wedding. Photo provided.

We headed back to Michigan and stopped along the way to eat. We arrived back home safe and sound a little after midnight. Everyone was ready for a good night’s sleep.

At 8:30 a.m. the next morning (Saturday), Joe and I, daughters Verena and Lovina, and son Kevin, along with my sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma, Jacob and son Steven, headed for Berne, Indiana to attend the surprise birthday party for sister Liz and Levi. Liz turned 50 in January and Levi turns 50 in December. They also had their 27th wedding anniversary on October 4. This surprise was planned by their children. Chicken, pork and beans, macaroni and cheese, salads, desserts, and snacks were served. Some of the food was brought by guests.

We arrived back home after dark. Daughter Loretta, with the help of her special friend Dustin, did our laundry, so it was nice to see our clothes all clean again from the trip. Dustin’s birthday was October 8, so a Happy Birthday to him!

On Sunday we had communion at church, so it was a long day. We also ordained another minister and had a potluck dinner with the church afterward. It was good to see Monday come and things slowing down.

Lovina, husband Joe, and son-in-law Mose made their annual trek to the u-pick grape orchard to pick grapes. The grapes will be cooked and strained to make grape juice and then canned to enjoy throughout the year. Photo provided.

Son-in-law Mose, Joe, and I went to the u-pick grape orchard to pick grapes. Another job done for the year.

 

Daughter Susan is feeling better and stayed well on our trip.

Our highlight this week was seeing Tim and daughter Elizabeth’s nine-and-one-half-month-old son, T.J., walking short distances. He’s so active and almost runs instead of walks. He is so precious, as are all our grandchildren.

God’s blessings!

Apple Dumplings
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
5/8 cup milk
1 quart chopped apples, raw
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl, mix well the flour, baking powder, salt, lard, butter, and milk. Press into the bottom of a greased 8×10-inch cake pan. Mix the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and put on top of the dough.

Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup hot water (add more if too thick)

Mix the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and boil a few minutes. Pour on top of the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the apples are soft.

Delicious for supper with cold milk.

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 now available for preorder 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.

Wedding travel preparations both planned and unexpected

It’s 4:45 a.m. as I sit by the kitchen table writing. The boys already left for work. Their bags are packed and ready for our departure to Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. They will work a half day, come home, shower, and be ready to go.

Our plans had to be adjusted somewhat because we were at the emergency room last night with daughter Susan. Her husband Mose and two-month old baby Ryan and I went along. I went along to help take care of Ryan while Susan was in so much pain. She didn’t feel like breastfeeding, but we had no other way to feed him as he refuses the bottle.

Susan had a sharp pain on her lower right side which we expected was her appendix. After a CT scan and other tests, the doctor discovered she has a lodged kidney stone, as well as kidney and urinary tract infections. She was given pain medicine and several antibiotics which helped relieve some of the pain, but now it’s just trying to get the stone to pass. I have never had this happen to me, but it sounds like a painful ordeal.

We arrived back here at our house close to midnight and Mose and Susan, Jennifer, 20 months, and baby Ryan stayed here for the night. Mose needs to go into town this morning after the pharmacy opens to get more antibiotics for Susan. She said the pain has moved down some so maybe she will pass the stone before we leave. She is still planning to go along to the wedding in Kentucky if the pain doesn’t get worse. The doctor thought that with the antibiotic she will be fine to go, and then have a follow-up with her doctor after we are back home. I really do hope it doesn’t get worse. We will help her finish her packing.

We are leaving in two vans with our friends Beth and Julie as our drivers. They are sisters so it will be enjoyable for them to spend the time together. We have six motel rooms booked and hope and pray we have safe travels and arrive at the motel before too late. I left my cousin Dave a voicemail and asked where the best motels are or closest ones to his house. He called back and left a voicemail for us with the information.

I managed to get seven new shirts sewn for Joe and the boys to wear on our trip. My sewing machine sews on the buttonholes and buttons, but making the buttonhole is still my least favorite part of sewing. In Indiana we had snaps on the shirts, which I didn’t care to sew on by hand either, so it’s always something in life that we dislike doing. Take the good with the bad and it usually makes a happy medium.

I held baby Ryan for a little bit this morning and he was just smiling and cooing. Now he’s happily eating. He must be getting plenty to eat as Susan said he weighs 15 pounds already. He’s over 25 inches long already as well, so he’s probably going to be tall.

I awoke to Joseph’s driver sitting in our driveway, so it was a little rush until he was leaving. It seems like we only just went to bed, and my alarm just wasn’t loud enough to wake tired me. I thought I better write this column before the rest wake up or I won’t be able to concentrate. Son Kevin, 14, leaves at 6:45 a.m. for school, so I need to wake him up at 6:00 a.m. so he can shower and finish packing his clothes. We will pick him up at school after lunch.

Our plans are to stay in Kentucky Thursday evening as well, and if all goes well go see the Noah’s Ark they built in Kentucky on Friday before heading home. It is around 300 miles to the wedding place from our house. Hopefully the little ones will be contented in their car seats for the trip.

Space is up and I will write more next week about our trip.

This is an easy Sunday dinner recipe. I put this dish, chicken, and baked beans in the oven on Sunday morning and they make a quick, easy noon meal. God bless!

Scalloped Potatoes
8 cups thinly sliced potatoes, cooked*
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Mix all ingredients together or layer them in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*Note: I don’t fully cook the potatoes and just let it bake longer. Add more milk if it’s too dry.

 

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.