Tag Archives: Amish life

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.

Sewing, doctor’s appointments, and sweet and sour cabbage

Greetings from Michigan! Son Kevin just left for school. The sky is starting to lighten up. Thermometer is at the 59-degree mark.

Son Joseph left for work at 4:30 a.m. My husband Joe is fishing with a few other men from our church. I think fishing is one of his biggest stress relievers. It will be good to have fish in the freezer again.

Tuesday was a nice day for the wedding of nephew Marvin and Lori. Next week is Joe’s nephew Morris and Annie’s wedding in Kentucky. Annie is a daughter of my cousin Dave. Dave’s father Chris was my mother’s only brother, and our families were always together growing up. My sisters Verena and Susan are also invited, so plans are that they also go with our family.

Tuesday was also the funeral of son-in-law Mose’s 89-year-old grandmother Marie. Our sympathy to the family.

Our thoughts and prayers also go to the family in Vermontville, Michigan that lost their three children in an accident on the way home from school. I cannot imagine the sorrow this family is experiencing in losing a 13-year-old son and 10- and 8-year-old daughters. Their 6-year-old son was hurt and taken to the hospital. May God provide strength for this family to cope with the terrible loss. God makes no mistakes but it is our human nature to question why. God be with them!

Nephew Steven (son of sister Emma and Jacob), age 12, is having surgery today at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. It’s the same surgery son Kevin had, but Steven is getting both feet done at the same time. Daughter Loretta was 12 when she had the same surgery on both feet. Steven has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A also. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery! We have had three children have this kind of surgery done and it did help. Dr. Caird is also Steven’s surgeon, so he will have the best of care. When Steven was a baby, he had heart surgery at the same hospital, but Mott has a new hospital since then.

Son Benjamin, 20, is off work this week from the RV factory. They aren’t having production this week. Sure hope work picks up in the future.

Benjamin is doing a lot of jobs around home. He is getting our buggies repaired and has some of the wheels off and has taken them over to the buggy shop.

Son Kevin has an appointment at the doctor today and I’m not sure if a buggy will be ready to take us. Looks like our pony Stormy and the pony cruiser will have to do the job for Kevin and me. Our doctor’s office is on the outskirts of town so we won’t have more than five miles to travel.

I sewed a few shirts and a dress yesterday. Today I want to cut out and sew more shirts. The boys are low in good shirts and they never get new shirts for weddings so I thought I’ll sew for them this time.

Grapes are also ready at the U-pick but will be better picking next week, so I hope we can go pick some before we leave for Kentucky.

Benjamin picked our tomatoes and I sent them home with sister Emma and Jacob. Their tomatoes didn’t do so well. I am done with tomatoes this year except for fresh eating. I will be glad once the grape juice is done.

Last week I answered a question from a reader but the question was left out so it might have been confusing to you. The question was: what kind of gifts are given at weddings (to the bride and groom)? The answer was tools, Tupperware, towels, dishes, kitchen items, bedding or anything useful. I have also seen folding tables, chairs, grills, etc., given. There is much more, but most gifts are to help the couple start their own home and yes, sometimes they get multiples of something, but those can be given to someone else as a gift if not needed.

Space is running out so until next week—God bless!

 

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

 1 medium head cabbage

Syrup:
3 cups water
2–3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons bacon grease

 

Coarsely shred or chop cabbage.

Mix syrup ingredients in a cook pot and bring to a boil. Add chopped cabbage, turn heat down to simmer and cook 20–30 minutes or until tender. Variation: Try purple cabbage.

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.

Cool mornings, wedding invitations, and seasoned red potatoes

It’s a cool morning with the mercury on the thermometer almost down to the 50-degree mark. The redness from the sunrise is so bright, promising a beautiful day with the sun warming up the outside world. I have a few gas lights on to warm up the house for baby Ryan.

Son-in-law Mose dropped daughter Susan and children off here on his way to work earlier this morning. Susan has both children cuddled with her on the recliner. Baby Ryan is almost six weeks old and already 12 pounds. He is doing well and growing. He is also cooing and discovering everyone and smiling a lot. So precious!

Daughter Elizabeth and children plan to come today as well. It is always fun to have the little grandchildren here for a day. Abigail will have her third birthday next week on September 10. She is looking forward to her birthday.

Last week we received two more wedding invitations, making a total of four on our refrigerator now. Nephew Morris and Annie are published and have set their wedding date for October 3. Morris Jr. is a son to Joe’s sister Salome and Morris from Campbellsburg, Kentucky, so we would have a five-and-one-half hour trip to attend. Daughter Susan and I were asked to help cook and daughter Verena is to be a table waiter. Our whole family is invited and we hope most of us can attend. It will be nice to see where they live now that they make their home in Kentucky.

Another invitation is from niece Salome and Caleb. They set their date in November. Salome is the daughter of Joe’s sister Loretta and her husband Henry, and this wedding is local.

Nephew Marvin and Lori’s wedding will be first in a nearby community. Marvin is brother Albert and Sarah Irene’s son. Daughter Verena was asked to be a table waiter at their wedding.

The other invitation is for a wedding in October of a good friend of ours. Brittney and Kevin will exchange vows on October 12. Congratulations to all the couples. May God bless all their marriages and be their guide as they join hands together.

Last week was the estate sale for neighbor Irene’s belongings. So sad to see her house emptied. We bought her bed and a dresser. Irene’s presence was greatly missed. It just seemed that we should see her around. Irene passed away this spring at age 91. Rest in peace Irene. You were a good neighbor to us!

In my last column I shared a pizza sauce recipe. I have a few more specifics for those of you that want to try it. The amount of Clear Jel needed is 1-1/2 to 2 cups, which was more than I thought it would take. The amount also depends on how thick you want the sauce. The recipe makes around 30 pints of sauce.

Also, I have a correction to the recipe for zucchini cookies that I shared in my column the week of July 29. The amount of flour needs to be doubled. A big thank you to the reader who pointed this out to me. My daughters made a batch of these cookies this week and everyone loved them. They are already eaten up. Even for those of you who don’t like the taste of zucchini, I really think you will like these. I apologize for any inconvenience, although most cookie bakers know to add more flour if a cookie is too flat.

This week I will share the recipe for seasoned red potatoes. We put ours in a foil pan on the grill instead of in the oven.

I am looking forward to meeting some of you readers in Nappanee, Indiana on September 14 beginning at 10 a.m. during my book signing at the library.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Seasoned Red Potatoes
12 to 14 small red potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place potatoes in an ungreased 3-quart baking dish. In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients; drizzle over the potatoes. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until tender. Stir every 15 minutes while baking. Serves 6.

 

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

Family reunion fun with water balloons and abundant summer produce

Happy Birthday number 53 to sister Verena on August 22nd!

On Saturday, sisters Verena and Susan hosted the annual family reunion on my side of the family. It was greatly attended, with only seven of my parents’ grandchildren not attending. All of us siblings were present. Brother Amos was greatly missed. Nancy came with some of her children, who we were happy to see. It makes the circle seem a little more complete.

We were served a good meal of chicken, barbecued ribs, hot dogs, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, corn, and all the side dishes that were brought in. There were salads, desserts, and fruits too numerous to mention. Snacks were brought for the afternoon before parting ways to go home.

Of course, with my family the water hose was discovered, and the water balloons were soon put to use. Sister Liz and I tried to keep up with the younger ones. Some managed to stay dry. On that hot and humid day, it helped us stay cool.

Grandson Ryan was the youngest there being three weeks old that day. He seems to be gaining weight really well.

The new deck and ramp at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house came in handy. Recently, son-in-law Mose, husband Joe, and sons Benjamin and Joseph built the 12 x 24-foot deck for them. Son-in-law Tim also helped. On Saturday, they had tables set on it for some to eat while others sat by tables set in their pole barn with a canopy attached.

Sunday, we had brunch at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. Tim made sausage gravy and fried potatoes over the open fire while Elizabeth baked biscuits and fried eggs in the house. Abigail and T.J. were so excited to see us. T.J. is now eight months old and all over the house, so he needs to be watched closely. He sure is active.

Yesterday daughter Susan and Jennifer and baby Ryan, daughters Verena, Loretta, Lovina, and I helped Elizabeth can salsa. When we left T.J. was waving at us.

I have corn and tomatoes that need to be canned or frozen. I will make vegetable juice with the tomatoes and the corn will probably be bagged for the freezer. That is the last of the sweet corn for us this season.

Son Kevin is getting adjusted to the new schedule of going to school each day. He gets on the bus so much easier since his surgeries earlier this year. He is still not released from therapy but is slowly learning how to continue it here at home. It’s hard for him to find energy after a day at school.

One evening, James, a friend of ours, brought us some chicken of the woods mushrooms he found. This was the first time we had that kind of mushroom. The name comes from it resembling the taste of chicken. Everyone seemed to like it. It’s always nice to try something different. I seasoned it and fried it in olive oil. James had 25–30 pounds of mushrooms.

Monday, daughter Susan and her children came here for the day. She brought her dirty laundry and we washed it here after we did ours. We were glad to have a nice day for the clothes to dry quickly on the lines so we could take them off and put more on to dry.

Susan and Mose had company again the day before so she was tired. I told her to rest while we washed the clothes. She still needs to gain back her strength. Jennifer was contented watching me hang out laundry and playing with a doll. She tries to act like she’s taking care of her doll when Susan takes care of Ryan.

Tim brought in a 25 1/2-pound watermelon out of their garden when we were there yesterday. He sent half of it home with us. God bless!

This week I will share a recipe I received from a reader. Thank you, Barb!

Snickers Pie

Crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons milk

Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-ounce cream cheese
1 Snickers bar, chopped
1 24-ounce Cool Whip (or a little less)
1 3-ounce box instant chocolate pudding

Crust: Mix dry and wet ingredients, press into a 9-inch pie plate, and mold to fit. Bake at 400 degrees for 21 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Thoroughly mix powdered sugar and cream cheese and scoop into cooled crust. Sprinkle 1/2 of chopped Snickers bar on top. Scoop Cool Whip into a large bowl and stir in chocolate pudding until smooth and not gritty. Spread on top of other layers in pie crust. Sprinkle remaining chopped Snickers bar on top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.

 

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

A grandmother’s wonderful news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Homemade Vegetable Juice

Makes 14 quarts

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

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

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

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

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.