Tag Archives: amish living

Late summer garden harvest and tomato bread recipe

Last week I wrote about how chilly it was, and now this week we are wishing we had some of that cool air. It has been a warm muggy week. We had a thunderstorm and quite a bit of rain during the night. Maybe this rain will cool it down. It seems it’s human nature to never be quite satisfied. We will accept the weather however God sends it.

Son Kevin, 14, just left for school. It’s quite dark outside when he leaves at 6:50 a.m. I love sitting by the east windows and writing or reading at this time of the morning. The sunrise is awesome to watch. Last night daughter Verena told me to come see the sunset. Only our amazing creator could paint the sky like that.

Today son Joseph, 17, has the day off from work. He was glad for a break. He needs new shoes for construction work so he will go to town with Kevin and me. Kevin has a doctor appointment. He is having trouble with ingrown toenails which make him not like doing some of his therapy due to pain from the nails. He’s been soaking them in Epsom salts every night and putting an ointment on them as prescribed by the doctor. He also took an antibiotic for infection. Now, two weeks later, we will see what the doctor thinks. They look and feel much better but are not healed yet.

September 10 (Tuesday) was granddaughter Abigail’s third birthday. We all went for her birthday celebration. She was so excited to blow out her three candles and for all the attention and gifts she received.

Daughter Elizabeth is enjoying the extra space since son-in-law Tim has been working on remodeling their house, taking out some walls and closets to make more space in the living room and dining room. It looks so good with much more space. Baby T.J. loves it when he’s in his walker. He can get around better with the open space.

My husband Joe, son Joseph, son-in-law Mose, and daughter Loretta’s special friend Dustin assisted Tim with the remodeling one Saturday. They had to put in a support beam to replace some of the walls that came out.

While we were there for Abigail’s birthday, Tim came in from the garden with a 36-pound watermelon. It is huge! He sent it home with us. He also picked their serrano, Hungarian and sweet banana peppers to send home with us. I want to can the serranos, but we will stuff and wrap the others with bacon before cooking them on the grill.

Lovina and Joe have a bountiful supply of tomatoes from their garden. Many quarts of vegetable juice and pizza sauce are canned and shared with family for the winter months ahead. Photo provided.

My husband Joe has cleared out a lot of the garden. We are still getting lots of tomatoes. We have canned a total of 115 quarts of vegetable juice and 32 pints of pizza sauce. I’ll use the rest of the tomatoes when I help daughter Susan can tomato and vegetable juice.

Yesterday I finally made it back to my sewing machine. The mending piles up, but I did sew Verena a new dress that had been cut out for awhile already. I don’t mind sewing when time allows.

Now to answer a few questions from readers. A reader wanted to know where the Amish communities are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They are in Sault Ste. Marie and Engadine.

Another reader asked if the name Dustin is common where we live. There are a few in this community but it is not as common as some other names. A lot of names seem to be changing amongst the Amish. When I was growing up babies were named after someone, but it can get confusing after many generations of the same names to remember which person someone is talking about.

A reader also commented that she has read the column since my mother Elizabeth Coblentz began writing it. Mother wrote for 11 years and I have been writing for 17 years, for a total of 28 years. Next week it will be 17 years since dear Mother passed away so suddenly. She left a legacy of love and great memories.

For those of you with lots of tomatoes, try this tomato bread recipe.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Tomato Bread

2 cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup catsup
1 tablespoon pizza seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
7 cups bread flour (separated)

Heat tomato juice and butter until butter is melted. Add sugar, catsup, pizza seasoning, salt, and warm water. Cook until lukewarm. Add yeast and 3 cups flour. Beat well, then add remaining 4 cups flour. Knead. Let rise for 1/2 to 1 hour, then place in two 9×5-inch loaf pans and let rise again. Bake at 375 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, 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.

Lovina shares gratitude for words of encouragement from readers

A good morning to all you wonderful readers across the miles. I am still tired at 4:45 a.m. but I need to have this column done before I leave today.

I don’t often enough thank all you readers for your kind words of encouragement. It makes writing this column so much easier. I also appreciate the patience you have when I am late in answering your letters. There are so many nice letters, but of course once in a great while an unsigned letter will be amongst my mail with criticism directed toward my writing. I remind myself that all writers get these, and of course we aren’t perfect. So I want you to know the encouragement is what makes me take this pen in hand each week even though time is limited with raising a family and being Grandma to four. In the back of my mind, I always thought that as the children grew older life would slow down or get easier, but I was wrong. With grandchildren, you reach out to help, and there are more homes that need to be cleaned, canning to be done, etc.

Today the girls and I will go help daughter Susan with laundry and canning. Daughter Elizabeth and children will also be there. We plan to can pizza sauce and pickled red beets today. Susan has tomatoes, but not quite enough, so I will take some of ours. We have already canned 85 quarts of vegetable juice this summer from our garden. I usually put tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, green peppers, hot peppers, celery, carrots, and garlic in my vegetable juice. It has a good flavor and a small glass of it with breakfast is a great drink in the mornings. My husband Joe likes his spicy so we make some with more hot peppers and then some without, or just a few, for the flavor.

Sons Benjamin, 20, and Joseph, 17, left for their jobs at 4:30 a.m. so I got up before they left. It was so tempting to crawl back in bed until son Kevin gets up for school at 6:00 a.m., especially on a chilly morning with the temperature in the mid-50s.

After school Kevin will bring home some of his friends to spend the night here. His 14th birthday is on Labor Day (September 2) this year, but they don’t have school tomorrow and he wanted to have them over when they could sleep in the next morning. It’s usually hard to get them to settle down on a school day, so it’s nicer this way.

Is it actually possible that our youngest is 14 already? Life moves right along and we can’t stop it. What counts is what we make with the life we have. Let us always make time for God each day!

On a recent Saturday we were invited, along with all the rest of the neighbors, to our neighbors Richard and Erma’s house for supper. They have a pond and said if anyone wanted to swim in the afternoon they could come earlier. Erma had told me about the invitation at our last church services. Not once did I think of it that day until I saw Erma at church services the next day. I can’t believe I forgot all about which day it was planned for. That is why I should have marked the calendar.

We are enjoying lots of garden goodies, which makes meal planning so much easier. In a few days we are already into September. I will share the recipe we will use to make the pizza sauce today.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Pizza Sauce

3 gallons tomatoes, chopped
Fresh parsley
3 to 4 onions
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oregano

 

Cook tomatoes, parsley, and onions; put through Victoria strainer to produce about 3 gallons of juice. Add the remaining ingredients to the juice and bring to a boil. Thicken with Clear Jel or Perma Flo; start with 6 to 8 tablespoons, then add more as needed to thicken to your preference. To keep Clear Jel from getting chunky, cool 1 quart of the juice and stir in Clear Jel, then combine with the rest of juice and boil well. Process according to your cooker instructions.

 

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.

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.

Who wants to cook when the temperature is nearing 100 degrees?

It is a hot, humid July evening. I am sitting outside on our porch but can hardly feel any breeze. The mercury on the thermometer still shows 95 degrees at 8 p.m. Hopefully it will cool off soon!

My husband Joe is doing much better, and the doctor had good news for him. All the tests came back okay. He needs to stay on the antibiotics for now, but the wound is almost healed. This heat doesn’t help the swelling of his legs, but they look much better. Joel loves salt, and having to do without has been hard for him but he is getting used to it. I’m getting used to cooking without it and letting everyone season their own food.

One morning when it was nice and cool Joe and I went out in the garden and pulled a lot of weeds. Before we knew it, three and a half hours had passed, so we came in for a break. The heat was getting worse by noon, but the garden looks much better. And cucumbers and zucchini are ready to use now. Tomatoes are on the way. Sweet corn really grew with the recent rain we had. We have much to be thankful for.

We received the sad news that Joe’s aunt Josephine, age 81, passed away yesterday. Josephine lost her first husband Leroy when they lived in Milroy, Indiana. She remarried to Jerome from Nappanee, Indiana, where she lived since her marriage to him. Leroy and Josephine had seven children. Our sympathy goes to the family. The funeral is Saturday in Nappanee.

Since March, Joe and I have had two uncles and three aunts pass away. It gives us a sad feeling to lose uncles and aunts with both sets of parents gone too. Josephine was a sister to Joe’s mother. She was two years older than her. Joe’s mother died 24 years ago at the age of 54. Our children never knew their grandmother. Daughter Elizabeth was 10 months old when she died, so she also doesn’t remember her. Joe’s three younger sisters were 15, 16, and 17 when their mother passed away. I often think how I would have felt to lose my mother at that age. You often hear people say you only live once, but actually that isn’t true—it’s more like we only die once. Let us be ready when our time comes, leaving good memories for all our loved ones to remember us by.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan came for the day along with sweet little Abigail, Jennifer, and baby T.J. When I call him Timothy, Abigail reminds me that he’s T.J. and her little brother and she’s the big sister. Abigail and Jennifer are starting to team up, which isn’t always so good. Today their mothers discovered them with my Kleenex box, which was quite full. They had already emptied half the box, pulling the Kleenex and throwing them in the air. It was hard not to laugh when the little sweeties didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong. We had a nice day doing nothing but meals and visiting and trying to stay cool.

I tried a new recipe (a breakfast skillet) for our breakfast and then we had (don’t be surprised) frozen pizzas for our lunch. Yes, that doesn’t sound like Amish cooking, but with the heat it was just perfect for us. Having solar powered freezers, it is easier to have those things on hand, although I don’t do it often. Joe doesn’t care for those. He likes homemade pizza, but who wants to cook when the temperature is close to 100 degrees?

Elizabeth and children went home and Mose came to pick Susan up. He is helping Joe fill in some holes in our paved driveway. The driveway was paved when we bought this place 15 years ago and has had a lot of neglect.

Let’s leave the future in God’s hands. May he bless each of you. Stay cool!

Try this breakfast skillet.

Breakfast Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
½ cup diced green bell peppers
½ cup diced onions
1 dozen eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
1 cup milk
¼ cup flour

Heat oil in a large skillet. Stir all remaining ingredients together, then pour into the hot skillet. Cover. Cook a few minutes, then gently run a spatula along the edges and underneath, letting egg run to the sides. Cover again and continue cooking until eggs are set.

 

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.

Grandchildren add fun and happiness

We have entered the month of July. The year 2019 is halfway in the past. July 1 was daughter Loretta’s birthday. She turned 19 years old. Son Benjamin is also 19, until his birthday on July 14. It always brings back memories from that year they were born. My dad passed away at age 69 six weeks before Loretta was born. Then we had church services at our house when Loretta was five weeks old. With Loretta being our fifth child and my oldest only being six at that time, I do not know how I did it. I do remember that I said never again would I host church services with a five-week-old baby. I depended a lot on my mother and five sisters to help out and get my cleaning done for church services.

Loretta’s boyfriend Dustin, Loretta, daughter Verena, and son Kevin went fishing out on a nearby lake on Dustin’s pontoon. On Loretta’s birthday the girls helped get laundry washed before they left. In the evening, Tim, Elizabeth, Abigail, and baby Timothy, Mose, Susan, and Jennifer also came in honor of Loretta’s birthday. Pizza and chicken wings were on the menu.

Tim, Mose, Dustin, and son Benjamin are all on vacation this week. Son Benjamin is gone for three days fishing on Lake Erie with a few friends. They are camping in tents close by the lake. They planned to go walleye fishing out on the lake. I’m sure he’s having an enjoyable time, but the house seems empty without him around.

Yesterday, Tim and Elizabeth left Abigail, age two, and six-month-old baby Timothy (or T.J., as little Abigail calls him) here, as Tim and Elizabeth were heading to town with horse and buggy. We had fun watching them. Abigail likes to follow Kevin around and ask him one question after another. Kevin does pretty good entertaining her.

When she heard Loretta had a birthday, Abigail said, “My birthday is September 10 and I will be three.” I was surprised that she knew that.

The little grandchildren add so much fun and happiness to our life. My dad would always joke around and say if he had known the grandchildren would be that much fun, he would have had them first.

Tomatoes grow tall in Lovina’s garden.

We are having more goodies from the garden, although it seems later than other years. We had quite a few days of 90-degree weather with the humidity really high. Tonight we had a shower, so the rain makes it more bearable. The garden was in need of rain.

Today I went with my husband Joe to the doctor. They did an EKG and found he has fluid around his heart. He has an open wound on his leg that doesn’t want to heal, and his legs and feet are swollen bad. The doctor gave him a few antibiotics and wants to see him in a few days. They also did some more tests and blood work, which will probably let us know more when we go back. But meanwhile, the doctor ordered him to keep his feet elevated and to stay out of the hot sun. Joe sees the garden get more weeds and thinks he should go work out there. A big garden is nice to have, but it requires a lot of labor.

We traveled to Bryant, Indiana, to Aunt Lizzie’s funeral last week. We saw many uncles, aunts, cousins. It was different to not see Uncle Elmer with Aunt Emma. I’m sure it refreshed everything with losing her husband not too long ago.

Cucumber vines begin to stretch across the garden. 

After the funeral the six of us sisters walked through Aunt Lizzie’s house reminiscing of long ago. How well I remember when Uncle Chris and Aunt Lizzie packed up their belongings and we helped them move to this home. Only a pole barn to move into, but now the property has two houses, a big barn, two chicken barns. Their daughter Lovina and husband Pete and family live in the big house. I’m sure with Aunt Lizzie gone the little house will seem really empty.

Life goes on, changes are made—God helps us accept these changes, but it all takes time to heal.

God’s blessings to all!

Old-Fashioned Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1–2 tablespoons sugar, if desired

Combine cucumber, bell pepper, and onion in a bowl. Combine water, vinegar, salt, and optional sugar, and pour over vegetables. Refrigerate for a brief time before eating, or make ahead for the next meal.

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.

God’s blessings as we travel into the unknown future

Where should I begin? This week is going much too fast for me.

Friday and Saturday were spent helping out at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house. The tent was set up and benches set up under the tent. Friday was Elizabeth’s birthday, although she didn’t take much time to think about it.

Benches set up for Sunday services. After the service, the benches serve as tables for the lunch meal. Photo credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

Sunday morning brought many visitors from other church districts and communities. The tent was filled to capacity. After the services the benches were used to make five tables to serve the meal. The tablecloths were rolled out on the tables; glasses, coffee cups, and silverware were placed at each setting.

It was Father’s Day, and I hope all fathers out there had a nice day with their family. In honor of Father’s Day, ice cream was served to everyone after the lunch. On the menu for lunch were homemade white and wheat bread, cheese spread, peanut butter spread, ham, pickles, pickled red beets, hot peppers, fresh garden lettuce, strawberry jam, butter cookies, and coffee and iced tea (also made fresh with tea leaves from sister Emma’s garden). Popcorn was served as visiting was done, and the dishes were washed and packed up to put back in the bench wagon for the next service.

Sunday evening we received the sad news that my husband Joe’s Uncle Phillip from Dundee, Ohio, had passed away. Phillip’s death was a shock to all of us. He was never married but left to mourn many siblings and nieces and nephews. Phillip was a brother to Joe’s dad. They were 17 siblings, with Phillip being the sixth one laid to rest. Phillip, age 67, enjoyed spending time with family and friends and fishing trips to Canada. Rest in peace, Uncle Phillip! You will be greatly missed.

We spent several days in the Sugarcreek, Ohio, area and attended the viewing/visitation on Tuesday and the funeral on Wednesday. Joe’s sister Esther and brother Benjamin both live in that area, so we got to visit with them. Also his sister Carol from Tennessee and his sister Loretta from Michigan and their families. And many uncles, aunts, and cousins of Joe’s were there. I met some more of my readers and appreciate the encouragement! We arrived home last night.

This morning seems hard to get started after all the traveling, but I need to make a salad to take to the visitation/viewing of a man from our community. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan are taking a dessert. I will drop the food off on my way to town for son Kevin’s therapy appointment. I won’t be able to stay and help, as we already have plans to help package gifts for the Christmas Behind Bars program.

The wagon loaded with benches for the Sunday service. The wagon travels from home to home as families host Sunday services. Photo Credit: Grant Beachy/©MennoMedia

We will travel to Shipshewana, Indiana, for this with other members from the community that are also volunteering to help. Joe and I, sons Benjamin, 19, and Joseph, 16, and daughter Lovina, 15, will go along to help.

The girls will have granddaughter Abigail here today, which they will enjoy. Daughter Elizabeth is going to a workday at Tim’s sister’s house. Not having to keep an eye on Abigail, 2, will let her get more work done. Abigail is at the age where she can be in one place one minute and in another so fast.

It is another rainy day here in Michigan. We have had so much rain. We saw a lot of flooding while traveling. Makes us appreciate the sunny days so much more. I need to get busy. There’s much to do, and time does not stand still.

I want to wish all of you God’s richest blessings as we travel into the unknown future. As the minister at Uncle Phillip’s funeral reminded us, death is final, and there isn’t any limit to how young our age is when our time here on earth is done. Let us pray for one another and for peace in the world! Take care!

Try this version of rhubarb jam. It has pineapple added to it. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Jam

4 cups chopped rhubarb4 cups sugar
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (6-ounce) package strawberry-flavored gelatin

Bring rhubarb, sugar, and pineapple to a boil in a saucepan. Boil gently for 12 minutes. Add gelatin and boil for 1 additional minute. Place into sterilized jars and seal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless and stay safe!

Potato Bars

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

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

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

 

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