Tag Archives: amish

Ham and bean soup warms on frosty midwinter days

The temperature has dropped down to the teens this morning. It sounds windy outside.

Today is Thursday so it’s laundry day again. We usually wash laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. Usually by the next morning the clothes are dry on the lines in the basement. Oh, how nice when spring weather comes and we can wash clothes, dry them outside, and have them folded in one day.

Daughter Loretta came home from school sick on Monday forenoon. She hasn’t been able to go back yet. I called the doctor and he thinks it is probably the flu.

Tomorrow and Monday there isn’t any school, as it’s midwinter break. My plans are to take Joseph to the dentist to get a small cavity filled and to get some groceries.

Sons Benjamin, 15, and Joseph, 12, went over to Timothy’s house two nights this week to help him with his work. They really enjoy spending time helping him.

Son Kevin, 9, usually takes care of our chickens. He has been bringing in around 40 eggs every day from the new chickens we raised this fall. Kevin still has his run-ins with the mean rooster.

Last Saturday my husband, Joe, and sons helped Jacob and Emma dress a beef. With Loretta being sick, I haven’t had time to ask if they need help this week in cutting it up.

Brother Amos is back to work but has still been having dizzy spells. He has seen several doctors, but so far they haven’t really been able to figure out what is causing them. He still works construction work—helping build Menards buildings. They have quite a few hours of traveling to do every day. I hope it’s nothing serious. Amos has always been a hard worker and it’s hard to get him to slow down. He’s ten years older than I am and will be 54 this year.

Daughters Verena, 17, and Loretta, 14, recently attended their friend Grace’s birthday party. They enjoyed the evening with friends and made some new ones.

Joe plans to smoke the summer sausage this coming Saturday. He is hoping it won’t be too cold outside.

We still have lots of snow piled outside. The driveway is cleared off and the roads are dry, which is nice to see.

This week I’ll share a recipe that I tried for ham and bean soup. Not too many in our family like ham and beans, but if you do, I would suggest you try this recipe. I sent some over to Jacob and Emma, and they really liked it.

The Eicher family enjoyed ham and bean soup recently on a cold evening and this week Lovina shares the recipe with readers.
The Eicher family enjoyed ham and bean soup recently on a cold evening and this week Lovina shares the recipe with readers.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 pound dry Great Northern beans
8 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ham hock
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 bay leaves
2 cups ham, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse beans; bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and beans and remove from heat. Let beans soak in hot water for at least an hour. Then place ham hock, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mustard, and bay leaves in the pot and return it to high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 60 more minutes. Remove ham hock, cut off meat, and discard bone. Stir in chopped ham and simmer 30 more minutes. Season with black pepper.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Fond memories—and peanut butter cups—grace year’s end

We are almost to the end of 2014. A brand new year lies ahead. What will it have in store for us? If we would know, would we be able to go on? Anything is possible if we let God lead the way and keep our full trust in him.

As I sit here thinking of how my family always spent New Year’s Day, a lot of memories come to my mind. When my maternal grandparents were still living they would have their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren home for the Christmas gathering. The day would start out early. We would get up early to get the cows milked and have breakfast. We lived very close to my grandparents, so some of the uncles, aunts and cousins would start gathering at our house as soon as breakfast was done.

It would still be very dark outside, and all of us children would be so excited. We would all walk over to my grandparents’ house in the dark, and sometimes we had a lot of snow to trudge through. We lived on a road that wasn’t traveled much back then, so it was an enjoyable walk. My grandparents had eight children and more than 80 grandchildren. Uncle Henry and Aunt Barbara lived in the big house attached to Grandpa and Grandma’s little house. They would set up tables in their dining room and living room to seat all the adults and the older children. The younger ones were fed before everyone else ate.

When we arrived at Grandpa and Grandma’s, all of us would stand outside their door singing the traditional New Year’s Song in German. The New Year’s Song is a song wishing everyone a good year. The English translation is as follows:

’Tis time now to welcome the happy new year,
God grant you to live and enjoy the new year.
Good fortune and blessings to dwell in your home,
God grant you such blessings in this year in your home.
In heaven before the great heavenly throne,
God grant thee reward in that heavenly home.
In closing this year we repeat this one wish,
God grant you on high once that heavenly bliss.

While it was being sung, everyone would go into the house. All of us grandchildren would line up to take our turn to wish Grandpa and Grandma a happy new year and give them a kiss. They would sit in their hickory rocking chairs.

After the noon meal was over and the dishes were all washed, Grandpa and Grandma would pass out gifts to all of us. For the grandchildren it was usually a dish of some kind, or a mug. And we would all get a lunch-sized bag with candy and an orange in it. I remember how my cousins and I would dump all our candy out of our bags and look at it before putting it back in our bags to take home. My mother would mark all the dishes they gave us and what year we got them. When I got married, I had a different dish or mug for every year.

After Grandpa and Grandma died, my parents always had our family Christmas gathering on New Year’s Day. We would all gather there for breakfast and set the tables again for the noon meal.

I will share with you my mother’s recipe for peanut butter cups. She would make these every Christmas season. She would have to hide them from us children as we loved them so much!

I wish all of you God’s richest blessings in the New Year 2015 and always!

Peanut Butter Cups

2 pounds peanut butter
1 pound margarine
3 pounds powdered sugar
melted semi-sweet chocolate

Mix peanut butter and margarine. Then work in powdered sugar until smooth. Shape into balls the size of big marbles. Dip in melted chocolate.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Did your Thanksgiving turkey have a fever?

Oh my! We are already into the last month of 2014. Where did this year go?

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. Although it’s not the only day that we need to thank God for our blessings, on that day we are especially reminded of all that we are thankful for. My list seems endless—family, friends, church, and so many more. I feel one blessing I should mention is the editors at MennoMedia. They deserve a lot of credit for the fact that this column is still going, as does my good friend Ruth, who has been by my side through good and bad. Trusted friends are rare, and they have been so good to me. Writing the columns isn’t always easy, but knowing you have a firm foundation makes it so much easier.

I also want to thank all of you readers for your words of encouragement. To those of you who send a stamped self-addressed envelope: bear with me, please. A reply will come, but forgive me for not always getting back to you sooner. Last but not least, I want to thank our Heavenly Father for his guidance through our most difficult trials.

We spent our Thanksgiving Day at brother Albert and Sarah Irene’s house. All my siblings were present, as were all the nieces, nephews, families and special friends (except for two nieces and one nephew). The family grows more every year, and although I don’t have a total, I know it’s more than 100 now.

Albert’s family grilled 140 pounds of chicken, plus they fixed two 22-pound turkeys. Needless to say, there were so many leftovers! I won’t begin to mention all the food, but a 14-foot dining table was filled to capacity. When everyone brings food, it adds up. Snacks were served before everyone left.

We four sisters here in Michigan always have a Thanksgiving meal together. This year we all gathered over at Jacob and Emma’s on Sunday. Emma fixed two turkeys stuffed with dressing. Also on the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, homemade bread, butter, jam, summer sausage, veggies and dip, hot peppers, pumpkin roll, pumpkin and peanut butter pies, a variety of Christmas candy and probably more that I can’t remember now. The table was set for 24 people, which is what we total now. After dishes were washed, we played games.

I got a laugh out of daughter Lovina. Sister Emma gave her the meat thermometer to hold in the turkey, to see if it was fully cooked. When someone asked her what she was doing, Lovina replied, “Aunt Emma wants to know if the turkey is running a fever.” We all thought it was funny!

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan are off work this week from the factory due to a cancelled order. We (Elizabeth, Susan, Verena and I) are enjoying our week. We started it out with going Christmas shopping on Monday. We had a nice time and made more memories together. It is hard to believe my three oldest daughters have grown this much.

The Christmas season is upon us. Let us remember: Jesus is the reason for the season!

For this week’s dish, I will share a few short recipes that were served as snacks at Albert’s on Thanksgiving Day.

Fruit Dip

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup brown sugar
8 ounces whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together well. Serve with apples or any fruit.

Cheese Ball

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 package dried beef, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
seasoning of your choice

Mix all ingredients together. Serve with your choice of crackers.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Fall family gatherings a time to reconnect

We are in the final week of October. It is a dark, dreary morning. This weekend we need to turn our clocks back an hour. I still have trouble getting used to the changing of time in the spring and fall.

My husband Joe, son Benjamin, and daughters Elizabeth and Susan are all at work. Daughters Loretta and Lovina and sons Joseph and Kevin are in school. The house is pretty quiet with just daughter Verena and me here at home. Verena is finishing up the morning work as I write this column.

Our plans for the day are to cut out quite a few pants for Benjamin. I cut out and sewed one for him yesterday as I needed a new pattern. He has grown so much and is taller than I am. The pants fit well and he wore them to work today. I didn’t want to cut out more until he tried one pair to see how it fit. I have had the material here for quite some time and always pushed the sewing to the back of my list. We also want to sew Kevin more pants. We’ll work on getting them all cut out.

I was really disappointed when sister Emma told me that aunt Lovina and uncle Abe Raber from Baltic, Ohio, and cousin Leah (Lovina’s daughter) and Elmer Schwartz from Campbellville, Ken., stopped for a visit when I wasn’t home one day last week. Lovina is my mom’s sister and we were always together growing up. I was named after her.

On Saturday, Joe’s brother Benjamin, his wife Miriam, and their children Josh, Adrianna, Beth Ann, Travis, Silas, and Victoria, from Sugarcreek, Ohio, came for a visit. Victoria is four months old and this was the first time we got to see her. She is a cutie with lots of black hair. The girls made popcorn and lemonade for everyone. The cousins don’t often see each other but it didn’t take them long to get reacquainted.

Saturday evening was so nice. We enjoyed barbecued chicken and hot wings since the weather was so nice. Also on the menu were lettuce salad, chips and ice cream. Those joining us for supper were Timothy (Elizabeth’s friend), Mose (Susan’s friend), and Marvin (Verena’s friend).

Joining us for brunch on Sunday were sisters Verena and Susan and sister Emma, her husband Jacob, and their family, as well as Timothy and Mose. Niece Elizabeth’s friend, Manuel, niece Emma’s friend, Menno, and Verena’s friend, Marvin, weren’t able to be here on Sunday as they had communion services in their church district.

Our menu for brunch was breakfast casserole, toast, strawberry jam, cheese, hot pepper butter, hot peppers, coffee, orange juice, chocolate milk, cinnamon rolls, delicious cookies, and peaches. Emma brought the cinnamon rolls, hot pepper butter, orange juice and chocolate milk. Verena and Susan brought the peaches and cookies so all I had to make was the casserole. We enjoyed a nice family day together.

Last week one evening, I made pizza using a different dough. We really liked the dough so I will share it with you readers. Enjoy!

Pizza
This week Lovina tried out a new recipe for pizza dough that she shares in the column.
Pizza3
With eight children in the household, it takes more than one pizza to feed to the family of Lovina and Joe Eicher.

Pizza2

Pizza Dough

2 packages yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

2/3 cup warm water

2 cups cold water

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

6 1/2 cups flour

Mix warm water, yeast, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Let stand 5 minutes until bubbly. In separate bowl, mix cold water, 2 tablespoons sugar, garlic powder, oil, salt, oregano, and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add yeast mixture, then add rest of flour. Knead until elastic; let rise until double. Press half of dough on a greased pan. Let rise 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat with other half. Add pizza sauce and bake at 400° for 10 to 15 minutes. Add rest of toppings and bake until hot and cheese is bubbly.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

October is Lovina’s 12-year column anniversary, with four preschoolers

Another week has already gone by, which makes it time to get this column written. The weeks just fly by. I write my columns in one-subject notebooks which have amounted to quite a few in the years of penning this column. This month 12 years ago is when I wrote my first column. I think that was the hardest column for me to write.

writing
Lovina keeps all of her handwritten columns in spiral notebooks.

Joseph, 12, was my baby at that time. Elizabeth, 20, was eight and in second grade. Susan, 18, was in kindergarten and six years old. Verena was four, Benjamin three, Loretta, two. I remember how hard it was to write the column and keep an eye on the four preschoolers.

Life still seems busy now but I guess just in different ways. The children get older and each has different plans for the weekend sometimes. Last Saturday, Joseph spent the night at a friend’s house in honor of his birthday.

Susan had Mose’s sister’s two little boys here for part of the day Saturday. Loren is four and Jayden, two. Susan gave them pony rides and kept them entertained. Of course Lovina, 10, and Kevin, 9, were glad to help keep them entertained.

Elizabeth’s puppy Izzy was the only one not happy to have them here. She is not used to little children and the boys played too rough for her, so she stayed close by one of the girls.

My husband Joe started the coal stove Saturday, so the house is cozy again. Our coal was delivered for the winter. Joe hooked a [metal] jacket up around the coal stove in the basement to help get more heat up here if we need it. It has a door on the jacket we can open on days we dry laundry in the basement, to keep more heat down there. Verena and I plan to clean the basement today as dust seems to accumulate and things get misplaced. So it’s high time for another cleaning.

Saturday we had a killing frost in most places so the gardens are history for 2014.

We have two more wedding invitations on our refrigerator. Rosanne and Solomon will exchange vows on Nov. 7 and their wedding will be in Decatur, Ind. Then on Nov. 20, Edwin and Rosa Mae will exchange their vows in Rochester, Ind. We hope to attend both weddings. Both grooms are Joe’s cousin Leander’s sons. Joe and Leander had lots of good times growing up together. We wish both couples God’s blessings on their marriage and many happy, healthy years together.

This week I will share an omelet recipe I made for our breakfast on Saturday. I hope you will all like it as much as we did.

OmeletRollCropped
Two yummy breakfast omelet rolls for the Eicher family.

Meat and Cheese Omelet Roll

4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 eggs
1 1/2 cups meat (chopped bacon, sausage, ham, smokies, etc.)
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup onions
1/4 cup green peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine cream cheese and milk. Whisk until smooth, then add flour and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs and then add cream cheese mixture. Cut wax or parchment paper to fit jelly roll pan. Pour into jelly roll pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until puffy and golden. While that is baking, chop meat, vegetables and shred the cheese. When omelet is done, remove from oven and spread with mustard, then layer meat, onions, pepper and cheese. Roll into jelly roll fashion, removing the paper from the omelet as you roll. Serve with salsa or cheese sauce.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

Grilling for 60 at family picnic: 12-layer Jell-O salad echoes colorful fall

We have entered the month of October. It’s so hard to believe that autumn is here and the trees are showing their autumn splendor. Our yard is accumulating more leaves every day.

U-pick grape arbor
U-pick grape arbor.

Daughter Verena, 16, and I just came home from town. Verena had a dentist appointment and we picked up some groceries. I decided to quickly write my column before the children come home from school when the house won’t be so quiet.

Tomorrow we plan to go to a “U-pick” to gather grapes. Friday and Saturday will be spent canning grape juice. I have two steamers now so canning the juice should go faster. I’ll be glad when that job is done, and will be even happier to have some grape juice again.

Cooking the grapes to make grape juice.
Cooking the grapes to make grape juice.

Sunday we hosted a dinner for almost 60 people. Some were local families and we also had quite a few out of state visitors. Timothy and Mose (daughters Elizabeth’s and Susan’s special friends) helped my husband Joe grill pork steak and chicken for the noon meal. They had several grills going and started around 9 a.m. We raised the chickens ourselves, and readers will remember when we butchered and froze them a few weeks ago.

Also on the menu besides pork steak and chicken were: mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, corn, coleslaw, dill pickles, homemade bread, strawberry jam, butter, Jell-O cake, cheesecake, peanut butter and sugar cookies, 12-layer rainbow Jell-O, ice cream, coffee and lemonade. The men also grilled banana and jalapeño peppers with sour cream and seasoning.

It was a very nice, sunny day. The afternoon was spent with some playing croquet, and visiting out on the front porch. It was so nice to enjoy the lovely day outside. I’m sure we won’t have too many more days like that before winter arrives.

Joe and sons Benjamin, 15, Joseph, 12, and Kevin, 9, spent Saturday cleaning out our other garden. They planted winter radishes for a cover crop in the garden.

We still had green tomatoes on our tomato plants. The boys picked them all. A good way to keep the green tomatoes from ripening too fast is to wrap them in newspaper and store in a cool place. I think it gives them a better flavor than if they are just out in the open to ripen.

The sun is shining in through the door and Elizabeth’s puppy, Izzy, lays on the floor where the sun hits it. Like most dogs, she loves to soak the warmth of the sun on these chilly days. That puppy gets so spoiled around here.

For this week’s recipe I’ll share the 12-layer rainbow Jell-O that sister Emma made, from a cookbook that my sisters Verena and Susan put together and are selling now. It is recipes collected from my brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and their children. They also have pictures throughout the book, including of the house in which we grew up. The recipe for the 12-layer rainbow Jell-O was submitted by Sara Graber, a granddaughter to brother Albert.

Until next week … God bless!

12-Layer Rainbow Jell-O

6 – 3 oz. boxes of cherry, orange, pineapple/lemon, lime, blueberry and grape Jell-O
16 oz. sour cream

Dissolve Jell-O powder for one layer at a time, adding 2 cups hot water for each box of Jell-O. Put 1/2 of dissolved Jell-O and water in a 9x13x4-inch pan. Chill. Save the other half and add 2 to 3 ounces of sour cream. Stir together.

Let first layer harden, then put sour cream and Jell-O mixture over that. Do this alternately with every flavor/color, letting each layer chill, and making 12 layers in all. You will have a beautiful rainbow when finished. Keep cold until served.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Family visits and a caramel cake for summer’s end

Sister Verena’s forty-eighth birthday was Friday, August 22. She recently had our family and Jacob, Emma and their family there in honor of her birthday. We enjoyed a pizza dinner. Sister Susan made a cake for Verena but then surprised her with an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.

Lovina’s sister Susan made this birthday cake for their sister Verena last week.

It has been over a week now since son Joseph’s surgeries. He seems weak yet, but he is getting better every day. We thank God for his many blessings!

This past week we were busy canning and freezing sweet corn. We have a total of 41 quarts so far. My tomatoes are also producing really well.

Some of the 41 quarts of corn that Lovina canned and froze last week.
Some of the 41 quarts of corn that Lovina canned and froze last week.

Sister Emma and Jacob will host baptismal services for a boy and girl in our church district in a few weeks. I was finally able to help her for a day last week. With Joseph not feeling well last week, it was hard for me to leave.

Joe’s sister Christine and her husband, Jake, and their family let us know that they would be at the church services at niece Verena and Melvin’s house. We were unable to go, as Joseph was still not able to stay up that long. We were sorry we didn’t get to see them. They live in a small community two and a half hours north of here.

We had surprise visitors Sunday evening. Joe’s sister Carol, Pete, and seven children came after supper. It was a hot evening so we all sat outside on our porch. The girls made popcorn and lemonade. Their family is planning to move to Tennessee, so we will not get to see them as often.

School doors will open next week for our four youngest children. Half of our children are done with their school years. Unbelievable! This is Loretta’s final year. She will be in eighth grade. Joseph, 12, will be in sixth grade; Lovina, 10, will be in fourth grade; and Kevin will be in third grade.

The first day of school, September 2, is Kevin’s ninth birthday. Kevin likes it better when I tell people that he is my youngest child than when I say he is my “baby.” He has grown up so much, but for some reason we don’t like to see time go so fast.

One evening this week the boys and Lovina decided to build a top to cover our little wagon. They were hammering away in the pole barn. Finally they pulled it out so we could see. I think the wagon will be a little top-heavy, but I was amazed at their ambition and success. They were creative and had fun doing it. I’m not so sure if Joe appreciated his tools being scattered around, and I told Joseph he wasn’t allowed to be pounding nails because of his surgery. Something tells me he didn’t listen after I was out of sight. Once children start to feel better after being sick, it’s hard to keep them quiet! Joseph told me he wants to be a carpenter when he gets older. He said it is fun using a hammer.

This week I will share my caramel cake recipe. I have had quite a few requests for it since I wrote about my sister Susan bringing one along when we went camping. Until next week—God bless!

Caramel Cake

 Cake:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • ½ cup bread flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 2 eggs

Set aside 1 cup cake mix for topping. Combine remaining cake mix, flour, oil, water and eggs. Beat well and then pour batter into a 9×13 cake pan.

 

Topping:

  • 1 cup reserved cake mix
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup nuts
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine

Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle topping on cake and cut through batter with a knife to create a marble effect. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until done.

 

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water

Mix together and drizzle over cake when done.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at Editor@LovinasAmishKitchen.com.

Wedding invitations—and soft pretzels—abound

Canning season is in full swing. This past week we canned hot peppers (Serrano), dill pickles and salsa. I have a lot more tomatoes that need to be used, and I still have plenty of tomato juice, so I will make more salsa. What a blessing to be able to fill all those empty jars again.

Last week Lovina canned Serrano peppers, which are up to five times hotter than jalapenos!
Last week Lovina canned Serrano peppers, which are up to five times hotter than jalapenos!

We now have the rest of our little chicks. We had 75 of them for two weeks and now 25 more layers came. We will butcher the 50 butchering chickens in several weeks. The other 50 will be laying hens. Once they start laying eggs we will butcher our old laying hens for chicken broth. That is always a big job!

In our community, which isn’t very big, there are five or six weddings coming up in August and September. So bear with me if I am talking a lot about weddings lately!

We have three wedding invitations on our refrigerator right now. Daughter Elizabeth’s friend Marietta will exchange vows with Enos on August 28. We were surprised to receive an invitation. Elizabeth and Timothy will be tablewaiters at their wedding. It is a little over two weeks away, and Elizabeth still needs to sew her dress for the wedding.

Yesterday Paul and Edna were published to be married on September 24. When a couple is published for marriage, the bishop announces it in front of the church. Until then it is usually kept secret, with only family members and close friends knowing about it. We are invited to this wedding as well. And we have niece Elizabeth and Samuel’s invitation on there for September 19. The youth are usually invited to a 7 p.m. supper at all of these.

It’s hard to believe Marietta will be getting married. It seems like she and Elizabeth were just young school-age girls! They had a lot of fun times together, along with friends Linda and Freda. Many nights when they stayed here for the night, I wondered if they ever slept. Now they all have special friends, and Marietta is getting married. All four girls are 20 years old or will be soon. Life goes on!

Son Joseph, 12, will have surgery this week to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. I hope everything will go okay.

My husband, Joe, is working four-day weeks at the RV factory. This week he will only work three days so he can be at the hospital when Joseph has his surgery. Elizabeth, Susan and Benjamin all left this morning for their jobs. Benjamin is helping Susan’s friend Mose at his saw mill. He enjoys it!

Soft pretzels were the treat at Lovina's house this week, made by daughter Elizabeth.
Soft pretzels, made by daughter Elizabeth, were the treat at Lovina’s house this week.

This week I will share a recipe for soft pretzels. Elizabeth asked her friend LeAnna for the recipe and made them one night. We enjoyed them with hot cheese sauce.

Soft Pretzels

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pretzel salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add butter, brown sugar and salt. Mix well. Add wheat flour and mix thoroughly. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a soft, elastic dough (you may not need all of the flour). Knead for 10 minutes and then let rise 30 minutes. Roll pieces into 12–18 long ropes, and twist each into a pretzel shape. Place on well-greased cookie sheet. Bake immediately at 450 degrees for 10–15 minutes or until golden brown. Dip in melted butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Makes 12–18 soft pretzels.

Options: You can brush on the melted butter to save on butter. Serve with hot cheese sauce.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 or at Editor@LovinasAmishKitchen.com.

A wedding filled with sweet nothings

August is well underway, and 2014 is more than half gone. Time just goes faster and faster. It is just amazing how the years go one after another. What matters most is that we live our lives pleasing to God. The world is full of temptations and we as parents need to pray daily that God will guide our children in the direction of His will.

Thursday turned out to be a beautiful day as niece Marlene and Chris exchanged their marriage vows. Three hundred and fifty pounds of chicken was fried for the noon meal. Also on the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken and noodles, dressing, lettuce salad, mixed vegetables, cheese, homemade wheat bread, butter and strawberry jam. Desserts were tapioca pudding, sliced peaches in a fruit glaze, angel food cake with a strawberry topping, and the pies were pecan, blueberry and cherry. Sausage links were also added to the menu for supper.

“Nothings” (also called “Knee Patches”) were on the tables. They are a thin, sweet pastry made from eggs, flour, sugar and cream. The dough is rolled out real thin and then deep-fried. Sugar is sprinkled on top and they are put on stacks on a dinner plate. Plates of Nothings are set around the tables and people can enjoy them all day. In our Amish community Nothings are never made for weddings. When I was a young girl everyone in my home community had Nothings and celery sticks on the tables at a wedding. They didn’t have celery sticks at this wedding, so I’m not sure if this isn’t a tradition anymore or if some just decide not to have celery.

Stacks of "Nothings," shown here at Lovina and Joe's wedding in 1993.
Stacks of “Nothings,” shown here at Lovina and Joe’s wedding in 1993.

They didn’t have a wedding wagon there, so kerosene stoves were borrowed as well as many pots and pans. The food was all prepared in a summer kitchen area that connected to the pole-barn type building where the tables were set up. In yet another building the services were held for the wedding ceremony.

Brother Amos and Nancy have eight daughters and two sons. This was the fourth daughter getting married so I’m sure they are well practiced to prepare for a wedding.

I was a cook at the wedding and my job was to help mash potatoes. All the potatoes were mashed by hand. In some of the wedding wagons they have mixers that are run off the generator so it makes lots less work to get the potatoes mashed. This was how the potatoes were mashed at niece Irene’s wedding. It is always interesting to see the differences from one Amish community to the next.

At weddings in our Amish community all the children go to the table to eat. At weddings in Berne, Ind., they have the children eat cafeteria-style. At this wedding, 130 adults could eat at one time and the tables were reset quite often. I’m guessing there were around 250-300 youth that came for the evening meal. Berne is a large community compared to ours.

We were happy to have nephew Chris Schwartz Jr. spend the evening here on Saturday. We cooked supper outside on the grill and open kettle. Pork steak, ribs, hot wings, and banana and Jalapeño poppers were grilled. Chili soup was made in the kettle. Chris is 30 years old and still single. He runs a construction crew and was working close by.

Blueberries will only have a short season here in our area this year. Try this blueberry pie with fresh blueberries.

Blueberry Pie

  • 1 quart blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons Clear Jel
  • 1¼ cup cold water
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Blue food coloring (optional)
  • 1 (9-inch) pie crust (unbaked)

Use fresh, ripe blueberries or unsweetened frozen blueberries. Wash and drain. Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a saucepan. Add water and food coloring (optional), then cook until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in berries and put in pie crust. You can do either a double or single crust pie, and some use flour or minute tapioca instead of Clear Jel. Bake 1 hour or until done.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 or at Editor@LovinasAmishKitchen.com.

Wedding prep and washer breakdown: all in a week’s work

All is quiet here at the Eicher household. Everyone has retired for the evening. I will be glad to join them, but I can’t neglect the duty of getting this column ready for the mail tomorrow. I will leave early to go help bake pies at brother Albert’s house.

Albert and Sarah Irene’s daughter, Irene, is getting married to Levi Raber on Wednesday. I will be a cook at the wedding, so some of us go to help prepare whatever needs to be done and bake pies. I still need to sew my cape and apron for the wedding. I finished my dress. Daughter Elizabeth and her friend, Timothy, are table waiters and Elizabeth has to wear the color berry. She has her outfit all sewn. It’s such a help to me that she can cut out and sew her own dress, cape, and apron.

On July 31 another of my nieces is getting married. Brother Amos’s daughter Marlene is getting married to Chris Troyer. This wedding will be in Berne, Indiana.

I was asked to be a cook, and Elizabeth and Timothy are table waiters again. Elizabeth will have to wear a periwinkle-colored dress for this wedding. Marlene chose the same dark blue color for the cooks as Irene did. That will make less sewing for me.

We were invited back to the place where church was held at today for supper. We decided to just stay home. It was a relaxing evening with all the family home and Timothy and Mose were here as well. Joe and our three sons, Timothy, and Mose played a few games of croquet. The girls aren’t very fond of playing that game so all five daughters went for a walk.

For supper, I made an Italian sausage and potato casserole, and also a garden salad with fresh lettuce from our garden. I will share the casserole recipe at the end of my column. Sisters Verena and Susan shared this recipe with me that a friend had given to them. I like trying something different, and it was a winner in the family as most of it was eaten up. There was just enough for Joe’s lunch for tomorrow at work.

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Fresh veggies from the Eicher family garden.

The girls did the chores for sisters Verena and Susan from Wednesday to Saturday. They went on a sight-seeing tour to Niagara Falls with a busload of their friends. There were 42 girls in all on the bus. It sounds like they had a nice trip.

On Friday while we were washing the laundry the wringer stopped working. We have a spare wringer when something like this happens, and guess what—the last time my wringer broke we laid it aside, never taking time to take it to be fixed. So there we were without a wringer and halfway through the washing of our clothes. Luckily, I have a spinner to help spin water out of the clothes but it was still a chore to wring all those clothes out by hand.

Sisters Verena and Susan do not have to work tomorrow and said the girls could bring the clothes over to wash at their house. Since I’m leaving they might just do that. I’m not sure how quickly our washing machine will be in working order again. We had to take the washing machine to get it checked out as well, as Joe thinks it could be the gears in there instead of the wringer.

We were excited to hear that we are uncle and aunt again. Joe’s brother, Benjamin, and Miriam from Sugarcreek, Ohio, were blessed with a little girl, Victoria Joy, recently. We look forward to meeting her.

Blessings to all!

Italian Sausage and Potato Casserole

  • 5 sliced potatoes
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 large green pepper (chopped)
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Mix sliced potatoes, onion, green pepper, and seasonings with olive oil. Bake in a 9 x 13 pan, covered, for one half hour at 350°. Remove from oven and drain, if necessary. Cut sausage in pieces and add to potato mixture. Continue cooking for one hour or until sausage is done.