Tag Archives: canning

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ice cream ensures that back-to-school open house pleases even the littlest attender

Ice cream ensures that back-to-school open house pleases even the littlest attender

Happy birthday to my sister Verena, whose 52nd birthday was August 22. We wish her God’s richest blessings and many more happy, healthy years!

This is Thursday morning, and it seems the hours are going faster than I can keep up! School doors opened Tuesday, August 21, with son Kevin in seventh grade and daughter Lovina in eighth. Lovina decided that she would like to attend school again instead of doing another year of homeschooling. I think she missed her school friends. Kevin is also glad to have his sister back at school.

We were helping Susan yesterday. Daughter Elizabeth and Abigail were also there helping. We washed her laundry and washed off her kitchen walls, ceilings, and cupboards. We also did some other odds-and-ends. Baby Jennifer was fussy this week, so it’s hard for Susan to get her work done. I think Jennifer senses that her mother is extra busy. On Saturday we canned pizza sauce and hot peppers for Susan.

Last night was the open house at the school. Little Abigail cried when we were leaving Susan’s house, so we decided to just take Abigail with us. Daughters Verena and Loretta told Elizabeth they would bring her back home after the open house at the school. There was an ice cream social at the open house, and Abigail loved the birthday cake flavor. She also loved playing on the swings and slides at the playground. She didn’t want to leave. It is so precious to have her come home with us. Needless to say, she gets a lot of attention here!

This week Lovina and crew canned 24 quarts of homemade vegetable juice; she shares the recipe.

We did our first canning of tomatoes this week. We canned 24 quarts of homemade vegetable juice. I will share the recipe with you at the end of the column which comes from my earlier cookbook, The Amish Cook at Home. This is a good drink for breakfast or anytime of the day. It is healthy, given all the different vegetables it contains. I don’t always add every vegetable in the recipe. Sometimes I add potatoes, and sometimes I don’t. I add more hot peppers than the recipe calls for because we like it with a spicy flavor. Daughter Elizabeth doesn’t add many hot peppers so she can use it in soups and it won’t be hot for little Abigail.

Today we will wash laundry and then can some peaches. I have a bushel that needs to be done today. I’m not sure yet, but I may also freeze some that we can use for lunches.

Son Joseph, 16, started his new job at the RV factory. He is only allowed to do some small jobs because of his age. He enjoys it and is excited about having a job again and earning money. My nephew Benjamin also works there, so the cousins enjoy spending their breaks and lunchtime together.

I really miss Joseph’s help here at home, but I understand that he needs to get a job. It’s part of growing up. So many people take for granted that everyone can work any job. But when you have a disability, jobs are limited. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair to our girls that they can’t go out and earn money like other girls. Life isn’t fair, and God has a reason for everything. We don’t always understand it, but someday we will. Keeping our trust in God is the best thing we can do.

My husband Joe is on four-day work weeks this month, so he can help Mose with his work. Things are falling in place in preparation for hosting church services there on Sunday. The church tent will be set up at Mose and Susan’s house tomorrow. Services will be held under the tent since they don’t have enough room in the buildings for the service.

I’ll share the vegetable juice recipe I used this week.

The process of making homemade vegetable juice is quite involved, but rewarding.

Homemade Vegetable Juice

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 ingredients except the salt in a 3-gallon stainless steel pot over medium-high heat. Cook until soft enough to go through a Victoria strainer, about 30 minutes. Strain and put into sterilized quart jars and add 1 teaspoon salt to every jar. Process according to your canner’s directions. Makes 14 quarts.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

Hosting church spurs Eichers to finally add trim and wainscoting

Hosting church spurs Eichers to finally add trim and wainscoting

Another busy week! Yesterday was a long day. Sister Emma and sons Jacob, 18, and Steven, 11, daughter Elizabeth with Abigail, and daughter Susan with Jennifer assisted us with our work.

Steven had his eleventh birthday on Monday, July 30. Son Kevin and Steven always enjoy spending time together. They both have muscular dystrophy, so they are limited with what they can do. Other children at that age don’t always want to take the time to play with someone that is slower at walking. It’s the age when others are active and want to run and play sports. So most of the time these two boys keep each other entertained at school, church, etc. Until I had handicapped children I never thought so much about it but once you are at this end of it you really appreciate the people that are considerate of your children. It is hard for boys this age to sit back and watch the other boys running and playing games that they can’t participate in. God helps us through our trials.

Yesterday our back entrance was cleaned from top to bottom. Some kitchen cabinets were also cleaned out. I sure was glad for what all was done. Everyone who came to help had a breakfast of biscuits, sausage gravy, fried eggs, cheese, chocolate chip cookies, watermelon, coffee, milk, and juice. For lunch we had vegetable soup and hot dog sandwiches.

In the evening my husband Joe, sons Joseph and Kevin and I went to Menards (a large lumber and supply store) to pick up our order of trim and wainscoting. Yes, we are finally getting our trim on. One year after another slips by since we moved in our new house. It seemed we could always use the money somewhere else and that is still the case but Joe said we need to get it done. It will look a lot better I’m sure. We have the family coming to help us with it on Saturday. Then we have one more week after that to be ready to host church services.

Daughter Verena, 20, is disappointed to be out of a job again. Nephew Emanul shut down his woodworking shop where she was a secretary. She had found some work suitable for her and it was working so good for her. Again we will trust God to lead the way. I sure am glad for her help with the cleaning but I understand that helping her mother doesn’t pay.

Last Friday my sisters Verena and Susan spent the day here helping. They cleaned a lot of windows. They used white vinegar in water to wash them and use cheese cloth towel to dry them. It made the windows nice and sparkling. Joe made grilled hamburgers and French fries for our supper before they left for home. I sure appreciate everyone’s help.

We were invited to a fish fry at neighbors Joas and Susan’s place last night but couldn’t attend as we had to go to Menards.

I have pickles that need to be canned today. I will also make freezer pickles with them. For canning pickles, I use the recipe that a lady in our church gave me called sweet dill pickles. I will share the recipe with those of you that like canning your own pickles.

God bless!

Sweet Dill Pickles

Cucumbers, (sliced, enough for about 3 quarts, or double plus extra for 6-7 quarts)
2 cups white vinegar
3 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons canning and pickling salt
2 cups water
4 garlic cloves (per quart)
2 dill heads (per quart)
pinch of alum (per quart)

Put sliced cucumbers, garlic, dill, and alum in jars. Heat vinegar, sugar, salt, and water together then pour over pickles. Cold pack according to your guide for water bath canning. Makes 3 quarts.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

 

 

Placid evening after family devotions a fitting finale for the day

Supper is over and we have had evening devotions. All the children have gone their own way now—some to bed and some reading, writing or just relaxing. I love evenings like this, when everyone is close by. Every mother has those moments, I’m sure.

Making my day even more complete was having daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their sweet little daughters, Abigail and Jennifer, home for the day. This grandma actually fell asleep holding the baby on the recliner. Jennifer loves being held and cuddled.

Elizabeth hasn’t started potty-training Abigail, but today I started asking Abigail if she has to go to potty. She even comes up to me and tells me she needs to go potty. Well, we go through the whole routine and then she just sits there. I told Elizabeth she will eventually get the hang of it. I don’t think Elizabeth is too enthused to start the potty-training process. I keep asking myself why I’m so happy to help potty-train my granddaughter when I dreaded it with my own children! Maybe it’s because I can do it for a few hours and then quit when they go home. My dad always told us if he had known that grandchildren were so much fun he would have had them first. It was just one of his many jokes.

Back to supper tonight: our menu was biscuits, sausage gravy, eggs, potatoes and cheese. Son Benjamin and nephew Henry went after a new bearing for the buggy wheel on our one buggy. Then nephews Benjamin and Steven and niece Emma came over with some pon hoss and fresh sausage. They butchered pork on Saturday.

The Eichers were happy to can and freeze food staples such as this beef, which is customary among most Amish families.

Our beef is all canned, bagged and frozen. Freezers are filled to capacity. Do we appreciate that we have plenty to eat? There are so many in this world who are less fortunate. Let us pray for those less fortunate and also pray for peace in the world. There is so much hatred. God can be our only comfort at times when all else seems to go wrong.

My husband Joe and several of the children made around 300 hamburger patties, which are all frozen individually so they can be taken apart and put right on the grill. The rest of the hamburger was bagged and canned. I like using the canned hamburger for casseroles when I’m in a hurry. I went shopping with daughters Elizabeth, Susan and Loretta on Saturday. I felt so happy coming home to find out that this big job was all done—and maybe slightly guilty for not helping!

On Sunday church services were held with Dustin’s (Loretta’s special friend) parents being hosts. Loretta, Lovina, Benjamin, Joseph and Henry attended church in their district. Joe and I were also planning to go but Joe wasn’t feeling well during the night so we changed our plans. Joe was also home from work one day, running a fever and just not feeling well at all. The next day he felt good enough to go back to work, but he was still ready to see the weekend come. Those early mornings come around so fast! So often we take our good health for granted.

Several of our children and I went to visit sister-in-law Nancy one day this week. So much sadness. I have such a hard time going there and not seeing my brother Amos come walking to greet us. He was always so overjoyed to see us when we’d stop in for a visit. Amos and Nancy’s daughters—Lovina and her daughter and Elizabeth and her son—were home for the day. And Lisa, Laura and Sam were home, so we visited with everyone.

We were happy to hear we have another nephew, Seth Paul, born to Joe’s sister Loretta and Henry on March 2. Seth makes child number eleven for them. Their oldest son, Henry, has lived with us for almost seven months now. He went home to greet his newest little brother on Friday night. That makes 59 grandchildren for Joe’s late parents. Joe’s mother died at age 54 when we only had Elizabeth. She would be so happy to see all her grandchildren now.

Daughter Verena seems to be doing okay with her cast on her leg. She is getting a little impatient and tries to busy herself writing letters to others who need cheering up.

A reader shared with me her recipe for hot wilted lettuce. She says they eat this on top of boiled potatoes.

God’s blessings to all!

Hot Lettuce

1/2-1 pound bacon
1 heaping tablespoon flour (or a little more if needed)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
1 head of lettuce, torn

Fry bacon in large skillet. Remove bacon. Stir flour into grease and brown. Put egg in medium bowl and beat a little. Add salt, sugar, vinegar and water and then add this mixture to skillet. Add lettuce (you can use more or less than a head, as desired) and crumbled-up bacon and stir briefly in skillet until lettuce wilts slightly. Serve immediately.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 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 at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org