Tag Archives: Christmas

Eichers usher in new year by doing puzzles, coloring, and celebrating Old Christmas

A brand new year—2017—awaits us. What will it hold for everyone? Although it doesn’t have to be a new year to make resolutions, it’s a good time to start. It amazes me how fast one year after another goes!

When the children were younger, winters seemed to last forever. Now it seems like I don’t have enough cold months to stay sewing at the sewing machine. It’s so hard to keep up with sewing pants for the three boys. Kevin, 11, seems to grow taller every month. Joseph, 14, is taller than Benjamin, 17, so there are no more “hand-me-downs.” Benjamin works in construction, so his pants get lots of wear and tear.

We had a very nice Christmas together with our children. Everyone gathered here on Christmas Eve and stayed for the night. It was baby Abigail’s first time sleeping at our house. So sweet to see her wake up in the morning and then give such a bright smile!

We all enjoyed breakfast together and then washed the dishes. Then we gave gifts to each other and enjoyed watching each other open them. How precious these family times are. They mean even more to me now, with two of our children no longer living in our house.

We played games, and some enjoyed coloring. A person can never get too old to color! We also started a 2,000-piece puzzle that daughter Susan and Mose gave for a gift to my husband Joe and I. We always put together 1,000-piece puzzles, so Susan wanted to challenge us even more. We now have the puzzle more than halfway done. It is a picture of a lighted cabin and two deer standing by the woods. We would like to glue this one and frame it.

I think it’s so relaxing to sit and work on the puzzle after supper on these cold winter nights. It gives a person a chance to unwind. I remember well how often, years ago, our puzzles would get pushed off the table or messed up by our little children. I imagine it won’t be long until we will have grandchildren who are old enough to enjoy trying to mess them up. Life goes on!

One day while Joe and the children were on Christmas break, we had company stop by. It was Ruth Coblentz and Rose Chapman. They are both cousins to Joe’s dad. Ruth’s husband, Dave, is deceased but was a cousin to my father. Brother Albert had sent us some pon hoss, a fried dish from leftover hog meat, from when they butchered hogs. We were having that for a late breakfast, so Ruth and Rose got to taste it too. The children love coffee soup and eggs with pon hoss. We had a nice visit with the cousins.

The Eicher family enjoyed opening gifts together on Christmas Day and then again on “Old Christmas,“ celebrated on January 6.

Friday, January 6, is what we call “Old Christmas,” and the Amish in this area honor that day. We will have my sisters here in Michigan for a gift exchange and to spend the day together. We are a total of 25 now. We already have the tables set up to seat 24 people. Abigail doesn’t need a place setting yet. Our children are always excited to set the table for all of us.

These pecan pie bars are a great snack and a family favorite. Happy 2017 and God bless!

Pecan Pie Bars

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup corn syrup
dash salt
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

In a small bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar. Gradually add flour, mixing until blended. Pat into ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–22 minutes or until golden.

In another small bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt until smooth. Pour over crust; sprinkle with pecans. Bake 40–45 minutes longer or until set. Cool. Cut into bars.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

“Mystery” biscuits make simple and appealing treat during busy Christmas season

A snowy Tuesday December evening! We received about seven inches of snow over the weekend. It makes for good sledding.

Daughters Susan and Verena mixed up some biscuits and then went out sledding with son Joseph, 14, and daughter Lovina, 12. I’m making sausage gravy and trying to write and watch the gravy at the same time. The biscuits are baking, and son Kevin, 11, is frying the eggs. He learned how to fry eggs in cooking class at school, so he is glad to try his skills at cooking here at home.

Son-in-law Mose is hunting tonight. Son Benjamin just came home from work. Husband Joe is taking a shower.

Daughter Loretta, 16, went with her special friend Dustin’s family to their school Christmas program. Dustin’s youngest sister, Rebecca, is in the program. She is in kindergarten. She was born nine years after the youngest of her six siblings, so is the only one still in school from their family.

It sure is different now that we don’t have any children in elementary school who have a Christmas program. Our youngest child, Kevin, enjoys middle school, where he switches classes every hour. He says the day goes much faster.

This is now after supper. Some of the children are playing Poppa’s Pizza Topple. It’s a game where you have to balance the pizza toppings on the pizza, which the pizza guy is holding.

Susan still comes over to our house to read a chapter from the Bible every day with the rest of her siblings. They each take turns reading a verse. I feel so thankful that they read the Bible every day. Life is so busy, and it is so often pushed aside. How comforting to read the words written by God! As parents, we have a great responsibility, and I realize this more and more as the children get older. We can’t say enough prayers for them as they grow up in a world filled with so much hate and sin. May God give us the strength to stay faithful to his will.

A store-bought birthday cake is a special treat in the Eicher family; this one is for daughter Verena's 19th birthday.
A store-bought birthday cake is a special treat in the Eicher family; this one is for daughter Verena’s 19th birthday.

Daughter Verena turned nineteen on Sunday. Our married daughters and family and Dustin were here Sunday evening in honor of her birthday. On the menu were chili soup, hot wings, jalapeño poppers, macaroni salad, cheese, cake and ice cream. The men fixed the hot food out in the kettle and on the grill. The girls and I enjoyed the break and took turns holding dear little Abigail. She giggled out loud for the first time. All those “firsts” are so precious.

I want to thank all the readers who have sent cards and money since my surgery. It is greatly appreciated. Hospital expenses are high these days, but our health cannot be neglected all the time. I do feel so much better since the surgery. I want to get to my sewing again. The boys need more pants.

I will sign off for this time. May God bless each of you! And may all of you with health problems recuperate to a complete recovery! We often take good health for granted until we don’t have it.

I will share the recipe we use almost all the time for our biscuits. The mayonnaise and milk give these biscuits a very moist texture. I think that is why they are so popular with the children in my house.

Mystery Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or 12 muffin cups and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Blend in the mayonnaise, milk and sugar until the mixture is creamy. Drop by the tablespoon onto the baking sheet or fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake until golden brown, 18–20 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

 

Heaps of dessert but no salad at your last potluck? Take a lesson from Lovina and friends

Six weeks ago today I had my surgery. I am feeling pretty good but am still being careful about my blood clot. It gets better every day.

On Sunday I went to church for the first time since my surgery. I appreciated all the “welcome backs” and concerns for my health. On our way home Joe and I stopped in to visit with brother-in-law Jacob (sister Emma’s husband). He was home from church with a bad backache. They had a vanload of visitors from Berne, Indiana, including Jacob’s brother Martin and wife Edith and family. Also visiting were niece Elizabeth and Samuel and their daughter LaRose.

LaRose is sister Liz and Levi’s first and only grandchild. She was a year old on November 10. She’s running all over already. She’s a little cutie! It looks like she keeps her mother busy. I imagine that sister Liz and Levi have many fun times with little LaRose.

The grandfather, Levi had hip replacement surgery last week, so he will be laid up a long time. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery!

Our annual church Christmas potluck dinner will be in two weeks after church services. On Sunday, all the women wrote down what dishes they will bring. Usually, while we are eating the Sunday meal a few weeks before Christmas, the women pass a tablet around the table. Everyone chooses what they will bring, such as a casserole, salad or dessert. This way we don’t end up with more salads than desserts or the other way around.

Daughter Loretta, 16, traveled to Ohio to a family gathering with her special friend, Dustin, and his family. They had a six-hour drive there, so they left Friday evening and returned Saturday evening.

Sunday evening Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail, Dustin, and all of us ate supper over at Mose and Susan’s. Joe made chili in the kettle over an open fire, and he also grilled chicken. Mose baked a cake and we also had ice cream. Some of the children played games, and Joe and I had fun enjoying baby Abigail. She is such a sweetie and is growing so fast!

Daughter Verena will turn 19 on Saturday, December 10. It doesn’t seem possible that she is that old.

Yesterday Verena and daughter Susan spent the day helping daughter Elizabeth with her work. Church services will be held at Timothy and Elizabeth’s in January, so Elizabeth is getting a head start with her cleaning. With a baby in the house, time is limited. Life changes, and the baby’s needs always come first.

Crystal’s puppies are four weeks old, and they plan to sell them to good homes when they get old enough. It’s just too much to have five little puppies in the house yet. They are very cute and playful.

So adorable: one of Elizabeth’s puppies born to her Yorkie, Crystal, soon after Elizabeth’s baby girl, Abigail was born.
So adorable: one of Elizabeth’s puppies born to her Yorkie, Crystal, soon after Elizabeth’s baby girl, Abigail was born.

I received a get-well card from Uncle Elmer and Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma had written a letter as well, which I appreciated. It is always nice hearing from my mother’s sisters. She had in her letter that Cousin Leah is home from the hospital after her accident, but has lots of healing to do yet. Our prayers are with her and the family!

Correction: I want to make a correction with an error that occurred in one of my recent letters. The two young girls that were killed in the tragic buggy accident were cousins to each other, not to me. It was a bit of a confusion to people who know me, so I wanted to make sure that is corrected. God bless!

Gold Rush Brunch Casserole

8 eggs, beaten
1 pound frozen Tater Tots or hash brown patties, thawed
1 pound sausage or ham, cubed
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2–1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

Scramble eggs on stovetop and set aside. Place potatoes in bottom of greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Fry meat lightly and layer on top of potatoes along with onion and parsley. Layer scrambled eggs on top of meat. Layer cheese on top of eggs. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk flour into butter, gradually adding milk. Cook and stir until thickened and boiling. Add pepper, salt and sour cream; mix well. Remove sauce from heat and pour evenly over casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 30–40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Yields 6–8 servings.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

Eichers exchange names for Christmas

Today wraps up the month of November! While the children were waiting for the bus this morning, they said that Christmas is only 25 days away. I am having a harder time getting into the season this year. Even though we enjoy getting together with family and sharing gifts, let us always remember the true meaning of Christmas: the day Jesus our Savior was born.

Tonight a nativity scene is being played out at our local youth center. Tickets were sold out before I had the chance to get any. My sisters Verena and Susan are helping out, so I have some details from them. Everyone in the cast will dress as they did in those days, and live animals will be used to play out the scenes of how Jesus was born. A meal will be served afterward. The money raised will be used to help with the costs of running the youth center.

We spent Thanksgiving Day with Jacob, Emma and family at their house. With both our families and sisters Verena and Susan, we make a total of 25. Mose and Susan had Thanksgiving this year with his parents. We exchanged names after lunch for a Christmas gift exchange, which will be held here at our house. We haven’t decided when to have it yet.

A total of 25 enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner together at this long table.
A total of 25 enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner together at this long table.

Emma prepared two turkeys and all the trimmings. With all the food everyone had brought, the table was more than filled. Everyone took leftovers home for the next day. Granddaughter Abigail had the most attention all day. She is so precious to all of us! Her black hair and blue eyes and the dimples in her cheeks are adorable. Of course, all grandmothers love their grandchildren. For me it’s still a new feeling. God has been more than good to us, and we need to thank him all the time for our blessings, not just on holidays such as Thanksgiving.

Son Benjamin went hunting with son-in-law Timothy and was happy to shoot a deer. He ground the meat on Monday when he didn’t have work. It’s nice to have more meat in the freezer.

Recently Joe’s sister Esther and David and baby David Tyrell (age 3 1/2 months) had supper here. It was our first time to meet baby David. Our marrieds were here for supper as well. Needless to say Abigail and David were the center of attention. Our evening was spent singing together, which is always enjoyable.

Sunday was our week off of church, and we spent it at Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. We had a brunch, with this delicious menu: gold rush breakfast casserole (I need to ask her for the recipe), pancakes, baked French toast, milk, grape juice, orange juice, coffee and V-8 juice. We also had cherry pie and Swiss roll bars. After the dishes were washed, we played games and visited. The men and boys went for a walk through the woods while we stayed with Abigail, spoiling her.

Daughters Elizabeth (and Abigail) and Susan and I went grocery shopping after Abigail’s doctor appointment on Tuesday. We met up with Ruth Coblentz. It sounds like she has many lonely days since her husband Dave passed away in August. Dave was a cousin to my father. To all the Coblentz relatives who read this column: after talking with Ruth, I found out I made a mistake in my August column. Dad’s cousins Dave and Leroy were not brothers but cousins to each other. With my parents no longer around to answer my questions, I misunderstood how the relationship was. It was nice being able to talk with Ruth again even though the visit was short.

My thoughts and prayers go to the families affected by the Tennessee fires. I can’t imagine what they are going through. Prayers also for the families of the young people who died in the recent car-buggy accidents. God be with everyone and help ease their pain!

For this week’s recipe, I am sharing one of the recipes from my upcoming cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, which will be out next spring. This fudge is different because of the soda crackers added to it. My mother always made fudge around Christmastime, and then we wouldn’t have it again for a year. Give this one a try over the holidays. God bless!

Peanut Butter Cracker Fudge
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 box soda crackers, crushed

In a saucepan, bring sugar, butter, and milk to a boil and boil for one minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, vanilla and crushed crackers. Spread into greased 8×8-inch baking pan and allow to cool. Cut into one-inch squares.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. 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.

Cookies, memories, and a long-lost rolling pin that wended its way back home

P1080484This will be my final column for 2015. After that, we enter into a brand new year. What does it have in store for us? The future is unknown, but if we trust in God to lead our way, it seems so much more encouraging.

Our life brought changes in 2015, with the first of our children, Elizabeth, getting married and leaving home. It was hard to see our firstborn move out and start a life of her own. What made it easier was that we know she is happily married.

Yesterday Elizabeth came home for the day to help since she and Susan are off from the factory for two weeks. The girls made Christmas cut-out cookies. I know Christmas is now past, but we will have our annual gathering with my sisters who live in the area on New Year’s Day. The cookies were made for that day, and there is enough to snack on before.

While the girls were making the cookies, I had to think of all the years that we made these cookies when they were young. I remember how they would pull up chairs to help cut out all the cookies with my Christmas cookie cutters. They liked to squeeze the dough, and it took forever to get the cookies done!

This week get Lovina's recipe for sour cream cut-out cookies.
This week get Lovina’s recipe for sour cream cut-out cookies.

Lovina, 11, used my recipe for frosting and made it for the first time. To write one of my cookbooks, I had to measure out my ingredients for my frosting recipe. Mom had just taught us to use “a little of this” and “a little of that” and to keep adding until we had what amount we needed. But it now comes in handy to have a recipe. Loretta divided the frosting into three bowls and added green food coloring to one and red food coloring to another to make different colors. They made snowmen, Christmas trees, bells and stars.

As they used the rolling pin to roll out the dough, it brought back lots of memories of my mother. This rolling pin was hers. A friend had made it for my mother; it was all one piece of wood, with the handles carved out, and it was bigger than most rolling pins. When my parents’ belongings were sold through a public auction, I tried hard to get that rolling pin. It went for too high a price, however, and I thought I would never see it again.

This week Lovina tells the story of her mother's rolling pin, pictured here.
This week Lovina tells the story of her mother’s rolling pin, pictured here.

A few years went by. Then one day I received a call from my editor saying that a reader had bought Mom’s rolling pin at the auction that day and no longer needed it. The reader wondered if I would want it. Oh, I was so excited to have it back in my hands! I can’t recall the name of the reader, but if by chance you read this column, I want to thank you again!

Not one time do I not think of my mother when I use this rolling pin. I still thank her for all she taught me. Most of all, I thank her for teaching me about God and to always turn to him when we need help. Rest in peace, Mother—you lived your life to the fullest and have left a legacy to us. No one else could have done any better.

I will share the recipe we use for Christmas cut-out cookies. We love this recipe!

God bless all you readers in 2016 and always!

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter,  softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

Food coloring (optional)
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until a soft firm dough is formed. Sometimes more flour needs to be added so the dough rolls out better. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite shaped cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Place the shapes on the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 18 cookies, depending on shapes.

To make the frosting: Cream the shortening with the vanilla and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added for desired thickness. Food coloring can also be added. Spread the frosting on the cookies and decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips. Let the frosting set before storing.

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.

Mild, dreary holiday weather has Eichers hoping for colder, sunnier days

Monday evening: supper is over, and everyone is relaxing for the evening. It is Christmas week already. Only a few days of 2015 left!

Daughter Susan is on a two-week break from the RV factory. The school has also closed its doors for two weeks. My husband, Joe, worked today but is now off work until January 4 as well. These two weeks will fly by so fast. Along with the holidays, we are also cleaning for church services, which will be held here in four weeks.

On Sunday our church district had our annual Christmas potluck dinner after church services. As usual, there was more than enough food. There were five different casseroles, all kinds of salads and desserts.

Tomorrow is my husband Joe’s forty-seventh birthday. His birthday always comes so close to the holidays. We want to have our family all together in honor of his birthday, but it doesn’t look like it will work for everyone until this coming weekend.

The last few weeks we have had rainy and dreary weather. This is making it hard for our solar panels to keep our battery pack charged. We have been using a generator to help charge the batteries. It is surprising how just one day of sunlight helps with the solar panels! We are always especially thankful for a sunshiny day since our water, freezer, and other items depend on the sun. Usually, we would have snowy weather in December, which makes the whole world seem brighter. The local newspaper said this December is making a record of being the warmest in December in years.

On Saturday morning the roads were covered in ice until the temperature rose and melted most of it. A lot of vehicles went off the road due to the slippery conditions. We had a friend take us to do some Christmas shopping around noon, and it was still really slippery. Now today it rained most of the day, with the temperature reaching 50 degrees. Joe turned our coal stove down as far as he can without it going out, and we still have to open a few windows. We are really saving on coal so far. I wonder if our whole winter will be this mild. I really am hoping we will get some colder weather, as it makes it nicer to butcher beef and pork. We will take whatever God sends for us and be thankful.

I wish all of you readers a merry Christmas. May God be with all of you this holiday season. I wish good health and safe travels to everyone. God bless all of you!

Delicious Fall Salad

6-8 slices bacon
3 cups sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
8 cups Chinese cabbage, chopped
Italian dressing

Fry and crumble bacon. Fry sweet potatoes in bacon grease, stirring several times until soft with crispy edges. Add crumbled bacon and fry several more minutes. Layer Chinese cabbage in a wide, shallow serving bowl. Top with hot bacon mixture. Do not stir. Serve immediately with Italian dressing.

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.

 

Gift exchange, school program, and potluck accent Eicher family Christmas

I am already a day late in writing this column. December is going way too fast for me! Christmas is almost upon us.

Tonight is the elementary Christmas program at our school. It is the last Christmas program with one of our children in it. Kevin will be in middle school next year—a fifth grader already! Kevin’s class is having a gift exchange, so he was excited to take his wrapped gift this morning. They don’t have a particular person’s name. Instead, the boys take a gift for a boy and the girls take a gift for a girl. This seems easier than keeping a secret from their friends about whose name they have.

We will have our Christmas with our family a day early, on December 24. Susan’s friend Mose’s family is getting together on Christmas day, so we decided to have it a day earlier. Our children don’t have any complaints about getting their gifts early!

Everyone will be here for supper on December 23, and then we give the gifts the next morning. I usually make a breakfast casserole the evening before so I can put it in the oven to heat while we open gifts. Such precious memories we make on a day like that. We need to take time to remember and thank God for sending Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Lovina and her daughters have been extra busy sewing clothes for Christmas gifts.
Lovina and her daughters have been extra busy sewing clothes for Christmas gifts.

Our day is usually spent enjoying our new gifts, playing games, and just enjoying being all together as a family. Our loved ones who have passed away always remain in our hearts on days like this.

Our family, sister Emma, Jacob and family, and sisters Verena and Susan always exchange names every year. We will get together on New Year’s Day for a Christmas dinner together. My parents always had our family home on New Year’s Day for breakfast and dinner and snacks before everyone left. Some of us would go the evening before and spend the night there. Since my extended family usually gets together in the summer months, it is nice for us four sisters here in Michigan to get together around the holidays.

Our church on Sunday will be at neighbors David and Barb. We will have our annual potluck dinner after the Christmas services on Sunday. I will take a tater tot casserole. Sister Liz had this recipe in our family cookbook that sisters Verena and Susan put together. I have made it a few times and the children enjoy it.

God bless you all!

Tater Tot Casserole

2 pounds tater tots
1 pint sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 soup cans milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound Velveeta cheese
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups cornflakes or crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup melted margarine

Put tater tots in bottom of casserole dish. Mix together sour cream, soup, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over tater tots. Fry ground beef and onion together. Top casserole with cheese, ground beef and onions. Sprinkle with cornflakes or cracker crumbs mixed with melted margarine. Bake at 350° for 45–60 minutes.

Variation: Cooked potatoes can be used instead of tater tots. This makes a large casserole. You can’t go wrong with a recipe like this—more or less of anything won’t hurt. Sometimes I put taco seasoning in the ground beef and crush Doritos on top instead of cornflakes.

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.

 

Year winds down with farewell to a favorite cousin

One day after another goes by, bringing 2015 closer to history. We do not have snow. We had seven inches of snow several weeks ago, and last week a few flurries that stuck to the ground for a few hours. Our children are hoping it snows for Christmas. Snow does bring in the holiday spirit more, but we cannot forget the real reason for the season—Jesus our Savior was born!

Our church will have our annual potluck Christmas dinner on December 20—our next church service. I will take a casserole, although I’m not sure what kind yet.

Tomorrow is daughter Verena’s 18th birthday! I just try to grasp the fact that 18 years have passed since she was born to us. What a precious young lady she has become. I still remember well the day she was born. She was a petite, dark-haired baby. Always little but mighty! At six months old, she was crawling all over the house. She is still petite. With Kevin, 10, growing taller and taller, it won’t be long before he will pass Verena in height. My wish for Verena is to have a very happy birthday and God’s guidance through her teenage years and always. Verena will never leave or go to bed without giving me a hug and a kiss. What a joy to be her mother!

Along with joy, life also brings us sorrow. Our hearts are still in shock from hearing the news of cousin Larry Coblentz’s death. It is with regret that we were unable to attend the visitation or funeral. The funeral was yesterday with visitation only an hour before the funeral. Several of our children had appointments that were unable to be changed. Our hearts and prayers were with the family as they laid to rest a kind-hearted son, father, brother, uncle and grandpa. Larry was one of my favorite cousins. He always had time to visit even though we didn’t get to see each other as often in the recent years. Larry was a big supporter of my column and a great encouragement to me to keep writing when it would have been easier to just quit. There was more than once at a book signing that I would spot Larry’s face in the crowd. How comforting to know he drove several hours to be there.

Larry was the oldest of my cousins on the Coblentz side. His dad, Albert Jr., was my dad’s oldest sibling and will be 86 in January. Our sympathy goes to Uncle Albert Jr. and Aunt Shirley and also to Larry’s son, David, and children and his extended family. Rest in peace, Larry! Your life touched many!

Son Joseph, 13, was very excited to shoot his first deer last Saturday. He went hunting with Mose (daughter Susan’s special friend). But after he had shot the doe and they had tracked it, Joseph was disappointed to find that someone else was taking it! It was not worth an argument, and I told Joseph maybe the other hunter needed the meat more than we did. It is hard for a 13-year-old to understand that God wants us to forgive someone before the person even asks to be forgiven.

Daughter Verena made pecan-white chocolate chip cookies for the Eicher family this week.
Daughter Verena made pecan-white chocolate chip cookies for the Eicher family this week.

This week I will share the recipe for pecan–white chocolate chip cookies. Daughter Verena baked these last week.

God bless all of you!

Pecan–White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, mix together butter and brown and white sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in oatmeal. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda and add to rest of ingredients. Stir until combined. Add pecans and chocolate chips. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Note: for a soft, chewy cookie, bake only 9-10 minutes. A longer bake time will make a crisper cookie.

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.

 

Christmas countdown energizes Eicher children

Christmas Day is only days away. Daughter Lovina, 10, and son, Kevin, 9, are keeping track of exactly how many days. Every morning they mark off another day on the calendar. Oh, to be so young and carefree, with only worries such as how many days there are until Christmas!

Lovina and Kevin will both be in the elementary school Christmas program on Thursday evening. Next year Lovina will be a fifth grader and in middle school. This is her last Christmas program and Kevin has only next year—unbelievable! My husband Joe and I used to sit in the audience with the little ones while our older children were in the program. Now the six oldest children are back in the audience sitting with us, and our two youngest children are in the program.

On Friday the school will only have a half day of school. Lovina and Kevin’s classes are having a gift exchange. Kevin is so worried that he doesn’t have his gift wrapped yet. I want to make snacks for their party, and he reminds me every evening not to forget.

We were disappointed to hear that our children’s bus driver, Rich, has quit driving the bus route. He was a great bus driver to our children for almost eleven years. Daughter Loretta, 14, with her handicap needs more time to walk out to the bus and to get up the steps. Rich was always very patient and caring. So far they have had only a substitute driver, but the children are hoping the next bus driver will be like Rich was. We wish Rich well at his new job.

Joe will have his forty-sixth birthday on Monday, Dec. 22. I want to have a birthday supper in his honor but am undecided yet which night to have it.

On Sunday the women in our church all decided what each one of us would bring to the annual Christmas potluck. I plan to take a large roaster with a pasta casserole. The potluck will be after our next church services, which will be on Dec. 28.

Joe and I will have our family Christmas on Christmas Day. The children usually want to open their presents before they eat, so we usually end up having a brunch. May we always remember the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season!

I wish all of you readers a joyous Christmas that brings blessings of peace and hope now and through the coming year 2015. May each of you stay healthy and enjoy being with family and friends through the holiday season. And most importantly, let us thank our Heavenly Father for bringing Jesus our Savior into the world so that our sins can be forgiven. Blessed wishes to all!

This week I will share with you the recipe for sour cream cut-out cookies. We like this recipe to make Christmas cookies.

Making sour cream cut-out cookies takes time—to mix up the dough, roll them out, cut out and bake—but the Eicher family comes back to this recipe year after year.
Making sour cream cut-out cookies takes time—to mix up the dough, roll them out, cut out and bake—but the Eicher family comes back to this recipe year after year.

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 1/2–4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting:
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk
food coloring (optional)
colored sprinkles (optional)
chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl, and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until it forms soft but firm dough. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Place the shapes on the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Cream the shortening, vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to make a thicker icing. Food coloring can also be added. Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies. Decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips if desired.

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.

Mother-daughter bonding and festive treats for the season

First of all, a happy 17th birthday to daughter Verena today, December 10. How could those 17 years have gone by so fast? I am glad to have Verena here at home during the day. It’s good to have someone to help me with cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and all that goes with keeping a house going with a family of ten. Every one of the girls has helped me before getting a full-time job. This is a precious time to me: spending time with my daughters and making a lot of memories together that we will always treasure.

It is also a great learning experience for them to learn how to do sewing, canning, baking and cooking. I helped my mother after I was out of school, and I remember how precious it was to work and talk together. Not only was she my mother but also my best friend. I want the same friendship with my children. My daily prayer is to be a good example to my children and to always guide them to live the life God wants.

Since Verena’s special friend, Marvin, lives a couple hours away, we decided to surprise Verena on Sunday while he was here visiting in Michigan. Others who came in honor of Verena’s birthday were Timothy and Mose; Jacob, Emma and family; their daughters’ friends, Menno and Manuel; and also my sisters Verena and Susan.

On the menu was barbequed chicken, hot wings and T-bone steaks, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, dressing, corn, potato salad, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, homemade bread, butter, strawberry jam, peanut butter pies and a variety of Christmas candy. Verena had another surprise when Marvin presented a Dairy Queen ice cream cake to her with candles for her to blow out.

Lovina's family celebrated daughter Verena's 17th birthday with a surprise party.
Lovina’s family celebrated daughter Verena’s 17th birthday with a surprise party.

I forgot to mention that Barbara, a friend of our daughters, was also here for Verena’s birthday. She and Verena were born not too far apart, and Barbara’s mother and I both had the same midwife. Right after Verena was born at 6:32 a.m., someone came to our house to get the midwife, because Barbara was being born. Happy birthday wishes to Barbara!

Christmas is only a couple weeks away. Joe and I did some shopping on Saturday. Verena is wrapping some of the gifts this afternoon. I don’t mind that job, but it seems I always have something else that needs to be done. I have a meeting at the school this afternoon.

I would like to thank Carol from Washington for the four 1,000-piece puzzles she sent. We will have lots of fun putting them together this winter. And also a thank you to all the rest of you readers for your encouraging letters!

This week I’m going to share my recipe for popcorn balls. Mother made these every Christmas. She would put red food coloring in the syrup to give them a reddish color. I usually do half of them with red food coloring and half with green. It gives them a Christmas look during the holidays.

Lovina's family celebrated Verena's 17th birthday with a surprise party.
Lovina shares her recipe for popcorn balls this week.

God’s blessings to all!

Popcorn Balls

2 1/2 quarts of popcorn (popped)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
food coloring (optional)

Cook sugar, water, salt, and syrup to a very hard-ball stage (256 degrees). Add vinegar and vanilla (and food coloring if desired) to light crack stage (270 degrees). Pour slowly over popcorn. Mix well to coat every kernel. Press into balls and cool.

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.