Tag Archives: cookies

Dropping temps mean heating the house and baking pumpkin whoopie pies

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis

The mercury dropped down to 30 degrees this morning! I’m sure that it frosted in most places. It makes it feel good to have heat in the house. It was good timing for us.

On Tuesday we traded in our old hopper-fed coal stove for a new one. Last night my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, and nephew Henry set up the new stove and started it. We always use charcoal to get the coal started. It makes less smoke than wood. I can smell the new paint from the new stove, so I like to open a few windows slightly to get that smell out. It’s not too bad, though, because the stove is in the basement. We have an enclosed jacket around the stove so that we can control whether we want all the heat to come upstairs or heat the basement too. The heat travels upstairs to the bedrooms through our open staircase, which is close to the big vent in the floor over the stove in the basement. The boys like to keep their bedrooms cool, so they shut their doors during the day. Once it’s really cold outside they let the heat go into their bedrooms.

We still have a little coal left from last year, but Joe called and ordered our supply for the winter. I’s always a big relief to have our fuel for the winter! It gets expensive to buy coal, but I still think it’s nice that we can heat all three stories of our house with one stove. When I was growing up, the only heat we had upstairs in our bedrooms was what came up through the door. It was always chilly when we got out of bed in the morning, and we always hurried downstairs to stand by the coal or woodstove to warm up.

This week has been rainy and cold, so we will hang laundry in the basement to dry. I have lines down there and with the coal stove going, it should dry. Daughter Susan wants to wash the hunting clothes first. They wash those clothes in a special soap so that deer can’t smell their scent. Those clothes we will hang outside.

Son-in-law Timothy shot an eight-point buck last night with his bow. Daughter Loretta is still hunting, and son Benjamin has also gone hunting this fall. Loretta has a crossbow so it’s easier for her, with her disability, to shoot the arrow. I have never hunted in my life. I just could not see myself sitting quietly for that long! I would probably be making a mental list in my head of all the other things I could be doing.

Daughter Susan and Mose are excited to be homeowners now. We will miss having them beside us, but I know they want a place to call their own. The place they bought is five-and-one-half miles from here. Timothy and Elizabeth live six-and-one-half miles from here and will be only two miles from Mose and Susan. Mose and Susan plan to move as soon as we get the house cleaned and ready for them. They will pull out the carpet and put in new floors, and some painting will be done. It’s an old farmhouse, but the place has been kept up very nice. The garage is only six years old.

Tomorrow our plans are to attend a wedding in Rochester, Ind., for Melvin and Lisa. Lisa is a daughter to Joe’s cousin Leander and wife Rosina.

More exciting news: Jeremiah James was born to niece Rosa and Menno on October 23. This would make the third grandchild for sister Liz and Levi.

Try these pumpkin whoopie pies for Thanksgiving Day! These are very yummy when partially frozen. The family of Loretta’s special friend Dustin had a very good crop of pumpkins this year, with most of their pumpkins weighing over 100 pounds each.

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Cookies:

2 cups mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Cookies: Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until just barely done, approximately 10–12 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Mix first three ingredients well and then add sugar. Spread filling between two cookies. Yields 16 whoopie pies.

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 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.

Spring break brings emptier nest for Eichers; plus exciting birth to announce!

It has been rainy and cool all week—not the best weather for the children while they are on spring break from school! I was hoping we could get the yard raked up this week, but I’m sure we will have nicer days to work outside. There is plenty to do otherwise. The boys have been getting the barn cleaned out.

Our cow Bessie decided to have her calf on the last day of March. We had the veterinarian come out and check on her the night before, as she was ten days past her due date. He thought it might be a few days yet. But the next day while Loretta was finishing up with washing the breakfast dishes, she saw that Bessie was trying to deliver out in the field. Son Benjamin was home, so he tried to get her to come up from the field to get her in the barn.

Bessie gave birth to a healthy calf this week, right out in the field.

She wouldn’t move, so I called the veterinarian and he said to let her where she was and told me we should help her. Benjamin, Verena, and I tried to help her, but we needed another guy to help, so we asked our neighbor. With all three of us, we were able to help Bessie deliver a big bull calf. We were glad all was well with Bessie and the calf. Bessie is a good mother, and the calf is lively out in the field during the days when it’s not raining.

The house seems empty this week without daughter Verena home. She is in Rhode Island right now, but they stopped at places of interest on the way to Rhode Island. She traveled through nine states on the way there. They slept in Pittsburgh one night and in New York City the next night. She was able to tour the Crayola Factory in Easton, Pa. I am sure she will have many stories to tell us once she’s home. We really miss her!

The house seems even emptier the last few days. Daughter Lovina is at daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. I am sure she’s having fun entertaining Abigail. They will come here today. I am hoping we can get some wedding clothes sewn. Verena is tablewaiter next week in niece Emma and Johnny’s wedding and needs to wear a dress of green apple color. I am a cook and will wear a dark tan dress. It will be nice to see the family again.

I don’t have too many details yet, but my oldest nephew Ben (son of sister Leah and Paul) had a scare recently with his wife Rosemarie. Rosemarie had a baby girl (by C-section) named Elizabeth. A few days after she was home, Rosemarie was rushed to the hospital because a blood clot traveled to her lungs. My sister Leah took care of the newborn while Ben stayed with Rosemarie in the hospital. Rosemarie is back home and I haven’t heard how she is doing recently. We wish her a speedy and complete recovery. Our prayers are with them.

On Sunday we enjoyed a haystack dinner at my sisters Verena and Susan’s. Jacob, Emma and sons Benjamin and Steven, Timothy, Elizabeth, Abigail and Loretta’s special friend Dustin were also there.

God’s blessings to all!

Overnight Cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream sugars and shortening. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients and blend. Divide into three parts and form into rolls. Chill in refrigerator overnight. Slice off cookie-sized pieces and bake at 400 degrees for eight minutes or until done. Pecans or walnuts can be pressed into center of dough before baking.

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, 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.

Lovina’s daughter shares the news and a recipe for whoopie pies

Hi! This is Verena, 19, filling in for Mom this week. I had the urge to do some writing, and I thought Mom would be happy to have a break.

This last week has been absolutely beautiful spring weather. It’s hard to believe it’s only February. I will be happy to see summer come.

I started working at a daycare several days a week. I love the job—probably because I have always loved being around children. Right now we only have children from age one to five at the daycare. We might have a few babies to take care of later this year. Sometimes I also babysit for a family with three little boys, ages one, three, and five. They keep me busy but are fun to take care of. I enjoy being around children and watching over the dear little ones. The innocent mind of a young child makes me want to be a child again, with no worries in life.

Tomorrow my sister Elizabeth and my little niece Abigail will come here. I will go with Elizabeth to a Tupperware party. I’m so excited to get to see Abigail again. She is my whole world! I really enjoy being an aunt. Abigail is like therapy to me, on days when life doesn’t look too bright. She sure knows how to brighten up my days. I dream about the days when she will be old enough for me to take her on walks, pony rides, etc.

The exciting news of this week: the Teacup Yorkie puppy I have been waiting for was born yesterday. I had wanted a female but the mother only had two males. I decided I will take a male, which I’m sure will be just as cute and fun. I will name him Ricky. Thank you to the readers who have contributed money to help make it possible for me to get this puppy. I love dogs so much, and having my own little puppy in the house to take care of will be awesome! Now I have to wait for six to eight weeks until I can have the puppy. The lady who has the puppies said I can come visit whenever I want to.

The Eichers are happy to have the use of a cooker to help in the boiling-off process for the maple syrup.

Brother-in-law Mose has been keeping very busy with cooking maple syrup. The sap has really been running from our maple trees. The sugar content is low this year, and it’s averaging about 60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. There is a lot of work involved in cooking maple syrup. We really love the maple syrup on our pancakes, scrambled eggs and French toast. While it is still warm, it is also really good on a dip of vanilla ice cream.

On Saturday we butchered the three hogs we raised. We had an early start, so most of the butchering was done by 2:00 p.m. We still had to clean up everything and Dad sliced all the pork chops, ham and bacon yet in the afternoon. One of the hogs was for Mose and Susan. My parents gave it to them to help with starting out on their own.

Those here to help with the butchering were Aunts Verena and Susan, Uncle Jacob and Aunt Emma and sons Jacob, Benjamin, and Steven, their daughter Emma and her friend Menno, my sister Elizabeth, Timothy, and Abigail, sister Loretta’s friend Dustin, and then Mose and Susan and our family.

We made the pon hoss out in the big black kettle and rendered the lard as well. Everyone was here for breakfast and lunch. Our lunch meal was mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, fried tenderloin, corn, lettuce salad, sliced cheese, dirt pudding, finger jello, oatmeal whoopie pies, brownie delight, and chocolate brownies.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers, cards, etc., after my hospital stay. It was all greatly appreciated. I am doing better than expected. God is great!

I saw the rough copy of Mom’s new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, which comes out in April. I love it! I enjoyed helping to test the recipes and learning a thing or two from it.

It turned out really well, which makes all the hard work worth it!

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Cookies

4 cups brown sugar
1 cup lard or shortening
4 eggs
4 teaspoons baking soda
6 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups flour
4 cups oatmeal (quick oats)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream the sugar and lard or shortening. Add eggs. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water; stir into sugar mixture. Add the buttermilk and salt. Mix flour, oatmeal, cinnamon and baking powder. Add to batter. Bake at 400 degrees until done, about 10–13 minutes. Cool completely. These cookies should turn out soft and chewy.

Filling

2 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup shortening, softened
4 tablespoons milk

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, cream the shortening, adding a little of egg white mixture at a time. Add milk and remaining powdered sugar alternately. Beat well. Spread filling between two cookies.

Note: This a fairly large recipe and the amount it makes varies depending on how large you make each cookie; you use two cookies to make one whoopie pie, so that’s why the quantities are big. You can easily halve this recipe if you want to try it.

 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.

When husband Joe surprised two little boys Easter morning

DaffodilsFriday is Good Friday and we look forward to Easter on Sunday. Good Friday we traditionally keep as a holiday, so no one in our family will go to work or school. The Amish churches in this community have “Fast” (no eating) and prayer until noon. Our family will all be here and have family time. Then we’ll gather here for the noon meal.

On Easter Sunday we will go to church. Easter is the time to rejoice and be thankful for the gift of life Jesus gave for someone like you and me.

Photo040418491The younger children still enjoy coloring eggs for Easter. As I was growing up we always colored eggs. The bright colored eggs always remind me of the colors of the rainbow. Our parents taught us the true meaning of Easter. May we all remember the true meaning of Easter.

Son Benjamin always gathered the eggs when he was a little boy around four and five. One Easter morning Jacob and Emma and family were here. My husband Joe knew Benjamin and Jacob would go gather the eggs from the hen house as soon as they were awake. Joe took all the eggs out and replaced them with colored eggs. I still remember the excitement those two little boys had when they discovered the colored eggs.

Dandelion greens are getting bigger every day. We had our first meal of dandelion salad this week, and I shared that recipe last week. This is a good way to use up the extra colored eggs since it takes hard-cooked eggs. I keep watching for the asparagus to pop through. The rhubarbs are looking good.

I love spring and all the signs of it. I know it brings more work but it is so nice to go out on a nice warm and sunny day and feel the gentle breeze blowing. I enjoy hanging the clothes outside again. What a wonderful creator God is!

Last Friday (the week before Good Friday), sister Verena had a Tupperware party in the forenoon. She and sister Susan made lunch for all who attended. They served hash brown casserole, potato salad, jello cake, golden M&M bars, apple and strawberry slices with fruit dip, punch, and coffee. After everyone else left, sister Emma and my daughters Elizabeth, Susan, Verena, and Loretta stayed and spent the afternoon with sisters Verena and Susan. Daughter Elizabeth came here in the morning and went with us to the party. Susan biked and Elizabeth, Verena, Loretta and I took Stormy our pony and the pony buggy. The ride was a little chilly but we didn’t have far to go. Stormy was eager to run and was a little rowdy. He doesn’t get out too much in the winter months.

Saturday evening Timothy and Elizabeth came for the evening and stayed here all night. Daughter Verena left them sleep in her bedroom, which was Elizabeth’s room before she was married. It seemed really good to have them here for the night. Mose (Susan’s friend) went home with Timothy to do their chores Sunday morning while the girls and I made breakfast.

Snapchat-44286526079362571751
Tim and Elizabeth have a new colt, born to their horse, Shi Ann.

On our menu were eggs, potatoes, bacon, cheese, toast, strawberry jam, butter, and hot peppers, with chocolate milk, orange juice and coffee for drinks.

Timothy and Elizabeth stayed all day. We played games in the afternoon and enjoyed each other’s company.

I’ll share the recipe for golden M&M bars. We like them!

God bless and I hope you all have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.

Golden M&M Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla chips
1 3/4 cups M&M’s, divided

Cream together sugars and butter. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into butter mixture. Fold in chips and M&M’s, reserving 3/4 cup M&M’s. Spread in 9 x 12 greased pan. Sprinkle reserved M&Ms on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

 

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.

 

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.

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.