Tag Archives: cooking

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.

 

Eichers anticipate spring training for the pony, and homemade butter and cheese

This column will wrap up my columns for February 2015. This year is going way too fast for me to keep up. I remember Mother telling me that the older your children get, the faster time goes. I see that is very true!

I often would be glad to have one more conversation with Mother. God had other plans, and I need to accept His will. Mother always had good advice. Especially when the children were sick, she would come over and take care of everybody. Memories—I’ll treasure them always!

Lovina’s daughter Susan is looking forward to warmer weather so that she can train her miniature pony, Prancer.
Lovina’s daughter Susan is looking forward to warmer weather so that she can train her miniature pony, Prancer.

We are all well again here at the Eichers. So many blessings to thank God for! Susan is still under a doctor’s care but is back to work. The chiropractor says she has pinched nerves in her neck. Susan is active and always full of energy. She is looking forward to training Prancer, our miniature pony, as the weather warms up. Prancer will be two years old in April. Benjamin is also glad to be going back to work.

Tonight we are getting a milk cow. This has been all the boys have been talking about. We sold our cow when we lived in Indiana. Since our move to Michigan almost 11 years ago, we have not had a milking cow. We go through so many gallons of milk in a week so the milk will be good to have. I would also like to make our own butter. Another thing I would like to try that I’ve never done is making cheese. If any of you readers have a good recipe for cheese, I would be happy to have it.

Susan’s pony, Prancer, soon after he was born.
Susan’s pony, Prancer, soon after he was born.

Sunday our family, Timothy, and Mose attended the baptismal services in Nappanee, Indiana, for niece Salome. Her special friend, Myron, was also baptized with her. What a blessing to the family and church!

We were all able to meet Henry and Loretta’s sweet little Damaris. The girls and I had fun holding her during church services. She was really smiling. She’s just a tiny bundle of joy, but her smile lit up the whole room.

Niece Verena and Melvin’s little Micah is already 11 months old. He is growing fast too. He’s a sweetie! Joe’s sister Christine, husband Jake, and nine children from Hershey, Michigan, were also there. It was good to see Melvin and Verena and Jakes again.

We also met Myron’s family. Everyone was friendly. We appreciated the hospitality. It’s always nice to visit other church districts in other communities and meet new people.

Friday evening we are invited to the local community building for Salome’s 19th birthday supper. Salome was born on February 29. Jake, Christine, and family have plans to come for this. It sounds like they might come to our house to sleep on Friday and Saturday evenings. Daughter Verena has some friends coming for the night as well. Somehow we will find room for everyone—the more the merrier!

Son Kevin and Jake and Christine’s son Matthew always have so much fun together. On Sunday after church, Kevin and Matthew were walking beside each other. Both were talking at the same time. I don’t think either of them was listening to the other! We had to laugh as we watched them. Seemed like they had so much to catch up on.

I’ll share a recipe for a favorite soup of ours this week.

This week's recipe for vegetable cheese soup makes a colorful and easy dish for late winter evenings.
This week’s recipe for vegetable cheese soup makes a colorful and easy dish for late winter evenings.

Vegetable Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
pinch salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 10-ounce package mixed vegetables, cooked

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions and sauté until onions are clear. Blend in flour, milk, and salt to taste. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cooked vegetables. Let simmer for a while. You can add your own vegetables from the garden, such as corn, peas, or carrots.

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.

Ham and bean soup warms on frosty midwinter days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ham and Bean Soup

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

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

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

A wedding filled with sweet nothings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blueberry Pie

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

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

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