Tag Archives: dessert

Family spreads out, barn needs fixing

Family spreads out, barn needs fixing

The last few days have been warmer and we sure enjoyed the sunshine! Now this morning it rained, but the sun is out again.

Son Joseph is harnessing our horse Mighty, so I can take the buggy to a garage sale. The sale is being held by a neighboring Amish family. They’re selling clothes, so I thought I might be fortunate and find some, to save time in sewing. Fabric seems to go up in price so it pays to buy garage-sale-priced clothes.

Last Thursday we attended the wedding reception of niece Lisa and Matthew in Berne, Indiana. It was cold and rainy. We arrived there about 2 p.m. I helped fill the peanut butter pies so my job was pretty easy.

On the menu were mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken, noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, grilled sausage links homemade bread, butter, and strawberry jam. Desserts were tapioca pudding and angel food cake topped with a mixture of whipped topping, cream cheese, and strawberry glaze, as well as pecan, cherry and peanut butter pies. “Nothings” [pastries] lined the tables on plates, a tradition in that area.

My brother Amos was raising hogs to make fresh sausage for this wedding meal; after he died, his sons Ben and Sam took over butchering the hogs to make the sausage. We enjoyed seeing the family but there was an empty spot without brother Amos there. It just doesn’t seem possible that Amos isn’t here anymore. We must accept God’s plan, but I can understand why it’s hard for Nancy (Amos’s wife) to go on. The wedding reception especially made us miss Amos even more.

We arrived back home that night around 11:30 p.m. It was a short night as we had to be up by 3 a.m. for Joe to leave for work at 3:45.

On Friday evening, Timothy, Elizabeth, Abigail, Mose, Susan, Jennifer, and Loretta’ special friend Dustin joined us for supper. We played games afterwards.

Saturday morning early, my husband Joe and I went to Menards to get lumber to rebuild part of our haymow. It was getting weak from all the hay and needed more support. Joe also is making more space for hay. Our barn is old so it always needs some fixing up somewhere, but I guess it still works. Joe and the boys would like to build a few more horse stalls in there and move the chickens to a coop outside the barn. Dustin, nephew Henry, sons Benjamin and Joseph, and husband Joe worked on the haymow the rest of the day. They accomplished quite a bit.

Later, Dustin and Loretta, and daughter Verena left for a friend’s house for supper. Henry and Benjamin went to a birthday supper as well. Daughter Lovina was helping at Mose and Susan’s house and stayed the night. Lovina then came to church with them on Sunday. So that left just four of us home for supper: Joe, Joseph, Kevin and me. We had grilled cheese sandwiches and fried eggs, an easy meal.

A few families from church took supper in to Mose and Susan’s on Sunday evening. They wanted to visit after Jennifer was born but didn’t get around to it sooner. I left Lovina go home from church with Susan and Mose to help her with Jennifer. Susan was glad for Lovina’s help. Saturday afternoon and evening, Jennifer was being fussy, which makes it hard for Susan to get much done. The baby loves having her gums rubbed. At three months old, I really hope she isn’t pushing through teeth already.

Yesterday Elizabeth and Susan and their little girls came for the day. Our breakfast was biscuits and gravy. For lunch we had leftover Tater Tot casserole from the night before. The girls took Abigail outside in the afternoon. It was so nice and she enjoyed being outdoors again.

I’m eager to get outside myself and look for dandelion greens. These warm days should be bringing them up. Rhubarb is peeping through and so are spring flowers. I think I’m having a bout of spring fever.

Take care and God’s blessings to all!

Pecan Pie Muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini or regular muffin pan with liners. Mix brown sugar, flour, and chopped pecans. Stir. Add eggs and butter until combined. Spoon batter in muffin cups about ½ full. Bake for 12 minutes for mini, or 16 minutes for regular size muffins.

Nothing better in late winter than visits from Grandma’s little sweeties

We have entered the month of March, and it is definitely coming in like a lion! It is rainy, cold and windy here in our part of Michigan. We had several nice sunny days with temperatures hitting the upper 50s and lower 60s. It spoiled us and we really wanted it to stay. It sounds like we might get more snow though, so we better just be patient.

Our week has been spent cutting up beef, pressure canning, grinding hamburger and slicing steaks, and of course, bagging the meat for the freezer. Last Saturday we decided to butcher both beefs instead of waiting for another time. So we have double the work. My husband, Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, son-in-law Timothy, son-in-law Mose and Loretta’s special friend Dustin helped dress the beef on Saturday. Timothy, Elizabeth, Mose and Susan have also been helping to cut it up. Work goes much faster with so many helping.

Lovina and Joe’s granddaughter Abigail gets excited when her parents’ buggy pulls in to Grandma’s house.

Elizabeth said when they came driving with their buggy, little Abigail spotted our house and said, “Grandma!” She was a little busybody last night. She loves to color and write. I’m amazed at how well she holds her pencil. Jennifer is such a sweetie too. She smiles often, and Susan said she reaches for the toys she hangs in her swing. I was so busy that I didn’t get to spend enough time with the sweeties last night.

I made rare beef for supper for everyone. The girls had made a casserole as well. I have mentioned before how we make rare beef. We slice the most tender steak into really thin pieces. I deep-fried it in olive oil last night. Some use oil and some use lard. You make sure your oil is really hot and then take a piece and stir around, flip over, stir once and it’s done. We put salt and black pepper on both sides of every slice before we start. We put on a lot of black pepper. It’s spicy, but it just doesn’t taste right without that much.

We didn’t put much pepper on Abigail’s pieces, but she still didn’t care for it! I remember when our children were younger they would have a glass of water to dip the meat in so some of the pepper would come off. I wouldn’t put on as much pepper when they were younger.

My grandpa Graber was an expert at deep-frying rare beef. Then my mother took after him and always made it for our family. Now I can see how she was probably glad once everyone had their share! I make the rare beef while everyone else eats so that it’s fresh. It doesn’t taste as good when it has cooled off.

Sunday we went to church and then stopped in to visit Jacob and Emma. Jacob wasn’t feeling well enough to come to church.

We ended up at Mose and Susan’s house for supper. Timothy and Elizabeth and Abigail, Dustin and nephew Henry were all there, plus all of our family. Mose grilled brats and Susan made pizza casserole. It was nice to get out of cooking. I spoiled Jennifer and Abigail while the girls made supper. Daughter Verena was glad to get out of the house for a while. She elevated her leg all day, as she lost her balance and fell on her cast. She had quite a bit of pain so I called the doctor. It helps to elevate it more often, and now Verena says it is feeling better. In three weeks we will go back to the doctor and see how it’s doing. I hope it is healing well!

I want to thank everyone for the sympathy cards you sent. May God bless you for your kindness!

A reader shared her recipe for butterscotch pie with me. She says it’s much easier to make than mine. I’ll share it with all of you as well. Thanks, Patricia!

Butterscotch Pie

1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1 1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pie crust, baked

Mix brown sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan; stir in water, milk and butter. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Boil one minute. Stir 1/2 of mixture into egg yolks, then blend into remaining mixture with vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Chill. When cold, top with whipped cream topping.

Runaway horse and buggy yank the Eicher family into a rousing new year

We spent New Year’s Day at sister Emma and husband Jacob’s house. We are four sisters in this area, and every year we all get together for a gift exchange.

Emma had a haystack brunch. A haystack brunch includes biscuits, bacon, ham, sausage, smokies, potatoes, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, hot peppers, salsa, cheese sauce and sausage gravy. The biscuits, meat and vegetables are diced. You pile whatever you want on your plate, so it’s just a little bit of everything. It always tastes good—but your “haystack” can get too big before you know it! The table was set for 26.

After breakfast dishes were washed, the girls and I had prepared a big plastic ball with gifts inserted in it, like we had for our Christmas. It was exciting to open the plastic wrap when our turn came. With 25 people around three eight-foot folding tables, it was fun and loud and lively as the ball was unwrapped. There were a few trick gifts in there that were just for laughs.

Then we exchanged our gifts. Daughter Loretta had my name. It was interesting to see who had who. I had my husband Joe’s name, but I think he suspected that I did. It’s hard to hide something from him! I gave him a zero-gravity chair, which I had had wrapped for awhile. He kept asking whose gift that was, and he wondered why I never told him whose name I had! Everyone had nice gifts to take home, and little Abigail was spoiled with extra gifts from everyone. She enjoyed tearing the wrapping paper off her gifts even though she doesn’t understand what a gift exchange is. Son Kevin had her name.

Lots of snacks were set out in the afternoon. With everyone bringing something, it added up. There were venison snack sticks, shrimp and sauce, bean dip, meat roll-ups, veggies and dip, oranges, grapefruits, clementines, cheeseball and crackers and much more. Needless to say, this was everyone’s supper as well.

Son-in-law Timothy and Mose decided to go hunting together in the evening, taking Timothy’s buggy and horse. Daughter Elizabeth and Abigail went home with daughter Susan and their horse and buggy. The girls decided to stop at a little store, and they tied up the horse, Rex, extra well because he was a little rowdy. Well, the horse somehow got himself loose. The rope was torn or bitten through. He must have backed the buggy up with no problem, and would you believe that horse actually came the three miles to our place!

One of the Eicher buggies, which is their main transportation unless going a longer distance.

A lady in a truck stopped to let the boys know that no one was in the buggy. Rex turned into our driveway, and son Benjamin ran out in front of him, waving his arms to get the horse to stop. We were all shaken up, not knowing where the girls and Abigail were. Henry and the boys and Verena decided to go to the store my daughters said they were going to stop at. When they got there, Susan had just walked out of the store and discovered the horse and buggy were gone. The rest of us were all shaken up until we knew all was well. God was watching over all of us!

On January 5 Jacob’s dad (Joe’s uncle) passed away. He was 65 years old. Our sympathy goes to the family. It’s hard parting with a loved one, but God makes no mistakes. We left home Saturday morning with Jacob and Emma and stayed in Berne, Indiana, until Monday afternoon after the funeral was over. I am sure Jacob’s mother will have many lonely days. May God be her guide in this trial in life and always!

At the viewing of Jacob’s father, we met Mr. and Mrs. Roger Muselman, who are the owners of The Berne Witness where my column is printed every week. They also are the owners of Clock Tower Inn in Berne. It was a pleasure to have a short visit with them.

I have had some requests from readers for recipes that I have not been able to find at the moment. The recipes requested are Tomato Jelly and Butter and Hot Lettuce. Would any readers have these recipes? Thanks in advance and your help is greatly appreciated!

I also want to thank readers for the cards and gifts sent to us over the holidays. May God bless you for your kindness.

Daughter Verena, 20, will have surgery on her foot on February 14 in Ann Arbor. She will have a cast on for six weeks and won’t be allowed to put any weight on her foot. This will be a hard time for her, so please keep her in your prayers. She was going to be in the spring youth program, but she won’t be able to now.

God bless you all!

Banana Cheesecake

Crust:
1 1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup butter, melted

 Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup banana, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 eggs

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

For the crust, mix crust ingredients and press into a 9-inch springform pan and two inches up the sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 18–20 minutes until golden brown. Cool.

To make filling, beat cream cheese, banana, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and continue beating. Pour into baked crust. Bake until center is almost set, about 35–45 minutes.

 Stir topping ingredients together. Spread over baked cheesecake and continue baking 10 minutes more. Cool well for several hours.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

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.

Hot, humid days mean it’s time for haying—and a water fight

June 14, 2017: Twenty-three years ago today my husband, Joe, and I became parents for the first time. We were blessed with a little girl. We named her after my mother, Elizabeth. Since her marriage on August 14, 2015, she goes by the name Mrs. Timothy (Elizabeth) Bontrager. A little girl, Abigail, was born to Elizabeth and Timothy on September 10, 2016. Time goes on—one generation after another.

We are having a heat wave with temperatures in the nineties, and it’s very humid! The girls and I drove the seven miles to Timothy and Elizabeth’s house this morning by buggy. We spent the day with her and Abigail. We didn’t do much besides relax, which was so nice! My sister Verena gave Abigail a little kiddie pool for a baby gift. Daughter Lovina and son Kevin filled the pool, and Abigail had so much fun under the shade tree, splashing the water. The rest of us sat around the pool. All it took was one person throwing a little water at another and, well, it turned into a big water battle! At least it cooled us off on this hot, muggy day.

Tomorrow we will attend the wedding of our neighbor boy, Melvin, to Rebecca. It is hot weather to prepare for a wedding. Now tonight we are having thunderstorms and rain. It was so dry, and we needed the rain. Son-in-law Mose tilled the garden tonight before the rain. I made quite a few gallons of iced spearmint tea, which is a good thirst quencher on these hot days.

Lovina made lots of fresh thirst-quenching mint tea this week. Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis, from The Essential Amish Cookbook.

We have our haymow almost filled with hay for next winter. We appreciated all the help we had from family and neighbors to put in over thirteen hundred bales of hay in our barn last Thursday. Lots of hot, hard work! Having hay stored for future use is a good feeling. But it’s hard on the pocketbook, with hay still a little pricey.

Construction is finally underway at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house, who had a house fire last month. The new roof was put on today. They are still living in our basement.

I want to wish Uncle Jake and Aunt Mary Coblentz a happy 60th anniversary! Wow! That is a long time to be together. I wish them more healthy and happy years together. Jake was my dad’s brother. Jake and Mary have three children: Christina, Tabitha and Cornelius. I hardly ever see them anymore. It would be nice to attend the Coblentz reunion again in July.

Tonight daughter Susan and Mose had us over for supper. They also told my sisters to come eat there too. On the menu were sausage patties, French toast and scrambled eggs. How nice to have a break from cooking. Everything was delicious! The French toast tastes real good with fresh maple syrup poured over it. It was the syrup Mose cooked off from our maple trees this spring.

The girls are cleaning out their closets in their spare time. We are getting a head start on cleaning.

Timothy and Elizabeth visited one evening with their new Amish neighbors, John and Norma. They moved nearby from a community in Indiana. They will attend our church district. They have two daughters ages three and thirteen months. I am looking forward to meeting them on Sunday.

It is 11:00 p.m. now and past my bedtime. The rest have all gone to bed. I knew I might not have time to write tomorrow morning so decided to get this written tonight yet.

I wish everyone God’s greatest blessings! Good night to all!

Try this recipe while blueberries are in season.

Blueberry Cobbler

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix together and spread batter in pan.

Topping:
2 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup boiling water

Pour over batter and bake at 325 degrees for 45–60 minutes or until done. Try with different types of fruit.

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, 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.

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.

An Eicher family friend lifts the veil on Susan’s wedding preparations

Editor’s Note: Lovina Eicher is busy with preparations for her daughter Susan’s wedding. Guest columnist Ruth Boss, an “English” friend of Lovina’s, provides a ringside seat for the big August 5 wedding.

Wedding preparations have been in full swing all week for Susan and Mose’s wedding this Friday. Last Saturday the wedding wagons were delivered: a cook wagon, a refrigerated wagon, and a supply wagon holding all the serving dishes, plates and silverware.

Family members and friends pitched in to get the tables set up in the shed, or pole barn. Susan has chosen green for her wedding color, so cooks, table waiters, attendants, coffee servers, family members and anyone else helping will be wearing hunter green, sage, mint, or grass green shades.

Friends, neighbors and family came by buggy to help during the days before Susan and Mose's wedding
Friends, neighbors and family came by buggy to help during the days before Susan and Mose’s wedding.

The cooks began arriving very early Wednesday morning. By 7 a.m. the cook wagon was filled with women making cinnamon pudding. It is baked and will be cut into small pieces and layered with whipped topping and topped with nuts. It can be served right out of the pan as a cake. Other cooks started making the angel food cakes, all made from scratch. Some of the egg whites that Lovina had frozen ahead of time for the wedding weren’t stiffening up, so someone was sent to Susan’s (who is a baker) house down the street to get the jar she had in her refrigerator.

Next came baking pecan pies. By now the wedding wagon was very warm, with seven ovens and cooktops going! Other pie shells were baked to be used to make fresh strawberry pie, which is Susan’s favorite. Other cooks cleaned, chopped and bagged celery, carrots and onions to be used in the dressing. Some cooked, deboned and shredded chicken to be used in the stuffing and noodles.

Women helping Lovina prepare for the wedding made many classic, lattice-topped cherry pies.
Women helping Lovina prepare for the wedding made many classic, lattice-topped cherry pies.

At mid-morning, all the women stopped for a coffee break with cookies and bars that the women had brought to share. Family members and friends who don’t live close by used this opportunity to catch up on news from back home. Neighbors chatted about their families, new recipes and local news. Some of the cooks are young mothers and brought their young children with them. The older children seem to enjoy watching over the babies as their moms work.

Next, Lovina’s sisters began the time-consuming job of making “Nothings,” which are a traditional wedding treat from their home town of Berne, Indiana. Nothings are made from special dough that is rolled thin and then deep-fat fried. This is very hard work, and it took the sisters a few hours to get all the dough rolled. Once the Nothings are puffy, they are taken out of the oil, drained and topped with sugar. The stacks of Nothings were covered and will be passed at the meal as a special treat.

BrocAndCalifSaladAt noon, the helpers enjoyed a delicious meal of casseroles, salads and desserts, all provided by the cooks. All together there are 52 cooks helping with the wedding. They will make homemade bread, chop broccoli and cauliflower for salad, clean strawberries and finish up whatever else needs to be done. All the cooks will assemble the morning of the wedding to peel and cook potatoes, assemble hot foods to cook, and prepare salads. They will ready dishes to begin the first serving at about noon, after the marriage ceremony, which will start about 9 a.m.

This is a big undertaking! What strikes me as I observe the work being done is that there is no arguing or complaining from anyone. Everyone is excited and willing to work. There is laughter and horseplay. The Amish focus a lot on family togetherness and don’t have many of the distractions that we English people have. Lovina’s family is close-knit and loving. They have hard times and disappointments like everyone else, but their faith in God and close family sustains them through those times.

The table, or "eck corner," for the wedding party is set days in advance, as the family finishes final details.
The table, or “eck corner,” for the wedding party is set days in advance, as the family finishes final details.

This week, as the Eicher family gets ready for Mose and Susan’s big day, will be filled with hard work, amazing food, good conversation and lots of laughter.

Here is a recipe for a small quantity of Amish Wedding Nothings.

NothingsOnTables2Amish Wedding Nothings

1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup cream (3 large “cook spoons” of heavy cream)
salt
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar (for topping only)
2-3 cups shortening (for frying, may need to adjust for size of pan or kettle)

Beat egg and stir in cream, salt, and enough flour to make elastic dough. Make 6 or 7 balls out of the dough. Roll out each ball of dough very flat and thin, about 1/16-inch think. Cut about six 3-inch slits in the middle of the circles.

Heat shortening in a large kettle over high heat (or use an electric frying pan with a temperature control). When the shortening is 365 degrees, test a piece of dough to see if it sizzles; put a rolled-out Nothing into the kettle or fry pan. Fry one at a time, unless you have a huge kettle. Turn each piece over with forks or large spatula once it turns golden on the bottom. Remove from oil and place on plate covered with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top while warm. Stack the Nothings on top of each other to serve. Makes 6-7.

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.

Summer menus major in strawberries and family memories

We are halfway through June! It is a lovely but warm evening. Everyone has retired for the night except daughter Verena, who is reading on the porch swing, and me. I am also on the porch, writing at the patio table. I’m enjoying the peacefulness. God has created such a wonderful world, and people do not appreciate it enough. How often we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we don’t even notice the beauty of it all. I’m watching two hummingbirds that are buzzing by the feeder. They are such tiny birds but can make quite a lot of racket!

Today was a warm day to travel to town with the buggy and our horse, Mighty. Daughter Lovina, 12, and son Kevin, 10, had appointments at the eye doctor. Lovina needs glasses now, but Kevin’s eyes test very well yet. I was able to pick up my new glasses as well.

My husband, Joe, made supper on the charcoal grill tonight to keep the heat out of the house. I appreciate that, especially after coming home from town late in the day. Verena and Loretta had cleaned out some more cabinets while I was gone.

Yesterday, June 14, was daughter Elizabeth’s twenty-second birthday. How can it be that our firstborn is already that old? Lovina has been spending Monday night and Tuesday with Elizabeth. Timothy and Elizabeth brought her home last night, and I made one of Elizabeth’s favorite meals, since it was her birthday. On the menu: mashed potatoes, beef gravy, macaroni and cheese, corn, lettuce salad, sliced cheese and strawberries and ice cream.

Elizabeth22birthdaycakeEdited

Our whole family went to Timothy and Elizabeth’s house on Saturday in honor of Elizabeth’s birthday. We all spent the night there and stayed until Sunday evening. It was an in-between Sunday, and so we didn’t have a church service that morning. We had such a good time as a family—making memories.

PepperPoppers Grilling Timothy had the grill going to make supper outside. We all gathered around the fire after supper and made s’mores. We took a cake for Elizabeth, but I forgot the candles at home. I think Elizabeth was glad I did! She thinks she’s too old for that.

On Sunday morning, Elizabeth put in the oven a big breakfast casserole, which she had prepared the day before. She also had biscuits to go with it. Also on the menu were sliced cheese, tomatoes, hot peppers, watermelon, cake, strawberries, rolls, brownies, grape and orange and rhubarb juices, coffee and chocolate milk.

After dishes were washed, we all went for a wagon ride in Timothy and Elizabeth’s big two-seated wagon. We put some chairs on to make room for all of us. We went to the lake and enjoyed snacks under the shelter there. Some went swimming in the lake. They have a nice beach area. Then we headed back to Timothy and Elizabeth’s house. The sun was out, but there was a good breeze blowing so the ride was pleasant.

We all enjoyed pizza before we headed home. The day went so fast, and I enjoyed it so much. How different to have someone else doing most of the cooking! Elizabeth does a good job. She has been blessed with a good husband. Seeing that our daughter is happily married means so much to us as parents.

Twenty-one years ago today, sister Emma and Jacob were united in marriage. Happy anniversary to them!

StrawberriesForJam

We cleaned 32 quarts of strawberries that we will make into jam tomorrow. Some of it will be for Mose and Susan’s wedding in August, and the rest will be for the freezer so we have some for another year. Strawberry jam is our favorite jam.

God’s blessing to all!

 

 

Frozen Strawberry Dessert

1 cup flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup cold butter
½ cup pecans, chopped
2 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

Combine flour and brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Press into an ungreased 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 14–16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool. Crumble the baked pecan mixture. Set aside ½ cup for topping. Sprinkle remaining mixture back into the baking pan. In large bowl, beat strawberries, sugar and lemon juice until blended. Fold in whipped cream. Spread evenly onto dish. Sprinkle with reserved pecan mixture. Cover. Freeze for eight hours or overnight.

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.