Tag Archives: Lovina Eicher

Wedding invitations—and soft pretzels—abound

Canning season is in full swing. This past week we canned hot peppers (Serrano), dill pickles and salsa. I have a lot more tomatoes that need to be used, and I still have plenty of tomato juice, so I will make more salsa. What a blessing to be able to fill all those empty jars again.

Last week Lovina canned Serrano peppers, which are up to five times hotter than jalapenos!
Last week Lovina canned Serrano peppers, which are up to five times hotter than jalapenos!

We now have the rest of our little chicks. We had 75 of them for two weeks and now 25 more layers came. We will butcher the 50 butchering chickens in several weeks. The other 50 will be laying hens. Once they start laying eggs we will butcher our old laying hens for chicken broth. That is always a big job!

In our community, which isn’t very big, there are five or six weddings coming up in August and September. So bear with me if I am talking a lot about weddings lately!

We have three wedding invitations on our refrigerator right now. Daughter Elizabeth’s friend Marietta will exchange vows with Enos on August 28. We were surprised to receive an invitation. Elizabeth and Timothy will be tablewaiters at their wedding. It is a little over two weeks away, and Elizabeth still needs to sew her dress for the wedding.

Yesterday Paul and Edna were published to be married on September 24. When a couple is published for marriage, the bishop announces it in front of the church. Until then it is usually kept secret, with only family members and close friends knowing about it. We are invited to this wedding as well. And we have niece Elizabeth and Samuel’s invitation on there for September 19. The youth are usually invited to a 7 p.m. supper at all of these.

It’s hard to believe Marietta will be getting married. It seems like she and Elizabeth were just young school-age girls! They had a lot of fun times together, along with friends Linda and Freda. Many nights when they stayed here for the night, I wondered if they ever slept. Now they all have special friends, and Marietta is getting married. All four girls are 20 years old or will be soon. Life goes on!

Son Joseph, 12, will have surgery this week to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. I hope everything will go okay.

My husband, Joe, is working four-day weeks at the RV factory. This week he will only work three days so he can be at the hospital when Joseph has his surgery. Elizabeth, Susan and Benjamin all left this morning for their jobs. Benjamin is helping Susan’s friend Mose at his saw mill. He enjoys it!

Soft pretzels were the treat at Lovina's house this week, made by daughter Elizabeth.
Soft pretzels, made by daughter Elizabeth, were the treat at Lovina’s house this week.

This week I will share a recipe for soft pretzels. Elizabeth asked her friend LeAnna for the recipe and made them one night. We enjoyed them with hot cheese sauce.

Soft Pretzels

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pretzel salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add butter, brown sugar and salt. Mix well. Add wheat flour and mix thoroughly. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a soft, elastic dough (you may not need all of the flour). Knead for 10 minutes and then let rise 30 minutes. Roll pieces into 12–18 long ropes, and twist each into a pretzel shape. Place on well-greased cookie sheet. Bake immediately at 450 degrees for 10–15 minutes or until golden brown. Dip in melted butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Makes 12–18 soft pretzels.

Options: You can brush on the melted butter to save on butter. Serve with hot cheese sauce.

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.

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.

Garden goodies and a midsummer night’s sleepover

We are having all kinds of garden goodies lately. It makes meal planning so much easier. Our first batch of sweet corn is ready. We’ve also been enjoying tomatoes, green beans, buttered red beets, zucchini, cucumbers and hot peppers. The peas are now over for the season.

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Onions hang to dry on the porch.

The boys pulled all the onions from the garden and we tied them in bunches to hang under the porch to dry. Before it gets too cold we will move them to the basement. I hardly ever have to buy onions from year to year if I plant enough to store for the winter. We also like to plant enough potatoes but this year they didn’t do so well. I’m surprised if we will have enough for storage. There is a potato field close by, where we can go pick up potatoes after the picker goes through. They miss a lot and it’s easy to get plenty from the ground.

This Thursday we plan to travel to Berne, Indiana, to attend niece Marlene and Chris Troyer’s wedding. Daughter Elizabeth has almost completed sewing her periwinkle-colored dress for this occasion. Elizabeth and her friend Timothy will be table waiters and I’ll help cook. More on that next week.

Congratulations go to niece Elizabeth and Sam as they announced their wedding plans for September. This would be sister Liz’s oldest daughter and the first wedding to prepare for. Liz has a wedding wagon she rents out to people so she should be well prepared with all the tables, stoves and dishes that she will need for the wedding.

For my own wedding my mother had to borrow stoves, pots and pans, and some dishes—as wedding wagons were unheard of then. It was a lot of work to gather these things and then make sure everything was delivered back to its owner.

We are enjoying making banana poppers on the grill lately since our banana peppers are big enough to stuff with cream cheese and shredded Colby cheese. We then wrap bacon around the peppers and grill them. We make a few with jalapeños for Joe and me but the children prefer the banana peppers as they aren’t quite as hot. It seems like the banana peppers can’t grow fast enough to keep up with making the poppers.

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Banana peppers stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. This is just before putting them on the grill.
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The finished banana peppers.

Son Kevin, 8, loves to husk the corn for me when we have sweet corn. I thought it was funny when he asked where he should put the wrappers when he takes them off. He was talking about the husk.

Son Joseph, 12, had four of his school buddies here for the night on his birthday, July 24. They slept out in a tent in our backyard. I think they told each other so many scary stories that they were a little scared to go to sleep. They came in and told me they saw eyes in the barn. After investigating, it happened to be our dog Rover. At 5:30 a.m. they all moved up to the boys’ bedroom as they said it was getting really cold sleeping in the tent. We had 54 degrees that morning, unusually cool weather for July.

Joseph wanted cupcakes instead of cake for his birthday. Daughter Verena, 16, baked chocolate and white cupcakes for him. She topped them with vanilla pudding frosting.

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Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for Joseph’s birthday. To make the frosting, add 1 box instant vanilla pudding to a container of Cool Whip.

I want to thank all of you readers that have taken time to encourage me to keep writing. Life brings us disappointments in various ways. Being honest in all things and letting God be our guide is such great advice.

Until next week, God bless.

Green Bean-Egg Casserole

  • 1 quart green beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup cheese, grated

Cook green beans until tender (or use canned beans). Chop onion and sauté in 2 tablespoons butter. Slice or dice eggs and mix with the beans. Pour beans, eggs, and onions in 1½ quart casserole dish. Pour mushroom soup over all. Toast bread crumbs in 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle casserole with cheese and toasted bread crumbs. Bake 40 minutes at 350°.

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.

Amish wedding and Coblentz reunion highlight week

Such a lovely July morning. My wash and wringer machine is working again now, and it would be a great laundry day but we don’t have any hot water. A service man will come out this morning to look at our gas water heater. Hopefully after he gets it going there will still be time to do the laundry. Daughter Lovina, 10, said, “Mom why don’t you heat the water on the stove like Aunt Liz does?” We had just visited Liz in Berne, Ind., and Liz does not have indoor plumbing like we do. Lovina had noticed that when we were there and went to wash her hands at the sink, asking, “What happened to their faucets?” We had to laugh. Lovina was born here in Michigan and never knew how life was when we lived without indoor plumbing in Berne.

Last week was full. On Monday, sister Emma and I went to help bake pies for niece Irene’s wedding. Tuesday the 15th was Joe and my 21st anniversary and also brother Albert’s 50th birthday. Albert has two sons, Albert Jr., 22, and Andrew, 11, that also share his birthday along with a daughter-in-law born that day.

Wednesday was nice and cool for the wedding of Levi Jr.  and Irene. Three hundred pounds of chicken were grilled for the noon meal. Also on the lunch menu: homemade bread, butter, strawberry jam, mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, cheese, cheesecake, mixed fruit, along with peach, Bob Andy and peanut butter pies. Candy bars were passed around at the end of each meal for a later snack. The supper menu was the same except there was poor man’s steak instead of chicken, and ice cream.

My job was to help make the gravy. For each meal we made five 8-quart kettles of gravy. All the food was prepared in the wedding wagon. The wedding wagon is powered by generators so we have two sinks with hot and cold running water and seven gas stoves. It is so much easier than how we had to get things around for my wedding. The wedding wagon comes with place settings for 350, tables, and a walk-in cooler. Tables were set up in a big building and 350 were seated at one time to eat.

Saturday we traveled to Berne, to attend the Albert and Verena Coblentz (my late grandparents) reunion. Grandpa and Grandma had 13 children. My Dad and his three sisters have passed away and are greatly missed. There are nine brothers living, and we were happy that all nine were able to attend. Relatives gathered from at least six states: Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Arizona.

We had a silent auction at the reunion. It was fun to see who won the bidding at the end of the afternoon. The last time we attended this reunion was 2004 so it was very good to be in attendance again. Sister Emma had her 41st birthday on Saturday so all the Coblentz’s sang “Happy Birthday” to her. One of the cousins had decorated a nice Swiss-roll cake with “Coblentz Reunion 2014” written on it. There was so much food that I won’t even try to list it. Aunt Frances and Uncle Joe’s house and belongings were sold the same day, which I can imagine was sad for their children. I remember the sad feeling when we had to do that. We attended the auction for a while before heading to the reunion. Cousin Jane and Greg bought the house so it’s nice that it will stay in the family.

photo 13

Yesterday we had dinner at sister Emma and Jacob’s house. In honor of Emma’s birthday we ate pizza, salad, veggies, ice cream, chocolate cake, and strawberry pie.

Try this recipe for zucchini nut muffins. Although my zucchinis aren’t quite ready, we are enjoying some from my sisters Verena’s and Susan’s garden.

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Zucchini nut muffins

Zucchini Nut Muffins

  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup unpeeled, shredded zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside. In another large bowl combine sugar and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes. Gradually add oil and keep beating constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla, zucchini, and nuts, then fold in dry ingredients just until moistened. Spoon into greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes 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.

Wedding prep and washer breakdown: all in a week’s work

All is quiet here at the Eicher household. Everyone has retired for the evening. I will be glad to join them, but I can’t neglect the duty of getting this column ready for the mail tomorrow. I will leave early to go help bake pies at brother Albert’s house.

Albert and Sarah Irene’s daughter, Irene, is getting married to Levi Raber on Wednesday. I will be a cook at the wedding, so some of us go to help prepare whatever needs to be done and bake pies. I still need to sew my cape and apron for the wedding. I finished my dress. Daughter Elizabeth and her friend, Timothy, are table waiters and Elizabeth has to wear the color berry. She has her outfit all sewn. It’s such a help to me that she can cut out and sew her own dress, cape, and apron.

On July 31 another of my nieces is getting married. Brother Amos’s daughter Marlene is getting married to Chris Troyer. This wedding will be in Berne, Indiana.

I was asked to be a cook, and Elizabeth and Timothy are table waiters again. Elizabeth will have to wear a periwinkle-colored dress for this wedding. Marlene chose the same dark blue color for the cooks as Irene did. That will make less sewing for me.

We were invited back to the place where church was held at today for supper. We decided to just stay home. It was a relaxing evening with all the family home and Timothy and Mose were here as well. Joe and our three sons, Timothy, and Mose played a few games of croquet. The girls aren’t very fond of playing that game so all five daughters went for a walk.

For supper, I made an Italian sausage and potato casserole, and also a garden salad with fresh lettuce from our garden. I will share the casserole recipe at the end of my column. Sisters Verena and Susan shared this recipe with me that a friend had given to them. I like trying something different, and it was a winner in the family as most of it was eaten up. There was just enough for Joe’s lunch for tomorrow at work.

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Fresh veggies from the Eicher family garden.

The girls did the chores for sisters Verena and Susan from Wednesday to Saturday. They went on a sight-seeing tour to Niagara Falls with a busload of their friends. There were 42 girls in all on the bus. It sounds like they had a nice trip.

On Friday while we were washing the laundry the wringer stopped working. We have a spare wringer when something like this happens, and guess what—the last time my wringer broke we laid it aside, never taking time to take it to be fixed. So there we were without a wringer and halfway through the washing of our clothes. Luckily, I have a spinner to help spin water out of the clothes but it was still a chore to wring all those clothes out by hand.

Sisters Verena and Susan do not have to work tomorrow and said the girls could bring the clothes over to wash at their house. Since I’m leaving they might just do that. I’m not sure how quickly our washing machine will be in working order again. We had to take the washing machine to get it checked out as well, as Joe thinks it could be the gears in there instead of the wringer.

We were excited to hear that we are uncle and aunt again. Joe’s brother, Benjamin, and Miriam from Sugarcreek, Ohio, were blessed with a little girl, Victoria Joy, recently. We look forward to meeting her.

Blessings to all!

Italian Sausage and Potato Casserole

  • 5 sliced potatoes
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 large green pepper (chopped)
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Mix sliced potatoes, onion, green pepper, and seasonings with olive oil. Bake in a 9 x 13 pan, covered, for one half hour at 350°. Remove from oven and drain, if necessary. Cut sausage in pieces and add to potato mixture. Continue cooking for one hour or until sausage is done.