Tag Archives: Lovina’s Amish Kitchen

Rosy red cheeks, giggles and smiles brighten Lovina’s day

Rosy red cheeks, giggles and smiles brighten Lovina’s day

We are into the first week of March already! Even though everything is covered with snow again along with some single digit temperatures on a few mornings, I keep telling myself that March is also when the calendar says spring arrives. Think spring!

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their sweet little ones came to spend the day. Susan brought their buggy and horse and picked up Elizabeth. The little girls were bundled up but still had little cold red cheeks when we took off their coats. Son Joseph, 16, carried in all three children and then unhitched the horse and put him in the barn. I’m sure after the drive here my daughters were glad to have Joseph take over with the horse.

How fun for Grandma to sit there and help take off their coats and see the smiling little faces. Even baby Timothy giggled for me. He is 11 weeks old and a little over 11 pounds now. I had not seen the girls and their little ones since Friday evening and that seems long for me.

Friday evening Tim and Elizabeth brought in our supper. Mose and Susan also came with dessert. When Mose and Susan brought our meal, Elizabeth made the dessert for her as well.

Our supper was meatballs, lasagna, dinner rolls and dirt pudding. Elizabeth made the dinner rolls after she was here so they were warm from the oven when we ate. It was greatly appreciated. She left the leftovers here so we had another meal from it.

Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, left for school a half hour ago. I showered and washed my hair and decided to write this column as my hair dries. I plan to go with daughter Verena to her eye appointment. She went last week from a previous scratch in her eye causing problems again. Now it should be healed enough to test her vision. She had not had her eyes tested for almost four years. She wore glasses when she was younger. At one time we had our six oldest wearing glasses plus myself. There for awhile we were at the eye doctor a lot, with either a bent or broken frame. Joseph was good at losing his at school since he only needed them to read. Now Elizabeth is the only one besides me that still needs her glasses. I don’t miss having to worry about all their glasses. We also had to make sure we had different frames so no one would get mixed up which pair was theirs.

Saturday evening Elizabeth and Tim had supper brought in to them from Elizabeth’s three friends and families. Those four friends are now all mothers and I’m sure their conversations are much different from when they were teenagers. It is so nice that they all get together yet. Abigail was glad to have little friends to play with.

Sunday husband Joe, Kevin, and I were home alone with the rest all at different places. Son Benjamin, 19, was at Mose and Susan’s as they had some of Mose’s family there for the weekend. Daughters Verena, 21, and Lovina spent Saturday night and Sunday at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house. Sounds like they had a nice time there. Joseph went with Dustin and daughter Loretta, 18, to church which Dustin’s brother Clint and family were hosting at a neighbor’s place. Joe, Kevin and I played games, rested and did some reading. The day went pretty fast and I was glad for the extra naps.

I want to apologize for a mistake in my last recipe, Tater Tot Skillet Casserole. It should have said 4 cups of tater tots, not 1 cup. I rushed and that is why they say haste makes waste. Hopefully most of you caught the mistake if you tried the recipe already. God bless!

60 Minute Dinner Rolls

2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted butter
4 cups flour

Add yeast and sugar to warm milk and let stand for 15 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir well and let stand in warm place approximately 20 minutes until double in size. Form into 24 egg-sized rolls. Place on a well-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

Remembering a beloved neighbor, and her first plate of cookies

Remembering a beloved neighbor, and her first plate of cookies

Daughters Verena and Loretta are making supper. On the menu is tater tot casserole, rare beef, and cheese. The casserole is a new recipe they are trying out. Rare beef is thinly sliced steak from our beef we butchered. It’s heavily salted and peppered, then deep-fried in oil. Verena will do the deep frying. The girls insist I still stay out of the kitchen at meal time. They make sure I don’t overstep my boundaries or do anything I’m not allowed to do.

Loretta and Joseph are still washing laundry twice a week and I’m amazed at how well it gets done. I almost think they get it done faster than when I’m down there helping. I am learning how hard it is to be patient but I think it is a good thing for me. Life doesn’t always go as we want it to. I feel this helps me understand the struggle my children who have special needs encounter on a daily basis.

Foremost on our minds tonight is the sad news of neighbor Irene’s passing. Our hearts ache for her family and our sympathy goes to them as well. Irene had her 91st birthday on February 9.

Fifteen years ago when we moved here to our home in Michigan, we met Irene. She lived across the road from us and came over to meet us with a plate of cookies. Through the years Irene was always willing to run me to town to a doctor with one of the children or to just get some groceries. Or then she would come over with extra vegetables from her garden. I would try to return the favors with a loaf of homemade bread, etc. I always felt that Irene would keep an eye on our animals and homestead when we were gone all day. Needless to say, our dear Irene will be missed!

Irene’s grandson Joe is also our neighbor and his daughter Jaelyn has spent lots of time visiting over here, or the children with her at her dad’s or grandma’s. I am sure this will greatly affect their lives. They were with Irene so much. Rest in peace, Irene. You were so greatly loved and will be missed!

Our thoughts and prayers are also with cousin Amos, wife Barbara and family. Last week they laid to rest their 22-year-old daughter Edna. Her death was caused by an accident at work. Such a tragedy! Our sympathy to the family.

Son Kevin is wearing his air cast and is getting around with the aid of a walker. He can now go to school with the school bus. He is tired after a day at school. Another week of the air cast, and then he can try to walk with a shoe.

Kevin and I both say thanks for all the cards, letters and gifts that were sent to us. Mail time is special and Kevin loves to come home to mail. Thanks to my friend Ruth that brings our mail from you readers. We appreciate all the kindness!

Last but not least I want to announce that niece Elizabeth was published to be married to Manuel on May 24. We wish them much happiness as they exchange vows until death do them part. May God be their guide always. Sewing machines will be busy this spring as we sew for this upcoming wedding.

Joe and Joseph are getting a lot of work done outside in the barn, building more horse stalls and hauling manure this week while Joe is off work.

Tomorrow evening daughter Elizabeth and Tim will bring our supper in. Last Friday evening daughter Susan and Mose brought us supper. It is greatly appreciated. Sons-in-law Tim and Mose are starting to cook the maple syrup they’ve tapped from trees.

God’s blessings to all!

Tater Tot Casserole

4 cups frozen tater tots
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound ground beef
1 envelope (.75 ounce) mushroom gravy mix
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix tater tots and shredded cheese. Set aside.

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, brown beef over medium heat until completely browned. Stir in gravy mix then milk, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened (about 1 minute). Stir in vegetables. Top with potato mixture. Bake 25–35 minutes until sauce bubbles and tater tots are crisp. (If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, bake in a 9×9-inch pan.)

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

When the factory doesn’t have work, try not to worry

It’s 4:30 a.m. and son Benjamin, 19, just left for work. My husband Joe left over an hour ago to travel to his job. Joe has been working at the RV factory for over 14 years now. He has a 45-minute drive to and from the factory. With the road conditions this winter we can’t be thankful enough when they get there and back safely every day. Son-in-law Mose and Joe ride with a man who also works there and doesn’t live too far from us.

Next week there isn’t any work at the RV factory so Joe has a week off again. It sure makes a few more worries to not have that paycheck. I often think of the words “why worry if you can pray?” God always provides some way or another. Do we thank him enough for our many blessings?

Joe and son Joseph, 16, have plans to build a few extra horse stalls in our barn as we are in need of more. We can get lumber really reasonable from a man in our church district that has a sawmill.

This morning we leave at 6:00 a.m. for Ann Arbor. Daughter Loretta, 18, has an appointment there. Also son Kevin, 13, has an appointment at the children’s hospital. He hopes to get his cast removed and get an air cast. He will be so happy to be out of the wheelchair. It’s been a long six weeks for him. We really appreciated all the cards and gifts given to him. This week the Amish School in our church district sent little gifts from their 19 students. How thoughtful! The small gifts were wrapped with calendar pages which looked really nice. I am hoping the highways are cleared off for today’s travels. Son Joseph will go with us to help with Kevin’s wheelchair.

Last week the doctor only took out half of my staples so I had the rest removed this week. No lifting yet so I need to be careful when my sweet little granddaughters come up and reach for me. They can not understand why grandma doesn’t carry them. I am trying to be careful as I have a blood clot in my leg. Last report from the doctor is that it is shrinking so I just need to be patient.

My sister Liz also had surgery and ended up in the hospital again with influenza and pneumonia. She was dismissed yesterday. We live two hours apart so its not so easy to visit. She isn’t allowed to be around anyone with coughs or colds for a while. We wish her a speedy recovery!

We also received word that my Uncle Elmer, 79, and Aunt Emma, 78, aren’t doing well. Emma is my mother’s sister. Elmer has stage-4 cancer and I didn’t hear what was wrong with Emma but it sounds like they both had hospital stays. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

We had more snow and ice this week. I sure am ready for spring! The temperature is 36 degrees this morning so at least it is warmer than it was.

Neighbor Susan, her daughter Melinda and her two little ones came for a visit one afternoon. My daughters were happy to see Susan brought our supper along. It gave them a break from cooking.

Last night they made a taco supper which is a pretty easy meal but always delicious! We had tortilla chips or soft tortilla shells along with taco seasoned hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, cheese, salsa and ranch dressing.

Until next week—God bless!

Cut-Out Cream Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup margarine
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
5 cups flour

Mix together all ingredients except flour. Fold in flour; dough will be soft. Chill for a few hours. Roll shapes and sprinkle with sugar or frost. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Puzzles, laundry training, ouchies: Lovina, while recuperating, won’t get bored

It is now eight days since my surgery and I seem to be doing better every day. I had a few days after the surgery that I was running a high temperature so that made everything seem worse. Now I have a bad head cold but it is also getting better.

Abigail, 2, and baby Timothy are here this forenoon. Daughter Elizabeth had an eye appointment so she dropped them off on her way to town. We are enjoying having them here. Abigail is sitting beside me at the kitchen table looking at books. She loves books but now she decided she wants to write my column too. I gave her a pencil and paper and as she scribbles I wonder what goes through her mind. How precious!

Since having my surgery I haven’t had a chance to get bored. I get many visits from my children and grandchildren which keeps me entertained. I wasn’t up to visiting much but just having them here was nice.

Yesterday daughters Elizabeth and Susan along with their children came to spend the day. The day went too fast! Abigail asked Elizabeth why grandma has an ouchie but didn’t get a baby like she did when she had an ouchie. Such sweet innocence!

Son Joseph, 16, and daughter Loretta, 18, are downstairs washing laundry. Loretta is training Joseph pretty good in how to hang up laundry. She told me she’s glad I’m not down there to see how he hangs the clothes up because I would probably laugh.

Daughter Verena just changed baby Timothy’s diaper and he decided he wasn’t done. He can really smile at us now and coos. He is really content when he is here without his mother.

Sister Emma and Jacob are grandparents for the first time and are very excited to have Jessica Rose join their family. Jessica was born to Menno and Emma on January 30. Joe and I went over to meet her the Sunday before my surgery. She is a sweetie!

The girls are doing a good job fulfilling my duties in the kitchen. They are more than happy if someone shows up at the door with supper ready for us. It is greatly appreciated.

Daughter Lovina, 14, and son Kevin, 13, had a few days off from school again due to ice and snow. Son Benjamin, 19, also had a few days home from the factory due to bad weather. The factory Joe works in kept working so they just needed to allow extra time to get there. I for myself am ready for spring but we cannot control the weather so we need to be content with what we get.

This afternoon I have an appointment at the doctor to have my staples removed. Next week son Kevin will be able to have his cast removed after six weeks of wearing it. He will have an air cast for two weeks but will at least be allowed to put weight on it. His next surgery is planned for the middle of March and then he will start all over again. I know this has been really hard on his patience but going to school every day helped. Usually after a day at school he is ready for an early night.

The Eicher’s latest puzzle of a typical Amish farm scene is glued and ready to hang, called “Cuttin’ Barley.”

We have completed the 1000-piece puzzle that Kevin received. It is an Amish Country puzzle named “Cuttin’ Barley.” We glued it for Kevin to hang in his bedroom. Now we are working on a 500-piece puzzle called “The Last Day of Summer.” For myself I like the 1000-piece puzzles as they seem more of a challenge.

This week I will share a recipe for hot dog sauce that a reader, Joyce, from Indiana shared with me. Enjoy! God’s blessings to all!

Hot Dog Sauce

1 pound hamburger
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon oregano
1 can tomato sauce
1 can water
1/2 cup ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

Brown hamburger in enough water to cover the bottom of pan. Break up meat and as it cooks add remaining ingredients. Simmer for one hour. Serve over hot dogs.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Elizabeth writes column as Lovina heals from surgery

Cold winds caused some drifting, but the biggest event was the -13 degrees temperatures.

Elizabeth writes column as Lovina heals from surgery

Hello folks! This is Elizabeth, Lovina’s oldest daughter, taking my Mom’s spot penning her weekly column. Today she underwent surgery (postponed a week because of extreme cold). Hopefully all heals well and she soon feels 100 percent again. My Dad, my brothers Joseph, 16, and Kevin, 13; my sisters Susan (with her daughter Jennifer), Verena, 21, Loretta, 18, and Lovina, 14, plus my children and I all went with her to the hospital.

As most of you probably know Tim and I welcomed an addition to our family last December. Timothy Josiah (also known as T.J.) is a joy! Abigail loves her little brother. Most days she enjoys being the “big sister” but we still have those moments when she also wants to be the “baby!” And that’s okay with me because before long she’ll outgrow this stage. Abigail is an adventurous little girl and we have no dull moments when she’s around.

Since I’ve become Mom for the second time, life has sped up another notch. I do love being a mother! Someday I’ll probably miss the toys scattered on the floor, the ABC magnets on the fridge, the finger smudges on everything, baby bouncer on the kitchen table, baby swing in the living room, pacifiers, diapers, potty training—the list goes on. To me Abigail and Timothy are worth it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My cousin Emma and Menno became first time parents on January 30 welcoming a baby girl; Jessica Rose, weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces and 19 1/2-inches long. This is the first grandbaby for Uncle Jacob and Aunt Emma. Though I have yet to see her, I’m told she’s a cutie. I dug some pink material out of my cedar chest to sew a baby dress for her.

Getting around in buggies on the snow and ice with cold temperatures? Not for the faint of heart.
Most owners put their horses inside, or have the horses wear blankets in extremely cold weather. This was a brief stop/wait for Mr. Horse.

Last week we had a very cold spell for a couple days. A low of -13 degrees, a high of zero degrees with a wind chill of -42 degrees. Due to the cold, schools, factories, and more were closed for a few days. Other than going out to do chores, Tim stayed inside with me and the children. He kept the horses in the barn. It was much too cold for them to stay outdoors.

For supper tonight we had a breakfast meal: potatoes, eggs, bacon and cheese. Abigail is asleep on daddy’s lap. She loves to hear stories so Tim was telling her a few. Now he’s reading a book while she dozes, content in daddy’s arms. Timothy, 7 weeks old, is in his swing watching his toys swing back and forth. He’s smiling and cooing sweetly!

Tim got a few nights of ice-fishing in. He never got a chance to go last winter. Tim’s a fisherman so it’s nevermind the weather—cold or hot, snowy or sunny. I’ve gone ice-fishing one time. I can’t say it wasn’t fun because I enjoyed it, but I prefer to fish from inside a boat or off land. Seems safer to me.

When Abigail heard Tim was going fishing, she got out her life jacket, little pink fishing pole and swim clothes. She wanted to go along but didn’t realize it’s called “ice-fishing” for a reason. She was disappointed when she had to stay home.

During that cold spell Tim started a 1000-piece puzzle titled “Northern Tranquility.” We enjoy doing puzzles of cabin/cottage by any sort of body of water. We’ve completed a total of six puzzles which are glued and hung. Abigail wanted to help with the puzzle. She got quite a few pieces together, though not correctly. In the process, she knocked down some pieces, so I suppose time will tell if we’re missing any pieces.

Tim went back to work this week at the RV factory. He had last week off due to the factory being low in orders. I did enjoy having him home. He helps me out a lot with the children and household chores, and cutting wood. Before long he’ll be collecting maple sap.

While we were at the hospital today Abigail discovered a vending machine in the waiting room. She was very curious wondering what kind of fridge had glass doors. She saw it had a keyhole so she asked me for a key. I told her it used money to get a snack or drink out of it. Then of course she asked for quarters. I suppose those snacks and drinks looked better than the ones I had in the diaper bag. Kevin gave her 75 cents to get juice. Abigail was amazed how the juice came out of an opening near the bottom of the machine but never “moved” from the glass display.

I’ll share a favorite recipe of Tim’s. Even though it’s called spicy steak roast, it’s not that spicy.

Spicy Steak Roast

 Venison or beef steaks, sliced thin
6 medium potatoes, sliced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Arrange steaks in a single layer in a roaster pan. Add sliced potatoes and carrots. Combine the rest of the ingredients and spread over meat, potatoes and carrots. Cover with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Enjoy!

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

Life with children is more than just the work waiting for us

We are all home on this Wednesday. Our thermometer still shows -14 and the wind chill is -45. It is cold and windy with snow blowing. We are staying pretty warm here in the house. It is a little cooler in here than other days with that strong wind blowing outside. We hardly see any traffic go by. Joe’s RV factory shut down for the rest of the week and school was closed all week, so far.

My surgery was rescheduled for next week because of the cold weather. Its so nice to not have to go outdoors today. Joe and the boys did the chores and the horses are in the barn for the day. It sure wouldn’t take long to get frostbite in these temperatures.

Sunday the temperature was mostly in the single digits. Our daughter Lovina stayed home from church with Kevin with his cast since it was cold and snowing. Church families all brought gifts to church for Kevin, and my sisters Verena and Susan brought them to him after church. He received many nice things to pass the time while he’s in his cast. The kindness from everyone was greatly appreciated!

Our church had five new babies born in December and January. Four boys and one girl. Grandson Timothy, and a little one named Caleb made their first appearance in church. The other babies that we still didn’t get to see are Titus, Jayden and Velda.

On Monday daughter Elizabeth had a doctor appointment. We had the joy of watching baby Timothy and two-year-old Abigail while mommy went to her appointment. Timothy did really well for us; we had lots of fun holding him and of course spoiling Abigail.

Some of the Eicher beef will likely end up in a tasty and warming pot roast such as this, or beef stew for a cold day.

Last Friday Tim, Elizabeth and children, Mose, Susan and Jennifer came to cut up the beef quarters we gave to them. Lovina and Kevin went to school. Verena and Loretta watched the little ones here in the house while Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph and I helped Tims’ and Moses’ with the beef. Hamburger was ground and packaged, steaks cut and sliced, beef chunks and hamburger processed. Mose also made some beef bologna to put in cans and process. We were all tired by evening but so glad to have it all done for them. I remember how hard it was to get things done with little ones to care for. We had a casserole for supper and I made rare beef for everyone after we were done. Tims left for home and Mose and Susan decided to spend the night here and wait to take their meat home in the morning. Susan and I put on a few more pressure cookers the next morning from the jars of meat that didn’t get canned the day before. We had four pressure cookers going, so it went fast.

It was so nice to do all this outside in the heated pole barn. I remember having to cut up beef in the house and what a mess it was to clean up. Now this is so much easier. The hot water pipe froze out there, so we had to heat some water, but the cold water worked and the bathroom still worked. We need to do some more insulating out there for colder winters.

Kevin received a few puzzles among the gifts sent from church so we are going to start a 1000 piece this week. I have some mending I need to do yet, but I enjoy putting together 1000 piece puzzles. If we look only at the work waiting, we would never do anything else.

I will share a recipe for rigatoni and cheese casserole I made for supper Sunday evening when Tims’, Moses’, and Dustin were here. I didn’t have mozzarella cheese so I used Colby and it still tasted good. I used fresh hamburger that was ground on Friday.

As I write here by the kitchen table, I cannot believe how cold that wind sounds outside. Stay warm and safe everyone! God’s blessings to all!

Rigatoni and Cheese Casserole

1 16-ounce box rigatoni noodles, cooked
1 pound ground beef
2 26-ounce jars spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
16 ounces cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
4 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan over medium heat, brown beef. Then add pasta sauce and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese with 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and eggs. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish and spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce/beef mixture over the bottom. Top with half the noodles, cheese mixture and repeat in layers until everything is used up. Sprinkle remaining 3 cups of mozzarella cheese over top. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until bubbly. Makes 10–12 servings.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Surgery for Kevin and more ahead as winter finally arrives

 We finally have real winter weather. Snow! Cold! Wind! Needless to say it feels good to be inside a warm cozy house this morning with the outside temperature at 23 degrees.

Daughter Lovina, 14, just left for school. Son Benjamin left for his job at the RV factory around 4:30 a.m. and the rest of the family is at home. My husband Joe will return to work on Monday, January 14, after being off work for three weeks.

Kevin after surgery on his left foot.

Yesterday we spent the day at C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Son Kevin, 13, had surgery (heel lengthening due to his muscular dystrophy) on his left foot. His foot and leg are in a cast up to his knee. Once again we are thankful for the great work of Dr. Caird and staff. She is such a great person! We thank God for His protecting hand. Now we hope God grants Kevin the patience to endure the recovery time. He will be in this cast for six to eight weeks and is not allowed to put any weight on it. With his muscular dystrophy he isn’t able to balance crutches, so he will be in a wheel chair. After this left foot is healed, he will have the same surgery done on his right foot. That surgery is scheduled for March.

We do not have any bedrooms on our first floor except the master bedroom so we set up a bed for Kevin in a corner of our living room. He is still asleep this morning so the pain level must not be too bad at this point. I imagine once the numbness wears off he will have more pain. Dr. Caird explained to us that with this kind of surgery the muscles are really stretched tight and most of the pain comes from muscle spasms and not from the incision.

Son Joseph, 16, went along to the hospital for Kevin’s surgery. Joe and I were glad he did as not only did he keep Kevin from getting too depressed, he also helped get Kevin in and out of the van. Our Amish driver friend Beth took us at 4:00 a.m. for the two-and-a-half hour trip to the hospital. Kevin was Dr. Caird’s first surgery patient of the day so we had to be there early. Joseph doesn’t have a job right now but I am so glad for his help with Kevin here at home. I know he is eager to get back to work since helping me doesn’t earn money for him. He has saved me so many steps. With the girls’ handicap in going up and down the stairs, tasks such as bringing up dry laundry from the basement and taking the folded clothes up to the childrens’ bedrooms is hard for them. Joseph can do all the carrying up and down the steps for me and run other errands.

In a few weeks I will have surgery so I will be laid up as well for a while. This will be a trial for me as I have a hard time following doctor’s orders but I need to be patient if I want to heal.

Sunday, January 6, we hosted our Christmas gathering with my sisters Verena and Susan and Emma, Jacob and family. We were a total of 16 when the four of us sisters made the move to Michigan in 2004. We now have a total of 27 when we get together. This year instead of exchanging names we each brought a gift. We played Swap Bingo which went pretty well and everyone seemed happy with the gift they ended up with. After that I had wrapped a gift for everyone to open taking turns with big oven mitts. They had to throw dice until they had a “1” and then put on the oven mitts and try to tear the wrapping off to open the gift! Sometimes a person would not even have the mitts on when the next person grabbed the mitts. To their surprise though when they opened the first box there was another box wrapped and another so they had to unwrap until they saw the gift. Son-in-law Mose was the winner. The last box was especially hard to open since I used some wide clear tape to close the box. We also played Bingo until everyone had a small gift from Joe and me.

Brunch was a haystack breakfast which consisted of biscuits, scrambled eggs, hash browns, meat (bacon, smokies, ham), tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, salsa, cheese sauce and all topped off with sausage gravy. Also fruit and dip and apple cinnamon cake, chocolate milk, white milk, orange juice, V-8 juice, and coffee.

I had a turkey roasting in the oven to serve with all the snacks we had, before everyone left for home. We ate out in the heated pole barn as I have a kitchen area out there. This way the house stayed clean for our gathering Sunday morning. As always, we had fun spoiling Abigail, Jennifer, and baby Timothy.

God’s blessings to all!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups water
1/2 cup flour
2 cups light cream or milk
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté mushrooms and onions together in butter until tender. Combine 2/3 of mixture with water. Simmer 20 minutes. Sauté remaining mushroom and onion mixture with flour for several minutes. Slowly add milk and cook until thickened. Gently add to the simmering water mix and heat through.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Any guesses who shouted “Happy New Year” to the neighbors?

Lovina’s newest grandchild, Timothy, has a cozy outfit to keep him warm riding in the buggy.

A brand-new year lies before us! What does it hold? Last year brought us two more grandchildren who bring us joy. But Joe and I each had a brother pass away unexpectedly which brought much sadness into our lives. We need to remember that God is in control and to fully put our trust in Him. He knows best and makes no mistakes.

Our year started out with our whole family coming for the night on New Year’s Eve. We played games around the kitchen table until midnight. (Sometimes I think I’m getting too old for this. Ha, ha!) My bed looks so much more inviting than staying up late in the evening.

Abigail was wide awake at the time the New Year came in and had fun going outside to shout “Happy New Year” to any of the neighbors who were still awake. Of course the other children outdid her little voice. They decided to go out to the pole barn where our phone is and leave voicemails on some friends’ and families’ phones saying, “Happy New Year!”

The next morning we had a late breakfast together, or rather brunch. We didn’t do much else other than wash dishes and clean up the house. Games were played and we had fun spoiling the little ones. Baby Timothy is so sweet to hold. Abigail and Jennifer on the other hand take up way more energy to entertain. So precious to us!

Church services were held at Jacob and Emma’s house on Sunday. Joe and I went to assist them with their work the Thursday before. I’m sure they are ready to relax now that their daughter’s wedding and hosting church services are over.

We will host the Christmas gathering for our Michigan family. Every year Jacob and Emma, and Joe and I, take turns hosting the gathering of us four sisters here in the community. Since our extended family gets together in the summer months now, it is nice to get together with those in our community. We are now a total of 27. We will get together on Sunday, January 6 for a 10:00 a.m. brunch and gift exchange. We also play games after dishes are washed; snacks are served in the afternoon before everyone leaves for home.

Son Benjamin, 19, will return to work at the RV factory on January 8. Son Kevin, 13, and daughter Lovina, 14, go back to school on January 7. My husband Joe has another week off. It’s not often that he has three weeks off for Christmas. Although its nice to get some work done around home its harder to not have a paycheck for three weeks. Joe has been at this factory 14 years. In  March it will be 15 years that we moved here from Indiana. Years go by much too fast!

Joe and our sons-in-law were disappointed to not go on their ice-fishing trip last week after all, but I’m sure it was smarter with the weather being warmer than usual. Our weather has sure been warmer than most winters and no snow over the holidays. Usually, they can go sledding in the fields this time of year.

Lovina’s children love this thinly sliced and fried beef hot out of the pan and covered with cheese. Yum.

Now that the holidays are over, we think of work, or so it seems. Yesterday sons Benjamin, Joseph, Joe and I cut up the beef we had hanging in the cold part of the pole barn. What a big job but I think we did well even though we were all tired by night time. Of course we couldn’t do that without having what we call rare beef for supper. We slice steak real thin and put salt and black pepper on both sides, and then deep fry it in oil. The oil has to be really hot; then take a slice and stir once, flip and stir again and its ready to eat. Usually I make it while they eat it. It’s best to eat fresh from the pan. It’s a greasy job but a favorite meat around here. Our children like eating Colby cheese with it.

Today the hamburger will be ground, steaks sliced, beef chunks canned, and I will also can a little hamburger. The rest will be packaged for the freezer. It looks like another busy day.

The girls did the housework, folded laundry, etc., while we worked on the beef. I enjoyed coming back to a clean house after working out in the pole barn all day. But we are so thankful for the meat to put in the freezer for the year ahead. So many are less fortunate!

Next week our church members that are able will go help can meat to send to other countries or to those that have no food. God bless everyone!

Apple Butter Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup apple butter

Sift flour and spices and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add flour and spice mix to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture, alternately with buttermilk. Then stir in apple butter and pour into greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

A little bundle of joy before Christmas makes Lovina a grandma again

First, I need to share our very exciting news: my husband Joe and I are grandparents for the third time!

We welcome our first grandson, Timothy Josiah, born to daughter Elizabeth and Timothy on December 17. He weighed 7 pounds and is 19 inches long. He was born at 5:11 a.m. by C-section. I went to the hospital with Timothy and Elizabeth on Sunday evening. By the next morning complications had set in, and the doctor decided the baby needed to be born by C-section. Elizabeth was looking forward to a natural birth this time, but it would have been dangerous for her and the baby.

Timothy Josiah is greeted by his two-year-old sister, Abigail. She loves the baby but is not so sure she wants to share her daddy and mommy! It is hard for her to understand that she has to share her parents. She stayed at our house the several nights her parents were at the hospital. She slept with her Aunt Verena both nights. I was at the hospital the first night, but Abigail chose Verena over me when it came to rocking her to sleep!

So we now have three grandchildren: Abigail is two, Jennifer is 11 months, and our newest addition is two days. He is a sweetie and is very alert. Daughters Verena and Loretta are spending the night at Elizabeth and Timothy’s house. They made supper for them with fried chicken on the menu. I plan to go help spoil him tomorrow.

I want to bake bread in the morning to give to the children’s teachers for Christmas gifts. I will mix the dough up early so it can start rising.

Saturday, December 22, my husband Joe will have his 50th birthday. We don’t have any special plans, but I would love to do something special for the Big 50. With the holidays so close and the new grandbaby, it seems everyone’s schedule is full enough!

We received a wedding invitation for a nephew’s wedding. Congratulations go to John and Brooke! They planned a March 15 wedding at the bride’s home in Elkmont, Alabama. John is Joe’s sister Carol and Pete’s son from Tennessee.

Verena’s Yorkie gave birth to two puppies the same week as a third grandchild arrived for Lovina and Joe.

Daughter Verena’s dogs, Ruby and Ricky, are parents to two cute little puppies. Ruby is a good mother to her little ones. Verena wants to sell the puppies when the time comes.

We recently had our family here in honor of daughter Verena’s 21st birthday. Fried potatoes and grilled chicken were on the menu, along with cake and ice cream. After supper, everyone sat around the tables. We all had two little cups and a straw, with eight Skittle candies in one of the cups. The object of the game was to see which team (men against women) could suck the candies with a straw and move them from one cup to the next without using their hands.

Do I need to mention the winning team? Yes, of course, the women’s team won! We heard plenty of remarks from the men saying we are “windier” so we could do the job faster. It was so hard to do it without laughing. I really do think this was work for some of the men. I will be quiet now, just in case one of them happens to read this column. The girls suggest we not play this game again due to the men being so bad at it. Ha ha! Anyway: happy birthday, Verena!

Readers have been requesting the recipe for dinner rolls from Emma and Menno’s wedding, so I’ll include that here.

I wish everyone God’s greatest blessings over this holiday season. Let us remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Peace on earth!

Refrigerator Dinner Rolls
Makes 2 dozen rolls

1 cup warm water (105–115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
additional melted butter

Combine warm water and yeast in a large bowl. (Do not use quick-rising dry yeast, as it’s designed to raise breads quickly.) Let mixture stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is too stiff to mix (you may not need as much flour as listed). Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 4 days.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Turn the chilled dough out on a lightly floured board. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth round ball. Cover and let rise until double in size (about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 15–20 minutes. Brush warm rolls with melted butter.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available at the publisher, Herald Press, 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 email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Lovina’s friend Ruth offers sneak peek into Amish wedding preparations

In this week’s column Lovina’s English (non-Amish) friend Ruth Boss gives us a glimpse into Lovina’s busy week as head cook for her niece’s wedding.

This week I helped with preparations for the wedding for Lovina’s niece Emma. As an outsider, I am impressed by how beautifully orchestrated these events are. Family, neighbors and the church community all pitch in to help with the work of hosting weddings.

When I arrived on Tuesday noon at Jacob and Emma’s, preparations were already in full swing. The wedding wagons (mobile kitchen trailers that the Amish rent for hosting weddings), were already in place, and the house was busy with activities. Lovina and the other head cook, Laura, were making a final shopping list. Outside a team was setting up a large tent where friends and family can gather while they wait for the wedding meal to be served. In the shed, the tables are set up and the dishes are already in place for the first meal seating.

Jacob and Emma had already picked up the 400 pounds of potatoes and a few other items from the local bulk food store. So with list in hand, several of us set out to finish the shopping. Some of the things on the list were 20 gallons of milk, 30 dozen eggs, 25 packets of cream cheese, and 20 heads of lettuce.

Early Wednesday morning I picked up Lovina, Laura, and Laura’s daughter Rhonda to head to Jacob’s house. It was still dark as the cooks and helpers began to arrive by horse and buggy. Lovina’s sisters quickly started on their list of cleaning chores. Other women went out to the wedding wagon to make cakes and pies. On their list was cherry pie, pecan pie, angel food cakes and crumbs for the peanut butter pie.

The women put together the many pies assembly-line style; here the crimpers go to work.

Everyone seemed to know their job and quickly went to work. Lovina’s neighbor Susan was in charge of making pie crusts. When the dough was ready, it went to women who rolled it out, and then to a crust-filler, and finally a woman making lattice tops and crimped edges.

On the other end of the wagon a helper whipped egg whites and added ingredients to make angel food cakes. There was lively conversation as neighbors, family and friends caught up on news and activities. In the main house, small children were cared for by some of the older girls.

Several decorated angel food cakes are ready for the Friday wedding and feasting.

At noon all the helpers shared a lunch of casseroles, salads, and desserts, all brought by the women who came to help. After lunch the 500 pounds of chicken leg quarters had to be cleaned and cut into pieces to be ready for grilling on Friday.

Thursday morning also started early, with more than 25 women showing up to help with the food prep, cleaning and sewing that remained. In the wedding wagon, the cooks were busy again. In Jacob and Emma’s house, Lovina’s daughters Elizabeth and Susan were mixing up dough to make rolls for the wedding. The dough has to be refrigerated overnight and then needs to rise, so they were doing a test recipe to make sure the rolls turned out. Emma was doing the last of her sewing for the wedding, and another friend was finishing up a quilt that will hang in the special corner where the bride and groom will sit during the wedding meal. Friends and family were washing windows, polishing furniture, and sweeping and mopping floors. At noon those present gathered to share a meal of dishes they had brought.

The women making rolls made a test recipe to make sure they turned out right.

Amish weddings in this area have a noon meal, a five o’clock meal, and then a late evening meal for the youth. So it is normal to be feeding more than 1,000 people in one day. This community of people, who don’t rely on text messages or social media to keep in touch, look forward to these events. They have good old-fashioned conversation and enjoy the time they spend together.

I enjoyed the time I spent helping this week, and I was grateful for new friendships. It became clear to me that despite the obvious differences in our lifestyles, we have much in common. We share the same core values rooted in our faith, and enjoy similar interests like cooking, gardening and sharing stories about children and grandchildren.

In next week’s column Lovina will write more about the wedding day. For now, I’ll share a recipe for delicious and easy bars that Lovina’s neighbor Susie brought along on Thursday for coffee time.

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cake mix, oil and 1 egg until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of these crumbs and place the remainder in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Pat the crumbs down in the baking dish. With a mixer, beat the remaining egg, sugar and cream cheese until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Carefully place this mixture on top of crumbs in pan and spread over all. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When cooled, cut into squares.

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.