Tag Archives: potatoes

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.

 

Lovina asks about oldest reader; plus life heads back to a welcome routine

All is quiet here at the Eichers this morning except the yapping of daughter Verena’s Yorkie puppies. They are really playful but she is eager to sell them as they are now eating well on their own. If anyone knows of someone needing a nice house companion, let me know. These dogs do not shed hair so that is another good thing about them. Son Kevin will not like to see them go but we already have Ricky and Ruby here in the house.

Kevin has returned to school  yesterday for the first day since his surgery. A bus with a lift picks him up every morning at 7:00 a.m. and brings him home after school. This should help make his days go by faster. Daughter Lovina goes on their regular bus and leaves about 15 minutes earlier.

Last night daughter Elizabeth, Tim, Abigail and baby Timothy came for supper. We had mashed potatoes, beef and noodles, cheese, bread, butter, grape jelly, canned peaches and cookies. I hadn’t seen them for nine days so I was excited to spend time with the little ones. Baby Timothy is doing well and is four-and-a-half weeks old now.

Daughter Verena spent a few days over at Tim and Elizabeth’s helping out with household duties. Abigail is a busy body so she keeps Elizabeth on the run. Verena brought their laundry back with her. Tim washed their laundry last week but I told him we can do it this week. He has been battling a cold so I’m sure he was glad to not do it.

Today Verena will go with Elizabeth and her children to the children’s doctor appointments. It will make it easier for Elizabeth to have someone help with Abigail and baby Timothy. Daughter Susan needs to go to town so she will leave Jennifer here with Loretta and I. How fun!

Jennifer had her first birthday on January 15. On Friday evening we’ll all go to Mose and Susan’s house to see Jennifer eat her cake. Jennifer is taking a few steps but is still scared to go too far.

Grandchildren are special! Abigail kept asking Elizabeth when she can go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house again. This was the first time Tims were here since Kevin’s surgery. Abigail was fascinated by Kevin’s “big band aid.” She sat by her uncle Kevin most of the evening and he entertained her.

My husband Joe went back to work on Monday after being off for three weeks. They will only have four-day work weeks as of now. Life now seems a little more back to a routine since the holidays.

Daughter Verena also spent a day this week with my niece Emma (the one that just got married) at her new home. It was different for the two cousins spending the day together again. They did Emma’s laundry as they visited and then had lunch together there.

I’m relieved that our meat butchering, canning and freezing is now done for the year. We will not butcher hogs this year as we still have plenty of sausage in the freezer. We are still able to enjoy fresh pon hoss that Jacob and Emma brought over.

Pon hoss is a winter specialty breakfast (or supper) of sautéed cakes, made from pork broth cooked with cornmeal after butchering. Serve up with apple butter or local favorite condiment!

Joe and the children packaged over 200 hamburger patties for the freezer. He has a hamburger patty maker he attaches to our meat grinder so it went fast. He said it took them only a half hour. They had an assembly line going with someone putting the paper between the patties and some bagging them, etc. Many hands make light work, as most know! Working together as a family strengthens that family bond, I think.

The canned meat jars were cleaned and carried to the basement and put on the shelves in our canning room. So nice to see the freezer and shelves filling up. We need to thank our Heavenly Father for all the bounties he provides. Are we thankful enough?

I just answered a reader’s letter from Minnesota. Martha is 102 and still baking. May God bless her with good health and happiness. Are any of my readers older than Martha?

God bless!

Chuck Wagon Hot Dish

1 pound hamburger, fried and drained
6 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups diced, partially cooked carrots
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 large onion, diced
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
3 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
pepper to taste
shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients together and bake in covered pan at 350 degrees for one hour. Top with a little cheese just before serving.

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.

Prayer and fasting give way to joyous Easter for Eicher family

We are in the last week of March with Friday being Good Friday and Easter is Sunday, April 1. It’s an early Easter this year.

My oldest sister Leah and Paul were married 37 years ago on April 16. I remember that Good Friday was April 17 in that year (1981) and was the day after their wedding. I was in the third grade and still remember going to the mailbox to get in the mail on Good Friday. That is one way I can always remember that mail does go on Good Friday.

In our community, we honor Good Friday and have a time of prayer and fasting in the forenoon. We usually have lunch with family or friends and enjoy the rest of the day visiting.

Daughter Elizabeth and Timothy want our family to come to their house this year. Timothy plans to grill some chicken, with Elizabeth making all the trimmings. I always look forward to spending time with family. Of course, spoiling my little granddaughters is so much fun.

Right now little Jennifer is staring at me and smiles when I look up. How precious! Daughter Susan just breastfed her and is rocking her to sleep. Susan came this morning, as she has a very stiff neck and it was hard for her to lift the baby off the bed. Mose and the driver dropped them off here early this morning when the driver picked up my husband, Joe, to go to work.

After applying heat and cold packs and taking some pain relievers, Susan says her neck is feeling a little better. She thinks she sprained it from lying on it during the night while feeding Jennifer. A stiff neck can be miserable! Jennifer is extra fussy today, so I’m glad she is here so we can help her. And no one complains when they have to hold Jennifer!

Daughter Verena was excited to have her cast cut off last week at her doctor’s appointment. She does need to wear an air boot for four more weeks. She is having some pain as she gets used to walking on her foot again, but it’s getting better every day. Mail time is still exciting for her. We appreciate everyone who took time to send a card, write a letter or mail a gift to her. May God bless you for your kindness.

Son Kevin, 12, went along to the appointment so that Verena’s doctor could check his feet. The doctor decided to wait six months and have him wear night splints that help his feet. It’s very miserable to sleep with the splints on, and he can’t walk in them. He wasn’t too excited, but he chose those over the braces, which he would have had to wear during the day. We will see what is going on in six months and will try to prevent surgery if possible.

Yesterday the girls and I attended sister Emma’s Tupperware party and stayed for lunch. Our friend Beth picked us all up with her van, and she picked up daughters Elizabeth and Susan as well. Emma served us a good lunch of tater tot casserole, macaroni salad, cheese, dirt pudding, applesauce, Jello and chocolate chip bars. She had leftover food so she sent some home for our supper. It was nice to have supper made. Daughter Loretta left with Dustin and his family to attend a visitation and viewing for a friend of the family who died. Son Benjamin and nephew Henry went to town to get some groceries for me. The boys were back for supper but Loretta wasn’t.

Our horses, Midnight and Beauty, will be three years old this spring. We gave Beauty to Benjamin for his 18th birthday last year. The horses need miles, and it helps when the boys drive them during the week. My husband, Joe, trained both horses last summer. We saw a lot of excitement, and I was glad when he had the horses going in the buggy! Midnight was a challenge and I didn’t think she would ever listen. But now she takes us wherever we want to go.

Lovina shares her recipe for a large traditional potato salad serving 12-18, great for a get together or potluck.

I need to finish this column so that I can get to my sewing. Jesus has risen! Have faith in Him and He will always be there for you. I hope you had a blessed and happy Easter. Peace to all!

Potato Salad

2 1/2 pounds potatoes, cooked until tender
6 hard-boiled eggs, cut up
1 cup celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing (or store brand)
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt

Dice potatoes or put through slicer. Then combine potatoes, eggs, celery and onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together salad dressing, mustard, vinegar, sugar, milk and salt. Pour over potato mixture and stir together. Large recipe serves 12-18.

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.

Attentive doctor reminds his patients to trust God

Spring has arrived—or at least that’s what the calendar says! We did have some nice sunny days, with the mercury on the thermometer reaching almost 60 degrees. We have taken advantage of the weather and dried the laundry outside on the clotheslines. It sure makes it so much fresher than when it’s dried in the basement. Monday the air was chilly, and I was cold by the time I had hung everything outside!

It is almost 4:30 a.m. here at the Eicher home. I think we have adjusted to the Daylight Savings Time now. Son Benjamin, 18, is waiting on his ride to go work at the RV factory. My husband, Joe, left 45 minutes ago for work. I almost forgot that this column needs to be written before we leave this morning at 6:30 a.m. for Ann Arbor, Michigan. Daughter Verena and son Kevin have appointments with the doctor who did Verena’s surgery. This doctor’s office is located at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. We always like to start out early enough. It takes time finding a place to park, etc., once we get there.

Verena’s surgery was five weeks ago. She is getting impatient to have her cast off. She is hoping the doctor will let her take the cast off and give her a walking boot. I’m not so sure that will happen, but we will find out today. It all depends on how well it is healing. Verena sure enjoys all the cards and letters she has received. She looks forward to mail time! On Friday evening some of her friends are bringing snacks after supper and will stay to play games.

On Sunday we attended church in a neighboring church district. Church was held in the basement of Dustin’s brother’s house. (Dustin is Loretta’s special friend.) We took Verena along. Timothy, Elizabeth, little Abigail, Mose, Susan and baby Jennifer also went to church there. They wanted us to all stay for supper, but we decided to come home in the afternoon to do our evening chores. Our children, except for Verena and Kevin, and nephew Henry stayed for supper.

Tippy, Susan and Mose’s dog, gets super excited to visit his “old” friend Kevin, Lovina’s youngest son.

The weather was so nice that Verena and Kevin said they were going for a ride with our pony Stormy and the pony cruiser. Joe and I decided to also go for a ride with our almost three-year-old horse, Midnight, and the buggy. We all went to Mose and Susan’s. Timothys showed up there as well. We loaded Verena’s battery-operated scooter on the pony cruiser, and she and Susan went for a walk with Kevin and Tippy (Mose and Susan’s dog) trailing behind. Because he lived with us for so long, Tippy is always excited to see us come, especially Kevin. When he sees Kevin is along, Tippy jumps into the buggy and goes crazy over seeing Kevin! Kevin spends a lot of time with Verena’s Yorkies also.

I volunteered to watch Jennifer when the girls went on their walk. She is always full of smiles, and it’s just so much fun watching her. I went with Susan to Jennifer’s doctor appointment on Tuesday. She weighs almost 13 pounds and is 23 3/4 inches long. The doctor said she is doing great!

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan take their little girls to the same pediatrician I took my children to after we moved to Michigan. He is a good doctor and has been a great help to us. He was the first one to notice that some of our children have muscular dystrophy. He noticed the signs even before we did. I remember how upset I was, and how he encouraged me to put it all in God’s hands. Life goes on, and we must take one day at a time and put our trust in God. Where would we be without God’s help?

I wish God’s richest blessings to each of you and good health as well!

Easy Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds potatoes
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Cover potatoes with water and boil until soft. Mash and add remaining ingredients. Put in a greased baking dish and refrigerate overnight.

Hamburger topping:
2 pounds hamburger
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Brown hamburger; drain. Add can of soup. Put everything on top of the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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.

 

Find out what’s new at the Eicher household!

The sun is shining bright but the mercury is only at 16 degrees. We have had our share of cold weather.

I am very excited to share the news that Joe and I are grandparents for the second time! Jennifer Susan was born at 7:46 a.m. on January 15, 2018, to daughter Susan and Mose. She was 8 pounds, 10 ounces and 20 inches long, and she has a head full of black hair.

And if that isn’t enough excitement, I have more! Susan, Mose and baby Jennifer are staying with us since they were released from the hospital. How precious to hear that sweet cry during the night hours. She’s already smiling and has won all our hearts.

Lovina’s second oldest daughter Susan and husband Mose are the happy parents of a new baby girl, who is charming the Eicher household.

Susan was diagnosed with toxemia, but she is recovering as well as can be expected. That’s why they are staying with us for awhile until she feels better. Otherwise, mother and baby are doing just fine. And little Jennifer has more babysitters than she needs. I do not hear anyone complaining—except maybe for the fact that they think they might be getting cheated out of their turn holding the baby! Even Grandpa Joe asks for his turn to hold her.

Aunt Elizabeth quickly sewed this dress for Susan and Mose’s new baby daughter, Jennifer, in a half hour.

Daughter Verena is sitting in front of a tote bag full of baby clothes, deciding what she will put on her next. Daughter Elizabeth, after hearing the news that it’s a girl, went right to work, and a half hour later had a new pink dress sewed for Jennifer.

Last night Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail came to see little Jennifer again. I told them to stay for supper. I made hamburger potato casserole and husband Joe grilled fresh pork chops from our recent hog butchering.

Sixteen-month Abigail is not so sure she likes her new little cousin, Jennifer. She was confused when she saw Aunt Susan with a baby. I am sure she will soon grow to love her little cousin and they will have lots of fun times ahead.

Mose’s four sisters came to meet their new little niece last night. Mose’s sister Hannah’s little four-year-old daughter, Alissa, is still in the hospital. She was admitted four weeks ago after suffering injuries from a buggy-car accident. Hannah, her husband Leroy and their four children were hit in their buggy by a drunk driver. All six were taken to the hospital. They have all been released now except Alissa. Christmas was a sad holiday for this family, with the day being spent mostly in the hospital. Alissa has to stay in the hospital for three more weeks until she is back at home with her family, and she has lots of therapy ahead. She will be five years old on January 20. Prayers for the family are appreciated! The horse was killed in the accident, and the buggy demolished.

Church services were set Sunday to be at Jacob and Emma’s house on January 28. I want to go help Emma tomorrow with her cleaning. Daughter Elizabeth plans to help too. Timothy and Elizabeth will host church services at their house two weeks after Jacob and Emma host, so we need to help her too.

Life seems to just get busier for this grandma! I am glad to have good health to work. So often we take our good health for granted. Having children with disabilities has taught me much patience and to take one day at a time. And I think I worry more when my daughters have babies than when I was having them myself! Susan wanted me to be there with her and Mose when Jennifer was born. We have an amazing Creator, and we thank God for all his blessings he has given to us. I wish God’s blessings on all of you as well.

I will share the hamburger potato casserole with you. It is a favorite around here and has been a favorite since I was a little girl at home. The potatoes and meat get fixed all at once in a skillet—no oven.

Take care!

Hamburger Potato Casserole
1–2 pounds raw hamburger
8–10 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
Seasonings of your choice
Colby cheese slices

Press the hamburger onto the bottom of a skillet with a lid. With a salad-maker, shred potatoes and onion on top of hamburger (you do not need to peel the potatoes). Then top with cream of mushroom soup (do not add milk). Season to taste.

Turn the burner onto a medium heat and cook until potatoes are soft, about 25–30 minutes. Layer cheese on top after the potatoes are soft. Turn off the burner and cover until cheese has melted.

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.

 

Verena’s vacation memorable, but she’s happy to be home with family

Dear Readers,

This is Verena, age 19. My mother asked me to write the column this week. Recently my life has been so busy with working Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the daycare. I also babysit for my friend’s three little boys whenever they need a sitter. I love children, so it makes me happy that my job includes taking care of many sweet little angels! With most of the children at the daycare being age five and under, it takes lots and lots of patience. The children are at such a tender, young, innocent age. I feel blessed to be able to care for them.

I recently took a trip to Rhode Island with a lady I work for at the daycare center. We traveled with a group. Our trip started on April 2. We left Michigan before daylight, traveling through Indiana, Ohio, and on into Pennsylvania. We stayed the first night in Pittsburgh. We had such beautiful scenery from our eleventh-floor hotel room. The hotel was twenty stories high.

Verena loved creating a special crayon wrapper for baby Abigail at the Crayola factory in Easton, Pa.

On Monday, we traveled to Easton, Pa., and toured the Crayola factory. We were able to play a few games and work with art. I was able to make two crayons of my own and could name the color on the crayon. I chose the names Abigail Elizabeth and Verena for my colors.

That evening we slept in New York City. The lights after dark are absolutely amazing. There is such a big difference between the lifestyles in a big city and the lifestyle I know as an Amish country girl!

On Tuesday, we left New York City around 6:00 a.m. and drove to Newport, R.I. By the time we reached Rhode Island we had traveled through nine states. We drove along the Atlantic Ocean and then crossed the bridge to Rhode Island. The scenery was such perfect artwork created by our wonderful God. The ocean is always amazing to see and makes us feel so small.

We stayed in Rhode Island two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) in a nice hotel. We enjoyed swimming and relaxing in the hot tub. A few from our group took a three-mile walk along the ocean. I walked along the beach and saw seashells scattered about.

While in Rhode Island we went to the Audrain Auto Museum. It was quite something to see. We then drove to Shawnee on Delaware, in Pennsylvania. Shawnee on Delaware is an unincorporated community on the Delaware River, a part of Smithfield Township in Monroe County. We stayed in a cabin in the woods at the Shawnee Village Resort. It was a very nice place to stay.

Saturday, April 9, we started out and were going to stay the night in Ashland, Ohio, but decided to drive all the way home instead. I was so glad to reach home that night yet. I missed my family so much. It is nice to go on a vacation, but there is nothing like home and family. I was thankful that we had safe travels and a safe driver. I will forever remember this trip.

On Sunday I stayed home and rested all day while the rest of the family went to church. Later in the day our family—sister Elizabeth, Timothy and Abigail, Mose and Susan, Dustin, and aunts Verena and Susan—all went to Uncle Jacob and Aunt Emma’s for supper and an egg hunt. I was happy to see my little niece Abigail again. It was a great night with family. Like usual, we all enjoyed looking for the eggs. Supper was campfire stew, fresh grilled ham, cheese, crackers, cherry delight, Swiss roll bars, fruit dip, apples and grapes.

I’m getting excited for Saturday. I will be getting my Teacup Yorkshire Terrier puppy, Ricky. I have his bed and everything set up for him.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure. God bless!

I will share the recipe for skillet casserole. I made if for our supper tonight. I don’t add the carrots and I wait to add the cheese until the potatoes are soft. It’s a very good casserole!

Skillet Casserole

1 pound raw ground beef
5 medium potatoes, grated
1 onion, diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
6 or more cheese slices

Spread the ground beef on the bottom of a large skillet. Place potatoes on top of meat and then add a layer of onions. Pour the soup over top, and add slices of cheese over the whole casserole. Cover skillet and simmer for 40 minutes. Optional: diced carrots can also be added as a layer on top of the potatoes.

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.

 

Remembering an Amish father’s legacy of faith and work and reading

If my dad were still living, he would turn 85 years old today. But God had other plans, and Dad passed away in May 2000, at the age of 69. Every year on his birthday we still remember what day it is.

My dad left me a legacy of wonderful memories and of precious love. My dad was quiet in a group, but if you knew him, you would find him cracking a few jokes and find he had a sense of humor. Dad grew up in a family of 13 children. He was the third oldest. There were three girls and ten boys. Dad found out early in life how to work, and it stayed with him all his life. He was an early riser and never liked going to bed late. If he did have free time, he loved taking care of his purple martin birdhouses or reading. I inherited my love of reading from him. If he found a good book, he would always ask me if I wanted to read the book. Dad loved to read educational books and learn new things.

Dad passed away about five weeks before we had Loretta. Benjamin, 16, doesn’t remember him but the older girls remember him for teasing them a lot.

I’ll never forget when our first son, Benjamin, was born. I had him at home, with Joe’s aunt Sylvia being my midwife. Mom was also there, and after Benjamin was born, Dad and my sister Verena brought our daughters Elizabeth, Susan, and Verena back home to meet their new little brother. At first they didn’t want to look at the baby, and we couldn’t figure out why. Finally they said, “Well, Grandpa said that we have a brother now and that he will be able to handle all three of us.” They couldn’t figure out how that could be when they saw little 4-pound, 13-ounce Benjamin! We had a good laugh about it. Benjamin is not so “little” anymore, and is taller than all his sisters.

My uncle Emanuel’s birthday is also today. He is a year older than dad. If you get to read this, Uncle Emanuel, I wish you a happy 86th birthday! May God bless you and Aunt Leah with good health!

I had the privilege of visiting with Emanuel and Leah in Marysville at Uncle Benji’s viewing. Their daughter, cousin Emma, lives in Salem, Indiana, and was also at the viewing. I hadn’t seen Emma in years. After we looked more than once, we recognized each other. My thoughts are with Emma, as she has been a widow for almost nine years. A few years before she lost her husband, their almost 15-year-old son was killed. Emma has twelve children living yet, with all but a few married, if I am correct.

Yesterday the girls and I attended sister Emma’s Tupperware party. She served a delicious lunch to everybody afterwards. We picked up daughter Elizabeth to go with us to the party. Then in the evening Timothy and Elizabeth came here for supper.

Timothy is on crutches and will probably be off work for several weeks yet. A week ago he was cutting a piece of log with a chainsaw when it somehow slipped and went through his shoe, cutting right into his foot. He goes to get it checked out every few days. Elizabeth changes the bandages every six hours around the clock. It’s been very hard for him to sit quietly, especially knowing there isn’t any income coming in and the payments are still due every month. I told them God will provide if they keep their trust in him, although I do understand their concern.  Accidents like that can happen so fast. Hopefully it will heal quickly and without too much nerve damage in his foot.

We wish God’s blessings and good health to everyone. This week I’ll share the recipe for pepper steak potatoes. A good winter evening meal!

Pepper Steak Potatoes

5 small potatoes, cut into slices
1/2 cup water
1 pound beef steaks, cut into strips
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium green pepper, cut into strips
1 small onion, chopped
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup beef broth

Cook potatoes in water until tender. Sauté beef and garlic in oil until meat is no longer pink. Remove and keep warm. Drain drippings. In the same skillet, sauté pepper and onion. Return beef to pan and add potatoes and pepper. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and broth until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened. Drizzle over meat mixture and toss.

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.

Mild, dreary holiday weather has Eichers hoping for colder, sunnier days

Monday evening: supper is over, and everyone is relaxing for the evening. It is Christmas week already. Only a few days of 2015 left!

Daughter Susan is on a two-week break from the RV factory. The school has also closed its doors for two weeks. My husband, Joe, worked today but is now off work until January 4 as well. These two weeks will fly by so fast. Along with the holidays, we are also cleaning for church services, which will be held here in four weeks.

On Sunday our church district had our annual Christmas potluck dinner after church services. As usual, there was more than enough food. There were five different casseroles, all kinds of salads and desserts.

Tomorrow is my husband Joe’s forty-seventh birthday. His birthday always comes so close to the holidays. We want to have our family all together in honor of his birthday, but it doesn’t look like it will work for everyone until this coming weekend.

The last few weeks we have had rainy and dreary weather. This is making it hard for our solar panels to keep our battery pack charged. We have been using a generator to help charge the batteries. It is surprising how just one day of sunlight helps with the solar panels! We are always especially thankful for a sunshiny day since our water, freezer, and other items depend on the sun. Usually, we would have snowy weather in December, which makes the whole world seem brighter. The local newspaper said this December is making a record of being the warmest in December in years.

On Saturday morning the roads were covered in ice until the temperature rose and melted most of it. A lot of vehicles went off the road due to the slippery conditions. We had a friend take us to do some Christmas shopping around noon, and it was still really slippery. Now today it rained most of the day, with the temperature reaching 50 degrees. Joe turned our coal stove down as far as he can without it going out, and we still have to open a few windows. We are really saving on coal so far. I wonder if our whole winter will be this mild. I really am hoping we will get some colder weather, as it makes it nicer to butcher beef and pork. We will take whatever God sends for us and be thankful.

I wish all of you readers a merry Christmas. May God be with all of you this holiday season. I wish good health and safe travels to everyone. God bless all of you!

Delicious Fall Salad

6-8 slices bacon
3 cups sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
8 cups Chinese cabbage, chopped
Italian dressing

Fry and crumble bacon. Fry sweet potatoes in bacon grease, stirring several times until soft with crispy edges. Add crumbled bacon and fry several more minutes. Layer Chinese cabbage in a wide, shallow serving bowl. Top with hot bacon mixture. Do not stir. Serve immediately with Italian dressing.

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.

 

Gift exchange, school program, and potluck accent Eicher family Christmas

I am already a day late in writing this column. December is going way too fast for me! Christmas is almost upon us.

Tonight is the elementary Christmas program at our school. It is the last Christmas program with one of our children in it. Kevin will be in middle school next year—a fifth grader already! Kevin’s class is having a gift exchange, so he was excited to take his wrapped gift this morning. They don’t have a particular person’s name. Instead, the boys take a gift for a boy and the girls take a gift for a girl. This seems easier than keeping a secret from their friends about whose name they have.

We will have our Christmas with our family a day early, on December 24. Susan’s friend Mose’s family is getting together on Christmas day, so we decided to have it a day earlier. Our children don’t have any complaints about getting their gifts early!

Everyone will be here for supper on December 23, and then we give the gifts the next morning. I usually make a breakfast casserole the evening before so I can put it in the oven to heat while we open gifts. Such precious memories we make on a day like that. We need to take time to remember and thank God for sending Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Lovina and her daughters have been extra busy sewing clothes for Christmas gifts.
Lovina and her daughters have been extra busy sewing clothes for Christmas gifts.

Our day is usually spent enjoying our new gifts, playing games, and just enjoying being all together as a family. Our loved ones who have passed away always remain in our hearts on days like this.

Our family, sister Emma, Jacob and family, and sisters Verena and Susan always exchange names every year. We will get together on New Year’s Day for a Christmas dinner together. My parents always had our family home on New Year’s Day for breakfast and dinner and snacks before everyone left. Some of us would go the evening before and spend the night there. Since my extended family usually gets together in the summer months, it is nice for us four sisters here in Michigan to get together around the holidays.

Our church on Sunday will be at neighbors David and Barb. We will have our annual potluck dinner after the Christmas services on Sunday. I will take a tater tot casserole. Sister Liz had this recipe in our family cookbook that sisters Verena and Susan put together. I have made it a few times and the children enjoy it.

God bless you all!

Tater Tot Casserole

2 pounds tater tots
1 pint sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 soup cans milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound Velveeta cheese
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups cornflakes or crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup melted margarine

Put tater tots in bottom of casserole dish. Mix together sour cream, soup, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over tater tots. Fry ground beef and onion together. Top casserole with cheese, ground beef and onions. Sprinkle with cornflakes or cracker crumbs mixed with melted margarine. Bake at 350° for 45–60 minutes.

Variation: Cooked potatoes can be used instead of tater tots. This makes a large casserole. You can’t go wrong with a recipe like this—more or less of anything won’t hurt. Sometimes I put taco seasoning in the ground beef and crush Doritos on top instead of cornflakes.

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

 

Wedding, a new buggy horse “Mighty,” and birthday highlight week

The sun is shining bringing a little warmth with the chilly weather. Our mercury on the thermometer dipped down all the way to 35 degrees this morning. Brrr! Without heat in the house it felt good to wear a sweater. Even Izzy (Elizabeth’s Yorkie) is trying to find a spot to lie where the sun is shining into the house. This is the second day of this cool weather. I’m hoping the rest of the week will be warmer as we would like to put the rest of my garden out.

Today is Elizabeth’s last day of work at the factory until June 1. They get Friday and next week off and tomorrow she is taking the day off to go to her friend Linda’s wedding. Timothy and Elizabeth will be evening servers at the wedding. Elizabeth has to wear mint green and Timothy a white shirt with black pants and vest.

Next week is nephew John’s wedding and Elizabeth and Verena’s teal colored dresses have to be cut out and sewn yet. Timothy also needs to wear a teal color shirt for this wedding. Elizabeth will sew all three outfits so I’m so glad she gets some time off.

The wedding of nephew Levi and Barbara is now history. We arrived home around 11:00 p.m. A little over four hours later my husband Joe had to get up to go work at the factory. Needless to say, he was ready for an early bedtime Friday evening.

It was a nice, cool and sunny day for the wedding. Fried chicken was on the menu so the cool weather made it easier on the cooks that had to fry the chicken. My job was to help with the mashed potatoes. They had over fifty cooks so it didn’t seem like I had too much to do that day. Daughter Verena was a table waiter and had to wear light blue. The cooks all wore royal blue.

Typically the table waiters are given gifts for their service similar to the ones you see here. The middle one in white was given to Verena by Levi and Barbara.

TableWaiterGift3TableWaiterGift1TableWaiterGift2

All eight of us siblings were at the wedding. Brother Amos had a three year old horse at the wedding that he trained and was going to sell. Joe and I decided to buy him as we are in need of another horse. His name is “Mighty” and is a very gentle horse. Nieces Elizabeth and Emma’s special friends, Menno and Manuel, brought “Mighty” along up with them to our house on Friday evening. It was greatly appreciated.

Joe and I took Mighty to town on Saturday to get groceries. He’s so calm around the traffic and the farm equipment. That means a lot to have a horse who handles traffic well, keeping us safe and sound.

Daughter Lovina had her eleventh birthday on Monday May 18. She wanted to make her own cake. She used a heart-shaped pan. I helped her decorate it.

LovinaDaughter11thBirthdayCakeWe had grilled hamburgers and macaroni and cheese along with the cake and ice cream in honor of her birthday. Joseph, 12, and Lovina made cheddar and sour cream popcorn for Lovina to take to school to treat her classmates. Some of her classmates asked her to bring the popcorn that she makes for a birthday treat.

On Friday evening, Mose (Susan’s friend) brought brats and grilled them for our supper. Then on Saturday Timothy (Elizabeth’s friend) deep-fried blue gill fish for our supper. Elizabeth made French fries to go with the fish. I appreciated getting out of the cooking several nights.

Friday, Rhoda (a friend of our daughters), brought lunch for the men working here on our pole building. Her boyfriend Nate works with the crew and she wanted to surprise him. She served ranch potatoes, sloppy joe sandwiches, pork and beans, ice cream, and cake. I’ll share her recipe for ranch potatoes.

Ranch Potatoes

6 – 8 potatoes, peeled and chunked
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
2 tablespoons parsley
1 cup shredded cheese (plus extra for top)

Cook potatoes in salt water just until tender. Drain and set aside. Combine other ingredients; toss gently with potatoes. Place in greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes.

 

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