Tag Archives: winter

Dropping temps mean heating the house and baking pumpkin whoopie pies

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis

The mercury dropped down to 30 degrees this morning! I’m sure that it frosted in most places. It makes it feel good to have heat in the house. It was good timing for us.

On Tuesday we traded in our old hopper-fed coal stove for a new one. Last night my husband Joe, sons Benjamin and Joseph, and nephew Henry set up the new stove and started it. We always use charcoal to get the coal started. It makes less smoke than wood. I can smell the new paint from the new stove, so I like to open a few windows slightly to get that smell out. It’s not too bad, though, because the stove is in the basement. We have an enclosed jacket around the stove so that we can control whether we want all the heat to come upstairs or heat the basement too. The heat travels upstairs to the bedrooms through our open staircase, which is close to the big vent in the floor over the stove in the basement. The boys like to keep their bedrooms cool, so they shut their doors during the day. Once it’s really cold outside they let the heat go into their bedrooms.

We still have a little coal left from last year, but Joe called and ordered our supply for the winter. I’s always a big relief to have our fuel for the winter! It gets expensive to buy coal, but I still think it’s nice that we can heat all three stories of our house with one stove. When I was growing up, the only heat we had upstairs in our bedrooms was what came up through the door. It was always chilly when we got out of bed in the morning, and we always hurried downstairs to stand by the coal or woodstove to warm up.

This week has been rainy and cold, so we will hang laundry in the basement to dry. I have lines down there and with the coal stove going, it should dry. Daughter Susan wants to wash the hunting clothes first. They wash those clothes in a special soap so that deer can’t smell their scent. Those clothes we will hang outside.

Son-in-law Timothy shot an eight-point buck last night with his bow. Daughter Loretta is still hunting, and son Benjamin has also gone hunting this fall. Loretta has a crossbow so it’s easier for her, with her disability, to shoot the arrow. I have never hunted in my life. I just could not see myself sitting quietly for that long! I would probably be making a mental list in my head of all the other things I could be doing.

Daughter Susan and Mose are excited to be homeowners now. We will miss having them beside us, but I know they want a place to call their own. The place they bought is five-and-one-half miles from here. Timothy and Elizabeth live six-and-one-half miles from here and will be only two miles from Mose and Susan. Mose and Susan plan to move as soon as we get the house cleaned and ready for them. They will pull out the carpet and put in new floors, and some painting will be done. It’s an old farmhouse, but the place has been kept up very nice. The garage is only six years old.

Tomorrow our plans are to attend a wedding in Rochester, Ind., for Melvin and Lisa. Lisa is a daughter to Joe’s cousin Leander and wife Rosina.

More exciting news: Jeremiah James was born to niece Rosa and Menno on October 23. This would make the third grandchild for sister Liz and Levi.

Try these pumpkin whoopie pies for Thanksgiving Day! These are very yummy when partially frozen. The family of Loretta’s special friend Dustin had a very good crop of pumpkins this year, with most of their pumpkins weighing over 100 pounds each.

Photo by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Cookies:

2 cups mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Cookies: Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until just barely done, approximately 10–12 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Mix first three ingredients well and then add sugar. Spread filling between two cookies. Yields 16 whoopie pies.

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

Heaps of dessert but no salad at your last potluck? Take a lesson from Lovina and friends

Six weeks ago today I had my surgery. I am feeling pretty good but am still being careful about my blood clot. It gets better every day.

On Sunday I went to church for the first time since my surgery. I appreciated all the “welcome backs” and concerns for my health. On our way home Joe and I stopped in to visit with brother-in-law Jacob (sister Emma’s husband). He was home from church with a bad backache. They had a vanload of visitors from Berne, Indiana, including Jacob’s brother Martin and wife Edith and family. Also visiting were niece Elizabeth and Samuel and their daughter LaRose.

LaRose is sister Liz and Levi’s first and only grandchild. She was a year old on November 10. She’s running all over already. She’s a little cutie! It looks like she keeps her mother busy. I imagine that sister Liz and Levi have many fun times with little LaRose.

The grandfather, Levi had hip replacement surgery last week, so he will be laid up a long time. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery!

Our annual church Christmas potluck dinner will be in two weeks after church services. On Sunday, all the women wrote down what dishes they will bring. Usually, while we are eating the Sunday meal a few weeks before Christmas, the women pass a tablet around the table. Everyone chooses what they will bring, such as a casserole, salad or dessert. This way we don’t end up with more salads than desserts or the other way around.

Daughter Loretta, 16, traveled to Ohio to a family gathering with her special friend, Dustin, and his family. They had a six-hour drive there, so they left Friday evening and returned Saturday evening.

Sunday evening Timothy, Elizabeth and Abigail, Dustin, and all of us ate supper over at Mose and Susan’s. Joe made chili in the kettle over an open fire, and he also grilled chicken. Mose baked a cake and we also had ice cream. Some of the children played games, and Joe and I had fun enjoying baby Abigail. She is such a sweetie and is growing so fast!

Daughter Verena will turn 19 on Saturday, December 10. It doesn’t seem possible that she is that old.

Yesterday Verena and daughter Susan spent the day helping daughter Elizabeth with her work. Church services will be held at Timothy and Elizabeth’s in January, so Elizabeth is getting a head start with her cleaning. With a baby in the house, time is limited. Life changes, and the baby’s needs always come first.

Crystal’s puppies are four weeks old, and they plan to sell them to good homes when they get old enough. It’s just too much to have five little puppies in the house yet. They are very cute and playful.

So adorable: one of Elizabeth’s puppies born to her Yorkie, Crystal, soon after Elizabeth’s baby girl, Abigail was born.
So adorable: one of Elizabeth’s puppies born to her Yorkie, Crystal, soon after Elizabeth’s baby girl, Abigail was born.

I received a get-well card from Uncle Elmer and Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma had written a letter as well, which I appreciated. It is always nice hearing from my mother’s sisters. She had in her letter that Cousin Leah is home from the hospital after her accident, but has lots of healing to do yet. Our prayers are with her and the family!

Correction: I want to make a correction with an error that occurred in one of my recent letters. The two young girls that were killed in the tragic buggy accident were cousins to each other, not to me. It was a bit of a confusion to people who know me, so I wanted to make sure that is corrected. God bless!

Gold Rush Brunch Casserole

8 eggs, beaten
1 pound frozen Tater Tots or hash brown patties, thawed
1 pound sausage or ham, cubed
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2–1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

Scramble eggs on stovetop and set aside. Place potatoes in bottom of greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Fry meat lightly and layer on top of potatoes along with onion and parsley. Layer scrambled eggs on top of meat. Layer cheese on top of eggs. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk flour into butter, gradually adding milk. Cook and stir until thickened and boiling. Add pepper, salt and sour cream; mix well. Remove sauce from heat and pour evenly over casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 30–40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Yields 6–8 servings.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, will be published in 2017. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.

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.

Year winds down with farewell to a favorite cousin

One day after another goes by, bringing 2015 closer to history. We do not have snow. We had seven inches of snow several weeks ago, and last week a few flurries that stuck to the ground for a few hours. Our children are hoping it snows for Christmas. Snow does bring in the holiday spirit more, but we cannot forget the real reason for the season—Jesus our Savior was born!

Our church will have our annual potluck Christmas dinner on December 20—our next church service. I will take a casserole, although I’m not sure what kind yet.

Tomorrow is daughter Verena’s 18th birthday! I just try to grasp the fact that 18 years have passed since she was born to us. What a precious young lady she has become. I still remember well the day she was born. She was a petite, dark-haired baby. Always little but mighty! At six months old, she was crawling all over the house. She is still petite. With Kevin, 10, growing taller and taller, it won’t be long before he will pass Verena in height. My wish for Verena is to have a very happy birthday and God’s guidance through her teenage years and always. Verena will never leave or go to bed without giving me a hug and a kiss. What a joy to be her mother!

Along with joy, life also brings us sorrow. Our hearts are still in shock from hearing the news of cousin Larry Coblentz’s death. It is with regret that we were unable to attend the visitation or funeral. The funeral was yesterday with visitation only an hour before the funeral. Several of our children had appointments that were unable to be changed. Our hearts and prayers were with the family as they laid to rest a kind-hearted son, father, brother, uncle and grandpa. Larry was one of my favorite cousins. He always had time to visit even though we didn’t get to see each other as often in the recent years. Larry was a big supporter of my column and a great encouragement to me to keep writing when it would have been easier to just quit. There was more than once at a book signing that I would spot Larry’s face in the crowd. How comforting to know he drove several hours to be there.

Larry was the oldest of my cousins on the Coblentz side. His dad, Albert Jr., was my dad’s oldest sibling and will be 86 in January. Our sympathy goes to Uncle Albert Jr. and Aunt Shirley and also to Larry’s son, David, and children and his extended family. Rest in peace, Larry! Your life touched many!

Son Joseph, 13, was very excited to shoot his first deer last Saturday. He went hunting with Mose (daughter Susan’s special friend). But after he had shot the doe and they had tracked it, Joseph was disappointed to find that someone else was taking it! It was not worth an argument, and I told Joseph maybe the other hunter needed the meat more than we did. It is hard for a 13-year-old to understand that God wants us to forgive someone before the person even asks to be forgiven.

Daughter Verena made pecan-white chocolate chip cookies for the Eicher family this week.
Daughter Verena made pecan-white chocolate chip cookies for the Eicher family this week.

This week I will share the recipe for pecan–white chocolate chip cookies. Daughter Verena baked these last week.

God bless all of you!

Pecan–White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, mix together butter and brown and white sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in oatmeal. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda and add to rest of ingredients. Stir until combined. Add pecans and chocolate chips. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Note: for a soft, chewy cookie, bake only 9-10 minutes. A longer bake time will make a crisper cookie.

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

 

Ham and bean soup warms on frosty midwinter days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ham and Bean Soup

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

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

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