Category Archives: Cakes

Summer heat and blueberry season

It has cooled down a little, but the thermometer still shows 78 degrees at 9:45 p.m. It was a warm, humid day. One thing I do appreciate is our battery-operated fans. That was something I grew up without.

Our gardens are doing well but oh my, did the weeds ever take over. We need to get out there but on days like this I don’t care to. The dog days of summer have come in full blast.

Lovina’s daughters Verena and Lovina transformed three cakes into this special design to celebrate Loretta’s 21st birthday.

Saturday, Dustin (Loretta’s special friend) had our family and his family over to help him tear the old metal off his big pole barn. He will put on new metal and a new roof, new doors, and add ten windows. It will be almost like new after it’s done. With both sides of the family there were ten guys to help him. The women made lunch and washed Dustin’s windows in his house.

Sunday evening Joe and I visited with brother-in-law Jacob and sister Emma. Jacob still has a long road to recovery but looked much better than last time we visited. This is a rough time for them to be without his income. They appreciated the gifts of money from readers. God bless you for caring.

Today sister Verena, daughters Susan and Lovina, and I attended the viewing/visitation of Suzann, a 48-year-old single woman from our settlement that was stricken with that dreadful disease cancer only months ago. Suzann taught school and I remember she always had a smile for everyone. It brought back fresh memories for sister Verena as she was reminded of not having sister Susan there to live with her. Both left the world much too soon. God knows best but we don’t always understand why some things happen. Going to a viewing/visitation is always sentimental for daughter Susan as well. Her dear Mose is still so much missed. Susan’s little daughter Jennifer thinks when she sees my sister Verena sad that she is missing her daddy. She told Verena when she gets big she will take care of her and she said don’t cry for my daddy because he’s with Jesus. Oh, such innocence from a sweet little one. Her little mind doesn’t comprehend that Verena is missing sister Susan.

Tonight Jennifer rode with daughter Loretta in the mobility scooter down to sister Verena’s. Dustin was mowing Verena’s lawn. Jennifer loves being with the girls.

Tomorrow our plans are to go help daughter Elizabeth with her cleaning. They will host church services in less than three weeks. Son Benjamin was helping son-in-law Tim put in hay and helped him build a ramp to their patio so Loretta can drive her scooter into their house. This is so much appreciated when family tries to help make it easier for her to get in and out of their house. Making an effort like that shows they care and want to make it easier for her when she comes. Until you have a member of your own family with a disability you don’t realize how difficult it can be for them if there are steps that they can’t drive their wheelchair or scooter on alone. It is so good for them to be as independent as they can possibly be. God’s blessings to all!

U-pick blueberries are ready in our area, so I’ll share this recipe.

Delicious Blueberry Cake

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 quart blueberries

Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix until smooth. Fold in berries. Pour batter into greased 9×13 inch pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. After removing from oven, brush top with butter.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. 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 Mose on Father’s Day

Summer has officially begun. We are having cooler than normal mornings after 2 inches of rain over the weekend. We had a few thunderstorms go through with some trees down in the area. Nothing major compared to other areas nearby.

We feel bad for Joe’s cousin Margaret and her husband Walter from Milroy, Indiana, whose house was struck by lightning while they were in Montana. They lost everything. What a feeling to come home to and not have your house or anything in it. The best thing about this is that they still have each other, and no one was hurt in the fire. Sounds like they have a lot of support from their neighbors and community, which helps a lot, I’m sure.

Last night we went to visit Jacob (sister Emma’s husband). He has been discharged from the hospital. He is still very weak, and it will be a while before he gains back his strength. His visitors are limited at the time due to the doctors saying his immune system needs to be built up. Joe and I went for a little while after supper. Hopefully Jacob will continue to gain strength and can stay out of the hospital. Sister Emma is worn out too from traveling the hour back and forth every day to and from the hospital for almost two weeks. She could be with Jacob during the day. Expenses are high with a hospital stay like that.

Emma and Jacob’s daughter Elizabeth and Manuel are preparing for church services that they will host on July 4th. I want to go help her clean a day this week yet. They bought a house in our church district and have plans to move sometime this summer.

Father’s Day was on Sunday, so I hope all the fathers out there had a nice day. In honor of son-in-law Mose, our family, some of Mose’s family, and sister Verena went with daughter Susan and children Jennifer, 3, and Ryan, 23 months, to Mose’s grave. Susan gave Jennifer and Ryan each a balloon that said Happy Father’s Day to let fly from the graveyard. She had a little note on each one to Daddy from the children. We watched the balloons until they were out of sight. Susan put her address on the note in case someone finds it that might let her know how far the balloons traveled. The next morning Jennifer told me, “Grandma, Daddy got my balloon way up in heaven now.” Sweet little children who can’t fully understand why they don’t have their daddy anymore.

Sister Susan’s grave is close to Mose’s, so we visited her grave too. Sister Verena is so lost without her. God is in control and His ways are not our ways. He knows best what our future holds and we need to let it all in His hands.

I finally caught up on my reader mail. I’m sorry for taking that long in answering some of your questions. I appreciated all the encouragement.

I hope to meet some more readers Saturday, June 26th at Light of Grace Bookstore in Nappanee, Indiana. We will be there from 1-3 p.m. signing books.

Daughters Elizabeth, Susan, and Verena have plans to come to my house for the day. We will probably cut out clothes and maybe get some sewing done. And of course I get to spend time with my 5 precious grandchildren. God’s blessings to all!

A reader shared this recipe with me. So, I’ll share it with all of you.

 

Lemon-Blueberry Pound Cake

1/3 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 egg white
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) lemon yogurt

 

Glaze

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted or plain tube pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until blended. Add eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla. Toss blueberries with 2 tablespoons of the flour. In another bowl, mix remaining flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating after each addition just until combined. Fold in blueberry mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack; cool for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Gradually brush onto warm cake, about 1/3 at a time, allowing glaze to soak into cake before adding more. Cool completely.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. 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.

 

Eicher family enjoys signs of Spring

Spring has officially begun! Signs of spring are everywhere and an almost 70 degree warm, sunny day shows us most of winter is behind us.

Today (March 23) I spent most of my day at daughter Susan’s house. A group of church ladies gathered at her house for coffee break. Now to me this “coffee break” is like brunch. A breakfast casserole, ham/cheese sandwiches, carrots/dip, and so many different desserts, coffee and tea made a full menu of a meal. The little children played with toys and the little girls played with dolls and played house while the ladies visited.

I took our horse Midnight and our buggy. It was a beautiful morning for a ride. It’s been a while since I drove alone in the buggy. Time alone can be peaceful and time to think. Life surely has changed for us. So often we think, why God? Why us? Then we correct ourselves because God doesn’t make mistakes. Trust in God with all thine heart…again and again and again. Time will lessen the heartaches.

Daughter Loretta, 20, is washing our supper dishes as I write this. Daughter Lovina, 16, left before supper to go spend the night with sister Verena. I fried chicken for supper so Lovina took some along for their supper. Along with chicken we had potato casserole left over from last night’s supper. Fried chicken tasted good again for a change.

Daughter Verena, 23, is still staying with daughter Susan most of the time.

I was cleaning my desk and came across a packet of reader mail that was sent to me in December. I am so sorry to those of you that asked questions about recipes or other questions. I will try to answer those soon. With having two funerals here six weeks apart my “clutter” was pushed aside and now we are trying to get back to normal as much as possible.

Sunday evening Joe and I were home alone so we decided to walk down to sister Verena for a while. She had been home alone since after church. Those hours can be long if you are alone. We visited with her and talked of memories. Sister Susan is still so missed and so many things remind you of her when you go there. She has many lonely days and wishes more of the family could come visit her. She spent Friday evening with daughters Susan and Verena. Joe and I also went there for supper. Tim and Elizabeth and children joined us there, too.

Son Kevin and nephew Steven spent the night at sister Verena’s house on Saturday night. Jacob and Emma picked them up to go to church Sunday morning. Sister Emma also picked sister Verena up to bring her to coffee break at daughter Susan’s this morning.

This week I’ll share a recipe for coffee cake. Hope you will enjoy it.

Time for me to join the rest—getting ready for bed.

God’s blessings to all!

 

Coffee Cake
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups flour
2 cups sour milk

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter

Filling:
3 teaspoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (more if preferred)

Sift or whisk dry ingredients together and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Then alternate adding dry ingredients and sour milk, ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter into four pie pans. For the crumb topping, pinch together brown sugar, flour, and butter until it forms crumbs, and sprinkle over the batter in each pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cake springs back in the middle to your touch. Let cakes cool and remove from pans.

For the filling, cook flour in milk until thick. Set aside until cool. Cream shortening and sugar. Then add in the cooled flour mixture and powdered sugar, beating until fluffy. Cut each cake in half horizontally to form two layers and spread filling between the two layers.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. 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.

Gratitude for precious family time

It’s Tuesday evening. Supper is over and the dishes have been washed. Daughter Susan and children Jennifer, 3, and Ryan, 1, are staying here for three days. They are staining/finishing some trim and doors/door frames at her house, so the smell is a little strong and there are no doors on any room right now while they are being stained.

Tonight daughter Verena is spending the evening and overnight with Sister Verena. She is so good at putting others’ needs before her own. God will surely bless her someday.

Daughter Susan and Jennifer and daughter Loretta are sitting at the kitchen table. Loretta and Jennifer are coloring while Susan is writing. Susan keeps journals—one to Mose and one to God. Putting her thoughts on paper seems to be a healing process for her. She said even if Mose can’t read her journal it’s a way to feel connected to him.

Yesterday we did our laundry and hung it in the basement. We brought it up today to fold and put away. Susan brought her laundry and washed it today. It is hanging on the lines in the basement, now. Last week spoiled us with all the warm sunny weather. Hopefully this cold spell won’t last long.

Sunday night our family gathered at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house for supper. The menu was chicken and potatoes on the grill, with steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots, cheese, and cupcakes. It was all delicious! It was a lovely evening for a buggy ride. Spending time with our family seems more precious since losing loved ones so dear to us. It makes us appreciate each other much more.

The weekend also moved our clocks an hour forward. Nights seem longer with more daylight. We see early signs of spring—robins, flowers peeping through—so we hope cold weather will soon be past for the season. This weekend the calendar says it’s officially spring.

Another blessing we have had is my husband Joe has a job at a metal shop now. This is his third week, and it seems to be going great. We are so thankful for all our blessings in the midst of our heartaches.

This is now 4:45 a.m. I didn’t get this column finished last night. Jennifer decided she wanted cream to give us all foot massages. She didn’t spare the cream which I think is what she likes about it. She tries to act like she’s a doctor and we are her patients. Earlier today she helped with dishes and folded laundry. When she heard us comment about it, she put her hands on her hips and tried to act like an adult. She was talking and would roll her eyes and make her voice sound different. Ryan walks behind her trying to mimic everything his big sister does. When they do cute things like that it makes Susan want to share it with Mose. There are so many milestones he is going to miss. God has a plan and a reason why he took Mose from his earthly home so soon. May he help guide the broken-hearted left behind to understand. God makes no mistakes!

God’s blessings to all!

Zucchini Crumble
6 cups zucchini, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Crumble topping
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cook oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine the diced zucchini with lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish. In another bowl combine all the crumble top ingredients. Using your hands combine butter with dry ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of zucchini mixture and press firmly. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. It is good served warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. 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.

Autumn weather and pumpkin torte

We are having very cool mornings with temperatures around the upper 40’s to lower 50’s, and then warming up gradually. Next week autumn begins, so we can expect cooler weather.

Our hay has been cut for the last time this season. Hopefully, we will get it in the barn before there’s any rain.

Yesterday, daughter Lovina, sixteen, and I went to town with the buggy and son Benjamin’s horse, Beauty. The trip there and back was enjoyable. I enjoy spending time with all my children but it’s nice to have time to focus on one and have heart-to-heart talks. Lovina has a big sense of humor and there is never a dull moment with her. She worked on her plastic canvas letters on the way.

Daughters Verena, twenty-two, and Loretta, twenty, stayed home. They kept grandchildren Jennifer, two, and Ryan, one, while Mose and Susan went to a doctor appointment and to get their church groceries. They will host church services again because they skipped their turn last year. Ryan decided he can start walking now. He is thirteen and a half months, and we have been waiting for this. He used to take a step or two, then freeze up and flop to his knees and crawl. He also likes to crawl on anything he can get on. The girls kept busy keeping an eye on two active little ones.

Son Kevin, fifteen, went fishing with three of his friends. They always enjoy getting together since they don’t see each other in school anymore.

Son Benjamin went salmon fishing over the weekend and was happy to catch his first salmon.

On Saturday, some of Loretta’s special friend Dustin’s family and some of our family assisted him at his house. The men and boys worked on building a patio and ramp onto the house. The women and girls cleaned the walls, ceilings, closets, floors, and windows in the three upstairs bedrooms. Neighbor Irene, who owned the house before Dustin, always kept it tidy, so it didn’t take too much effort to clean.

Birthday cupcakes made by Lovina Eicher’s daughter and granddaughter. Photo provided.

Friday night, our family gathered at daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s house for supper in honor of granddaughter Abigail’s fourth birthday, which was September 10. Abigail helped Elizabeth make the cupcakes. She was a very excited little girl to have all the attention.

On Sunday, Abigail and T.J. stayed here at our house while Tim and Elizabeth attended church in a neighboring church district, where baptismal services were held for five young souls. Two of these were Tim’s nieces, so they went in their honor. They took baby Allison along since she still breastfeeds. Allison is eight and half months old and very petite, but she gets everywhere. She walks by holding on to furniture and crawls everywhere. Abigail thinks she should start walking soon because T.J. walked by nine months old.

Today, my plans are to go assist daughter Susan with her work. Church will be held under the big tent at their house again. This time the church should be regular sized, so there won’t be nearly as many people as there were last time.

After Mose and Susan’s turn, it will be Tim and Elizabeth’s turn to host church services. We need to get over there to help them too. Tim’s niece has helped Elizabeth on quite a few days already. Help like that is appreciated for a busy young mother of three.

I need to get started. I told Susan I would bring ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches for our breakfast. It will be easy to put then in the oven to heat. I wrap them individually with aluminum foil and bake them until hot. God bless!

Pumpkin Torte

24 graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups pumpkin
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 eggs whites

Combine the crushed graham crackers, 1/2 cup sugar, and margarine, and press in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Mix the 2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, and cream cheese until smooth and pour over graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cook the pumpkin, cornstarch, egg yolks, sugar, milk, salt, and cinnamon until thickened. Remove from heat. Dissolve the unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water according to the envelope directions. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the gelatin and allow to cool. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into cooled mixture. Pour pumpkin mixture over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until set.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

An Amish baptismal service and wedding Nothings

Another week has gone by, and it’s already time to write this column and get it on its way to my editors. Once again, I’m pushing the deadline . . . it must be that I work better under pressure because it seems I so often push it off until the last minute. Or maybe that is what a lot of mothers do. Is it because we decide our family is more important than anything else?

We had a few cloudy, rainy days and now our solar battery alarm is beeping out in the pole barn. That means the generator has to be started in order to recharge the battery pack. Our water pump is run by our solar battery. So far, we have water, but as soon as it gets to be daylight, someone needs to go get gas at the gas station. Yes—at 11 p.m. last night, after everyone was already in bed, daughter Loretta could hear the battery beeping. It was too late for anyone to go get gas, the gas stations near us were closed, and we didn’t have any gas left in the jugs. Of course, during the night hours no one was using water, so it was okay until this morning when activity began again. I am waiting to take a shower until the gas is here. I do not want to risk running out of water in the middle of a shower. Hopefully once it’s daylight, the sun will come out, but the generator still needs to be started to help get the charge back in the battery pack.

Daughter Susan and children were here yesterday. Son-in-law Mose had a doctor appointment about his finger. The doctor took the stitches out but wasn’t too happy with how it’s healing. So still no “okay” to go back to work. Susan brought her laundry and washed it here. We will wash ours today if it’s a nice day.

Daughter Elizabeth and children have plans to come today. Our oldest granddaughter Abigail (Tim and Elizabeth’s daughter) will be four years old tomorrow, September 10. Abigail is a sweet little girl who is at the stage where she asks one question after another—and then asks, “but why?” We love her so much, as we do the four other grandchildren. We will go to Tim and Elizabeth’s on Friday evening in honor of sweet Abigail’s birthday. She gets so excited to have a birthday!

Yesterday we canned fifty-five quarts of vegetable juice. We didn’t make it hot, so that I can use it in place of tomato juice in soups, etc. We picked six five-gallon sized buckets of tomatoes from the garden. Potatoes need to be dug up, hot peppers picked and canned, etc. Harvesting is in full swing with the gardens. Grapes will be next on the list.

On Sunday, Mose and Susan hosted baptismal services in a big tent at their place for daughter Loretta, nephew Jacob, and another young boy in our church district, Jeremiah. They prepared for extra people and had borrowed another bench wagon from a neighboring church district. I’m doing a rough estimate, but according to how many times we had to reset the tables, I would think almost three hundred people were there in honor of the three young souls being baptized. Mose and Susan were well prepared with extra food, and we had enough for everyone. I made around two and a half big pots of coffee and we still almost ran out. This would probably total two hundred cups. We also had twelve gallons of iced tea, but it was a cool day, so people wanted more coffee instead.

Also on the menu were ham, cheese, homemade wheat and white bread (sixty loaves but we had some left), pickles, hot peppers, red beets, peanut butter spread, butter, rhubarb jam, and cookies (four different kinds). Popcorn was served while dishes were being washed.

Mose and Susan are living in their garage, but work on the house is slowly getting done. The bedroom, living room, and bathroom are drywalled, and my husband Joe started mudding the bathroom, so hopefully soon we can paint that part of the house.

Until next time—God bless! I will share the recipe for “Nothings” since I have had a lot of mail asking what they are. They are a thin pasty with sugar sprinkled on top. They are almost always served at weddings in Berne, Indiana, where we moved from over sixteen years ago. They are sometimes also called knee patches or elephant ears.

Amish Wedding Nothings for an Eicher family wedding. Photo credit: Ruth Boss.

Amish Wedding Nothings, or Knee Patches

3/4 cup cream (3 large “cookspoons” heavy cream)
1 egg, well beaten
pinch salt
2 cups flour
shortening, for frying
powdered sugar, for topping

Stir together cream, egg, salt, and enough flour to make an elastic dough. Make 7–9 balls out of the dough. Roll out each ball of dough very flat and thin, about 1/16 inch. Cut six three-inch slits, one above the other, in the middle of each round of dough.

Heat shortening in a large pot over high heat (or use an electric skillet with a temperature control). When the shortening is 365 degrees, test a small piece of dough to see if it sizzles. When oil is hot enough, put the rolled-out dough into the pot or skillet. (Fry one at a time, unless you have a huge kettle.) When the dough turns golden on the bottom, turn once with two forks or large spatula. Remove from pot and drain on plate covered with paper towels.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over top while warm. To serve, stack the Nothings on top of one another on a plate.

One batch makes 7–9 Nothings. For a wedding, we would make 12-15 batches, or more as needed.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Summer brings outdoor church and rhubarb treats

We have turned another page on our calendar. June is here! Our hay is cut and now we have the challenge of getting it raked and baled before it rains again.

Yesterday was pretty warm with the temperature reaching the 90s. This morning at 4:30 a.m. the thermometer shows 72 degrees. It feels good to have it cool down at night. After having several days of the temperature not going much over 60 degrees and going down to 40 degrees at night, this feels different.

Son Benjamin, 20, left for work at 3:30 a.m., and son Joseph, 17, just left a little before 4:30. Daughters Elizabeth and Susan and their children have plans to come today, so I thought I better write this while everything is quiet. It is so nice when the weather is good for the little children to play outside.

Lovina has been canning juice from this year’s large rhubarb harvest, pictured. Photo provided.

I am hoping we will be able to can more rhubarb juice today. Last week we made 43 quarts, and I still have so much rhubarb. Daughter Susan will take some rhubarb to make more juice for them.

We have also been enjoying fresh tea from our garden. My patch is a mixture of spearmint and peppermint. A glass of iced tea hits the spot on hot days. I want to make tea concentrate to use later when tea isn’t in season. You can freeze it.

Church services were held at niece Emma and Menno’s house under a tent on Sunday. With the temperature going down to 40 degrees overnight, that morning it was a little chilly at first. Usually this time of the year it’s okay to have church under a tent. It warmed up to almost 70 degrees so all worked out. We went back for supper in the evening. Menno and Emma live on the place son-in-law Tim had before he was married. Brings back memories of the times we spent there.

Daughter Loretta, 19, is following instruction class in preparation for baptism this fall. It always makes us as parents so thankful when another one of our children wants to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. It truly brings joy to our hearts, and we thank God for His many blessings.

The weeds are already popping up in the gardens. I haven’t been out there much since my husband Joe is still laid off from work. He keeps the weeding and tilling under control. This week he is trimming around all our fence rows. It makes it look so much better.

The bus stopped through picking up son Kevin’s schoolwork this week. Is it possible that our eight children have all completed their school years?

Monday we couldn’t wash laundry as we ran out of laundry soap, so we decided to wait to do laundry until Tuesday. Joe and I went to town with the buggy to get a few groceries, and we also had to go to the bank. It will be so nice once you can walk into the banks again after this lockdown is lifted next week.

Life has not been the same since March. Churches cancelled, weddings postponed, schools closed. May we all turn to God and trust that He controls everything. Some day we will understand all this confusion. Have faith!

All of my book signings were also postponed. I look forward to meeting many of you readers. God’s many blessings as we travel into the unknown future! Take care! Stay safe and healthy!

I will share a recipe for rhubarb bars which I made to take to niece Emma and Menno’s for Sunday night supper.

 

Lovina made this double batch of rhubarb bars to take to niece Emma and Menno’s on Sunday evening for supper. See recipe in today’s column. Photo provided.

Go Anywhere Rhubarb Bars

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter

Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups finely-chopped rhubarb

Crust: Combine flour and powdered sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into bottom of a greased 7 x 11-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Filling: Combine the first 4 ingredients, stir in rhubarb, and pour over warm crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until done.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Camping and Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Another week has gone by and it’s time to pen this column again. It is 4:30 a.m. and both boys are off to work. The rest are still asleep. I could use a few more winks myself, but first I need to make sure this column is done.

We had a few warm days with the temperature almost hitting 90 degrees. We had thunder in the distance last night, but the storm missed us.

This is son Kevin’s last week of “school” before they come around to pick up his completed work. I wish he would have been able to have his 8th grade graduation, but such is life. It will really be different to not have any of our children in school anymore. It’s another reminder that we aren’t getting any younger.

Our whole family went camping over Memorial Day weekend. It was enjoyable to spend a few days and nights together. It was so enjoyable to wake up and see the grandchildren still sound asleep from a hard day.

A pontoon boat is just one of several boats the Eichers enjoyed riding and fishing from while camping. Photo provided.

We enjoyed pontoon rides, fishing, swimming, campfires, and, of course, making s’mores—those sticky, messy s’mores. Grandson T.J. was bound and determined to roast his own marshmallows for his s’more. Of course, we didn’t let him eat that marshmallow. It was dragged around in the sand before it ever hit the fire. He had so much fun doing that, and he doesn’t know we switched the marshmallow with a clean one. That little boy puts in many miles in a day’s time. When granddaughter Jennifer, age two, and T.J. get together, you better be on the lookout. Those two can find something to get into pretty fast. Such sweet and precious blessings. Abigail had lots of fun in the water, but she decided one time down the water slide was enough. She didn’t like the big splash-landing in the lake.

The Eichers enjoyed camping at a private spot on a nearby lake over the Memorial Day weekend. Photo provided.

The men did a lot of fishing, so we will have a fish fry one night with all the fish they caught. We also depended on them to do the grilling. Camping is fun, but it always seems like we snack too much.

Ryan is 10 months old today. He enjoyed the pontoon rides and swinging in the swing by the lake. Baby Allison is 5 months old today. She is such a bright-eyed, active little girl. She has bright blue eyes and not much hair. Abigail loves holding her little sister.

It is funny to see Ryan and Jennifer get into a little squabble about wanting the same thing. Ryan’s scream can get loud when he’s annoyed. Jennifer has an ornery look on her face and you can almost see when she’s ready to start some mischief. I could go on and on about my sweet little grandchildren, to which I’m sure all you grandmothers can relate. Our family, when together, is a total of 19 already, so we are quite a group.

Loretta’s special friend Dustin went with us. Also, daughter Lovina has a special friend too now. His name is Matthew, and he also went camping with us. There was not one dull moment all weekend and by the time Tuesday morning came around, I was still tired. Tired, but happy I could spend celebrating my birthday weekend with my loving family making memories, precious memories! Do I thank God often enough for all the blessings in life? With my husband Joe still laid off from work, the load seems a little heavier, but we are so blessed and need to be thankful for all we have.

Daughter Lovina, son Kevin, and I helped Joe finish planting the rest of the gardens. I really hope to get some more sweet corn in there somewhere.

Thank you to the readers, friends, and family for your birthday cards and gifts. May God bless you for your kindness! It was greatly appreciated. Take care. Stay healthy and safe!

 

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
8 ounces Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla
12 ounces fresh strawberries, diced

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan. Sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in lemon zest and set aside. With a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time then stir in lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and yogurt, mixing just until incorporated. Toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and gently stir them into the batter. Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at least 20 minutes in pan, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Glaze: Whisk together and drizzle over top of cake when completely cooled.

 

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Mail from readers brightens Lovina’s day

Another week has passed and not much has changed around here. We did have the temperature go down in the 20s one night. My husband Joe didn’t expect it to get that cold and had his plants in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, it is too late for some of his plants. It was so disappointing for him on his first year of planting indoors. He was ready to just give it up, but such is life at times. If at first we don’t succeed, try and try again.

We really need to find a way to put a little heat in the greenhouse so he doesn’t have to move the plants in and out of the house all the time. He moved the plants that are okay to the basement by the walkout windows that get the morning sun. This way he can keep the plants there until it warms up to stay.

Spring snow arrived last week on the Eicher farm, though it didn’t last long and wasn’t as deep as in this previous photo of the Eicher homestead. Photo provided.

Last week we had around five or more inches of snow, and we had moved the plants inside through all that. Then, when it warmed up again, Joe decided to move everything back to the greenhouse. The early flowers peeping through the snow looked so pretty. It was snow that packed well for making snowmen. I’m sure a lot of the children home from school during this COVID-19 had some fun making snowmen. They probably lasted only a few days though as the snow was gone as fast as it came.

My friend Ruth sent my mail from the Illinois post office box to my home here in Michigan. She does a good job of helping me out even when there are hundreds of miles between us. Bless her good heart! She is truly a great kind friend and does it all for free.

Now I can answer my mail and get the letters back out to you readers. Thank you for your encouragement. I needed that extra boost with not leaving the house much and a houseful of my loved ones to cook and clean for. It is true as the saying goes, “If Mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.” After weeks and weeks of being on shut down from the virus it tends to take a toll on all of us, doesn’t it? That’s why we need to ask God to lead the way.

It seems like we keep cleaning corners we don’t usually get cleaned before we host church services. And in our minds we know we need to keep everything that was cleaned staying that way. Maybe I could relax better if our turn would be past or maybe I just should not make such a big deal out of having a little dirt around because that is not at all why we go to church. After this many weeks of not seeing our church members, we will all just be happy to be able to gather for church. I’m sure the last thing on people’s mind is looking to see if everything stayed clean.

A reader asked me for a recipe for caramel pecans, which I don’t have. If anyone does and cares to share it, I’m sure she would be happy to have it.

I appreciate all the ideas for raised garden beds that were sent to me. I passed them on to Joe and hopefully next spring we will be able to try them. A reader asks what I use to clean my walls with. I use a Stanley product that used to be called Try-It but the name is now Multi-Purpose Cleaner. They also have a product called Degreaser that I use with it in the kitchen area where it tends to get greasy around the stove. Also a reader is wondering where I get the flour cloth to clean windows. I buy the flour sack towels, which can probably be found by the other dish clothes in stores such as Wal-Mart. It has saved me from using paper towels. I use white vinegar and warm water and a clean rag to wash off, and then wipe the windows with the flour sack towels. Keep in mind to never wash the towels with fabric softener though.

I will answer more questions next week. Until then—God be with all of you

Fresh or frozen strawberries whip up into a tasty frozen treat in this week’s recipe from Lovina Eicher. Photo provided.

Strawberry Freeze

Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup flour

Filling:
3 egg whites
2 cups crushed fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip or whipped cream

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and bake in bowl for 20 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Crumble 2/3 of crumbs in an 8 x 8-inch pan. Save the other 1/3 for the top.

Filling: Put egg whites, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and beat until mixture holds its shape, about 15 minutes. Mix in Cool Whip and spread over crumbs. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. Freeze at least 5 hours.

The recipe doubled will fill a 9 x 13-inch pan. If using frozen strawberries, drain off some of the juice.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now 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.

Eicher family celebrates a winter birthday with chocolate fudge cake

Diary of January 15, 2020

3:00 a.m. Alarm rings—time to start a new day. My husband Joe and son Benjamin, 20, get ready for work. They refuel both coal stoves for the day while I pack their lunches and make  grilled cheese sandwiches for their breakfast.

3:35 a.m. Joe and Benjamin leave for work. I go back to bed to catch a few more winks.

4:30 a.m. Son Joseph, 17, goes out to feed the animals while I pack his lunch and make him a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast.

5:00 a.m. Joseph leaves for work. They have an hour drive to where they are putting up a pole barn, so he’s leaving earlier than usual. I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. and take a nap on my recliner. I feel extra tired this morning and an extra hour of napping makes a lot of difference.

6:00 a.m. Son Kevin, 14, gets ready for another school day. We have had a mild winter, so he hasn’t had any days home from school.

6:45 a.m. Kevin leaves for school. Daughter Lovina, 15, is helping at my daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house and will come home with Elizabeth and children for the day. Daughter Susan and children will come with them.

I get some mail ready, and then, with the help of daughters Verena and Loretta, fold laundry that was washed on Monday. Son Benjamin carried the baskets of laundry up from the basement for us last night but we didn’t get it folded and put away. We also make sausage gravy and biscuits so that breakfast is ready when my daughters and grandchildren arrive.

9:15 a.m. Our friend Beth has a 14-passenger van, so she picks up all of them. Of course, it takes time to fasten all five car seats in the van. They are glad to have Lovina to help.

9:45 a.m. They arrive here and all the little ones are brought into the house. Beth won’t be able to take them home, so all the car seats are taken out of the van. Sons-in-law Tim and Mose will bring the buggies tonight to take them home. It is Jennifer’s second birthday today, so we sing “Happy Birthday” to her. She just smiles and tries to put two of her fingers up when we ask how old she is.

10:30 a.m. We are finally eating breakfast. I fried eggs, and we have cheese along with the biscuits and gravy. One-year-old T.J. doesn’t want his mom to feed him and comes to grandma to be fed. So sweet and precious! Baby Ryan is almost six months and enjoys being in the walker and playing with toys. He’s such a calm little guy and so patient. Susan breastfeeds him, so he doesn’t eat food yet. Abigail, 3, prefers her aunts over her grandma. They are more interesting to her, which I understand. She does like me but prefers to hang out with them. She loves books, as do all the children. Jennifer and T.J. will sit on the bottom step of the stairs and sing really loudly. They hold their books, pretending they are in church.

1:45 p.m. The day is going fast. Susan brought sewing along, so she is making a new shirt for Ryan and finishing one the same color for Mose. The girls made a light lunch of sandwiches and tater tots.

3:00 p.m. Joe and Benjamin are back home. They have fun with the little ones.

3:30 p.m. Kevin comes home from school. We get Abigail, Jennifer, and T.J. dressed for going outside. Lovina and Kevin give them rides in the little wagon. I tell Elizabeth to go take a nap, and we enjoy little 19-day-old Allison. She is so petite and has a great smile already. She lets everyone know when she is hungry.

4:00 p.m. Joseph is home too now, so the guys do evening chores. After they are done, they grill chicken and steak for our supper. It’s so handy to go to the freezer for meat when you need to make a meal. The girls make a cake for Jennifer. Mose and Susan will have a birthday party for her, but we thought we’d make a cake for her tonight.

6:30 p.m. Supper is ready. On the menu are vegetable soup, cheese, chicken, and steak, plus ice cream and cake. We lit two candles for Jennifer to blow out, but she wasn’t too enthused about doing that. She loved the cake, though.

7:30 p.m. Verena, Loretta, Lovina, and I wash dishes while they get all the tired little ones dressed to go home. It was a long but enjoyable day!

I’ll share the recipe for the chocolate fudge cake we made for Jennifer’s birthday. God’s blessings to all!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

2 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour milk
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup boiling water

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, salt, oil, sour milk, and flour. In a small bowl combine and stir well the cocoa, baking soda, vanilla, and boiling water. Add to the cake mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, will be available in April 2020 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.