Archive for December, 2011

Id like to wish everyone a merry Christmas, and  i couldn’t leave Marilyn out so on behalf of her she also wishes all the folks happy holidays as well. Its been some year with a terrible economy and high unemployment , and its also the year that i started Amish Stories this past January. In fact i found myself going back to some of my very first post’s and now look in amazement how much i had to learn about blogging and posting , so I’ve learned  a lot  along the way i think. 

All image’s taken on December 2011 in  Lebanon and Lancaster counties.
 On December 10 Amish Stories had 100,000 hits so id like to thank all of its readers for taking valuable time out of your busy schedule to visit, and to post your comment’s. I’m not sure how the year 2012 will be, but all i can hope is for good health for all and that everyone will be in a good place in their lives for the new year. I know that these are just wishes from myself, but its these hopes and goals that help keep us all going in life for the next tomorrow’s. Richard
Lancaster county
Yes folks the small town movie theater still exists and is located at Annville in Lebanon county Pennsylvania.

Lebanon county’s Amish settlement

A song that many associate with the holidays done by the supreme’s in 1966, brings back many childhood memory’s for me so enjoy…….. Richard

Christmas Pecan Snowballs : 1 cup butter 4 Tbsp sugar 2 tsp vanilla 2 cups flour 2 cups pecans Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add pecans and flour. Roll into balls and flatten slightly. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour, then bake for 45 minutes At 300 degrees. While warm roll in powdered sugar. Both homemade recipe’s from Jean.

White Christmas Candy: 1 lb. white chocolate or almond bark 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter 1 1/2 cups Spanish peanuts Melt and blend white chocolate (or Almond bark) and peanut butter together. Add rest of ingredients. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper. Store in covered container when cook and firm.

Lancaster county, all 6 pictures taken this December 17
Intercourse,Pa on a cold December day!
Amish buggy in a hurry going through town

Amish Stories will return on January 3, 2012

Read Full Post »

Martha and Joseph are old order Mennonites who live on a farm in New York state with their family, and like the Amish use horse and buggy when traveling.

Thank you for welcoming me back to Amish Stories to tell you about my difference in Christmas from before I became an Old Order Mennonite with my current Christmas. Now that I look back, I see Christmas so different. Before I became Old Order Mennonite I think it was more important with all the gifts- decorating the house- Christmas Trees- and Christmas lights and more. I think the religious celebration got behind me even though we went to church. I can remember sitting in church one Christmas wondering what my parents had gotten me for Christmas instead of thinking that the Lord had given us His only son to come live on this earth and die for us on the cross.

Now my life is more centered on Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection. Oh, we make cookies, fudge, breads, etc. just like people in both worlds. But, Joseph and I, don’t have stacks of Christmas presents for everyone. We give one or two presents per person-most of them are handmade or is  at least a useful item. No more do I spend weeks shopping in stores looking for presents. We sometimes buy some presents from a stores such as clothes, shoes, and useful items. Presents to Joseph, our children, Joseph’s family and mine are unwrapped, but for my family and other non-Old Order Mennonite friends we give presents to-are wrapped. We believe it is a waste of money to wrap Christmas presents, but on the other hand, if my parents and others want their presents wrapped-we will do it. Many of the gifts we give to outsiders are baked goods, jelly, apple butter or alike.

Also as Old Order Mennonite we give more donations to charities than I did before. Many of the charities I give to are Mennonite based-I know people who volunteer for or have gone on missions to these charities. We give to charities all year around but I believe more so at Christmas Time. I still get envelopes from charities from the outside world that I never gave to. Getting envelopes from places I never heard of and wonder if they are really there. Some of the charities that I gave to before I became Mennonite-I still do because I know they are real charities and do good work.

There is a ladies group that Jean and I belong to that I believe Jean is going to tell about. Us Mennonite ladies draw the name of another Mennonite that lives locally. Throughout the year we pray for them, send them cards, write them notes, etc. We don’t reveal who we are until we have our annual Christmas Party which was held at our house last year. When I first became Old Order Mennonite I was afraid to draw a name because I didn’t know who I would get and what I would send being my first time. When it came for me to draw-I drew Jean’s name. She also drew my name. I still think that was arranged, lol.  We both still draw names and we have never gotten each others again!

Throughout all the Christmas Season we read about Jesus’ coming in the Bible. Our way is more of why we celebrate Christmas than presents, decorations or the others. On Christmas Eve Joseph reads the Bible about Jesus’ birth. We fast from Christmas Eve dinner until Christmas dinner. Many times we sing Christmas hymns and go caroling. Sometimes we get in the buggy and drive around to see our neighbors Christmas lights. Also we attend meeting (church) on Christmas Day. My parents attend midnight Mass at their church and come to Christmas meeting at our church.

It is hard for my parents to go along with our ways. As my parents get upset that we don’t have Christmas decorations, we do have permission to get a tree and put it up on the day before Christmas Eve. It has clear lights on it with no decorations except a star at the top. We wrap presents to my parents and put them under the tree. When they come, we plug in the tree otherwise it is off. The 27th of December-the tree comes down. My parents stay to exchange gifts, then they leave to go to dinner with whichever of my brother or sister is having Christmas Dinner. The rest of my family could come to our house-but they don’t on Christmas. They do on Easter and Thanksgiving, but not on Christmas-I guess our ways are so different.

My whole Christmas is different from when I was out in the world. Christmas means so much more for me now than it did before. My thoughts and prayers are on Jesus than are on the outside world. Joseph and I try to impress this on our children. I don’t think of what I am going to get for Christmas during meeting anymore. My thoughts are on my Savior.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season,


 Christmas Butter Cookies: 1 cup soft butter 1/2 cup brown, packed 2 1/4 cups flour, sifted Cream butter until it resembles whipped cream and slowly add the sugar, beating well. Add flour gradually and blend thoroughly. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for several hours. Knead dough slightly on floured board, form into a smooth ball. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Place on un-greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. When cold decorate with butter icing, candied fruits, etc. Enjoy both recipes. Jean   

Snow Pudding : Take one pint of water, one cup of sugar, two tablespoons of cornstarch, beat whites of two eggs and add just before removing the mixture from the stove when it begins to thicken. The topping is made by combining one cup of milk, a half cup of sugar, and one teaspoon of cornstarch and the yokes of the two eggs.

From Martha and Joseph and family we would like to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a joyous new years and happy holidays.

Read Full Post »



Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

  Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Jean and David and family, and we wish everyone a very healthy new year to come. We will see everyone back here on Amish Stories on January 3 2012. 


During the Christmas Season the Old Order Mennonite arrange to make Christmas Food Baskets to people in our area who might need extra food during this time. We help people throughout the year as we find out about them, and at  Christmas we try to make the meal and day a little better for them. Also, if we know they need other items like clothes, money, washer or dryer, or other items we get it for them. Our deacons send someone around to collect money to help others. The deacons do like they do for people in our meetings (church). They bring a bag around and we put in it what we want.



 Unless we write a check no one knows how much we put in there. It is between God and us. This money is used on any person who needs our help outsiders or Mennonite. Also we buy gifts for some people that don’t have relatives or they live far away and won’t be here for Christmas. We have one family of a lady whose husband passed (died) and her children. She is not Mennonite but she needs our help. She did not come to us, but we heard about her and wanted to help her. She is just one of the people we will help this year. We will pack everything up and deliver them. The look on their face when they receive these items are our reward. God has been generous to us so we help others. That does not mean we are rich, but God has been good in His ways to us, we must share.

On Christmas Eve we adults start fast from dinner on Christmas Eve until Christmas dinner the next day. The young folks do not have to do the fast. Many of the young people age 15 and older go caroling. Even though Michael is not 15, the young folk have invited him to come along and we have agreed that he can go. Usually a married couple or two go along to chaperon. We have gone chaperon with some of the young folks in past years. As some of the farm houses out here are a ways apart they sometimes go in a group of buggies or someone gets their flat bed buggy out and takes them all at once. After their goings from house to house singing they end up at one of their homes for coco and cookies. There they usually do more singing and then go home.

Also I Christmas Eve, I make as many of the foods for the Christmas Dinner I “can” ahead of time so they are ready for Christmas day. On Christmas Day I try to do as little cooking as possible. To us Christmas is like on Sunday-we do only what chores we have to. Christmas is a holy day to us. Before the children go to bed, David, reads the about the Birth of Jesus in the Bible. He briefly explains is that what Christmas is all about.

Christmas Day, we get up and go to meeting (church) service. The sermons are on the Birth of Jesus and also the Crucifixion. Jesus only came for us-He gave His Life for our sins by dying on the cross. After meeting we go home and receive our Christmas gifts. All the gifts we give and receive for Christmas are items we can use. One item we are giving Michael is a German / English Bible so he can see the Bible quotes at sermon and to learn our language. This Bible has German on one side and English on the other. I have some hats coming for David that he needs badly. We do buy more than one gift, but we don’t by stacks of gifts for each other.

At Christmas Dinner, this year, we are just having David, Baby David, Susan, Michael and myself at Michael’s request. He has never had a Christmas and wants just a small Christmas. Christmas Day is the day for just immediate family. We would have had our parents and my grandparents, but Michael asked small – this year he is getting it. December 26th is what we calls second Christmas because that is the day we visit family and friends. There is another dinner that day-this one at my parents. If there are presents to exchange we do it that day. On this day, we also only do necessary chores. We spend the day just chatting or if the weather is like it is now the children will be playing outside. If there is snow, they will be sledding or skiing near by. We stay close as a  family on this day.

On December 27th, we will go back to doing chores, but during reading the bible and prayer we go through verses of Jesus. We again thank not only for the gifts we have received but the friends, relatives, good and not so good times we have received. Also, we pray for our friends and relatives that need prayer as we do all year. It is not our way to remember Jesus just at Christmas but all year throughout.

I hope my telling you of our way at Christmas will help you enjoy yours Christmas.

David got a call today from the ambulance crew wanting him to ride with the ambulance because they had a patient who spoke our language. They said they would pick him up. Well they picked up the patient first and she wanted a woman instead of man so I was asked to go. When I got in the ambulance there was the Amish wife of the young couple we had sold the property to and helped build their house. The ambulance attendant in the back was also a woman. The Amish lady was in labor and on the way to the hospital. I did translate what she was saying to the attendant. When we go to the hospital she wouldn’t let go of my arm so I went in with her and stayed with her. Her husband arrived with a driver.

If you remember before Hurricane Irene, David’s Grandmother, had told the lady that the doctor was wrong-she was not having one baby, but twins. David’s Grandmother was right-they had twins. When David and I went into see them they said they wished David’s Grandmother hadn’t passed and was here to see their babies. They had a boy and girl. The little boy came first and a little girl came next. They named the little girl Sylvia Mary, after David’s Grandmother – she was right there were two. Their little boy they named Eli John after the little boys grandfathers. Because of their size (3 1/2 lbs and 3lbs) the hospital want to keep the babies for a couple of days just to make sure they are all right.

The couple had asked David to make them the crib for the one child when she was with child, which he did. This evening David is working on a second crib for them. He wants to get it done before the babies come home. Ladies Amish and Old Order Mennonite are ready to clean the house, make sure they have enough dippers, baby clothes, etc tomorrow. We are also cooking up food for their freezer so they will have food to eat when she and the babies get home. The Father’s parents are the people we sold the lot next to so they are here to help, but we are still working a schedule for ladies to come and help. Men are working a schedule to milk the cows, feed the animals, and more. On the way to the hospital she said she was working on a quilt for the baby so we will be seeing if we can finish that for her and do another for her other baby. With many people and many fingers these make for light work.

The Amish lady spoke English but many times when Mennonite or Amish are in pain, ill, etc. we speak the language we use most. You sometimes don’t think to speak English to an ambulance person. So sometimes they need someone to translate like I had to today. After the ladies children came and she had rested-she was speaking English to the nurses and doctors. David , some of the Mennonite and Amish are having classes for our ambulance and fire department to teach them our language. With the Old Order Mennonite and Amish moving into our area it is becoming a necessity.

Hope you all have a very Merry, Prayerful and Joyous Christmas.

Be With God,



3 C mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle topping over mixture.


1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. flour

2 1/2 tbsp melted butter

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Read Full Post »

I think that i love the fall as much as any time of the year here in our Amish communities of Lebanon and Lancaster counties, with activities still going strong even right through Winter. Things do seem to slow down a bit in January but that does not mean we wait inside our homes until spring, there is still many things to do and see and i cherish these times and appreciate  them nevertheless.

 All of these images were taken in November in Lancaster county, with me spotting this air balloon getting ready to take-off in Bird-in-hand while i was on my way to a bakery that was across the street. I did get to the bakery and had a nice hot cup of coffee to help warm me up a little, and maybe a whoopie-pie to help give my hands something to do of course!         Richard

Being in an environment  like this always helps give me a sense of calmness and balance, and i never seem to be able to get enough of it. 


Do you see the flames!


This is called Holiday Breakfast Souffle but I use it several times a year for Sunday. I can make this the night before and pour in a metal pan. I leave it in the refrigerator over night and put it in the oven when I get up in the morning. While it’s cooking David and Michael are milking the cows and I am getting myself, Susan and Baby David dressed. When the men come in we eat this for breakfast. The men get dressed for meeting (church) while I finish up on the children. We all leave with a good breakfast in us. This is made by the Old Order Mennonite and the Amish. Holiday Breakfast Souffle: 8 eggs 6 slices bread, cubed (use crust) 1 lb. sausage or bacon crumbled 2 c. milk 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated 1 tsp salt 1 tsp dry mustard Mix milk, salt, mustard and eggs. Pour over other ingredient’s tossing lightly. Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Refrigerate 1 hour. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.     Enjoy. Jean
Best Ever Fudge: 1 lb. butter 1/2 lb. Velveeta cheese 1/2 lb cream cheese 1 1/4 cups cocoa 4 lbs powdered sugar 1 lb chopped nuts 1 tsp vanilla Melt butter, cheeses, cocoa, and vanilla on low heat. When melted take off burner and add sugar and nuts. You will find you have a hard time stirring-so I use my hands. Pour onto an un-greased cookie sheet and refrigerate. Cut into small pieces. Hope you like it!    Jean

Next Monday jeans final Christmas post will be published instead of Tuesday. With Martha’s Christmas post going up on Wednesday and my own post for Friday, these will be the last post’s for 2011 and i hope to see you folks there!

Read Full Post »

The Amish Cook

The Amish Cooks last post on Amish Stories for 2011. Merry Christmas



Every morning son Joseph, 9, reminds us of how many more days it is until Christmas. When he told me this morning that there were only “13 days” it really dawned on me just how close the holiday season really is. I think the children are getting a little worried and keep asking Joe and I when we are going Christmas shopping. We have a few of their gifts, but it just seems time goes too fast. We plan to go shopping on Saturday.

(Editor’s Note: Having visiting dozens of Amish settlements across the USA over the past 20 years, my observation is that Christmas is celebrated in different ways depending on the community. Some Amish do incorporate secular symbols like Santa Claus and reindeer-shaped Christmas cookies into their celebration, others do not. Gift-exchanges seem to be common in most communities, although it is often more low-key and less commercial than the non-Amish. Christmas decorations rarely appear in Amish homes and I’ve never seen a decorated tree. One way in which many Amish do expression their appreciate of the season is through baked goods and homemade candy – Kevin Williams, Amish Cook Editor)

Christmas morning is exciting for the children to see their gifts, but lets not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season. Joseph, Lovina, 7, and Kevin, 6, are often practicing their songs for their school Christmas program. It will be held next week on December 20. Joe will have off two weeks from the factory over the holidays. The children will also have two weeks off school. I know those weeks will go fast with us having Joe’s family over for Christmas on January 7. Lots to do during that time to prepare. Some of the time will be spent cleaning the house more than usual. Our basement needs a good cleaning. Our coal stove is the basement so it does not take long for dust to collect. We do laundry down there and the children play down there a lot too.

Saturday we celebrated daughter Verena’s 14th birthday with a fried chicken dinner. She baked a chocolate cake and frosted it. We put on candles and had her blow them out. We also had vanilla ice cream to go with the chocolate cake. For her birthday we gave her a dolphin anniversary clock and an electronic money jar. Verena collects anything with dolphins or dogs so she really liked the clock. She doesn’t remember her 13th birthday due to losing her memory for a year because of her brain concussion in June 2010. We are so thankful she is doing better. She has caught up with her school grades again and is excited to be back on the honor roll list. I took her to the doctor’s for a 3-month check up since her surgery. She still needs to wear the ankle brace but the doctors were very pleased with how she is doing. We thank God for all his many blessings. May He help us to remember to always turn to Him when we feel burdened with life’s problems. He can make our load so much more easier to carry.

Today is laundry day again. We usually do laundry 2 to 3 times a week. The boys cleaned out the chicken coop on Saturday. So now we have some extra smelly coats and pants to wash. When the eggs start coming into the house dirty we know it is time to remind the boys that the chicken coop and nests need to be cleaned again. Our chickens have slowed down in laying eggs since the cold weather began. I must get busy now and hope all of you readers stay healthy over these holidays.

Saturday morning our thermometer showed 11 degrees. Brrr. Today the temperature is in the low 20s. Here is a good peanut butter fudge recipe for the holidays.


2 cups sugar

2 /3 cup milk

1 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 6 ounce package chocolate chips

1 /2 of one pint jar marshmallow crème

Butter a 2-quart saucepan. Combine sugar and milk in the saucepan and beat and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook to 235 degrees (use a candy thermometer to measure temperature) Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients stirring until well-blended. Pour into a buttered 9 X 9 X 2 pan. Cool and cut when firm. The Amish Cook is re-published with permission from Richard from Amish Stories.

THE AMISH RECIPE PROJECT, VOL 1: This is a brand new book, part cookbook, part culinary anthropology by the Amish Cook’s editor. Containing over 200 recipes from Amish and Mennonite settlements across the USA, this book offers a culinary glimpse into changing plain culture and is an attempt to catalogue and preserve traditional Amish cooking. To purchase the cookbook and try some of the recipes as part of the project, call 1-800-224-3032 or visit Cost is $14.99 plus shipping. Order by Dec. 21 to have by Christmas. Recipes from the book include chapters for brownies, bars, cakes, cookies, entrees, salads, and soups.

Read Full Post »

Linz is the third largest city in Austria. Beautifully bifurcated by the Danube River, Linz was originally founded by the Romans. Later it served as a provincial city of the Holy Roman Emperor. With a current population of nearly 200,000, Linz is diametrically known for its steel and chemical industry as well as its endorsement of music and art. It is also the home of the beloved PEZ candy. Originally marketed in Vienna in 1927, PEZ candy and the even more famous PEZ dispensers are popular worldwide. Indeed, the dispensers have become a notable collector’s item.

Linz has had a number of well known inhabitants including Johannes Kepler, the famous astronomer who pioneered the laws of planetary motion and defended Copernicus’s theory that the earth revolved around the sun. Another was Adolph Hitler who thought everything revolved around him.

On a more tasteful note, Linz is the reputed home of the renowned Linzertorte. A Linzertorte is a tart made of a rich buttery dough accentuated by almonds, lemon zest, and cinnamon. The tart is traditionally filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust. In America, raspberry has replaced black currant as the jam of choice. Linzertortes are a traditional European Christmas pastry, a custom that is now enjoyed in the US as well.

The Linzertorte is one of the oldest known tarts with a recipe discovered in an Austrian abbey from 1653. Johann Konrad Vogel (1796-1883) is credited with first mass producing it while Franz Holzlhuber, an Austrian émigré who worked as a baker, is recognized for introducing it to America around 1856.

Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich around the preserves. Moreover, the top cookie has a small cutout in its center (known as Linzer eyes), thus exposing the underlying jam and adding to the visual appeal. While the traditional cutout is circular, all sorts of shapes, such as hearts, are also popular.

I’ve been using the terms “jam” and preserves” interchangeably but technically they are not the same. Jam and preserves are both cooked mixtures of fruit, sugar and sometimes pectin. The difference is preserves contain chunks of fruit where in a jam the fruit is purred. And while we’re at it, a conserve is a cooked mixture of fruit, nuts and sugar. Jelly, is an uncooked mixture of fruit juice, sugar and sometimes pectin. Any one of these four concoctions can be used to make your Linzer cookies.


(makes about 18)

• 8 oz. (two sticks) butter

• 6 oz. sugar

• 2 egg yolks

• Zest of 1 lemon

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 2 ½ cups cake flour

• ¾ teaspoon cinnamon

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

• Pinch of salt

• 1 cup ground almonds (or hazelnuts if you prefer)

• Raspberry jam, as needed

• Powdered sugar, for dusting, as needed

In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time, then the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together and then mix with the ground almonds. Gradually add the combined dry ingredients to the wet ones in the mixer until fully combined. Divide the dough into two balls, wrap with plastic and rest in the refrigerator for one hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the balls of dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness, (depending on the size of your board you may need to divide the balls in half again and do four batches). Next, cut out 2-inch diameter rounds with a cookie cutter. With a smaller cutter, in the shape you desire, cut out the centers of half the cookies. These will be the tops. If you wish you can combine all the scraps and re-roll for a few extra cookies. Place the cookies on greased or parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Keep a close eye on them to prevent them from overcooking. Ovens vary and 12 minutes is a guideline. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Spread some of the jam on each solid cookie. Top each cookie with the halves with the cut-out center. Dollop a little more jam into the hole. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.Linzer tart history and recipe published with permission from Cookie Image from Kern Justin of Flickr.          Richard from Amish Stories

I almost deleted this image because i pretty much missed this shot, but decided to save it

Don’t miss my post this Friday of Lancaster county with some really nice images from last month, with a few recipes.

Read Full Post »

Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.



Right now I am making cookies, candy and more goodies for the Christmas Season. For the firewoman,   firemen and ambulance crew where David volunteers, I am getting baskets and putting in jams, jellies that I have put up and a fresh homemade loaf of bread. For friends I am making the baskets with apple butter, bread and some of the jams and jellies. Also, I have made fudge for friends and will put them in little baskets. We do have Old Order Mennonite, Amish and outsider friends that we give to. Some people we give to are unable to make such goodies for health reasons.

At meetings (church) on Sunday, we light the candles for Advent. Each candle is to remind us of the coming and Birth of Jesus. Our thoughts at both meetings and home are of what Jesus did for us. Do we really thank, acknowledge, praise and honor the Lord in both the good times and the times that we feel are not so good? Do we realize that the Lord sent His only Son who died on the cross for us? We don’t only honor Christmas, but why Jesus was born on this earth. The ultimate gift that He could give us was His life for our sins.

We do not put up Christmas trees, lights, honor Santa Claus, etc. Although this year we have allowed Michael to have a very small Christmas tree in his room and lights around the windows in his bedroom. I do make a couple of evergreen arrangements with red bows on them for our house. Also, this year only we will be wrapping our Christmas presents for Michael. We usually don’t do this-we consider buying wrapping paper, tape, etc. a waste, but this year we will do it. Michael has never celebrated Christmas before and wanted a sort of outsiders Christmas. After talking with our bishop and deacons we were giving permission for this year only. Michael agreed he would go with our way next year. In our usual way when we give gifts they are usually in bags or just set out for the person to find in the morning.

December 23rd we will go to Susan’s school in the evening to see her school Christmas. The school may have a play or readings – after which is religious songs singing. When the children are over there are refreshments for both the students and those that attend. The students give the teacher her Christmas gift. Usually it is a gift from all the students like a quilt, cape, sweater, and alike made by the students mothers. Of course, we have done different. Our teacher is an unmarried lady, lives alone and keeps up her home by herself. Her house badly needed to be painted. Her Christmas gift a couple of years ago was that the parents and older students would paint her house-and did when Spring came. Another year they put a new roof on her house. The teacher gives all the students a small gift such as pens, pencils, stationary, etc. In school when it comes to students giving gifts we have each child draw a name from someone in their class. All the girls draw girls. The boys draw boys. All the 1st graders draw a first grader, 2nd grader a second grader, etc. Before school closes on the 23rd, the children will change gifts and open them at school. When students want to give gifts to other friends whether in school with them or not they give them outside of school. At Christmas Time we take the buggy and go out and give our gifts – our children give their gifts at that time. We never want a situation in school where some students get gifts and others don’t or one student gets more gifts than others. That is why we decided to give gifts, aside from the drawing, outside the school.

Martha has told you about our ladies group. We draw a name from a coffee can each year. The coffee can is now decorated really pretty and not the tin we started with. For the whole year, we send notes letting them know they are in our prayers, notes of encouragement, and more. We send them birthday cards, Easter Cards, Christmas Cards and more. At Christmas time we have a dinner at someones home and find out who our writer was and give them a small gift. Our husbands also give their husbands a small gift. Then we send the coffee can around and draw our new person for next year. In answer to Martha’s request-yes it was meant that you draw me and I draw you the first year you were among us. On December 16th, we will be having our dinner this year. Since we have Amish in our area their ladies have joined our group and the dinner is at one of their houses this year. I put someones name back at the drawing one year and the deacons after ward ask why I refused the name I pulled. I explained that I had drawn my own name, which I had. So I put it back and drew someone Else’s. I have drawn my Mother’s name, but even though we know who it is we don’t mention it until the Christmas dinner.

I will continue on Christmas in my next post. Here is a Christmas dish you might want to try.

Be with God,



12 med. sized carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ lengths

4 tbsp butter melted

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

Cook carrots in saucepan, covered with cold water. Cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Melt butter in a 1 quart saucepan. Add brown sugar, ginger, and parsley. Mix and set aside. When carrots are cooked, drain and return to pan. Pour butter mixture over them and cook over low heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately. 6 portions.
Next Monday on Dec 19 will be part 2 of Jeans Christmas post. And her last post for 2011!

Read Full Post »

Martha and Joseph are old order Mennonites who live on a farm in New York state with their family, and like the Amish use horse and buggy when traveling.

 Jean thought you would be interested in our Apple Season activities on our farm. This was originally started with several farms with each farm having a different activity, but as their children grew or they got older and people couldn’t do it anymore each activity was discontinued. One year us Old Order Mennonite Farmers with children thought it should be brought back so it was. All activities are held at our house, but many people help. Martha

We felt that there are many young people who live in cities, towns, or their parents don’t grow apples on their farms and want to know about apples. So during apple seasons we invite 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and other groups to come on our farm one Saturday or school holiday during the month of October and we teach them about apples. Right now we are booked up for this month. We will give the groups that come this year a chance to book for next year and then we take on any new groups that would like to come. We even have adult groups that come for the day during the week.

When the young folks arrive, we explain a little bit about our religion and way of life-so the children can understand us a bit. We tell the children to ask questions so they will be comfortable with us. One of the questions a little boy asked this year is if we eat pizza. Joseph explained we eat pizza, Chinese food, Italian food, Irish food and all different kinds of food. Most of our meals are Mennonite or the same thing they would eat. But, the pizza delivery knows where we live-we don’t have to leave our address with them-just our name. The delivery car always shows up with our pizzas.

After that Joseph takes the young folks to our apple trees and explains how trees got started. What we must do to take care of our trees and harvesting. Then the children see us make some of things we make with our apples. Sometimes the children want to help and depending what it is-we allow them to give a hand. First we have the apple butter-I like to have Jean make that. As Jean has bake sales when some of these occur, we get in Joseph’s Mother to fill in. Then we show them cider being made. Next they go into our house and see us make apple pies, apple sauce, jelly and more. Each cooking gets explained to them. The kitchen is where we get the most requests to help and we sometimes let the children help depending on their age. Once all this is shown the young folks sit down for a lunch with apple pie for desert. Everyone leaves with an apple.

One of the Boy Scout Troops and one of the Girl Scouts camp overnight on our property for a weekend. The boys come one weekend and the girls another. They come over  on Friday evenings, so we have pizza, salads, snacks, soft drinks, cider and a bond fire going. We use to have games for them, but our age and theirs is different so we let them have their own games. We do have some mores made over the camp fire we have. On Saturday is the day we show and explain about the apples and after lunch they do as their leaders have planned. We provide the lunch but they have to provide their own breakfast and dinner. On Sunday after they make and eat their breakfast they back up and leave. They are each given an apple before we go to meeting (church).

When adults come during the week we show them everything that  we show  the young adults, but after lunch I have a table set up with items they can buy and take home like apples, pies, apple butter and jelly, cider and more. Many people buy from this table. We also charge the groups when they come, but we believe they get their moneys worth. We haven’t had any complaints. Many of the groups come back every year-in fact even some adults come every year.

We also do something similar to this during maple syrup season. Our trees have buckets on them and we explain to the young folks about the trees and the syrup. We then show them how maple syrup, maple candy, maple cakes and more are made. Then they have pancakes, bacon, ham and homemade maple syrup. Everyone receives a piece of maple candy as they leave. At this time of year, we do not allow the scouts to camp on our property. They would like to, but we don’t want to take the chance in these low temperatures. When adults come we do the same thing and again have the table with maple syrup. maple candy, and maple baked goods. Again we make money on the charge to see all that we have and lunch. Many of the adults buy from our table.

We divide the money up between all that helped and ourselves. Much of this money is put away for the expenses during the winter when farming is coming to a close. We were asked by one group if Joseph and David could get together and do a weekend on wood carving. Also, we had another troop that wondered if we could have a weekend on quilting. Right now we are seeing if we could work these out next year.

Just thought this is something that we do that your might be interested in.

Be With God, Martha

Apple Butter Bread

2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

3/4 cup apple butter

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup golden raisins

Combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon; set aside.

Combine eggs, butter, apple butter, and milk; beat well. Stir in pecans and raisins. Add flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.      Apple butter bread from  the Recipe goldmine. Richard from Amish Stories.

Yields 8 servings.

Egg nog recipe  from Jean

Egg Nog

2 eggs

1 can Eagle Brand milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1 qt milk

Whipping cream


Beat eggs, add Eagle Brand Milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat and add milk. Whip 1/2 pint of whipping cream and fold in. Sprinkle nutmeg over top, amount you desire. When sets a while cream will come to top so stir before pouring. If you double it, it makes 1 gallon.

Enjoy. Jean

Dont miss Marth’a Christmas post on Dec 23

Read Full Post »




It is hard to believe we are so far into December already. The days are going by too fast. Before we know it 2011 will be history. Daughter Verena will be 14 on Saturday, December 10. It just seems short years ago that she was born. Our two older daughters Elizabeth and Susan were born on my parents farm, Verena was the first to be born on our first property that we bought. I remember how big the house felt after living in a trailer house at my parents. While it was great living at my parents it was wonderful to have a place to call our own.

I remember the first years of planting a garden at our new home. We didn’t have any children in school yet so we would sometimes work in the garden until dark. We would put a blanket on the grass for the children. When suppertime came I would go in and fix a picnic-type meal and we would all eat our supper on the blanket. While Joe and I were planning gardens the children kept themselves entertained playing in the soil. We put their toys on the end that wasn’t planted yet. Now as time has gone by the children have all grown up so fast. These days it doesn’t take long to plant the garden when everyone helps.

Tuesday evening we received 9 inches of snow which made for some pretty excited children around here. Neighbors all around us were without electric and school was cancelled for Wednesday which brought on cheering from the children. Stormy our pony got the job of pulling the sled. They tried Tiger, our miniature pony, but he was too small and not fast enough for pulling a sled. It looked like Stormy enjoyed it almost as much as the children. Our border collie dog, Buddy, runs along side the sled with the children and he looks like he enjoys it as well.

Now less than a week later there are only patches of snow left. It is rainy this morning and 40 degrees. I am so glad for a heated basement to hang up wet snow pants, gloves, etc that were used over the past week. I will leave them hanging until the next snow which the children hope will be soon. Stormy lost a horse-shoe while giving sled-rides in the hayfield. The children want to go look for it so we can have him re-shod before the next snow. It can almost be like looking for a needle in a haystack with most of the snow melted. It usually makes it more fun to look when Joe says he’ll give a reward to whoever finds it. If all else fails we’ll just buy another horse-shoe and hope the other one is found sometime.

Yesterday in church the women all wrote down what they will bring for our annual Christmas potluck which will be in two weeks. Since the casseroles were all signed up for I signed up to bring a salad. I haven’t decided what kind of salad I will take yet.

Our plans are to have Joe’s side of the family here for Christmas on January 7. We will have a 10 a.m. carry-in brunch and snacks for later on. Our plans are to set up tables in the basement and eat down there. Joe has 11 siblings so hopefully they will all be able to come. The Amish Cook published with permission from    Richard from Amish Stories

1 cup margarine, melted

2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

2 /3 cup cocoa

1 /2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 /2 cup milk

3 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup walnuts

12 ounces of chocolate chips

14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl combine the first seven ingredients along with half the vanilla. Beat well and stir in walnuts. Spread in a greased 13 X 9 baking pan. Bake 40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from pan. Just before brownies are done in heavy sauce pan combine chips with condensed milk and remaining vanilla. Immediately spread over hot brownie. Cool and chill and cut into bars.

Martha’s post this Friday  along with 2 recipes. Martha talks about farm life during apple season!

Read Full Post »


Old-Fashioned Bean Soup

Brown butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Add beans; cook for several minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil. Add salt and enough bread to use up most of the milk. Cover and let set for 15 minutes. Stir only slightly with a dipper to bring up beans from the bottom of pan. good with Swiss cheese and pepper. 2 T. butter

1 c. cooked navy beans

4 c. milk

1 t. salt

bread cubes

Fix up your favorite meal and enjoy the beauty of quilts at the same time with the new Amish Quilting Cookbook. Its 130 pages are packed with 316 favorite recipes from 58 of Lone Star Quilt Shop’s quilters. Twenty of their finest quilts are featured in color throughout the book. The book is wrapped in a concealed spiral binding to help avoid spiral tangles while it keeps all the conveniences of traditional spiral. Fourteen sections from Amish wedding foods to snacks. 136 pages. To order this book please see our friends at                         Richard from Amish Stories

The Amish cook on Thursday and Martha returns to Amish Stories on Friday!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »