Archive for March, 2012

Breakfast Pizza

Arrange frozen hash browns on cookie sheet. Break bacon on top. Layer mushrooms and onions over hash browns, and top with American cheese. Hand-beat eggs and water. Season with salt and pepper and pour over hash browns. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350° F. approx. 20 minutes. frozen hash brown patties
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 slices bacon, fried
1 can mushrooms
10 slices American cheese

1 dozen eggs

1/2 cup water

1 package mozzarella cheese

Taste the old fashioned goodness of Amish style chicken, experience the delight of mouth watering apple pie. If you want authenticity – then get a piece of homemade goodness – Cooking with the Horse & Buggy People II. This 320 page spiral bound cookbook has over 600 recipes. To buy this book please go to

Read Full Post »

David is old order Mennonite who shares his story exclusively on Amish Stories, he lives on a farm in New York state with his wife Jean and their children.

I have worked at the Fire Department in one job or another including my now being a Fireman for almost 20 years and every once in a while we talk about what was the worse fire we ever went to. The saying was always the same-the worse fire is when it’s at your house-and that’s true. When I got the call that the fire was at our house all I could think of in my mind is the house engulfed in flames with Michael and Susan trying to get out the second story windows. Thank the Lord it wasn’t that.

We also have a rule that you don’t fight the fire at your own house after the Fire Department gets there. There is the fear that you might do something at your own house fire-you wouldn’t at the other fires you go to. My first fear when we got to the house is where Susan and Michael were and I had to see them. I went into the neighbors house to see Susan as they told us she was there. When they told me Michael was in the one of the barns I went to see him. I just had to see they were both all right.

Now I also know what it means when people think we take too long getting to their fire. We are a volunteer fire department and it takes time for everyone to get there and get those trucks rolling. It really isn’t that long-but when you are waiting for them you think it’s forever, i now know that feeling. When they got there they started pumping into the kitchen and the second truck watering down the barns so they wouldn’t catch fire from the sparks of the house fire. The Fire Chief asked me if everyone was out of the house and I told him yes. I wanted to help but he told me I knew the rule and stay away. My Dad was fighting the fire with the Fire Company. Jean, my Mother, my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law stood watching the Fire Department work. When I saw Michael talking to them I didn’t think about it until my Mother came up and told I better not get upset when Michael tells how the fire got started because I did the same thing about his age. Michael told us how the fire started. I didn’t know what to say. I was angry, but again I did the same thing and it was an accident. Then I realized the house can be fixed, but the children were out and that’s what mattered.

New travels fast in our area,you don’t need a phone or computer. Pretty soon I realized Old Order Mennonite, and Amish were pulling in our driveway in their buggies. When they realized the barns weren’t going to burn they moved our wagon and farm equipment back in the barns. They brought the cows in the barn and milked them. The ladies had brought food for us for dinner. When it was decided we couldn’t stay in our house and were staying at my in-laws all the food went to their house. A funny part was when we got there for dinner we had about 30 different dinners to chose from. Each dinner was large enough to feed us all. Many of those went in my Mother-in-laws freezer-we just couldn’t eat so many before they spoiled-we had to do something. When we get our new freezer, we still have some dinners that will be going in there. They will be eaten.

After the fire we told the chief what we believed to have caused the fire and was proven right. The chief, my father and I took a walk through the kitchen, and basement. The whole house was filled with smoke. Fire Department did a great job putting the fire out. The ladies went in the front door and gathered up some clothes for us to wear so we could wear them to meetings (church) the next day. They took them to Jean’s parents and washed them in their washer and hung them out to dry. The Chief also called the place to come and board up the windows and door until Monday.

As the next day was Sunday we went to meeting and went back to my in-laws. We did go the house to feed the animals and milk the cows. The topic was the fire and replacing the kitchen. On Monday morning we went to the house -the Old Order Mennonites and Amish were already there. We already have permission  so we could tear down the walls, pull out the cabinets, etc. Also, we had to call the electrician and plumber – Jean already told you their results and what we did. We also cleaned out the basement. Michael and I lost a lot of tools from fire and water in the basement. My grandfather -in-law hasn’t used his tools in many years do to his arthritis. He asked if we minded if he gave them to Michael. We said yes-we want him to know he is family. Michael was surprised and accepted them. I am using my Dad’s tools right now.

Michael didn’t mean to start the fire-it was an accident. What we admire is he did what he was told. As a Fireman I have told our children what to do in case of fire-especially Michael when he first came to our house. Michael is the oldest and understands better than Susan does. When the fire happened he did the right thing-he got Susan and himself out. Once Susan was safe he also thought of the animals and barns. Michael did not act like a child-he acted like a man. We don’t have to worry if anything likes this happens again-we know Michael knows what to do and will do it. Even though we don’t have to worry “we will” as we are still parents.

Be With God,


Fireman’s Meat Loaf recipe

1 egg, beaten

1 cup soft breadcrumbs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bottled pasta sauce

with vegetables or herbs, divided

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

8 ounces ground Italian or pork sausage

1 pound ground beef

2 ounces provolone or mozzarella cheese, cubed

2 tablespoons shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese

Combine the egg, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, garlic and rosemary. Mix well, then add both meats and mix again.

Press 2/3 of the mixture evenly in the bottom of an 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pan. Make a 1/2-inch indention down the center of the meatloaf. Place the cheese cubes in the indention. Pat remaining meat mixture on top. Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven. When done allow to sit for 10 minutes.

To serve drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sauce and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Recipe from

Read Full Post »

 B&B’s is a very interesting Amish owned and operated store, they own a few store’s in and around Lancaster county  with this one located in My very own county of Lebanon. On this day after passing this store by a few times i had decided to finally stop in to see what I’ve heard about so much for my own eyes, and I’m glad i brought my camera. First when you pull into the parking lot you will discover almost right way that this store is different than most you have gone to, with the gas lights outside giving away its Amish owned  heritage. And another tip off is the fact that the doors to get inside and out are not automatic, so you have to manually open the door yourself.

 When inside you definitely realize the difference with its all Amish help running the registers and stocking shelves, and the prices for most of the items i was able to give a look were somewhat lower than you would find in a lot of the food markets out there. I was able to buy a large bottle or orange juice for 99 cents, and smaller bottles going for 3x 1 dollar which i found to be a good bargain. If you would like cold food items like ring baloney and other meats and cheeses they have that as well, and they also have a freezer which they will gladly provide you with a coat if you don’t have one because its so cold inside.
                                                                                                                                                              And as far as the caned goods are concerned i didn’t really see much of a difference in appearance compared to non damaged or so called dented items, so the savings to me was well worth any minor loss of vanity. Since i had my camera with me and around my shoulder i asked the Amish manager if i could take some pictures and that i was going to post them on my blog, so i was given the OK with him just asking me to try and minimize any face images of the Amish who were working inside. And that is why i don’t have any close-ups of any one’s face in this post.

                                                                                                                                                                So far I’ve been very lucky no to burn any bridges with all of the images that i was able to take so far, and its just the right thing to do and the only way i operate. And after doing this a while now when i get in and get permission to take pictures i do it quickly and scan the area before i ask so i can do it as fast as i can and leave without disrupting the area. And now this store has another customer because i will be visiting from time to time instead of just driving past it. Richard 

The main entrance
Simple but clean
Gas lamps above and the natural light coming though the sky lights

Lots of ring

baloney and other meats

refrigerated area
Check-out area
The young Amish man in this picture is the manager
Amish scooter outside, most likely owned by one of the Amish workers inside
An outside gas lamp, i thought this looked so cool

As you can see this place and places like this are proving very popular, especially in this still shaky economy!

And a country view across the street from B&B’s

Read Full Post »

Breakfast Burritos

Combine eggs, cheese, onion and green peppers and cook in skillet until set. Add meat. spoon into warmed tortillas and roll up. Top with salsa or ketchup. 8 eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded Colby cheese (or choice)

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped green peppers

1/2 lb. pork sausage, browned and drained, or ham chunks or bacon

Top image from cadfael1979 flickr

All the favorites of the Belle Center Amish Community. Over 600 of today’s family favorites, and even some from Grandma’s kitchen. All the usual sections are here. But what makes Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread special is the appetizers, large quantity recipes (for weddings, reunions, and other special occasions) and the children’s recipe section. The tips, hints, and quotes section is filled with everyday kitchen secrets. Laminated cover – Spiral bound – 263 pages. To order this book please see our Friends at


Lissa Holder’s brand “new” Amish made scooter made in Lancaster Pennsylvania. Not only is it green transportation, its really green !
If anyone would like to order a scooter like Lissa’s just drop me a note and ill try and steer you in the right direction. Richard

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.

David, Michael, David Jr., Susan and I thank you all for your prayers and thoughts since out fire. In a way we found out that the fire was a good thing. We had to have the electrician and plumber out. Seems that the plumbing and wiring in our house would not pass today’s standards. It was up to date when it was put in-but that was years ago. So we are having up to date plumbing and wiring put in our house which means we had to have a couple more walls torn down like in the bathrooms, bedrooms, and living room. We are also having more electric plugs put in the house than we had before. We didn’t realize how bad the plumbing was until we got the new pipes in and started using the faucets. The water really comes out with pressure now especially in the shower. Before you had to stand under the shower to get the water. Now you can stand back a ways and the water really comes out.

We also got two new hot water heaters. One for the first floor and one for the second. Now we should have enough water if more than one person wants to take a bath or shower. Before if one of us took a shower the rest either had to wait until the heater warmed the water again or use cold water. We don’t have that problem anymore. It also gives me freedom to use water in the kitchen and not feel that I am cutting water from the bathrooms.

The electric wasn’t as bad but we were told that it was not up to modern code and in a few years if it wasn’t taken care of could cause a fire especially seeing we had gas coming into the house for the stove and heat. As long as they were doing all the new wiring we had the new plugs put in. Also, we had a large ceiling light put up in the kitchen. WOW, the kitchen really lights up now. I never realized how dim it was until the new light was put in.

David and I went to Sears to buy the new appliances but found out that on Monday, there is going to be a discount on electric appliances. It’s some kind of energy discounts if you buy certain appliances which we are buying. So we are going to wait until Monday to go to Sears to buy them and take the discount. Also, the new stove coming is electric not gas like the last one.

We also decided with the price of gas today and they were re-wiring the house it was time we got electric heat. So we have baseboard heat in our house. It looks better than those big old things we had standing in the rooms. What we didn’t know is if we had sold the house, it would not have passed inspection. Now that we are having so much done, we are thinking that we might as well keep it  as we are now getting everything we wanted.

We looked all over for kitchen cupboards and I couldn’t find any that I liked. David had me draw what I wanted. Now he and Michael are building them in the barn for me. We had been talking about taking down the old cupboards and striping them down to the wood and refinishing them-but the fire ruined them-so now I am getting what I want. They are also building anew counter for the kitchen. Our previous kitchen was all white-like a hospital. I wanted wood showing this time and that is what I am getting.

We thought of central heat and air in our house, but that is going a bit overboard for us Old Order Mennonite’s so we didn’t put the air in. Fans are going up in the ceilings of the bedrooms and living room. I can’t say Old Order Mennonites don’t have it-it’s just that we aren’t suppose to and we don’t want to do anything we shouldn’t. No one from our meetings (church) is coming over to inspect our house, but we want to be able to sleep at night knowing we are doing the right thing. If our meetings view changes, there is a way we can hook the air up.

So Old Order Mennonite, Amish, Englishers and family have been over putting new walls back up. David and Michael are making the new cupboards. We have to pick up new tile for the kitchen floor and top of the counter. It is coming and should be done in another week or two.

Michael had dreams of the fire, but is past now. News spread fast and some of the students at school were teasing him about being a fire bug-which is not true. During lunch at school one of the students that had been bullying him came up to Michael and rolled up his sleve. There was a terrible scar there. He told Michael that once there was a fire in his house and he thought he could put it out. He couldn’t and caught his shirt on fire. His parents found him in the house and put his shirt out, but he had to go to the hospital for two weeks and will always had this scar. He told Michael he did the right thing getting Susan and himself out. David and I feel that was the best coming from a fellow student. We tried to tell him he did the right thing, but hearing it from someone his own age makes it clearer.

Kiddingly David tells Michael that I set him up to have the kitchen fire because I wanted a new kitchen. Now that we know the electric wiring and water pipes needed replacing, we tell Michael that it happened so we would know about the electric and pipes. We would not have known if it weren’t for the fire. If the new wiring and new waters pipe weren’t put it we could have had a worse fire down the road. I am still going to teach Michael some basic cooking so this doesn’t happen again.

Be With God,

Jeans home made Recipe

Ham Casserole

4-oz noodles

1 can mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp minced onion

2 tsp prepared mustard

1 cup sour cream

2 cups cooked ham, cubed

1/4 cup Bread crumbs

1 1/2 tsp oleo

1 tsp Parmesan cheese

Grease 1 1/2 quart casserole, cook noodles. Combine soup and milk in saucepan and stir until smooth. Add onion, mustard and sour cream. Layer casserole with noodles, ham and sauce, repeat. Toss bread crumbs with melted oleo and cheese. Spread over casserole. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Enjoy. Jean

Next Monday Jeans husband David with a rare solo post from him on the fire. David is a volunteer fireman who shares his thoughts with us. 

Read Full Post »

I had my camera with me on this Winter evening outside of a restaurant in Lebanon county, so i thought id take a few pictures every 20 minutes or so of the same buggy as the sun was going down. The Amish couple who owned it were eating at the table next to me and had no idea I’m sure of my little experiment of sorts. I’ve been very conscious lately of trying to take more  sunset image’s because i really think some of them come out really beautiful, and i admire when i visit someone else’s web site who has these type of pictures on them. Those folks seem to specialize in these type of shots, so i wanted to do something at least different for myself and shoot this Amish buggy as night was casting over it. I liked the second to the  last image so much that ill be  placing  it on the right-side of Amish Stories this Monday. Richard
Dutch Oven Pot Roast with Black Night Barbecue Sauce recipe

1 (5 pound) round bone pot roast

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons shortening

1/2 cup Black Night Barbecue Sauce

1/2 cup apple cider

8 carrots, pared, cut in 2-inch pieces

6 potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 onions, sliced

1 (10 ounce) package frozen okra or

1/2 pound fresh okra (optional)

Rub meat with salt. Melt shortening in Dutch oven; add meat and brown over medium heat, turning once. Reduce heat; pour over barbecue and cider. Cover and simmer on top of range or in 325 degrees oven 4 hours.

Add carrots, potatoes and onion 1 1/2 hours before end of cooking time. Add okra 15 minutes before end of cooking time.

Serves 6 to 8.

Black Night Barbecue Sauce

1 cup strong black coffee

1 1/2 cups Worcestershire sauce

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Combine ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Recipe from

Serve with Dutch Oven Pot Roast.

Read Full Post »

Chow Chow
(for canning)

Cook each fresh vegetable separately in a saucepan, covering with water and boiling only enough to make the vegetables tender, not mushy. Do not cook the canned or frozen vegetables. Place in layers in a large pan in whatever order you prefer. Gently mix with your hands, or a very large pierced spoon, being careful not to break the vegetables, or it may become mushy. Pour off all liquid before spooning vegetables into sterilized jars, filling within 1″ of the neck. Pour in Syrup to fill jars to neck.


combine all ingredients in a large kettle and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. ladle the syrup over the vegetables. Seal jars with lids and covers and process in the canner for 12 minutes, timing from the moment the water comes to a full boil.

Makes 6 quarts or 12 pints

2 c. canned Great Northern Beans, drained

2 c. canned Red Kidney Beans, drained
2 c. fresh or frozen lima beans
2 c. fresh or frozen green beans cut into 1″ pieces
2 c. fresh or frozen yellow wax beans cut into 1″ pieces
2 c. fresh or frozen cauliflower buds

2 c. coarsely chopped celery

2 c. coarsely chopped red bell peppers

2 c. coarsely chopped green bell peppers

2 c. sliced carrots

2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 c. tiny white onions, or chopped yellow onions

2 c. coarsely chopped cabbage

2 c. sliced or chopped sweet pickles
5 c. sugar

2½ c. cider vinegar

1½ c. water

2 T. mustard seed

1 T. celery seed

1 t. turmeric

Betty Groff’s newly revised and illustrated Country Goodness Cookbook is a virtual cornucopia of family recipes and home-spun anecdotes. This 326 page soft-cover edition has seasonal menus, common sense cooking, and microwave ideas.

 To order Betty Groff’s Country Goodness Cookbook just go to 

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.

 David, his Dad, my Dad, my Grandfather and myself were working on my some changes in the house  that David’s parents had just purchase and moved in. My Grandmother was taking care of Baby David in the other second house on this property. Michael had been there all morning so after lunch time we let him and Susan stay home. Later in the afternoon we heard the fire siren and David’s cell phone went off. After talking on the phone he said “What are you trying to tell me?”. Finally the Fire Chief grabbed the phone from the fellow talking to David and said “The fire’s at your house.” David told me and I thought he was going to pass out. David’s Dad ran next door to see if he could get his neighbor to drive us home. My Grandfather said they would take care of Baby David. All David and I could think of was Michael and Susan were in the house. The neighbors came and took us home.

                                 Image from lafd Flicker
When we got out of the car, the lady across the street from us said she had Susan and Michael who was in one of our barns. We were having a wind storm -Michael and the neighbors were afraid if the sparks from the house hit the barn our cows, horses, farm equipment would go up with it. The cows and horses had been moved to the pasture and they were taking out our wagons, and farm equipment out of the barn. The fire department arrived right after we did and had the first truck pumping on the house and the second pumping water on our barns. Shortly my parents and David’s parents arrived-Michael was talking with them. They all came to us and David’s Mom told David he better not get upset when he hears this because he did the same thing when he was about Michael’s age.

Michael wanted to tell us how the fire started. He got hungry and had decided to cook a couple of hamburgers in the fry pan on the stove. I guess he put in too much grease in the pan and the hamburgers caught on fire. He put the fry pan in the sink and turned the water on which only made the matter worse. The fire started to go up the wall and blew out the window. When he saw the flame he got Susan and they ran to our neighbors across the street. Our neighbors called the fire department. Michael left Susan at the neighbors and ran over to get the cows and horses out of the barn with my neighbor’s husband.

The kitchen in our house was burned out and the basement under it. The basement was not only heat but all the water the Fire Department had to pump in. Our washer, dryer, and freezer were ruined. David and Michael felt bad because their wood working tools were ruined. I felt bad when I saw all my canned jams jellies, vegetables, apple butter, etc. in cracked jars being carried to the garbage. The funny part of the basement is the only thing that wasn’t damaged was Michael’s basketball hoop.

We stayed at my parents house until Monday. They live closest to our house. On Monday Old Order Mennonite, Amish and outsiders came. We went through the house from top to bottom cleaning all the smoke out of our clothes, furniture, etc. They also cleaned out the kitchen and basement. We received food from all the people. The next day people came to do more work on the kitchen. When I went down to the basement my shelves were filled with canned goods that the people had made and given to us. The glass people were there and now we have all the windows back in.

David and I decided how we wanted our new kitchen and it is under construction all by Old Order Mennonite, Amish and outsiders. Of course all of us that were working over at David’s parents house are now over at our house. We are getting electric instead of gas stove. The price of gas is so high. I am also going to teach Michael how to cook so nothing like this happens again. Just want to teach him how to cook a meat, potato and vegetable meal. My Mom taught my brothers and David’s Mom taught him.

When we were alone Michael said he thought of running after he got Susan out, but he saw the barn and knew he had to get the animals out. Also, where would he go. He thought we might turn him back to Social Services. We explained that we are adopting him. As far as we are concerned he is our son. We are a family and we go through the good times and bad times together. David had a fire like this when he was about Michael’s age. His Mother saw the smoke as she walked to the house from the barn. She ran into the house and put the top on the frying pan that stopped the fire. We told Michael that we understand it was an accident. Both David and I are glad that he though quick enough to get Susan and him out of the house. We can replace the kitchen, but not them.

Be With God,


Please note Jean and her family are fine everyone, and they are now rebuilding their kitchen with help from Amish and Mennonite neighbors and English friends. Richard

Read Full Post »

Amish technology


From the Amish country news

These two words together must strike most readers as quite odd. Surely, the Amish as a group shun modern conveniences and technology, living as they did 100 years ago? Not true. An Amish friend and I once tried to make a list of things that have not changed in the Amish world in the last 100 years. We couldn’t come up with too much. Clothing styles have actually changed. Even kerosene lamps are relatively “new.” As one Amishman succinctly put it, “If we got to the place where we didn’t change, we’d be a dead society.” Or as another has been quoted, “We don’t want to stop progress, we just want to slow it down.”

Stephen Scott, an excellent interpreter of Amish culture, has written that “the Amish faith is not bound to dead traditions. Instead it is a living faith that meets the challenges of contemporary society and is equipped with the godly traditions of their forebears to stabilize and guide them. They do not blindly accept the old ways. Rather, they scrutinize ‘the way we always did it’…”

The carriage, or buggy as we non-Amish call it, may not have changed a great deal in design, but now the body of the carriage is mostly made of fiberglass rather than wood. I was at an auction a few years ago because I wanted to buy a buggy for display. I looked at several that were to be sold, a total of around 100. I was inspecting one when an Amishman came along, pulled up the carpet on the buggy floor, grunted the word “wood,” and went on to look at the next one. I marked this one down as a buggy to bid on. As I expected, when that carriage came up for sale, I was able to get it cheaply, since few boys or men today want a buggy made entirely of wood!

In fact, the Amish have for many years been adopting, or perhaps better put, adapting new technologies. For me at least, it seems the Amish have more of a problem with the impact of the media than with the technology itself. Visitors would be surprised to find some of the “modern conveniences” that are used on the farm, in the home, and at Amish businesses. As many writers have noted, the Amish are “selective” in what they accept.

The Amish use fairly modern farm equipment, as long as horses pull it. Tractors were not accepted for fieldwork, just for stationary power, such as operating the ensilage cutter. But hay balers and other gasoline-powered equipment can be pulled through the fields by horses.

Likewise, while the Amish can ride in cars and buses, they cannot own them. Cars break down the family and community through their mobility, and are seen as a negative influence to be limited and controlled.

One major change came when the Lancaster Amish needed to cool their milk in bulk tanks rather than milk cans. Bargaining between the Amish and the milk companies resulted in a resolution in 1969. As described by Donald Kraybill, “The bishops would accept bulk tanks if their refrigeration units were powered by diesel engines. They also agreed to automatic agitators run by a 12-volt battery, recharged by small generators.”

Appliances at home are operated by various means. Gas engines power old wringer washing machines. Modern stoves and refrigerators use propane gas, hence the large bottled gas tanks outside most homes. Smaller propane gas containers are used for the Coleman lamp. You’ll see some pretty nice barbecue grills, too. Propane gas also provides hot water for the kitchen and bathroom. (A visitor once asked me how the Amish flush their toilet, since they have no electricity. I told her to go home and see where her toilet was plugged into the wall! Some of us have very little knowledge of the mechanics of how things work. Many Amish do.)

Almost any electrical appliance can be adapted to work off of alternate power, such as compressed air. Some Amish women have been using compressed air to power blenders in the kitchen for years. In one house, compressed air powers a water pump, sewing and washing machines, and drills and saws in the shop. Some Amish businesses have as their specialty adapting such appliances so they can be powered by compressed air.

Probably the most dramatic changes came with the rise of Amish cottage industries, especially woodworking and furniture making, where modern machinery is operated by sometimes ingenious combinations of diesel engines used to power hydraulic and air pumps that replace the electric motor. Now often dubbed “Amish electricity,” it serves the Amish well.

In one Amish grocery store, four car batteries power the electronic scale and digital cash register. The new machines were first used because the hand-operated ones broke, were old, and could not be replaced since they were no longer made. There are various ways to re-charge such batteries, and some Amish use solar panels, which can recharge a 12-V battery in about seven days.

An Amishman who does accounting operates his computer with car batteries. An inverter changes the 12-volt direct current to 110-volt alternating current for computer. A typewriter business adapts electronic typewriters to operate off car batteries in this way. An Amish library once did the same thing to power their microfilm reader.

The Amish have, of course, used telephones for years. Before they were common in the home, they used ones in town. Later, as they became more common, a phone booth or phone “shanty” was often built outside, and shared by several neighbors. The idea was to keep those disruptive phones out of the house. “It’s not the use, but the abuse, of the phone we worry about.” Many Amish businesses rely on answering machines or services, or instruct their patrons to call at a certain hour when they will be at the outdoor phone.

Cell phones have become fairly common, especially among Amish businessmen, and may yet prove to be controversial. Howard Rheingold wrote an article on the use of the cell phone by the Amish in WIRED magazine in January, 1999. He noted that the Amish are actually quite sophisticated “because they have an elaborate system by which they evaluate the tools they use.” Modern Americans, and much of the world at large, will unleash a new technology and then see what happens, for good or bad. “Amish are very adaptive techno-selectives who devise technologies to fit their self-imposed limits.”

He posed the question of whether we “moderns” make technology and machines our servants, or if it is the other way around? I find it interesting that many science fiction books and movies, from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to the TERMINATOR series, will focus on the threat of machines taking over our lives, and possibly destroying humanity. Certainly in the area of warfare, we have possessed that ability for decades.

Rheingold notes that the Amish “mold technology in the service of community. If we decided that community comes first, how would we use our tools differently?” Or, as an Amishman has said concerning whether a new technology will be acceptable, does it “bring people together or draw them apart?” Answers to such questions often determine the “ordnung,” the rules of the Amish church community, often unwritten, about what is and is not acceptable.

But the Amish concern is not just over how technology might change the community, but also the individual. One man noted that it’s not just what or how you use a technology, but “what kind of person you become when you use it.” When I asked an Amishman why an electric refrigerator was not acceptable, but a propane gas one was, he simply said, “You’ve never seen a bottled gas television set, have you?” The implication here was not that electricity was bad. The concern was what would come with it — TV, radio, computers, the internet, and all the influences of the modern world and media. “Electricity is a hotline to the modern world.”

Some modern writers have suggested that many of us are “neo-Amish” or “techno-selectives.” Like the Amish, we “draw the line” on technologies we will use, or try to put limits on them. But, rather than the community deciding on these things, as the Amish would, we each decide on our own what technologies we will and will not use, and how.

The internet is a good example of a technology that was unleashed without too much thought of the consequences. For all the good things about the worldwide web, there are also many worrisome ones. Some critics say that the internet now needs some “ordnung,” a set of rules that we can all agree upon. But for now, anything goes. Already, we are almost overwhelmed by “spam,” x-rated websites exist by the hundreds, and there is no way to tell whether what one sees or reads on the internet is true. I sometimes joke that “www” actually stands for the “wild wild web,” a cyber American West where the “law” may eventually have to be imposed to establish order.

Gene Logsdon has written that our challenge is “to develop a humane and ecological technology where people and nature need not be sacrificed to speed and greed.” We need to negotiate between humans and hardware. Some people head to the mountains or some isolated spot in the world to get away from modern life and its hectic pace, but they take their computers and modern equipment with them to stay in touch with the world they are leaving behind.

It all has to do with values. Kraybill, who has explained the “riddles of Amish culture” better than anyone, perhaps sums it all up when he says, “The Amish would remind us that their choice of an alternative lifestyle is not so much a matter of conforming to tradition — for that is inherent in the human experience — but a matter of deciding which traditions are most worthy of embrace.” This is the “neo-Amish” idea, deciding what technology is appropriate for your “traditions” and your beliefs. But we tend to make these decisions as individuals, while the Amish look at them in the broader, and perhaps more significant, context of the community as a whole. Sometimes our American individualism gets in the way of seeing the “big picture.”

(Images from Toner – Serge melki-eebeejay-cindy47452-csyork65-yooperann-foxgirl- from Flickr )

Amish Propane lamp

So, are there things we can learn from the Amish, without actually becoming Amish? Surely. Here is one of my favorite Amish quotations, taken from the Small Farm Journal, Summer, 1993…

If you admire our faith — strengthen yours.

If you admire our sense of commitment — deepen yours.

If you admire our community spirit — build your own.

If you admire the simple life — cut back.

If you admire deep character and enduring values — live them yourself.    Posted with permission from the Amish country  

Don’t miss the next post from Jean as fire strikes her home !

Read Full Post »

Amish Casserole

Cook noodles and drain. Brown hamburger and onion in butter. Place meat, peas and noodles in a baking dish. Pour soups and sour cream over them and put buttered bread crumbs on top. Bake at 375° F. oven for 1 hour. 1 large pkg. noodles

2 c. peas

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 loaf of bread -toasted and made into crumbs
1 c. sour cream

3 lb. hamburger

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 onion chopped

This excellent collection of authentic Amish recipes will be a treasured addition to any cookbook collection. Includes Amish home remedies. 217 pages, 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″, comb bound, illustrated. To order these books please visit

Dinner Rolls

Combine milk, sugar, salt, and shortening; cool. Stir in yeast. Add 2 c. flour. Beat in eggs and add remaining flour. Let rise twice. Bake for 20 minutes. Do not over-bake. 3 c. hot milk

1/2 c. sugar

1 T. salt

5 T. shortening

3 eggs

2 T. yeast

7 c. flour

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »