Archive for May, 2012

                Iced Vanilla Coffee

  Fill glasses with crushed ice. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and fill with coffee. Some folks will prefer to add a bit of sugar. This is one of my favorites. You don’t need cream or sugar, just enjoy.

  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. As an added bonus this book is autographed by the author.
Betty Groffs Country Goodness Cookbook. 

Sunshine Coffee Cake

 Blend filling/topping ingredients together before mixing coffee cake batter. Preheat oven to 375° F. Sift dry ingredients together and cut in shortening. Beat eggs well and add milk. Combine liquid with dry ingredients. Spread half the batter in a greased flat pan 8×8 or 6×10″ Sprinkle with half of filling. Add the other half of the batter and sprinkle with remaining filling on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Cut in squares. 


1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 c. chopped nuts Batter:
1½ c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1 egg

1/2 c. milk

To purchase both books please see our friends at       

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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.

Yesterday was Mothers Day but it really started on Saturday.  As many of the Old Order Mennonite and Amish helped us so much when we had the fire David thought it would be a thank you for us to provide the meat for the Mother’s Day dinner.  He slaughtered some of our beef to provide steaks for the dinner.  Several people came to help slaughter.  Michael had never seen a slaughter before and got a little light in the stomach.  He had to leave a couple of times along the way, but returned. David told Michael that the first time is always the worse.  It gets easier every time you do it.  Usually I am out in the barn helping, but this time I helped maude (maid) make lunch and watched the children. 

As one of our Old Order Mennonite bought the property next to theirs-they were having the Mother’s Day dinner at their house.  There are not many Amish in our area and they also helped when we had the fire at our house-we invited them to attend to.  The Amish loaned us their dishes wagon which has all the dishes, silverware, glassware, cups. saucers pots, pans, etc.  As our meetings get done earlier than their church, we set up what tables we had and they brought theirs after service to set up.  Everyone bought a dish to pass.  It is usual at our dinners that the men and boys eat first while the ladies serve.  

Also the ladies prepare the food.  This time was reversed-we ladies ate first – the men prepared the food and served.  When it came time to serve the men and boys the girls served-we mother’s sat and watched.  Also when it came time to clean up-the men and girls cleaned, packed up the food, dishes wagon, and table wagon.  After that each one of us ladies was given flowers.  Even the Mother’s that were widowed got flowers, too.  We thanked the men for all they had done and one Amish husband told us to enjoy it-because it wasn’t going to happen again until next year.  We laughed. 

Many of the young folks set up a volley game and played while we watched and talked.  What is a bit different is the Amish will allow the children to pay baseball on six days a week-but not on the Lord’s Day, but they will allow volley ball on seven day a week.  Of course Monday through Friday, the young folks usually don’t have time to play baseball as they are doing chores.  It was a very enjoyable day.  We worried a bit it might rain-but it didn’t. 

Also, I thank you , again, for your prayers and thoughts.  I am getting better, but still am not allowed to do some of things I would like to do.  Two things I really want to do is to ride in the buggy again and to lift David Jr., but I have to wait and obey the doctor-and David.  I now can do most of the cooking, some light cleaning and work around the house. 

It has been about a year that I have been giving Marilyn post’s for Richard to put on Amish Stories.  I just would like to thank you all for reading them every week and leaving comment’s.  I enjoy doing them.  I also hope that I have helped your understand our way of life which is quite a bit different than  your own, but in many   ways we are all alike.  In the coming year, I hope that I continue to post items that interest you.  If you have any questions or topics you would like me to tell about, please let me know in your comments. 

                       Be With God,   Jean

As Jean is still looking for her recipes I came across this one I thought everyone that loved peanut butter pie would like. We use to have a restaurant in our town called the Palmyra Home Diner-it has since closed. There were several restaurants in since. For the last 10 years or so it has been an Italian Restaurant. Anyway, the Palmyra Home Diner’s Peanut Butter Pie was known throughout our area. A friend of mine and I use to go into the restaurant and just order a piece of the peanut butter pie and a cup of coffee. My friend and I being chocolate lovers the owner would take his hot fudge sauce and run it very lightly back and forth from the top to the bottom of the pie. Then he would put the whip cream on top of that and lightly run the hot fudge down the whip cream, it was outstanding.   Marilyn      

1 8 inch baked pie shell

1/2 C. sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. salt

2 c. milk

3 egg yolks, slighty beaten

1 Tbsp. butter, softened

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1/2 to 1 cup peanut butter, to taste

Stir together sugar, starch, and salt in a 2 quart saucepan. Blend milk and egg yolks, gradually. Stir into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Blend in butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Immediately pour into baked pie shell. Loosely cover and chill for a couple of hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Recipe by: Clarence Bennett, original owner Palmyra Home Diner

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Part Two: Work at Home vs. Factory

In the Amish community of Lancaster, the “lunch pail” problem of the 1970’s became an important issue. As farmland became scarce and expensive, more and more men were working in factories, taking their lunches off to their jobs away from home.

In the July, 1972 issue of the Amish monthly magazine Family Life, there was an article concerning farm versus factory. It told the story of a man who worked for a while in a factory, but decided to try to buy a farm, even if it would cause him financial difficulties. On the negative side of factory work, he saw the following:

1. Working with worldly people who practice smoking, swearing, telling dirty stories, etc.
2. Men and women working together under such conditions.
3. Fathers away from home.
4. Too much money available.

The author then came up with some alternatives to factory work…
1. Spread out. In most of our communities farms are available on the edge of the communities at a much cheaper price.
2. If you want to buy a farm some day, then begin now to live simple and save money. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s (the Beilers, or the Lapps).
3. In many communities there is a good market for truck crops or specialty crops. This could provide profitable employment for the children and can be done on a small acreage.
4. There are always older people who are well established financially. Why not help the young people get started instead of putting money in the bank?

Finally, the Amish writer spells out the importance he sees in remaining a farmer…

“The high cost of living, or the cost of ‘living high,’ makes it difficult to start farming today and to keep on farming. As far back as we can go in the history of our people, we find they were an agricultural people. To change this now would be taking a serious step.”

When work involves going outside the family and community for economic survival, it can drive a wedge into the family which can cause disruption by getting economically involved with the outside world.

When many of the Amish church districts in Lancaster County permitted the use of machinery powered by diesel, hydraulic, or compressed air systems, many small Amish businesses were set up at home, forming another option for the family that could not farm. Dr. Donald Kraybill in his book The Riddle of Amish Culture quoted an Amishman as saying that these small family shops and businesses were…

“a sharp turn towards home, that is back to an Anabaptist culture. Many of these shops were erected on the farm or adjacent to it. They provide the off-farm worker a job at home with or near his family, self-dependent, self-supporting, making, repairing, or selling a product that he knows is useful, one which he has a right to be proud of.”

Yet, as Kraybill makes clear, “businessmen and bishops alike fear that, in the long run, prosperity could ruin the church.” Some larger Amish enterprises have annual sales of over one million dollars. This kind of growth can be dangerous. Even a family farm can turn into a large and complicated business venture, as with many non-Amish farm operations of hundreds of acres.

This concern of “getting too big” came up earlier in the century with the farmers themselves, and the arrival of the tractor. While some Amish in Lancaster bought and used the early tractors, these machines were banned in 1923. In time tractors were allowed to power other stationary farm machinery, and horses could pull diesel-operated farm machinery in the fields. There was a fear that normal use of “tractors will lead to cars.”

The Amish saw in the car a threat to the community’s existence. Yet the use of a car for trips, or of the bus to go to town, is allowed. As Kraybill noted, “The Amish believe that by turning the use of cars over to individuals, they would quicken the pace of their life, erase geographical limits, weaken social control, and eventually ruin their community.”

Two of the strengths of the Amish community are its ability to accept that it is not self-sufficient, and its ability to establish boundaries for dealing with the outside world. The Lancaster Amish found that the constant stream of tourists provided a steady market for their cottage industries, which in turn allowed many of them to make a living without leaving the homestead. While some writers have decried this, others have argued that tourism and cottage industries may have indirectly strengthened the Amish community in Lancaster. How successfully the Amish adapt to the changing economic situation will be a matter of great importance as they move with us into the 21st century.

Part Three: Work & gender Roles in the Family next week

Published with permission from the Amish Country News.

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Profits from the sale of this   24″ x 36″ art poster befits the Literacy council of Lancaster-Lebanon. This would look great in any room and would help remind someone of the goodness that is Lancaster county.  Richard     To order just click on  Literacy council of Lancaster-Lebanon. 


Signs of Lancaster County
By Tana Reiff
You know you’re in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when one minute you’re in a bustling little city and the next you’re in the heart of Amish country. I live just outside Lancaster city, with Amish farms a stone’s throw away. The clatter of horse hooves leading buggies coming by our house mixes with the sound of lawn mowers and cars. I buy my eggs and vegetables on the nearby farms, and chat with my Old Order friends about the weather, the wrens, and so many other topics we have in common.
I’m not a native of Lancaster County, but have lived here nearly 40 years. Long ago, I began noticing that almost every Amish and Mennonite farm has a product or service to sell. You can tell by the signs posted by the road, inviting customers to buy everything from tomatoes to brown eggs to quilts to birdhouses. Need your shoes repaired? Knives sharpened? Does your wringer washer need some work? You’ll find what you need along the back roads and main pikes. Just follow the signs. Drive back the farm lane, where someone will welcome you, or park out front, help yourself to the fresh produce, and leave your money in the jar. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you’re in the twenty-first century.
About six years ago, I started really observing the signs and taking pictures of them. There are the crafted signs in front of a coach or blacksmith shop, the historical markers and street signs in English and German, and the hand-lettered signs for everything else. I found them enchanting, amusing, and graphically appealing. I also found the tranquility of driving around the countryside a real stress-reliever.
The more I roamed, the more wonderful signs I discovered. My collection of photos was growing. I compiled some of the most engaging ones into a 24” x 36” poster collage, called, appropriately enough, Signs of Lancaster County. It is currently on sale as a fundraiser for the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, at $22.95 (plus PA sales tax and shipping, if requested). I’ll refer you to a page on their website – – for purchase information. I also have notecards at
To be sure, I do not take pictures of Amish people. This is a respectful rule that is the first lesson for tourists. At one farm, I was crouched down taking pictures of a sign for whoopie pies when two little Amish children came running out to take care of a potential customer (me). As soon as they spotted the camera, they walked backwards in unison. I could tell they had been trained how to react to cameras. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m not taking your picture. Is it all right if I take a picture of your sign?” They nodded. That day I came home with not only a whoopie pie, but also a broom (which is on the poster) and a big bag of onions.
One of my favorite pictures is “Maytag Wringer Washer Sales & Service and Parts.” It was out along Hensel Road, near Kinzers, which is near Paradise. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an Amish girl riding by on a scooter. Only when I looked at the picture on my computer screen did I notice that she is in the shot. She’s barely visible, and not recognizable, so I don’t think I violated the Biblical rule about graven images.
I hope you enjoy the Signs of Lancaster County poster. There is a lot to look at and you’ll quickly see that these are “signs” in more ways than one.            Tana Reiff

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 Strawberry Shortcake

An All-American dessert, this recipe is great for any fresh berries. We especially enjoyed this because strawberries were the first fruits in our garden. If we didn’t have time to make the cake. we would cube white bread; with the sugared berries and milk it was quite delicious.

In mixing bowl, beat the eggs, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding the ilk and dry ingredients into the shortening mixture until batter is smooth. Pour into a greased 9 x13″ baking pan or an 11″ Bundt pan and bake in preheated 350° F. oven for 50 minutes or until testing pin comes out clean when inserted.

 To serve, cut in squares and split. Put sliced and sugared strawberries between layers, add some whipped cream and whole berries on top. Or serve in a deep dish or bowl with milk–regular or sweetened.
Serves 6.

4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (scant) shortening
2 cups (scant) sugar
5 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1¾ cups milk 
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup whole strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

More than a cookbook… a collection of scenic Lancaster County country photographs entwined with Betty’s stories and recollections. Written from the heart and soul, this book passes on a traditional way of life as well as some of the best Pennsylvania German country 
recipes. With vivid memories of her childhood, Betty Groff recalls the ways of family farm life among the “plain people” of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. 

The recipes for the delicious food from her family’s kitchen have been passed down and perfected by Betty’s decades of experience as a restaurateur. Basics, light fare, and exquisite traditional main and dessert dishes are easily prepared from Betty’s easy-to-follow recipes using plenty of garden vegetables and fresh fruits. 

 Beloved for preserving Pennsylvania German culinary arts, this book presents the best of Betty’s stories and recipes in her tradition. Betty Groff Cookbook: Pennsylvania German Recipes: And to order this book just go to

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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.

Thank you all for your comments, prayers and thoughts. I recently went to the doctors and received a good report that I am healing well. He told me not to ride in the buggy for a few weeks, but I insisted that it wouldn’t bother me so he said to give it a try. When we got home David hooked up the buggy to go to Martha’s. We didn’t get far done the road when I made him take me home. I never realized the way the buggy would feel and  the bumps in the road and all that  swaying, It really bothered me. So right now I  will have to go places with a driver. The people across the street from us parents are the drivers we use the most. They don’t really want any money from us since we are all neighbours for such trips trip,so we buy them some gas every so often which we have done.

Today was the last day of Susan’s School year. The children went in the morning and the adults arrived before lunch time. We had the children receiving their report cards. All of us knew our children had good report cards or we would have been called before today. The eight graders received their graduation diplomas. None of the children receive awards as we do not believe in vanity. After that we received a shock-our teacher will not be returning for the next school year. She is getting married. This is not usually a shock, but she has been single all her life-she has never married. Now she is in her late 50’s she will be marrying. Her future husband is a member of our meetings (church). He has been widowed for many years. Without any ones knowledge they have been courting for the last three years. He is in his early 60’s and will be turning his farm to his youngest son who also will be marrying. He and our teacher will be moving into her home.

Her teacher’s aide will be the new teacher starting in August. She had made it known she was leaving and told the school board but asked them not to make it public until today-which they agreed with except in asking the aide if she would be the new teacher. The older students and us parents were happy, but some of the younger students cried losing their teacher. She explained that she will still be living in her home and will come to visit. Well all congratulated her and her future husband. Us ladies planned on starting a wedding quilt for them.

Everyone family had bought a dish to pass-so they were laid out on the table. The children ate at the table and us parents ate sitting in our chairs. After dinner we sat and talked for about an hour when the boy school students asked the fathers to play baseball game-fathers against boys. David was asked to play and did. We ladies talked and watched the games. The younger girls played on the swings, and talked. The older girls watched the game. It did not rain today, but it had yesterday and grown was still muddy. Sure was funny watching some of the runners slide on the mud coming into base. This year the fathers won. I was told it goes back and forth-one year the fathers win, next year the boys win.

After the game we ate left- overs. The children felt bad that they were parting. We reminded them that they will still see their friends at meetings, when they play together this summer and more. It kind of softened the going home part. We got home in time to do chores, and David still had mud on him from the baseball game after chores so he took a shower. My maude (maid) took his clothes when he brought them out of the shower and hosed them down in the yard. In fact, we all had mud-so we changed our clothes. Tomorrow  the maude will do a load of wash with our clothes in them. This is one time I am glad I have a maude-she gets to do the wash.

We had a good time although it was a bit sad that our teacher is leaving-we will still see her when she comes to visit and at meetings. Susan will be in second grade when she goes back to school. As Michael goes to public school, he wasn’t able to attend Susan’s school year ending-he had to go to school.

                                          Be With God, Jean            

Susan asked me to bake and bring Corn Flake Crunches which is one of her favorites-so I did. I will now pass the recipe on to you.  Hope you enjoy it. Jean
Corn Flake Crunches                                        

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
6 Cups Corn Flakes
1 Cup Peanut butter
2 Tbsp butter

Mix and bring to a boil the brown sugar, white sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat. Stir in the corn flakes and peanut butter. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper. Let cool.

                             Enjoy: Jean

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There is much talk today about the importance of “traditional family values.” In modern society we look to institutions outside the home for education, religion, entertainment, etc. This series examines to what extent the Amish have been able to keep these functions in the home.

Part one of a Seven part series for Amish Stories.

Part One: The Family & Work

It has been said that the family in America’s early years was “the factory of the time.” The family was more self-sufficient, and one’s “co-workers” were family members. A self-sufficient family or community need not go outside itself. It can remain isolated and guard itself against factors leading to disunity and disruption. Yet such isolation is virtually impossible in today’s world, as even the Amish are fully aware.

The Amish live among non-Amish in modern rural America. While they are more isolated in some areas, other communities interact daily with the modern world, perhaps nowhere as dramatically as in Lancaster. Here the Amish come into contact not only with their “English” neighbors, but directly and indirectly with millions of visitors from the United States and around the world.

To the Amish, the idea of separation from the modern world and non-conformity to its ways are stated clearly in the New Testament—“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed.” The Amish have adopted some facets of modern technology and shunned others. The fact that the Amish population is growing, and that the majority of their young people decide to join the faith through adult baptism, testifies that there are important values in this culture. This economic function, the family and its members working as a unit within the supporting Amish community, creates a strong bond and gives each worker a clear and vital ” place” through the work he performs.

Most Amish are farmers, although in some areas of the USA barely half remain so. With an average of seven or eight children, each member plays a part in the family’s economic survival. It is likely that children are very conscious of this. Dr. John Hostetler, in his book Amish Society, notes the importance of all this when he says…

“Like most parents in American society, the Amish recognize the teen period as critical. The Amish family needs the help of its teen-age child more than the typical American family, and the child feels the family’s need of him. the young person who works on the farm can understand and feel the contribution he is making to his family.”

Indeed, Amish formal schooling stops at the eighth grade. From then on children are at home or on the farm, learning the tasks they will have as adults by working with their parents. The family and home become the place of “on the job” training.

On a farm, your work directly affects you and your family. You are a member of this company (the family), and you have your job responsibilities. In simple terms, the cows have to be fed and milked so that food and shelter can be provided for the family. Your paycheck comes daily in the form of food, clothing, shelter, and affection.

Children see their parents working hard every day and children want to help. Children often try tasks they are too young to perform, or mimic their parents when they play. I once saw a four-year-old Amish boy cry when he could not go along and help father in the field. (When I was a boy, I would sometimes try to invent ways of getting out of my chores.)

At times, individual families become caught up in other “family economies”, as when three farmers get together to help each other fill their respective silos. In such ways, the family and community bonds are further strengthened.

By the 1970’s, making a living from farming was becoming more difficult. The increasing Amish population, coupled with decreasing farmland and higher prices, made getting started difficult or impossible for some. Others found the payments on the farm, building, loans, mortgages, and interest a hardship.

One alternative was to move to another area where farmland was available and cheaper. Others looked at ways to supplement their income by having a family member work out for others, sometimes on a carpentry crew, as a farmhand, or as a cleaning lady in homes of non-Amish. But of most concern to the Amish was the possible necessity of having to work in a factory, and whether or not such work really was necessary.

Part Two: Work at Home vs. Factory next Friday

Published with permission from the Amish Country News 

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Amish Potato Noodle Dumplings Soup recipe

1 1/2 cups water
3 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
celery rib, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced cured or smoked ham
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or chives

Bring the water, potatoes, celery, onion and ham to a simmer in a large saucepan; cook for 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the egg, flour and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Using floured hands, pull into stringy lumps; add to the potato mixture. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring often. Stir in milk, celery seeds and remaining salt; heat through. Top with parsley or chives. Recipe from

Brad Igou from the Amish experience E-mailed me to let me know that the Witness farm tour will be returning again this year, and this time the barn which was closed (sadly) when i was on this tour last year will now be open to the public this time around. The barn to me had a very important part in the movie that stared Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis in 1985, so I’m pleased that it will be open this time around.The Amish experience is also having a contest (see below) in case anyone is maybe interested in entering. If your interested in taking the Witness farm tour just go to

WITNESS movie trivia challenge: The Amish Experience is asking trivia buffs

for the name of the song John  Book and Rachel dance to in the barn, who wrote it,

and the singer. Correct responders will be drawn on the first of July,
August and September and will receive two complimentary tickets for the tour
this year. Email to, typing “Witness Contest” in
the subject line. 

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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.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers.  I greatly appreciate them.  It is so kind of you.  My health is improving slowly.  I have been able to cook a few meals and do some sewing.  Between my parents, my grandparents, David parents, our maude (maid) and David I’m not allowed to do too much.  I have been to some of the rummage sales, though.  I will be writing the next post, but David is doing the rest of this one-so I turn it over to him-but I do want to thank you for being so kind and thought full.  Jean

 David: Times are getting so fewer people are volunteering less for the Fire Department or the ambulance crew.  One of the towns near us is closing their volunteer ambulance service.  They just don’t have as many volunteers as they use to.  Also most of the volunteers are free in the evening and night, but work outside the home and can not provide service during the day.  There area is now going to be serviced by Finger Lakes Ambulance.  The difference is that the volunteer ambulance takes what you can pay-if you can’t pay they take you anyway.  Finger Lakes Ambulacnnance  is not volunteer-these people are full time ambulance employees so that means Finger Lakes Ambulance charges.  I am not putting Finger Lakes Ambulance down as they have filled in for us if we have our ambulance out on a call and someone else calls in and needs one.  It is sad to see a volunteer ambulance close.

 As yet, we have enough volunteers for day and night.  How long this will last we don’t know as some are getting older.  Also our Fire Department is volunteer and we are always looking for more.  Many of us have taken courses and are qualified for both Fire Department and ambulance.  Being that some of us are Old Order Mennonite or Amish, and don’t drive, we need one of our volunteers that does drive, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.  So if you are looking for something to volunteer for, if your Fire Department and/or Ambulance is volunteer, please consider there.

The Old Order Mennonites and the Amish have approved for us to have cell phones for the Fire Department and Ambulance calls.  So now I can be out in the fields plowing and still get the call.  In fact, I can be anywhere and get the call.  Old Order Mennonites charge the cell phones for our Amish Firemen.  It sure came in handy when we had our kitchen fire.

Our Woman fire fighter does as well as us men at a fire.  She was at the fire at our house.  It is still kind of different for us Old Order Mennonite and Amish that we have a woman on the Fire Department.  It is our way not to allow our wives or daughters to do this-we consider it men’s work.  At a fire we all do the work and it does matter if we are working with a man or a woman.  Also, we have gotten two more men on the Fire Department.  They have completed their courses and have worked at the fires.

The worse ambulance call I have been on, of course, was that accident down state where those Amish passed (were killed).  Outside of my own house fire-you always consider that the worse one-it’s your house, the worse I have been on was a house hit my lightening.  It was a frame house and burned to the group pretty fast.  Everyone got out of that house, but they lost their house and contents.  Along with houses we also consider a barn fire a major fire.  This has happened a few times, also.  We have also been to business fires-stores, business buildings, etc.  Our village is small, most of our area are farms. Someone asked if there have been an Amish fires that we have been too-not yet and we hope not. Having been in some of their homes, I think they are more careful than other people are.  They keep their chimneys clear, careful of their lamps, watch their wood stoves, etc.  The worse Amish we had was when the man’s  barn roof caved in on their cows during that winter.  I mentioned that in a previous post. 

 We don’t have any problems with the Amish as farming neighbors or firemen.  One helps another as needed.  They really helped us out both food wise, work wise, chore wise and more when we had our house fire.  They even brought foods they had canned to fill up Jean’s shelves. At a fire, we work side by side.  After a fire we have even been known to pray together. 

 I hope I have answered all that you wanted to know.  If you have any questions, please put your questions in the comment section and I or Jean will answer them.  Jean will be back with the next post telling about Susan’s school closing for the school year. 

Be With God, David

Potato Doughnuts with Frosting

2 cups hot mashed potatoes (mashed with milk and butter)

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 Tbsp butter or margarine melted

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp nut meg

1/2 tsp salt

6 1/2 to 7 cups flour

Cooking oil

In large bowl combine potatoes, sugar, buttermilk, and eggs; stir in butter, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and enough of the flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and pat  to 3/4″ thickness. Cut with 2 1/2″ doughnut cutter. In a skillet heat 1′ of oil at 350 degrees. Fry doughnuts 2 min. per side or until browned. Place on paper towels.

Frosting for Potato Donuts

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup boiling water

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1 tsp vanilla

Sift sugar, cocoa and salt into a large bowl. Stir in hot water, butter and vanilla. Dip tops of warm doughnuts in frosting.

Makes 4 dozen                                                Enjoy: Jean

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Peter Breck enjoying a laugh on the set of Big Valley.  Image provided by

I would first like to say “thank you” to Diane Breck for sending me the 2 recipes that appear on this post, which were sent to me last year before Mr. Peter Brecks passing this February. The first recipe tomato soup cake was something that Peter really liked to make, and while Mr. breck liked to make that first recipe it was the second recipe of BEEF BOURGUIGNON that he very much enjoyed having his wife Diane make.

I first started writing to Peter and his wife Diane about 4 or 5 years ago, and i wanted to let her and peter know how much of a fan i was of him and of Big Valley growing up as a child. So i would write them from time to time over the years and then i thought since i now had a blog that maybe i could create a post honoring Mr. Peter Breck and also one of the TV shows he was so very famous for, sadly i am now doing this after his passing and I’m really sorry for not posting this late last year when i was supposed to.

                                                                                                                                                           Some of us could debate all day which show was the better show Bonanza or Big Valley,  the show with the best TV theme ever produced to me would go to Peters show though. When you heard that music at the start of big Valley you knew you were about to watch something really special, and Nick Barkley (Peter Breaks character) was my hands down favorite person on that show. Nick Barkley would symbolize  what i would call “controlled rage”, yes he could have a bit of a temper but at the same time he was intelligent and was also able to reason things out in time. So while the Barkley’s were generally nice people in nature the west was not built only by being nice, it was done with sweat and determination, and you had to hold your ground and be tough. And to me that’s what Peter Breck’s character was, and my gut tells me that Peter Breck the actor was a really good human being and a class act outside of Hollywood as well, and he leaves behind a very positive foot-print. Richard  

The Big Valley: is an American western television series which ran on ABC from September 15, 1965, to May 19, 1969, which starred Barbara Stanwyck, as a California widowed mother. It was created by A.I. Bezzerides and Louis F. Edelman. The producer was Levy-Gardner-Laven.

Historical background

The TV series was based loosely on the Hill Ranch located at the western edge of Calaveras County, not far from Stockton (one episode places the Barkley Ranch a few hours’ ride from town while another has Jarrod riding past a Calaveras County sign on his way to the TV series’ ranch). The Hill Ranch existed from 1855 until 1931, exceeded 1,000 acres, and had the Mokelumne River running through it. Lawson Hill ran the ranch until he was murdered in 1861. His wife Euphemia (aka “Auntie Hill”) then became the matriarch. During their marriage they had four children, one daughter and three sons. Today, the location of the ranch is covered by the waters of Lake Camanche. A California state historical marker standing at Camanche South Shore Park mentions the historic ranch. The set used to film the exterior of the Barkley Mansion stood on the backlot of Republic Studios from 1947 until 1975.

Nick Barkley: Hot-tempered brawling son, who managed the family ranch, was portrayed by Peter Breck. Well-known for his black leather vests, large black hat and black leather gloves, as well as his loud and brawling demeanor, he was notorious for getting into fist fights. At times, he would fight with his brothers as well, though underneath the gruff surface Nick was warm and caring, had a fun-loving carefree side, a wonderful sense of humor, and he loved his family deeply and would give his own life for any one or all of them. Breck appeared in 101 of the 112 episodes.

Peter Brecks Early career : After US Navy service on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) he studied drama at the University of Houston. Breck made his debut in a film produced by Bert Freed that was eventually released under the title The Beatniks. As well as performing in live theatre, Breck had several guest-starring roles on a number of popular series, such as Sea Hunt, several episodes of Wagon Train, Have Gun – Will Travel, Perry Mason, and Gunsmoke. In 1956, he and David Janssen appeared in John Bromfield’s syndicated series Sheriff of Cochise in the episode “The Turkey Farmers”. He appeared in another syndicated series too in the episode “The Deserter” of the American Civil War drama Gray Ghost, with Tod Andrews in the title role.

When Robert Mitchum saw him in George Bernard Shaw’s play The Man of Destiny in Washington, D.C. he offered Breck a role as a rival driver in 1958’s Thunder Road. Mitchum set Breck up in Los Angeles and as Breck did not have his own car, Mitchum lent him his own Jaguar.[1] Mitchum introduced Breck to Dick Powell who contracted him to Four Star Productions where he appeared in Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater. He also appeared with fellow guest star Diane Brewster in the 1958 episode “The Lady Gambler” of the ABC western series Tombstone Territory, starring Pat Conway and Richard Eastham. In 1958 Breck also appeared in an episode of Highway Patrol with Broderick Crawford.

In the 1959–1960 season, he starred as a gunfighter-turned-lawyer lead in the NBC western Black Saddle, with secondary roles for Russell Johnson, J. Pat O’Malley, and Walter Burke.

Breck was later a contract star with Warner Brothers Television where he appeared as Doc Holliday on the series Maverick, a part that had been played twice earlier in the series by Gerald Mohr and by Adam West on Lawman (TV series). Breck appeared in several other Warners series of the time such as Cheyenne, 77 Sunset Strip, The Roaring Twenties, The Gallant Men, and a 1969 episode of The Donald O’Connor Show.

The first movie in which Breck was the top-billed star was Lad, A Dog (1962).[2] The next year, he played the leading roles in both Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor and the science-fiction horror film The Crawling Hand. During this time, he also appeared on episodes of several more TV shows, such as The Outer Limits, The Restless Gun, Bonanza, Perry Mason, and The Virginian.

The Big Valley: From 1965 to 1969, Breck starred in the ABC Western series The Big Valley, where he played Nick Barkley, ramrod of the Barkley ranch and son to Barbara Stanwyck’s character Victoria Barkley. The second of four children, Nick was the hotheaded, short-tempered brother. Always spoiling for a fight and frequently wearing leather gloves, Breck’s character took the slightest offense to the Barkley name personally and quickly made his displeasure known, as often with his fists as with his vociferous shouts. Often this proved to be a mistake and only through the calming influence of his mother and cooler-headed brothers, Jarrod (Richard Long), Eugene (Charles Briles), and half-brother Heath (Lee Majors), would a difficult situation be rectified. Breck, having been a Barbara Stanwyck fan since the 1940s, as a teenager, also developed a wonderful on- and off-screen chemistry with her, practicing longer lines and even being a ranch foreman on the set. After the show was canceled, he stayed close to her until her death.   Source: Wikipedia

TOMATO SOUP CAKE: That Peter Breck enjoyed making. 


1 – 18 oz. box spice cake mix

2 eggs

1 – 10 ¾ oz. can tomato soup

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese – softened to room temp.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Grease sides & bottoms of 2 loaf pans – flour lightly

Blend all ingredients – except cream cheese – until moistened

Beat on med. speed for 2 minutes

Pour into loaf pans & bake for 50 min.

Cool – in pans – for 15 min. on wire rack

Remove from pans & let cool completely then spread with cream cheese

Makes approx. 20 servings

BEEF BOURGUIGNON: One of Peter’s favorite dish’s that his wife Diane would make for him.   Serves 8 to 10

4 lbs. trimmed lean sirloin – cut into ½ by 4 inch strips

6 slices bacon – cut into small pieces

2 cloves garlic – crushed

2 lbs. mushrooms – sliced

2 bay leaves – crushed

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. thyme

<1/8 tsp. pepper

½ cup butter

½ cup flour

2 ½ ( 10 ½ oz. ) cans consommé or part burgundy wine.

Fry the bacon pieces in a Dutch oven

Remove bacon & sauté the beef strips in the bacon drippings – stir frequently until beef is evenly browned. You will have to brown a portion at a time.

Add garlic & mushrooms.

Season with bay leaves , parsley , salt , thyme & pepper.

Add bacon bits & remove from heat.

In another pan make a roux with the butter & flour

Cook – stirring constantly – until flour turns a light tan.

Add the consommé or consommé & part burgundy. Stir & cook until slightly thickened.

Add to the beef & mushrooms

Cover & simmer until beef is tender – I usually let mine simmer for a good 3 hours

Diane’s personal notes: In all honesty I use half consomme & half burgundy. It really does have a much better flavor.
I always make mine the day before I will be serving it. After simmering , I let it cool then refrigerate it over night. I put it on again early in the afternoon of the day I will be serving & just let it simmer. The flavors seem to really blend well this way plus the meat is very tender.

I like to serve this dish over riceDiane Breck

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