It is 6:50 a.m. and the five school children are about to head for school. They all had breakfast and are ready to start another week.Three-year-old Lovina and two-year-old Kevin are still sleeping.
Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth is getting prepared to start on her school work as soon as the others leave. She seems to enjoy home-schooling and I enjoy helping and explaining lessons to her. It refreshes my memory to go over all these lessons once again, so we both get to learn. Once she is done with her lessons for the day she'll help me do the laundry. I appreciate the help she returns.
Yesterday we spent the day at sister Emma and Jacob's house. We enjoyed a good barbecued chicken dinner. Along with the chicken Emma served mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, corn, tossed salad, peas, homemade bread, sauerkraut, hot peppers, chocolate chip bars, jello, fruit salad, pumpkin bread and pudding. In the afternoon the adults played board games while the children played outside. It was a relaxing day together.
Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are still with my husband Joe's 94-year-old grandmother. She remains in the hospital and is slowly losing out to the ills of old age. May God bless her and help her with her pain and suffering.
On Saturday the girls and I cleaned out all our kitchen cabinets. It is a good feeling to have that all done. I sure enjoy my new kitchen cabinets which are only a year old. We are starting to prepare for our upcoming church services that will be held here in three weeks.
This week we want to start washing off the walls and ceilings. The walls tend to get smudged up from all the little hands. (editor's note: The Old Order Amish do not have a formal church building, instead church services are held in the homes of church members).
It always feels good once everything is cleaned again. For me preparing for church this time it will also take care of my "spring cleaning" as well, a little earlier than usual. My husband Joe and 8-year-old Benjamin and 5-year-old Joseph cleaned out the horse box stalls out in the barn. They do a good job of shoveling manure already. Having our dog Frisco's little puppies out there gave them some enjoyment. The puppies are five weeks old now and very playful.
It is cute just to watch them play together. After lunch Kevin wanted to join them outside to help, too.
Yesterday Kevin was trying to yodel. Yodeling is something that has always been kept up in my family way back to my Swiss ancestors. As a little girl I heard my grandmother, mother, and sisters all yodeling together. Then us girls picked it up and we always yodeled together.
There are so many different kinds of yodels that yodeling is not something that can be copied down in a book like words to a song.
Usually it is passed from one generation to the next. When we still had our cows that needed daily milking I could always hear my husband Joe yodeling while milking. I'd tease him and ask him if he thinks that would make her give more milk. I remember how my sisters and I would always sing and yodel when we would go out to milk a dozen or more cows. Yodeling made our work seem to get done faster and I think it relaxed the cows. Now with my children starting another generation they are picking up the yodeling too.
Sometimes Joe and I will yodel in the buggy on the way home from somewhere and the children help along the best they can. (editor's note: Yodeling is not widespread among the Amish. It's practice is generally limited to small enclaves of Swiss-descended Amish in Indiana and Missouri. A rare 3-minute audio selection of Lovina and children yodeling, a solo yodel by Joe and a duet by Joe and Lovina is available for listening at amishcookonline.com. The audio clip will be available from January 15 through Jan. 31)
I will share with you the chocolate chip bars that daughter Elizabeth made and took to Emma's this past weekend:
CHOCOLATE CHIP BARS
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, stir all the above ingredients together except for flour and chj chips. Add flour and mix well. Then add chocolate chips. Grease and flour a 15x10x1" cookie sheet or pan and spread batter evenly over it. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and cut in 2 x 2" bars.
Lovina Eicher hand-writes this column from her Michigan home. Readers with culinary or cultural questions may write Lovina at: The Amish Cook, c/o Oasis Newsfeatures, P.O. Box 2144, Middletown, Ohio 45042. Due to volume of mail, personal replies are not always possible.