Daughter Susan had her twelfth birthday on January 24th. We don't have a birthday gift for her yet, but we told her we would get her a bike once it warms up. She was excited when we told her as she has outgrown her old one. To celebrate the special day, my sister Susan made white cupcakes with chocolate frosting and also a chocolate sheet cake.Meanwhile, we are busy cleaning and preparing for our upcoming church services which will be held here in our home next week. There is always a lot of work to be done but such a relief once the house has been cleaned from top to bottom. As we prepare the house for all of the visitors, Joe is working on building me a room for my canning jars in the basement. Since we heat our home from the basement it can get warm down there. Since canning jars need to be in a cool place, Joe is building a room that will be insulated so that no heat gets in there.

He's also going to be putting up a lot of shelves there so the canned goods and empty jars can be neatly stored.

Sisters Verena, Susan, Emma, and her family were here yesterday helping us clean. Brother in law Jacob helped Joe with the canning room while us women were doing the cleaning. The canning room is not quite finished, but hopefully Joe will complete it next week.

Saturday three of Joe's and also Jacob's cousins and their husbands stopped in to visit in the afternoon. Joe grew up beside them so it brought back memories of years ago. Brother in-law Jacob is a first cousin to my husband Joe. Their 94-year-old grandmother has been in the hospital since January 2. She seems to be improving now and they have high hopes that she will be dismissed next week.

Our daughter Verena, age 10, had the misfortune of breaking her foot over the weekend. They were playing tag down in the basement when she tripped. We waited a day and finally decided to get an x-ray done. It seemed to keep swelling up and was very painful. Tomorrow I have to take her to a bone specialist for a cast.

I am not sure yet how long she'll have to be on crutches. She is slowly getting used to them but had a little accident yesterday where she slipped with her crutches and landed lightly on her broken foot.

Verena loves to read so hopefully that will help pass her time while she is laid up. She is almost finished with the Little House on the Prairie books which she is enjoying. I am a little worried that Verena's crutches could slip on the snow and ice on her way to school.

This afternoon Joe and I and several of us walked over to our sister, Susan and Verena's house. We took them some fresh eggs since they were out. They put out snacks for us and Joe did some of their chores. It was a nice visit.

A reader in Graham, Washington requested a homemade "white sauce" recipe. This is a favorite in our home! You can use it on meats, potatoes, and vegetables.

WHITE SAUCE

2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 cup milk Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper and heat until mixture bubbles, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk. Cook rapidly until sauce comes to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.

LAST WEEK OF YODELING AVAILABILITY: Since different newspapers run The Amish Cook on different days and even weeks, the track of the Eicher family yodeling will remain online and available to listen to through Friday, Feb. 8. Everyone who signs up even through Feb. 8 will have access to the yodeling for two full weeks, but no new sign-ups after that date. Response has been strong, but some have had difficultly navigating the instructions. Sign-up instructions have been streamlined and simplified. To hear Lovina, Joe and family in a 3-minute yodeling "mini-concert" visit amishcookonline.com 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.

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