We received quite a few inches of snow over the weekend. We had to take the buggy through some good-sized snow drifts on our way to church. My husband Joe and sons Benjamin and Joseph stayed home while the five girls, Kevin, and I went to church. Joe is still not feeling well so I didn't want him out in the cold. Benjamin, 9, and Joseph, 6, felt proud to come in to tell us they made a path through the snow to our buggy. It made us smile because it was so narrow we had to put one foot in front of the other. I guess they meant well and wanted to do us a favor.Joe finally went to the doctor and found out he has bronchitis and the start of pneumonia. He also has a sinus infection. His cough seems to be getting better, though. He sure had a hard two weeks. He goes back to work three days this week and three days next week. We hope he'll stay healthy for that. After those six days he is off the rest of this year and we are not sure yet about his January schedule. There are so many people out of work. We pray the economy will improve in the coming year.

Joe's Dad, 70, also has pneumonia and is in the hospital.

Hopefully he'll be able to go home in the next day or so. Joe's sister will have his family for a brunch on Dec. 20 for their annual Christmas gathering. Joe's grandmother will have her 95th birthday tomorrow. Daughters Elizabeth and Verena wrote a letter to her along with our birthday card. For a school project I am having Elizabeth write nice notes to some elderly and shut-ins. It really cheers them up to get mail. Daughter Verena will be 11 on the 10th so she always remembers when her great-grandmother's birthday is.

We are approaching a busy season for gatherings with family and friends. First will be Elizabeth's home-schooled children's Christmas party on the 19th. Then our church planned the annual Christmas potluck for Dec. 21. And we will host my family's Christmas gathering on New Year's Day. We are a total of 69 people now so I hope we will have a perfect attendance. Joe plans to grill the meat so we wish for weather that isn't too cold outside. We want to start doing extra cleaning for the gathering. I hope we'll have a warmer day soon to wash my curtains and windows. I don't like to dry the white curtains inside but I might not have any other choice.

We brought down the 1000 piece puzzle we had started last winter. It is almost done and I am hoping Joe will complete it. I needed to give him something to do so he wouldn't try to go outside all the time to do chores.

Daughter Susan, 12, is writing a story now about twin boys named Joshua and Joseph. They each have their own horse that they race. Susan doesn't have the story finished yet. I was reading the part she has finished so far to Joseph on Saturday evening. He asked me who won the race. He said he wants Susan to make Joseph win the race. He ended up pestering Susan about who she is going to have as the winner. Susan told him she hasn't decided yet. He is getting so eager to hear the ending. He told Susan "please make Joseph win the horse race." She spent last evening writing on her story, she just enjoys writing for fun.

A reader requested a recipe for homemade pancakes, here is an easy one for the pancakes and syrup!

GRIDDLE CAKES

1 1/3 cups flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoons of corn oil

1 1/4 cup milk

Combine and stir first four ingredients. Then add oil and milk and drop by spoonful on hot griddle. Very little oil is needed to fry these.

HOMEMADE SYRUP

1/4 cup margarine 3 cups brown sugar 3 cups boiling water 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon vanilla 1/2 cup clear gel

Melt butter but do not brown. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir in boiling water. Bring to a good boil. In a separate bowl, mix clear gel with enough water to stir and add slowly to boiling mixture. Boil on low heat for about 20 minutes. Add more thickening if desired before finished boiling.

Editor's Note: Clear-gel is a thickener, similar to cornstarch, that is frequently used by Amish cooks. It can be found in bulk food stores and some specialty stores.

For more information about The Amish Cook colujmn or about Amish culture and cooking, visit amishcookonline.com

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