It has truly been a beautiful time of year here in Amish Land. The children have been spending much time outside in the fluffy white snow building snowmen and forts, sledding and sleigh riding. The crisp air and blue skies make an almost dreamy feel. When the sun shines, it glistens over the snow making a sea of white diamonds for our eyes. For the first snowfall, the children woke early in the morning and peered through the window with an eager hope of all the play they will have. All the things they will do now that the season was changing before their very eyes. After, what seemed to be a long morning of school, the children bundled up for the snow.
Rolling big boulders of snow across the blanket of snow out in the front yard, slowly the images of snow people emerged. Heaving boulders one over the other to make a family. Joe's wife, Anna Mae, asked the little boys to make her a snow family. After she saw the children happily creating them on our side of the road, it was a neighborly thing to share in. They made a mommy, a daddy, and two little boys. It was so cute. We later saw little Anna Mae all bundled up and sticking a orange hat on daddy snowman, calling him "Enos Lee". She placed a shovel on is arm branch with blaze orange mittens and coal for the eyes. She named his wife, "Martha", as she placed a scarf and tied it about her head and under her chin. The tiny snowboys were decked with little blue caps and they all had coal for their eyes and mouth and a carrot for their noses. It was so cute to watch her scurry around in the frosty weather to decorate her snow family. What fun to share as friends and neighbors.
Miles built a shaft that could fit onto the harness setup on his painted pony. I was sitting near the coal stove when I heard the laughter outside. I peered out the window to see this wonderful site. Miles was happily giving sled rides to his little brothers and sisters all through the fields on his pony. It just thrilled my heart to see them working together, building things and making fun from almost nothing. That is the beauty of raising kids in the country. They have room to be creative in ways we never knew were possible. After Joe saw the setup Miles created, he had the boys pull all the buggies out of the shed until they came upon the sleigh!!!! The SLEIGH!!! Joe fetched our "Abby" and hitched her to the sleigh. Away he sailed loaded down with all of our children. They went all the way, way, way back at the end of the field, until all we could see was just a small black spot moving along the horizon. You could faintly hear the giggles and squeals of happy children.
Joe then began to tie big long ropes to the children's sleds and then tied them to the back of the sleigh. Miles drove the pack of sleds behind the sleigh round and round the field. The little boys zoomed back and forth and once in a while they jerked off around the corner. No one was hurt, for the laughter and smiles were almost endless in the joy of the one horse open sleigh.
The girls were enjoying making cookies and candies for their were lots of community butchering bees and the school program. We wanted to have nice things to share. The girls favorite candy to make is the bacon and eggs. You just melt white chocolate, make a circular blob on parchment paper, press a yellow m&m in the middle and finally press stick pretzles into the side of each "yoke" as pictured below. Once they cool, they harden and last a long time in a cookie tin. Fun for folks of all ages.
Tastes Like "Home"~Making Memory Foods.
Did you ever smell something that smelled like Grandma's house and it would take you on a journey in your mind back to a simpler time? Or taste something that brought your mind to a sensation of traveling back in time?Sometimes a song or photo can bring you back, and even a taste at times! This year I wanted to make some "memory foods". I made my Grandmother Julia's homemade bread that she taught me before she died. It uses white flour which is something I typically never buy or have in my home since Molly is so alergic to it and because I know better than that, of course! But, I was thrilled to make it and give my mother a loaf and her brother because he was never married and always lived at home. He always had fresh baked bread and now that Grandma is gone, I was sure that this would fill his heart and belly. I also made her cutout cookies which are more like a pie dough recipe. You roll them out super thin and bake them. We frosted them with a cream cheese frosting. Just use your favorite pie crust recipe and try it sometime. It is really light, crisp and flakey. Finally, the girls and I made my Grandma Isla's chocolate eclairs. Oh, were those delightful. My grandma Isla always made those eclairs any time we came to visit. I wanted to give my dad some because it was something he really loved about "home".
Grandma Isla's Chocolate Eclairs
1/2 cup butter melted in 1 cup boiling water
1 cup white flour mixed in all at once
1/2 t. salt
Remove from heat
4 eggs, adding one at a time and mixing well into the batter.
Make oblong balls on parchment paper.
Bake for 30 minutes on 425º F
Another 10 minutes on 350º F
Watch so they puff up and get golden brown. Allow to cool. Cut open and dig all the excess fluff out of the pastries. Fill with vanilla pudding.
spread chocolate frosting on the tops. Chill and serve. Yummy!
Let It Snow!
As the sun sets over the snowy yard, we see figures of snowy little boys and girls dancing and digging in the snow. Some come out of holes in the snow and others scurry around the tops. The golden sun cascades over the treetops in Amish land. It is time for butchering in the community. This season we had two butchering bees. They all happened the same weekend. Harry's butchered a couple hogs and so did Floyds. Sausages were ground and baked before canning and smells were so warm and delicious. Hams were cured and smoked to keep for the long winter. Lard was rendered and canned up for pie baking and soap making. Liver worst was boiled and ground for canning. Best of all, it was more time in fellowship with community. Men, women, and children all cutting, shaving, and grinding the meat together as a family. Can anything be more productive while being fun. It sounds like it would be hard but many hands make light work. As a community shares in these "big work days", it makes a lot of work seem nothing and besides, all the meat the family will enjoy for months to come is very rewarding, indeed. Many of the Amish have gone gluten free to help with some health issues and I can say it has been fun to talk about. It is that topic most discussed at our gatherings these chilly days. I enjoy sharing what little I know but all along the way, as they speak in German, I enjoy learning more and more each time. We were invited to the Christmas program at the little Amish school house and that was such a treat. We all got dressed up and met at the school house. It was a blizzard that day, so we took the suburban because we are beginners at horse carriage driving and did not want to end up in a ditch for lack of experience. We did find out that when it is very cold, they will usually heat up bricks and place them along the floor to keep warm. That is good to know! The way my foot is so dreadful cold, I sure appreciate that piece of wisdom. The women sat on one side and the men on the other. The children lined up to sing songs of the birth of Christ and poems of good character building. After the children were done, we all went down to the basement for a "finger food feast". There were cold sandwiches, cookies, pies, bars, and lots of snacks. The children all bundled up for play outside. For hours they chase and run and play snowball fights. It was a great time of community life! Making the most of our wintery wonderland!