Monday, August 29, 2011

The Amish and Lasagna

When I went to my Amish friend’s greenhouse in rural Pennsylvania, I bought lots of eggplants because I love eggplant parmesan, and all my plants died. I asked her what she was making for dinner for her family of ten. I expected to hear something like ham from their smokehouse and potatoes and vegetables from their garden. She smiled and said, “Lasagna.”
After knowing Amish families for twenty years, I’m always taken back. I wanted to ask, “So, you know how to cook Italian? Do you want some recipes from my grandma who came from Riccia, Italy?” But I’ve learned the Amish are tired of assuming they limit themselves to recipes from Little House on the Prairie Cookbook.  
But since there are Amish in 27 states now, some in really rural places where it’s two hours to Wal-Mart, some probably do eat more like pioneers.  One rule of thumb in the Amish community is they don’t consider a meal complete unless there’s a dessert after supper, every night. Left over pie is usually served for breakfast. So I wonder what my friend is making for dessert…Italian ice?  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Amish Recipe ~ Plain and Simple

Hello dear readers. I'll be coming out with an Ebook with Trestle Press called The Amish Knitting Circle. It will be a monthly serial following the lives of six women in Smicksburg, PA. It all starts one day when Granny Weaver spins her wool and sees the fibers are stronger when they come together. She thinks of five women who are unraveling, so she starts a knitting circle to bring them together.  I'll take you on a journey with these six women through an Amish year filled with their seasonal activities. Since November is their wedding season, I thought it fun to start there.
At the end of the book, due out Mid-September, is a recipe. As a mother of 4 preschoolers, long ago, I needed a quick and easy dessert. An Amish lady in NY said Cinnamon Flop was my answer. I call it the lazy way of making cinnamon rolls. They taste the same but made in no time. Little hands love to poke the dough too….

                                                Cinnamon Flop

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
 1 1/2 cups sugar
 2 eggs, well beaten
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1 cup milk
 1 cup light brown sugar
 1/4 cup butter
Cream butter with sugar.
Beat in eggs.
Sift flour with baking powder and add alternately with the milk.
Pour into well-buttered 9-inch pie plate.
Sprinkle top with brown sugar, dot with butter, and sprinkle with lots of ground cinnamon.
Bake in preheated hot oven (375° F.) for approximately 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What do the Amish read? Do they read Amish fiction?

What do the Amish read? Do they read Amish Fiction?

Someone asked me recently if the Amish are reading all the “Bonnet Books” or Amish fiction out there on the market.  She wondered if they read fiction at all. This question makes me realize that there’s a big misconception about how separate the Amish are from society at large.  It reminded me of my daughter’s shock at seeing Amish at Kennywood, an amusement park in Pittsburgh. Or when my husband and I took a train ride out West; Amish people were on the train and people whispered, “They must be moving somewhere to bring ‘new blood’ into a settlement.” We had to hide our laughter. They were on vacation! The Amish really do like to have fun, believe it or not.  An Amish friend, Noah, hopes to go with my husband deep sea fishing someday.
Now, back to the question, do Amish read fiction? Yes, if it’s good clean reading. I take books I’ve read to my Amish lady friends in Smicksburg, PA, anything from Jane Austen to Wanda Brunstetter. Their reaction cracks me up. The middle age women and teens dive into them like kids getting presents under the Christmas tree.  The older women shake their heads and say, “Silly. Just read the Bible. It has the best stories and they’re real.”   
But it can get a little complicated. When it comes to Amish fiction, they can get a little touchy. They want their people represented correctly. Amish fiction authors can be banned by certain church districts. Each church is approximately 200 people and each has a bishop. A complaint about an Amish fiction writer went to the bishop and he banned this dear author, whose my favorite. She wrote about the Old Order Amish using powwow medicine in Lancaster. The Amish bishop thought it made his people look uneducated and silly. So, he threw out the baby with the bath water and banned all books by this author. 
They are also tired of Amish fiction books that make the bishop the villain. They’re insulted by this because they say the bishop has to be the most humble among them. Like Jesus who washed his disciple’s feet, the bishop has to act like a servant. We all know a good story needs to have an antagonist, but the mean Amish bishop is getting really old to them. "Totally unrealistic," they say.
For more info, read The Amish Way by Donald Kraybill. He addresses how the Amish are at a real crossroads, not knowing what to adopt from modern society and what to discard. He talks about Amish ministers using Max Lucado and Rick Warren books while writing sermons. The rule of thumb on books is that they should line up with a Biblical worldview. It’s the same with fiction.   
Hope this helps. Please feel free to leave a comment.