Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Amish Gardening and Preserving

     When I drive past most Amish gardens in early May, I see plastic milk jugs lined up in rows. With the bottoms cut out, they’re used for mini greenhouses, extending the planting season by a month. Most gardens in Pennsylvania aren’t planted until Memorial Day and in New York, July 4th! So once again we see how dependent the Amish are on the land.
      I know an Amish family of nine who live primarily on what they “put up” from their garden. This amazes me still since my husband and I have four grown “kids” and remember those grocery bills when they were all in their teens, and we “put up” at least 500 quarts of food. Well, I know my Amish friends put up well over a thousand jars.
      The trick I’m learning is that they preserve only what they use, no fancy chutneys like I like to try. They don’t pour over glossy recipe books like me, confused as to what they should or should not plant. So this year I’m determined to can only what’s going to help our food bill. This will include jams, fruits and vegetables that go in recipes I actually use, not ones I see in magazines hoping to try “someday.”
I have two wonderful books as resources:
 Amish Cooking by Pathway Publishing. You can buy it online at: http://pathway-publishers.com/tag/amish-recipes/  Pathway is run by the Amish and are authentic Amish books.
Also, for inspiration I read Lovina Eicher books. She’s an Old Order Amish woman who’s written three coffee table quality books that are part memoir, cultural education, and recipes. I have the The Amish Cook's Anniversary Book: 20 Years of Food, Family, and Faith. I won’t be buying her baking book anytime soon…I use the Weight Watchers Cookbook for desserts ;)
Blessings to you!
Karen Anna Vogel

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Simplicity Learned in the Ups and Downs of Life.

It’s been over a month since I’ve written anything on this blog, but am happy to report my son got married and my sister-in-law got her kidney transplant. A lot can happen in a month and simplicity had to really be a discipline for me. Cutting away anything that really wasn’t necessary and clearing my plate so I could help the people I love is really the Amish way of living. Relationships are more important than anything, period.
I also saw something that was heartwarming; many families, friends and church members coming together in community to serve one another. No wonder the Amish are the happiest people in the USA. When emotions are up with a wedding and down with a possible death, it’s nice to have people hold your hand and ask how you’re doing. I thought often of the famous line Clarence, the angel in It’s a Wonderful Life said. “No man is a failure who has friends.” It so true. I learned a lesson about what real success is in life; faith, family, friends!
A good read on Simplicity is Richard Foster’s Celebration of Simplicity. If I hadn’t been reading that book over the past month and stuck to the simple way of living my Amish friends adopt, I would have missed out on such blessings. Too much internal noise in life rob us of everyday joys.

Blessings to you!
Karen Anna Vogel