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ASK ELIZABETH

This is the place to ask Elizabeth a question, whether it be about cooking or culture. Of course, Elizabeth, being Amish, does not have a computer. So questions for Elizabeth are emailed to her editor, Kevin Williams. Once or twice a month, he'll print out the questions and take them to Elizabeth where she will answer them. Answers to questions will be posted here (added to the bottom) on a monthly or twice-monthly basis. A searchable, dated database is in the works!

CLICK HERE to ask your question!

Q How can The Amish Cook maintain a web-site?
A The answer is simple: She can't!

The web-site is maintained by her non-Amish editor, Kevin Williams, and his webmaster. Kevin's close relationship with the Coblentzes has enabled the column to appear in daily newspapers across the country and now makes Elizabeth's portion of www.OasisNewsfeatures.com possible. The arrangement between Elizabeth and Kevin is an extremely unusual one.

Q In the April 26 edition of "The Farmland News" you mentioned you had a recipe for dandelion jelly. Would you please share the recipe.
-Annette in Delta, Ohio
A
DANDELION JELLY

1 package Sure-Jel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 quart water
1 quart of dandelion blossoms without the stems

In the early morning, pick dandelion blossoms without stems. When you are ready to prepare the jelly, wash the blossoms. Boil blossoms with water for 3 minutes. Drain off 3 cups liquid. Take this juice and add Sure-Jel, lemon juice, and sugar. Boil this mixture for 3 minutes. Skim off top and put in jars and seal. Tastes like honey.

Q Cheryl in South Bend, Indiana requested a "snickerdoodle cookie" recipe. This tasty cookie is a traditional favorite among the Amish of the Midwest.
A
SNICKERDOODLE COOKIES

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Coating:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Heat oven at 350. Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs. Then add dry ingredients (except for coating). Roll into balls. Mix sugar and cinnamon coating and roll balls into the mixture. Place balls two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

Q Marilyn in McCutchenville, Ohio writes: Please send me the recipe for corn oysters.
A I have never heard of this recipe. Sorry!
Q Vicki in Delphos, Ohio writes: I realize that Elizabeth is not doing her column now due to the death of her husband, and we offer our deepest sympathy. When she spoke of him in her column we could vividly picture him. What a great and tragic loss. A friend and I just returned from a two day stay in Holmes county. We usually visit there once a year. On one of the days this last visit (Thur. June 1st.) We were told that the Amish we observing Assention Day and that all their businesses would be closed. We noticed that they were all either visiting, playing ball or just plain relaxing. Is this considered a major holiday for them? Do they attend a church service that day? Another question--- We noticed some Amish farmers with tractors. Are tractors acceptable and if so why do some have rubber tires and others steel wheels? I know these seem like trivial questions during this sad time in Elizabeth's life, but it would be interesting reading in a future column. Thank-you!
A There are some who observe this holiday and some don't. About the tractors, some areas are different. It depends on each individual church's rules which can vary from place to place. They are not allowed around here. Thank you to offer your sympathy on the loss of my beloved husband, Ben. He was a good husband and father.
Q Stacey in Lyons, Kansas writes: Some years ago, I tasted a "fermented" fruit mixture a lady had made for use as an ice cream or cake topping. She called it "fruit brandy" and I think it was just mixed fresh fruit and sugar. Can you help me with what this is?
A Would it be such as a "fruit dip?" The ingredients are:

1/ 2 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
2 /3 cup whipped topping
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip all together and add any kind of fruit such as bananas, etc.

Q Bonnie in Tiffin, Ohio writes: In one of her columns, Elizabeth mentions "winter onions." I have winter onions and I don't know when to pull them. All my Mom told me was to let them go for awhile. I now have a large patch and she has since passed away. Do I pull the large onions or the small ones? Do I only do this in the spring?
A Only in the Spring we pull them. We pull them when they are bigger, just like the green onions.
Q Richard in Bradenton, Florida wrote to Elizabeth asking her the secret of great-tasting meatloaf.
A
ELIZABETH'S MEATLOAF

2 pounds hamburger
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon pepper
3 eggs
1 onion, chopped
1/ 2 cup ketchup or 1 cup tomato juice

Mix all together and put in loaf pan and top with ketchup. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Q Chris in Bradenton, Florida: ...I had an Amish friend that lived in Sarasota Florida who use to make Potato candy is there a recipe for it and how do I make it?
A I have heard of this recipe, it's yummy.

POTATO CANDY

1 /2 cup of mashed potatoes (warm)
1 pound powdered sugar
1 /2 cup peanut butter

Mix potatoes and powdered sugar very well. Roll out potato mixture like it's dough. Spread on the peanut butter. Roll mixture into a log shape. Slice and then chill.

Q Jameelya in Richmond, IN: I wanted to ask the Amish Cook if she knew anyone in her community that would hand quilt a small wall-hanging and a twin size quilt for me. I could mail it to them to hand quilt and send them money for the quilting and postage.
A Try Wilmen's Store in Monroe, Indiana. Just write: Wilmen's Store, Monroe, Indiana 46711.
Q I know this is an extremely trivial question but as a cat lover I am curious. I have always heard that Amish people have a lot of cats and are always willing to take on more to get rid of mice and things. I was just wondering if that is true.
A The cats will keep the mice away. We have several barn cats.
Q Welcome back,Elizabeth. I follow your column in the "Farmland News" every week and then pass it on to my sister-in-law.I so look forward to that column I would love to have your bread dressing recipe. We ate in the Essen House in Middlebury and it is so wonderful. And I am copying your Rhubarb Recipes as we love rhubarb too!!
A I don't really have a recipe of it. I just make it by feel. I take one loaf of bread (crumbled), 1 onion, diced; 4 eggs, and chicken broth and mix this all together. Then I pour water from cooked potatoes into it. Don't make it too thin with the water. Then fry in a greased skillet or put in the oven to bake, but I like the skillet the best.
Q Bev in Newton, KS: I need a recipe for canning hot peppers and cherry peppers. Can you help me?
A Try this for canning peppers:

HOT PEPPERS
3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 /4 cup salt

Boil all the ingredients. Pour over hot peppers in jars and seal.

Q Charlene in Harrisonburg, VA: Last summer you had a fly catcher recipe in one of your columns. I know you needed a 2-liter pop bottle, vinegar, sugar and water, but I forget the amounts. It worked great and I would like to use it again.
A Take 2 -liter pop bottle (we use green like 7-Up or Sprite) and fill with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup vinegar, and banana peelings. Fill up with water 3 /4 full. Hang on the lower branch of a tree. Be patient, because it takes a good week or two for the trap to begin working. But once insects start coming in, they come in bunches. Once they fly into the bottle, they are done for. Works great for ridding your yard of insects. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Lots of questions have come in about this homemade insect trap. Next time I am at the Coblentzes, I'll take a photo of their homemade insect trap and post the picture here so you can see if yours looks comparable. Look back here in about 2 weeks)
Q Jennifer in Big Rapids, MI: When you find blood in your raw eggs what does that mean and should you use it in cooking?
A I never use the eggs if they have blood in them.
Q Joyce in Grandview, MO: My mother reads your column in the Ottawa (Ks) Herald. She said some time ago you published a pastry recipe called "Nothings." She has misplaced that recipe and wants to know if you could send it to me to give to her as she is not on-line. Thank you.
A This is the recipe for nothings, which are served at weddings in this area. The pastries are stacked upon one another, so they are decorative as well as tasty.

NOTHINGS
1 egg
3 cookspoons (large kitchen spoons) of cream
pinch of salt
Enough all-purpose flour to make a stiff dough
Shortening

Beat the egg and then stir in cream and salt. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Work it with your hands well. Divide dough into 6 or 7 balls and roll out real flat. VERY thin. The cut 3 slits into each flat piece of dough. Have a kettle of hot lard or Crisco ready and one by one drop the dough in. Remove when golden. Sprinkle sugar on them and stack on a plate.

Q Marsha in Arcola, IL: How deep must rhubarb be planted and what tips can you give me for growing large healthy rhubarb plants.
A It depends on how big the plants are. You just need to plant them deep enough so that the roots are covered.
Q Elizabeth in Elizabethtown, Pa requested a recipe for chicken corn soup.
A Elizabeth - nice name - I do have that recipe, it's a favorite around here
and not hard to prepare.

CHICKEN CORN SOUP

4 pounds roasting chicken - cut up
2 teaspoons salt
dash of pepper
1 /4 teaspoon saffron
1 stalk celery, with leaves
1 whole onion, peeled
1 cup medium noodles
2 packages (10 ounce size), frozen whole kernel corn (we use corn from our garden)
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
2 quarts water

Rinse chicken well in cold water. Place in a 4 quart kettle along with 2 quarts of water, saffron, salt, pepper, celery, and onions. Bring to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer - covered one hour or until chicken is tender. Skim off fat. Lift out chicken. Let chicken cool slightly. Then remove celery and onion and discard. Remove chicken from bones and cut into bite size pieces. Return chicken to broth, bring to boiling. Add noodles and corn and boil for 20 more minutes. If necessary add a little bit more salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add parsley and eggs to the soup just before serving. Makes 6 to 8 delicious servings.

Q Dorothy in Brandon, Manitoba writes: I am a new mother, I was wondering what your opinion regarding breast-feeding?
A Very good, it's the best nutrients for a baby.
Q Alan in Brookline, MA requested Elizabeth's recipe for Aunt Hilty's cinnamon
rolls.
A These rolls go good around here, especially for breakfast. Everyone seems to enjoy them.

AUNT HILTY'S CINNAMON ROLLS

1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 packages of dry, active yeast
1/2 cup warm water
6 cups flour
3 eggs

Scald 1 1/2 cups milk. Add two teaspoons of salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Add two packages of yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water and let stand five minutes. Add to above mixture. Add three beaten eggs and then three cups of flour. Mix. Add three cups more flour. Let raise to double bulk. Roll out and spread with melted margarine. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and then cinnamon. Roll-up. Cut up about 3/4 to one inch width. Let rise. Bake in hot oven (about 350), five to seven minutes. Frosting can be added.

Q Julie in Floyds Knobs, Indiana requested a "dinner roll" recipe from Elizabeth.
A These are simple to prepare and the ones we fix most often around here.

QUICK DINNER ROLLS

2 cakes of yeast (or 2 packages of dry yeast)
1 /4 cup of lukewarm water
1 1 /4 cups of milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 /2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Milk sugar, salt, and butter should be put into a pan over the oven and heated to lukewarm. Add yeast and flour and stir until blended. Put in a warm place for 15 minutes. Turn out on a floured board and press to 1 inch thickness. Cut out circles. Fold dough over bits of butter. Place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise 15 minutes and bake 10 minutes in a 350 oven.

Q Gwen in Indianapolis asks: Can you please tell me how to make cottage cheese? My Grandmother used to make it, but I've forgotten how she did it. Thank you.
A Gwen - Let your milk sour. Heat it, but don't boil it, only hot. Cool off and strain. I like to add salt and pepper to my taste.
Q Netra in Tacoma, Washington wrote to Elizabeth asking about the proper way to freeze garden-grown vegetables.
A "We only freeze certain items, others just don't freeze well. Strawberries, raspberries and cherries freeze well. We roll them in sugar, seal them in empty 2 to 3 quart plastic ice cream containers. These seal well. Other fruits don't freeze so well.

Vegetables such as radishes and hot peppers just don't seem to freeze well, but green beans and corn keep nicely in the ice-box. We steam green beans and corn first in a kettle, let it cool, and then seal and freeze it. These are good ways to keep certain fruits and vegetables, but for most of our produce we home-can it. It keeps this way much longer, and fresher.

Q My daughter loves sugar cream pie at a local restaurant. I cannot find a recipe that tastes like it does there. Do you have a recipe for sugar cream pie? Eileen - Westville, USA
A Eileen, having tasted Elizabeth's sugar cream pie a time or two, I can attest first-hand that it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Elizabeth's recipe is below - Kevin Williams, editor

SUGAR CREAM PIE

1 cup white sugar
1 /2 cup flour
2 /3 cup brown sugar
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cream
1 /8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 /2 teaspoon vanilla
unbaked pie shell

Combine sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in boiling water. Then add cream, nutmeg, and vanilla. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 40 minutes.

Q Do you have a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies? Mary, Bloomsburg, PA
A Is this the recipe you want?

OATMEAL-RAISIN COOKIES

3 cups lard
6 eggs
6 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons soda
1 /2 tablespoons vanilla
6 cups whole wheat flour
12 cups oatmeal
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon salt

Mix together and put into rolls and chill overnight. Cut 1/8 inch thick and bake in preheated 350 degree oven till golden. About 10 minutes. Delicious!

Q Would you please tell me a good recipe for noodles? Linda, Pendleton, Indiana
A There are many different recipes for noodles. Homemade noodles are a time-consuming tradition handed down from generation to generation among Amish families. Each family has their own distinct recipe. Unfortunately, it's a tradition which is not as common as it used to be. When I was a little girl, all the mothers fixed homemade noodles, rolling them out and letting them dry out on racks. It would always be an exciting day when mother would fix noodles. This is a recipe which goes good around here and  is easy to make:

HOMEMADE NOODLES

9 eggs
6 cups flour or more
1 teaspoon salt
1/ 2 cup water

Mix together well. Knead until nice and smooth. Dough should not be sticky. Roll out and cut into width of noodles desired. Let set all day and you'll have dried noodles! A hand-cranked noodle maker is so handy to do noodles.

Q We ate pineapple-pecan pie with a custard-like filling baked in a single crust at Middleberry, Indiana, would like the recipe if you know it. Thanks. Helen, Greenfield, Indiana
A I'm not certain what that recipe would be. We have a pecan-pineapple pie recipe that we use to make for gatherings after church services, maybe this is what you are looking for? - Elizabeth

PINEAPPLE-PECAN PIE

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend together the cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and vanilla. Gently stir in pineapple, pour into pie crust. Sprinkle pecans over cream cheese mixture. Blend together the 3 eggs, corn syrup, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla. Pour over pecan layer. Place on lower rack of oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until center is firm. Makes one 9 inch pie

Q Could I please have the vegetable soup recipe that was in your article a couple of weeks ago in the Indianapolis Star. Thank you. Penny, Indianapolis
A Here is the recipe:

HOMEMADE VEGETABLE SOUP

1 quart potatoes
1 quart carrots
1 quart celery
1 quart corn
1 quart peas
1 quart onions
1 quart soup beans
6 to 7 quarts tomato juice
1 cup elbow spaghetti
1 /2 cup brown sugar
1 1 /2 pounds hamburger
1 tablespoon chili powder

Mix together and cold pack for 90 minutes in pressure cooker (10 pounds of pressure). Makes around 15 quarts of soup.

Q I just returned from my first trip to the Midwest, specifically, Northern Indiana. I made a trip to Shipshewana and was very fascinated by the lifestyle of the Amish people. Is it possible to find an Amish girl/woman to write to, i.e., pen pal? Thank you, Dawn.
A Dear Dawn:

Elizabeth has received lots of questions concerning Amish pen pals through the years. This is a tough one because the fact is, non-Amish people find the Amish a lot more fascinating than they find us. So the interest level often just is not there. Throw in the fact that the Amish lifestyle, by its very nature, stresses as little contact with the outside world as possible, and finding an Amish pen pal is even tougher. The best advice I can give you, or anyone else, is to get a copy of "The Budget", that's the official newspaper of the Amish-Mennonite community. You can put a classified ad in there seeking a pen-pal, or sometimes there are even Amish who will have ads of their own in there seeking a pen-pal simply as a means of cultural exchange. The address and phone number of the Budget is:

Budget Publishing
134 Factory St NE, 
Sugarcreek, OH 44681-9301 
Phone: (330)852-4634 

Good luck!

Kevin Williams, editor

Q Your article yesterday mentioned green tomato pickles. Will you give us your recipe? Carol, Oxford, Ohio
A
GREEN TOMATO PICKLES

Onions (chopped) or however
Green tomatoes, large chunks, it's good to have plenty of tomatoes
Hot or sweet peppers (or use both)
Sugar
Vinegar
Pickling spice
Package of Mrs. Wages sweet pickle mix (do as directions say)

Cook till they change color. Put in jars while hot & seal. You can mix to your taste.

Editor's note: While Elizabeth's directions are not too specific in this recipe, I have sampled some of these on my November 17, 2000 visit to the Coblentzes and they are delicious! A good, sweet taste.

Q One of my elderly neighbors used to make green apple relish. I was wondering if you might have the recipe for this. Louise, Kokomo, Indiana
A A delicious relish!

GREEN APPLE RELISH

Dice the following fruit and vegetable combination: 2 green apples, 1 red apple, 1 small yellow bell pepper, 1 pear, 1 fresh peach and 1 fresh apricot. Sprinkle with a few raisins and lightly toss with 1\4 cup of apple cider. Refrigerate any unused portion.

Q I would like to know if you have the recipe for "Apple Butter made in a large cooker in the oven?" Thank you for your help, Miriam, Richmond, Indiana
A I have a recipe which goes good around here, I hope it might be what you are looking for.

OVEN APPLE BUTTER

20 cups applesauce (no sugar, we make homemade, but you can use store bought)
12 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar
6 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves

Mix all together. Put in roaster with lid on oven at 350 for 3 hours. After 1 1/ 2 hours in oven, stir only once. Makes about 10 pints. Very good and easy to make.

Q I have heard of recipes for fried pickles. As I love pickles I am curious if you have any recipes for fried pickles. What type of pickle would work best? Are these like fried green tomatoes? Carol, Milton, Pennsylvania
A Fried pickles is a favorite around here. They are similar to fried green tomatoes, but with a different, sweeter taste. When the cucumbers in the garden get bigger we pick them0¥Ïa bigger cucumber works best for fried pickles. Slice them up and then roll them in flour. Fry them in butter or lard until they are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Q Do you have a recipe for Amish Church Peanut Butter? Pat, Bainbridge, Indiana
A We make a peanut butter spread for church. Mix equal parts Karo corn syrup, marshmallow cr̬me and peanut butter. Some spread it on a slice of bread to eat, while others make a sandwich out of it. Hope this is what you were looking for!
Q Does Elizabeth have any suggestions on how to control Mexican bean beetles in the garden? Each year my beans are ravaged by these pests. How about Japanese beetle larvae in the yard, prior to them hatching into beetles. I am considering Milky spore, but I have a large area and I'm concerned about my wife's allergies. Terry, Springfield, Ohio
A Elizabeth: I always like to grow marigold flowers in my garden. Keeps a lot of stuff out. They just don't like the marigolds. I put rows through my garden. My daughter Leah puts rows through her garden and then plants them surrounding the outside border of her whole garden. Seems to keep all kinds of pests away. I hope this helps.
Q How do the Amish celebrate Christmas? What kind of decorations do you put up? Susan, Ossian, Indiana
A CLICK HERE TO GO TO EDITOR'S DESK ABOUT AMISH CHRISTMAS
Q In today's column, I noticed that Elizabeth put oil in the pan to brown her ground meat. I learned a long time ago to sprinkle salt in the bottom of my cast iron skillet, turn the burner on medium heat. No need to add extra shortening to the skillet or pan. Marilyn, Culver, Indiana
A Elizabeth: Depends on the meat. Hamburger that doesn't have a lot of fat in it, I have to add a little oil, but most I don't use oil or lard.
Q What is your pecan pie recipe? Dena, Bedford, Indiana
A Hope this helps!

PECAN PIE

3 /4 cups sugar
3 /4 cups corn syrup
1 /2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
1 /2 cup pecans

Mix and spoon into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 until done.

FANCIER PECAN PIE

1 cup of white corn syrup
1 /2 cup of brown sugar
1 /4 cup of melted butter
1 /3 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine syrup, sugar, salt, margarine, and vanilla. Mix well. Add eggs. Pour into 9 inch pie shell. Sprinkle pecans over the whole mixture. Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes.

Q A reader wrote in asking for a recipe for "yellow pickled eggs."
A I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but this is a good recipe:

PICKLED DILL EGGS

12 hard-cooked eggs, shelled
1 medium onion, sliced thin
3 /4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 1/ 4 cup vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 /4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, halved
1 /2 teaspoon mustard seed

Pack eggs and onion in 1-quart or larger jar. Bring other ingredients to a boil. Then simmer 5-7 minutes. Pour over eggs. Chill 3 days before serving.

Q Linda in Thornville, Ohio wrote in asking for an angel food cake recipe: "Could you please give me your recipe for angel food cake. I make it quite often and it just never gets as high as the ones I buy in Amish country and never tastes as good either."
A Here is a good recipe for this cake:

AMISH ANGEL FOOD CAKE

1 1/4 cups of sifted cake flour 
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 3/4 cups of sifted white flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of egg whites (about 10-11 eggs) 
1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar

Sift together flour and 3/4 cup of sugar twice. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla until foamy. Beat in remaining 1 cup of sugar - 2 tablespoons at a time. Stir vigorously until meringue holds stiff peaks that are glossy and moist. Divide flour and sugar mixture in 4 parts. With rubber spatula, gently fold each portion into meringue until flour and sugar mixture disappear. Push batter into ungreased 10 inch tube pan. Gently cut through batter once with a spatula to remove air bubbles. Do not lift it out of the batter while doing this.

Bake in moderate oven (375) for 35-40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger. Invert pan and let cake cool before moving.

Q Marlene in Dunkirk, Indiana wrote: Where do I put unpopped popcorn to keep it fresh? I have some just harvested this season and it seems to be stale.
A Editor's answer: Popcorn is a favorite snack at the Coblentz's. There's a good explanation of how Elizabeth and her family popcorn, how it's stored, and when it's eaten in her upcoming cookbook. But for those who don't want to wait, the answer as to how Elizabeth stores her popcorn is surprisingly simple. She keeps the unpopped popcorn in a ceramic cookie-jar on her kitchen counter. The heavy ceramic lid keeps it sealed in tightly. They keep a little plastic scoop inside to take out the popcorn for popping.
Q Your recipe for Chili Soup was published recently in our local newspaper, The Tacoma News Tribune. I clipped the recipe and served it to my family with cornbread, and they loved it! Unfortunately, I've lost the clipping and can't find it in the recipe archives. Would you mind terribly printing it here? - Rosy, Washington State
A Editor's answer: Rosy, this is a favorite in Elizabeth's household. It has a delicious zip to it, simple, yet elegant. Here is the recipe again:

SAVORY CHILI SOUP

2 pounds of hamburger
1 cup of chopped onion
2 quarts of tomato juice
1 1/2 quarts of water
1 quart of cooked kidney beans
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of chili powder
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon of red pepper (optional)
4 rounded tablespoons of cornstarch, enough to thicken to satisfaction

Saute onion and hamburger until brown. Drain grease. Warm tomato juice, sugar, chili powder, salt, and water to the boiling point. Save some water to dissolve cornstarch. Add hamburger and cornstarch and stir until thickened. Add beans. Cook for 5-10 minutes.

Q My Family and I love the Peanut Butter Cookies in the Amish Country and I was wondering if you could give me the recipe for them. - Carissa
A Editor's answer: I can attest from first-hand experience that Elizabeth's peanut butter cookies are mouth-meltingly delicious. I hope you enjoy them.

AMISH PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1 cup of shortening
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix the above ingredients until smooth. Drop by teaspoon onto a cookie 
sheet. Bake at 370 for 12 minutes. Makes 50 cookies.

Q Do you have the recipe for Cashew Crunch? I have tried it and it 
is delicious. - Andrea
A Editor's answer: I asked Elizabeth if she had heard of cashew crunch, and she had. But she didn't have a recipe for it and had never made it. She did say that she thinks one of the women in her church makes it sometimes. She'll try to get the recipe and if she does, she'll give to me, and I'll post it here. That will probably take about a month. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has a good cashew crunch recipe, email it to me at and I'll post it here with your permission.
Q A few years ago we were treated to a "Haystack Dinner" in Northern Indiana. We found the meal to be delicious and would like to have the recipe for it. - Kay, Greenfield, Indiana
A Editor's answer: Haystack suppers are a staple of Elizabeth's menu. They are most often prepared for birthdays or a young person's gathering. It's sort of considered a "fun" meal, because it's quick and easy, and everyone can layer in one of their favorite ingredients. This is a very, very simple recipe and there aren't many rules to making it, so have fun!

HAYSTACK SUPPER

Crushed saltine crackers
plenty of cooked hamburger
lettuce 
cooked spaghetti

Cheese sauce : Melt some American or cheddar cheese over low heat and gradually add milk to make a sauce.

Layer on top of each other in the order given in a bowl. Amount depends on how many people are eating. Pour cheese sauce over top and serve. Other ingredients (tomatoes, mangoes, etc. can be added in layers).

Q Please e-mail me the recipe for "nothings" that was in your article a few months ago when you wrote about a wedding. Thank you in advance. Pam, Knox, IN
A Editor's answer: Please go to "Editor's Desk" on the first page of this site and look under Editor's Desk (click Archives) and you'll see an entry entitled "Something Out of Nothing." The recipe for this traditional Amish pastry can be found there.
Q I would like to know if Mrs. Coblentz has a recipe for Donuts made from smash potatoes? A friend's mom use to make them but we don't have a recipe. Thank you. - Ruth, Hammond, IN 
A Editor's answer: This is a similar situation to the "cashew crunch" in the question above. Elizabeth had heard of the recipe and she thinks she knows someone in her community that makes these doughnuts. Check back here in about a month and I'll hopefully have the recipe. Meanwhile, if anyone else out there has one for this, please email it to me at with permission to post it for Ruth.
Q Do you have a recipe for Amish Onion Pie? We had it in a restaurant, however, they would not give us the recipe. - Terry, Bethlehem, PA
A This recipe goes good around here sometimes. My husband wasn't particularly fond of it, but I always liked it. Hope this is what you were looking for - Elizabeth Coblentz

AMISH ONION PIE

4 thick slices of bacon, diced
2 cups peeled and chopped yellow onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 tblsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f. Saute bacon. Drain most of the fat from the pan. Add the onions and saute until clear. Do not brown. Set aside to cool.

13 Feb 2001
Q When I lived in Ohio, I had the pleasure of eating Amish cooking many times and found it delicious. My question is: Would it be possible for you to post your recipe for biscuits and gravy. I have tried several times to make this and my dog won't eat it. Please help! - Glenn, Lake Ronkonkoma, New York
A Hope this helps!

BISCUITS

2 cups of sifted flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of sugar

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add remaining ingredients. Mix till smooth and drop by tablespoons on greased cookie sheet or fill 12 muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes at 375.

MOTHER'S SAUSAGE GRAVY

1 pound sausage
4 tablespoons flour
1 quart milk
salt and pepper

Brown sausage in an iron skillet. Pour off grease. Add the flour and brown lightly. Add milk and stir until smooth. Bring to a boil and add more milk until the desired consistency or thickness. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Q Other than color what is the difference between lima beans and
butter beans? - Julie, Hartford City, Indiana
A I am sorry, I just don't grow those often. I usually grow green beans, that's the favorite here. Anyone else out there know?
Q I love reading your articles in the Kokomo Tribune. I make sure I buy it on Monday just to read your articles. You once gave a recipe for taco pie. I lost it, please give it to me. My child even loved it. I think it took bisquick and sour cream and mayonnaise. Also lettuce, tomatoes and such. Please help me. - Tammy, Kokomo, Indiana
A This recipe for deep dish taco squares sounds like what you are wanting, it goes good around here!

DEEP DISH TACO SQUARES

pound ground beef (browned)
pound medium tomatoes (chopped)
cup green peppers (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)

Crust:
1 cup Bisquick
cup water

Press into 8 X 8 pan and put layers on top.

Topping: Mix together cup sour cream, 1/3 cup salad dressing. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Q I would like for Elizabeth to visit in our area, Caitlin, Illinois, six miles southwest of Danville.
A Editor's answer: Public appearances by Elizabeth are rare. She may do a book signing or two this fall when her first nationally published cookbook is released. While I am not as good as the real thing, I make myself available to speak to various groups about the Amish or Elizabeth when requested.
Q In a recent recipe for banana bread you called for "sour milk." What do you mean by that. Please explain. Thank you! - Linda, Newton, New Jersey
A Let milk sour and if not on hand you can add a small amount (tablespoon per cup) of vinegar to the milk to get the same taste. Adding vinegar will sour the milk. Sour milk makes a good taste in some breads, it gets thick and makes them moist. At home, mother would let the milk sour and skim the cream off the top for a homemade sour cream. Never drink sour milk, but good for baking. Hope this helps!
Q We are looking for a recipe for Amish German chocolate pie. Thank you. - Sue, Marshall, Michigan.
A We have a recipe for an Amish chocolate pie that is well-received here. I hope this is what you were looking for:

AMISH CHOCOLATE PIE
1 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup milk (set aside separately)
1 cup sugar
teaspoon salt
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat 1 1/3 cups milk. While this is heating, mix 2/3 cup milk, sugar, salt, cocoa, egg yolks, and cornstarch. When milk is hot, mix into milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes and add: 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon oleo butter. Stir another 2 minutes. Pour into pie crust and cool.

Q Is the Amish Cook column carried anywhere near the Quad Cities? - Barbara
A Editor's answer: No. The closest newspaper to the Quad Cities to carry the column is Quincy, Illinois. Call the editors at the Quad Cities Times or the Rock Island Argus and ask them to carry the column.
Q Several readers have asked about Clear-Jel, a thickening used in pie fillings. Elizabeth and many Amish women order Clear-Jel from catalogues or buy it from small country stores. Clear-Jel can also be used in jams, preserves, etc.
A Following is some information from: Reynolds, Susan and Paulette Williams. So Easy to Preserve. Bulletin 989. Cooperative Extension Service, the University of Georgia. Revised by Elizabeth Andress and Judy Harrison (1999).

Obtain your Clear Jel before assembling the fruit and other ingredients to make these pie fillings. In most areas, mail order is the only source. Clear Jel may be mail ordered from either Home Canning Essentials (Alltrista), 1-800-392-2575 or Sweet Celebrations, 1-800-328-6722. Call for prices and shipping and handling costs. There are about 3 cups in 1 pound of Clear Jel. The fruit pie filling recipes take about 1 to 2 cups Clear Jel per 6 to 7 quarts of pie filling. For more information on home canning, contact your local Extension agent.

Q A reader asked about the windmills that often dot the countryside in Amish country. The windmills operate water pumps. The reader wanted to know where she could obtain such a windmill.
A Elizabeth said that the windmill at her farm was put up decades ago and the company that put it up - using 8 men to erect the tall structure - is no longer in existence. A good place to find companies that do business among the Amish is "The Budget", the official newspaper of the Amish community, which features writers and advertisers. To obtain a copy, contact:

Budget Publishing
134 Factory St NE,
Sugarcreek, OH 44681-9301
Phone: (330)852-4634

Q Editor: I have lost my copy of Elizabeths recipe for zucchini casserole. If its not too much trouble, I would love for you to post a copy of it on the internet. Thanks so much. - Pat, Bonifay, Florida.
A Here is Elizabeths zucchini casserole recipe. Its delicious! - Kevin Williams, Editor

ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE

3 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup Bisquick
1 /2 cup cooking oil
1 /4 cup onion
1 /2 cup cheese
4 eggs
parsley to taste
salt and pepper

Beat eggs, oil, and seasonings until well mixed. Add the rest, and stir. Pack into a casserole dish and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Delicious!

Q I work with an agency that produces materials for people who are blind or visually impaired. Over 70 percent of our staff is also blind or visually impaired, and they all use very hi-tech devices to get along in their daily lives. Our office uses such things as talking computers, high magnification devices, and computerized embossers to produce the necessary Braille material. Several of us are ardent fans of The Amish Cook and we have been wondering how people who are Amish and are also in need of such special devices cope with their physical limitations would fare in their culture. - Carol
A Thank you for reading Elizabeths column. I took your question to her, because I found it interesting. Elizabeth commented that there are Amish people that she knows who are blind. They read with standard Braille texts. Elizabeth also told me: " A first cousin of mine was blinded at age 12. He makes wastebaskets to sell. Even though he has to sight, his surroundings are so familiar to him that he is able to walk out to the barn and do the milking without help." Elizabeth says that, like any Amish person who is afflicted with a physical limitation, the people usually finds themselves surrounded by a web of support, both family and community. I am always awed by this sense of community that leaves no one out. - Kevin Williams, Editor
Q I have been looking for a recipe for tomato gravy which my mother made with squirrel and rabbit. Would you have such a recipe? I really enjoy your column in the Monday editions of The South Bend Tribune. - Fred, Buchanan, Michigan
A That is a family favorite. When the children we small, we served this all the time. Place 1 quart of tomato juice in a kettle and bring to a boil. Then add a thickening of 2 tablespoons flour mixed with milk and add to the boiling water, stirring constantly until it boils and is thickened. It may be served with bread, toast, or crackers. I made this a lot while the children were young for dinner as they liked it very well. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Some like a little sugar added to it. So do it however you like it. - Elizabeth Coblentz
Q Do you have any suggestions for keeping deer from eating all my flowers and bushes in my back yard? I have a 4 fence between the woods behind my property and my backyard, but they must jump it as I see hoof prints and my flowers are chewed to a stubble. Please help if you can. Thanks so much. - Sue
A I took your email to Elizabeth. She said that she rids her garden of deer which are plentiful in her area by sprinkling mothballs generous throughout the area you wish to protect. "The deer dont like mothballs so it keeps them away," Elizabeth says. Try it, and let us know if you get any results! - Kevin Williams, Editor

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