Trying to decide who to take to Elizabeth's for a meal this Spring was a tough, tough choice. The Amish Cook column will be 10 years old in 2001. The column would not be possible without the kindness, warmth and support of Elizabeth's readers. So in celebration of her decade of columns, I wanted to invite a reader to join me in a meal at Elizabeth's house. The meal is tied in with the coming cookbook of Elizabeth's.

I wanted readers to send in notes telling me why they would like to visit Elizabeth, and you did not disappoint. There were wonderful missives from readers in all corners of the country. Several touching letters from Tacoma, some Pennsylvania poignancy, some Florida good cheer. It was tough. A common theme among the letters was: the Amish represent a living link between today and another time, a simpler era, when the chaos of computers and cars were non-existent and life seemed less stressed. The Amish represent a more tender time of family, faith, and fellowship.

Vicky of Kokomo, Indiana summed up the thoughts of many in her letter:

I really enjoy spending time there. The pace is much slower. I also admire the Amish in their loyalty to their beliefs.

I want to save these entries and perhaps pick another person another day to join me. But in the end, I also had to think of who Elizabeth would be inspired by. And the idea of a spry 90-year-old who still home-cans and enjoys the garden was intriguing to me. A 90-year-old woman represents the same living link that the Amish represent. Elizabeth really respects and is inspired by senior citizens who remain active and engaged their whole, full lives. So it is with great pleasure that I invite Pat Dyson of Albion, Indiana and her 90-year-old mother to join me for a meal at Elizabeth's. I think Pat's mother sounds like a real inspiration to living a full, active life.

All of you who did participate will be receiving a nice treat in the mail next year: a signed copy of Elizabeth's newest cookbook, which you already paid for when you entered. It is currently slated for a summer release. This cookbook will be unlike any previous ones Elizabeth has written: it will be packed with color photos (no people photos), cultural stories, and simple, yet elegant recipes.

Once again, my thanks to everyone who participated. I hope to do it again someday.

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures

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