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The Winter that Wasn't

It was a typical gray late winter day when I visited Elizabeths farm on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Well, almost typical. <SCRAPBOOK...>

Throughout much of the Midwest, this has been the winter that wasnt. Elizabeth cant remember a winter in all of her 65 years which has had as little snow as this one. She estimates theyve received about 3 of snow this whole winter. Normally, they would have had at least 15. Theres usually at least one good break out the sleigh snow per winter. But not this year. Often, during winter, the Amish of the upper Midwest will travel in Santa-style sleighs (minus the reindeer, horses are more practical). Its a fun change of pace from the usual horse-drawn buggy, and its an easier way to navigate snow-covered roads without getting stuck. But there has not been one occasion this winter that has been suitable for a sleigh.

Otherwise, our visit on Tuesday was a very typical one. Elizabeths youngest daughter, Susan, sat in a rocker most of the time sewing snaps onto her mothers dresses. The Amish in Elizabeths area are not permitted to have buttons on their clothes as they are considered too ornate and flashy. Silver snaps, though, are allowed.

Elizabeth sat in a rocker on one side of the coal stove. I stood on the other and talked to her, savoring the steamy warmth of the stove. Unfortunately, I stood too close and burned a penny-sized hole through my brand new jeans. This can happen even to the most experienced stove-users. Elizabeth often laughs at a time relatively recently when her late husband Ben stood with his back to the stove, enjoying the warmth. Within minutes, the fiery heat had eaten two holes, one on each side of the rear of his pants. So Elizabeth sewed two patches on the back of Bens pants.

Meanwhile, Elizabeths other daughter, Verena, was in the kitchen whipping us up a lunch of homemade potato soup, sausage patties, cheese sandwiches, and crackers. The sausage was homemade from a pig the Coblentzes had slaughtered recently, so it had a good, fresh smell. We had an enjoyable lunch together, and good conversation. Lunch was followed by a very delicious homemade bread pie which Elizabeth had made. The taste is an enjoyable blend of custard consistency and cinnamon spiciness. Its a quite simple recipe and is included following this column.

After lunch, I brought in a stack of emails that readers had sent in over the past month and Elizabeth and I began answering them. Her answers can be seen in the ASK ELIZABETH portion of this website.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and family are looking forward to a spring and summer of renewal. Babies are a blessing among the Amish, just like with anyone else. Elizabeths daughter Emma is expecting a child in May, and her daughter Lovina is due in July. So Elizabeth is enjoying this lull between the harshness of winter and the beginning of gardening and grandchildren time come Spring.

Here is the recipe for Poor Mans Bread Pie:

Crumbled bread, enough to fill a pie shell
1 unbaked pie shell (see Never Fail Pie Dough, page XXX)
5 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Crumble bread into an unbaked pie shell till bread comes even to the top of the crust. Add sugar, flour, and cinnamon, spreading it even over the top of the bread. Fill pie crust with milk. Bake at 375 until done. You can tell when the pie is done because it will be thick in the middle, you wont see any juice in the center of the pie. Serves 4 to 6

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures