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Amish Oatmeal Bread

Hand-made loaves of bread are a dying art.  For awhile hand-made artisian breads really made a come back, but then the Adkins Diet came along and quashed the trend.  Even though bread has regained a foothold in the American diet again, people just don't seem to have time to craft a great loaf of handmade bread anymore.  Heck, we've got a bread machine sitting on our kitchen counter and we hardly even use THAT.   The Amish, however, are still avid bread-bakers.  An exception might be for a church gathering when baking 50 loaves of bread might be an impossibility.   In fact, on more than one occasion I've been sent by an Amish person to Aldi's or the Butternut Thrift Store with a shopping list of 80 loaves of bread. Talk about strange looks from the cashier.  "Amish church," I mutter.

Anyway, a variation on the standard white bread recipe many Amish use is a delicious oatmeal-based bread.   For those who have the time to try, I promise you'll be deliciously rewarded with this recipe (excuse the funky font, a computer glitch)!


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 (1/4-ounce ) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 9 to 10 cups bread flour




In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, and butter. Pour the boiling water over the top and mix. Let cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add to the oat mixture. Add enough bread flour to make an elastic dough and knead thoroughly until smooth. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn once so it's greased lightly on top. Cover with a loose piece of cheesecloth or plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until double (about 2 hours).

Punch the dough down, then re-cover and let rise again until nearly double (about 90 minutes). Divide the dough evenly into 4 balls and shape into loaves. Place each loaf in a greased loaf pan, cover, and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise again until nearly double (about 90 minutes). Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, until the loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.

Makes: 4 loaves

Cabbage Casserole

The name of this casserole sounds kind of gross, but it's not a bad dish.  It's kind of like a "cabbage roll casserole", it's a hearty, good recipe with a gross-sounding name (unless you love cabbage and then it probably sounds like Nirvana).  Try this delicious recipe from Lovina's late mother:


Cabbage Casserole

    3 cups fresh cabbage, shredded
    1 pound hamburger, sautŽed and drained
    3/4 cup diced onion
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
    10 1/2-ounce can tomato soup
    1 soup can water
    1 cup cooked rice
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  • Shred cabbage and place in a greased 2-quart casserole. Mix in meat and onions. Then stir in rest of ingredients, except cheese. Stir the whole casserole well. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Top with cheese before serving.

Egg In The Nest....

There are other names for this recipe and regional variations, but they are all basically the same in their simplicity, flavor, and premise.  This is a favorite breakfast dish for the Eicher children to eat before school and - if you have a large skillet - is quick to prepare multiple servings.   One thing that often amazes me about Lovina if you try to compare her or other Amish homemakers to the "John & Kate Plus Eights" or the Duggars of Discovery Health or other large TV  families.....imagine trying to get six, seven, or eight children off to school without any of the modern conveniences we all enjoy.  In Lovina's house there is no toaster, no microwave, no electric coffeemaker, dishwasher, or's all very hands-on.  Okay, for a good, quick breakfast, try this!


4 tablespoons margarine or butter
4 slices bread
4 eggs

Spread margarine on both sides of each bread slice. Make a round hole in the center of each slice with the rim of a drinking glass. Place the bread slices in a skillet over medium heat. Crack an egg into each of one the holes. Toast the bread in the skillet until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. The egg will cook while the bread is toasting. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

The Amish Cook's Potato Salad

It seems everyone has their "favorite" homemade secret recipe for potato salad.  I have to admit, I love my grandma's potato salad.  It's a not very mustardy recipe. Some people prefer the zip that a very mustard-based salad offers.  I think what makes Lovina's potato salad so good is the "crunch" that the celery pieces give it.  But also the sweetness that the sugar provides. So if you don't have your own favorite potato salad concoction, try this one for the upcoming summer picnic season.  Um...I will say, skip the potato salad sandwiches.  Rachel and I were eating at a small diner alongside the Tamiami Trail in southern Florida in February and she ordered an egg salad sandwich.  Someone in the kitchen made a mistake and gave her a potato salad sandwich...eeew, very starchy....

3 hard-boiled eggs, cooled

    3 cups cooked, diced and chilled potatoes, with skins on

    ¾ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

    1 1/2  teaspoons yellow prepared mustard, such as French’s

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    1 /4 small onion, chopped fine

    3 /4 cup sugar 

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/ 2 cup chopped celery

    2 tablespoons milk


Peel the eggs and mash them with a potato masher in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Fresh Vegetable Pizza

When I first saw this dish at Lovina's Mom's house I thought to myself that it was "pizza sacrilege."  Pizza is supposed to be hot, greasy, cheese, and saucy, right?  Well...not always....I tasted this vegetable pizza with an open mind and found it to be a very pleasant surprise.  I think this pizza tastes especially good at Lovina's because all the vegetables she uses are fresh from her garden.


2 pkg crescent roll dough
2 pkg (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaises
1 pkg ranch dressing
1/2 cup chopped fresh cauliflower
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped fresh green pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh carrots
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato (optional)
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Press crescent rolls into jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool, set aside.

Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing. Spread over rolls; top with vegetables. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Cut into 12 or 24 squares. Refrigerate until ready to

Amish Onion Pie

I love onions, so the prospect of an onion pie is next to nirvana for me.  But even for those who don't like onions, you might like this pie.  It's a savory, hearty dish that can easily be a meal.  I love visiting Lovina's during "onion season" because there's a good chance she'll serving this dish.  Here is the recipe.


Amish Onion Pie

4 thick slices of bacon, diced

2 cups peeled and chopped yellow onion

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked

* Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sauté onion until clear and pour cooked onion into a large mixing bowl. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, chop and add to onion; mix well. Stir in sour cream. Beat eggs enough to break up yolks, then mix into pie mixture.

* Add flour to thicken mixture (onions will create a lot of water), then add salt. Mix well and pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with caraway seed if desired. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until onions start to turn golden brown on top.

Cheese Soup

Winter is more the time for hearty, meaty, potatoey type soups.  Now with the arrival of warmer weather I thought I'd share with you a favorite "summer soup" often served in Amish homes.  No it's not one of those cold soups.   Cheese soup is a nice, warm soup, but it's "light" in the sense that there aren't a ton of heavy ingredients and it's very quick and easy to make.  My visits to Lovina's house are often punctuated with a bowl of warm cheese soup in the summer.  Give it a try!


Cheese Soup

    1/4 cup onion, chopped
    3 tablespoons butter
    1/4 cup flour
    2 cups milk
    1 cup chicken broth
    1/2 cup shredded carrots
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    3/4 cup boiling water
    1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  • Cook carrots and celery until tender. Do not drain. Cook onion in butter just until tender. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk and broth. Cook and stir until thick. Stir in cheese and stir over low heat until cheese melts. Makes 6 servings.

Homemade Rhubarb Pudding

Rhubarbs are now coming out in full force in the midwest.  Because of it's versatility, hardiness, and simplicity in cultivation the plant is a favorite among Amish cooks.  This time of year rhubarb finds its way into shortcakes, spreads, jams, and desserts of all kids.  Some of you have said you don't like the tart taste of rhubarb or it bothers your digestive tract.  I'm with you on these points!  Lovina said some "city folk" never get used to rhubarb, which I took to mean it's something your body sort of accepts or not.  But there are ways to tame the tang and this recipe is one of them.

3 cups of chopped rhubarb

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup sugar

Mix above ingredients and place in a 6 X 10 baking dish.



1 cup of brown sugar

1 /2 cup shortening

1 /2 cup butter

1 1 /2 cups flour

1 cup oatmeal

Mix and sprinkle over rhubarb mixture and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Serve with milk or cream.

Red Beet Chocolate Cake

I've come to grudingly like beets over the past few years.  Rachel was trying some diet a few years ago that called for massive quantities of beets. So I found myself eating them by the can also, and they were pretty darn good. Beets are a staple in most Amish gardens and plates of pickled red beets are a mainstay at most after-church meals.  But, there is another, even tastier use for beets: in cake!!! Yum, this is a really, really smooth, moist, chocolately cake that Lovina makes from time to time during beet season. Sooo, as you plan your garden, make room for more can eat them for dessert! 

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups cooked, pureed, fresh beets
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Sifted confectioner's sugar


Mix flour, soda and salt. Set aside. Combine sugar, eggs and oil in mixing bowl. Stir vigorously (those who use electric mixers can use them here at medium speed for 2 minutes). Beat in beets, chocolate and vanilla.

Gradually add dry ingredients, beating well after each addition. Pour into buttered 9- by 13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cake tests done. (For testing, a toothpick, when inserted into center of cake, comes out clean.) Cool in pan. Cover and let stand overnight to improve flavor. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

P.S. You can put cream cheese icing on instead of powdered sugar.


The Amish Cook's Hot Ham Salad

Ham salad seems to be something that a lot of people have their own "secret recipes" for.  In my hometown alone there was a tiny Italian market that operated for years that was known for their legendary ham salad.  On the other side of town, another market was, and still is, known for their ham salad.  But for those of you who don't have your own "secret recipe", try Lovina's.  It really is a good one and with picnic season almost upon us, you might want to try it!



3 cups diced ham

2 teaspoons minced onion

3 /4 cup mayonnaise

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 /4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

1 /2 cup sweet pickle relish

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup crushed potato chips

Combine all ingredients except chips. Place in casserole.  Sprinkle potato chips on top. Bake covered for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Yield: 8 servings.