The Amish Cook from Oasis Newsfeatures

Binder and Book

I was thrilled when my Dad found an original copy of An Amish Christmas in my old bedroom at my parents house.  The original Amish Christmas was sold back in 1992.  A local "mom and pop" printing shop would print the books and my Dad and I would bind them together and copies sold for $9.99 in some local stores and through the mail.  There aren't many of those originals still left, but we are offering a reprint/revised 20-year anniversary edition of An Amish Christmas for the next two weeks.  Click here to buy.  Anyway, this is one of these posts and photos that is probably special just to me (and perhaps my Dad), but this is the photo of the binder we bound the books onSmile.   The books and plastic comb binding and the binder operated using a lever. The original sold for $9.99.  The original copy that Dad found this week is pictured above with the binder.  I've heard from one reader in Eaton, Ohio who says she actually still has her original.

Snowy School Scene

This is another beautiful photo from David Shaner's collection.  A big thank you to him for letting us share in some of his beautiful work.  This is a photo of an Amish school taken in the Grabill area of Indiana.  What I like about this photo isn't the classic Amish imagery of a school-house.  The photo does depict a classic "one-room" Amish schoolhouse (most are actually more than a single room and can be rather spacious inside), but what really grabs me is just how much hardier Amish culture is than non-Amish.  Notice all the school-children bundled up and playing in the schoolyard? Most midwestern schools close when the slightest bit of snow is on the ground. I have heard of Amish schools being closed in rare instances, but that is not commond.  And when non-Amish public and private schools are in session, recess would usually be held inside in the gymnasium (okay, correct me, I might be wrong on that...since it was 30 years since I was a school-kid, I am surmising that is the case....).  These Amish children, though, simply bundle up and enjoy the outdoor elements. I love that about about Amish culture, an ingrained acceptance of whatever God and Mother Nature chooses to throw your way.  Just deal with it and enjoy it.  We could all learn from that!

Frozen Laundry

Well, the first meaningful snow of the season is about to blanket the Ohio Valley.  We are expecting 2 - 3 inches tomorrow followed by frigid weather.  Above is a gorgeous photo taken by photographer Dave Shaner around the Grabill, Indiana area.  I couldn't get the photo to be the perfect size, any smaller and you couldn't see the laundry, any larger and it took over the whole screen... Many Amish forgo outside line drying when the temperature gets too cold.  First of all, wet clothes on the line have a tendency to freeze and trying to clip laundry with a clothespin can be a prescription for frozen fingers.  So many Amish have either some lines in the cellar or some drying racks inside for clothing. Of course, you don't want to put the clothing too close to the stoves as that can be a fire hazard.  I remember visiting the late Elizabeth Coblentz and standing next to her coal-stove while wearing some of those stretchy, nylon running pants.  I very quickly had a hole melted in the pants.  In fact, many an Amish person has a patch in the rear of their denim jeans from standing too close to the stove!Smile  Enjoy the above photo, which, again, was taken near Grabill, Indiana.   It's a very typical winter scene in many ways, but, again, seeing laundry hanging in frigid weather is more rare, some very hardy fingers in that family.  Thanks again to Dave Shaner for sharing!


I couldn't find room for this recipe in the updated version of "An Amish Christmas", but it is still a neat recipe from the Amish Cook archives. So if you're looking for a different, delicious dessert for your holiday gathering, give this one a try.... The recipe calls for dates, which tells me the recipe was (this is very common) introduced to an Amish cook in the Berne area by a non-Amish person and the recipe just became very popular around the holidays.

3 /4 cup butter, softened

2 1 /2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 3 /4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sifted cake flour

1 /2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 /2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1 /2 cup milk

3 /4 cup egg whites, about 6

3 /4 pound dates, chopped

1 /2 cup walnuts or pecans

1 box powdered sugar

red and green candied cherries

Cream butter and 1 1 /2 cups sugar. Sift 2 3/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt together. Add alternately with 1 cup milk to sugar mixture; add 1 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract.  Beat egg whites and fold into batter. Bake in 3 9-inch pans in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Cool.  In a saucepan, cook dates and 1 /2 cup sugar with 3 /4 cup water until thickened. Remove from heat and add nuts. Cool.  Place one cake layer on plate and spread with 1 /2 date mixture. Add another layer  and spread with rest of date mixture. Place remaining layer on top. Beat shortening with remaining sugar, flour and milk ,and a pinch of salt. Frost top an sides. As soon as frosted spread top and sides with coconut. Decorate top with 5 red candied cheeries cut into poinsetta shape.  Use green cherrries for leaves and candided silver balls for the center.

Raising The Roof In Philly....

As the Amish have trended away from being an agrarian people (more so in some areas than others) to a service and shop culture, they have butted up against non-Amish workers.  This has caused a bit of a culture clash at times.  The Amish are often able to undercut competitors because they don't have to pay into social security when they are self-employed and some take religious exemptions from workers comp...sooo, this allows the Amish to greatly undercut non-Amish competitors.  I definitely understand the gripe from the non-Amish workers, but I'm not sure what to do about it...Level the playing field and if the Amish win on quality, speed and efficiency, so be it....Click here to read more.

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