THE AMISH COOK: Cozy winters with the Yoders
Winter months do have a twist all their own. For many of us Amish housewives, the quiet winter months are a time to catch up on sewing for our growing families. Just yesterday while sewing a shirt for Austin, I told Daniel who stepped in the house for a minute, “I forgot how much I enjoy sewing!” As odd as it may sound, it’s true. As a young girl, I could spend entire days, sewing dresses or coats for myself or my little sisters. Now my sister, Mary Grace, who is 20, can sew circles around me! Seriously, I don’t know of anyone who can sew as precisely and swiftly as she; bear with me, she’s my little sister you know, I just had to brag on her a little. This morning Mom told me she has quite a bit of sewing lined up to do for others, including six dresses, a couple of nightgowns, a few shirts, and 50 book bags. These will be used to be filled with school supplies and sent overseas for little children who don’t have what they need to go to school for even primary education. (My, we’re more blessed than I can imagine!)
Back to sewing. I’d take my little boys over leisure sewing time any day, but to be honest, at times I do miss not being able to sit down and sew to my heart’s content. Fourteen-month-old Jesse is as sharp as a tack when he hears the purr of the sewing machine and sees me seated by it, and he’ll drop what he’s doing and race over, reaching for mama to pick him up. I’m reminded of a song my mom used to sing of the work that needs to wait because Baby is growing up. Children don’t care about having the best and prettiest clothes; perhaps they think more practically and rationally than us adults often do! They simply want love.
Several church ladies have shared hand-me-downs over the past months, whittling my sewing list down considerably. What we often do, is have pants, shirts, dresses, and even jackets and coats in circulation for whoever needs them, rather than having everything on cold storage for years.
Now and then we really enjoy having matching outfits, like the shirts Mary Grace helped me sew this week. It was fabric we had purchased on our trip several years ago to the Philipines with Christian Aid Ministries (a mission group that sends Plain church members overseas to help build schools, feed the hungry, and more). And don’t tell Owen (my second cousin who is boarding at our house this winter), we asked Mary Grace to make a matching shirt for him. He does very well with the children, and they will love matching with him.
Another wintertime highlight around here is time spent together in the kitchen. The week before Christmas, Daniel and Owen helped make a large batch of cream sticks, enough for us to eat our fill and plenty to share with the neighbors. There are few things Julia and Austin enjoy more than helping me with cooking and baking Daddy’s favorites. A new recipe we’re tried this year was shared by our friends Dave and Michelle, who sent it with their Christmas card.
The kitchen rang with whoops of glee and delight as the children mixed up the butter, ice cream and flour with their hands. For once they were the ones that could dig into the dough with clean hands! That wasn’t all, next it was time to shape them into balls, then slightly flatten them and press a thumbprint in the center and fill the “pond” with jam! Whether you have children helping you or not, you’ll be sure to enjoy making these most unique cookies and sharing some!
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 cup vanilla ice cream
Mix softened butter and flour, then add ice cream. (If you have little ones helping you, you’ll be sure to get giggles from this part!) Chill until dough is slightly firm. Form into balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly and press a thumb print on top. Fill center with you choice of preserves. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Yields 20 cookies.