Editor's Note: When most people think of the Amish they envision a farm, horse-drawn buggies, and long Sunday services, but the Amish are like most people when it comes to vacations. Whether it is visiting the Grand Canyon or Pikes Peak, spending time at a lake, or visiting the ocean, many Amish are avid travelers and vacationers. In fact, there is a community in Florida called Pinecraft (a suburb of Sarasota) that is used as a winter haven for “Amish snowbirds” to escape during the cold winter. Buses load up with Amish vacationers up north and take them to Pinecraft where the beach beckons. Gloria's family chose a closer locale for their vacation and she tells us about it this week.
How about taking a peek into our little nook down here on Lake Barkley in western Kentucky?
On Monday afternoon we, along with my husband's brother, John, his wife, Virginia, their three children and another friend, Owen Mast, arrived here for a time of relaxation and fellowship. Earlier this spring we had made reservations for a house on a cove on Lake Barkley. Now, at long last, the day had finally arrived. The children's excitement escalated as our van driver drove into our lane to take us to our long-awaited vacation. A large enclosed trailer was also taken along to accommodate all kinds of things such as our seven kayaks, fishing lines, our bicycles, plenty of food for a two-week stay, our new charcoal grill, then also things like softballs, bats, gloves and other toys for the children.
To the children it seemed like the 200-mile drive would never end. Once we finally did get there a van full of excited children (and adults) eagerly explored the house and ran down to the lake excited to see what our new surroundings would be like.
By the way, you might be surprised to hear that we took a vacation. I wasn't sure about going at first. When I was a little girl, we'd sometimes go camping, but never a two-week trip as a family. A two-week vacation, at first, seemed frivolous. Couldn't we be doing something more valuable than eating, sleeping and having fun? But then my sister-in-law pointed out to me that this can also be a time of “investing” in our family. You can spend time with your husband and your children in ways you can't at home, she pointed out. It was exactly what I needed to hear and from then on that is how I looked at the trip, I knew I had a reason then just pampering myself.
The days to come were filled with many fishing trips on the lakes with kayaks as well as swimming, grilling and simply spending time relaxing together.
The first evening stands out as one of my favorite in my treasure chest of memories. I'll share several sentences out of my diary to give you a little peek:
Monday evening: we are safe and sound. The rental house is nothing fancy, but very sufficient. After supper, Daniel and I went on a walk. It was so beautiful down by the lake with the quietness of the water and the full moon. Of course we ended up going out on the lake with the kayaks. It was all so amazing: the moon, the fluffy clouds, the quietness of the evening, the man beside me, and most of all, the goodness of God. It all really seemed too good to be true.
Another thing that I enjoyed was spending time with our children Julia and Austin and watching them interact with their cousins. Playing in the sprinkler, having water fights, playing school and having story-time were among their favorite activities, next to spending time on the lake.
Food was something we certainly didn't lack. The children loved digging through Owen's tote full of snacks and other goodies or his boxes filled with juices and drinks.
Virginia and I also took along a large variety of food such as burgers, chicken, cookies, yogurt and supplies to make pancakes, s'mores, smoothies and the list goes on. So we didn't go overboard on the junk food, Virginia came loaded with all kind of healthy treats such as homemade crackers, dips, sugarfree chocolate candies to name a few.
Today she made the most amazing pizza on the charcoal grill. Mmm, every bite had that tantalizing barbecue flavor in it.
One of our favorites she made was hot taco salad. It is quite simple, yet tasty. Virginia told me this is a dish she makes quite frequently for her family.
HOT TACO SALAD
1/2 head lettuce, cut-up
8 ounces sour cream
2 tomatoes, diced
8 ounces shredded cheese
Taco-flavored corn chips, crushed
Stack onto your plate in the order given above. Recipes for the hamburger mixture and homemade dressing are below.
1 pound hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 16-ounce can kidney beans
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hot sauce
4 ounces Thousand Island dressing
Fry hamburger with onion and salt and then stir in other ingredients.
HOMEMADE “THOUSAND ISLAND” DRESSING
1 cup salad dressing (like Miracle Whip)
2 tablespoons pickle relish
1 tablespoon catsup
1/2 onion chopped
Gloria is an Amish mom, housewife and writer in rural Illinois. Readers with culinary or cultural questions can write her at: PO Box 157, Middletown, OH 45042. The Amish Cook has been publishing weekly since 1991. The column's creator and editor is Kevin Williams. To learn more about the column visit www.amish365.com/about.