By Kevin Williams
The Big Valley of Pennsylvania, more accurately known as the Kishacoquillas Valley, is a fascinating valley for those who study the Amish. A Washington Post article from 1994 (and I doubt, fundamentally, much as changed since then…the contours are still the same) describes the valley this way:
It’s all Amish and Mennonite. Hundreds of ’em. Been around for 200 years or more. But they’re not like your Lancaster Amish. There’s not much of that touristy stuff. These people here are real ‘shunners’ — keep to themselves — and they’re all different types. Peacheys, Bylers, Nebraskans, Zooks, Bean Soupers — you name it — each bunch does things their own way. Don’t have much to do with each other — and all in a little valley most folks have never heard of!”
One day I’ll make it there and really do some in-depth study of the Amish there. In the meantime, one of the next best things was to get my hands on a copy of the Big Valley Cookbook, printed by the Amish-owned Gordonville Print Shop.
My copy arrived yesterday and I’ve only just scratched the surface, but I like what I see. A lot of family recipes with deep roots. A recipe for “a loaf of bread for one”, simple offerings like “ham and carrots”, 10 different pumpkin pie recipes, just so, so much, most of it scratch-made.
MEAL IN ONE CASSEROLE
10 ounces of spinach
1 /2 stick butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 1 /2 cups shredded cheese
4 cups sliced, cooked potatoes
3 cups cooked ham (or 1 pound weiners)
another 1 /2 cup shredded cheese
Drain and chop spinach. Set aside. In a 2 quart sauce pan, melt butter. Blend in flour, stirring over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in milk. Return to heat and stir till boiling. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese until melted. Stir in spinach.
Put layers of potatoes, meat, spinach, and cheese mixture. Repeat layers ending with meat and potatoes on top. Sprinkle the 1 /3 cup cheese on top. Bake in preheated oven 350 to 40 degrees for 40 minutes.