The Amish and Summer Birding (and a bonus recipe)

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I caught a picture of this little gal (Ruby-Throated Hummingbird) at my porch this morning which got me thinking about how hummingbirds are really popular among the Amish. The Amish and bird-watching would seem to be a natural fit and in some places it is.  I attend with annual Adams County, Ohio Amish Birding Symposium.  The event brings together the Amish and some of the nation’s premiere birders. It’s an awesome event.  Birding seems to be really popular among the Amish in Holmes County, Ohio.  It’s a cheap (well, it can be…if you start buying spotting scopes the price tag goes up) and accessible hobby for the Amish.  There is even an Amish-owned optics store (Time & Optics) in Holmes County that specializes in binoculars and other bird-watching gear.  Even in settlements where bird-watching isn’t too popular, hummingbirds seem to be an exception.  Many Amish homes I visit have hummingbird feeders hanging on their porch, often multiple feeders. This is an Amish home in Flat Rock, Illinois that is very typical among the Amish who love the fast-fluttering little birds. “The hummingbirds seem very thick around here this summer,” an Amish woman told me last year.  So they’ll come in droves to properly maintained feeders.  Another favorite bird even among just casual Amish birds are purple martins. It’s common to see “purple martin condos” outside of an Amish farrmhouse, like this rather elaborate looking one at an Amish home outside of Flat Rock.    This post also got me thinking about “Hummingbird Cake.”  Um…no, not using my beautiful Mr. Hummingbird above…but just thought I’d make this post a “two for one”:), so you get a recipe also.  This recipe is popular among Amish especially in southern settlements.  Not sure why they call it Hummingbird Cake…anyone know?

3½ c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1½ t. cinnamon
1½ c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
8 oz. crushed pineapple, undrained
1 t. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1½ t. vanilla
2 c. crushed bananas
1 c. nuts
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
3-4 c. powdered sugar

In a bowl, combine flour, soda, and cinnamon. Cream together oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs. Blend in dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake at 350° F. for 25-30 minutes; cool. For frosting, cream together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar to reach desired consistency. Spread over cooled cake.

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The Discussion

  1. There are several different theories about the origination of the name for Hummingbird cake. Some say that the cake is so delicious it makes you hum with happiness while others think the cake is named because it’s sweet enough for hummingbirds. Another theory is that people hover around the cake similar to the way hummingbirds hover around flowers. notes that perhaps it was named after the way the cake draws people in and is eaten quickly, similar to the eating pattern of those tiny energetic fliers.

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  2. Kentuckylady717 says:

    Sounds delicious….have you eaten this cake ? Maybe you can get your wife to make you one….or better yet, you cook don’t you ? Then maybe you can bake her one LOL….Let us know if you bake it ? :)

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  3. Charlotte says:

    Love this cake!!! I recommend that you all try it.

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