By Kevin Williams
One of the enduring scenes from the Harrison Ford classic movie, Witness, was of a barn-raising.
Barn-raisings make great TV and capture the public’s imagination when it comes to Amish culture, but the reality is that they are fairly rare occurrences. This is especially true in older more established communities where there’s little available land and the barns are already built. An illustration of this is the original Amish Cook, Elizabeth Coblentz, lived to age 66 and spent all of her years in the sprawling settlement outside of Berne, Indiana. In all those years she only attended one barn-raising. Of course if fire burns down a barn or someone just needs a new one built to replace an old one, then a barn-raising will occur. So if you’re expecting to cruise the roads of your favorite Amish settlement hoping to see a barn-raising, don’t hold your breath. But sometimes one gets lucky. My friends Margie and Fred from Hamilton, Ohio were planning a trip to Holmes County a couple of years ago and before they went we talked. The conversation went something like this.
Margie: “We would love to see a barn-raising.”
Me: “Don’t get your hopes up, such events are very rare, Mainly happens on TV.”
And, of course, Margie and Fred aren’t up there but a day visiting their Amish friends and they are invited to a barn-raising. But I stand by my statement that they are relatively rare events!
When there is a barn-raising food is a big part of it. The ladies and, yes, it is usually the ladies, whip up an awesome meal for the men (It would be almost unheard of it to see a woman participating in the manual labor). Usually such meals consists of a big, hearty casserole and this hamburger-potato casserole is a perfect example. Thanks to reader Patty in Terre Haute for giving it a shot and taking these photos for us.
- 4 cups potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 /8 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon parsley flakes
- 1 cup carrots thinly sliced, optional
- 1 pound hamburger
- 1 /2 cup cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¾ cup evaporated milk
- ¼ cup onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Mix together the first 4 ingredients and place in a 2 quart casserole.
- Combine the remaining ingredients and put on top of potatoes.
- Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.