THE AMISH COOK
BY GLORIA YODER
Fall is here along with its beautifully colored leaves, the aroma of fields being harvested and cool, rainy days. Daniel wants to set up our coal stove this week to keep all of us nice and warm as the temperatures continue to drop.
A special thanks to Barbara from Mansfield, Ohio who sent a note concerning red beets. I always enjoy letters from readers. I couldn’t help but smile at your statement of being a beet freak. You certainly are not the only one. I love them and so does my family. Beets are definitely a thrifty and nutritious food. It was especially interesting to read that you’ve been eating beet sandwiches for 60 years. In response to your question about whether that is something we eat:
Many Amish churches serve cold ham and cheese sandwiches with peanut butter spread for the meal after church. Along with that many of them serve home-canned pickles and or red beets. I was intrigued by your suggestion of eating red beets on a sandwich with lettuce, onion and mayo. I’m eager to give that a try one of these days.
Hearing of your beet sandwiches reminded me of years ago when I was probably four or five years old. We were visiting another church where they served beets with their sandwiches. Obviously we didn’t have them as frequently in our church. I was especially fascinated how I could poke my fork into them to eat them.
Writing of what I did as a little girl after church reminds me of how I used to play with the other children after the services. We pretended to have our own little church. The long backless benches along with the little black German songbooks gave us the feel of being real grownups. One of the boys usually volunteered to stand up front and be our preacher.
Several years go one evening I overheard my 8 year old cousin preach at their “church.” Some of us cousins had been at Grandpa’s for the evening. My ears perked when I heard him preaching about God’s love.
“God’s love is like water in a pond,” he was saying “And it’s up to us to immerse ourselves into that love. We need to be like a weight sinking down into the water rather than like a bobber floating around on top.”
I was amazed and inspired over his insights.
Now I have a daughter (Julia, age 4) who loves when I play church with her. This morning she invited me to help her play. I walked beside her carrying her diaper bag as she pushed a cart with her dolls down the hallway on our way to church. We settled onto the couch and sang several songs including her favorite: “Little Children Praise the Lord.” Austin, age 1, was delighted to be involved as he sat on my lap happily clapping as we sang. Soon he scampered off my lap as he made his way to the front.
“Austin is preaching,” Julia whispered. Julia pretended to take notes at his sermon with her pen and little planner she had brought along.
Soon Austin had spotted Julia’s dolls that had supposedly been taking naps. As he reached for one of them Julia desperately exclaimed: “He’s waking up my baby and it’s a real baby!”
After retrieving Julia’s precious doll and giving Austin another one I took my seat beside Julia once more.
“I’m the sweetest mother in the world,” she told me happily (referring to herself). I smiled. Yes certainly I am blessed with this “little mother” as my daughter.
Here’s an old-fashioned beet recipe you may enjoy
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups beet water (water that was used to cook the beets)
- 2 cups vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon Allspice
- Wash beets, cook in water until tender.
- Remove skins (they will easily slip off).
- Cut beets into bite-sized pieces.
- Pack into jars.
- Combine syrup ingredients and pour over the beets filling up to the neck.
- After putting on lids. Hot water bath for 10 minutes.
- (Editor’s Note: canning is a part of Amish culinary culture and the recipe is included as insight into that culture.
- For proper canning techniques, please contact your local extension agent or consult the USDA.gov website).