This article is a part of "The Amish Cook Column", a weekly series of featuring a story & recipe from Gloria Yoder, Amish widow & mother of six from Flat Rock, Illinois
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, cats are dumped in Amish country often. So strays are a part of daily life and most Amish do the best they can to care for them, which can include spaying and neutering and taking them in.
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One look took it all in: a baby kitten, much too young to be on its own, was dusty and dirty, and obviously suffering from hunger.
“May we keep it- and give it some milk?”
“Of course you may feed it, we’ll see about keeping it.”
In a short order Julia had warmed milk and put it in a syringe.
There were little hands on all sides to help. “Mom, may I have a turn? When may I hold it?”
The little kitty caught on and tried to suck it form the syringe and soon began to relax.
Thes sad sight was about more than I could bear, especially with the stark reality lurking in the back of my mind that there are also many, many children out there who are being neglected.
A while later while Austin was cradling it in his arms, he said, “Mom, I hear it- it’s purring!” It was an accomplishment.
The children decided it will need a name. Various ideas were discussed. They decided it should have one that goes with other pets in the past. They talked about their Auntie’s pet baby skunk years ago, which she had named Joy Unspeakable, then there was that other kitten the children had rescued soon after that; Daddy had suggested it could be Faith Unspeakable. Now looking at the gray and white kitty, what shall it be?
“Courageous.” One of them suggested. They all agreed.
I tried to get more of the story about Courageous, but no one seemed to know for sure where it came from. We kept her in the house the next couple of days. Hosanna, tenderly cared for the kitten hour after hour. I explained to her how cats also enjoy sleeping a lot. That was an issue to her- why would kitten need to lie down to sleep? She put on her sweater and carefully stuck the little kitten inside, with only part of her head peeping out, then placing her own hand over the sweater to keep her from falling out. It worked perfect.
“Mom, may I take it with me to bed?” Hosanna wanted to know.
“Perhaps if you have it with you all day and night it won’t learn how to be content when we put her in her bed,” I said.
A couple days later Daniel’s nephew found a nest of five kittens in our large warehouse, joined to the woodworking shop. Together we went to check it out. There was no doubt that those curious little eyes in the corner staring back at us, were siblings to little Courageous.
I was relieved; though Courageous had improved so much since that first day, I felt like she really needed a mama cat to feed her, lick her, and all that mommies can do for their babies.
Soon they were reunified as a family, but never would Mama Cat allow us to see her. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of her streaking here and there. And who knows how many mice and rats she has killed from our farm?
Thanks Mama Cat.
The next day when the children went out to check on Courageous they came back with despondent expressions- “They’re gone- they’re all gone!”
A few simple explanations on how Mommy cats move their babies when they think they’re in danger, put their minds in slight ease.
My mind went back on how important kittens were to me when I was their size. “I’ll go with you.” Soon we had walked back past the working area in the shop, now in the warehouse we walked down the wide isles with bunks of lumber and piles of logs on either side. “Here kitty, kitty, kitty… Come Courageous!”
Ambling on, the children helped me, “Kitty, kitty, kitty...”
We looked at each other then quickly walked toward where the sound was coming from. Sure enough, there came little Courageous, walking out toward us.
She recognized our voices!” I exclaimed. Eager hands once more snuggled their precious ‘Courageous.’
Time and again after that, Courageous would be the tell tale of where the latest hiding place of the litter as she came to meet us.
Okay, now for a recipe, I don’t have any kitty- friendly recipe (though Joshua was hand- feeding it a ham chunk the other day), so I’ll give you this all-time spring favorite from Daniel’s family in Danville Ohio. I had never tried it before I married Daniel, now my eyes widen every time I see it. Enjoy!
Rhubarb Cake Dessert
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
6 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
3 /4 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sweet cream
5 cups rhubarb finely chopped
6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of vanilla
Press into a pan a little bigger than 9 X 13.
Rhubarb Cake Dessert
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 /4 cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sweet cream
- 5 cups rhubarb, finely chopped
- 6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- Mix ingredients and press into a 9 X 13 pan.
- Mix well and spoon over bottom layer.
- Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes
- STEP 3
- Stir 1 cup sugar into egg whites
- Add salt, vanilla, and beat whites until stiff.
- Spread meringue on top of crumb mixture.
- Take out of oven and top with meringue.
- Put back in oven on top shelf for 20 minutes or until browned.