Have you ever read a scene that created a hunger deep inside you?
Not the obvious romantic craving. We’re talking good old-fashioned load-up-your-plate-for-Sunday-dinner hunger. A simmering stew. Bright, crisp vegetables sliced into a summer salad. A fruit pie cooling on the window sill.
Hold on one second while I run to the kitchen…
One joy of writing about the Amish is the focus on cooking that is a daily part of most Amish households. Baking, cooking, canning and pickling are important tasks that create cherished memories for mothers and daughters.
There are many reasons why the Amish spend a lot of time cooking. They don’t eat many processed foods. You won’t find Lunchables in a child’s lunch pail, and since the Amish don’t have electricity in their homes, Lean Cuisines are out. But the alternatives are delicious. Pot pies, stews, pizzas and casseroles are homemade, often with vegetables from the family garden. And the baking…pies, cookies, brownies and breads, specialties like whoopie pies and soft pretzels… I love them all!
Another reason Amish women spend so much time in the kitchen is that their families tend to be large. The typical Amish family has seven children, and 10% have ten children or more. That’s a lot of pretzels. It reminds me of my childhood in a family of seven. When we cooked, we made LARGE portions. Our pot for mashed potatoes was so giant, I could have curled up and napped inside.
The Amish know something about food that many of us have forgotten. The meals we share are an important part of our lives, and the food ritual can feed the spirit as well as the body. Food for celebration! There are deep-fried “Nothings” for weddings, Fry Pies for fundraisers, Gmay Cookies that are handed out to restless children during church, and Long John Rolls for quilting bees. Special occasions are marked by special foods. All this inspired me to include some of the recipes I’ve mentioned in A Simple Autumn, October, 2012.
Here’s a recipe I enjoyed making when I was a kid – probably because I could lick the spoon. Some Amish folk call them funeral cookies because you can make them fast and bring them to the grieving family.
Oatmeal Turtles or Amish Funeral Cookies
In a medium saucepan, combine:
• ½ cup butter
• 1 ¾ cups sugar
• ½ cup milk
• 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly for one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in:
• ½ cup peanut butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 3 cups rolled oats (or quick-cooking oatmeal)
Mix quickly and drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper. Let the cookies cool outside the fridge for one hour. Makes 3 dozen turtles.
Before you tie on your apron, tell me about a favorite recipe from your childhood. Do you have a food that marks a tradition in your family? I’d love to hear about your memories, sweet or savory!
Rosiland can be found on Facebook