Amish Cook: Men enjoy Mom’s Italian breadsticks


Frolic day at my parents’ home. Helping Mom with lunch. Going to my uncle’s store. Finish cleaning. My day looked packed full, but enjoyable. It was 6 a.m. Saturday.

A “frolic” was planned to be held for the men and boys to help work on my parents’ shop to help replace several old windows and doors as well as insulate the front section of the shop and line the interior with metal. This is where Mom and Dad hold church services when it is their turn. Each family in our church who has enough space in their house or shed to conveniently host services takes a turn.

Some of you may be unfamiliar with the term “frolic.” The Amish use the term to describe a “work day” where usually a group of men come to pitch in and help a friend, family member, or neighbor complete a work project. A frolic is not as big of an event as a “barn raising” but no less important to those who receive the help. About a dozen men showed up for the frolic at my parents.

Having the shop insulated better will definitely be a blessing when their turn rolls around in February. The shop will be heated with a wood stove Dad set up.

This morning, after wrapping up my weekly cleaning, the children and I were ready to head for Mom and Dad’s. It was 9 a.m. and my husband, Daniel, had gone over there earlier. I put 14-month-old Austin in our bike cart, which is similar to a stroller, with a plastic canvas over it to keep out the winter weather. Julia, 4, preferred to walk, carrying her favorite doll, which is named Ashley.

Julia and I like going on walks together. We sang “Joy to the World” and “Away in a Manger” as we went. It didn’t take long to cover the distance to their house.

As we stepped into the kitchen, a pleasant aroma greeted me.

“It smells just like Grandma’s house!” I exclaimed.

My grandma, who is Mom’s mother, lives 400 miles away from here in the large Amish community of Holmes County, Ohio. I think it was coffee, along with something else, perhaps one of her many candles. I decided Mom was in full swing with her meal. She was preparing a full-course Amish meal which included mashed potatoes, gravy, barbecued meatballs, sweet corn, tossed salads, Italian breadsticks, a tasty dessert, coffee and tea.

Julia and Austin were both tickled to spend time at Grandpa’s and in no time were off to play. I was delighted to be back in Mom’s kitchen, helping her with lunch. After a while, she needed someone to take a meal to Grandpa’s because they were unable to be here. So we packed up a meal that consisted of our “frolic lunch” food for them to enjoy. I volunteered to deliver it with the pony and cart. Soon I was on my way with Tex the paint pony, along with two of my sisters, one on each side, holding Austin and my niece, Jeanette, who is the same age.

The little ones were thrilled to go along. Jeanette took hold of the back part of the rein, merrily swinging them back and forth, pretending to drive the pony.

Soon we were back and I was in the kitchen once more. It was 11:30, time for last-minute preparations. Mom set up a table in the living room to set the kettles of food on for the men to file through and fill their plates. In the kitchen they had extended the table and set it with silverware, napkins and glasses of ice water.

“Make sure everything is hot and ready to be served,” she responded.

Grabbing a fork, I speared a meatball and broke it in half and popped it in my mouth. Mmmm. I expected them to be good but somehow these must be extra tasty, I decided. And, yes, they were steaming hot. I stirred the mashed potatoes as I heated them a bit. The gravy and corn was ready to go and the breadsticks were warming in the oven. Mom dumped a bag of sesame sticks in the salad and tossed it before setting it on the table.

By noon the men had dropped their work and washed up and were ready to dig into Mom’s lunch. After thanking everyone for being willing to come and help, Dad bestowed a blessing on the food and on everyone who had come to help.

The men sat around the kitchen table while us ladies took seats in the living room. After eating, we relaxed and chatted a while before tackling the enormous stack of dishes.

By mid-afternoon, an amazing amount of work had been done in the shop. After most of the men had gone home, Mom and I joined Daniel, Dad and my brothers, cleaning up and sweeping the shop. With a deep gratitude, they are now able to enjoy the improvements made.

I thought I’d share with you the recipe for the homemade Italian breadsticks that we served to the workers. It’s Mom’s recipe and it really is a hit here!



1½ cups warm water

1½ tablespoons yeast

1½ tablespoons vegetable oil

1½ teaspoons sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

3¾ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add vegetable, sugar and salt. Gradually add flour and knead 2-3 minutes. Let rise 20 minutes. Press into a greased 10- by 15-inch pan. Top with mixture of ¼ cup melted butter and ¼ cup Italian dressing.

Combine two cups of shredded cheese your choice and then add 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle on top. Cut slightly with pizza cutter. Bake 15-20 minutes in preheated 450 degree oven or until slightly golden.

By Gloria Yoder

The Amish Cook


Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write to Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish, go to


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