Is everyone as excited about springtime as we are?
Signs of spring are all around us in Flat Rock. The buds of the maple trees are beginning to awaken from their winter slumber, the morning quiet is now filled with the melodious sounds of songbirds, and the grass is shedding its winter brown.
A few weeks ago I was delighted to have my husband, Daniel, inform me that he had heard the first spring peepers. It gave me a serious urge to go camping. I could just hear the zip of the tent zippers beside a crackling fire. Realistically, though, who’s going to go camping with two little children in March?
Springtime is a favorite in the Yoder household. There’s something so invigorating about watching the earth awakening after months of dormancy. Another highlight for me is going through a seed catalog with Daniel and planning what varieties of veggies we want to try. We always order from Berlin Seeds which is an Amish-owned and -operated business in Berlin, Ohio. Berlin, by the way, is a popular destination for tourists wanting to visit Amish country.
Hopefully we’ll be able to get some early gardening done within the next week. We like to plant some veggies as soon as we can — like early sweet corn, potatoes and peas.
While dropping seeds into the soft, fertile soil, I can just picture the long rows of vibrant plants loaded with veggies of all kinds. But then the stark reality of gardening has a way of setting in when the July and August heat waves ripple across southern Illinois as the soil tends to become dry and cracked. Needless to say, my lofty goals of having a weed-free picture-perfect garden start to wane.
By September we are glad to have a break from the gardening and summer heat, yet thankful for the variety of canned goods on the shelves ready for the winter months ahead.
Our children, Julia, 4, and Austin, 17 months, both relish the warm, sunny days when they’re permitted to go outside to play. It takes some extra patience for all of us on days like today when it is drizzly and cold but, you know, without these days we wouldn’t appreciate the sunny ones as much.
Austin, especially, delights in going outside and playing with sticks or trying to carry around small chunks of wood from Daniel’s pile on the deck or whatever those busy little fingers find to do.
Yesterday Daniel and I were discussing Austin’s expressive and outgoing personality and how he’ll need lots of guidance in the months and years to come. Yet if these traits can be channeled in the right direction, God will be able to use them in a positive way. Austin definitely has an adventuresome side. Recently he was so proud of himself when he discovered that he can climb onto the couch and, if he wriggles and strains enough, he can climb up on the back, then stand up, towering far above his normal height. It did look awfully cute but common sense told his mother that this wasn’t a safe thing for him to do at all.
Now Austin is sitting on my lap while I am writing. Several minutes ago he ventured back into Julia’s bedroom where she was sound asleep. I went to investigate in the nick of time as he was just getting ready to wake her up. I decided it’s time to sit quietly with him in my lap for a while. Every now and then, between squirms and little protests, he is praising himself for sitting still.
In case you are wondering: Yes, he can be distracting while I am trying to write. I’ve found it to be a challenge at times and I accept the interruptions and having everything taking longer than expected. At the same time I am so overjoyed to be able to stay home, caring for my two little ones. And, of course, if I do get edgy or impatient at my day not going as planned, everyone is negatively affected. God’s grace and wisdom is what I find to get me through times when the children are sick, not sleeping well at night, or simply having a rough day.
Perhaps I can have Julia and Austin “help” me make a Gold Rush Brunch Casserole that I am needing to make for tomorrow morning. We’re planning to take the youth caroling for the families in our church at 3:30 a.m. We plan to have five of these brunch casseroles to serve. I’ll share the recipe in case you are inspired to give it a try. For the hash browns, I fry my own shredded potatoes and make my own cheese sauce, which I’ll share the recipe for. Of course, if you prefer, you could use frozen hash browns.
1 pound sausage or ham
¼ cup chopped onions
8 eggs, scrambled or fried and seasoned
1½ cups shredded cheese (whatever kind you prefer)
4 cups hash browns
2 tablespoons parsley
1 quart cheese sauce
Layer in a 9- by 13-inch cake pan in order given.
Be free to use your imagination, adding items such as bacon, pepperoni or peppers.
Cover with cheese sauce and bake at 350 for 25 -30 minutes.
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1¾ cups milk
¼ teaspoon seasoning salt
8 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter, add flour, whisk together, adding milk and salt. Cook until thickened. Reduce heat and add cheese and sour cream.
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 www.amish365.com.