Once a year we take a turn providing the noon meal at church. Those who have enough space in a shed or basement host the services at their house. Due to our lack of space, we took our turn at Mom and Dad’s, which is just next door.
Of course, that included some extra work on their part. We greatly appreciated their willingness to do this work for us.
Planning the menu is one of my favorite parts. We chose to do a buffet-type meal. We had some potatoes from last year stored away that needed to be used, so potato casserole seemed like a good option. I enjoy making large quantities of food so I was tickled to have the opportunity to cook for the 116 people in our church.
I emptied and scrubbed a 40-quart tote where I store some of our blankets and used it as an extra-large mixing bowl for the potato casserole. I didn’t use a specific recipe. I’m a “dump cook.” I prefer not to use a recipe, but just dump this and that together, taste it, add more seasonings and call it good enough.
On Friday before church, I fried 12 pounds of deer sausage, diced some ham, shredded and cooked a bunch of potatoes, made a gallon or so of cheese sauce, then cooled and dumped everything into my tote, adding more seasonings, sour cream, ranch dressing and pepperoni. My husband, Daniel, helped mix everything up for me and took it to my uncle’s cooler to store it until Saturday evening when we planned to divide it into three or four large roasters.
I debated on my choice of a side dish. Finally I decided upon a favorite of ours: onion pie. We hadn’t had it for awhile and needed to use up a bunch of onions that wouldn’t keep much longer. Along with the onion pie (stay tuned for the recipe in a future column), we also served cottage cheese along with potato salad. Earlier in the week, I prepared and froze eight containers of cheesecakes. I chose several of our favorite kinds: mocha, peanut butter and mint.
On Sunday, we had our semiannual council meeting. We dismissed the children for lunch while the members remained seated. Our council meetings are a time for uniting on a deeper level and a preparation for communion which is usually two weeks later. The ministry expounds upon some of the basic hows and whys of the things we do, such as the principle of submission and the head coverings we ladies wear, according to how we understand Corinthians 11. I deeply value the opportunity of wearing a covering as a token of my choice to volunteer my submission to Christ and to my husband.
Another example is of nonconformity like it says in Romans 12:2. “And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Unity is something that is taught a lot. Even though we don’t believe that a horse and buggy, plain clothes or anything in the Amish lifestyle will be what it takes to get us to Heaven, we do value the privilege of joining together in oneness and living for Jesus in a more simple, slow-paced lifestyle.
During council meeting, we also have a time of sharing testimonies and asking for prayer for specific needs and or struggles that anyone may have. Each person is also asked to voice his or her agreement or support or concern of the outline that the ministers gave on what we as a church stand for. We ladies take turns babysitting, since we were providing lunch and that required me to be out of the council meeting anyway. I took my turn on Sunday.
There were about 30 children who went into the house to eat while the parents remained in the shop for council. Watching a roomful of children while preparing a large lunch was an exhausting balancing act, even with some help. Two hours later, the members were dismissed and ready for lunch. We worked as quickly as possible, setting the food onto two folding tables, creating four food lines, two for the men and two for the ladies. Several filled water glasses while others carried food from the house to the shop. Daniel was here and there and everywhere, helping where he could, fetching the large roasters with potato casseroles and doing whatever else was needed.
After Daniel made some announcements, he apologetically added: “The dessert is too hard.” We should have put the cheesecakes out of the freezer a bit earlier.
“Oh well, it’s what we make of it,” I decided. Daniel took a heavy-duty ice cream scoop and cut the cheesecake into chunks for the men while I did the ladies.
“This is just like a candy bar!” one lady exclaimed as she held a slab of mocha cheesecake in her hand, biting into it.
“Thanks for being positive,” I said, smiling.
How about giving the mocha cheesecake a try?
Be sure to remove from the freezer at least 30 to 45 minutes before serving. This is a Yoder specialty. Daniel’s family loves this dessert and shared the recipe with me. I prefer using heavy whipping cream instead of whipped topping and natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, stevia and raw sugar to taste, instead of sweetened condensed milk.
2 cups Oreo cookies, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Mix and press into a 9-inch pie pan, saving ½ cup to sprinkle on top
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
½ can sweetened, condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whipped topping
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons hot water
½ cup chocolate syrup
Dissolve coffee granules in hot water and set aside. Beat cream cheese and add remaining ingredients. Whip together until smooth. Spoon over cookie crumbles. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over filling and freeze.
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.