The Amish Cook
By Elizabeth Coblentz

It is Monday, March 20 and spring of 2000 has appeared on the calendar. What does this tell us? Yes, there will be the garden to sow and then comes more to do when those seeds have sprouted and are ready for hoeing and weeding.

Why complain when we are in good enough health to work in the garden?

We put hours in to keep the garden free of weeds, which seems always to be quite a task. On those summer days, the hot sun is on our backs and the work seems to get tiresome. But then we think: Why complain when we are in good enough health to work in the garden? It feels so good to go to the garden and pick those vegetables to prepare a meal. So much easier when all kinds of salads, cooked vegetables, soups, and sandwiches can be made with the fresh garden goodies.

Spring also means that there is also the lawn to be mowed and those beautiful flowers have such a good scent in the spring air. Spring is the best on my list of the four seasons.

Let me answer a few letters here:

To the Sugar Creek, Missouri reader: those garden seeds you sent to me were greatly appreciated. Hopefully they'll be in the ground soon. Thank you!

To the reader of Rockford, Ohio but who winters in Aiken, South Carolina, sorry, I have no recipe for the recipe of "whities", as opposed to "brownies" and "blonde brownies." It's a cookie bar with white chocolate. Maybe someone out there has it.

To the Chicago, Illinois reader: the cookbook will be ready to sell by the year of 2001. We'll let you know when it goes on sale.

To the Albridge, Ohio reader, I never have heard of buying Pon Hoss in stores. We make it fresh on butchering day only.

To the Mitchell, Indiana reader who wrote about the brine for the shredded cabbage in pepper. Make it from vinegar, pickling spice, sugar, and salt.

Make the amount you prefer and to your taste.

To the Williamsburg, Kansas reader: your lengthy letter and recipes about your family were interesting. Thanks for your time.

This has been a long day it seems. But it has been enjoyable. Daughter Verena baked 72 chocolate chip cookies before heading off to work this morning.

After the morning household chores were completed, I made a potato salad and baked a cake which later, one box of Jell-O was poured over the cake and Cool Whip to top it. Daughter Emma and children, and also Lovina and children came to help prepare and join in the dinner at noon. We were having some company from Ohio. Apple crisps and fresh cooked apples were done also.

Daughter Leah and family also showed up for dinner after they came back from the hospital. Their Ben had his cast removed from his ankle. Guess he can expect some pain from it yet.

After the noon dinner everyone enjoyed visiting, singing, and yodeling. Naturally the dinner dishes had all been washed by my daughters.


3 pounds of hamburger

3 onions, chopped

3 cups of potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cups of celery, diced

3 cups of cooked spaghetti

2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans of cream of mushroom soup

9 slices of bacon

1 (32 ounce) quart of tomato juice

1 pound of cheddar cheese, grated

Brown crumbled hamburger and onions in a pan. Drain and pour hamburger mix into large casserole or deep 9x13 inch baking pan. Add potatoes, celery, and spaghetti to casserole and mix lightly with hamburger. Pour mushroom soup on top and spread evenly. Fry bacon and lay on top. Pour tomato juice over this. Add cheese over that. Bake 1 1 /2 hours in 350 degree oven. Serves 10 to 12.

Elizabeth is Old Order Amish and she handwrites this column from her Indiana home.

Readers with culinary or cultural questions may send letters to Elizabeth at:

Due to the volume of mail, personal replies are not always possible.