Food & Drink

Lovina's Amish Kitchen | The Eichers usher in fall by grilling for 60 at family picnic

It's so hard to believe that autumn is here and the trees are showing their autumn splendor. Our yard is accumulating more leaves every day.

Daughter Verena, 16, and I just came home from town. Verena had a dentist appointment and we picked up some groceries. I decided to quickly write my column before the children come home from school.

Tomorrow we plan to go to a "u-pick" farm to gather grapes. Friday and Saturday will be spent canning grape juice.

I have two steamers now, so canning the juice should go faster. I'll be glad when that job is done, and will be even happier to have some grape juice again.

Sunday we hosted a dinner for almost 60 people. Some were local families and we also had quite a few out-of-state visitors. Timothy and Mose (daughters Elizabeth's and Susan's special friends) helped my husband Joe grill pork steak and chicken for the noon meal. They had several grills going and started around 9 a.m.

We raised the chickens ourselves, and readers will remember when we butchered and froze them a few weeks ago.

Also on the menu was mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, corn, coleslaw, dill pickles, homemade bread, strawberry jam, butter, cake, cheesecake, peanut butter and sugar cookies, 12-layer rainbow gelatin, ice cream, coffee and lemonade.

The men also grilled banana and jalapeño peppers with sour cream and seasoning.

It was a very nice, sunny day. The afternoon was spent with some playing croquet, and visiting out on the front porch. It was so nice to enjoy the lovely day outside. I'm sure we won't have too many more days like that before winter arrives.

Joe and sons Benjamin, 15, Joseph, 12, and Kevin, 9, spent Saturday cleaning out our other garden.

They planted winter radishes for a cover crop in the garden.

We still had green tomatoes on our tomato plants. The boys picked them all. A good way to keep the green tomatoes from ripening too fast is to wrap them in newspaper and store in a cool place. I think it gives them a better flavor than if they are just out in the open to ripen.

The sun is shining in through the door and Elizabeth's puppy, Izzy, lays on the floor where the sun hits it.

Like most dogs, she loves to soak the warmth of the sun on these chilly days. That puppy gets so spoiled around here.

For this week's recipe I'll share the 12-layer rainbow flavored gelatin dessert that sister Emma made, from a cookbook that my sisters Verena and Susan put together and are selling now. It is recipes collected from my brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and their children.

They also have pictures throughout the book, including of the house in which we grew up. The recipe was submitted by Sara Graber, a granddaughter to brother Albert.

12-Layer Rainbow gelatin

6 (3-ounce) boxes of cherry, orange, pineapple/lemon, lime, blueberry and grape flavored gelatin

16 ounces sour cream

Dissolve flavored gelatin powder for one layer at a time, adding 2 cups hot water for each box. Put 1/2 of dissolved flavored gelatin and water in a 9x13x4-inch pan. Chill. Save the other half and add 2 to 3 ounces of sour cream. Stir together.

Let first layer harden, then put sour cream and flavored gelatin mixture over that. Do this alternately with every flavor/color, letting each layer chill, and making 12 layers in all. You will have a beautiful rainbow when finished. Keep cold until served.

Lovina Eicher, an Old Order Amish writer, is cook, wife and mother of eight. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at