Editor’s note: Gloria and Daniel Yoder are busy gearing up to host church services soon — so her mother, Dorcas Raber, steps in this week. Dorcas was raised in Holmes County, Ohio, the largest Amish settlement in the world. So she writes from a perspective steeped in generations of homecooking and church traditions. Enjoy. — Kevin Williams
Hello from Gloria’s mom’s kitchen. I wonder if you would enjoy the sandwich that I’m making right now? It is a toasted “cheese deluxe sandwich.” I added pepperoni slices, some barbecue sauce, and a sour cream and cream cheese mixture to the cheese in the middle. Try it sometime. It’s a “wow” thing. I prefer toasting the bread to a deep golden brown.
We are hosting church services here at our place for eight weeks. Out of those eight weeks, two are our turn and we furnish the food for after church. The other six turns are younger couples who don’t have the space to hold the services in their homes, so we happily allow them to use our large shop to hold the services.
I consider hosting services a privilege. However, it also means I have to stay on my toes. It simply wouldn’t seem proper or right to host services in a dirty, cluttered environment. Coming together as a church family to worship God is a sacred privilege for us and it only seems right to dress up in our best clothes and worship together in a clean setting.
I wish you could see Gloria and her children, Julia and Austin, on a Sunday morning. They look so cute. Julia, age 4, is dressed up in a Sunday dress with a matching color apron and Gloria has Julia’s hair fixed carefully in a bun. She has a prayer veiling on her head, just like her mom’s.
Austin, 17 months, wears a white shirt and a darker color of pants with matching suspenders. He has his curly hair freshly combed. He has such an intense character but does amazingly well throughout the services. Sometimes he spends a lot of time on the men’s side with his daddy. Of course, he is with his mom a lot, too. Julia also sits with both her mommy and daddy. She is a very sensitive, soft-spoken girlie.
We host the services in our shop which is located right beside our house. David sets the church benches for the men and boys on one side and ladies and girls on the other side. He also sets up some folding chairs in the back for those who are getting older and are grateful for a “back.” (The benches do not have backs.) Meanwhile, my daughters and I have the job of getting the house cleaned up. I am finding out that it really helps simplify the “Saturday cleaning” if we keep our house clutter-free throughout the week. Of course, with a family there will be some clutter, though.
Most of us Amish ladies make it a priority to have our homes “spring-cleaned” once a year and a lot of us aim to get it finished just before we host services at our home. By using the term “spring cleaning,” I’m referring to washing off walls, ceilings, scrubbing floors, washing off furniture, windows and cleaning window frames, washing curtains and — last but not least — scrubbing the oven, inside and out. My mother-in-law came and cleaned my oven which I really appreciated. It was special to have her here. She is going through a valley of sorrow since Grandpa’s (her husband) death. We are grateful for her courageous spirit. She grieves, yet at the same time she also rejoices that he is at rest eternally.
This past Saturday I needed to fix food for lunch after Sunday school. We had invited families to stay for lunch afterwards. For our every-other-week church services, everyone stays afterwards for a noon meal. On Sunday school Sundays, it is up to the host family as to whether they want to hold a lunch and who to invite.
I also wanted to wash clothes on Saturday and the house needed a “Saturday cleaning.” Usually my daughters help but we had school on Saturday instead of going on Good Friday. One of my daughters is a teacher’s assistant at the school while the other two are scholars. So who do you think came to my rescue on Saturday to help me with cleaning? Daniel and Gloria!
Daniel had the broom and swept and even mopped the kitchen floor. He did a thorough job. Gloria did some odds and ends like washing some windows and dusting furniture, etc. Their efforts meant so much to me. Daniel helped set up benches, too. They are one of the families hosting two Sundays of church services here over the next few weeks.
When we furnished the meal after church services, I made “Spaghetti Supreme” for the main dish. I want to share that recipe with you. I made a lot more than the recipe below makes because I was serving more than 100 people. Also, I used a venison and sausage blend in place of hamburger. Cream cheese and sour cream are luxury items for me, but I happened to have a lot here that we had bought for a cheap price. So it was a luxury on my toasted cheese sandwich, too.
In our community here, it is up to the host to serve either a traditional Amish church meal or have a buffet-style meal. If we have the Amish meal, the menu consists of bread, meat, cheese, pickles, peanut butter and a variety of cookies, coffee and tea. We opted for the buffet meal where I served a tossed salad, applesauce and two kinds of cheesecakes (fruit and chocolate mocha) plus coffee and tea. A simple meal, yet I’ll admit it takes hours of preparation. I made the cheesecakes earlier in the week and froze them, which was handy. Enjoy this recipe for “Spaghetti Supreme,” it was a hit.
1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 8-ounce cream cheese
1 8-ounce sour cream
1 cup milk
2 pounds hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
32 ounces of pizza sauce
Salt and pepper to taste and also your favorite seasoning salt
1 16-ounce shredded cheese
Mix hot, drained spaghetti with cream cheese and sour cream. Add milk. Fry hamburger and onion. Drain. Add pizza sauce and seasonings.
In a greased 9- by 13-inch pan, layer half of spaghetti mixture, then hamburger mixture, then cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Serves 12.
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.