September 2022 Featured Article
I love writing about the Amish. The Amish have always been farmers. They’ve tirelessly worked the land since their ancestors came to the American continent in the 1700s. But fewer and fewer Amish rely on farming as their primary source of income. Farming is becoming less economically feasible.
Still, almost every Amish family I know keeps an extensive and fruitful garden. I remember one particular garden in Bonduel, Wisconsin where the grapes hung from a homemade arbor and chrysanthemums and petunias made splashes of brilliant color in front of the house.
My dad grew up a fruit farmer. His father owned acres and acres of orchards—peaches, cherries, apples, plums—and my dad and his sister and brothers worked hard all summer long when they were kids. During WWII when labor was scarce, a group of German prisoners of war helped out on the farm. My dad was ten years old at the time.
My dad became a high school math teacher, but he never outgrew the farmer inside him. He bought six acres of land and planted raspberry bushes and cherry and peach trees. I spent many hours in those orchards picking raspberries, stacking limbs, driving the tractor, and helping Dad irrigate. My mom planted a garden that had to have been half an acre by itself. I did a lot of weeding and a lot of canning.
I now live on significantly less land—a third of an acre to be exact—but the farmer in me is still alive and kicking. I planted a few raspberry bushes many years ago, and now a peach tree is growing from a peach pit I tossed out there last fall. I’m also growing three tomato plants and several volunteer pumpkins.
I learn invaluable lessons in the garden, like the law of the harvest: We reap what we sow. We can choose what to plant, but we will never get a head of lettuce from a cucumber seed. While tending my rosebushes, I learn that sometimes you have to prune a rosebush down to nothing to help it to grow better. I think God does that with us. Sometimes His pruning hurts our hearts, but He is making something better of us than we could ever make of ourselves. Our task is to trust that He is the master gardener and that the garden will be infinitely more beautiful because He touched it.
The Amish have no doubt learned those lessons in the garden.
It’s peach season. Here is my favorite recipe for peach syrup. It’s delicious!
This is a simple recipe with only three ingredients, and it looks, smells, and tastes delicious. This recipe makes enough for my husband and I to be in pancake heaven with just a little left over. If you are baking for a crowd, I would recommend quadrupling this recipe.
Honey Peach Syrup
2 ½ cup diced peaches
¼ cup honey
½ tablespoon lemon juice
Peel peaches and dice. Put peaches in a medium saucepan and stir in honey and lemon juice. Turn stove to medium-high and mash ingredients together with a potato masher while heating.
Unless the peaches are extremely ripe, they won’t mash down all the way. That’s okay because you’re going to put them in a blender. (If you’re Amish and don’t use electricity, your syrup is going to be a little lumpy.) Once the peaches are slightly broken down and blended well with the honey, bring the mixture just to a boil and remove from stove. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan.
Taste the syrup. Add honey if you want it sweeter. Heat over medium-low heat to a low boil, boiling until the mixture reaches syrup stage, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture will start to look slightly translucent. Serve warm over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream. In the unlikely event that you have leftover syrup, store in the refrigerator. Delicious! (Adapted from triedandtasty.com)
This pancake recipe appears at the back of Like a Bee to Honey. It is my favorite breakfast recipe.
Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 cup whole-wheat kernels
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon Rumford baking powder (This brand makes a difference. Without it, add another tablespoon of cornmeal.)
Step 1: Have a hot griddle greased and ready.
Step 2: Put the buttermilk in the blender and turn the blender to the highest speed. Slowly pour the whole-wheat kernels into the blender. It will sound like popcorn popping. Blend until the popping sound is gone. Add cornmeal, eggs, honey, and salt.
Step 3: After mixing well, add baking soda and baking powder and blend for 20 seconds. The batter will rise fast! Pour dollops of batter onto hot griddle and brown on both sides.