The Amish Cook: Summer brings heat to rural Kansas
By Rosanna Bauman
Editor’s Note: Our good friend Rosanna filled in for Gloria this week who is in the midst of moving. I can’t wait to hear about her move next week! Rosanna is, by the way, German Baptist Brethren, a Plain sect that shares many similarities with the Amish. Rosanna writes from her home in rural Kansas.
Summer has hit eastern Kansas with a vengeance, making our daily culinary goal simply avoiding heating up our kitchens with the oven. This is helped by the fact that just this week, the ovens in both our residence and the employee kitchen have quit working. That only leaves us with two ovens! I know it doesn’t sound like we have any problems at all, but when you’re fixing as many meals for as many people as we do, every oven counts! And who likes carrying hot baking pans across the driveway and up the staircase? Thankfully, our grill is working, and the garden is producing, so we’re eating well and eating cool. When we first have access to spring greens after the winter our family has entire meals of just toss salad. After a month, our appetites for greens are sated, so salad is no longer the star of the mealtime, but a vehicle for delivering cool meals. We had Chicken Mozzarella Salad at least two times last week because it’s so fast and the ranch dressing really has an illusion of cooling! It doesn’t take any time at all to grill the chicken while you’re chopping the lettuce, and speedy suppers are important when we don’t get done with farming until 8:30 pm! This salad has been popular in our community for several years. I’ve eaten it everywhere from California to Ohio.
At our annual church conference, we have three options for our lunch in between church services: concession stand, traditional church meal, or a picnic lunch. I always choose the latter two options because they are free! Picnicking in the grass parking lot is the German Baptist’s version of tailgating, although there’s no grills. Instead, we serve quick sandwiches or all-in-one salads like this. I’ve eaten Chicken Mozzarella salad multiple times off of a paper plate while sitting in the grass in my Sunday clothes. Not only is this salad Sunday-fare, it’s served at much more casual functions as well. We recently served this on a canoe trip for 50 young people because we only needed one ice chest to hold the lettuce and cheese, the rest was canned. The easiest way to mix that large of a salad is to throw the ingredients in a large trash bag, and get a couple of young boys to toss it around! The closest good canoeing streams are in Missouri; our creeks in Kansas are too shallow and muddy for good canoeing most times. When a canoe float happens for the young people, the parents who are hosting the activity are always the ones who carry the lunch supplies. Primarily because dumping the lunch canoe is strictly forbidden!
Chicken Mozzarella Salad
1 head lettuce, shredded, or the equivalent in spinach or other greens
2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 ½ cans (6 oz) black olives, whole
1 lb chicken breast (or thighs) cooked, chopped (or 10 oz canned chicken)
½ bag ranch-flavored tortilla chips, crushed
16 oz Ranch salad dressing
Cook the chicken until tender. Cool to room temperature. Put chicken into a big bowl and then add greens, cheese, olives, chips, and dressing. Toss well.