The Amish Cook: Savoring spring, school and salad

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2021


The Amish Cook

Everyone arrived at our small, white country schoolhouse. It was a day when everyone gathered to celebrate another successful school year. We had taken very few days off throughout the term, so school was letting out early for the year. Children played happily on the playground, and smiles were as common as the cheery yellow dandelions on the lawn.

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By 9:30, we were all seated, ready for the 20 children and two teachers to file in and share the program they had diligently practiced. It looked stunning with girls wearing raspberry dresses, and the boys gray shirts, all sewed by the teachers for year-end gifts.

In no time, Hosanna was begging to go sit with Julia. “You may go sit with her when they’re done with the program,” Daddy assured. After two congregational songs and a brief devotional by our deacon, the children stood to sing in beautiful harmony. Then, in perfect unison, they recited Max Lucado’s story, “You are Special”, in poem form, with most of it written by my mother.

Next, Julia and the five other little girls sang a song. To my mother heart, it was just too sweet.

I was amazed how perfectly they sang songs and recited all 21 verses of “You Are Special” in various increments. As soon as the last notes died away, Hosanna dashed up and into Julia’s arms.

Next, there were the congratulations to the graduates, a word of thanks to the drivers who brought children to school, and finally, a prayer of thanks was offered for the food which had been prepared.

Nate Zehrs had graciously grilled chicken in honor of their daughter graduating eighth grade. Besides the delicious chicken, there were herb potatoes, wedding salad, cheesecakes, pie, and hot drinks.

The children and youth had scarcely finished eating when they rushed off to play softball, a highlight for all on our annual school picnics. The best game is the dads playing against their upper-grade children. Hats off to the upper-graders, they won!

For the pre-scholars, who are too young to play ball, we had a fishing game. First, we had activities for them to get their “fishing license.”

First, we talked about the word “praise” and introduced them to the verse, “Praise ye the Lord.” Soon they were saying what they’re thankful for, then I’d repeated it, saying, “Yes! Thank you, Jesus, for Mom and Daddy!” (Or whatever they were thankful for.) “See how easy it is to praise God? You just say, ‘Thank you, God’!”

Next, we had a little discussion on how God also made our mouth to praise with songs and sang, We Praise thee O God. Last, when the children recited their little verse, they got their fishing pole, consisting of a stick with fishing line string and a clothespin as the hook. They cast into the “pond”, a large box. Julia and one of her friends sat inside the box, fastening goodie baggies filled with snacks, balloons, and a pair of sunglasses.

By the time we were done, finger foods and drinks were being set out for all to enjoy. There’s always an extensive array of homemade goodies to choose from, along with ice cream cones and drinks.

Next, Stephen Wengerd showed the children a kite he brought along for them to watch. Jesse, who loves heights, was utterly impressed. He didn’t miss a beat, taking everything in with his big blue eyes. Looking at Stephen, he said, “If I had one of those things (kites) fastened to my arms, I could fly way up there!”

All too soon, the day was over. Needless to say, when we returned home, Daniel and I made plans to put everyone to bed early; it had been a big day for everyone. “You mean we are going to bed already?” Julia wanted to know, “I expected it to be only mid-afternoon.” Surely time flies when you’re having fun!

OK, so here you go with a salad we served at the program. It’s always hit no matter what!


1 head romaine or iceberg lettuce

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped bacon

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 ½ cup corn chips

1 cup dressing

Mix all together, serve immediately.


1/4 cup vinegar

¾ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup mayo

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

¾ cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds

½ teaspoon salt

Mix and refrigerate.

This will keep in the fridge for months; with all the salads we eat,  I make up to 10 batches at a time!  I also prefer using olive oil and healthy alternatives such as Xylitol and Stevia instead of sugar.