Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings {Amish Family Recipes}

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

As a little girl I watched my mama make my favorite apple dessert, Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings, using the recipe from her worn copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook. The Granny Smith apples enclosed in a delicate, flaky crust, bathed in scrumptious, buttery, brown sugar sauce and topped off with cream, equals perfection. Naturally, I’ve chosen to share this favorite recipe of mine with my girls, and with you, here on 31 days of Amish Family Recipes!

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

Begin with a half-dozen green apples. This is the perfect opportunity to use some you’ve just picked from a local orchard! My favorite spot to pick apples, is the lovely Weaver’s Orchard, in Morgantown, PA, which is where my Grandpa’s farm is located.

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

To begin making this delicious dessert, core and peel the apples, keeping them whole. I loved watching my mama perform this step when I was a little girl. She made it look effortless! Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I immediately brush my cored apples with lemon juice, to prevent them from browning.

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

Next it’s time to make the pastry crust. I use all-natural coconut oil shortening and sea salt combined with non-bleached organic flour, non-aluminum baking powder and farm-fresh milk. Resist the urge to over-handle this dough, as it will be flakier if handling is kept to a minimum.

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

I always enjoy rolling out this soft crust, cutting it into six pieces and placing the cored apples on top.

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

Now it’s time to fill the apple centers with brown sugar and sprinkle them with cinnamon. I use dark brown sugar, as it gives the Apple dumplings a rich flavor. I live just outside of Houston, TX, so I like to use Imperial Sugar, because it’s local – and, of course delicious!

Next, make the sauce, using brown sugar, cinnamon, water, butter.

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

Finally, wrap the dumplings by folding the edges toward the center and gently pressing the pastry together. Place in greased baking pan (I like to use my stoneware piece), and pour the brown sugar sauce over top. It’s time to bake the Apple dumplings!

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings | LydiaGlick.com

After baking at 375 for 35-40 minutes, the Apple dumplings are ready to eat. They’re delicious served fresh and warm, with cream, milk, or vanilla ice cream!

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings {Amish Family Recipes}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 6-10 servings

Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings {Amish Family Recipes}


  • 6 medium-sized apples
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Sauce: 2 cups brown sugar (I use dark brown)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg, optional (I use both)


  1. Pare and core apples. Leave whole.
  2. To make pastry, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
  3. Cut in shortening until particles are about the size of peas.
  4. Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only long enough to hold together.
  5. Roll dough as for pastry (or pie crust thickness) and cut into 6 squares and place an apple on each.
  6. Fill cavity in apple with sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Pat dough around Apple to cover it completely.
  8. Fasten edges securely on top of Apple.
  9. Place dumplings 1 inch apart in a greased baking pan.
  10. Pour over them the sauce made as follows:
  11. Combine brown sugar, water and spices.
  12. Cook for 5 minutes, remove from heat and add butter.
  13. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.
  14. Baste occasionally during baking.
  15. Serve hot with rich milk or cream.


Source: Mrs. Forrest Ogburn; Mrs. U. Grant Weaver, Mrs. James Bauman; Mennonite Community Cookbook

Chow-Chow {Amish Family Recipes}

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

Some of my favorite foodie-memories are of the specialty canned goods and preserves my grandmothers and mother made. There’s one item that is particularly “Amish”, as I’ve never seen it anywhere but in the Amish-Mennonite community; and that is Chow Chow. What in the world is “Chow Chow”? It’s a relish of sorts, made with a variety of vegetables, vinegar, sugar and seasonings. The flavors are traditionally sweet and sour, but some cooks like to make a spicy variety! It is usually served as a side dish with traditional Amish meals, and brings a sweet and tangy flavor to the menu. There are many wonderful recipes to be found including raw and fermented, but today I am sharing one from the Mennonite Community Cookbook, first published in 1950.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

Begin the process by washing and chopping your vegetables to the desired size.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

Amish cooks use ingredients fresh from their garden. As with all traditional and simple recipes, the taste will always be best when using the freshest produce possible.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

My grandmother used not only green beans in her Chow Chow, but Lima beans, yellow wax beans and kidney beans as well. Yum, yum! As a small child, I helped her chop and mix the vegetables in her large, antique crock.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

After chopping the vegetables, cook them briefly. I combine the vegetables that require a longer time to cook in one pot, (such as lima beans, cauliflower and green beans) and the ones that cook quickly (onions, peppers and cucumbers) in another. All the vegetables should retain their crunchy texture, and only be cooked for a few minutes. Although the recipe does not call for it, I add a small amount of sea salt to the water while cooking them.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

While your vegetables are heating, combine the vinegar and seasonings, and cook together until the mixture comes to a boil. (I like to use apple cider vinegar and raw sugar.)

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

Combine all the vegetables and mix together gently. Pack into jars, then distribute the boiling liquid you’ve prepared evenly into each one. Be sure to clean the tops of your jars so they can seal properly.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

Place prepared lids on jars, and lower into your canner. Bring water to a boil.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

My dear great-aunt Anna has a cookbook called “The Esh Family Cookbook”. I follow her canning directions Chow Chow, and cold pack my chow chow for 5 minutes after the water starts to boil.

Chow Chow Recipe | LydiaGlick.com | Amish Family Recipes

(This photo shows Chow Chow in one of my Grandma Esh’s delightful serving bowls.)

Place the jars on a shelf where everyone can enjoy their simple beauty as a work of kitchen-art, and enjoy this German sweet and sour delight! My grandmother always served her Chow Chow in beautiful dishes, no matter the occasion.

Chow-Chow {Amish Family Recipes}

Yield: 4 Quarts

Chow-Chow {Amish Family Recipes}


  • 1 quart cucumbers, diced
  • 1 quart string beans
  • 1 quart Lima beans
  • 1 quart corn
  • 1 pint celery
  • 1 pint green peppers
  • 1 pint red peppers
  • 1 cup small onions
  • 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart vinegar


  1. Chop vegetables the desired size and cook separately.
  2. Cook until tender, not soft.
  3. Drain cooked vegetables and mix together.
  4. Combine sugar, mustard and vinegar.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add mixed vegetables to hot liquid and bring to a boiling point.
  7. Put into hot jars and seal.


Recipe source; Mrs. Olive Bergey, Souderton, PA. ; Mennonite Community Cookbook

How to Make Shoofly Pie {Lessons from My Amish Family}


Shoofly Pie Close Up

Shoofly Pie, the quintessential Amish dessert.

Grandma Lydia's Shoofly Pie Recipe

Grandma Lydia’s Shoofly Pie Recipe

My Grandma Lydia made 3-4 shoofly pies every week. She specialized in the “wet-bottom” variety. (Some people prefer a drier, more coffee-cake like version, but not our family!)

The cup Grandma Esh used as a measuring cup when making shoofly pie

The cup Grandma used as a measuring cup when making Shoofly Pie, and a stoneware bowl in which she mixed shoofly pie and other baked goods.

My Grandma and my Mother taught me how to make Shoofly Pie, so I wanted to be sure my daughter knew how to make it as well. In this post I’ll share her first shoofly-pie-making experience.

Pie Crust

It begins with a perfect pie crust.

Roll the pie crust

…rolled out into a circle, ready to place into pie plate as the shell for future shoofly-deliciousness.

Ingredients for shoofly pie

Shoofly Pie is made from simple ingredients. Some say this pie’s name comes from the fact that its sticky, sweet molasses base attracted flies as it cooled. Others say the name originates from an early recipe which called for a brand of molasses called “Shoofly”. Although there are variations in the stories of the pie’s history, one fact is not up for dispute: it is the most famous pie is in Amish Country.

Shoofly Pie Syrup

Most shoofly pie bakers I know use either Golden Barrel or King Syrup in their family recipe.

King Syrup

After your crust is ready, combine the wet ingredients with baking soda and some brown sugar.

Wet Ingredients Shoofly Pie

Make sure to add the beaten egg slowly, and whisk well to keep the mixture smooth.

Shoofly Crumb topping

Next, flour, brown sugar and shortening are combined to make the crumb topping. Traditional pies use lard, our family uses Spectrum’s organic, non-hydrogenated shortening, purchased from our local grocery store.

Wet and dry ingredients for Shoofly Pie

Your wet and dry ingredients are now ready for the next step.

Crumbs added to shoofly pie batter

After the crumbs are made, it’s time to place half of them into the wet ingredients and gently mix them together.

Shoofly Pie ready for crumbs

This mixture is then poured into your unbaked, prepared pie shell, and then there’s only one more step before baking:

Place crumbs on top of shoofly pie

…gently spread the remaining crumbs on top of the wet mixture.

Ready to bake - Shoofly Pie

 Your Shoofly Pie is ready for the oven!

Shoofly Pie | Lydia Glick

After it is baked, cool for at least 30 minutes, and then enjoy! We like it best served with milk or coffee.

Here’s my Grandma Lydia’s recipe

Lydia’s Shoofly Pie

(Makes 2, 8 inch pies.) Use your favorite pie crust recipe, and have two, eight-inch, unbaked pie crusts ready for the following filling.

First combine:

2 Cups Boiling Water

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Molasses

2 Cups Brown Sugar

1 Egg

Next combine:

4 Cups Flour

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Shortening

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In large mixing bowl combine boiling water and baking soda. Add molasses and brown sugar. Mix well. Slowly add beaten egg.

In separate mixing bowl mix flour and brown sugar. Add shortening and cut with pastry cutter until fine crumbs are formed.

Add HALF of the crumb mixture to the wet mixture. Stir gently to mix well, and pour into two, unbaked pie crusts.

Gently place remaining crumbs on top of pies.

Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Grandma's Shoofly Pie | LydiaGlick.com

Grandma’s Shoofly Pie | LydiaGlick.com

~ Justina Dee

This is a post from my “31 Lessons from My Amish Family” series. Click here to read more! 


Not So Humble Pie Blog: “The Shoo Fly Pie was created when colonists in the early 18th century found their baking supplies running low late in the winter. The ingredients left in the pantry were usually flour, lard and molasses or refiner’s syrup. Many have presumed that the unusual name of the pie was due to it attracting flies as it cooled near an open window. However, the name “Shoo Fly Pie” did not appear in print until 1926. I agree with John Ayto in his An A-Z of Food and Drink when he states . . . “the fact that it originated as a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty suggests the possibility that shoofly is an alteration of an unidentified German word.” I totally agree with this conclusion because one of those antique recipe pamphlets that Harold Jamieson loaned to me mentioned that the pie had been associated with the name “Schuuflei Boi”.”


The Gift of Hospitality {Lessons From my Amish Family}

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Grandma Lydia's Good Dishes

Grandma Lydia’s “Sunday Dishes”

HOSPITAL’ITY, noun [Latin hospitalitas.] The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality. – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

When reflecting upon the valuable lessons my Amish family taught me, I have to put hospitality near the top of the list.

My grandparents welcomed guests into their home with a spirit of sincere love and generosity. Never to simply entertain or impress others, but instead to extend grace, comfort, and peace – through a delicious home cooked meal, thoughtful conversation and fellowship, lots of fun and laughter and, if needed, a comfortable bed and pillow for the night.

Mummy Stoltzfus's Visitor Dishes

The dishes my Great-Grandmother Esh (Rachel) used when family or company, visited during the week. My mother especially loved this set.

Both sets of my grandparents (Grussdaudy & Grussmommy Dienner, and Grandpa & Grandma Esh) sincerely loved having visitors in their homes, and welcomed people of many backgrounds and cultures. I very much enjoyed seeing them interact with people who were completely different from them – the most beautiful thing being their lack of judgement or pressing their own notions onto others, and the genuine interest they took in the things their guests had to say.

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”  – Henri J.M. Nouwen

Amish Table Linens

Some of my Amish grandparent’s personalized table linens, embroidered with their first initials. (“B” for Barbara, “I” for Isaac and “J” for Jonas)

My grandfathers always did whatever they could to make their guests comfortable, and my grandmothers outdid themselves in serving plenty of delicious food. There was never a lack of good conversation around the table.

“A compassionate open home is part of Christian responsibility, and should be practiced up to the level of capacity.” – Francis Schaeffer

Grussmummy's Good Dishes

My Grussmommy “Barbara’s” Good Dishes

Amish women may not prepare recipes from the pages of Bon Appetit, but their food is wholesome and delicious, and many times uses ingredients from their own gardens, orchards and pastures. They take great joy in preparing a beautiful spread for their guests, and will often bring out their “good dishes” when there is “company” sitting around their table.

Hospitality has never been about having House Beautiful with perfectly coordinated accessories and the most up-to-date equipment, nor is it dependent upon having large chunks of leisure time and a big entertainment budget to spend, nor does it require special training in the culinary arts or event planning. Hospitality is about a heart for service, the creativity to stretch whatever we do have available, and the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to the ordinary events of life. ~Dorothy Kelley Patterson

Grussmommy's mother Annie's Sunday Dishes

My great-grandmother Annie’s Sunday Dishes (She was my Grussmommy Barbara’s mother)

The culture of hospitality in the Amish community is cultivated by their intentional living style. The lack of “normal” modern hurriedness creates a space where there is time to simply enjoy being together – sharing, food, life, ideas, stories, and a place to put your feet up for a while.

“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” – Karen B. Mains

Grussmommy's Grandmother's , Mrs. Jonas (Catherine) Stoltzfus

These dishes belonged to Grussmommy’s Grandmother’s , Mrs. Jonas (Catherine) Stoltzfus – (My great-great grandmother)

I love the lessons my grandparents taught me about hospitality. Most of all that serving our fellow man is a privileged act of respecting others, and worshipping God.

“A life of hospitality begins in worship, with a recognition of God’s grace and generosity. Hospitality is not first a duty and responsibility; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God’s love and welcome to us.” –  Christine Pohl

In closing I share one more quote – one that perfectly encapsulates the way I felt when I visited the homes of my Amish grandparents. May the same be said of our homes, by all guests who stop and spend time under our roofs:

“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.” –  J.R.R. Tolkien

~ Justina Dee

This post is from a series I’m sharing called “Lessons from My Amish Family”. Click here to read more! 

One last quote on hospitality:

“There is a huge difference between “entertaining” and offering hospitality. Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.” – Karen Ehman

7 Things Every Amish Girl Knows How to Do

Amish Girls Holding Hands

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

It wasn’t until I was about 10 years old that I realized not every girl has the privilege of learning the homemaking skills I took for granted. My Mama wanted to share the things she knew with her daughters, and she enjoyed teaching us all she could. As a grown woman, I couldn’t be more thankful for the skill set she gave me! So, with no further ado, here are 7 (of the many) things every Amish girl knows how to do.

1) Wash Dishes

When I say wash dishes, I don’t mean just rinse them and put them in the dishwasher to unload the next morning. I’m talking wash cups, dishes, silverware, serving dishes, pots, pans, bowls, containers, cooking utensils, (you get the picture)…ALL by hand. And then you rinse the dishes, dry them, and put them away. Washing dishes the old-fashioned way is much better when working as a team. In fact, when there are lots of dishes (as is usually the case in an Amish home), it’s best when there at least five people to help with the chore. One person preps the dishes, one washes, one rinses, one dries and one puts them away. My Grandma said a girl is ready to get married when she can wash dishes fast enough to keep up with at least three people drying them.

Speaking of marriage preparedness: In addition to washing dishes at break-neck speed, Grandma said you had to be able to roll out your homemade pie crust in a perfect circle. Which leads us to skill number two:

2) Bake Pies

Amish girls learn early on how to make beautiful pies of all kinds. Apple Pie, Peach Pie, Custard Pie, Crumb Pies, Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie and many more. My Grandpa’s favorite was Shoofly pie, and Grandma always had one on hand. In addition to pies, they can make lovely bread from scratch and their cookies and cakes are marvelous. Holidays are an amazing culinary experience in an Amish home!

Making Chow Chow at Grandma's House

(Yours Truly) Making Chow Chow at Grandma’s House

3) Can & Preserve 

Applesauce, peaches, pears and cherries. Apple butter, pear butter,  jellies, jams and preserves. Grape juice and grape mush. Tomatoes, pickles, relish, beets,  ketchup and chow-chow. When it comes to canning and preserving, the Amish kitchen is unmatched in experience and expertise. Families have recipes and techniques they’ve passed down for generations. Their pantries and can shelves are a beautiful sight! My great-grandmother Fannie Stoltzfus enjoyed beautifying her canning shelves with delicate edging designed from folded newspaper. 

Little Seamstress

Sewing on my Mama’s machine at six years old

4) Sew & Quilt

Because the Amish make all their clothes (including boys and mens pants and shirts!), little girls quickly gain lots of experience in sewing. In addition, they learn beautiful embroidery skills, how to quilt and often how to knit and crochet as well. As a little girl I loved the adventure of going to the fabric store with Grandma! My favorite place was the second story of “Farmer Brown’s Market”, which was filled to the brim with all varieties of material for any kind of sewing project.

Amish Family

Amish Family | Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

5) Hospitality & Cooking for Crowds

Amish homes are some of the most hospitable and welcoming spots on the planet. They’re always ready to accommodate their guests with delicious food – and plenty of it. Amish girls don’t just know how to quickly present a hearty meal (of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, homemade bread with butter & jelly, applesauce, and chocolate cake with some canned peaches for dessert), they can make this meal for a whole crowd of visitors!

Working in the Garden

Working in the Garden | Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

6) Gardening & Yardwork

There’s something very special about working with the land, and Amish girls are talented gardeners. They grow much of their family’s food supply, then harvest and preserve it. Little girls help their mothers in the garden and learn how to plant and care for the family’s vegetable garden. In addition, many Amish girls enjoy doing yard work, and find great delight in creating a beautiful landscape for their family and friends to enjoy. Their yards are a picture of perfection.

My Grandma Esh working in her garden, in Lancaster County, PA

My Grandma Esh working in her garden, in Lancaster County, PA. We spent many happy hours helping her pick raspberries, harvest potatoes and gather asparagus. My parents now live on this property, and continue to maintain a beautiful garden!

Buggy Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Buggy Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

7) Drive a Buggy & Care for the Farm Animals

Men aren’t the only ones who drive those familiar buggies. Amish girls can handle the reigns too! They’re also very familiar with the inside of a barn, and know how to beautifully care for their livestock, run the farmyard and help in the fields. I only pretended to drive the buggy when it was parked in Grussdaudy’s barn, but I had plenty of experience in the barn when we visited Grandpa Esh’s farm. My favorite chores were bottle feeding the calves and helping with the milking.

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Amish girls may not be experts in pop culture, current fashion trends or fads. They may not have a clue whose songs are playing on top 40 radio, or what movies are in the theater. But I dare say the things Amish girls learn and know are far more beneficial to society (as they grow older and have influence of their own) than we give them credit for! I’m so happy I had a family who taught me these valuable skills that I use every day.

Thanks so much for following along as I share things I learned from my Amish Family here on my blog series 31 days of lessons from my Amish family! I’m having a great time reminiscing and reflecting, and it’s a joy to have you join me here.

~ Justina Dee


Work Ethic & Resourcefulness {Lessons from my Amish Family}

Amish Children | www.lydiaglick.com | #write31days #31AmishDays

Industry is learned at an early age. | Photo Credit Kathryn Dienner

If there’s one valuable life skill I learned from my grandparents it’s that a person’s worth is not determined by their success as it is commonly measured by the world, but rather, their value to society should instead be judged in more meaningful ways.

Abraham Lincoln said “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing”. There is a perception of the Amish community in today’s pop culture that is built around “reality” television shows. In these portrayals, my relatives are cast as naïve, ignorant and foolish. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take you beyond the mythical shadow of the Amish people which has permeated our TV screens and the internet, to the “tree” with deep roots of character that I love and appreciate.

Sunrise over the farm |www.lydiaglick.com | #write31days #31AmishDays

Sunrise over the farm | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

As the sun rises over an Amish household, there has already been much activity. My Grussdaudy & Grussmommy were always up early, preparing for the day. I remember when I spent the night at their house and set the (obnoxiously loud, tick-tocking) Big Ben alarm clock which sat on the little nightstand by the antique guest bed in which I was sleeping, for 6:30 AM. I was so excited to wake up early and help Grussmommy make breakfast for Grussdaudy before he headed out to his wood shop. But when I woke up and made my way down the stairs, Grussmommy was washing dishes and Grussdaudy was already out the door!

As the day progressed, there was never a lack of activity. My grandfathers worked diligently at their respective businesses – Grussdaudy in cabinet making, and Grandpa on his farm and other enterprises. They took the responsibility of caring for their families very seriously.



When I was at either of their homes, I usually spent most of the day helping my grandmothers. (Or better stated, I liked to believe I was helping them, and my Grandmothers were gracious enough to let me think it.) One of the chores I helped Grussmommy with was washing clothes. We used an old-fashioned wringer washer, and then used clothespins stored in her homemade bag to hang the clean clothes on the line to dry. Grussmommy was a small woman, slender and sweet as could be, but very robust. Three things I loved most about her were the gentle smile which constantly graced her face, her kind blue eyes, and her small but strong hands that continuously stayed busy.

Working Amish Farm |www.lydiaglck.com | write31days #31AmishDays

Industrious Homestead – a Working Amish Farm                     | Photo Credit Julie Lea Wladorn

My Grandma loved working outdoors, and we spent countless hours working together in the garden, the yard, or doing projects around the farm. The Amish take great pleasure in creating beautiful grounds, and neither of my grandmothers were an exception to the rule.

Working in the garden

Working in the garden | Photo credit Julie Lea Waldron

Both my grandmothers were extremely active, with not an ounce of laziness to be found in their body! They found deep satisfaction in loving and serving their family and community well, and seemed never to tire of cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning, preserving, organizing, sewing, quilting, caring for those in need…well the list goes on and on! Both of them were talented seamstresses. Grussmommy’s sewing machine was an old fashioned treadle variety, powered by the steady movement of her feet. What beautiful, practical skills my grandmothers possessed! I remember wishing there was a way to download the wealth of knowledge and life skills they carried, from their brain to mine.

My Great Uncle and Great Aunt raking leaves

My Great Uncle and Great Aunt | Photo Credit Kathryn Dienner

My grandparents were extremely resourceful, and did things the “green” way before anyone ever made it the cool thing to do. Grussmommy was the master of repurposing things. I remember the way she washed plastic bread bags, and propped them up to dry and use again. All my grandparents stayed active until well advanced in years, and didn’t like to sit still during the week for any great length of time when there was work to be done.

Amish Produce Roadside Stand

Amish Produce Roadside Stand |  Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldrom

The Amish are an industrious group of people. You can find small family enterprises scattered all over the counties where they live. My personal favorites are the roadside produce stands, where they sell delicious home-grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers and fresh farm eggs. Their roadside businesses are a true treasure to the locals.


Updating the Produce Sign | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

“If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. It expresses the way my Amish family handled their responsibilities. They worked hard. They persevered. They were industrious, cheerful and never idle. They displayed self control and diligence. They were resilient. And they lived their lives well, taking great satisfaction in doing whatever they set their hand to with all their might, and to the best of their ability. They had an outstanding work ethic.

Amish Couple | www.LydiaGlick.com | #write31days #31AmishDays

Amish Couple | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

You many never have heard of my grandparents before reading this blog post. They were humble, quiet people who never took the spotlight on any stage. But their lives were engrained with the stuff that matters. Honor, respect, courage, love, humility, peace, incredible resourcefulness and character. They could lay their head on their pillow at night knowing they had done their jobs well.

Wagon Ride | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

Wagon Ride | Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

 “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein

My Amish family taught me lessons of Character and Integrity : the kind of skills that never go out of style and never fail to bring true success.

~ Justina Dee

Thank you for joining me on the #Write31Days challenge, where I’m sharing things I’ve learned from my Amish family. You can read other posts in my series by clicking here. 


CNN Money – Why Amish Businesses Don’t Fail

PSFK – America’s Most Successful Business Model? Try the Amish.

Sun Sentinel – Amish Farmer’s Success “At a time when leading agricultural economists have declared the small commercial family farm a relic, Lancaster County`s 1,200 Amish farm families are thriving.”

The Christian Century – Amish ex-farmers have business tips for CEOs :
There’s more to it than making a bundle of money

And a few more quotes, just because I love them:

“The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.” ~ Joshua Waitzkin

“To achieve what 1% of the worlds population has (Financial Freedom), you must be willing to do what only 1% dare to do..hard work and perseverance of highest order.”
~ Manoj Arora

“Thank God every morning when you get up, that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not.  Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle never know.”  ~Charles Kingsley

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” ~Sam Ewing

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” ~Margaret Thatcher

Homemade Amish Bread {Whole Wheat}


Summer break is over, our homeschool is back in session and it’s time to blog again! I want to share some of our summertime adventures with you, and can’t think of a better place to begin than bread making! Although our biological daughter already has lots of experience in the kitchen, our soon-to-be adopted daughter from Ukraine has spent the past ten years of her life in an orphanage, so she doesn’t yet have much knowledge in the area of cooking and baking. She’s a fast learner, and will be flying around the kitchen whipping things up in no time. 🙂

Mennonite Community Cookbook

As my mother grew up in an Amish home, one of the staple resources in our kitchen as I learned the art of cooking was the “Mennonite Community Cookbook”. It’s filled with treasured recipes from Amish-Mennonite homes all over North America. The bread featured here today comes straight from the pages of that cookbook, with exception – I substitute Olive Oil for Shortening. So, with no further ado, here’s the recipe!

Bread Ingredients

Whole Wheat Bread {Recipe from The Mennonite Community Cookbook, pages 3 & 11) Makes 2 small-medium loaves

1 cup scalded milk

1 cup hot water

1 yeast cake or package of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 Tablespoon salt

1/4 cup honey

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups white flour

4 cups whole wheat flour

(*I use 6 cups of whole wheat flour, omitting the white flour the recipe calls for.)

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the hot water.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup of water, olive oil, honey, salt and scalded milk in a large bowl.

When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm temperature, add dissolved yeast.

Add flour gradually, making a dough stiff enough so that it can be easily handled.

Knead dough quickly and lightly until it is smooth and elastic. (I like to lightly dust my counter with flour, and knead dough directly on that surface – adding more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking to counter.)

Place in greased bowl, cover with cloth and set in a warm place to rise.

Let rise until double in size. (About 1-2 hours.)

Divide in half, shape into loaves, place into two bread pans, brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter and allow to rise again until double in size.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.

Rising Bread

And there you have it. The tried, true and (many times) tested Amish Whole Wheat Bread recipe. Remove from pan, place on wire racks to cool, and enjoy one of our family favorites!

Fresh Homemade Bread





Oven Baked Buffalo Wings {for the whole family}

Baked Buffalo Wings

Oven Baked Buffalo Wings is a main dish that every person in our family enjoys! The recipe source is one of my favorite cookbooks; Nourishing Traditions. I modified Sally Fallon’s “Sesame Buffalo Wings” recipe, as several people around our table aren’t fans of sesame seeds. It’s best to prep this dish either several hours or the night before you plan to bake it. There is no frying involved, but the marinade causes a delicious crispy outside, while the chicken remains tender and moist under the skin. Yummy!

Nourishing Traditions

Did you know eating chicken off the bones is an excellent way to get skeletal-healthy nutrients into your diet? So, eat your Buffalo Wings friends; they’re great for your joints! (But stick with the baked version – your body will thank you.) So, with no further ado, here’s the recipe!

Baked Chicken Wings

  • 24 chicken wings, separated at the joints (Trader Joe’s is a great source!)
  • 1/2 cup naturally fermented soy sauce (I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, available online or at many grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Juice and grated rind of 2 (large) lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Cayenne Pepper – desired amount (the more, the spicier!)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, honey, lemon juice & rind and all the seasonings. Marinate buffalo wings in the mixture several hours or overnight. Remove from mixture and pat dry. Place in stainless steel baking pan, brush with butter and bake at 350 degrees about 1 1/4 hours. These are also great re-heated!


~Justina Dee

Homemade Laundering Soap {Hand Selected Scents}

Laundry Soap Ingredients

A few months ago I shared a post about tackling the dragon in my life called LAUNDRY. I’ve discovered one reason this chore didn’t excite me. You see, I enjoy creativity, beauty and special moments. And although doing laundry certainly adds many desirable things to anyone’s character, it didn’t ignite the “artsy” side of me. So, it was boring.

Enter; Homemade Laundry Soap! Why do I get excited about this? Because I can create my very own, exclusive, hand selected laundering concoctions. For the 20 minutes or so that it takes to create this loveliness we call laundry detergent, my kitchen transforms into a perfume maker’s chemistry lab of creativity and scented delight. The excitement carries over into my laundry routine, as I can’t help but smell the soap and smile every time I wash a load of dirty clothes, linens or towels! And the bonus is a giant savings over supermarket “natural” detergents.

Laundry Soap Supplies

I modified a basic recipe I found on Pinterest, sourced from “The Frugal Girls”. I purchased a canning kettle which I use exclusively for laundry soap making, and then I store all my supplies in it when I’m finished. This recipe makes 2 gallons of beautiful, fresh, delicious-smelling homemade laundering soap. *Note I use this in my front-loading washing machine, and works beautifully.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundering Soap Recipe

1/2 bar castile soap, grated

1/2 cup borax

1/2 cup washing soda

Water: 6 cups hot water, then 6 cups hot water, then 1 gallon + 6 cups cold water


Grate your soap, place into large pot and combine with 6 cups hot water (from the faucet). Stir and heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and add washing soda and borax. Keep this mixture on the stove (low to medium heat) for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. After 5 minutes, turn off the burner. Add 4 cups hot water. Stir. Then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups cold water. Place in empty laundry detergent containers, a bucket, or you can do as I did, and purchase your very own special gallon jugs. Your laundering soap will thicken into a gel-like consistency in about 24 hours. That’s it! You made your own laundry soap. We use 1/2 cup per load, always shaking well before each use. 

Now comes the fun part; adding scents!

Homemade Laundering Soap

Our favorite are “Lavender & Rose”, and “Melaleuca & Citrus”.

For the first, I add 25 drops each of Lavender essential oil and 50 drops of Rosewater essential oil to one gallon of laundering soap. I also like to add a few drops of  Young Living’s “Thieves” essential oil. For the second, I use 25 drops each of Melaleuca (Tea Tree) essential oil, Lemon essential oil and Grapefruit essential oil per gallon. I also add “Thieves” to this mixture. Then I label the gallon container, and make sure to shake well before each use. (Note: I also experiment with different scents of castile bar soap. My favorites are Lavender, Tea Tree and Citrus.) There are many great brands and scents when it comes to essential oils, and you can certainly experiment with your own likes, preferences and ideas. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do.

Happy Laundering!

~ Justina Dee


In Defense of Pinterest


I am a colossal fan of Pinterest. I don’t go there often, because it has a tendency to suck me into an abyss of bewitching decor, a slew of delectable recipes I’ll never use, and oodles of parapherlnalia I never knew I needed. I consider myself a “power-pinner”. When I do spend some time on Pinterest, I can pin with the best of them. In fact, if there was such a thing as Pinterest-Olympics, I’m sure I’d medal.

I believe Pinterest can be a dangerous and risky place for women, as precious, irrevocable moments can easily be squandered on empty fantasies and vain imaginations, spending time looking at ideas we’ll never use. I love this post called “10 of the Craziest Pinterest Ideas Ever“. There are some ridiculous things to be found there, including wreaths made of thumbtacks, and “unicorn-poop-cookies”! Social media constantly vies for our attention, and rapidly takes our focus off the most important items at hand – including people who desperately need our love and affection, and the real-life homes we live in.

Pinterest began with 5000 users in 2010, and in January of 2012 “comScore” reported it had nearly 12 million users, of which (reportedly) up to 80% are women. It’s unquestionably hitting a chord with many of us! Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”, and they’re certainly doing just that!

All that said, here’s my little Pinterest-theory.

In “the good old days”, women shared recipes, practical housekeeping tips and homemaking skills with other women in their community. They met for quilting days. They helped each other grow beautiful gardens and then preserve their harvests. They shared tried-and-true recipes on special index cards. They gave younger women tremendous, practical advice on marriage, babies, and anything else under the sun.

Of course this still happens in some rare circles, but in my observation, I (sadly) believe a vast majority of women feel detached and isolated, with no one around them to share the information they need, in order to make the lives they long to create for themselves and their family. Many of us live far away from mothers, aunts, and other nurturing figures, and have not found (and plugged-in) to a network of women with more experience and life-wisdom.

It may not be ideal, and it certainly isn’t as romantic as the pictures one can imagine when thinking of “get-togethers” in days gone by, but Pinterest extends a chance to connect with others, filling a niche need of so many women. I love to scan my friends boards to find recipes for our family dinner. I turned to Pinterest when I was teaching our daughter how to sew, and found a host of brilliant, beginner patterns. I could go on, and on, with the ideas I’ve found and USED, from this extensive resource. The photo about shows some birds our family crafted, using a free template from Pinterest. The inspiration seems infinite! I know people who are now hosting Pinterest parties; where they meet and share the recipes and skills they’ve acquired. It seems to be making a full circle!

In conclusion, there is a challenge here for us who are Christians. Titus 2:3-5 tells us that older women should teach and train younger women in matters of marriage, family and home. I deeply admire women who are taking the time to mentor those around them, and investing into the lives of others. We need real-life examples, guidance and encouragement, in order to become a Proverbs 31 woman. I encourage all of us to share the unique wisdom God has graciously given us, and to find women who will help us learn the skills we need for a beautiful life, of inspired living. We all have something to give, and something to learn, from the women God has placed in our lives.