Holidays - Amish-style
By Patricia Stephens
There are plenty of holidays between October and December. People often ask if Amish people celebrate any of them. The answer is that they celebrate Christmas, but they don't recognize any federal holidays or those they deem "non-Christian." Note: They make an exception for Thanksgiving, a secular holiday among non-Amish people.
Even though the Amish way of life centers around the church, there is plenty of joy and luscious foods in their homes in November and December. Since the Amish usually work six days a week, Thanksgiving gives them a whole day to rest and enjoy their family, friends, and a few games.
Interestingly, Thanksgiving and Christmas fall during the Amish people's "wedding season." Weddings are typically held on Tuesdays and Thursdays during those months to keep Sundays open for church activities. A Saturday event would have clean up on Sunday and a Monday event would have set up on Sunday, so the elders would deem such activity sinful. November and December are chosen because they fall into the time after harvest's bounty has been brought in and before winter's snow and frigidity set in.
If a wedding falls on Thanksgiving, the celebration factor slides to a whole different level, with up to 500 people often in attendance for several hours - and two full meals!
But if there are no weddings, Thanksgiving is enjoyed in much the same way as the non-Amish, with family, friends, and food. They probably won't be watching football or parades, but there are other things to do. The menu usually consists of the usual turkey, potatoes, gravy, and stuffing. Still, the Amish will add some specialties, such as broccoli salad (see recipe below) and sweet potato casseroles. Amish Cranberry Salad (see recipe below) is also a hit. The Amish join the non-Amish people in loving their sweets and baking shoofly pie to join the pumpkin pie, apple pie, and whoopie pies (see recipe below) being passed around the dinner table.
Hungry yet? Here are a few Amish dishes you could cook up and enjoy for your Thanksgiving celebration this year.
1. Amish Broccoli Salad
(From Cooking Life to the Fullest at cookinglifetothefullest.com)
2 heads broccoli, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, and sugar in a bowl to make a creamy sauce.
Add broccoli and stir until broccoli is coated evenly.
Stir in the bacon, onion and cheese.
Refrigerate until serving.
2. Amish Cranberry Salad
(From Anna at https://amish-heritage.org/amish-cranberry-salad)
1 box strawberry Jell-O
1 box black raspberry Jell-O
3 cups boiling water
5 unpeeled apples
1 cup cranberries
1 orange, peeled
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 cup white sugar
Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water.
Then add cold water.
Grind apples,cranberries, and orange.
Add crushed pineapple and sugar.
When the Jell-O begins to thicken, add fruit and mix well.
3. Amish Dressing
(From Quilt Country - Marcia Adams, cdkitchen.com)
2 pounds crusty white bread, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 pounds chicken thighs, poached
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/4 cup potatoes, diced
3 teaspoons sage
3 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
12 ounces evaporated milk
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
Place the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain well and place the potatoes in a large bowl.
Place the chicken thighs in another pan of boiling water and poach until no longer pink. Drain the chicken and when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones from the meat. Finely dice the meat place it in the bowl with the potatoes. Discard the skin and bones.
Add the bread cubes, parsley, onion, celery, carrot, sage, celery seed, thyme, black pepper, and turmeric to the bowl. Toss well to combine.
In another bowl, beat together the eggs, evaporated milk, and chicken stock until well blended. Pour over the bread cubes and mix gently. Let the mixture stand for 1 hour at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 3-quart baking dish.
Transfer the dressing mixture to the baking dish. Place the stuffing in the oven and bake at 325 degrees F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until it is golden brown and cooked in the middle. Serve hot.
4. Amish Chocolate Whoopie Pies
1 cup oil
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour, . (and or or use 1/2 Occident flour if you wish)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Ingredients for filling
3 egg whites
(Note: These are used uncooked so if you have egg issues, try using dried egg whites, found in any grocery store)
3 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons milk
2-1⁄4 cups shortening
5 cups confectioners' sugar
Cream shortening, sugar and eggs.
Add milk alternately with dry ingredients and mix well. Add additional flour if needed to achieve proper consistency. (Note that the batter will also thicken as it stands, so you may wish to let it stand 15-30 minutes before baking.
Drop onto greased (or sprayed) cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.
Cool completely, then place one cookie upside down and coat with filling.
Top with another cookie.
Wrap in plastic wrap. Serve anytime! These also freeze really well!
Instructions for Filling
Beat egg whites until stiff (if you're using whites).
Add vanilla, flour and milk & beat well.
Add shortening and sugar.
Whip on high speed for 3-5 minutes.
These recipes are provided by Amish Furniture Creations™, a family-owned and operated furniture store in Mesa, Az and we are a proud distributor of Amish-made furniture. We also offer custom options for most of the pieces presented on our site. In addition, we provide more material options to ensure that you bring home a beautiful product that will fit your interior or exterior spaces. You can visit us at our store at 1660 S. Alma School Rd., #100, Mesa, Arizona, to learn more about Amish furniture and custom furniture pieces. Or you can call us at (480) 336-2144. We are always happy to answer your questions.