How To Harvest Fruit Without A Ladder

ladder-and-apple-tree

My Dad was born in a tiny bedroom a few steps from the kitchen in our fourth generation Lehman farm.  Grandpa’s original apple trees were still thriving there until just a few years ago.  Some of the nut trees my dad planted with his own hands there are now more than 60’ tall! Continue reading

Summer Into Fall: How to Enjoy it With Children

nature walk 2Here in Ohio, we’ve entered that in-between season of not quite summer, not quite fall (my husband’s favorite frugal time – we don’t need the air conditioner or the furnace). It is the perfect time for outdoor activities: the heat and mosquitoes have largely abated, but there’s no need for heavy coats and snow pants yet. We’re simply enjoying gorgeous, eye-popping blue skies, the gradually brightening colors of the leaves and a curious, hurried feeling in the air, probably because we all know what’s coming. In our family we take every opportunity to savor the last days of summer while welcoming fall as it arrives. Here are some simple ways you can, too: Continue reading

Applesauce Day

apples in bowl lisa amstutz

Late summer means it’s time for one of my favorite traditions: Applesauce Day. For years, the kids and I have spent a day or two each summer making a year’s worth of applesauce with my mother. It’s a family tradition that grows sweeter every year.

This year, the day was extra-special because for the first time, we did not have to buy any apples. Our young trees produced a bumper crop of chemical-free, mostly worm-free apples. We did a batch of Transparent apples and a second batch of Summer Rambos. Continue reading

Sweet, Sweet Sorghum Makes The BEST Cookies Ever

Dave's stack of sorghum stalks, ready to be crushed.

Dave’s stack of sorghum stalks, ready to be crushed.

(Editor’s Note: Last year, Dave Ross tried his hand at growing sorghum, then pressing and cooking the juice into the delicious old-time syrup many people remember. Here are his adventures in sorghum farming!)

Sorghum. At last the project has reached completion. From mail-ordered seeds that arrived in May, to sorghum syrup in my jars on the counter, to molasses crinkle cookies. It was a fun, educational experience, but honestly, I probably won’t raise it again. Sorghum syrup can be purchased from a local Amishman for a good price per quart. Lehman’s also carries it year-round, and that makes the effort of raising, stripping, taking the stalks somewhere to get them squeezed, and cooking down the sweet juice into finished syrup, more costly than buying it locally. Still, there was value and fun in the experience, and I’m glad I did it. Continue reading

Little Lessons From Anna’s House

amish farm spring_bruce stambaugh

Recently I had the privilege of visiting Anna*, a longtime friend of my grandmother’s. Penpals for decades although they live just a few miles apart, they met in an apple orchard and immediately bonded over their shared frugal ways.

Anna is a 70-ish widow who belongs to one of the strictest orders of the Amish, so I expected her house to be very bare, almost austere. But I was wrong. Like Anna, her house was a delight in the purest and most innocent sense. In fact, Anna’s house taught me… Continue reading

Dutch Oven Cooking: History and How-To

dutch ovens 5

Editor’s Note: Each May, we celebrate the annual Dutch Oven Gathering at Lehman’s store in Kidron, Ohio, where cast iron cooking devotees came from far and wide to cook up delicious treats for visitors to sample. Those unable to attend: this article’s for you! It includes helpful tips on getting started with dutch oven cookery, plus an easy (and yummy) recipe to try. Happy cooking!

In many ways you could say a Dutch oven is the ultimate cookware. For the resident barbecue “expert” who might feel he or she has perfected the grill, taking up cast iron cooking opens up a whole new world of mastering the cook fire for the enjoyment of family and friends. For the burgeoning cook who wants a new challenge, a Dutch oven can be a creative way to adapt both old and new recipes. I could go on and on, but the fact is cooking in Dutch ovens is just FUN. Continue reading