Author Recipes: Fun with Pumpkin

When many people think about the Amish, they picture tables filled with delicious, home-cooked food. And what better time to enjoy good food with family than fall? Two of our Amish fiction authors share pumpkin-themed recipes that were big hits in their own families!

pumpkin1

Leslie Gould’s Pumpkin Curry Soup

Love the fall colors on Leslie's newest book, Becoming Bea!

Love the fall colors on Leslie’s newest book, Becoming Bea!

2 large onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
3 Tbsp. yellow curry
2 (28 oz.) cans pumpkin puree
2 (15 oz.) cans coconut milk
4 c. chicken stock
Salt to taste

Sauté onions in coconut oil in a pot, add curry. Continue to sauté for several minutes. Onions should caramelize and curry should brown. Then add pumpkin, coconut milk, and chicken stock. If too thin, add more pumpkin. If too thick, add more coconut milk. (As with many soups, this one is even better the second day!) Stir together and keep over medium heat until warmed through. Serves 10.

GOULD_Leslie1cropLeslie Says: I served this soup to friends and family last year at our annual soup night. It’s one of my favorite evenings of the year. Nothing says fall like pumpkin…and the leaves, colors, warm days, and crisp nights of fall are glorious. All reminders of God’s goodness.

 

Beverly Lewis’s Pumpkin Cookies

The River also has an autumn setting.

The RiverBeverly’s latest novel, has an autumn setting.

½ c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 ¾ c. flour
1 c. pumpkin
1 c. All-Bran cereal
½ c. chopped nuts
½ c. raisins
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Mix together shortening, sugar, and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Drop onto lightly greased cookie sheet; bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeverly Says: The lovely smell of these cookies, freshly baked, brings back happy memories of returning home from school and finding Mother waiting, all smiles. Good at any time of year, but especially during the beautiful months of autumn!

 

Recipe is taken from the Amish Heritage Cookbook, compiled by Beverly Lewis

For more Amish-style recipes, visit the Cook’s Corner at Amish Wisdom!

Why Amish Fiction?

When Amish fiction became its own genre, many people were surprised. And when the genre not only survived, but grew—Beverly Lewis alone has sold more than 15 million books—people started asking why. What is the appeal behind romances set in small, conservative religious communities?

Valerie Weaver-Zercher of Wall Street Journal explains what she believes is the driving force behind the Amish fiction trend: “Amish fiction joins Ancestry.com, ‘Downton Abbey,’ heirloom tomatoes and vintage clothing in depositing us gently in the past without requiring us to loosen the vice grip on our iPhones.”

Amish buggy
Child of MineTo a secular audience, that’s what makes the most sense out of the phenomenon. Christian readers, though, would say there’s more to it than that. Beverly Lewis addresses this side of the books’ appeal. She says, “Tens of thousands of letters from readers indicate that courting rituals, table talk, a predictable/structured life, love and care of family, and a true sense of belonging are the top five reasons why people are so intrigued with my Amish novels.”

Minding MollyLeslie Gould, author of the COURTSHIPS OF LANCASTER COUNTY series, agrees that readers appreciate the values and simple faith of the Plain characters. “I think readers are drawn to Amish fiction for the same reasons I enjoy writing it—getting lost in a simpler way of life, exploring issues of faith and family, and the juxtaposition of the Amish culture and our modern American way of life. I know reading—and writing—Amish fiction takes me back to stories from my parents’ and grandparents’ rural upbringings, and to my own down-on-the-farm experiences as a child. I love being reminded of those memories, and I think readers do too.”

Why Amish fiction? Because sometimes we wish life moved along more at the pace of a buggy ride than a breakneck race down a neon-lit freeway. Because we know that a handwritten, newsy letter means more than a quick email. Because when we go to pray, there are hundreds of distractions . . . and we wish it could be different.

And maybe it can be, even in small ways. Give it a try for yourself. Make bread. Be silent for a while. Go for a walk. Write a few extra lines in a birthday card instead of just signing your name. Don’t just read about a simpler life; practice it.

But remember: if you decide you’re going to have a family dinner, it probably won’t look like a typical Amish meal. Maybe your two-year-old will throw peas at her brother or your junior higher will explain what goes into the hot-dog making process or your third grader will announce that he suddenly does not like the food that he’s never complained about before.

The point isn’t perfection. The point is togetherness.

It’s not about feeling guilty if you make a birthday cake from a box or buy it from the store (“But the Amish churn their own butter, for goodness’ sake!”). Or if all of your Pinterest DIY projects fail (“They made this seem so easy in the quilting bee scene.”). Or if you struggle to get your teenage daughter to stop wearing sweatpants with “Flirty” written on the back (“That’s it! You’re wearing solid-colored dresses and a bonnet from now on!”).

Amish fiction shouldn’t give us an impossible standard to live up to. Instead, it should be a reminder of what’s really important. We probably shouldn’t try to recreate the lifestyle found in the pages . . . but maybe we can learn from and adopt some of the attitudes.

What tradition or custom do you admire most about the Amish?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALearn more about Beverly and her latest book, Child of Mine, co-written with her husband David, at www.beverlylewis.com, or visit her on Facebook.

GOULD_Leslie1cropLearn more about Leslie and her latest book, Minding Molly, at www.lesliegould.com, or visit her on Facebook.

Author Roundtable: Garden Favorites

Did you know that the lovely bouquet you’re eying in the florist shop could actually contain a secret message?

Well, not today, maybe. These days, a rose is just a rose. But in the Victorian era, young people would use the commonly accepted meanings of flowers to express their feelings for each other. (Pity the poor suitor who didn’t know that yellow tulips meant “hopeless love” or that snapdragons meant “deception or presumption”!)

Here are a few of our authors’ favorite flowers and their corresponding Victorian symbolism.

Becky Wade: Geraniums

GeraniumMeaning: True friendship

Kimberley Woodhouse: Tulips

TulipsMeaning: Declaration of love

Jen Turano and Elizabeth Camden: Sunflowers

SunflowersMeaning: Loyalty

Ann Tatlock: Violets

VioletsMeaning: Faithfulness

Melissa Tagg:  Daisies

DaisiesMeaning: Innocence, hope

Nancy Mehl: Irises

IrisMeaning: Faith, wisdom

Ann Mateer: Gardenias

GardeniasMeaning: You’re lovely, secret love

Regina Jennings: Zinnias

zinniasMeaning: Thoughts of absent friends

Dee Henderson, Leslie Gould, Kate Breslin: Roses

RosesMeaning: Love

Mary Connealy: Daffodils

DaffodilsMeaning: Respect

Here’s a fun idea: Look at the meanings of certain flowers and think of friends who fit that description perfectly. Then buy seed packets of those flowers and mail them to your friends with a note about why this particular flower and meaning made you think of them. (Zinnias are always good for a “Thinking of You” card!)

What’s your favorite flower, and what does it mean? (There are some variations in meaning from place to place, but most of these I found here and here.)

Our Authors’ New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2014, everyone! In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I sent to following question to several of our fiction authors:

If you had to pick one fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) to work on in 2014, which would it be?

tablespoon.com fruit

For me, of course, the answer was simple. I mean there’s . . . but also . . . and what about . . . hmm. Maybe all of them?

To help me narrow down my choices, I read what our authors had to say. Here is how they responded:

Janette Oke

Oke_Janette

All needed. All should be developing daily. I would love to see each one of them in my own life: plump, and rich in color, and ripened to the tastiness they were meant to be. To pick one—it would be love. Because love is needed for each of the others to develop to full potential. Delicious possibilities!

Siri Mitchell

Mitchell_Siri

Patience. I think that as a fruit of the Spirit, it’s highly underrated. Mostly people just kind of skip over it for the more “righteous” gifts, but we live in such an impatient world. It’s easy to get caught up in the “right-now” culture, but really, impatience is making yourself and your needs more important than everyone else’s. So patience is what I’ll be working on this year.

Lisa Wingate

Wingate_Lisa

This being the empty nest year of my life, I think mine would be joy. As a mom who always loved being a mom and loved all the routines that go with being a mom, I’m working on finding joy as life turns a corner. When one (dorm room) door closes, another door opens.

Kathryn Cushman

Cushman_Katie1

Self-control. It’s a constant struggle in almost every area of my life. It’s the main reason my favorite verse is Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.”

Laurel Oke Logan

OKE_LaurelAndJanette1

I tend to be a passion-driven person, so I would like to balance that with more self-control.

Melissa Tagg

Tagg_Melissa1

I think faithfulness—although, let’s be honest, I really could stand to use some work on patience and self-control, too. But I feel like in the past year or so, God has constantly been reminding me of His faithfulness . . . there is something so amazing about that constancy. It makes him dependable and trustworthy. I would like to be that way as much as possible in my own life: faithful, dependable, constant.

Leslie Gould

GOULD_Leslie1crop

I’d pick joy! We live in a broken world, but God’s redemption is evident everywhere. In nature. In humans. In art. In stories. I want to be aware of that redemptive work and rejoice in that beauty. I want to delight in creation and relationships and knowing God is ultimately in control.

Victoria Bylin

Bylin_Victoria1

Kindness, definitely. I work part-time in a doctor’s office. Every day I see people going through hard times. A little extra consideration—opening a door, getting someone a tissue—goes a long way to brightening that person’s day. It brightens my day too! We all need help now and then. It’s a fact of life.

Karen Witemeyer

Witemeyer_Karen1

Self-control. That sweet tooth of mine just keeps insisting on having its own way, and I give in far too often.

Kate Breslin

Breslin_Kate1

I could certainly work on them all, but I’ll choose faithfulness. As a new author, I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” in publishing, both exciting and challenging; to keep my faith constant that all will work according to God’s plan is a blessing to strive for!

Lynn Austin

Austin_Lynn1

Peace. I would like to get to the place where all of the disturbances in life, major and minor, don’t ruffle my composure or make me lose sleep.

Dani Pettrey

Pettrey_Dani

Joy. It’s been a difficult couple of years with a lot of loss, but also with a ton of good. Isn’t it funny how God brings joy in the midst of heartache? This year, I’d love to dwell on the joy and praising God for it.

Melissa Jagears

Jagears_Melissa1

Love—I’m really busy at the moment and my kids and husband and other loved ones need to know that I love them. God too. And so I need to make sure I carve out enough time to show them in 2014.

Patrick Carr

Carr_Patrick

I’d choose them all! If I could only choose one, it would be self-control. This last year with work (I’m a teacher) has been such an eye-opener, and the change in perspective has been difficult but very worthwhile.

Anne Mateer

Mateer_DAnn

Definitely joy. I have a tendency to get bogged down in all I have to do or things that are going on in my life and forget that the joy of the Lord isn’t dependent on my circumstances but on what He has done for and in me.

R. J. Larson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I would choose love. I hope to reflect true and boundless love for everyone in this fallen world, even when some people challenge ideals I cherish, or threaten those who are vulnerable. Practicing and reflecting love also helps me as I pursue the other fruits of the Spirit.

Elizabeth Ludwig

Ludwig_Elizabeth1

Patience. No doubt. I am not a patient person, and reminding me of that only makes me more impatient. Thank goodness the Lord does not grow weary with me. He’s got to shake his head every time I forget to put on the fruits of the Spirit.

How about you? Pick a fruit, and tell us a little bit about why you chose it.

A Christmas Apart—But Closer Together Than Ever: Leslie Gould

From March of 2011 to February 2012, my Army Reservist husband, Peter, was deployed to Afghanistan to command a field hospital a few miles from the Pakistan border. It was a challenge for me and our four children to have him gone, but nothing we went through compared to his experience.

Peter and I saying goodbye at the airport before he left for Afghanistan.

Peter and I saying goodbye at the airport before he left for Afghanistan.

He was on a base routinely targeted by rockets, and one of his nurses was killed in an attack a few weeks after their arrival. Other enemy attacks killed several more soldiers on the base during Peter’s deployment.

He oversaw the care of American and international soldiers, Afghani citizens and children, and enemy soldiers, too. He lived every day in a war zone doing his best to save the lives of each person who came through the hospital. And for the most part he and his staff were successful—but every death was a horrible loss.

I, on the other hand, escaped into my world of the Amish, writing Courting Cate in the fall and winter of 2011. It wasn’t that I didn’t worry about Peter. I did. Every single day I had to struggle to trust God with Peter’s life, and then I’d gladly enter my writing world filled with nonresistant, Anabaptist characters who lived where there was no war.

As Peter neared the end of his deployment, we had one more hurdle to face: Christmas. Continue reading