Monthly Archives: September 2017

Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings


makes 12 — Sheet cake pan

6 medium-sized baking apples, cut in half, peeled and cored
4 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/3 cups butter flavored Crisco
1 cup milk

To make pastry:
*Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
*Cut in Crisco until the particles are about the size of small peas.
*Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together.
*For ease in handling, separate dough into two parts.  Roll each half out to at least 10″x15″  (or 12″x 18″)  and cut into six equal squares of 5″- 6″ each.
*Put a dab of butter (like 1/2 teaspoon or so) on each square.
*Put about 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of sugar on top of the butter.
*Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the sugar.
*Place a half apple on top, with the middle cavity over the sugar and cinnamon.
*Fold the dough up and around the apple to cover it completely.
*Place dumplings 1 inch apart in the greased baking pan, with the seam down and the sugar cavity up.
*do the same with the second half of the dough.
*Pour over the the sauce made as follows:

3 cups brown sugar
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter

*Combine brown sugar, water and spices.
*Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes
*Add butter
*Pour over the dumplings, trying to drench each one with the sauce.
*Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.
*Baste occasionally during baking.
*Serve hot with rich milk or ice cream

Variation:  Sometimes I grate my apples – especially if I’m using seconds and don’t have nice “halves” and then I use a half-cup measure pretty tightly packed to put a pile of  grated apple on top of each sugar pile and wrap it in dough, just like it was an apple half.  Daniel seems to prefer this to having a half apple in there, but it is strictly personal preference.

Another variation that I’ve had (but never made) is to roll the dough out, butter the dough, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on it and then spread it with the grated apple, and roll as a jelly roll, slice as a cinnamon roll, and put into the pan and pour the sauce over it like you would with the regular dumplings.  Bake as instructed.  This is REALLY good, and I’m indebted to Loretta Miller for my exposure to this method.




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Names and Titles and Mamas Who “Never Go Away”

There has been quite a discussion going on over on Dorcas Smucker’s facebook page about what to call adult children.  Those of you who read my blog know that I refer to our children collectively as “The Offspringin’s.”  Certain Man calls them “The Young’uns”  (I’m not sure how to even spell that!) along with other specific dutch words that fit individual children at any given time.  His parents firmly believed that you did not give nicknames or shorten names in any way, and I decided early on that it wasn’t in my best interest to shorten his good, strong name in any way.  Hence, he has always been “Daniel” to me when I use his given name (or “Mr. Yutzy”).  When we had our children, it seemed like there was this plethora of names that just came naturally, and when I read somewhere that “a love child has many names” I decided that it wasn’t something to worry too much about.

We were a little cautious in the use of the words “kids” because we had been severely schooled in the sinfulness of that usage.  Even the name “Mom” was frowned upon by my paternal grandfather as disrespectful.  I can remember coming in from school on afternoons when Grandpa (David S. Yoder, Sr.) was there and calling for “Mom!” and hearing him clucking his disapproval and saying, “Ach!  The kids came home!” (A word that was verboten in his vocabulary under any other circumstances).  The correct word was “Mama.”  (And don’t you forget it!)

Along with that were other titles of respect. We would never have thought of calling our aunts and uncles by their given names alone.  It was always, Uncle Jesse, Uncle Lloyd, Uncle Amos, or Aunt Ruth, Aunt Naomi, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Dottie, etc..  To this day I wouldn’t/couldn’t call them anything different.  Somehow there was something that went with that title that was compelling.  And my myriad of aunts and uncles were worthy of all the respect given them.  They were beloved and Godly and always interested in the lives of their nephews and nieces.  When our children came along, we insisted on the same respect given to aunts and uncles.

But that is not the story, although the discussion on Dorcas’ blog spurred both the preceding paragraphs as well as this story.

When our children were very young, and even before Rachel was born, our children were exposed to a difficult family situation where the father had abandoned the family and the mother was struggling with a desperate mental illness and the children were temporarily in various homes who tried hard to provide some stability whenever they could.  Two of the little boys were with our family at various times and their heartache was difficult to see.  Our youngest son, Lemuel, was a curly haired, verbal, blond three year old at the time, and he didn’t miss much that went on around the little house on Andrewsville Road that was our home.

And so it was that one day while I was in the laundry room, working on the unending loads of wash, a little tow-headed guy sought me out with a furrowed brow.  “Mama.” he said, with that look of urgent concentration on his face, “Would you ever go away?”

I looked into his young face, knew immediately the impetus for his question, felt his anxiety and made a promise that I prayed I could always keep.  “Oh, no, Lemmie Joe!  I would never go away.  I love Daddy and your brother and sisters too much to ever go away and leave you.”  He turned abruptly and motored his way out to the living room where his unsuspecting siblings were involved in their own worlds.

“Our Mama say she NEVER go away, ” I heard him announce to them in full voice.  I wondered what in the world they thought of such an unexpected proclamation, but there were various acknowledgements of his statements that carried muffled through the walls.  I smiled at his earnestness, but scarcely had I had time to think before my little guy was back at the door of the laundry room with a proclamation for me.

“I telled your chill’jens you said that!” He declared with a satisfied air, like he had just settled a great big issue and since I had given my word and he had “telled them” there was nothing more to be discussed.  He turned away, out of the door, and went back to his play.

It has never, ever left my heart.  I can tell you right where I was standing when he came in to ask me the question that was on his young mind.  Often I’ve thought about all the Mamas (or Daddies) who go away and don’t come back, or are sent away and not allowed to come back, or who, for whatever reason, physical or emotional, are unable to come back.  How my heart aches for the “chill-jens” (some now all grown up) who are wishing for a parent to come to stay.

And my heart gives grateful praise for parents who are “staying” when no one stayed for them, or are staying at great personal sacrifice of their own dreams and opportunities.  Sometimes it seems like the years stretch on forever when the walls hold us in, and the demands of our little ones make us wonder if we ever even had a mind to think plausible thoughts, much less dream.  It takes lots of love to hang in there.  But it also takes energy and grace and creativity and commitment and wisdom and courage.  It’s a huge, scary adventure.  But it’s worth it.  So very much worth it.  And now that those “Chill-jens” have become adult “offspringin’s” and have brought into our lives other people to love and more little ones to nurture, I’m grateful for all the choices, some mine, and some totally out of my hands, that allowed me to be one of the Mamas who didn’t need to “go away.”

For this and so much more on this rainy Monday in Delaware, my heart gives grateful praise.

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Those Who Sow in Tears

Today, just about now, our son and his wife and their three little boys are saying good-bye to a precious little slip of a girl who has stolen all our hearts and will take more than a piece of us with her when she goes.

There should be no criticism of the social system in this particular circumstance.  This is one of the good decisions, and it would be a malicious wrong to indict anyone involved.  This is the sort of thing that happens when things need to be done right, and it takes time.  There is relationship in place.  This baby will be loved.  She will be cared for.  She will be taught about Jesus.  And she will have contact with the family that holds her first year in their hearts, in their minds, and in their memories.

My heart is caught up today with the sadness of our Ohio family.  On my mind and in my prayers are Raph and Gina and the boys as well as the extended family .  Especially, I keep thinking about the grandparents there, Andy and Saloma Yoder.  My grief as a Grammy has surprised me, making me aware of how far reaching this event is.  Looking at this from a Grammy’s point of view has triggered memories that I had almost forgotten.  Specifically, I remember something that happened to us nearly forty years ago that comes to this day with a familiar, aching twist.

We had gotten an eight and one-half month old baby boy, Joseph, in December of 1975.  We were so in love with this beautiful baby.  He was with us over 20 months. He was our first foster baby, and he was a favorite of everyone in our family. When he left to go to an adoptive home (back then, foster parents were not allowed to adopt except in rare situations) we thought we would die! Because our agency was known to close homes or withhold placements in homes where people “became too attached” we couldn’t voice our anguish to anyone at Franklin County Children’s Services. Our church was supportive, but I often felt alone in this grief that I felt we had “signed up for!”   Certain Man and I moved through our days with a slow sadness that couldn’t be brushed away or even washed away by the buckets of tears.  I remember the day I stripped the sheets off his crib to wash them, and I buried my face in those sheets and smelled the essence that was my baby, and I muffled my screams and cries of despair in their thick softness and then sobbed uncontrollably until the storm passed. The days were dark.

Soon after Joseph left, My Sweet Mama came for a week to “help out.” I was pretty much wrapped up in my own sorrow, and she didn’t invade much. One day she took a load of laundry to the wash line for me, and didn’t return. I finally went to see where she was, and I found her crying, standing among the flapping clothes in the breezy Ohio sunshine.

“I can’t stand it, Mary Ann,” she managed to say through her sobs. “I miss him so much! I just feel like I HAVE to see him, hold him, and hear his little voice calling for ‘Gammaw’,”

I remember standing there as a realization dawned on my fuzzy, grief-stricken heart. This loss was not only ours. It was everyone who had loved him – all of those to whom he was a grandson, brother, nephew and toddler friend. As I cried with My Sweet Mama, the sweetness of sharing this aching loss was comforting, and it was good. I look back on that day as when my grief started to turn around, although I sometimes think that the depth of sorrow that I feel over these grandchildren who come and don’t stay, (and the fierce protectiveness towards those who come to stay) probably has more to do with our experience as young parents in a sunny house on the hill in Madison County, Ohio.

The hard times, the grief and the days when we would rather die than live through them (except for the people that are counting on us) are the times when we come to realize what it is that we really believe, and what it is that we are trusting.  I’m so grateful that God didn’t give up on that headstrong young woman who had so much to learn.  And not only God, but so many strategically placed people who cared, and invested and supported and believed that their investment would be worth it.  I’ve been the recipient of so much grace.  I’ve been given so much.  And in this loss, and in the other losses of my life, there has been an anchor for my hurting heart.

Today, I choose Jesus again.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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