LIKE most Amish and Mennonite women, my mom, Orpha B., learned to cook from her mother. Mom grew up in a Mennonite community in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, and she lived there through the first 11 years of marriage to my dad, Marvin. They moved to Tennessee in 1988.

Mom makes most everything from scratch, including pie crusts, bread and rolls. We even mix our own sausage.

She fixes foods for church carry-ins, picnics and “widows’ luncheons”, as well as feeding our family of eight.

My sister Rosanna teaches in Missouri and comes home in the summers. My brother Philip is finishing 2 years of teaching at a mission school in Belize.

The rest of us—Samuel, Kenneth, Esther and me—live at home. I’m the youngest. We work in our family’s woodworking business, building gazebos, gliders, arbors, swings and picnic tables.

Working Up an Appetite

After a busy day in the shop, we can’t wait for one of Mom’s delicious suppers. We think her best menu consists of Grilled Thighs and Drumsticks, Grated Potato Salad, Frozen Fruit Slush and Mom's Molasses Cookies.

Ever since my mom got the Grilled Thighs and Drumsticks recipe a few years ago from a friend, it’s been our favorite way to eat chicken. The meat is tender and has a great barbecue flavor.

My aunt’s recipe for Grated Potato Salad can be made the day before and refrigerated. The grated potatoes have a texture that we really like, almost like mashed potatoes.

Frozen Fruit Slush hits the spot on a hot summer day. It keeps very well in the freezer, so we often make a large batch to have on hand.

Mom's Molasses Cookies is one of our favorite recipes. A neighbor lady gave us the recipe when we made sorghum several years ago. These soft chewy cookies disappear fast!

When we were younger, my mom would make cut-up cakes for our birthdays in the shape of a dog, train, airplane, butterfly, bunny and more. She must have made at least 70 of them! Mom still serves our favorite cake, German chocolate, for each of our birthdays.

Holiday Specialties

Mom Orpha B.

Once a year, usually at Thanksgiving or Christmas, my mother soaks a turkey in brine to give it a ham-like flavor and stuffs it with dressing. She serves it with fried potatoes, peas, salad and rolls…and there’s always a tasty dessert.

At Christmas, she makes lots of goodies, such as nutty caramel corn, party mix and fruitcake. We help her bake cinnamon rolls to give to about 20 families in our neighborhood.

When she’s not occupied with cooking, cleaning and sewing, Mom works in her garden and flower beds. I enjoy helping with the flowers and seeing which ones I can dry.

Although my mom has taught me to cook, I don’t often get the chance since I work in the shop 5 days a week. No matter how busy we are, though, our family takes time to eat together three times a day. Mom’s scrumptious meals are always something to look forward to. I hope your family will look forward to trying her recipes, too.