The Amish Cook: Happy birthday, Dorcas


Birthday parties are great but there’s something especially grand about a 50th birthday celebration.

This week we’re having the pleasure of celebrating my mom’s 50th birthday. In a way it’s hard to imagine Mom being 50. She really does seem younger than that. Mom is always there to be an asset and help to us children in whatever way she can. Yesterday I had the honor of taking her to a “surprise” ladies coffee break which we had planned on her behalf.

Early that morning, I called Mom, asking her if I could take her on a little spin with the cart and pony at 1 p.m. Even though she didn’t say much, I know her mind started reeling, in an attempt to figure out what might be going on. At 1 o’clock, we took our pony, Candy (which Daniel had hitched up to the cart), and loaded Julia, Austin and Mom into the cart. Handing 10-month-old Austin to Mom, I took the reins; after all, she didn’t know where we were heading.

At the end of our driveway, instead of taking a left like I usually would, I took a right, which leads towards my uncle’s store. I also had intentions of taking a longer route to the birthday party in an attempt to fool her about where we were headed.

“This must be the wrong way,” Mom said with an ornery smile. “I saw a buggy going the opposite direction a little bit ago. ”

“Are you sure it wasn’t someone going home from the store?” I asked.

“Yes, because it was Leah and Grandma!” (They live next to the store.)

“Really?” I exclaimed. “We’d better follow them.”

Laughing, we made a U-turn and headed the other direction. This time the joke was on me.

Upon arriving at the party, 11 church ladies had already gathered there. As Mom walked in, they sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

I set my veggies and dip beside the finger foods and snacks that the other ladies had brought along on a table where everyone filled their plates. Sitting around an attractively decorated table, we sipped coffee and tea and enjoyed our fellowship together.

Some of you might be surprised that there was not a birthday cake. Birthday cake is a tradition that really varies from one Amish community to the next. For instance, in Daniel’s family, a cake is a big thing; in our family, a cake isn’t as big a deal for adults as it is with the little children.

While planning her party, I had racked my brain as to what else we could do that afternoon which would be both practical and inspirational. Finally, I decided to ask each lady to bring copies of a favorite inspirational poem or article to share with the rest of us. Mom loves reading. So I was especially eager to see what everyone would come up with.

After finishing our coffee break, we took turns sharing about the piece of writing we brought along as why we chose it or in what way we were challenged and motivated on the subject of joy and thankfulness which repeatedly came up. If we wait to be joyful until everything goes well in our lives, we’ll go through life without experiencing true joy. Genuine joy comes when we rest in God in the midst of trials.

The ladies showered Mom with a wide variety of gifts which included baked goods, a beautiful homemade rug and a book titled “Faithful and 50” and many other useful items. Unknown to Mom, we were also planning a toilet paper “cake.” Have you ever heard of such thing? A four-tiered cake is constructed with rolls of toilet paper, each containing a little gift in the center. Each tier is then tied together with ribbons and decorated with bows, flowers and so forth.

When we were ready to leave for home, we loaded the gifts onto the pony cart. Needless to say, the cart was filled to the max. It didn’t take Candy long to cover the 1½-mile route back home again where Mom dropped the children and me off before going on home with her gifts.

Julia loved being at the party. She even got to sit beside Grandma to eat. Julia’s turning 4 this week. She has been eagerly waiting on her birthday for a long time now. It’s finally become a reality.

How about trying our homemade veggie dip, similar to what I made for Mom’s birthday party? I like having some of the homemade ranch powder on hand for dips or sauces. It can used just like store-bought ranch mix.



To make the ranch powder:

5 heaping tablespoons of dried onion flakes

2½ tablespoons parsley

2 teaspoons paprika

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon celery salt

Mix and store in an airtight container.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup plain yogurt

¼ cup homemade ranch powder

Mix the three ingredients together and store in a sealed container and refrigerate.


By Gloria Yoder

Gloria is Amish and lives in a rural horse and buggy settlement in Illinois. Readers with questions or comments can write to Gloria at PO BOX 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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