The entry time for the giveaway is now over. The winner is Shirley Culpepper. Congrats, Shirley!
Today’s post is by my friend, Sherry Gore. Sherry is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, a charming book that highlights recipes, pictures, and stories from the Amish and Mennonite community in Pinecraft, Florida.
Recently, while flipping through some of my favorite food magazines that are peppered with summer recipes, I’ve run across several articles featuring delicate watercress sandwiches and salads. I have to chuckle at the thought of the ease the cooks likely had obtaining the petite, radish-flavored leaves for these tasty, yet easy-to-prepare dishes.
Some years ago while my family was living in Burkesville, Kentucky, horse-driven buggies and open wagons were the necessary vehicles that transported us around the hilly, pastured hollows dotted with daffodils, rustic red barns, and Holstein cows. My friends, Noah and Fannie, lived on a sprawling, yet inviting farm nestled amidst a thickly wooded landscape on a quiet road. Their spread was bedecked with a good many grazing sheep, two milk cows named Fawna and Prilly, several horses, a few hogs in the pen, and enough chickens to keep the frying pan full and the egg basket overflowing to feed the seven children still living at home, yet. The family’s primary driving horse was Blaze, a yellow-maned Halflinger mare with a reddish-coat to match her wild streak. Her coat seemed to scream, “You’re not the boss of me.” Blaze was a fireball.
When it came to horses, my friend Fannie was fearless. Perilous situations that would frighten most mothers ceased to move her gentle, wise, steady nature. She knew Blaze’s temperament and trusted her in the harness.
The first time I climbed aboard their family wagon with Blaze hitched between the shafts is forever etched in my mind. Fannie wanted to add a little something to the dinner she had planned for our families that afternoon.
Hiking up my skirts to step onto the wagon, it lurched forward before both my shoes were off the ground. Some Amish buggies have a little bar to hold on to when the ride gets bumpy, but this open wagon had only the bare essentials: the metal frame, four wheels, a sturdy, wooden flatbed wagon box coated in chipped gray paint, and the potential for danger. Not finding that familiar handle, I reached for the front panel of the wagon with both hands and held on tight as Blaze exploded out of the winding lane on their property. The horse crossed over the sideless bridge that stretched above the rushing creek running between their house and the road. I was holding on for my very life.
The sparsely populated village of Marrowbone didn’t see too many cars in the hollows, but Highway 90, which runs through the middle of town, was heavily traveled at all hours. I knew of only two stop signs off of the main highway: one in the hollow where Noah lived and another a mile and a half away, closer to our neck of the woods. Like a fiery streak of lightning, Blaze tore down Spoon Branch Road as if the devil himself was at her heels.
Though I was jostled around quite a bit, I started thinking this might be fun after all. Then I spied the STOP sign way ahead, standing alone in all its red boldness against a backdrop of sycamore trees. That’s where the concrete ended with a ‘T’ at Casey Fork Rd. There was more rushing creek water on the other side.
With each passing second, we were nearing the stop sign with no hint of slowing down. By now, I was starting to worry. “Is she going to stop in time, Fannie? What if a car comes?” I wanted to know. “Probably not” she nearly shouted over the fast-paced beat of horseshoes clinking on the concrete road. Probably not going to be a car? Or probably not going to stop? I didn’t want to know which she meant.
My stomach lurched along with the speed of the wagon. “Blaze doesn’t care to stop for anything until she’s finished running. This only motivates me to pray harder” she said matter-of-factly as she leaned back in her metal chair and braced her heels against the front panel of the wagon.
When I spotted a white car coming up Casey Fork Rd. to the left, I screwed my eyes shut and tightened my grip. I wasn’t having fun anymore. In no time I felt my insides sway with the motion of the wagon as it made its turn without slowing its wheels. Only a few moments later I realized the ‘T’ in the road was behind us. I quickly opened my eyes and saw the white car pulled over to the side of the road. It was the mailman, Dan, making a delivery. He waved. I weakly waved back. Fannie smiled. I could breathe again.
About fifteen minutes later we were trotting at a slow enough pace to smell the honeysuckle growing alongside the fence as we neared the bottom of the hill on Chism Road. Blaze slowed down even more, and Fannie pulled off to the side. With Blaze standing in obedience to no one but herself, Fannie let go of the reins as she hopped off the wagon and made her way down the bank flourishing with watercress. Pulling a pair of scissors from the pocket easily hidden by her apron, she began trimming the green plants until she had a significant amount of stems in her hand. “This should be enough for our dinner today,”
Blaze trotted at a much slower pace as we rode back in peace to the farm. Sure enough, the salad Fannie prepared was enough to serve her family and mine. As we gathered around the long wooden table for a word of silent prayer before eating, I remember feeling thankful for more than just the good food.
Fannie’s Watercress Salad and Homemade Dressing
1 large bunch watercress leaves, freshly picked from the creek bank, washed and dried.
1 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup fresh milk from the cow, preferably a guernsey/jersey cross
Mix Miracle Whip, sugar, salt, vinegar, and milk together until thoroughly blended. Pour over watercress leaves and serve. Watercress leaves are also tasty in place of iceburg or other lettuce leaves in a sandwich. ~ Fannie Yoder
Though they no longer live in Burkesville, Kentucky, Noah still tends to his sheep and Fannie spends her days running the family store, Yoder’s Homestead Market, in Summertown, Tennessee. Stop by some time if you’re in the area, and tell them Sherry sent you.
Sherry Gore is editor-in-chief of Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living magazine, a weekly scribe for the national edition of the 120-year-old Amish newspaper The Budget, the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, and the host of Amish Wisdom (a weekly radio show). Sherry is a year-round resident of Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. Sherry’s culinary adventures have been featured on the Today Show, NBC Daytime, and National Geographic Channel’s documentary Amish: Out of Order. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church. She’s a caregiver to her twenty-three-year-old daughter, a Sunday school teacher, a cooking show host, and an official pie contest judge.
If you would like to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post on my website. The giveaway is only open to US residents.
If you are reading this anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website and leave a comment at the bottom of my post to enter the giveaway.
Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway.
The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at noon. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post.
Book Giveaway Results
I’d like to announce the winners of TWO separate giveaways!
First, I have the winner for the giveaway of an autographed copy of A Season for Tending, The Winnowing Season, and For Every Season from my post about traditional Amish quilting. Congratulations to Annetta Bullard!
Second, I have the winner from last week’s post. She’s won a copy of Pioneering Today–Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way, by Melissa K. Norris. Congratulations to Mary Preston!
Annetta and Mary, please send your name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your goodies!