Cooking & Such and a giveaway

UPDATE: Thank you to each and every one of the three hundred wonderful participants in this contest! I used to choose a number and the winner is Cheryl of West Virginia. Congratulations, Cheryl!


Welcome to Plain Talk. Today’s post is from my friend Sherry Gore. She’ll post here once each month. Sherry and I became friends years ago, and if you don’t know her, you’ll enjoy getting to do so through her posts. She has a WONDERFUL magazine called Cooking & Such, and I’m giving away a year’s subscription. You can read Sherry’s bio at the bottom of this blog. The author of the article is a Plain woman who wishes to stay anonymous, so we simply used her first name. Enjoy!

Here’s what you’ll find inside the spring issue of Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living. A Mennonite cowboy calf branding in Wyoming; Mother’s Day brunch; barn kitties and cuties; fresh, Easter dinner and other spring recipes; stories that’ll make your sides ache and lots more! Oh, and find out what not to do in front of a buggy driver with a whip!

If you’d like to order the magazine, go to

The Phone Shack Adventure

by Linda

We Amish have a separate outbuilding where we keep our telephone, which we call a phone shack. Having the phone out nearer the road makes it convenient to share with our neighbors, which cuts down on the cost. I find keeping the phone outside helps keep our home more peaceful with less distractions. More and more these days, using the phone to call a business has become time-consuming as I wade through all the voicemail options and long for one that lets me talk to a person, which reminds me a of story…

For two years I had been searching for a certain item and when I finally found it in a catalog, I boldly march out to the phone shack and picked up the phone to face yet another 800-number full of recorded voices asking me to select a number. “Hello. Thank you for calling. For English press 1, for Spanish press 2.” Quickly I punch #1. Next I hear five choices from which to choose. I pick number 5 because I still want to speak with a representative. “Thank you for calling. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line, we will be with you just as soon as possible,” quips a chipper voice. Broken up and staticky, music begins to play. Oh boy! This could take a while.

I jab at the speakerphone button. The phone is dropped into the cradle. Yikes! Speakerphone made the so-called music sound even worse. Into the sixth minute of being on hold, an idea starts forming in my head. I reach a decision quickly. Yes, I think I can run back into the house, grab my book, and be back out to the phone before a representative answers. Or should I stay? The longer I debate, the bigger the chance to miss the call. My decision made, I make a mad dash for the house (about 50 yards away), yank open the door, dive for my book, put the gears in reverse and head for the door. In my extreme hurry to get back out to the phone, I give the door an extra shove so it’ll latch correctly. The book flops out of my hand but I snatch it back up and take off full-throttle. Skirts billowing and cap strings flying straight back, out I rush into the phone shack.

Yes! I know I am successful as I am greeted by the sound of scratchy hold music. I sit down, lean back in the chair, and make myself comfortable as I open my book. But wait! Riffling through the pages, I quickly realize I have lost my bookmark in my haste. However, I soon find my place and begin to read. Pages flutter by as I skim over the words, deeply engrossed in the story. Flutter, flutter, flutter…

“HELLO,” the phone shouts. Startled back into reality, my poor head bumps the ceiling, preventing my successful jump to the moon. “Thank you for calling. My name is Tara. How can I be of assistance today,” asks the long-awaited voice. Quickly I wedge my head out of the imprint on the ceiling and back to earth. Heart still throbbing from surprise, I begin placing my order, but then I hear the sound of a vehicle. I take a quick peek. Yup, there sits the FedEx truck in front of our house. Do I have to sign for the package? Will the driver leave the package if I don’t? What do I do? Should I call out to him? Or should I finish the call and hope he waits?

“Umm, ma’am, are you still there,” asks Tara.

“Oh yes, I’m sorry. I got a little distracted here,” I apologize. I complete the order as I listen to the truck rumble away in the background. With my order successfully submitted I head back to the house.

To my complete joy, I notice the driver left my package on the doorstep. Reaching for my awaited package, my joy turns into embarrassment, for there on the door latch hung my bookmark. No wonder the driver left me my package. The bookmark (a memento from a recent wedding) read “Peace – Love – Joy – The greatest of these is love – Our wedding day, Eli and Lydia Miller”.


For a chance to win a year’s subscription to Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living magazine, please leave a comment below. This contest ends Monday, February 6, 2012. I’ll announce the winner when I post next Monday’s blog.

Remember that only comments left on my website will be entered. If you’re reading this on Facebook and such, please hop over to my website.

Thanks! (It’s just too hard to track down all the comments left in various places, and that means it’s too easy to miss some of the comments.)


Editor’s (Sherry Gore) Note: Years ago on Saturday mornings my friend Esther and I sold our baked goods together at Yoder’s Farmer’s Market in Pinecraft. I’ve always been a fan of carrot cake but this recipe of hers (a customer favorite) stands out above the rest. I’m certain you’ll like it as much as I do!

To visit Sherry’s website, go to

Carrot Cake
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups white sugar
4 ½ cups grated carrots
1 teaspoons salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 ¼ cups vegetable oil

Mix cake ingredients together and pour into 2 greased and floured 9” round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages 8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar

Mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if necessary. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Frosts one double layer cake.

Sherry Gore is a scribe for the national edition of The Budget newspaper, author of Taste of Pinecraft: Glimpses of Sarasota, Florida’s Amish Culture and Kitchens, and editor-in-chief of Cooking and Such: Adventures in Plain Living magazine. She makes her home in Sarasota, Florida, with her children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church. Sherry is the owner of a nonresistant double-barrel shotgun and an official pie contest judge. She learned the hard way one spring day not to wear ChapStick while driving an open buggy behind a shedding horse.

Comments are closed.