The Amish Cook: Gloria tells an old chestnut


I blinked my eyes and checked again. Where is Daniel? I checked the children’s bedrooms to see if he was caring for one of them—no Daniel. Stepping over to the window overlooking our driveway, I blinked again and smiled, looking at the field beyond. Way back, in the back section of our 11-acre field, were the headlights of our tractor as he drove back and forth in the blackness of the wee hours of the early morning.

I nestled back in bed, excited for the day ahead, yet thankful for not carrying the responsibility of planting 1,150 chestnut trees in the next two days, before the heavy rain, which was in the forecast for Tuesday night.

Now I don’t know how familiar you are with chestnuts; I was not familiar with them last winter when Daniel first talked about them. Okay, so most chestnuts are imported, making the demand much higher. Daniel is always on the lookout for things that will enhance our children’s lives and help build character. He was impressed with the thought that by the time we have a houseful of teenagers, we’d Lord willing have a family project of harvesting chestnuts and caring for the grove. I was fascinated to learn of the health aspects of this nut and its ability to be used in many ways, including ground to make flour.

I admit, at first, I was a bit on the skittish side, till one day I was like, “Of course I’ll support his idea with my whole heart!” Since then, we’ve had untold blessings as we discussed how to approach the planting days and dreamed of having a picnic area among the trees (once they’re taller than the two to three feet they are now) and fixing up a camping spot.

Now we’ve eagerly been waiting on the day of their arrival, which happened to be on Daniel’s birthday. The next ‘wait’ was the soybeans, which needed to be harvested first to have the field emptied, ready for grass seed, then trees. On the day the beans were harvested, Daniel began preparing the area for planting, including cutting down some trees in the woods surrounding the field.

Now the day was here. No more waiting; the race was on. Hubby was out planting grass seed.

After a few more hours of sleep for me, the break of dawn was here. I met Daniel in the field with two breakfast sandwiches (made with fresh quail eggs) and juice. The grass seed was all planted, and he was ready to work on squaring off the field and put in flags where the trees were to be planted in 20 feet increments throughout the entire area. That was a significant job all its own. Daniel enjoys nice straight rows of whatever he does, and marking off a big field was no small task. With much diligence and help from his dad, they worked their way across the field.

The children were on pins and needles waiting on this big day when friends and family would pitch in and lend a helping hand, making the job more pleasant and doable. Now, this morning it only took moments for them to be wide awake. As soon as they had breakfast and did their morning jobs, we joined the men starting to distribute stakes, guards, and ties in preparation for planting. Little Joshua was thrilled to be in on the action and took it all in.

Daniel’s goal was to have the last trees in the ground by Tuesday night. My guess is that optimistic Hubby over-shot a bit. Monday went well. Perhaps the best part of all for me was at night, having guests relaxing in the yard after supper. It felt so good to sit down, chat, and catch up on news.

Tuesday morning, I took the children out in the field again. Thanks to Grandma for baby-sitting Joshua as we dug in and gave it all we had. By mid-afternoon, Daniel contacted those who planned to help in the evening and told them that we’re working on the last section and they don’t need to feel obligated to come.

White protector tubes stripped over the trees and tied to the stakes, all stood in rows of hundreds of trees. As we did those last rows, I gazed over the field in wonder. Overhead, dark clouds were gathering. I thanked God for the rain, which I was confident would be coming one time or other.

I hadn’t mapped out all my menus ahead of time to feed those who came to help. So I just took a meal at a time and asked God to plan it for me. I was amazed at how well it all came together. Several ladies brought in food which was a rich blessing.

That night as we slept, soundly rain fell in torrents, watering these young trees.

We are hearing stories from old-timers, how they used to roast chestnuts over a fire on autumn days. Do any of you remember those days before the blight went through, killing most chestnut trees in North America? We’ll see, and perhaps in a couple of years, we’ll have some to offer to you! With this blight-resistant type, we hope for a good harvest.

Apple Pie Squares


3 3/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teas salt

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

1/3 cup butter

1 cup cold water


10 cups chopped apples

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 teas cinnamon

1/2 teas salt

Mix dough ingredients together and roll out like pie dough. Place half of dough in the bottom of a 15 by 11 inch rimmed cookie sheet. Now mix filling ingredients together and spread on top of unbaked crust. Dot with several tablespoons butter. Place other half of rolled out dough on top of filling mixture or cut in strips and place on filling, lattice style. Beat an egg and brush on top crust. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Enjoy hot from the oven or chilled. Yummy with homemade vanilla ice cream!

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