(This blog was originally published in Fresh Fiction on November 10, 2020)
After the huge success of Amish Christmas Miracles, Jennifer Spredemann, Rachel J. Good, and I decided we wanted to do another collection. More Amish Christmas Miracles, ten heartwarming Christmas stories from ten of your favorite Amish fiction authors, comes out November 9! You are going to love it. You can preorder it here on Amazon.
As you can probably guess, writing Amish romantic fiction requires a lot of research, but you might be surprised at some of the research I’ve done to make my books more authentic. Here are my top five most memorable research adventures.
Buying an Amish quilt (or two), an Amish doll, and an Amish-built table. My research trips have taken me to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana in search of Amish communities. I love Amish-made furniture, quilts, and handicrafts. Probably my favorite purchase is the kitchen table I bought in Indiana. I ordered the table, the Amish built it, and a few weeks later, a driver (ex-Amish) delivered it to my home and put it together.
Baking huckleberry pie, asparagus casserole, and yummasetti. Food plays an important role in Amish life and most definitely in my books. In Huckleberry Hill, the first book in my Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, a huckleberry pie is central to the romance, so I learned how to make one. It was delicious. Probably the quintessential Amish dish is yummasetti, a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs casserole that most every Amish fraa knows how to make. Think macaroni and cheese on steroids. I’ve included the recipe below. You will love it.
Playing Scrabble with an Amish family. Since the Amish don’t have TVs or electricity, they play a lot of games, and Scrabble is one of their favorites. And they are good at it, especially considering English is their second language.
Visiting a beekeeper. My Honeybee Sisters are beekeepers, and I needed to learn the ins and outs and gritty details of keeping bees. By the time I finished writing The Honeybee Sisters series, I wanted to keep my own bees.
Burning goat poop. One of my characters in An Amish Christmas Kitchen needed to find out if goat poop would burn, so I had to find out first! My friend has a goat farm, so I borrowed some goat poop from her. (I say “borrowed” but she didn’t want it back.) Just in case you were interested, goat poop does not burn, but it definitely smokes.
Be sure to check out my website where you can get a free book just for joining my readers club. Follow me on Facebook, Amazon, and Bookbub. And be sure to join our Amish Christmas Miracles Facebook Group for news about release day for More Amish Christmas Miracles, Amish Christmas traditions, and exciting giveaways!
- 6 or 7 slices white bread (I used leftover hamburger buns)
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup butter, to spread
- 1/4 cup butter, to toss
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (12-ounce) package noodles, cooked and drained (I used elbow macaroni. It is best if cooked al dente.)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 1/2 soup cans of water
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- Spread butter on the bread slices and toast bread under a broiler until golden brown. Cut into small cubes. Melt the remaining ¼ cup butter in a medium bowl and toss in the bread cubes until they are well coated. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the ground beef with salt and fry the ground beef and onion in a skillet over medium heat for about 15 minutes until browned.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Layer the noodles, ground beef and onion, and peas in the dish. In a small bowl, combine the two soups with the water. Mix well. Pour the soup mixture evenly over the layers. Drop the sour cream by teaspoonfuls evenly over the mixture.
- Sprinkle the bread cubes on top. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve hot.