Apr 23, 2014

Amish and Amish Potato Salad

Amish Countryside by Carl Velente
The Pioneer Stew mentioned in the Chuckwagon article is based on an Old West recipe that “Cookies” called son-of-a-bitch stew, but I gave it a more polite name; but this recipe is the real McCoy in name and ingredients. Before I get to the recipe, I would like to provide a brief background of the Amish Americans.

Another Way of Life by Marilyn Smith
The Amish folks, scattered across our nation, are people that prefer living life simply and traditionally. Many men wear the same hats worn in the 1800s and the women wear traditional pioneer bonnets or a simple scarf as seen in old daguerreotype photos. The Amish originated from Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Dutch spell the word Amish as Amisch and German Amish: Amische. They share one thing in common because their originated their Christian sect upon the Swiss Anabaptist congregation. It all began with a religious schism in Switzerland in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann, so those who followed him called themselves Amish (/ˈɑːmɪʃ/ ); so in the early 18th century, both Amish and Memmonites immigrated to the New World and settled in the Pennsylvania British colony. The Swiss German dialect predominates the Old Order Amish communities. Of course, they speak English as well, assimilating within the society of the United States. Their communities consist of farms. In 2008, a study stated that the Amish have increased from 165,000 (2000) to 227,000 in the United States; and a 2010 study shows their population has grown 10% with an increasing amount moving from Pennsylvania and the Great Lake States to Western states. Church districts average between 20 and 40 families from the surrounding farm community.
Home Cooking
The rules of their faith/church is called the Ordnung, which must be observed by every member that covers day-to-day living, prohibitions or limitations on the use of things like power-line electricity (that which is not produced on the farm from a windmill or watermill), telephones and automobiles. There mode of transportation is either by horseback or the traditional and familiar Amish carriage. The carriages do meet state DOT requirements like a reflective triangle in back and running/headlights when using at night. Their clothing is also regulated under Ordnung rules. Most Amish do not buy commercial insurance or participate in the Social Security program. They do, of course, pay taxes. Amish church members are nonresistance in nature, meaning they will not perform any type of military service; and since they rely upon livestock and poultry raised on the farm for meat, rarely do they hunt. If they own a firearm at all, it is a flintlock or percussion black powder rifle. None have or carry pistols.
Amish Family
In order to become a church member one must be baptized and the person willing to become a member of the church and abide by its rules. Marriage (within Amish community) is forbidden unless both persons are members of the church. Amish undergo baptism ceremony between the age of 16 and 25, and just about 90% of Amish teenagers choose to be baptized and join the church. Members who do not conform to expectations and who cannot be convinced to repent, are excommunicated; which limits social contact by Amish church members. Although they speak English, they have little to do with the outside world as possible. However, the Amish community sells its homemade goods and surplus foods the community has grown and canned. Their handmade furniture, goods made by an Amish blacksmith, and their quilt-work has become a standard in quality merchandise. Of course, when there is a middle person involved, between Amish and customers, it can be costly.
Amish School House
Typically they are educated in one-room school houses and discontinue formal education at the equivalent of eighth grade. They reject pride, arrogance, and haughtiness and value humility (Demut) and calm composure (Gelassenheit). Bearing children, raising them, and socializing with neighbors and relatives are the noble functions of the Amish family. Contraception is not practiced because large, healthy families are blessings from God.
I wonder how the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is going to affect the Amish.
Traditionally, Amish male adults have beards of varying degrees and some wear baseball-type caps instead of the wide-brim black hats that has become their tradition. Amish men do not venture outdoors without head covering, whatever they wear; it is practical and designed for the original purpose hats are for and not fashion. Of course, Amish go to local towns to do necessary shopping and/or trading.
Of course, the largest Amish settlement farm communities are in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. The largest concentration of Amish west of the Mississippi River, to date, is in eastern Iowa and southeast Minnesota. There are at least 10,000 Old Order Amish in west-central Wisconsin. There is even an Amish congregation in the Republic of Ireland, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. In all, there are Old Order communities in 27 states.
Pennsylvania Amish
The biggest concern, when it comes to health in Amish communities are genetic disorders because of previous inbreeding in isolated areas in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, their clean living has led to healthier lives than average American. In Ohio, tobacco-related cancers in Amish adults is at a rate of 37%; with non-tobacco related cancer at 72%. Overall cancer rates in Ohio is 60% and 56% in the national rate. Despite working outdoors more than average American, the Amish skin cancer rate is low. It may be their dress code. Typically it is forbidden for men to work in the fields and outdoors without a shirt, and Amish wear long-sleeve shirts as well as wide-brimmed hats that protect them from harmful UV rays.
Amish are aware of common bloodlines and genetic disorders, so choosing spouses from unrelated communities is common.
Pennsylvania Amish
As stated previously, contraceptives are not used, but it is not forbidden by the church or thought of as immoral; although abortion is considered immoral. It is difficult to get the proper data from the Amish, but it is believed that birth control methods may be used to control population.
Health needs are generally addressed within the community, using natural herbs used for centuries; however, when that is not enough in some cases, their community organizes with the local hospital services. In Pennsylvania, two-thirds of the Amish participate in Church Aid, sort of an informal insurance plan for helping members with required medical expenses.
According to Kraybill, 2001; the suicide rate is 5.5% compared to 12.5% at that time.
Of course, while peacefulness in Amish communities and farms exist, there have been disconcerting pressures from the modern world concerning issues like taxation, education, law and law enforcement, and sometimes hostility from surrounding outside communities; like throwing stones or other objects at Amish horse-drawn carriages on roads. In Wisconsin, the local authorities tried pressing an Amish family to send their children to high school by issuing fines; but the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court overturned the local court conviction stating it was a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Pennsylvania Amish store
The Old Order Amish communities do not shun entrepreneurial activities, it is merely part of the trade system. For example, they have an unofficial publishing house in LaGrange, Indiana and Alymer, Ontario called the Pathway Publishing Company that publishes school text books, general reading books, cook books, and periodicals. Conflicts between groups of Amish are rare, but when it occurs it is concerning beard cutting. In September 2012, a group of 16 Amish men and women from Bergholz, Ohio were convicted on Federal hate-crime and conspiracy charges in five hair-and-beard cutting attacks. The leader, (Samuel Mullet Sr) although not directly a participant was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a HATE CRIME. Others got lighter sentences that ranged from one year to seven years. It is an example of how Gestapo-like hate crime laws are; and because it is a FEDERAL law, it means prison time if found guilty. Are our prisons not overcrowded with real criminals? Other legal measures could have been taken, such as misdemeanor assault charges, a couple of days in jail with community service. Remember, it was the “liberals” - so called fair-minded and humane individuals that always point fingers to conservatives or anyone that disagrees with them as “evil”, “racist”, and/or “cruel”. Plainly, hate crime laws are totally unnecessary and moot – there are laws against certain actions taken for whatever the reason. Charging a person with a hate crime on top of murder is ridiculous. Violence or murder committed against another individual certainly isn't because the criminal likes or loves their victim. It's moronic. Frankly, many believe that hate crime laws are just a prelude to hate-speech laws and then laws against ways a person thinks. It is as barbaric.
Barn Raising
Preppers could definitely learn a lot from the Amish, for they have lived without the comforts of modern technology for generations. Indeed, they are the original “preppers” minus the firearms.
Amish folks may be reserved, but they are friendly. In all my travels and contact, I never met an Amish I did not like or who was rude or snobbish. Generally they are shy, especially the females and that may because from time to time they have been persecuted by people ignorant of their ways and what they are all about. Give me an Amish neighbor any day. If tragedy ever struck, you can be assured they would be there to offer help.
Now for the Amish recipe …
Amish Potato Salad
Before the advent of bottled dressing, many Americans, like the Amish, made their own for macaroni and potato salads.
Some modern recipes use bottled dressing, so if you want to make it from scratch like the Amish do, here it goes:
3-pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
1/3-cup cider vinegar
1/4-cup sugar
4 large, hard-cooked eggs, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
½ teaspoon celery seeds
3/-cup sour cream
1 celery rib, minced

  1. Bring potatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, and enough water to cover to boil in Dutch-oven over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. While potatoes simmer, microwave vinegar and sugar in small bowl until sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Process vinegar mixture, one hard-cooked egg yolk (put white aside), mustard, celery seeds, and ½ teaspoon salt in food processor (Amish do this by hand) until smooth, about 10 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl. (this is the dressing)
  3. Drain potatoes thoroughly, then transfer to large bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over hot potatoes and, using a spatula, gently toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until cooled, at least 30 minutes, stirring gently once to redistribute dressing.
  4. Whisk sour cream into remaining dressing. Add remaining hard-cooked eggs and egg white to dressing and, using potato masher, mash until only small pieces remain. Add dressing and celery to cooled potatoes. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Season with salt, pepper or garlic to taste – serve. The salad can be refrigerated up to two days if you want to prepare it ahead of a cookout or whatever.

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