Entering the home through a small mud room, we made our way into the kitchen where a solitary light was burning brightly. Mrs. Miller’s warm welcome made me feel right at home. She thanked me for the oatmeal cake, baked by my dearest Wanda, I had dropped off for her family earlier that morning. She exclaimed it was so delicious that she had more than one helping of it. Just a day prior, having consumed more pieces of the cake than I care to admit, I was well aware of the peril of having the cake sitting around in our own kitchen. Alas, I must confess my reasons for giving the cake away in the first place were not entirely noble; often the best way to be rid of temptation is to distance yourself from it.
In the adjacent dining room, I noticed a large oblong table was already set with nine place settings, enough for the entire Miller family plus myself. After hanging up my coat and washing my hands in the small sink at the far side of the dining room, Mr Miller beckoned all to the supper table. After everyone was seated he called for everyone to pause for a moment of silent prayer, a time to give thanks to the Lord for His provision.
A large dish of tator-tot casserole sat at the center of the table. Plates were passed to one of the girls sitting near the casserole who loaded up the plates with generous portions. Two jars of home canned apple sauce were passed around the table and I poured some of each kind onto my plate. The Miller children, aged 7 to 16, four girls and two boys, engaged in lively conversation, in Pennsylvania Dutch, with each other and their parents and myself. Everyone was engaged as local neighborhood news, stories, and anecdotes were shared during the meal.
As supper progressed, I thought to myself:
This is what typical American family life looked like at supper time in days gone by. Entire families sitting around the supper table talking and sharing the news of the day with each other after a good day’s work. No radio, TV or telephones. No internet or texting or other distractions. It was simply a time to partake of some good food and stay connected with each other.
“Seconds” were offered, to which I said “Yes please”, so I ate some more of the delicious food. Later, home canned peaches were served along with, not surprisingly, the yummy oatmeal cake. After pausing again for silent prayer, supper came to an end. Some more conversation ensued and then I thanked Mrs. Miller for the wonderful meal and fellowship and headed towards home, lost in my thoughts about the evening.
Lest one gets the impression that Amish life is always peaceful and serene, Mr. Miller assured me later that there are times of sibling squabbling and disagreements in the home. I suppose that is true of almost any group of eight people living together in the same dwelling in this fallen world of ours.
For Wanda’s cake recipe click: OATMEAL CAKE RECIPE