Six Amish Recipes for Tough Times


Long before sunrise, Amish families are up and about the farm. You can see the white-green glow of gas lanterns bobbing along between buildings as everyone heads out into the dark for their morning chores. By the time the cows are milked, the barn cleaned out and the animals fed, the sun is coming up and everyone is very hungry.

Finding a way to feed a family of ten and twelve children plus adults on a budget is never easy so the Amish learned to work with the food at hand. The result are recipes that are hearty but don’t cost a lot to make.

Homemade Fruit Syrup for Pancakes


  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 c. sliced peaches (or other fruit)


Combine sugar, cornstarch and 2 c. water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the peaches and simmer until peaches are tender. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Serve hot over pancakes or waffles.

Old-Fashioned Bread Omelet


  • 1 c. bread cubes
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/4 c. grated cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter (or margarine)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Soak bread cubes in milk for 15 minutes. Combine the eggs, cheese, salt and bread/milk mixture in a bowl. Put skillet over moderate heat, melting the butter. Pour bread mixture into skillet and cook for about 5 minutes without stirring. When it’s browned underneath, place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes to finishing cooking on top. Turn out onto hot platter, folding omelet in half.

Hard Times Cornmeal Mush


  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp salt


Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.You can do this in a heavy saucepan or use a double boiler. When the water boils, add in 1 cup of cold water, the cornmeal, the flour and the salt. It’s important to keep stirring as the mush thickens. Cook for 30 minutes, covered, over very low heat. Corn mush can be eaten just as it comes from the pot, with a little milk and sugar. Some folk pour it into a pan where it sets and can be sliced into pieces. Dust the pieces with flour and fry them in a well-greased skillet. Hard Times Cornmeal Mush has few ingredients, is easy to make, fills the family and costs very little.

Poor Man’s Steak


  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 c. fine bread or cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 – 2 c. mushroom soup


Pat out the ground beef about 1/4 inch thick on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into pieces. Dip into the bread or cracker crumbs and brown in a small amount of hot oil or fat. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lay pieces in baking dish and cover with 1 to 2 cups of mushroom soup. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Mashed Potato Casserole


  • 3 – 4 large potatoes
  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. dill seed
  • 2 tsp. chopped chives
  • 1 c. cook spinach
  • 1/4 c. butter (or margarine)
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook and mash the potatoes then add the sour cream, salt, pepper, sugar and butter. Add just enough milk to give it a good consistency then beat until fluffy. Drain the spinach, then add it, the dill seed and chives.

Place in a greased casserole dish and top with the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. This can be frozen for future use, too.

Pilgrim’s Bread


  • 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. rye flour
  • 4 1/4 – 4 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 2 pkg. dry yeast


Combine cornmeal, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir gradually into 2 c. boiling water. Add oil and cool to lukewarm. Dissolve 2 packages of dried yeast into 1/2 c. warm water and add to the cornmeal mixture. Beat in the whole wheat and rye flour then, by hand, stir in the unbleached white flour.Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover and let rise in warm place until double. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in two and knead a second time for 3 minutes. Shape dough into two loaves and place in greased pans. Cover and let rise again in warm place until double in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes.

Enjoy… and save!

The Author:

The Amish Creek blog, co-written by Joe L. Miller and Mennonite housewife and mother Lydia Petersheim, is a helpful resource for further information on simple living.

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