It’s cold these days. It’s windy and down-right cold. I don’t do as well with cold weather as my husband, Daniel, does. His pullover sweatshirt is sufficient for him in all kinds of weather. I like my jackets, sweaters and blankets. What’s better than snuggling up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and reading or watching the birds?
Imagine what it would be like not to have an insulated house or a means of heating the house, not to mention the ample supplies of coats, scarves and blankets we all have. My heart goes out to those mothers and fathers who struggle to keep their children warm.
This winter we, along with another couple in our church, organized a “comforter-knotting” for our youth group. The comforter tops had been pieced and sewn together by some of the Amish ladies in our community. Most of the comforters will be sent to Iron Curtain Ministries, who will distribute them to poor people throughout the world. Iron Curtain Ministries is an Amish-operated organization who gives aid to the less fortunate (Editor’s note: The term, “Iron Curtain,” is a bit dated, but this charity was founded by New Order Amish during the height of the Cold War to aid children and needy in Soviet bloc countries. Its mission has since expanded to aid needy anywhere, but it remains active in countries that were formerly “behind the Iron Curtain.”)
Back to the comforter-knotting. Since we were the ones planning the event, Julia, Austin and I went on Friday afternoon to get a head start on things. Daniel helped me load our buggy with a sewing machine, scissors, food and other items needed for the comforter-knotting that evening. When everyone and everything was loaded, the buggy was stuffed full. Thanks to Daniel for fetching our faithful horse, Sapphire, and hitching her to the buggy. Soon the children and I were on our way. Once more I felt so grateful and blessed to have a safe horse that I could easily drive. It didn’t take long to drive the mile to my parents’ house, where I tied her to the hitching post and unloaded everything.
My cousin, Eunice, and I had cut out the lining to the size of the comforter tops several days prior to the knotting. On Friday afternoon, the two of us set up two quilt frames in my parents’ shop, where we pinned in the lining, batting and tops in preparation of the knotting that was to be in the evening. I was a bit nervous about whether we’d be able to have all four frames filled and ready for the youth at 5 p.m. All went well, though. I was cutting large pieces of yarn and threading the needles when the first ones began arriving.
Soon there were girls swarming all around me finding their places at the comforter. Using long needles, we followed the corners of the blocks as we poked the needles up and down, up and down. Someone else followed behind, snipping the yarn and tightly knotting them. I was amazed at how swiftly their comforter had been completed. Quickly we removed all the pins and pinned in another comforter, ready to be knotted.
In the meanwhile, potatoes were baking and sausage gravy was being heated in preparation for supper at 7:45. We ladies set the food onto a folding table as the men quieted down everyone for a word of thanks to God prior to eating the meal before us. Each person then mashed his own taters with a fork and spread butter and salt on them before topping with sausage gravy. Next was a tray of veggies, crackers and dip that I had furnished. We had two desserts, with one being on the top of my list of favorites: fruit pizza. Mmmm, it was absolutely delicious.
Suppertime rejuvenated us before tackling the remaining comforters. After supper, I was kept busy at the serger and sewing machine, binding the edges. It took awhile to make an entire trip around the edges. Thankfully, we had three sewing machines and one serger (which cuts off excess material and sews all three layers of the comforter together), so several of us could be at it at once. And listen to this! A few of the boys even helped with the sewing! I must say I was impressed. Certainly not any boy would be willing to admit he enjoys sewing, right?
As you can hear, we did have a very enjoyable evening. All went very smoothly. By 9, we had 15 cozy, warm comforters, knotted, most of which were full-sized. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that remark about that tasty fruit pizza. I’m passing the recipe on to you to try. It may be interesting for you to have the story behind the crust recipe. Recently Daniel invited a friend, who is one of the youth boys, for supper. He admitted his crush on fruit pizzam then added, “with my Mom’s crust recipe!” I chuckled, delighted to ask Susan for her outstanding recipe. Be sure to give it a try. Just be careful not to overbake! A few other tips if you want to make this recipe less work: I use my own home-canned pie filling instead of having to make my own glaze each time. You could use store-bought pie filling in a pinch. Also, you may omit fresh fruit and just use pie filling. It will be easier to cut these bars if you cut before putting any of the layers on top of the crust.
Editor’s note: The fruit pizza recipe below calls for Clear Jel in the glaze. This is a commercial thickener favored by Amish cooks. It’s really tough to find, but most Amish bulk food stores stock it. If you’re in a pinch, cornstarch will work. They essentially do the same thing, but Clear Jel has different properties and really does a better job of thickening. You can order Clear Jel from Amazon.
HOMEMADE FRUIT PIZZA DELUXE
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
Press into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not overbake; it should not be brown at all.
CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE
1/2 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces whipped topping
Dash lemon juice, optional
4 cups fruits your choice: bananas, kiwis, grapes, berries, sliced or diced
Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. If desired, add a dash of lemon juice. Spread on top of cooled crust and then pile and spread the fruit over the whole cream cheese mixture-covered crust.
3/4 cup sugar
5 heaping tablespoons Clear Jel
3 cups pineapple juice or water
3 tablespoons lemon or pineapple Jello
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix together in a saucepan and boil a few minutes. Cool and spread on top of fruit.