Tag Archives: PA Dutch Country

A Tuesday Tradition

Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday… All are names for the day before the first day of Lent.

Here in Lancaster County, we celebrate this Tuesday with FASNACHTS, delightful treats that aren’t your run-of-the-mill doughnut.

This tradition stems from the need to use up the lard, sugar, butter and eggs prior to the beginning of Lent since these lavish items were typically given up. Not to be confused with a standard glazed or powdered sugar doughnut, many fasnachts are made with mashed potatoes and fried in animal fat making them less sweet, but extra delicious!

Growing up in Lancaster County, I fondly remember the days of coming home from school to see a box of fasnachts on the kitchen counter, never really understanding the rhyme and reason behind them. Now, much like pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, this is a tradition I can’t pass up. I stopped by Lancaster Central Market on my way in to work for my fasnacht from one of the bakery stands who were displaying rows and rows of fried perfection. It was just as delicious as I remember – slightly crispy on the outside with a fluffy center. I prefer ones rolled in powdered sugar, but am sure other variations are just as tasty.

Bakeries and churches across the county will be making fasnachts for the occasion including Oregon Dairy, Achenbach’s Pastry, Bird-in-Hand Bakery and Shady Maple. Stop by and try one for yourself!

Happy Fasnacht Day!

Where the grass is greener

One of the best parts of my work here is getting to talk with many of the Amish who live nearby. Recently, I stopped by the home of an Amish mother. Most of her children are grown now. We talked about the struggles of raising children today. While the challenges are different in our two worlds, there is more shared concern than one might imagine.

Our conversation led to the cell phone and the internet. She professed to be unfamiliar with both to a degree, but knowledgeable enough to know how they tempt young people today, whether Amish or not… and the concerns these technologies present for parents.

Amish parents, unlike many of us, don’t fully realize all that can be done with these new phones, with the “world in your pocket.” There have actually been formal meetings among the Amish where outside speakers have discussed today’s technologies and their impact.

Several hundred Amish youth have Facebook accounts. They stay in touch by texting.  We have heard that some are unable to resist the temptation to take photos at weddings, where cameras are not allowed. Since quite a few Amish businessmen have cell phones, it is not surprising that many young folks do, too.

For example, the first time I had ever seen a Blackberry was years ago in the hands of an Amish carriage maker. More recently, I was having lunch with an Amish businessman who was receiving text messages from his son while deer hunting. I felt as if I was not even present at the table. He agreed that once you possess the technology, it becomes difficult to give it up or even limit its use. Our devices can bring those far away from us closer, while at the same time alienating those sitting right next to us.

The Amish position on technology is not that “anything new is bad.” Rather, they ask, “Do you control the technology, or does it control you?” They then decide to limit it, make accommodations, adapt it, or ban it altogether.

Many visitors are incredulous to learn the Amish population continues to double here about every 20 years. Surprisingly, most Amish youth still decide to join the Amish faith and the world of the horse-and-buggy, plain clothes, and eighth grade educations. The fact remains that family and community transcend the allure of the modern world, even though much of what they see “beyond the fence” certainly looks appealing.

In the end, it was this Amish mother I was chatting with at her kitchen table who summed up our conversation about the difference between what we want and what we need. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s just as hard to mow.”

Print your free PA Dutch Valentine

I’m always looking for a way to send Valentines Day cards with my son that don’t include candy, because I feel slightly guilty giving chocolate away to small children. I recently saw something that made me recall my days of elementary school, and when we used to play M.A.S.H. and make fortune tellers (also known as “cootie catchers”). Then I thought, why not make one of these into a valentine?

I’ve decided to share my PA Dutch Valentine Printable with you, along with step-by-step instructions, in case you weren’t privy to (or just can’t recall how to) making these paper games. Instead of getting a “fortune” when you choose your final number, you get a PA Dutch Saying about love/friendship!

Here’s how to make yours:

First, print out the PDF, and use either a paper trimmer, or scissors to cut on the dotted line (this is designed to be 8.5″ x 8.5″).

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Next, fold it in half both ways, making a good crease (photo below). When you unfold the second time, your creases will make a cross or an ‘x’ on the paper.

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Put the paper on the table printed side down, and fold each corner in to meet the middle.

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Then flip the paper over so that the PA Dutch icons and numbers are facing the table, and fold each corner again into the middle (photo below). When you are finished, all your numbers will be on one side, and the PA Dutch icons will be on the other side. Your fortune teller will be in a perfect square.

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Next, flip your paper and fold it both ways to make nice creases.

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Finally, slide your fingers into the fortune teller as shown in the first photo below, one thumb and index finger under each PA Dutch icon. Fluff the sides up until it looks like the second photo below.

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Last, enjoy the game! Instructions on how to play below!

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If you’re not quite sure on the instructions to play, you can follow this simple method of the game!

Player A: Asks “choose a PA Dutch icon.” (Holding the game closed so that Player B only sees the four icons)
Player B: Chooses one of the four icons. (for example, Buggy)

Player A: Spell out “Buggy,” holding the game with your thumb & index fingers of each hand, alternate pinching on “B,” pulling on “U,” pinching on “G,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose a number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 3)

Player A: Count to “3” while pinching on “1” and pulling on “2,” etc. Once completed, ask Player B to choose another number.
Player B: Chooses a number. (for example 5)

Player A: Open the flap with the number 5 on it, and read the PA Dutch Saying under the flap to reveal Player B’s valentine!

*If you want to extend the game, you can repeat the middle step a few times (choosing three numbers before opening the flap).

 

Amish church services

You might wonder what an Amish church service is like. You can’t visit one to find out, because the service isn’t public, it’s for members and invited visitors only. Also, you wouldn’t understand any of it, unless you can speak Pennsylvania German, as that’s the language the service is conducted in.

The Amish observe two kinds of Sundays: “church-Sundays” and “off-Sundays.”

The Amish are extremely religious, so it might surprise you to know that they don’t hold an actual church service every Sunday. Amish services are long, intense experiences. The service itself lasts about 3 hours, then they have lunch together, and then there’s an afternoon of visiting. For the younger teens, it’s even longer, because they meet again in the evening for singing & socializing.

On the “off-Sundays,” some may attend church in other districts, but for most it is a quiet day at home in the morning, and visiting friends & relatives in the afternoon.

While you’re driving around Lancaster, you might see a boxy wagon parked in a farmyard. That’s the bench wagon, and when you see it, you know that church was either recently held at that farm, or will be soon.

 

Proper road etiquette around buggies

The question usually arises, “What’s the proper etiquette  for driving on the road with buggies, visiting their farms, or taking photos of the Amish.” We’ve pulled together a few bullets here for you, if you happen to be wondering!

  • Do not trespass on Amish farms, homesteads, or schools in session. There are several settings where you can visit a working farm, take a buggy ride, or ever stay over at an Amish farm. These experiences will definitely give you a taste of Amish lifestyle.
  • Photographs. The Amish have a strongly held belief that photographic images violate the biblical injunction against graven images and promote the sins of personal vanity and pride. Taking pictures of their land and animals is permissible; taking pictures of them is not.
  • Watch the road! Roads in Lancaster County have especially wide shoulders to accommodate horses, buggies, and tractors. Buggies are marked with red reflective triangles and lights at night. It’s preferable to slow down to Amish paces. Honking disturbs the horses. You can pass buggies, but be cautious, ensuring there is no oncoming traffic.

We hope these three things will help you to be more informed on your next visit to Lancaster! Thank you for being respectful of our culture.

5 Reasons Lancaster is an RV destination

Country villages, unforgettable landscapes and the simple joys of Amish life are just three of the many reasons to visit Lancaster County by RV. The family-centered attractions of Pennsylvania Dutch Country make it easy to bring the kids along on your journey. Here are five fascinating reasons to start planning a Lancaster County adventure for the whole family.

  1. Kitchen Kettle Village, a delightful collection of vintage homes filled with goody-filled shops, is located in Intercourse, PA. Take the family on a buggy ride, stop for a memorable lunch at the Kling House Restaurant and purchase local specialties as you stroll through the village shops. Be sure to take the kids to the Bake Shop for freshly-baked cookies and whoopie pies!
  2. It wouldn’t be a Lancaster County adventure without a side trip or two to photograph the area’s many covered bridges. Enduring structures like the White Rock Forge Covered Bridge near Quarryville and the Forry Mill Bridge over Chickies Creek near Marietta draw photographers from all over the world. CoveredBridgeSite.com contains an excellent guide to Lancaster County’s historic bridges.
  3. Take the Old Philadelphia Pike to the village of Bird-in-Hand to experience the joys of a farmers’ market. Vendor stalls line the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market every weekend year-round, and their hours are expanded during warmer weather. Comfortable indoor shopping in a quaint setting with something everyone in the family will enjoy — the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. An RV travel tip: just five minutes out of town you’ll find Country Acres Campground, a highly-rated RV paradise waiting to be your home away from home.
  4. Follow Lincoln Highway over rolling hills dotted with neat and prosperous Amish farms to find Flory’s Cottages and Camping in the borough of Ronks, PA. Not only will your RV camping family enjoy the serenity of this rural campground, they’ll also love such local attractions as Lapp’s Wooden Toys and Furniture on Irishtown Road.

We’ve barely scratched the surface on why RV travelers should be planning a Lancaster County road trip! Whether your family comes for the quaint villages, glorious scenery or exceptional lessons in history, Pennsylvania Dutch Country doesn’t disappoint. There’s a Lancaster County adventure for the whole family waiting for you in South Central Pennsylvania.

Guest post by: Joe Laing, the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their RV Camping Pictures.

An awesome recipie for pumpkin squares

I’m always looking for new meals to make for my husband, whether it’s asking friends for recipes that they’ve tried, or searching the internet. Little did I know, I’ve got a great resource right here in my own backyard – our Bed & Breakfast owners!

I came across a great recipe for Pumpkin Squares on the PA Dutch Inn’s blog, which you can find here. Lancaster County has tons of great Inns and Bed & Breakfasts, where they’ve got lots of yummy breakfast recipes. You’ve got to think, they’re always refining them for their guests, so they truly have the best of the best! The Hurst House, an absolutely gorgeous Bed & Breakfast in Ephrata, is where Mrs. Bert Hurst serves a delicious breakfast for her guests.

If you’ve never been to a Bed & Breakfast in Lancaster County, PA, you should definitely check out the Hurst House – it’s beautiful! It’s an elegant Victorian Mansion, located on top of a hill overlooking beautiful Amish & Mennonite farmland. Right now – while there’s snow covering the fields, it is a spectacular sight! Enjoy the pumpkin squares!

Pumpkin Squares
Mix 1 1/3 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup melted butter and press it into an oblong cake pan until you’ve lined the entire bottom.

Beat 2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, and 8 oz. of cream cheese together, and pour it over the graham crumb crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cook 2 cups pumpkin, 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a saucepan until thick, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle 1 envelope of plain geletin into 1/4 cup water. When dissolved, add it to the pumpkin mixture, and let it cool until it mounds.

Beat 3 egg whites until stiff. Add 1/4 cup of sugar. Fold it into the pumpkin mixture. Pour that over the cooled crust. Refrigerate. Top with cool whip before serving!

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