Tag Archives: PA Dutch

What Exactly is Chow-Chow?

Chow-Chow, not to be confused with the breed of dog hailing from China, is a sweet and sour mix of pickled vegetables often served as a side dish next to PA Dutch classic cuisine.

Not only is chow-chow delicious, it’s also a resourceful use of odd amounts of vegetables left at the end of harvest, giving it the nickname “end of season relish.” Left-over carrots, onions, cauliflower, cucumbers, celery, corn, peppers, beans, etc. are canned together with a sweet and sour pickling liquid.

While the origin of the name isn’t officially known, there are a few theories. Some believe it comes from the French word for cabbage, Chou. Others say it comes from the Indian squash, chayote, which is also known as chow-chow.

Regional flavors and variations do exist, including the less-sweet southern version and varieties that are chopped and shredded.

Pick up a jar of the Pennsylvania Dutch version and try it for yourself! Find chow-chow along with many other jams, sauces and pickles at Intercourse Canning Company.

Thank you to Intercourse Canning Company assisting with the chow-chow facts.

Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?

Yes, the Amish celebrate Christmas!

They observe Christmas as a sacred holiday with simplicity and tradition. While some are influenced by the traditions of their English friends, many do not get caught up in the modern-day commercialism as we experience it. Most don’t include Santa Claus, electric lights, flashy tinsel, fancy wrapping paper, or Christmas trees. Rather, they focus on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.

Because Christmas is so important in the Amish community, it is celebrated for two days. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and read Scripture; on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends with festive gatherings, great feasts, and gift-giving.

Because the Pennsylvania Amish have been greatly influenced by German Christmas traditions, they often decorate by lighting candles and hanging stars, angels, greenery, and holiday cards. Most families exchange gifts and usually pick names out of a hat so each person receives one gift each year. Gifts are not always of the old-fashioned handmade variety. Sometimes they give gifts such as Barbie dolls (dressed Amish), board games, and toy tractors. In addition, homemade cookies, candy, and stamped Christmas cards are very popular. Often Amish owned stores sell these homemade items.

At the Amish schoolhouse, a Christmas program is usually planned and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Amish community enjoys watching the children sing, read poems, and perform Christmas plays.

And, when it happens to snow, the children enjoy playing outside. They race down the hills on their sleds, ice skate, play ice hockey, and of course, have snowball fights and snowman building competitions.

While we, the English, enjoy our traditions at Christmas, the Amish, too, will be enjoying their holiday traditions, but always with Jesus at the center of their celebration.

To learn more about how the Amish celebrate Christmas, listen to Ada’s story.

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″).


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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).


Canning pickles from an Amish cookbook

The Amish are known for their skills in canning. My husband & I are growing cucumbers this year, and we planted 2 cucumber vines… little did we know that we’d be getting at least five cucumbers each week! So we were looking out for any recipes we could find that had cucumbers.

Of course, I had to try canning some to make pickles! Here is the recipe that we tried from a hand written Amish cookbook that we found.

Dill Pickles

Soak cucumbers in strong salt water overnight. In the morning, take out and rinse well with water.

1 qt. vinegar
1 c. salt
2 level tbls. mustard
1 1/2 heaping tbls. pickling spices
4 qts. water
3/4 c. sugar

Bring the above ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat. In bottom of each qt. jar put one sprig of green dill weed, 1 clove of garlic, and 2 or 3 slices of onion. Fill jars with pickles and put the same on top. Pour syrup over pickles. Put on lids. Cold pack just to the boiling point.

Keep these in the fridge, and they’ll keep for a year!

Share your favorite pickle recipes with me, and I’d be happy to try them out!


Miller’s Smorgasbord

My sister Abby came to visit me this past weekend. I knew she was arriving Friday night, but I wasn’t sure what time, so I planned to go out to eat with her. She ended up not getting in until later, so we just ordered pizza, and decided to go out for lunch on Saturday!

I wanted to pick a restaurant that she hadn’t ever been to, and she wanted PA Dutch food, so I picked Miller’s, one of Lancaster County’s finest smorgasbords! One of the things that I really like about Miller’s, and something that surprised my sister, is that most buffet style restaurants are one flat price, not matter what you plan to eat. Miller’s offers different meal options, so if you’re just going to have soup & salad, you pay a lower rate than having the whole smorgasbord!

When you go into Miller’s they’ve got some of the history on the walls (with photos, etc.). Did you know that it’s been around since 1929 – almost 100 years! The food is amazing. They’ve got hot entrees, a soup station, a salad station, carving stations, dessert, bread, appetizers, and much more! I got my favorite, mashed potatoes (made from REAL potatoes, not just a box), with fried chicken, squash, green beans, a roll, and some other great food. For dessert, I had a slice of apple pie. All delicious.

One other great thing about heading to Miller’s is that they buy local – everything is cooked from scratch. And, they’ve added wine, beer, and cocktails to their menu – including some made from their own Genuine Shoofly Liqueur. We’ve got a bottle of the Shoofly Liqueur – and it’s not just good in drinks – it’s fantastic over vanilla ice cream! I think it will be great in the summer, when it’s too hot for me to want to make a pie, but I’m missing the taste of shoo-fly – I can have it over ice cream!

After we were done eating, we stopped out at the bakery & gift shop – where you can get tons of different things, including some of Miller’s canned jams, chow-chow, beets, fruit, and much more. To see more of what they have to offer at the store, click here.


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