Two weekends ago, my son, daughter-in-law, grandson and I hopped on a very small — at least in my estimation — commuter plane to Columbus, Ohio, for a family wedding. We could have flown into Pittsburgh just as easily as the wedding venue was somewhere halfway in between the two cities. But, as my son, David, who booked the flights, explained, “I’ve never seen Columbus.” To be honest, he still hasn’t. All we saw was the airport.
I’d like to say the flights were uneventful. Unfortunately, my grandson, who is almost 11 months old, had an issue with the pressure and his ears, and let the other 77 people on the flight home know how much it hurt, screaming for 89 minutes of the 99-minute flight. Yes, he fell asleep 10 minutes before we landed in Boston. As his exhausted father said upon landing, “We aren’t doing this again anytime soon.”
The wedding itself was in the beautiful Ohio Amish region. We stayed in a farmhouse dating back to 1852, set on what at what time had been a working farm, sharing it with my nephew, Paul, and his family. As we drove from their home to the Airbnb, David remarked that he felt like he was in a scene from the 1990s film, “Twister,” due to the miles of cultivated fields and the flatness of the land. “Where are they hiding it?” he joked as we drove past a sign that announced we were near Mount Gideon.
Unlike Pennsylvania Dutch country, the Ohio Amish region — or at least the area we stayed in — seems to have escaped the commercialism that is so prevalent in Pennsylvania. (I was actively looking for a souvenir shop to buy a couple of T-shirts, to no avail.) The fields were worked by farmers using horse-drawn plows and Amish buggies ruled the small two-lane country roads. Amish children rode scooters and bikes, or walked on the shoulders of the road. Windmills stood next to the Amish farm houses, providing energy for generators. Cows and horses grazed in some of the fields. It’s a little piece of heaven.
It was a great weekend, the wedding was wonderful and spending time with our family — sitting on the deck of the farmhouse or playing Farkle around a table big enough for all 11 of us — was priceless. It was plain and simple, just the surrounding Amish community.
And speaking of plain and simple, I picked up a recipe for Amish sugar cookies decades ago on a trip to Penn Dutch country. I think it came from a motel we stayed at and I managed to talk the owner, who was really Mennonite, into sharing it. The cookies are everything I want in a sugar cookie — soft, a bit chewy and buttery.
AMISH SUGAR COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugars. Beat in eggs until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to creamed mixture.
Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 F until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.