Blogger's Note: Since this blog is somewhat Amishcentric, I get questions from time to time from readers about Amish life and culture, which I refer to my Aunt Tillie, an opinionated, but humble Amish woman. Here is a recent question and answer. Please leave a comment or email me if you have questions you want me to refer to her in the future.
Dear Aunt Tillie,
Women's Wear Daily had an article about Amish fashions (I just love all those stark blacks and whites and the "barndoor pants" on the men are tres chic) and I was enchanted. I'm thinking about doing an Amish-themed Easter brunch, and I was wondering what suggestions you might have for cute invitations and menu ideas. I was pretty sure Mimosas would be out since Amish don't drink, but what do you think about serving virgin Mary's? I thought the celery sticks with just a few curlicules of leaves sticking out over the tops of the glasses would be a nice back-to-nature touch. Do Amish eat salmon? I love blackened salmon and I thought a nice dill or hollandaise sauce would give a lovely black and white touch to the fish course. I know crudites can get a little colorful, but veggies are so in these days. Would it be okay to serve red, green, and yellow peppers julliene-style, or should I just stick with carrots and celery cut up in chunks? Finally, on the invitations, since this is an Easter brunch after all, they should say something about the true meaning of Easter. Don't you think it would be just darling to have the Easter bunny dressed up like an Amish man, with his ears sticking up through a broad-brimmed straw hat, saying something like, "Y'all hitch yourself up and come on over?"
Signed: A Fan in Manhattan
Dear Fan in Manhattan,
(sigh) Where to start? First of all, those "barndoor pants" lose their "enchantment" pretty fast after 13 kids and no end in sight. You know the old saying about the futility of closing the barndoor after the bull is out. If we women had our way, we'd be sewing zippers in those pants and jimmying up the zippers with the sewing machine screw drivers. As far as your Amish-themed Easter brunch, I don't know, I've never been to a brunch. Usually we're pretty busy working between breakfast and dinner (which is what we call the meal after breakfast) and wouldn't have time to sit down to sip Mimosas and/or virgin Mary's (by the way, I really don't appreciate the dirty talk about Mary. Between us women, I don't think she's a virgin anyway.) As far as the blackened salmon, I'd say you must be frying it too long. I haven't cooked salmon, but it can't be that much different from catfish, and you really need to get it out of the skillet when it turns a golden brown. I know how it is once you've burned the fish and you've got 25 people sitting around waiting to get fed, but I don't think it's going to do any good to try to disguise it by pouring a white sauce over it. If you have a hard time cooking fish, you might try making meat loaf. That's good anytime, but a nice Easter meatloaf is always welcome. (I kind of got a conscience against making ham for Easter when I found out Jesus was Jewish. It just doesn't seem right somehow.) As far as vegetables, I don't know what's wrong with green beans and corn, even if they are a little colorful. I boil the green beans until there's not that much green left anyway, so I don't really think I'm going to go to hell for having fancy vegetables, but if I started getting all julienne about it, I'd be getting a little worried. Finally, I don't know what you're talking about with invitations. I know you New York City folks are a little odd, but you have to be pulling my leg when you say you're going to send out invitations to this "brunch" with a picture of the Easter bunny dressed up like an Amish man with his ears sticking through the broad-rimmed straw hat. See, the way it works is you decide where you're going to go for Easter dinner. Then, if you're super-polite or something, you send them a card a week beforehand telling them you're planning on coming so they're expecting you and don't go someplace else for dinner. If you're not super polite, you just show up an hour or so before noon, but then you take the risk they've gone to your house. I just (hate) it when that happens.