For this year’s Spring break, my husband and I made the wisest travel choice of our parenting career. We took our family to Amish Country in Lancaster County, PA and had a most enlightening, peaceful, delicious and wholesome vacation.
I have wanted to go to Amish country even before my kids were born. I was always fascinated by the men in their plain clothes selling their wares at the Columbus Circle Market and elsewhere in NY. Weird Al Yankovich’s “Living in an Amish Paradise” certainly was not the most respectful portrayal of the culture and I have always yearned to find out the real story behind this intriguing sect.
Let me start with the farm house where we stayed to give you a sense of the area. Lush green pastures…everywhere! It’s like a scene out of an 18th century painting with horses pulling plows through the land. We stayed at Country Log House, a very reasonably priced and BEAUTIFUL farmhouse in Mount Joy, PA with Farmer Jim and his wife Mim Brubaker. They were kind, hospitable and boy could Mim cook! That breakfast was delicious, plentiful AND included in the room rate.
After breakfast, the Brubackers allowed the kids (and adults) to feed their animals. They have goats, sheep and chickens. There were adorable little lamb and kids that my kids were allowed to pick up and cuddle. We collected eggs from the chicken coop in little baskets and if that weren’t enough for a Green Acres kind of gal like me, we then got a hayride tour of a neighboring dairy farm, being pulled by a tractor. Again, all included in the daily rate.
A taste of the great outdoors was a treat indeed but here’s where it got even more exciting; Jim gave us the name of an Amish couple that make dinner for traveling folks like us. We called them and were invited to dine with their family that very evening.
Although I was thrilled at the prospect of getting an intimate view of this mysterious culture (straight from the source! ) I was afraid that my kids would say something offensive, that our clothes were not plain enough or that we would be walking on egg shells with topics that might be taboo.
Soon into the dining experience, however, we realized that people are people and there was no need to be so concerned about faux pas. Our hosts asked us what we did for a living and were genuinely interested. We learned that people who are Amish do indeed choose to have limitations on how they interact with the outside world via technology but only when it can negatively impact their family life. For example, we were very surprised to hear that they could go on-line at a friend’s house to research something (she said she wanted to go to my blog to try out some of my recipes!) but that they cannot own a computer. They only drive horse and buggies but can be a passenger in a car, train or bus if it is for a specific utilitarian purpose such as getting to work or visiting family who live far. Humility and modesty are highly valued as well as work and physical labor.
Our kids played with theirs and they all had a ball. The meal was delicious! I was able to purchase some of her preserved delicacies and a cookbook, so I could recreate her recipes. She even has inspirational quotes at the bottom of each page to help inspire the reader to persevere in the kitchen which further endeared her to me. I’ve posted some of her recipes on my blog on Take Back the Kitchen.
This couple has a catering company called Dutch Country Catering, in addition to opening up their home for dinner, If you’re in the area or in need of an Amish themed event—they are your people. They choose not to advertise themselves but I was permitted to share their contact information and their website since their site is used for their livelihood. Please call them and dine with them or cater an event!
If you are looking to expose your family to a simpler way of life, to relax, and get back in touch with what’s truly important, Lancaster County is the place to go. If you do go, please tell all my new friends I say “hi”—but tell them, don’t text!