• A plea for readers to help save cooking column

  • The first Amish Cook columnist, Elizabeth Coblentz, died in Blue Springs in 2002.  Now I’m wondering if The Amish Cook column itself will meet its end in Blue Springs in 2013.

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  • The first Amish Cook columnist, Elizabeth Coblentz, died in Blue Springs in 2002. Now I’m wondering if The Amish Cook column itself will meet its end in Blue Springs in 2013. As a way to prevent the column’s demise after so many years of struggling to keep it afloat, I am offering the whole softcover library of Amish Cook cookbooks and Amish-themed fiction for 50 percent off from now through May 31. The softcover library includes 11 books typically priced at $220 are now available for $110, plus shipping. Additional sets for $75. As columnist Paul Harvey used to say: Here’s the rest of the story.
    I was 17 years old visiting an Amish settlement for one of my first times. The oak picnic table was shaded by the sprawling branches of an elderly oak that seemed to be at once protecting and comforting. The table was straining under the weight of bowls of homemade buttered noodles, crusty softball-sized dinner rolls, a crock of butter, and tender roast beef soaking in a rich gravy. An apple pie, its crust so finely flakey, its fragrant fruit tempered with a generous dash of cinnamon, begged for a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. A silent prayer allowed us to appreciate the unspoiled bounty before us. The ancient rocky ridges of an Ohio county forgotten by the glaciers lifted into the late summer sky on the distant horizon. The quiet changed to chatter as plates were passed and children’s laughter rippled around the table. I was a grateful visitor to this table, where I ended up because I was a young journalist chronicling the Amish. Between bites, the Amish patriarch of the family turned toward me and asked:
    “So what is it you want to do?” he said, running his hand through his dark chocolate-colored beard.
    I assumed he meant my job, the typical “What do you want to be when you grow up” question.
    “I’m not really sure…” I said blankly.
    “You’re young, you’ll figure it out.”
    I’m 40 years old and I’m still not sure I that have figured it out, and now I’m not sure he was even asking about my job. In the two decades since that Amish supper, my own life has been a sometimes torturous tug between Plain persuasions and technological intrusions.
    “Well, you sure seem lost here,” a pretty 16-year-old Amish girl giggled, her white kapp framing flaxen hair. She was sitting across from me at that supper. She walked into their house with me as we carried our plates. The unmistakable aroma of home-baked bread rose from the oven and filled the home.
    “Gee, thanks,” I laughed back as my hand swiped the wall for an electric light switch that didn’t exist. “Just habit, I go into a dark room and look for the light.”
    Page 2 of 2 - She giggled.
    Plain communities serve as witnesses to the world, examples of humility and humbleness, faith and family. No light-switch is needed, Plain people are a light in a dark world and I’ve been continuously drawn to that light. But the journey has been fraught with frustration while sprinkled with blessings. Now after 20 years of exploring Plain settlements and an especially grueling six grueling months of working on creating something meaningful for TV, I think back to the Amish man’s words of so many years ago.
    “What do you want to do?”
    And I’m still not sure. I’d like this column to continue for another two decades and perhaps write some books about my Plain experiences. While my story may not be exciting enough for Hollywood, I think they’d make some compelling reading. Adding to the swirl of uncertainty about the future – a blessing. My wife and I found out we are beginning another journey: parenthood. Our first child arrives in September and I can’t wait. Yes, I’m scared… my past 20 years have been tricky and while many my age are dealing with teenagers, I’ll be changing diapers … but this is a chance to begin anew. I am running this column first in The Examiner. If the response is good and we sell enough softcover sets, this column can continue as branch out and diversify with other endeavors to augment The Amish Cook. If we don’t sell enough sets, I’ll always have poignant memories of Independence-Blue Springs-Grain Valley. There are many special Examiner readers who have worked to keep this column afloat, Beverly B. and Barbara M, two of the most amazing and I thank you and all the supportive Examiner readers. Will you give this column a pass to the future? I’ll leave it to you. If Independence-Blue Springs-Grain Valley get this book sale off to an awesome start, it’ll spread to other newspapers and we’ll keep this column going. If not, I’m not seeing a path forward.
    The titles available, all with redesigned covers and indexes are: The Amish Cook Cookbook , The Best of the Amish Cook Vol. 1, The Best of the Amish Cook Vol. 2, The Best of the Amish Cook Vol. 3 , The Best of the Amish Cook Vol. 4, The Amish Cook Treasury, The Amish Cook’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink Book, The Amish Cook Family Favorites and Facts, The Amish Recipe Project, An Amish Christmas and Rebecca at the Beach by Kevin Williams.
    To order, send a check for $119 (additional sets, $75) to: Oasis Newsfeatures, PO BOX 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042 or order online at www.oasisnewsfeatures.com/examiner
    Orders will ship immediately. Questions about a backorder, write to the above address or emailorders@oasisnewsfeatures.com

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