Something’s always baking in an Amish oven, and at Christmastime, all the ingredients for joy are at hand. Wrap yourself in the warmth of the Amish home—and the Plain peace of hearts joined by love. Each story includes a recipe from the author!
BAKING LOVE ON ICE MOUNTAIN
Newly married, Clara Mast and Daniel Kauffman have little to give but love during their first Christmas season together. But generous hearts are always willing to be creative in this “Gift of the Magi” inspired story.
THE CHRISTMAS BAKERY ON HUCKLEBERRY HILL
When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .
THE SPECIAL CHRISTMAS COOKIE
Lisa Jones Baker
A charity auction, an unexpected friendship, and a stubborn spirit combine in an unusual courtship. But for Emma and Jonathan, overcoming obstacles is just one of the lessons to be learned about special blessings this holiday season.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA nominated and award-winning author of the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill and The Honeybee Sisters series, as well as a number of novellas. Novels in her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series have been RITA® Award and RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award finalists. Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for inspirational fiction and Huckleberry Hearts was named a Booklist Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Book of the Year. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people. She and her husband have been married for thirty-four years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and seven adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten. Please visit her online at www.JenniferBeckstrand.com
Lisa Jones Baker grew up near a small Amish town in Illinois that she frequented with her family on weekends. She's also a dog lover and a fan of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she spent nearly two decades. Lisa graduated from Illinois State University with a French major, has been on 5 out of 7 continents, and considers her parents the best in the world. Raised in a Christian home, Lisa has always been blessed with love and support. She loves to hear from readers via email at email@example.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Amish Christmas Kitchen
By Kelly Long, JENNIFER BECKSTRAND, Lisa Jones Baker
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Kensington Publishing Corp.
All rights reserved.
Baking Love on Ice Mountain
Early October, Ice Mountain, Pennsylvania
The ominous crack of the giant pine tree ricocheted through the forest and twenty-one-year-old Daniel Kauffman knew a sudden and resonating fear in his chest.
"Bad cut!" he hollered, dropping his ax and scrambling to move as fast as he could through the wet leaves underfoot. "Run!" he screamed, glancing back to see that his best friend, Seth Loftus, still hadn't moved.
The tree fell with deadly force, catching Daniel with the tips of its branches and clawing the back of his neck to stinging rawness. But then there was silence, a deafening stillness once the pine met the earth and settled. Daniel stopped running and turned, listening.
"Seth?" He started to climb over the branches. "Seth!"
He worked his way back, heedless of the dense limbs, and found his friend lying in a widening stain of crimson against the mixed colors of the autumn leaves. Seth's lower body was trapped, and Daniel frantically began to claw at the earth, trying to dig around the huge trunk.
"I'm here, Seth. Right here. I'm gonna get you out."
"Nee ... please ... kumme ..."
Daniel swallowed hard as he looked up to the bloody hand raised in faint petition. He scrambled to his friend's side and bent low to cradle Seth's head.
"Let me get you out," Daniel pleaded.
"It was a widow-maker — this tree. Should have known ..."
"Seth, please ..." He watched Seth's blue eyes focus for a moment as he appeared to rally and reached to grasp the collar of Daniel's black coat.
"Dan, I want you to promise me something."
Seth half smiled. "Clara is beautiful, inside and out."
"I know. I know." An image of Seth's wife's wide pansy eyes flashed through Daniel's mind, and he blinked away sudden tears.
"She loves baking and cooking...."
Daniel choked on a sob as his friend's breathing became labored.
"You gotta take your time with Clara. She's as shy as a doe," Seth coughed. A tiny bubble of blood appeared beside his mouth.
"Don't talk, Seth. Save your strength."
"Nee ... Promise ... promise me you'll marry her, take care of her. ... You're the best ... best man I know."
Daniel drew in a harsh breath.
"Promise me, Dan."
He nodded feverishly. "I promise you, Seth."
Seth's grip loosened on his coat as his broken body relaxed.
Minutes later, Daniel allowed wrenching tears to fall as he rocked his dead friend until the cold seeped through and the nacht drew near.
He finally walked away to get help to move the body, and he recalled the promise he'd given in desperation — a heart pledge made in a moment of panic but forged by the enduring grip of love....
Early December, Ice Mountain, Two Years Later
"You've become a recluse."
The young widow, Clara Loftus, heard the obvious concern in her older sister Sarah's words but didn't bother to disagree with the statement.
"So?" Clara shrugged her shoulders and reached into the wooden box of weekly supplies Sarah had brought from the mountain store. She looked up when Sarah caught her by the shoulders.
"Listen, Clara, I really mean it and I can't keep helping you stay holed up in this cabin forever. Seth has been gone for a long time, and he wouldn't want you to be living like this."
Clara sighed. "Sarah, I know you're the healer for the community, but I'm fine...." She straightened her spine. "I have Blinks" — she gestured to the blue-eyed animal at her heels — "and it's winter. This cabin is too far up in the timberline for me to make it out a lot."
Sarah dropped her hands to her hips. "Somehow I manage to get up here every week with grocery staples, despite the distance and the snow. So you could stand to come down to the store. This is the last lot of supplies I'm bringing, Clara."
Clara knew instinctively that it hurt Sarah to be so firm. She reached out and squeezed her older sister's arms. "All right, Sarah. I'll kumme down if I need something."
Sarah shook her bonneted head. "But you won't admit that you need — anything. And that's what worries me."
Clara smiled, then handed her sister a small plate of cookies. "Here's some pralines I made last nacht. Just kiss my niece and nephew and that big, brooding husband of yours and leave the rest to me."
But when Sarah had gone and the light jingle of sleigh bells had faded into the distance of the frosty morning air, Clara sank into a kitchen chair and put her head in her hands. If only I could truly find purpose in being part of the Ice Mountain community again. ... Seth was always the social one, and now I — I am a recluse. ... She lifted her head as the goat brushed against her skirts. "But that's gut enough for me. ... Right, Blinks?" she said aloud. "And I'm going to completely ignore the fact that I feel more comfortable talking to a goat than any person...."
* * *
The warm glaze of sugar melted in a languorous slide down Daniel Kauffman's lean throat, and he closed his eyes to further savor the delight of the sweet.
"Gut, isn't it, buwe?" Bishop Umble asked from where he stood in the Kauffman family store.
Daniel opened his eyes and looked down into the wise auld face of his community's leader. "Jah, who made it?"
"Hmmm? Ach, the gut widow, Clara Loftus."
Daniel choked and the bishop slapped him on the back but continued talking. "Jah. Her sister brought a small plate of sweets down from the high timber and thought I might like a taste. I doubt there's a better baker on the mountain than Frau Loftus — but don't tell my missus that. Hmm ... Clara has been a widow for nigh on two years now. I wonder how she's getting by without Seth?"
Daniel shrugged, feeling shaken inside. I should have tried harder with her, kept trying. ... "Take it slow ... take it slow with Clara...." "The community sees to the care of widows and" — he began awkwardly.
"Oh, ach, I know that, but I'm talking about her spirit, her heart. It's bound to be lonesome up in that far cabin."
"Gut point," Bishop Umble agreed. "So you promise to return her plate to her tonight? You know women and their dishes. And you might also invite her down to a little gathering Martha and I are having in two days' time. ... Ask her to make some more of these cookies, too." The leader cleared his throat. "Well, I appreciate it."
Daniel lifted a protesting hand. "Wait ... what?"
"I'm going over to chat with your fater about some harnesses I ordered. Danki, sohn."
Daniel watched helplessly as the bishop threaded his way through the busy store. He wanted to cry out to the auld leader to stop, that he'd made no promise. ... I didn't promise. ... I never promised. ... But Bishop Umble had a strange way of getting around a man, and Daniel knew he'd be making the trip on up the mountain that evening, willing or not.
* * *
More than two years after her husband's death, Clara found herself grieving on the wood-pegged kitchen floor of the cabin's kitchen. She'd broken what had been Seth's favorite bowl — the heavy light blue one with the chip in the edge, the one she could still see him spooning soup or oatmeal from — a simple thing, but now shattered into small memories in the fading rays of the late afternoon sun. And she cried. She took out her hankie, blew her nose prodigiously, then looked up in surprise as a knock sounded on the cabin door.
It can't be Sarah again. ... For a moment, she felt a clutch of fear that it might be a stranger, but then she rose to her feet in determination. If Derr Herr wants me to be kidnapped or worse, then so be it....
She walked the few steps it took to open the door, then stepped back in sudden surprise and confusion.
Daniel Kauffman stood on her small front porch, his overly long chestnut hair tousled by the wind and his green eyes steady and penetrating as he stared down at her. He's handsome enough to be a model, she thought darkly, suddenly recalling an Englisch magazine she'd once hidden under her mattress during her long-ago rumspringa.
"What do you want?" she snapped, then bit her lip. Didn't I say the same thing two years ago — has it been that long? Two years ago when he came calling with his ridiculous proposal ... To add to her irritation, she felt herself flush in remembrance while his eyes narrowed as if in consideration of her response. "Well?" she demanded again, resisting the urge to squint as the last of the sun's rays slipped over the mountain.
"May I kumme in?" he asked gently, and she felt his words held a mild rebuke at her lack of manners.
Although she had slowly ceased participating in anything much communal but church now and then since Seth had died, she still remembered the niceties. "Nee."
He smiled then, a flash of white teeth in the new dusk, almost as if he'd expected her answer, and shifted his weight from one long leg to the other. He tapped his black hat against his thigh, and her gaze was irresistibly drawn to his shadowed waist for a millisecond.
She looked up, appalled at her reaction, and moved to slam the door in his face. But he shot one strong hand out and caught the wood, staying her for the moment.
"Look," she finally managed, as if she'd picked up on the conversation they'd had two years ago. "I do not want to marry you!" She stamped a small foot to punctuate her declaration.
He bent close, almost as if he was going to whisper in her ear, and she let go of the door in confusion. He ran a long finger down her hot cheek, and then, to her surprise, tapped her lightly on the nose in time to his own words. "And I — no longer want to marry you, Widow Loftus."
She felt her mouth round in surprise. "Ach," she whispered. "Then, what — I mean ..."
"Praline cookies," he announced, pulling back to turn up his collar as a brisk spray of snow blew past.
He shrugged. "Bishop Umble requests a platter of your praline cookies, and your, er, presence, of course, at a small gathering he's having in two days' time. Though I hardly think your baking is necessary, because I make the best cookies on the mountain. But ... the bishop seems to be laboring under some memory or another of your past attempts in the kitchen and —"
"My ... attempts?" She felt more riled than she had in a long time, and she frowned up at him while she mentally thumbed through her recipe box. "I'll have you know that I'm an excellent baker." She sniffed. "And since when do men like you ... I mean ... men bake?"
He put his hat on and gave her a faint bow. "The great bakers are all men — be they Amisch or Englisch. So, are you going to make the pralines — or what?"
He sounded both doubtful and bored and she lifted her chin. "You can count on it."
"Okaay ... Why, hello." He bent, and she watched him run the back of one strong hand over Blink's fur while the goat tried to twine itself 'round his boots. She frowned down at her mischievous companion and tried to shoo the animal back inside, but Blinks was enthralled. Only after a long, uncomfortable minute on Clara's part did Daniel rise to his full height. "I like goats," he said simply, not questioning the oddness of actually having one as a house pet.
She frowned and nodded, telling herself she wanted him gone. But then he reached a hand inside his heavy coat and drew out a circular, brown paper–wrapped object. "The true reason for my visit." He smiled. "Your cookie plate."
"Uh ... danki." She clutched the parcel to her chest, then jerked it away, realizing that its warmth had come from the heat between his shirt and the black wool coat. He lifted a dark brow at her, then touched his hat and turned. She heard his clear whistle as he tucked his hands in his pockets and started to walk in the boot-printed trail she now saw in the shadowy snow. Then she shut the door and leaned hard against it, her breathing rapid.
"All the great bakers are men...." she muttered aloud as she bent to pet the goat as it took an idle nibble of her skirts. "We'll show him, Miss Blinks, even though you are a little traitor, letting him pet you." Then she stood and put the wrapped plate on the table and tried to ignore the fact that the man had stroked her skin, as well. ... One tan finger down my cheek ... No man has touched me since Seth....
She pushed aside the nagging thought and hurriedly swept up the remains of the blue bowl from the kitchen floor. Then she reached with determination for her recipe box and turned up a lamp.CHAPTER 2
"All the great bakers are men...." Daniel almost laughed out loud when he recalled his words to Clara as he mounted the steps to the family store later that evening. Although he knew he was a good baker, primarily out of necessity since childhood, neither he nor his family had ever admitted the fact to anyone else. While some Amisch men might help out around the kitchen now and then, with firewood or fetching water, Daniel knew the idea of a man baking on a regular basis wouldn't be widely accepted. And here I've proclaimed it on the mountaintop to Clara Loftus....
But, I did get her ... goat. He smiled grimly in the darkness. I certainly made a better impression on her today than I did two years ago. ... Gott ... I'm sorry, Seth. I haven't cared for her in the way you wanted. ... But you were right, auld friend. ... She is beautiful. And tonight there'd been a snap of life in her large gray eyes that had transmitted itself like a wash of intimacy down the center of his back and he'd shivered beneath his heavy coat, feeling unaccountably pleasured.
He tried to put aside the remembered sensation as he opened the heavy white door and the familiar jangle of an overhead bell greeted him. His daed, Ben Kauffman, popped his large frame out from behind some shelving, obviously thinking it was some late customer.
"Ach, Dan ... turn the CLOSED sign over, will you? I've got to finish stocking these jellies and then your mamm has supper going though she's waiting on you to whip up some angel biscuits. Where have you been, sohn?"
Daniel turned the sign, though he knew his daed would open for anyone on the mountain, no matter the time, in the event of a sudden or urgent need. He walked across the wooden floor, knowing its creaks by heart, and automatically bent to help his fater finish stocking the jelly jars that bore homemade labels from several of the local women.
"I was up near the timberline, Daed. Having a bit of a walk."
His father eyed him directly. "Ach ... well, then, I hope you stopped by to cut Clara Loftus a load of firewood."
Daniel felt a sudden tightness in his chest as he looked away. "Nee, Daed. I'll not cut timber up near that spot again."
His fater's big brown eyes immediately welled with emotion as he reached out to touch Daniel's shoulder. "Forgive me then, sohn. I forget that it's been only two years since Seth ... and you ..."
Daniel quickly embraced his daed, then pulled away. "It's all right, Daed. Look, I'd better get at those biscuits, okay?"
His fater nodded, pulling his white store apron up to wipe his nose; Daniel patted his back, then walked away through the store to the back kitchen, mentally preparing the ingredients for angel biscuits to go with the fragrant venison stew his mamm was stirring over the woodstove.
Daniel slipped off his coat and hat and hung them on the wooden pegs near the store's entrance. He called out greetings to his numerous siblings, who were already seated around the table with a general air of expectation.
"The kinner be hungry tonight," his mother observed as Daniel bent to kiss her plump cheek. "Can you whip up those angel biscuits of yours?"
He'd learned to bake angel biscuits and a myriad of other things, mainly by trial and taste, when he was ten years auld. His mother had been on necessary bed rest with one of her pregnancies, and while his daed was busy at the store, it had fallen on Daniel, as the eldest child, to become "the mamm" for a time.
Now he rolled up his blue shirtsleeves as he grabbed the homemade soap and started to wash his hands at the pump sink. He was drying off on an old tea towel when he remembered something vital to his recipe.
"I need my secret ingredient, Mamm. I'll just run back into the store for a minute."
There was a flatteringly collective groan from the hungry kinner at the table, and Daniel had to smile. Then he wondered with a sudden shiver of warmth whether Clara Loftus might have any secret ingredients of her own....
* * *
Long after midnight, Clara sought the relative comfort of the wood-framed bed that she and Seth had once shared. Blinks was settled in her usual mound of quilts on the floor, gently snoring. "I'm glad you can sleep," Clara whispered to the animal, then sighed heavily in the dimness of the moonlit room.
Excerpted from The Amish Christmas Kitchen by Kelly Long, JENNIFER BECKSTRAND, Lisa Jones Baker. Copyright © 2016 Kensington Publishing Corp.. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsBooks by Kelly Long,
Baking Love on Ice Mountain,
The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill,
The Special Christmas Cookie,
Lisa Jones Baker's Christmas Cookies,