Heidi Troyer cooks up the idea of teaching classes in the art of Amish cuisine in her Holmes County, Ohio, home. But is it a recipe for drama when five very different men and women answer the advertisement?
Join a class of unlikely Ohioans who take cooking lessons at Lyle and Heidi Troyer’s Amish farm. A woman engaged to marry, an expectant mother estranged from her family, a widowed mom seeking to simplify, a Vietnam vet who camps on the Troyer’s farm, and an Amish widower make up the mismatched lot of students.
Class members share details of their disappointing lives, work to solve a mystery, and stir some romance into the pot. Soon Heidi’s cooking lessons turn into life lessons as they each share their challenges. . .and their souls are healed one meal at a time. Is this what God had in mind when Heidi got the idea for cooking classes?
About the Author
Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.
Read an Excerpt
Amish Cooking Class The Seekers
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing, IncCopyright © 2017 Wanda E. Brunstetter
All rights reserved.
Loretta Donnelly's vision clouded as she sat on the front porch, watching her children play in the yard. Conner, with dark curly hair like his daddy's, was three. His sister, Abby, whose hair was medium brown like Loretta's, had recently turned five and would go to kindergarten in the fall.
"They are growing too fast and missing out on so much," Loretta murmured, pulling her long hair into a ponytail. She squeezed her eyes shut, struggling not to cry as she often did when she thought of Rick. He'd been gone nearly a year, but it felt like yesterday when she'd received the news of his death. Rick had been on a business trip. Loretta wished she had urged him to spend the night somewhere before heading home for the weekend. But having been gone for six days, Rick was anxious to get home. Loretta was excited for him to return, and so were the children. It was a shock when she'd received the horrifying news that an accident had occurred on the freeway. Rick had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel, causing his car to hit a guardrail and flip onto its side. Fortunately, no other vehicles were involved.
Loretta's eyes snapped open when her daughter touched her arm. "Mommy, can I have a ponytail like yours?"
"Sure, sweetie, turn around." Loretta reached into her skirt pocket and found an extra hair band. Pulling Abby's shoulder-length hair back, she secured the ponytail with the band.
"Thanks, Mommy. We look alike now."
"You're welcome." Loretta bent down and gave Abby a hug.
After Abby joined her brother again, Loretta's thoughts turned to her financial situation. They'd been living on the money from Rick's life insurance policy, but it wouldn't last forever. Eventually, Loretta would need to look for a job, which meant finding a full-time babysitter.
Loretta's parents lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Soon after Rick died, Mom and Dad suggested Loretta sell her house and move in with them. She appreciated their offer but didn't want to uproot the children. Loretta wanted to give Abby and Conner a simpler life, like they had here in Amish country, rather than exposing them to big-city living. Besides, it wouldn't be fair to move the children closer to one set of grandparents but farther from the other. Rick's parents lived in Colorado, and Loretta had no desire to move there. Residing in this simple home in this quiet town helped her feel closer to Rick. This was where she wanted to raise her children. Unless God told her otherwise, she planned to remain right here.
Loretta's attention turned to her children when she heard Conner's cry. She rose from her chair and hurried into the yard. "What's going on with you two?"
"He threw dirt at me." Abby wrinkled her nose. "Then he pulled my ponytail."
"Did you throw dirt back?"
Sniffling, Abby nodded.
Oh, great. Now they're both crying. "No more dirt throwing or hair pulling." She shook her finger at the children before taking hold of their hands. "Let's go inside now and get you cleaned up. After that, we'll have lunch."
Once Loretta made sure Conner and Abby were clean, she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The two sat giggling about something on the cereal box still sitting on the table from breakfast. It was good to see how quickly they recovered from the argument they'd had outside. It was one of the benefits of kids their age — they could be mad one minute and happy the next.
While Abby and Conner ate their lunch, Loretta sat at the table, sipping a cup of tea, reading the latest edition of The Budget newspaper. After seeing what some of the local Amish scribes had written, she noticed an ad for cooking classes. The first class would begin next Saturday. Anything related to the Amish interested her, and it would be fun to learn how to make some traditional Amish dishes.
She took a sip of tea, letting the idea float around in her head. I probably shouldn't spend the money right now, but if I can find someone to watch the children, I may sign up for those classes.
* * *
"How are things coming along with your wedding plans?" Charlene Higgins's friend Kathy Newman asked as they took seats inside Sammy Sue's Barbeque restaurant.
Placing both hands beneath her chin, Charlene groaned. "What wedding plans? Len and I haven't even set a date for the wedding, much less made any plans."
"I thought after he proposed last week you two would be working out the details for your future together." Kathy's pale eyebrows squeezed together.
Charlene drank some water before giving her response. "Len wants to wait until he's told his parents about our engagement before we set a wedding date."
Her friend leaned slightly forward. "When does he plan to tell them?"
"I — I don't know." Charlene fingered the fork lying on her napkin. "I'm worried his folks — especially Annette, won't approve of Len's choice for a wife."
"For goodness' sakes, why not?" Kathy lifted her gaze toward the ceiling. "They should be happy their son's fallen in love with someone who is not only beautiful but smart."
Slowly, Charlene pulled her fingers through the ends of her long hair. Ever since she was a girl she'd been complimented on her creamy complexion and shiny brown hair with golden highlights. When she'd reached her teenage years, her friends suggested she become a model. Charlene wasn't interested in pursuing that profession. After high school graduation, she'd gone to college and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in early education. For the last year she'd been teaching kindergarten at one of the elementary schools in Dover.
"Are you ladies ready to order?" their waitress asked, stepping up to the table.
"Most definitely. I'll have the pulled-pork flatbread." Kathy smacked her lips. "I love the caramelized onions and cheddar cheese on it."
Charlene looked over the menu a few more seconds then ordered the same thing. With so many choices, it was easier to go with a familiar sandwich rather than try something new.
"Now, getting back to Len needing to tell his folks about your engagement ..." Kathy paused to pick up a slice of lemon and squeeze it into her water. "Why do you think he needs their approval? Is Len one of those guys who must check with his parents on everything?"
"I don't think so, but ..." Charlene pointed at the window. "Look at that! Wish I'd brought my camera with me today."
"What are you pointing at? I don't see anything out of the ordinary."
"A flock of geese heading for the Tuscarawas River, but you missed them." Charlene continued to watch out the window. "Their wings were stretched out for a landing. Bet they made quite a splash." She slouched in her seat. "Wish I was over there on the bridge right now. I could at least get a picture of the geese on my cell phone."
"Too bad I missed it, but at least you got to see them come in for a landing." Kathy stretched her arms out like a bird. "I'm surprised you don't have your digital camera with you. You take it nearly everywhere."
"I was running late and didn't think to grab it before I went out the door. Wouldn't you know the one day I didn't have it was when I could have gotten a great shot?" Heaving a sigh, Charlene shrugged. "Oh, well. I'm sure there will be other times I can photograph geese."
"Okay now, before the geese captured your train of thought, what were you going to say? Was it something about Len's parents?" her friend prompted.
"Yeah. Len's mother is quite domesticated. Her house is spotless, and she's an excellent cook." Charlene pursed her lips. "I, on the other hand, can barely boil water, which is why Len and I always go out to eat, rather than me cooking him a meal."
Kathy's forehead wrinkled as her mouth opened slightly. "You'll never learn to cook if you don't practice."
"I am not going to use my fiancé as a guinea pig. He could end up with food poisoning."
"Don't you think you're being a bit overly dramatic?"
"Maybe, but the one time I had Len's parents to my condo for supper, I burned the roast, and the vegetables were overcooked." Charlene picked up her water glass and took another drink.
"Maybe you need a new timer for your stove."
"Or maybe I ought to take some cooking lessons."
Kathy smiled. "Hey, not a bad idea. In fact, I saw an ad in the paper the other day advertising cooking classes. If you're interested, I'll give you a call with the information as soon as I get home."
Charlene lifted her shoulders in a brief shrug. "I'll give it some thought, but unless the person teaching the classes is a miracle worker, I may be a lost cause."
"Don't be silly. You know what you need, my friend?"
"A good dose of self-confidence."
Charlene didn't argue. Although she had little or no confidence when it came to cooking, she was plenty confident when it came to teaching her students. Of course, she couldn't feed her future husband properly by being a good teacher. Maybe I will consider taking those cooking classes.
* * *
Eli Miller had just started cleaning his barn when his neighbor Lyle Troyer showed up. They'd been friends a good many years.
"Hey, what's new with you?" Eli set his shovel aside.
"Not much. I have a box for you in my buggy, though." Lyle grinned. "A gift from my fraa."
"You don't say. What kind of gift did Heidi send for me? It's not my birthday or any special occasion."
"Doesn't have to be. She made you one of her famous peanut butter kichlin."
Eli chuckled. "Your wife's cookies are good, but I didn't realize they were famous."
"Bet they will be after she starts teaching her cooking classes." Lyle thumped Eli's shoulder. "Heidi also asked me to find out if you'd like to come over for supper tonight."
"I'd be pleased to, but what's this about Heidi teaching cooking classes?"
Lyle leaned against the barn wall, folding his arms. "As I'm sure you know, she's a pretty fair cook."
"Jah, and so was my fraa, but she never taught anyone." Eli rubbed the side of his bearded face. As always, thinking about Mavis caused him to miss her. He could hardly believe she'd been gone a year already. If only she hadn't ridden her bike to visit a friend and stayed until the sun began to set, when there'd been less visibility. If Mavis had been using her horse and buggy that evening, she might still be alive.
Lyle bumped Eli's shoulder again. "Say, I have an idea. Why don't you sign up for Heidi's cooking classes?"
Eli's eyes widened as he touched his chest. "Me? You're kidding, right?"
"Nope. You've mention many times about how bad your cooking is. If you learn how to cook, you'd be eatin' a lot better meals than tuna sandwiches and hardboiled eggs."
"Not sure I'd be comfortable taking classes. It'll probably be a bunch of women, and I'd feel as out of place as a child tryin' to guide a horse and buggy down the road." Eli walked over to the barn's entrance and gazed out across his property. Looking at everything, one would never know his wife was gone. The daffodils she'd planted a few years ago were bursting with yellow blossoms. The colorful hyacinths, in an array of pink, white, and purple, bloomed near the porch. Eli could almost visualize Mavis reaching down to take a whiff of their fragrance. She loved the smell of hyacinths, and in the spring she'd put a few in a vase on the kitchen table.
Several bird feeders swayed as soft breezes wafted through branches where they hung. Cardinals, goldfinches, and bluebirds ate in friendly comradery. An image of Mavis standing in front of the kitchen window came to mind, and Eli recalled her contented expression.
A few times she'd caught him watching her, and then they'd stood together and gazed at the birds gathering around the feeders. It seemed everywhere he looked these days a vision of Mavis materialized before his eyes. Eli hoped he could hold those precious moments in his mind forever. He never wanted to forget her sweet face.
Little things, such as feeding the birds, gave pleasant memories, but walking into the house was a different story. Gone were the days when he'd enter the kitchen and mouthwatering smells reached his nostrils. Eli remembered how his wife's pumpkin cinnamon rolls filled the whole house with their spicy aroma. Since Mavis knew they were his favorites, she made them quite often. Sometimes, even the fragrance of Mavis's hair would capture traces of what she had baked. When Eli greeted his wife after a long day's work, he wanted to hold her until the sun went down, filling his senses with the warmth of her body and scent of her hair.
Cherished flashbacks like these were bittersweet, popping into his mind at unexpected moments. While agonizing to think about, they were also more precious than ever.
At least I have those treasured memories tucked away safely right here. Eli touched his chest, aware of his heart thumping beneath his hand.
"Hey, are you feeling okay?" Lyle nudged Eli's arm. "Did you hear what I said a few seconds ago?"
"What? Oh, uh ... jah. I ... I was thinkin' about something, is all." Eli's face warmed as he focused on his friend. "What were you saying?"
"Said you may be surprised who all shows up at Heidi's cooking classes." Lyle bent down to pluck a piece of straw off his trousers. "Heidi's aunt Emma hosts quilting classes in her home, and she's taught several men to quilt. Fact is, it's my understanding that they enjoyed it almost as much as the women did. According to Emma, some of the men became quite good at quilting."
"Is that a fact?" As he tugged his earlobe, Eli sucked in his lower lip. "Danki for the mention. I'll give it some thought."CHAPTER 2
Mt. Hope, Ohio
Kendra Perkins turned toward the window, hoping the sunny sky would brighten her mood. She'd been staying with her friend Dorie Hampton for the past week — ever since Kendra's parents kicked her out of their house. She had only been allowed to take her clothes and personal items — nothing else. A year ago, Kendra would have never believed something like this would happen to her. It wasn't fair. What kind of parents could do such a thing? She shouldn't be punished for one little mistake.
Guess it's not a little mistake. Fingers clenched, Kendra swallowed hard. What I did was wrong, but are Mom and Dad so self-righteous they can't admit to ever having made a mistake? Is there no forgiveness in their hearts toward their wayward daughter?
Determined not to succumb to self-pity, Kendra turned her attention to the newspaper want ads on the kitchen table. She couldn't live in Dorie's tiny mobile home forever. She needed to find a job so she could support herself. She had to make a decision about the future of her unborn child before her October due date.
"Find anything yet?" Dorie asked, walking into the kitchen.
Kendra shook her head. "But then, I only began looking a few minutes ago."
Dorie handed Kendra a glass of cranberry juice and took a seat at the table. "Maybe you should have stayed in college and continued working toward a career in nursing."
Kendra gave an undignified snort. "If Mom and Dad kicked me out of their house, they sure weren't going to keep paying my tuition." Her face contorted as she brought her fingers to her lips. "They think I'm a sinner, and they're ashamed of me for giving in to my desire and becoming intimate with Max. Since I'm the oldest daughter, I'm supposed to set a good example for my two younger sisters."
"Maybe they need more time to come to grips with this. After all, it's their grandchild you're carrying."
"Doesn't mean a thing. My dad's on the church board, and he made it clear that I've humiliated him." She sniffed deeply, shifting in her chair. "Guess he thinks the church wouldn't forgive me if they knew. So mum's the word, if you get my meaning. And Mom ... Well, she can't think for herself these days. Even if she did want to help me, she'd go along with whatever Dad says."
Kendra wished she could forget what had happened, but how could she erase her pregnancy or her parents' rejection? She had considered not telling them about the baby, hoping her boyfriend, Max, would marry her. But things blew up in her face when she told him about the child and he'd asked her to get an abortion. Max was out of her life now. He'd found another girlfriend and joined the navy. With any luck, she'd never see him again.
Excerpted from Amish Cooking Class The Seekers by Wanda E. Brunstetter. Copyright © 2017 Wanda E. Brunstetter. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved the book. I felt like i was right there and really knew the characters. I am looking forward to the next one in August.
You'll completely enjoy this story if you're a fan of Amish stories - I know that I did! This story was well written and the characters fully developed and a nice mixture of Amish and English. I loved this book! ***** esk 08/2017 *****
This is a great book, a good reminder to all about not judging to quickly
Very hard to put down. Like being able to get the free cookbook on Amish meals.
Enjoyed reading this book so very much. It touched on several families lives throughout the story. Worth the read.
Quick read. Very enjoyable !
I need the next book
Another great book by Wanda Brunstetter that you won't want to put down until you have read the last page. She once again shows how God works in His mysterious ways. Heidi Troyer opens her home to offer cooking classes and hopes that it helps fill her days. She meets 5 strangers with different problems and through her cooking classes, their problems begin to find solutions in very different and amazing ways as Heidi shares her faith as well as her cooking skills. An added bonus at the end - recipes that are used in the book are also included.
As an avid reader of Amish fiction, I love this unique spin with this series by Wanda Brunstetter: a blend of Amish and English, with relatable life circumstances and sweet friendships made along the way! Heidi and Lyle are the kind of friends and neighbors we'd all be blessed to have. Just by living their faith and doing what God leads them to, they touch the lives of those around them in a positive way. As they patiently wait for God to bless them with children, their lives are impacted by those who attend Heidi's Amish Cooking Classes. A wonderful start to a great series about community, faith, and making the best of life circumstances, this book is a great read that I highly recommend!
Really enjoyed this book.
Yet another readable story by this talented author whose books are a pleasure to read as they have realistic personalities dealing with everyday situations in a Christian manner - not perfect, but trying their best and trusting in God. Since the information we allow into our minds, eyes and ears affects our attitudes and behavior, I am thankful for writers who focus on positive attributes and story lines and can always count on this author to speak truth in love.
Clean book. Characters are believable. Because of the different people, the story is slightly hard to follow.
Beautiful Wanda has written another wonderful story about blessing that can come from people gathering together for one purpose but using a bit of faith in helps.
Highly recommend this book. The author had the ability to write the story where the reader could imagine actually being there. Maybe it is my Nook which did not download it properly but the recipes in the back are jumbled to the point where the measurements are obscured by other words on top of the numbers and making it difficult to read. If this is an error in editing it should be corrected before the next publication. Even with that being said, the stories are too good to pass up.
I very much enjoyed this story. It was interesting and very well written.
This is a delightful Amish novel! I love the main characters in this wonderful story. They are very well developed and easy to connect with. The variety of characters and the situations they are dealing with is great. I really liked the fact that Heidi needed support and encouragement from her mother. The journeys that each of the students went through with their problems was realistic and actually encouraging. They helped to remind me that no matter what problem you face scripture can uplift and guide you.
What a great start to a new series by Wanda Brunstetter! This was a hard book to put down once I started to read it. Heidi and Lyle wanted to have some children. Heidi wanted something to help take up the i =n her days. She thought that having children in the house would help with that. Lyle suggested she start some Amish cooking classes. Heidi wasn't wasn't to keen on the idea at first but, finally decided to do it. Oh, my! What a different group of people signed up for these classes. She was wondering if she'd don e the right thing. Did her students learn to cook? Did she help with any of the problems the class had? Did the students read the scriptures she put on the back of the recipe cards? And, what about the children Heidi wanted so desperately?
The Seekers, by Wanda Brunstetter is the first in her Amish Cooking Class series. This was a wonderful book. I loved meeting Lyle and Heidi. I want to be their neighbors. I could feel Heidi’s pain regarding infertility and desiring desperately to be a mother. She and Lyle are a wonderful couple – both serving each other and God, always willing to help others. I loved getting to know the various people that attended Heidi’s cooking classes and I also enjoyed being introduced to the various recipes that were included in the back of the book for me to experiment with as well. By the end of this book, I was excited to see the plans God seemed to be working out for Heidi and Lyle and couldn’t wait to read the next book in the series. I also enjoyed how the author allowed closure for the reader with the lives of the attendees to the cooking class; yet at the same time, left things open enough for their stories to carry over into the next book.
Some heart wrenching stories here!! Six heartrending stories to pull on your sympathetic soul, yes I am including Heidi's story. Starting out with cooking in mind soon turns into some subtle counseling for the students, will they only learn how to cook or will it turn some lives around. If you enjoy Amish books you will enjoy this.
Heidi Troyer was lonely during the day when her husband Lyle was at work. There was only so much housework, gardening, and canning to do. Oh, how she longed for a child! They had been married eight years and God had not given them a baby yet. Heidi wanted to adopt but Lyle wouldn’t even consider the idea. Heidi’s aunt Emma gave sewing lessens. Those of you who read Wanda’s books remember Emma right?! Heidi wasn’t that good at sewing but she loved cooking and baking. She decided to fill some of her time giving cooking classes. After getting approval from Lyle, she set about advertising her classes and had a small group of women and one Amish man attend. Eli was a widower and couldn’t boil water! Another man in attendance, reluctantly, was Ron Hensley. He asked for permission to park his motor home on their property until he could get it fixed. Of course, there was nothing wrong with it. Heidi was suspicious of Ron from the start. Did she have reason to be? Like Emma’s students, Heidi’s all had things going on in their lives that they shared with her. She shared bible verses with them every week with the food they took home. Read about what was going on in the lives of Heidi’s students. What was Ron up to? You won’t want to put this book down until you find out all about the men and women in the cooking class!