On Tuesday, May 28th, my new book, The Amish Cookie Club, is hitting the bookstores! It’s the first book in a series that follows four women who get together every other week to bake cookies for their respective church districts. Of course, while they love baking cookies, they also love getting together and chatting.
It’s something that all of us should do more of: getting together with friends, doing something that’s fun, and spending time enjoying fellowship. I thought it would be fun to share a sneak peek to get you excited to meet the ladies. Enjoy!
The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls always reminded Edna Esh of her mother.
Lifting the pan toward her face, Edna shut her eyes and inhaled deeply, enjoying the warm steam that brushed against her cheeks as she savored the scent of freshly ground cinnamon.
In the silence of the moment, she thought back to the days of her youth. Saturdays. Those were the mornings her mother baked cinnamon rolls at her father’s farm outside of Seyberts, Indiana.
Farm life was always busy, but, even though all the children were home for the day, Saturday mornings were less chaotic for her mother. No school lunches to prepare, no faces to wash, no children to hurry off to school. With her brood filling the house with laughter, Edna’s mother was always in her glory. Back then, her gift to her children was those gloriously wonderful cinnamon rolls which began every weekend with a tasty note of love.
“I’ll never understand you.” The teasing voice of her husband interrupted the moment. “Baking sweets before your friends visit so you can only bake more sweets!”
Opening her eyes, Edna smiled at Elmer. For almost thirty years, he’d been her husband, partner, and—most importantly—her best friend. She watched as he stood in the doorway, kicking off his work boots—one, two . . . each landing with a loud clomp on the mudroom floor—before entering the kitchen. He didn’t seem to notice the clumps of dirt which fell from the soles. Sighing, Edna made a mental note to sweep the floor before her friends arrived.
He had already removed his hat, which had left his salt-and-pepper hair pressed flat against his head. “Seems you have those gals over more for visiting than for baking!” he teased.
“Oh now, Elmer!” Despite the truth to his statement, Edna protested. “You know I like to welcome the girls with something special to nibble on during their visit.”
Elmer shuffled his stockinged feet across the floor and peered into the pan, careful to keep his long beard from touching the baked goods. Like his wife, he, too, breathed in the aroma.
“Mmm!” Teasingly, he reached a finger toward the pan. “How about I sample one?”
But Edna was quicker than he was. After twenty-nine years of marriage, she’d anticipated his attempt to taste the frosting on one of the rolls. She swooped in and shifted the pan from his grasp. “I do believe we were both standing in the same room when the doctor told you no sweets, Elmer Esh!” she said as she set it onto a rack near the stove to cool.
“Oh, pssh!” He waved his hand dismissively at her. “What do doctors know about anything anyway?”
Edna laughed, her dark, almond-shaped eyes crinkling into half-moons. She couldn’t help but look at her husband with tenderness. How hard it must be for him to give up sweets! But the doctor’s orders were quite clear: avoid sugar. Perhaps even worse than giving up desserts and treats was that Elmer had been forced to give up sugar in his coffee. While Edna didn’t mind drinking her coffee black, Elmer fussed about that almost as much as he fussed about giving up cookies and pies.
“Well, I sure do think Dr. Graham knows a spell more than you do about your heart!”
Elmer scowled. “Bah!”
“Now don’t you ‘bah’ me,” she scolded playfully.
He turned to the sink and began to wash his hands. “So what’re you girls making today anyway?”
She was surprised that he asked that question. Whenever her friends Mary Ropp, Wilma Schwartz, and Verna Bontrager came over, they always baked the same thing. “Why, cookies, of course!”
Twice a month, the four women gathered to bake different types of cookies for the fellowship meal that followed the Sunday worship service. They had started the tradition when Wilma’s twins, Rachel and Ella Mae, turned sixteen and began their rumschpringe. Wilma had taken quite a turn, falling into a blue mood without her youngest daughters spending their free time at home. An empty house began evolving into an empty heart.
The truth was that none of them had little ones at home anymore. The realization that this phase of motherhood had ended and a new one had begun distressed all of them, but none more so than Wilma.
It was Edna who came up with the idea to meet on the Fridays before church Sundays. She’d sat down, written each of her three best friends a letter and detailed her idea for gathering twice a month to bake cookies. After all, she had written, they needed each other for support, and what better way to provide that than meeting on a regular basis? Besides, who didn’t love cookies?
And there was no better way to give each other support than to bake together. They would fill cookie sheet after cookie sheet with freshly made dough—usually sugar or oatmeal cookies but sometimes they’d chose another equally delicious recipe–and bundle them up in storage containers to bring to their respective worship services.
All three of the women readily agreed with Edna’s plan. After all, it was a great reason not only to spend time together, but to support each other as well.
The Amish Cookie Club is available in paperback and ebook format. You can learn more about the book, including purchase links, by clicking HERE.
Sarah Price is the author of the Plain Fame series and the Amish of Ephrata series, among other books. She comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, and her writing reflects accurate and authentic stories based upon her own experiences with several Amish communities. Visit her at sarahpriceauthor.com and on Facebook.