Dinner with the Millers

Any time I can go into the home of a local when I travel, I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I love getting a glimpse into the lives of the people who live in that region. Ohio Amish Country booked me for Dinner in an Amish Home. I had done something similar years ago and I knew it was going to be good.

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We arrived at Rachel Miller’s house. It didn’t look as “Amish” as one might picture, but that’s because we get these images in our heads of how we imagine an Amish house would look. Actually, as you drive the back roads of Amish Country, what you should really be looking for is not necessarily the big, wooden farmhouse you might imagine (or maybe it’s only me), but a relatively more modern, clean and tidy house that has a barn or two outside and a buggy in the yard.

One of the outbuildings may actually be a “case” house; humorously named such because it’s an empty building that the Amish can use “in case” they are hosting a church service or wedding. There are also bench wagons that they use to tote wooden benches to these houses for the occasion.

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But back to the Millers.

We stepped inside and saw that we’d be dining with five other people. In the first few moments of chatting, we learned that we were all from different parts of Ohio and that became significant in a way because the last two guests who had signed up for the dinner didn’t show.

Rachel Miller started bringing out food: homemade bread and peanut butter fluff, an Amish specialty of sorts made with peanut butter and marshmallow. There is nothing like it on a fresh piece of bread. Then she brought out platters and bowls of food: fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, and green beans. An abundance of food overflowed the table and we implored Rachel and her husband to sit down and eat with us. They’d been nearby as we all introduced ourselves and started chatting. I think that because we were all Ohioans, and everyone but me and my daughter were farmers/gardeners, too, and because there were two empty spots and no way to refrigerate the leftover food, they agreed.

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Coincidentally, I bought Mrs. Miller’s Peanut Butter Spread at the grocery. I don’t believe it’s Rachel Miller’s. There are a lot of Millers there.

So we talked about vegetables. And farming. And deer and rabbits. We talked about crops and whether the Millers were completely self-sufficient. They are not. They host dinners a couple nights a week in the summer and they also worked at a poultry farm and a mill. They talked about vacationing in Sarasota, Florida each winter (more on that in a future post) — something I never would have imagined, but apparently there is a strong Amish community there. And they talked about people they knew in common who lived in southeastern Ohio where one of the women at the table lives.

It was a wonderful dinner. Exactly what you might imagine an Amish dinner to be like. We had nice conversations, raved about the food (boy, did we all overeat!) and then finished the evening with a piece of peach pie.

I’m sure there’s plenty of good food throughout Amish country, but I definitely recommend booking a dinner in an Amish home as well. It’s a glimpse into their lives that you might not otherwise get. I guarantee you’ll consider yourself lucky, too.

Any surprises in this post? I know the Sarasota piece was a huge surprise to me.

13 responses to “Dinner with the Millers

  1. It does sound like an interesting way to spend an evening. It might perhaps be an all too rare chance to get a completely different perspective on things I tend to take for granted. 🙂

  2. Surprise? I’ve never heard of mixing peanut butter with marshmallow before! 🙂 Your evening sounded both fun and full-filling. The other thing that surprised me was having an empty “just in case house.” It would seem like quite an investment for not being used much. Or maybe there are a lot of ‘cases.’ 🙂 A fun, interesting blog. Thanks. –Curt

    • Thanks, Curt. The jar of Peanut butter spread/fluff says it’s a traditional wedding favorite. I can’t imagine serving it at a wedding, but then, their weddings are nothing like ours.

      The ‘case’ houses are used more often than you’d think. More on that to come.

      • I asked Peggy, who grew up on Catawba Island, if she knew about the marshmallow peanut butter spread and she said no. If I ever see a jar, I’ll buy it. 🙂 Looking forward to more on the ‘case’ houses. –Curt

    • Yes! We even caught a glimpse of a softball game going on in a field one day. Interesting.

      I imagine the people using cell phones were probably Mennonite. I did see a couple of phone booths outside of houses. They could use them to make calls, but could not have them in their houses. Or so I heard.

  3. This is so fascinating to me and what’s more, is that it seems the Amish are quite open to being “investigated” by tourists/non-Amish people, which I personally find surprising. But I guess that’s also my own stereotype of the Amish being closed off and not open to outsiders.

    • As one of my tour guides explained it to me, those that aren’t open to the tourists coming to the area choose to live someplace a little more off the beaten track. But some of the Amish embrace the commerce it brings. They’re not all self-sustaining farmers.

  4. Pingback: Hungarian Goulash: Good for the Soul | Browsing The Atlas·

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