Summer camp and sweet & sour salad dressing

This past weekend proved to be quite interesting. I’m sure you would’ve enjoyed taking a peek at the 135 youth gathered at a local church camp.

Each spring we as a church invite Amish youth from other communities — some from as far away as Virginia and New York — to join us at the Crest Haven Family Center in Claremont, Illinois. The camp is owned by a local church whom we rent it from.

This year there were 135 youth so there were lots of new faces as well as old friends to chat with. Each van load of youth usually brings a minister and his wife or a youth leader couple along from their community.

Several ministers are asked to come and have a topic or two for the youth. Examples of topics include “sharing God’s love with others” and “looking to God when facing difficulties.” During my youth years this is something I always looked forward to. Since I married, I still enjoy being there. An allotted time is also given for a hymn singing as well as a period for questions and answers. The weekend is intended to be a time of spiritual refreshment and encouragement. No games or entertainment are scheduled throughout the weekend. This is a time meant for reflection. The event is an enjoyable time of fellowship and spiritual renewal for everyone.

The guests begin arriving on Friday afternoon. First, everyone signs in, fills out name tags and then settles their belongings into the room assigned to them in one of the dorms. With the boys’ dorms on one side of the shower houses and the ladies and staff on the other, sufficient privacy is granted to everyone.

Cooking is a major undertaking on a weekend like this. We church ladies are always assigned to bring certain dishes. Some of the visiting youth also bring items along, such as cakes, cookies, pies, etc.

This year, I was asked to bring a gallon of yogurt, a large batch of tossed salad and homemade dressing to go with it.

Lemon yogurt would be refreshing, I decided. Upon arriving at Crest Haven, I took the yogurt along with my salad and dressing into the cooler and set it on one of the shelves.

On Sunday, after lunch, one of the cooks came to me and said she had something she’d like to tell me about.

“OK,” I said, my curiosity mounting. Whatever could it be? I wondered. The way she said it, I knew something out of the ordinary must have happened.

“We found your container in the cooler and were surprised to see that you made such a large batch of dressing,” she explained. I gasped. They obviously had mistaken my yogurt to be dressing.

The cook went on to explain how they had gotten the container and started mixing its contents with several other batches of homemade dressings made by several other ladies. My imagination kept reeling. “They probably had to start all over and make a new batch of dressing,” I worried.

Thankfully enough, someone tasted it before it was too late and discovered their “dressing” to be yellow lemon yogurt. The colors were strikingly the same but the texture wasn’t as comparable. I didn’t ask her but undoubtedly they wondered why I brought along such thick, jelly-like dressing.

You can guess what I decided then and there. From now on, I will always label my containers with food so everyone knows exactly what it is and which meal it is to be used for.

Be sure to watch for next week’s letter. I’ll be filling you in on details of our cooking experiences at the Crest Haven Family Center a couple of years ago.

How about trying out our family favorite dressing recipe? And let me assure you — no yogurt is needed in this recipe.

Daniel’s opinion of this dressing is the same as my dad’s always was. To them, it’s not really worth eating a salad if you don’t have homemade sweet and sour salad dressing to go with it. As a young girl, I made countless batches of it. It has a long shelf life when kept in the refrigerator, so I like making large batches of it. It can be used in many ways. Julia likes using it as a dip for her veggies. It also adds a tasty tang when drizzled over casseroles.

For the this week’s recipe, I often replace the vegetable oil with olive oil and use less sugar and add a bit of Stevia as a replacement. The “3 cups of salad dressing” in this recipe would be the type of dressing known to many as Miracle Whip. I make my own homemade version of “Miracle Whip” and I will share that recipe in an upcoming column, but you can use store-bought in this recipe.




3 cups salad dressing

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

½ cups vinegar

1½ cups sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon onion salt

1 teaspoon celery seed

Whip everything together and drizzle on your favorite salad.

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