Monday, August 12, 2013

Amish Haystacks - not quite as seedy as you might think!

Hi everyone, Jan here. You might remember that I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota, right on the edge of the high prairie.

Around here we have haystacks.

Lots of haystacks.

More this year than normal, since we're getting a lot of rain.

Sometimes our haystack look like this →

And sometimes, they look like this ←

And once in awhile, we see ones that look like this →

But when you go to Amish country, some haystacks look a LOT different.

You see, haystack suppers are popular fund raisers or dinners for a crowd.

Those haystacks often look like this (although this one is pretty tame compared to some I've seen):

The nice thing about haystack suppers is that you can pile on as many or as few of the ingredients you want. The ingredients are as varied as the cooks and everyone has their own favorite combination.

Here's a recipe for a basic Amish Haystack:

(note - there are only ingredients listed, no quantities...that's on purpose!)

Pile the ingredients on the plate in this order:

crushed soda crackers
ground beef with taco seasoning
chopped lettuce
tomatoes, chopped
green peppers, chopped
onions, chopped
spaghetti or rice
shredded cheese or cheese sauce, or both
salsa or ranch dressing, or both

Or you can use these ingredients:

beans with taco seasoning
chopped lettuce
chopped tomatoes
slices ripe olives
corn chips
cheese - shredded or sauce, or both
sour cream
chopped onions

The idea is to put each ingredient, in order, on a buffet line for people to either help themselves or be served.

And be sure to use sturdy plates!

Every year, the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale has a Haystack Supper to open the festivities. This relief sale is in Goshen, Indiana (my old stomping grounds!) and is one of the largest in the country. They raise funds for Mennonite Relief efforts through the sale of food, activities, auctions, and especially the quilt auction!!!!! 

Look at all those quilts!

This year's sale starts Friday, September 27 at 5:00 pm - that's Eastern time. It's at the Elkhart County Fair Grounds in Goshen.

If you want to learn more about the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale, go here.

So tell us, what is your favorite meal for a crowd? What is the go-to fund-raiser meal in your area?

Oh, by the way, Thatcher is at the vet's today. Yes, it's time for (We told him he's getting tutored!) He'll come home with a cone of shame, so I'll be sure to get pictures of that!


  1. First...POOR Thatcher!!!!

    Okay, now that that is out of my system. Love the idea of haystack ingredients being whatever you want them to be.

    Spaghetti suppers were always my fave church's fundraiser but BBQ suppers reign down here!

    Peace, Julie

    1. Yes, poor Thatcher! He had to forego his breakfast this morning because of the upcoming surgery, and this dog loves to eat. :(

      And I thought of you, Julie. Because you can pick and choose, you never have to add anything you don't want to or can't eat.

      Although I have to say my favorite is the cheese sauce. You can put cheese sauce on anything and make it better!

  2. Heehee! Thatcher will be a changed man... dog.

    Love haystacks and now I want to go to a quilt auction.

    1. The quilt auction is my favorite part! I went to the sale one year when I was in college, and all I did was wander through the quilt displays. Hundreds of ladies and church groups spend all year getting quilts, throws and afghans ready for this sale!

  3. Thatcher, buddy, it will be over in no time and you'll be home safe and sound and clueless. :-) Did anyone see 20/20 this week? It was about pets -- lots of bizarre doggie trivia like...did you know that they actually parts for dogs who are being neutered? It's a new kind of plastic surgery and you can actually pick the size of! I have only one question -- Why????????

    Okay -- fundraising suppers? Honestly, I've never been to one! It's not something that seems to be done in the city. Starting in October though the rural churches host turkey suppers and people flock to them. My dad and stepmom used to go to tons of them all the way through November. A different one nearly every week. They were so sick of turkey by the time Christmas hit. It was just more of the same ol' same ol'. And the really big draw to all those church suppers was the pie. All kinds except chocolate. We don't have chocolate pie up here.

    1. I'm speechless. No chocolate pie? But how...why.... What possesses you people? Kav, you need to educate your neighbors!

      And I'm willing to bet all those church suppers were fundraisers for the churches! And I'm sure they welcomed all the city folk like your dad and stepmom who were willing to trade a bit of cash for a wonderful meal! And I don't think I could ever get tired of turkey dinners :)

      I'm with you on the replacement parts for dogs, too. Why? The dogs don't miss them!

    2. Kav, all I can say is...UNBELIEVABLE. Like you said: WHY?? For the doggy macho ego??


  4. aww poor Thatcher! never heard of a place not having chocolate pie Kav! and no way I'd buy replacement parts for a dog - sheesh if I'm gonna by replacement parts I'm going up in cups myself!

    QUILTS! oooh I wanna be there with the quilts!

    the only haystack recipes I've heard of involve some kind of cereal like fiber one and chocolate...didn't know regular food made haystacks! looks good though!


    1. Oh, I love those other haystacks, too, Susanna! I make them at Christmas time with Chinese noodles and chocolate/butterscotch chips melted together.

      And yes, today will be a little rough for Thatcher (mostly because of no breakfast), but in a week it will just be a distant memory :)

  5. Poor Thatcher:(

    That first picture you showed of the Amish haystack looked a lot like Frito chili pie. Love me some Frito chili pie. But then, what's not to love about Fritos? The other stuff sounds good, too. Sans the pineapple.

    Around here, it's usually barbeque. Texas barbeque, that is. Smoked brisket, chicken, sausage... Everyone's always up for barbeque.

    1. I thought that first picture looked a lot like a Frito pie, too, Mindy. But who knows what lurks under those corn chips????

      And oh yeah, Texas barbeque. Of course, being Yankees (not the baseball team, the other kind, usually with another word attached beforehand), we were never invited to one. I'm pretty sure we were about 3 generations away from being considered natives :) But it didn't help that all of our friends were Yankees, too.

    2. Barbecue! :-) love Texas!

  6. LOLOL!!! Tutored! I love it. :) And yes, the cone of shame is hysterical. Our grand do had to endure one when he pulled off his toenail. I got some precious photos. :) Thatcher will probably endure days of humiliation. Poor baby.

    I love the idea of haystack supper! I've never heard the term. It does look like a frito pie. Or fancy nachos. Sounds yummy!!

    1. I got the phone call from the vet - Thatcher came through surgery just fine, didn't like the catheter, and is awake and raring to go. So no surprises!

      The haystack supper kind of reminds me of a burrito bowl - do you have Qdoba or anyplace like that? - but with a lot more ingredients. And depending on the ingredients, it can have a southwest flair, or a definite German influence. It's such a versatile thing!

    2. Glad all went well!

      No, we don't have Qdoba that I know of. We do have Chipotle, though, which has a bowl. I love getting that!

  7. We have those types of meals, but I didn't know what they were called. We use chips--not crackers or spaghetti--and then all the stuff usually found on tacos. Sometimes we use chili and fritoes, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, etc., and call it Frito Pie. This kind of makes me hungry.
    Poor Thatcher. The cone of shame. I hope his recovery goes well.

    1. Hi Nikki!

      I'd call what you described a Frito Pie, too. Haystacks tend to have everything except the kitchen sink :)

      When we lived in Kansas, the Boy Scouts would sell what they called "walking tacos" as a fund raisers at fairs and places like that. Basically it's the same as a Frito Pie, but you put all the stuff in an individual size Frito bag. Add a fork, and you can eat it as you walk along - that's why they were called Walking Tacos!

      And Thatcher gets to come home in a couple hours. We'll see how he reacts to the cone of shame :)