The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 27, 2011

Christmas stuffing

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

Once the dust settles from Black Friday frenzy, after Cyber Monday carpal tunnel syndrome sets in, only the pleasant, thoughtful finale remains — stuffing the sock.

It’s the time of year Leigh Korn tells her staff daily at The Amish Barn in Crab Orchard to stuff it — baskets with old-fashioned foodstuffs, like Gingerbread Pancake mix and F-R-O-G (fig, raspberry, orange, ginger) jam, and stockings with items made with Amish pride and wholesomeness attached, from authentic vendors in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Inside their big red barn off Robert C. Byrd Drive, the Amish Barn elves are motivated to help people fulfill their last-minute purchases, the tiny details shoppers can find more challenging than large, expensive gift-buying.

“We’ll get 30-50 men on Christmas Eve, handing us money and saying, ‘I need three baskets, I have to go to Walmart, I’ll be back,’ ” she states, confident in her ability to predict spousal “likes.”

Most stocking-worthy items in her family’s store are under $10. Korn, ironically, carries corn as one of her most sought-after items: red kernel popcorn and hull-less, ladyfinger varieties. Her shelves are lined with gummies morphed into kid-pleasing shapes, like fried eggs and soldiers. For budding chefs, she recommends cooking baskets or stockings filled with freshly hand-measured and packaged spices that are “300% cheaper” than local retailers, according to her calculations.

Amish Barn stuffs stockings and baskets for patrons for as little as $10 and up to a still modestly priced $100. For those do-it-yourselfers, Korn places shelf tags as guides to assist shoppers in constructing their own stocking or basket gift.

The frequented deli-style restaurant inside the barn, serving favorites made better with Amish ingredients, like specialty grilled cheeses, hams and German-style bologna, is also a great place for a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day appetizer platter. Cheese trays with six different traditional and specialty Amish cheeses are priced less than $15.

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