Category: Iowa food

Doing Good, Eating Good at Lytton Town Night

What’s the glue that keeps a community connected? Around Lytton, Iowa, it’s food and fun at Lytton Town Night–and the homemade pie, of course.

While Lytton, Iowa, celebrates Gala Days each year during Memorial Day weekend, planning and fundraising for this beloved 100+ year tradition starts months earlier. In fact, a key part of the process starts in that most iconic of all small-town gathering places—the church basement.

Emanuel-St John Lutheran Church in Lytton, Iowa

Emanuel-St John Lutheran Church in Lytton, Iowa, hosts Lytton Town Night meals throughout the winter.

The basement dining area at Emanuel-St John Lutheran Church, whose congregation has roots dating back to 1883, provides a convenient setting for Lytton Town Night, which is held each Thursday evening from mid-January through March. Each Town Night offers a unique opportunity for the community to come together for free-will-donation meal to raise money for various causes and organizations, including Gala Days.

“Town Night is great, because there are a lot of fabulous cooks around Lytton,” said Nelda Bartels, a lifelong Lytton-area resident who often volunteers at Town Night.

As word of Town Night has spread through the years, guests come not only from Lytton, but Lake City, Sac City, Rockwell City and beyond. It’s not uncommon to serve a few hundred people at each meal.

“It’s like one big family when everyone gets together,” said Wendy Miller with the Lytton Chamber of Commerce.

Lytton Town Night includes groups like the Gala Days volunteers, the South Central Calhoun FFA chapter, 4-H clubs, civic groups and individuals raising money for worthy causes, including overseas mission trips. The Lytton Chamber of Commerce coordinates the schedule for Town Night, which allows eight to 10 different groups and individuals to host a Town Night meal during the winter, complete with home-cooked food. Some groups serve a selection of pasta casseroles, while others like the local FFA members serve pancakes and sausage links.

“I like the food, because it’s all good,” said Randy Souder, a Lytton-area farmer. “It’s also affordable, so everyone can come.”

South Central Calhoun FFA at Lytton Town Night

Members of the South Central Calhoun FFA chapter cooked pancakes and sausage during a Lytton Town Night fundraiser.

While no one is quite sure when Lytton Town Night started, it has been around since at least 1980, according to local-time residents. “It’s such a fun event, because you get to visit with friends and neighbors you don’t always see,” said Marlene Glasnapp, who lives with her husband, Roger, on a farm south of Lytton and is known as one of the best pie bakers in the area.

Each Town Night event is promoted through the Lytton Town Crier and on social media through Facebook. Each meal runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Thursday evening during the winter. The popular gatherings attract people of all ages, from babies to grandparents.

Some groups, like the Gala Days volunteers, serve a lunch and a dinner meal when it’s their turn to host Town Night. “We usually have casseroles and homemade pie,” Bartels said. “The homemade pie is the kicker, because it’s always a hit.”

When the meal is done, the fellowship continues in downtown Lytton at the 1950s-era American Legion hall for bingo. “Town Night bingo has been called Lytton’s winter sport,” Bartels said.
The evening of bingo lasts about an hour and a half, and participants can play as many cards as they want. Two cards cost $3, and the proceeds support the American Legion.

Town Night isn’t just a fun evening, added Brian Lantz, an ag instructor at South Central Calhoun High School who advises the local FFA chapter. “It’s a local tradition, plus the kids learn how to work with the public when it’s their turn to cook and serve the meal.”

Keeping the Town Night tradition alive is important to residents of Lytton, which has a population of 302 residents. “Every year we wonder if we’ll be able have Town Night again,” Miller said. “We’re going to keep it going as a long as we can.”

Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole

Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole

Creamy Chicken Casserole
This simple, hearty dish from Nelda Bartels of Lytton was served at the Gala Days fundraiser at Lytton Town Night in March 2018.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 10.75-ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 10.75-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 bag (2 cups) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 / 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-pound box elbow macaroni (cooked according to package directions)
1 1 / 2 cups panko bread crumbs or regular bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook chicken with garlic powder. (Nelda uses a programmable pressure cooker and adds a couple cups of chicken broth.) Drizzle with olive oil. When done, shred chicken with a fork, and save the juice.

Combine the two cream soups, milk, cheese, cooked chicken, broth from chicken and pepper. (If desired, add some sour cream or cream cheese into the mixture for extra flavor and creaminess.) Add cooked macaroni. Stir the mixture and pour into a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole pan.

Top casserole with panko breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Brown panko topping under broiler on low for 3 to 5 minutes. Watch closely, since the breadcrumbs can burn quickly.

Bowtie Lasagna Casserole
This tasty recipe comes from Nelda Bartels of Lytton.
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 to 1.5 pounds ground beef
1 package bowtie pasta noodles (cooked according to package directions)
1 small carton cottage cheese
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 small carton sour cream
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown hamburger; mix with spaghetti sauce. Pour sauce on bottom of 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Combine hamburger and bowtie pasta. Combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream. Add to hamburger/pasta mix; pour in baking pan. Top with mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Poppy Seed Chicken
This recipe comes from Susan Albright of Lytton.
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 carton (16 ounces) sour cream
1 10.75-ounce can cream of chicken soup
Very small handful of spaghetti, broken into pieces and cooked (Susan Albright uses three fourths of a box of angel hair pasta)
1 stick butter
40 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 / 2 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After cooking chicken, season to taste with garlic salt and onion. Combine sour cream and soup. Add cubed chicken and cooked spaghetti to mixture. Add salt, to taste.

Pour mixture into greased, 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish.

In a separate bowl, melt butter; add crushed crackers and poppy seeds. Sprinkle cracker mixture on top of casserole. Bake for 20 minutes.

Pie Crust
For decades, Marlene Glasnapp of rural Lytton has relied on this recipe, which yields approximately 6 crusts per batch.
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound lard
1 cup water
Combine flour and salt. Cut lard into the flour mixture. Add water, a little at a time, mixing quickly and evenly until dough just holds together in a ball. Divide dough for six crusts. (The crusts can be frozen for later use, and Marlene often rolls hers out before freezing.)

Raisin Cream Pie

Raisin Cream Pie
Marlene Glasnapp’s raisin cream pie is always a hit wherever it’s served.
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 / 2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups half-and-half
3-4 egg yolks (depends on the size of the eggs)
1 cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients with 1 / 2 cup of half-and-half, and set aside. Whisk egg yolks, and combine remaining half-and-half with the yolks. Add this mixture to the pie filling mix you set aside earlier.

Add raisins to the mixture and stir over medium heat until thick. Cool slightly. Pour in baked pie shell and top with meringue.

Meringue
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 / 2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
3 to 4 egg whites (depending on the size of the eggs)
3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

Dissolve 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of water. Boil 1 / 2 cup water and add to cornstarch mixture. Cook until clear. (This can be done in the microwave.) Beat egg whites and gradually add sugar. Add cooled cornstarch mixture and beat to proper consistency. Spread meringue over top of pie, sealing to the edge. Bake pie at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until meringue has browned.

 

Note from Darcy: I first wrote this piece in 2018 for Farm News. 

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you value intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, agriculture updates, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator.

If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page, or click here. Feel free to share this with friends and colleagues who might be interested, too.

Also, if you or someone you know could use my writing services (I’m not only Iowa’s storyteller, but a professionally-trained journalist with 20 years of experience), let’s talk. I work with businesses and organizations within Iowa and across the country to unleash the power of great storytelling to define their brand and connect with their audience through clear, compelling blog posts, articles, news releases, feature stories, newsletter articles, social media, video scripts, and photography. Learn more at www.darcymaulsby.com, or e-mail me at yettergirl@yahoo.com. 

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press. Also take a look at my latest book, “Dallas County,” and my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing. Both are filled with vintage photos and compelling stories that showcase he history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

Let’s stay in touch. I’m at darcy@darcymaulsby.com, and yettergirl@yahoo.com.

Talk to you soon!

Darcy

@Copyright 2018 Darcy Maulsby & Co.  Blog posts may only be reprinted with permission from Darcy Maulsby. 

In Praise of Ham and Bean Soup

I’ve never understood why a smoky, delicious ham and bean soup is so hard to find. Heck, just a lackluster, ho-hum ham and bean soup is often hard to find.

I always figured no one knows more about ham and bean soup than Iowa farm cooks, especially when those who grew up on a hog farm like I did. Pork galore in all its forms was a staple on our family’s dinner table for generations. Plus, soup night was always Sunday night at our farm—and it still is. What a treat when ham and bean soup is on the menu!

With its rich broth and smoky undertones, there’s nothing like a hearty ham and bean soup to chase away the winter chill (or bitter cold, depending on what Mother Nature throws at us.) As I’ve refined my own recipe through the years, I’ve come to three conclusions:

1. You MUST have a thick, smoked ham hock (also known as a ham shank) to make the magic. No cubes of cured ham are going to cut it, if you want maximum flavor. This is a heavy-duty, low-and-slow kind of job for a tough, smoky ham shank.

2. We’re blessed to have many great meat lockers in Iowa, a reflection of our thriving livestock industry, where I can get fabulous smoked ham hocks. One of my favorite suppliers? Lewright Meats in Eagle Grove, which has been serving northern Iowa since 1936.

3. Adding diced potatoes is a good thing for ham and bean soup. I like to add oomph to my cooking, and how can you go wrong with extra veggies? Adding potatoes might be a bit non-traditional for ham and bean soup, but that’s how I roll.

Smoked ham hock from Iowa

This smoked ham hock from Lewright Meats in Eagle Grove is the key to a great ham and bean soup.

The thing about ham and bean soup is that it can be a palette you fine-tune to your own tastes. Don’t like garlic? Leave it out. Want more onions in the mix? Add another one. (As my dear neighbor and farm cook extraordinaire Alice Ann Dial taught me, onions are a cheap way to add lots of flavor.)

The story behind Congress and Bean Soup

“Thunderation,” roared Speaker of the House Joe Cannon of Illinois. “I had my mouth set for bean soup! From now on, hot or cold, rain, snow, or shine, I want it on the menu every day.”

Obviously, ham and bean soup isn’t just a farm favorite. Turns out it has a rich history in the kitchens of Washington, D.C., too.

While ham and bean soup was a common item on the U.S. House of Representatives’ menu before the turn of the 20th century, it became a permanent fixture in the institution when Speaker Joe Cannon of Illinois discovered that his favorite meal had not been prepared by the kitchen staff on a hot, summer day in 1904.

Cannon, who was the namesake of the Cannon House Office Building, served in the U.S. House for 46 years. Dismayed by that egregious menu omission in 1904, the Speaker directed that bean soup be served in the House every day, regardless of the weather.

More than a century after Speaker Cannon’s decree, bean soup remains on the menu in the House Restaurant, making it one of the more longstanding and famous traditions in the House.

Members of the U.S. House aren’t the only fans of ham and bean soup. It’s also on the menu in the Senate’s restaurant every day. There are several stories about the origin of that mandate, but none has been corroborated.

According to one story, the Senate’s bean soup tradition began early in the 20th-century at the request of Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho. Another story attributes the request to Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who expressed his fondness for the soup in 1903.

The recipe attributed to Dubois includes mashed potatoes and makes a 5-gallon batch. The recipe served in the Senate today does not include mashed potatoes, but does include a braised onion. Click here to check out both Senate recipes.

No matter how you like your ham and bean soup, here’s my take on this American classic. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Darcy’s Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

1 smoked ham hock (also called a smoked ham shank)—the meatier, the better
1 48-ounce jar great northern beans (I don’t drain and rinse the beans—I add it all)
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 to 4 medium potatoes, diced (I prefer Yukon Golds)
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
Water or chicken stock
Salt, to taste

Place ham hock in slow cooker. Add beans, celery, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic and pepper. Cover with water or chicken stock until slow cooker is full. (If using water rather than chicken stock, I often add 2 or 3 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon chicken soup base to add more flavor.)
Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. (I often prepare the soup in the evening and let it cook overnight.) Remove ham hock, allow it to cool, and remove ham from the bone. Add ham back to the soup. Taste the soup to see if it needs salt. Add salt, if desired. (Some ham hocks add enough flavor to the broth that no salt is needed.)

• Note: homemade soup often develops more flavor if you let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and serve the soup the next day. This Hearty Ham and Bean Soup is so good, though, that I understand if you dig in right away!

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you value intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, agriculture updates, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator.

If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page, or click here. Feel free to share this with friends and colleagues who might be interested, too.

Also, if you or someone you know could use my writing services (I’m not only Iowa’s storyteller, but a professionally-trained journalist with 20 years of experience), let’s talk. I work with businesses and organizations within Iowa and across the country to unleash the power of great storytelling to define their brand and connect with their audience through clear, compelling blog posts, articles, news releases, feature stories, newsletter articles, social media, video scripts, and photography. Learn more at www.darcymaulsby.com, or e-mail me at yettergirl@yahoo.com. 

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press. Also take a look at my latest book, “Dallas County,” and my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing. Both are filled with vintage photos and compelling stories that showcase he history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

Let’s stay in touch. I’m at darcy@darcymaulsby.com, and yettergirl@yahoo.com.

Talk to you soon!

Darcy

@Copyright 2018 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Mmm, Mmm Good: Soup’s on at the Rockwell City Fire Department

While soup is often considered little more than a prelude to something bigger, that’s not the case at the Rockwell City Fire Department. Throughout the winter, roasters filled with homemade chili, cheesy chicken noodle soup and other favorites make the fire station one of the hottest destinations in town.

“We typically serve 300 to 400 people at each supper,” said Duane Murley, a well-known farm broadcaster who has served on the Rockwell City Fire Department for 21 years. “Many times we have a line out the door.”

Murley and his fellow firefighter, Phil Hammen, co-chair the soup suppers, which are held the second Sunday of November, December, January and February from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the fire station in Rockwell City. There’s no set fee to attend the soup suppers, which are supported by free-will donations.

firefighters serving soup in Iowa

The volunteer firefighters serve two kinds of chili, cheesy chicken noodle soup, 8-Can Soup and more.

“This isn’t so much a money maker as it’s a way for the community to come together,” said Murley, who noted at the soup suppers have been held each winter for nearly seven years.

Many of the guests come from Rockwell City, Lake City, Manson and Twin Lakes. “I like to stop by and help support another local fire department,” said Josh Waller, who serves on the Manson Fire Department and the Calhoun County Farm Bureau board.

While each soup supper includes standard items such as potato soup and chili, the firefighters also mix things up with cheeseburger soup and other options. Each December, local supporters donate ingredients for the oyster stew, which is always a big hit. “They always have lots of good soup here and lots of variety,” said Toni Kerns of Rockwell City.

The firefighters often begin making their soups on Thursday or Friday before the Sunday soup supper. “The key to a good soup is to give it enough time to develop plenty of flavor,” said Phil Hammen, who co-chairs the soup suppers.

Perhaps the simplest—yet most talked-about—menu items are the famous lettuce sandwiches. These are just what they sound like—leaves of lettuce sandwiched between two slices of bread spread with mayonnaise or butter.

“These started as a joke,” said Murley, who recalled his mother-in-law’s stories of eating lettuce sandwiches during her school days at Jolley. “Now people look forward to them so much that we often use seven pounds or more of lettuce during our soup suppers.”

From the lettuce sandwiches to the homemade soups, the firefighters want guests to relax and reconnect with friends and family. “It’s not just about the food,” Murley said. “It’s about being part of the community.”

 

crowd enjoys soup at fire station

Cold Iowa winter nights don’t deter locals from enjoying the monthly soup suppers at the Rockwell City Fire Department.

8-Can Soup
People often ask if this flavorful soup really contains eight cans of ingredients. Yes it does, says Shane Voith, who has served as Rockwell City’s fire chief, who often multiplies this recipe by five to make this hearty soup for the soup supper.

1 can Hormel chili with beans
1 can Hormel chili, no beans
1 can sliced potatoes, undrained
1 can cut green beans, undrained
1 can whole-kernel corn, undrained
1 can mixed vegetables, undrained
1 can vegetable beef stew
1 can steak and potato soup
1 packet of powdered ranch dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large slow cooker, kettle or roaster. Cook on low all day, or for 2 to 3 hours on high to get the soup hot.

 

 

Sweet Chili
Jonathan Wetter, a Rockwell City volunteer firefighter, got this recipe from a friend. It’s reminiscent of both a sweet chili and calico beans.

Half a pound of bacon, cooked and diced
1 pound ground beef, browned
1 can lima beans, drained
1 can butter beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can pork-and-beans, undrained
1 small onion, chopped
16-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 tablespoon mustard
4 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 / 2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 / 2 cup ketchup
Combine all ingredients. Cook on low in a slow cooker or roaster for a few hours until hot.


Firehouse Chili

Duane Murley, co-chair of the fire department’s soup suppers, often makes three roasters of this chili, including one batch with hot peppers for a spicier chili.

7 pounds hamburger, browned
2 gallons Bush’s chili beans
2 gallons diced tomatoes
1 gallon tomato juice
Hot peppers, diced—optional
Cookies Flavor Enhancer, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a kettle, slow cooker or roaster. Cook on high for several hours or on low all day.

Potato Soup
Phil Hammen, co-chair the fire department’s soup suppers, specializes in this filling Potato Soup. This recipe makes enough to fill one roaster.

15 pounds potatoes, diced and boiled until tender
3 onions, diced
3 ham steaks, cubed
1 1 / 2 gallons 2% milk
2 sticks butter

Combine all ingredients in roaster. Cook until soup is heated through.


Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup

This perennially popular soup is prepared by firefighter Kyle Welander of Rockwell City. When he cooks for the soup suppers, he boils eight whole chickens, removes the meat from the bones and saves the liquid to make homemade chicken broth.

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups Velveeta processed cheese, cubed
2 cups egg noodles, cooked
2 cups cooked, diced chicken

Melt butter in a large saucepan and add flour. Add chicken broth and milk. Cook, stirring occasionally on medium-high heat, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Add cubed Velveeta cheese, and stir until melted. Pour mixture into larger pan or kettle. Add 2 cups of cooked egg noodles and 2 cups cooked, diced chicken. Cook on low. To fill a roaster, multiply this recipe by eight.

 

Lettuce Sandwiches

Calhoun County’s Famous Lettuce Sandwiches
Sliced bread
Mayonnaise or butter
Lettuce

Spread slices of bread with mayonnaise or butter. Top the bottom slice with a few leaves of lettuce. Add top slice of bread to complete the sandwich.

Lois Hensel’s Cake
Shelly Hammen of Rockwell City often makes desserts for the fire department’s soup suppers, including this incredible cake that was made famous by Lois Hensel, a long-time cake baker from Lake City. This recipe has been copied from a local cookbook.

2 packages Betty Crocker white cake mix, plus 1 1 / 2 cups from a third box of cake mix
7 / 8 cup egg whites
3 cups water
1 / 2 cup vegetable oil
1 1 / 2 teaspoons almond flavoring
1 / 2 teaspoon butter flavoring

Place cake mixes in mixer bowl. Add 2 cups of water and start mixing. Add egg whites, vegetable oil, almond flavoring, butter flavoring and remaining 1 cup of water. Continue mixing for 2-3 minutes until batter is smooth.

Line two sheet-cake pans (10.5 inches by 15.5 inches by 1 inch) with typing paper (paper may overlap). Pour half of the batter into the first pan. (This should weigh about 3.5 pounds or a bit more.) Place this pan on top oven rack. Bake 10 minutes at the recommended baking temperature on the cake mix box.

Stir the rest of the batter a bit with a spatula. Pour this batter into second cake pan. When first cake tests done (by a light touch of a finger) after about 20 minutes, remove cake from oven. Place second cake on top rack in oven. Bake until done.

Cool the first cake about 10 minutes, and run a knife around the four sides to loosen. Place a few layers of newspaper on both the cake top and on a bigger board. Holding securely, turn cake over onto the board, and peel liner paper off the cake. The brown on top of the cake will now adhere to the newspaper; peel off newspaper.

Place prepared board over cake, holding securely. Turn board and cake over, and place liner paper on cake. Place this in a plastic bag and freeze. It will be easy to trim the four sides with a serrated knife when cake is removed from the freezer.

Have icing ready. Stack four to five piece of 10.5-inch by 15-inch cardboard covered with tinfoil to hold each cake.

Lois Hensel’s Cake Icing
3 / 4 cup egg whites
4 pounds powdered sugar, divided
4 large “blobs” of Crisco shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 / 2 cup water
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 / 2 teaspoon butter flavoring
1 / 2 teaspoon (or more) lemon flavoring
2 teaspoons clear vanilla

Place egg whites in mixer bowl. Add a pound of powdered sugar. Mix, and add shortening and salt. As you continue to mix, add water, remaining powdered sugar, almond flavoring, butter flavoring, lemon flavoring and clear vanilla. Don’t beat—just mix until smooth and until the right consistency is reached, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add more powdered sugar, if needed.

This feature originally ran in Farm News. 

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

Dessert at the soup supper.

Everyone loves dessert at the soup supper.

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you value intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, agriculture updates, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator.

If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page, or click here. Feel free to share this with friends and colleagues who might be interested, too.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press. Also take a look at my latest book, “Dallas County,” and my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing. Both are filled with vintage photos and compelling stories that showcase he history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

Also, if you or someone you know could use my writing services (I’m not only Iowa’s storyteller, but a professionally-trained journalist with 20 years of experience), let’s talk. I work with businesses and organizations within Iowa and across the country to unleash the power of great storytelling to define their brand and connect with their audience through clear, compelling blog posts, articles, news releases, feature stories, newsletter articles, social media, video scripts, and photography. Learn more at www.darcymaulsby.com, or e-mail me at yettergirl@yahoo.com. 

Let’s stay in touch. I’m at darcy@darcymaulsby.com, and yettergirl@yahoo.com.

Talk to you soon!

Darcy

@Copyright 2018 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

How to Cook a Perfect Prime Rib

Would you believe me if I told you restaurant-quality prime rib is one of the easiest main courses to prepare, plus you’ll look like a gourmet chef in the process? Yep, it’s true.

Take it from this Iowa farm girl. I adore the taste of prime rib. So tender, so robust, and bursting with all the flavor and juiciness that makes each bite a little trip to paradise.

When my family asked me to cook prime rib for New Year’s Day dinner, I didn’t hesitate. The prep couldn’t be simpler, and the results are simply spectacular. When you serve this delectable prime rib, your guests (possibly even the vegetarians) will be begging for more.

Let’s get cookin.’

Darcy’s Prime Rib

Select the right size roast. Allow at least 6 ounces of cooked, trimmed meat per adult. I cooked an 8-pound roast for our gathering, because I like to have leftovers. Beef and veggie soup, anyone?

Preheat the oven. Crank it up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it heat up for about 30 minutes. Also, you can remove the beef roast from the refrigerator at this time.

Gather your supplies. I recommend a metal roasting pan with a rack (like the one you might use to cook at turkey), olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh-ground pepper. Oh, and don’t forget to round up some soap and wash your hands thoroughly. We’re in the kitchen prepping food, after all!

Rachet-style pepper mill in red!

Rachet-style pepper mill in red!

 

• A side note about fresh-ground pepper. I LOVE my Kuhn Rikon® high-output ratchet mill. (Check out a video here to see it in action). I appreciate the easy and speed of these wonder gadgets, plus I adore the red color of my pepper mill, since it matches my kitchen. One more thing—don’t think you’re limited to filling it with black peppercorns only. After interviewing a chef years ago about how to amp up the flavor in any dish, I took his advice and use of mix of peppercorns, including black, green, red and white, which bring a different flavor to the party.

 

Season the beef. Follow the K.I.S.S. method (keep it simple stupid). Prime rib roast doesn’t need a marinade or any complicated preparations, since the meat speaks for itself. Drizzle olive oil on the roast. Spread it around the roast with your hands. Next, liberally rub kosher salt and plenty of fresh-ground pepper on the meat. I don’t measure—I just go with what looks right.

If you’re thinking about using an herb mix to season the meat, I say go right ahead. I like to use this homemade herb blend that I learned to make at my dear friend Shannon Latham’s Enchanted Acres pumpkin patch near Sheffield, Iowa. I’m a big fan of the recipe here for Save Summer in a Jar Herb-Salt Mix and used it on my New Year’s prime rib–divine! Thanks to my friend Mary Lovstad of Farm Girl Cook’n in northern Iowa for all the inspiration!

Dry rubs enhance any beef roast

Dry rubs enhance any beef roast

Bake. Place the meat in a roasting pan that’s slightly bigger than the roast itself. I like a roasting pan and roasting rack, myself. Note–one side of the meat will have more fat on it. You want the fatty side facing up so the meat will baste itself as it cooks.

Finally, don’t add water to the pan, and don’t cover the roast. Just pop it in in the oven.

Timing is everything. How long does it take to cook a prime rib? Well, it depends. I like to start with a high temperature (450 degrees) for the first 30 minutes. Then I drop the heat to 325 degrees and allow about 13 to 15 minutes of cooking time per pound of beef.

DO NOT keep opening the oven door to check the meat. Just enjoy the tempting sizzle as the pan drippings appear during the first phase of cooking. Then savor the aromas as the beef finishes cooking over the next few hours.

A thermometer is the best way to guarantee the roast turns out exactly the way you want it. For an accurate reading, push the thermometer into the middle of the roast, making sure the tip is not touching fat or bone (or the pan). FYI–medium rare is about 130 degrees F. If that’s what you’re going for (confession–it’s my personal favorite), take the meat out of the oven when it’s around 120 degrees F. Remember that the roast’s temperature will rise at least 5 degrees after you remove it from the oven.

Let it rest. Warning—the prime rib will look incredible when you pull it out of the oven, but resist the urge to carve it right away. Let this meaty masterpiece rest for 15 or 20 minutes before carving to let the juices return to the center. Cover the roast with a “tent” of tinfoil. (If you’re at my house, be warned. My dog, Maggie the Red Heeler, is obsessed with tinfoil and will bark like a maniac when I tear a sheet of foil from the roll. Silly dog.)

With prime rib, it’s easy to satisfy everyone’s preference for doneness. The slices taken from the ends of the roast will be the most done, and the middle will be the least done.

Prime rib right out of my oven

Prime rib right out of my oven

Add a little something extra. When the roast is done make sure you use the drippings in the bottom of the pan to make gravy. Then you’ll have a head-start on the most flavor-packed beef stew you can imagine.

Next time I prepare a prime rib, I’m going to try Food Network Chef Bobby Flay’s idea for Prime Rib with Thyme au Jus. Here’s what he recommends:

Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over 2 burners set on high heat. Add the wine to the pan drippings in the pan and cook over high heat until reduced, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the thyme and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Tell me all about it. Bottom line? Do not fear cooking prime rib, even though this is a pricey cut. You can do this! When you do, be sure to leave a comment, e-mail me, post on social media and tell me all about it.

Did you know?
“Prime rib” is not a specific cut of beef but is actually a preparation method for a beef rib roast. If you know the standard meat roasting method, you can make prime rib out of several types of beef rib roasts, according to my friends at the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

Check out their handy Beef Roast Basics guide. You’ll find tips on how to know what size beef roast to purchase, how to carve meat like a pro and more.

Prime rib from an Iowa farm kitchen

How’s this for a plate of prime rib perfection?

More reasons why beef is good

With my background as an ag journalist, I love to highlight agriculture, especially Iowa agriculture. Why do we know beef here in the Heartland? Because Iowa is in the top 10 beef-producing states in America, terms of all cattle and calves (ranking #7).

Here’s a snapshot of Iowa’s beef industry, which is a powerhouse in terms of economic development and providing a safe, nutritious product that nourishes people around the world:

  • Total cattle inventory in Iowa (as of January 1, 2017): 3,850,000
  • Number of feedlots (2012 Census): 6,036
  • Number of cattle operations (2012 Census): 26,827
  • Number of farms with beef cows (2012 Census): 19,677
  • Iowa jobs directly related to the cattle industry (2015): 20,690
  • Iowa jobs indirectly related to the cattle industry (2015): 7,384
  • In 2015, Iowa’s cattle industry contributed more than $6.9 billion in business activity to Iowa’s economy.* Sources: Department of Economics, Iowa State University; Iowa Agricultural Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2017 Cattle Inventory Report National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 

Can’t get enough beef?
There’s no such thing as too much beef if you love it as much as I do. I think my friend Larry Irwin would agree, especially when it comes to hamburgers.

Make no mistake, the humble hamburger still reigns supreme from backyard barbecues to fast-food drive-ins across Iowa. But this Iowa icon also provides the perfect palette for culinary creativity when Larry Irwin showcases his Burger of the Month flavors in my hometown of Lake City. Get the story and the recipes here.  

Also, get your grill on and build a better burger with my top tips.

Finally, I just had to share this photo below. My relatives in Webster County, the Walrod family, did extremely well on the show circuit this year with their beef cattle and took top honors with their Limousin cattle at the Iowa State Fair. Why not decorate the Christmas tree to celebrate a banner year?

Cattle banners on the Christmas tree in Iowa

Cattle banners on the Christmas tree in Iowa

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you value intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, agriculture updates, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator.

If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page, or click here. Feel free to share this with friends and colleagues who might be interested, too.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press. Also take a look at my latest book, “Dallas County,” and my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing. Both are filled with vintage photos and compelling stories that showcase he history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

Also, if you or someone you know could use my writing services (I’m not only Iowa’s storyteller, but a professionally-trained journalist with 20 years of experience), let’s talk. I work with businesses and organizations within Iowa and across the country to unleash the power of great storytelling to define their brand and connect with their audience through clear, compelling blog posts, articles, news releases, feature stories, newsletter articles, social media, video scripts, and photography. Learn more at www.darcymaulsby.com, or e-mail me at yettergirl@yahoo.com. 

Let’s stay in touch. I’m at darcy@darcymaulsby.com, and yettergirl@yahoo.com.

Talk to you soon!

Darcy

 

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2018 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Mediterranean Delights: Iowa Ag Influences Syrian-Lebanese Church Dinner

Call it controlled chaos. Anyone who has ever helped with a church fundraising dinner knows just how hectic, harried and fun it can be to work together to prepare the meals. That’s especially true at St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City.

“It’s a lot of work and requires all hands on deck,” said Erica Stickney, a chairperson who helps coordinate St. Thomas’s popular Syrian-Lebanese dinner, which was held on Sept. 10 this year.

“While it can get a little frustrating at times when things get really busy and the kitchen’s hot, you remember that it’s about friendship and love, including love for God and the community.”

Sioux City Orthodox Church Iowa

St. Thomas Orthodox Church has served the Sioux City community since 1916.

Homemade dinners at this year’s Syrian-Lebanese dinner, which was served from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., cost $13 each, with a portion of the proceeds going to The Warming Shelter, a non-profit charity in Sioux City. While this year’s menu served plenty of Mediterranean favorites, many had a Midwestern twist. “Traditionally the meat would have been lamb, but we use beef, because we’re in Iowa,” Stickney said.

The menu included:

• Kibby (or kibbeh). This tasty meatloaf is made with lean ground beef and cracked bulgur wheat, seasoned with cinnamon and allspice.

• Yabrah. Much like cabbage rolls, yabrah includes cabbage leaves that are rolled and stuffed with a spiced blend of beef, rice and tomatoes. “We rolled 5,515 of these this year,” said Sue Stevens of Sioux City. “It’s rewarding to hear our guests say the cabbage rolls are perfect.”

• Lubee. This simple, yet satisfying side dish, features green beans in a tomato and meat sauce.

• Ruz. This Syrian favorite includes buttery white rice accented with tiny orzo pastas.

• Salata. This Syrian salad is enhanced with the church’s special dressing made of oil, vinegar, lemon juice and seasonings.

• Talamee. These big, round loaves of Syrian bread are indescribably tasty, report church members.

• Baklawa. Sometimes called baklava, this classic Mediterranean dessert is made with phyllo pastry dough, butter, and walnuts in a sweet syrup.

 Syrian-Lebanese church dinner Iowa

A steady stream of people stopped by St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City in September 2017 for the popular Syrian-Lebanese dinner.

St. Thomas’s popular Syrian-Lebanese dinner

Erica Stickney, a chairperson who helps coordinate St. Thomas’s popular Syrian-Lebanese dinner in Sioux City, dished up countless carryout dinners.

Diverse influences create beloved traditions
While St. Thomas is located in the heart of Sioux City, the parish’s heritage, much like its dinner specialties, reflects a mix of Mediterranean and Midwestern influences. The church was founded in 1916 to serve the needs of Arab Christian immigrants, many of whom came to the area to work in the Sioux City Stockyards or local meatpacking plants. Today’s members embody a diverse background of Mediterranean, Russian, Serbian and Romanian heritage.

“Historically, Sioux City has been very welcoming and accepting of newcomers,” said Father Lucas Rice, who has served the St. Thomas parish more than six years. “When I came here, I was also blown away by how much the people of Siouxland love the St. Thomas church dinner.”

While no one’s sure exactly how long St. Thomas’s congregation has been hosting the dinner (anywhere from 50 years to nearly 80 years, depending on who you ask), there’s no doubt that people mourned the loss of the dinner when the church discontinued it for a few years.

“We hadn’t hosted the dinner in three years, because our church demographics were changing and the older generation was stepping down,” said Stickney, who noted that previous generations cooked without recipes and made their own phyllo dough. “The younger generation had to decide the next steps, and we decided to carry on the tradition.”

Before the older generation retired, younger cooks in the church worked side by side with the experienced cooks so they could observe each step of the process. “We would stop them as they added ingredients so we could determine the measurements and write the recipes,” Stevens said. “While we follow the recipes, we taste the food as we prepare it to make sure it’s right.”

Church members prepared to serve 1,400 dinners on Sept. 10. The process started three weeks before the dinner. “We begin by clarifying the butter,” said Stickney, who noted that 236 pounds of butter are used to prepare the cookies, rice and more. “Clarified butter has the milk solids removed and influences the taste and look of the food.”

The bread is baked on the Saturday right before the dinner, and the rest of the dishes are prepared fresh the day of the church dinner. “I love to come back for this dinner,” said Rick Stevens of Lincoln, Nebraska, whose family has been part of the St. Thomas parish for generations. “This is home.”

St. Thomas Orthodox Church Syrian-Lebanese dinner

It’s all hands on deck in the basement kitchen at the St. Thomas Orthodox Church Syrian-Lebanese dinner and bake sale in Sioux City.

Clarified Butter
Slowly melt butter in pan on low heat. Be careful not to boil. When butter is completely melted, carefully skim all of the milk fat from the top and discard fat. The result is pure gold butter. This is used in most Arab recipes.

Ghraybeh (Lebanese Butter Cookies)
1 cup clarified butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour

With hand mixer, whip butter until creamy pale and fluffy. Add sugar, and mix until fluffy. Using a large rubber spatula, blend in flour a little at a time.

Roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Press to flatten. Work quickly so dough doesn’t get too soft. Bake in preheated oven (300 degrees) until cookies are firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Don’t let cookies get brown. Remove cookies from pan and let cool.

 

Homemade baklawa (baklava)

Homemade baklawa (baklava) is always in demand at the St. Thomas Orthodox Church Syrian-Lebanese dinner and bake sale.

Baklawa (also known as Baklava)
4 cups finely chopped walnuts
2 cups clarified butter-melted
1/8 cup granulated sugar
2 packages phyllo dough (20 sheets per package)

Combine walnuts with sugar and 1/4 cup butter so mixture forms a ball when squeezed in your hand.

Grease a large baking sheet with butter. Place one package of phyllo carefully on to baking sheet. Spread walnut mixture on top evenly. Carefully place second package of phyllo
on top of walnut mixture. Carefully take off top five layers of phyllo.

Butter the top layer of phyllo dough on the pan, and then place a single layer of phyllo on top of buttered layer. Repeat until all lawyers are back on to pan. Put butter on top layer. Cut into diamond shapes.

Bake in preheated, 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Pour a little butter on the top evenly. Place pan back into the oven for another 20 minutes or so, until the baklawa is golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and place on cooling rack. Immediately pour syrup mix (see recipe below) evenly on top of entire pan. Let pan sit for one day. Allow syrup to soak through the entire dessert. You may want to re-cut baklawa before removing from pan.

Syrup for Baklawa
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a pan, heat water and sugar until boiling. Once mixture starts to boil, add the lemon juice. Cook for another 15 minutes until the syrup starts to thicken. Remove pan from heat, and set aside to cool.

phyllo dough

Previous generations of church members made their own phyllo dough at St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City, Iowa.

Barazek (Sesame Cookies)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons pistachios chopped
1 egg white
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, continue beating. In separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Stir flour mixture gradually into butter mix, alternating with milk.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two parts. Roll each piece into a circle, and cut into rounds. Place pistachios on a cookie sheet; spread evenly. Place dough rounds on top of pistachios, and press lightly. Beat the egg bite and then brush the tops of cookies. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Ruz Syrian buttery white rice

Ruz (a Syrian favorite of buttery white rice accented with tiny orzo pastas) is cooked in large quantities at the St. Thomas Orthodox Church Syrian-Lebanese dinner.

 

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by.  I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you want more more intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator.

If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page. Feel free to share this information with friends and colleagues who might be interested, too.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press. Also take a look at my latest book, “Dallas County,” and my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing. Both are filled with vintage photos and compelling stories that showcase he history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

Let’s stay in touch. I’m at darcy@darcymaulsby.com, and yettergirl@yahoo.com.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Let’s Have an Iowa Potluck with a Side of History!

Dubuque is home to some of Iowa’s most distinctive culinary traditions, from turkey dressing sandwiches to the memorable meals served at the iconic Hotel Julien Dubuque. We’re going to be eating up all this local flavor at a potluck on Sept. 7 at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by my “Culinary History of Iowa” program—and you’re invited!

Click here for all the details.

In meantime, here’s a sample of some classic Dubuque recipes to tempt you.  These recipes come from a variety of sources, including two cookbooks (including The Flavor of Dubuque and Another Flavor of Dubuque) compiled by The Women’s Auxiliary of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra. Not only do those cookbooks include tried-and-true local recipes, but they feature many photos of local landmarks. The third cookbook (Cedar Ridge Farm Recipes) appears to have been a collection of family recipes, and librarian Sarah Smith isn’t sure how it came to be in the Carnegie-Stout’s collection, but it’s charming.

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing these recipes and offering us a true taste of Dubuque!

One more thing–if you’re in Dubuque, stop by Cremer’s Grocery, a Dubuque classic since 1948, for their famous turkey dressing sandwiches and other goodies! Also, here are some fun facts about Dubuque, an All-American City that’s truly a “Masterpiece on the Mississippi:”

Dubuque Iowa

Source: American Realty

The Flavor of Dubuque (published 1971)

Page 26
Derby Grange Steak. The present owners of what was the main farmstead in the area west of Dubuque long known as Derby Grange found this recipe behind an old picture of President Harding left by the previous owners. Cut 1 thick round steak into 1-inch pieces. Pound very thin and sprinkle with flour, salt, pepper, a little cumin and dill. Poud again and brown pieces on both sides in a little butter or other fat. Place in baking dish and pour over 1 cup tomato sauce. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Serves 7. Can be frozen. -Joan Mulgrew

A Dubuque original –24-Hour Cabbage Salad

Page 74
Dubuque 24-Hour Cabbage Salad. Dubuque was given credit for this recipe in a statewide newspaper story which featured foods enjoyed by Dubuque boaters who spend as much time as possible on “the best part of the Mississippi” in the golden days of summer. The salad should be refrigerated at least 24 hours before using. It will stay crisp for a long time. For the dressing combine 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin and 1/4 cup cold water; let stand to soften. Heat together 1 cup vinegar and 1 1/2 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 cup salad oil. Combine 6 to 8 cups shredded cabbage, 2 shredded carrots, 1 grated onion and 2 green peppers, grated. Toss with enough dressing to moisten and refrigerate 24 hours. Remainder of dressing will keep in refrigerator for weeks. -Mrs. Joseph S. Mattes

More recipes from Dubuque, Iowa

Another Flavor of Dubuque (published 1983)
Page 70
Welsh Rarebit. Shred 1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, put in double boiler and let melt slowly over hot water. Keep water below boiling point. Add 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, paprika, salt and a few dashes cayenne pepper. Stir in 1 cup milk or cream and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Mixture should be smooth and velvety. Serve on hot buttered toast. Strips of bacon are especially good over this.

Welsh Rarebit became a traditional Sunday night supper in the girls’ boarding school at Sinsinawa Mound (this is technically across the river in Wisconsin, but many of the students would have been from Dubuque.) The recipe’s simplicity and flexibility accommodated the varying number of returning students each Sunday night. It was sometimes served over tomatoes or ham. -Bette F. Schmid

Page 156
Dubuque Symphony Orchestra Auxiliary English Toffee. This delicious toffee was sold at the 1981 Designer Showcase, and the Auxillary has had many, many requests for the recipe. Line cookie sheet with foil. In heavy pan mix 1 cup sugar, 1/2 pound butter, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped pecans. Cook quickly over medium high heat, stirring constantly, to a rolling boil. Cook to hard crack stage, 300 degrees on candy thermometer. Pour on cookie sheet. Cool and break into pieces. Store in air tight container. Do not freeze, refrigerate or make substitutions in recipe. -Mary Stauffer

Cedar Ridge Farm Recipes by Rita Tarnutzer Montgomery (published 1999)

Page 69
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Monster Cookies)
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup corn flakes
2+ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

NOTE from Rita: For Monster Cookies, form into 5 oz. balls and flatten into 7-inch diameter circles, two to a cookie sheet. Bake for about 14 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 8 cookies.

In 1976, when Al had his first antique shop, on 16th and Central Ave., he had a huge glass cookie jar. His idea was to display a couple of really big cookies in it. Everyone wanted to buy them! So, I began baking these monster cookies, 32 at a time and selling them for twenty-five cents each. (They cost twelve cents each to make.) I couldn’t keep up with the demand, so he raised the price to thirty-five cents and still they sold. School kids stopped on their way home from school and bought a cookie to share!

Page 159
Turkey & Dressing Sandwiches
from Janet Duscher, 12/88

Bake in a covered roaster until meat falls from bones: 1 – 12 lb. turkey
Remove meat from bones and chop.
Cook together:
1 1/2 cups cooking juices
3/4 cup margarine
2 1/2 cups chopped celery
3 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sage
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 – 1 ½-ounce package dry onion soup mix
1 – 10 3/4 ounces cream of chicken soup

Cube: 2 loaves of day-old bread (about 6 quarts)

Stir together bread cubes, juices with vegetables and seasonings and turkey.
Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees until heated thoroughly, about one hour.
Serve hot in buns.

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by.  I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you want more more intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator. If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page. Feel free to share this information with friends and colleagues who might be interested, too.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press, as well as my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, which showcases the history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

Let’s stay in touch. I’m at darcy@darcymaulsby.com, and yettergirl@yahoo.com.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

About me:
Some people know me as Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, while others call me Yettergirl. I grew up on a Century Farm between Lake City and Yetter and am proud to call Calhoun County, Iowa, home. I’m an author, writer, marketer, business owner and entrepreneur who specializes in agriculture.  Learn more at www.darcymaulsby.com. 

Get Your Grill On: How to Build a Better Burger

Love the thrill of the grill? I sure do, especially when I’m crafting a thick, juicy burger I can sink my teeth into. While we talk a lot about burgers during May Beef Month, how much do you really know about this American icon?

The classic hamburger we know and love today is very much an American invention. Stemming from German culinary roots, the burger-on-a-bun phenomenon gained widespread fame at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Disaster struck two years later, however, when Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” (remember the book’s lurid details from high school literature class?) detailed the unsavory side of the American meatpacking industry. Ground beef became a prime suspect, since it could easily be adulterated with questionable additives.

The hamburger might have faded away as a long-forgotten fad were it not for Edgar Ingram and Walter Anderson. When they opened their first White Castle restaurant in Kansas in 1921, White Castle countered the hamburger’s unsavory reputation by becoming bastions of cleanliness, health and hygiene. This paved the way for national hamburger chains founded in the post-World War II boom years, including McDonald’s.

Best burgers, Iowa style
Iowa has made its own distinctive contributions to America’s burger history. Consider the wildly popular Iowa’s Best Burger contest, sponsored by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) and the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC). Iowans submitted more than 9,200 nominations for this year’s contest. Nearly 500 Iowa restaurants were represented in 2017 in the total nominations, setting a new record for the contest.

As a former judge of Iowa’s Best Burger contest, I can tell you how tough it is to pick a winner. Iowans know how to make bodacious burgers, a story I made sure to include in my “Culinary History of Iowa” book.

Size matters when it comes to the Gunderburger at the Irish Shanti, which made the 2017 Top 10 list. The famous Gunderburger started in the late 1970s to put the tiny northeast Iowa community of Gunder on the map. The first Gunderburgers were a smaller version of the one served today. As the Gunderburger started growing in size in the 1990s, its notoriety also grew.

Another 2017 Top 10 Best Burger in Iowa contender is the Ankeny Diner, which offers Maytag Burgers, featuring Iowa’s famous Maytag blue cheese, sautéed onion and Monterey jack cheese. Don’t care for blue cheese? Maybe you’d prefer the Rarebit Burger, served open-faced and topped with spicy Cheddar cheese sauce.

Rarebits were legendary at the iconic Younkers Tea Room in downtown Des Moines for decades. An Iowa-style rarebit burger elevates the traditional Welsh rarebit, which incorporates leftover bits of cheese and the end-of-the-loaf slices of stale bread for a quick supper.

Speaking of Des Moines, the historic East Village is the home of the incomparable Zombie Burger. A previous Top 10 Best Burger in Iowa contender, Zombie Burger serves “gore-met” creations made from the shop’s own custom three-cut beef burger blend. With locations in downtown Des Moines, Ankeny, West Des Moines and the Iowa City area, Zombie Burger is distinguished by classics from the Undead Elvis (a burger paired with peanut butter, fried bananas, bacon, American cheese and mayo) to the Walking Ched (a burger featuring bacon, Cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and mayo on a deep-fried macaroni-and-cheese bun).

Hungry yet?
If all this inspiration has you craving top-quality, Iowa beef, here are my top tips to make your best burgers ever:

• Choose fresh 80/20 ground beef, which provides enough fat to keep your burgers juicy and flavorful.

• Worcestershire sauce adds a whole new depth of flavor to burgers. Add in a healthy dollop and mix it into the meat before forming the patties.

• Use your thumb to create a dimple or well in the center of each patty on the bottom. This helps ensure that the burgers cook evenly. Don’t worry—the indentation will hardly be noticeable by the time the burgers are ready.

• Cook your burgers over medium heat.

• As the patties cook, sprinkle them liberally on both sides with a mixture of salt, fresh-ground pepper, Lawry’s seasoning salt, garlic powder and onion powder.

• Avoid using your spatula to press down on your burgers while cooking. Don’t let all those flavorful juices escape.

• Allow your burgers to rest for a few minutes before serving. This will ensure that the juices redistribute into the meat. Enjoy!

Have any favorite burger recipes or cooking tips? I’d love to hear them. Now go get your grill on!

Hungry for more?
Want more burger inspiration? Check out my blog post on the Lake City Drive-In, where owner Larry Irwin is not only a beef booster, but someone who sees burgers as the perfect palette for culinary creativity with his Burger of the Month flavors. (Don’t miss my recipe for Meatloaf Burgers!)

Larry Irwin shows off some tasty burgers from the Lake City Drive-In.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, Larry is kind enough to carry my books at the Lake City Drive-In. Not close to Lake City? I invite you to visit my online store, where you can purchase my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press, as well as my “Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, which showcases the history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

One more thing–check out more of my blog posts if you want more Iowa stories, history and recipes, as well as tips to make you a better communicator. If you like what you see and want to be notified when I post new stories, be sure to click on the “subscribe to blog updates/newsletter” button at the top of this page. Let’s stay in touch!

This originally appeared as one of my weekly columns in Farm News. 

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Iowa Beef Booster: Larry Irwin Takes a New Twist on Burgers

Make no mistake, the humble hamburger still reigns supreme from backyard barbecues to fast-food drive-ins across Iowa. But this Iowa icon also provides the perfect palette for culinary creativity when my friend Larry Irwin showcases his Burger of the Month flavors in my hometown of Lake City.

“I’m not doing anything fancy,” said Irwin, who has run the Lake City Drive-In since 2012. “I just like cooking down-home, comfort food.”

While it’s hard to beat a classic bacon cheeseburger, which remains one of the Lake City Drive-In’s top sellers, customers also love the monthly burger specials. Favorites include the Taco Burger (spiced with taco seasoning and chipotle and topped with nacho-cheese flavored chips), Darcy’s Meatloaf Burger, the Swiss Mushroom Burger, and the Ranch Burger (enhanced with homemade ranch dressing, pepper jack cheese and bacon).

“Burgers of all types are always our top sellers,” said Irwin, who serves more than 50 burgers a day, on average. “It’s fun to experiment with new flavors and feature them as the Burger of the Month.”

Top tips for unbeatable burgers
Interestingly, this adventurous spirit in the kitchen isn’t second nature for Irwin, who spent more than 30 years of his career in finance and banking. “I never did much cooking at home,” said Irwin, who grew up on a cattle and grain farm between Lohrville and Rockwell City. “I certainly never thought I’d run a restaurant.”

Irwin has found that offering new men

Larry Irwin shows off some tasty burgers from the Lake City Drive-In.

u items is one of the secrets to keep people coming back to the Lake City Drive-In. Inspiration for the Burger of the Month comes from a variety of sources.
“Sometimes our customers suggest ideas,” Irwin said. “A lot of the Burger of the Month ideas come from my son, Chris, who is an agronomist in northeast Iowa. He travels a lot for his job and tells me about burger flavors he discovers in various cafes.”

While unique flavors are part of the fun, a great burger starts with the basics, said Irwin, who shares the following tips:

• Select an 80/20 ground beef for the best flavor. Irwin always uses fresh beef, never frozen patties, to make his 1/3 pound burgers.

• Preheat the grill before you place the hamburger patties on the grill.

• Cook the hamburger patties over medium heat. If the temperature is too high, it’s easy to burn the outside of the burger and leave the inside undercooked, said Irwin, who cooks his burgers for about five minutes on each side.

• Season the patties on the grill. Irwin sprinkles a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, Lawry’s seasoning salt, table salt, white sugar and black pepper on both sides of each hamburger patty as the meat cooks.

• Don’t forget to butter and toast the bun before serving the burger.

Time-saving systems in the kitchen are also invaluable. Since the Lake City Drive-In is located on Main Street across from South Central Calhoun High School, things can get hectic when hungry crowds stop by, especially during volleyball tournaments and home football games. Irwin plans ahead on these days and cooks each hamburger patty for two minutes per side before placing the partially-cooked patties in a warm slow cooker. When the crowds arrive, it only takes a couple more minutes of grilling time before the burgers are ready.

This strategy also pays off during planting and harvest, when the drive through becomes one of the busiest places at the Lake City Drive-In. “You can always tell when an order is going out to farmers, because there are at least five or six cheeseburgers in there,” said Irwin, who farmed at one point in his career.

Keeping things simple while adding a little variety is the key to a great burger, Irwin added. “I love the flavor of beef. If I could only have one meat for the rest of my life, I’d choose hamburger, because I can make anything out of it.”

Hungry for more? Check out my blog post and Farm News column “Get Your Grill On: How to Build a Better Burger.”

Darcy’s Meatloaf Burger

Darcy’s Meatloaf Burgers
Larry Irwin will be featuring these Meatloaf Burgers, made from my recipe, as the Burger of the Month in June 2017. 

2 pounds ground beef
1 1 / 2 to 2 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix (experiment to find what amount helps the burger patties stick together the best)
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 /4 cup milk
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 / 4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Combine ground beef, stuffing mix, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, and barbecue sauce. Combine barbecue sauce mixture with meat mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and dry mustard. This mixture can either be spread as a glaze while the burgers are cooking on the grill, or the glaze can be mixed into the burger patty mixture before the burgers are grilled.

Shape beef mixture into patties. Grill over medium heat to desired doneness. If using the ketchup mixture as a glaze, spread over the top of each burger during the final minutes of cooking on the grill.

Ranch Dressing
While this makes restaurant-sized quantities, scale down the recipe for home use.
1 gallon regular mayonnaise
1 / 2 gallon buttermilk
2 packages (3.2 ounces each) powdered ranch dressing mix

Combine all ingredients and stir with an electric mixer. Refrigerate.

Boom Boom Sauce
This spicy sauce has a kick and tastes great on burgers and salads.
4 cups Thousand Island dressing
3 / 4 cup buffalo hot sauce
1 / 4 cup red pepper flakes
Combine dressing, buffalo sauce and red pepper flakes; refrigerate.

Sloppy Joes
1 pound hamburger
1 can chicken gumbo soup
Ketchup and mustard, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown the hamburger; drain. Add soup and season with ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper until the desired flavor is achieved.

This story first ran on Farm News, May 2017. 

Want more Iowa culture and history?
Read more of my blog posts if you want more Iowa stories, history and recipes, as well as tips to make you a better communicator.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, Larry is kind enough to carry my books at the Lake City Drive-In. You can also check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press, as well as my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, which showcases the history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Iowa’s Lost History from the Titanic

I perished on the Titanic, yet I’ve lived to tell the forgotten stories of Iowa’s ties to one of the most famous luxury liners in history. It all started when I attended the Johnson County Historical Society’s “Afternoon Tea on the Titanic” in April 2, 2017, and my boarding pass said I was third-class passenger Frances Lefebvre, 40, of Lievin, France.

As Lefebvre, my four youngest children and I were traveling to Mystic, Iowa, to join my husband, Franck, and our for older children who had moved to Iowa a year prior. I died, along with my four youngest kids, during the sinking of Titanic in the early-morning hours of April 15, 1912.

I was not alone. Of the approximately 2,207 passengers who boarded the Titanic, only an estimated 705 survived. Like Frances Lefebvre, a number of Titanic’s passengers had ties to Iowa. Here are their stories.

Titanic survivor, Orphan Train rider kept low profile in Council Bluffs
One of Titanic’s last living survivors lived in Council Bluffs for decades and rarely spoke of the maritime tragedy or her connection to the Orphan Train Movement.

Helen Delaney’s remarkable story began when she was thrown overboard as Titanic sank. Someone caught the 4-year-old, and she survived the night, although her parents perished. While the family had boarded the ship in England, the names of Delaney’s birth parents are unknown, and Delaney’s didn’t know her exact birth date, according to a 2012 news report in the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil.

With the other Titanic survivors, Delaney arrived in New York on April 18, 1912, where she was placed in an orphanage. James P. Delaney, a Council Bluffs locomotive engineer for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Rail Company (now BNSF), and his wife adopted the girl after she arrived in Council Bluffs via an orphan train sometime in the mid to late 1910s.

Orphan trains brought thousands of children to Iowa and beyond
Children on these orphan trains ranged in age from about six to 18, and they shared a common grim existence. There was little hope of a successful future for these kids if they stayed in the streets, slums and orphanages of New York City.

Their numbers were staggering. An estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City as early as the 1850s. The plight of these abandoned, neglected children commanded the attention of a young minister named Charles Loring Brace. He believed that by removing youngsters from the poverty of the city and placing them with Christian farm families, these children could have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering.

Brace, who founded the Children’s Aid Society, proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms out west. They would be placed in homes for free but they wouldn’t be indentured.

Children like Helen Delaney boarded westbound trains in groups of up to 40, accompanied by two agents from the Children’s Aid Society. Advertisements appeared in local newspapers along the route in advance of each orphan train’s arrival. When the trains stopped, the children were paraded in front of the crowd and took turns giving their names, singing a song or “saying a piece,” according to “Lost Children: Riders on the Orphan Train,” an article that appeared in HUMANITIES magazine in November/December 2007.

Although the strong demand for the orphans was often motivated by a need for labor, the Children’s Aid Society took pains to ensure the children were well cared for. Families applying to take children had to be endorsed by a committee of local business owners, doctors and other respected community members. Representatives from the society would visit each family once a year to check on conditions, and children were expected to write letters back to the society twice a year, noted the “Lost Children” article.

The Orphan Train Movement, which lasted from 1853 to 1929, placed nearly a quarter of a million children in new homes across the country. This ambitious, unusual social experiment is now recognized as the beginning of the foster care concept in the United States. While some of the children struggled in their newfound surroundings, many others like Helen Delaney went on to lead successful, normal lives as they worked towards the American dream.

Delaney attended school in Council Bluffs, including Mount Loretto Catholic High School. She remained in Council Bluffs, never married and never had children. She lived in anonymity in an apartment at Regal Towers on South Sixth Street, according to the Council Bluffs Nonpareil.

For much of her adult life, Delaney worked as a sales clerk at the Kresge’s five-and-dime store. Only a few people in town knew that this petite, shy, nice clerk had survived Titanic. “She rarely talked about her Titanic legacy,” Dick Warner of the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County told the Council Bluffs Nonpareil in 2012. “Most people who knew her weren’t even aware of it.”

Delaney died on January 26, 1982, at age 74 and was buried at St. Joseph Cemetery off McPherson Avenue in Council Bluffs. She was the only known passenger on Titanic to live in Council Bluffs.

Picture from the book “Not My Time to Die” by Lilly Setterdahl

“Life no longer has any value for me”
Like Delaney, many of Titanic’s survivors and victims were immigrants headed to America to begin a new life. In other cases, the travelers were only planning to visit before returning to Europe. Such was the story of second-class passenger Dagmar Lustig Bryhl, 20, who looked forward to attending a wedding in Red Oak, Iowa, and visiting her uncle Oscar Lustig in Rockford, Illinois, before returning to Sweden.

Author Lilly Setterdahl of East Moline, Illinois, has captured the often heartbreaking—and sometimes heroic—stories of Bryhl and the 122 other Swedes on board Titanic in her fascinating 2012 book, Not My Time to Die. I listened for any tidbits connected to Iowa as Setterdahl related many of these stories during the “Afternoon Tea on the Titanic” in Iowa City.

Consider the letter Bryhl wrote to her uncle while she recuperated in New York following the Titanic disaster (as documented in Not My Time to Die, page 119). Bryhl became so distraught that she wished she had been permitted to die on Titanic with her fiancé, Ingvar Enander, and brother, Kurt.

Dear Uncle,
Titanic has gone down. I don’t know whether my fiancé and my brother Kurt are saved. Evidently, they are not, for most of the men went under. I am at a hospital but am not sick, although very feeble. I have lost everything. I have no clothes, and so cannot get up, so must lie in bed for present.

I would have been glad if I had been permitted to die, because life no longer has any value for me since I lost my beloved. I feel myself so dreadfully alone in this land. These people are certainly good, but nevertheless do not understand me.”

Bryhl asked her uncle to come find her, which he did. Bryhl required bed rest after the long, tiresome journey to Rockford, and she refused to talk to reporters. Her uncle related bits and pieces of her story to local newspapers.

“I was in my berth when the Titanic hit the berg. I noticed the jar and soon I heard Ingvar [her fiancé] knocking on the door of my cabin.“Get up, Dagmar,” he said. “The ship has hit something.” I put on a skirt and coat as quickly as possible and hurried up to the deck. But the officers said, “Go back, there is no danger, you go to your cabins.”

Bryhl returned to her berth and went back to bed. Soon there was more knocking on her door.

“Get up, Dagmar, we are in danger!” Ingvar yelled. “I don’t care what the ship’s officers say. The boat is sinking.”

After pulling on her skirt and coat and running from her berth, Bryhl heard awful screaming and yelling. Women and children were being loaded into lifeboats. Men and women were kissing each other farewell. Ingvar and Kurt led Bryhl to a lifeboat, and Ingvar lifted his fiancé into the boat. She seized his hands and wouldn’t let go. “Come with me!” Bryhl screamed as loud as she could, still holding Ingvar’s hands tight. There was room in the lifeboat, which was only half full. Suddenly an officer ran forward and clubbed back Ingvar.

“This officer tore our hands apart, and the lifeboat was let down. As it went down, I looked up. There, leaning over the rail stood Kurt and Ingvar side by side. I screamed to them again, but it was no use. They waved their hands and smiled. That was the last glimpse I had of them.”

As the men in the lifeboat rowed the boat away from Titanic, the passengers shivered in the frigid night air as they watched the great ship sink.

“Then more dreadful screams,” said Bryhl, who recalled that the sea was so still it was clear as a mirror beneath the cloudless sky. “The water filled with crying people. Some of them climbed in our boat and so saved their lives.”

The small group of survivors huddled in the lifeboat until 6 a.m. on Monday, April 15, when the Carpathia arrived. Hours in the freezing air without adequate clothing to protect against the stinging cold numbed Bryhl’s body.

According to her uncle, Bryhl declared repeatedly between hysterical sobs that she never would have allowed her brother and fiancé to put her in the lifeboat if she thought the two men would be lost. She said she would rather have died with them when the great ship settled into the depths than to live with the memory of all that took place.

Bryhl returned home to Sweden in May 1912 after only a short time in Rockford. She later married a teacher named Eric Holmberg. She died in August 1969, Setterdahl noted.

“Not my time to die”
During “Afternoon Tea on the Titanic,” Setterdahl (a native Swede herself) also detailed the life of 22-year-old Anna Nysten, the woman whose story provided the title for Setterdahl’s book.

Nysten had planned to leave Sweden in the summer of 1912 to visit her sister Klara in Passaic, New Jersey. However, some of Nysten’s friends who were headed to America that spring persuaded her to go with them. Nysten traveled with the Andersson family from Kisa, Sweden, and the Danbom family from Stanton, Iowa. Nysten would be the lone survivor of the 11-member group.

“I can hardly describe how it happened,” Nysten wrote to her parents in the wake of the Titanic disaster. “There was terrible screaming and groaning, but you and I ought to thank God that I am alive. I managed to get into a lifeboat because I don’t think it was my time to die. I’m supposed to experience more of the world.”

Nysten offered more details of the disaster after Titanic struck the iceberg (as documented in Not My Time to Die, pages 167-169).

“There was a terrible jolt, so we nearly fell out of bed. But then they said it was not serious, so the passengers calmed down until the ship began to sink and the deck was full of people.”

After someone took Nysten’s lifebelt and she began crying, a sailor gave her his life jacket. While her traveling companions proclaimed they would all go down together with the ship, a sailor pushed Nysten into a lifeboat.

“Oh, how terrible it was when everything went dark,” said Nysten, who recalled that her lifeboat could have held 63 people but only had about 40 passengers when it was lowered into the sea. “When the ship went down we were not far away and were almost sucked under.”

Nysten and the others in the lifeboat heard an awful rumbling noise as the great ship sank. They sat in the lifeboat from 1:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., but “fortunately the sea was calm,” she recalled.

“You can imagine how happy we were to see the steamer Carpathia close in on us and we could come aboard. They were so good to us.”

The survivors were given blankets, coffee and brandy (“as much as we wanted,” Nysten noted).

“But there was still much groaning and crying because most of us had lost a dear relative,” Nysten recalled. “Many became hysterical.”

In New York, Nysten was taken to the Swedish Immigrant Home, where she received $25 from the Women’s Relief Committee. Nysten spent three years in New York with friends and intended to return to Sweden, but when the Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915, she changed her mind. She came to Boone, Iowa, and moved to Des Moines in 1916, where she married Arvid Gustafson in 1917. The couple had three sons and were members of the First Lutheran Church in Des Moines.

Nysten was one of the few Titanic survivors who married, had children and was not reluctant to talk about her Titanic experience, although it took several years after the sinking before she was willing to share many of those haunting memories, Setterdahl noted. In 1937 on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, Nysten said in a newspaper interview that she no longer dreamed about the disaster.

Nysten passed away March 28, 1977, and is buried in Resthaven Cemetery in West Des Moines.

“The lifeboats were all gone”

Some Swedes on the Titanic like Gunnar Tenglin were returning to their adopted home in Iowa. Tenglin, 25, had grown up in Sweden and emigrated to America around 1903 at age 16. He settled in Burlington, Iowa. Until he learned to speak English he worked with crews cutting ice on the Mississippi River. He learned English while working at the Horace Patterson farm.

Tenglin returned to Sweden in 1908 where he married his wife, Anna. A year after the couple’s son, Gunnar, was born in Stockholm in 1911, Tenglin made plans to return to Burlington. He acquired a third-class ticket to travel on Titanic. Tenglin considered third class on Titanic equal to first class on most other steamers, noted Setterdahl, who documents his story in Not My Time to Die, pages 191-194.

Late in the evening of April 14, 1912, Tenglin and his traveling companion, August Wennerstrom (a fellow Swede who would also survive the sinking) had come back from a party on board Titanic. Tenglin had just taken off his shoes and was preparing for bed when he felt a thud. He put his jacket on but left his shoes in his bunk and his lifejacket under his pillow. He never returned for them.

When he came up on deck, all the lifeboats were gone. An officer on deck engaged Tenglin as an interpreter since the Swede knew English. Tenglin thought that saved him, as noted in a 2012 Burlington Hawk Eye article, because he was still on deck translating the officer’s commands to other Swedes. Otherwise, he may have been below deck when the ship when down.

Tenglin, a tall man of medium build with light blue eyes and brown hair, provided specific details of that unforgettable night to the Burlington Daily Gazette in 1912:

“It looked to us as if we were doomed to perish with the ship when a collapsible lifeboat was discovered. This boat would hold about 50 people, and we had considerable trouble getting it loose from its fastenings. The boat was on the second deck, and the ship settled the question of its launching, as the water suddenly came up over the deck and the boat floated.”

The terror was far from over, though.

“There must have been 150 people swimming around or clinging to the boat, and we feared it would collapse or sink,” Tenglin said. “We had no oars or anything else to handle the boat and were at the mercy of the waves, but the sea was calm.”

There was no way to sit down, so the boats passengers stood up in knee-deep, ice-cold water. Basic survival instincts dominated the horrific scene.

“Those on the edges pushed the frantic people in the water back to their fates, it being feared they would doom us all,” Tenglin said.

A big Swede named Johnson was kept busy throwing corpses overboard, Tenglin added, since the survivors wanted to make the boat as light as possible to increase its buoyancy.

Tenglin and other passengers in Collapsible A were rescued by the Carpathia. When the ship arrived in New York, the American Red Cross and the Swedish American Society took pictures of the surviving immigrants and printed the images as picture postcards. Tenglin sent one of those postcards to his mother in Sweden, mailing it from Burlington on April 29, 1912.

Tenglin lived the rest of his life in Iowa, where he was joined by his wife and son who arrived from Sweden in 1913. Tenglin worked various jobs during his career, from the railroad to the local utility plant that supplied Burlington with gas. Tenglin passed away in 1974 at age 86 in Burlington and is buried in Aspen Grove Cemetery.

Immigrant recruiter buried in Stanton, Iowa
Other Swedes on board Titanic did not have the opportunity to live a long, full life. On pages 231-233 of Not My Time to Die, Setterdahl relates the sad fate of Ernest Danbom, a 34-year-old farmer and immigrant recruiter who was born and raised in Montgomery County, Iowa.

The son of two Swedish immigrants who farmed in southwest Iowa, Danbom married his wife, Anna, in 1910. The newlyweds traveled to Sweden for their honeymoon and remained with Anna’s family for a number of months. During this time, Anna gave birth to the couple’s son, Gilbert, in Kisa, Sweden, on November 16, 1911.

By April 1912, the young family prepared to return to America. Danbom also assumed the role of tour conductor for a group of 11 Swedes (including Anna Nysten and the Andersson family) who were traveling on Titanic.

As an immigrant recruiter, Danbom received a commission from each person he encouraged to come to America. Even after paying approximately $68 for a family cabin on Titanic, Danbom was carrying a substantial amount of money (including $276 in cash and $30 in gold) when he left Sweden, according to Not My Time to Die. He hoped that the money would help his family acquire a fruit farm in Turlock, California.

Tragically, none of the young family would survive the sinking of Titanic. Danbom’s wife and young son were lost at sea. Danbom’s body was recovered and brought to Halifax in Canada before being sent to Stanton, Iowa, for burial.

The Halifax coroner listed among his personal effects a black overcoat, dark suit, white pleated shirt, black boots, wedding ring marked “S.B.T.E.G.D., June 6, ’10,” gold watch and chain, knife, keys, opal and ruby ring, fountain pen, bracelet, ladies watch and chain, 3 memo books, solitaire diamond ring, scissors, U.S. naturalization papers, pocketbook, jewel case, and a check for $1,315.79, Security Bank, Sioux City.

Danbom is buried in the cemetery in Stanton. The inscription on his tombstone reads, “Ernest Danbom, 26 Oct 1877, died 15 April 1912, in Titanic disaster, his remains were recovered from the ocean. “Nearer My God to Thee.”

“No, I must be a gentleman”
In Cedar Rapids, attention focused on the well-known Douglas family, who endured an excruciating wait to learn the fate of Walter Douglas, 50, and his second wife, Mahala, first-class passengers on Titanic.

Walter Douglas was son of the founding partner of The Quaker Oats Company in Cedar Rapids. In 1903, Douglas and his brother George, founded the Douglas Starch Works, which produced cooking starch and oil, laundry starch, animal feed, soap stock and industrial starches.

After celebrating Christmas 1911 with the Douglas family at the Brucemore mansion in Cedar Rapids, Walter and Mahala traveled to Europe for a three-month vacation to celebrate Walter’s retirement, according to Brucemore historic site and community cultural center, which has preserved this history. While in Europe, the couple also purchased furnishings for their mansion on a bluff overlooking Lake Minnetonka near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The couple bought first-class tickets for themselves and their French maid, Berthe Leroy, to return home aboard Titanic in time to celebrate Walter’s birthday on April 21 with family. First-class tickets on Titanic ranged from roughly $150 for a simple berth–about $3,600 today, based on current inflation tables, to $4,350 (more than $100,000) for one of the two Parlour suites.

On the night Titanic struck the iceberg, Walter and Mahala had just returned to their suite from the first-class dining room when they heard the engines stop. After Mahala asked Walter to find out what was going on, she donned her fur coat and boots to wait in the hallway. Seeing no officers and receiving no orders, Mahala grew concerned and returned to her cabin for a life preserver. Walter returned and teased her about the preserver, but agreed they should go on deck together. The couple watched as the distress rockets shot high into the air and burst into a shower of light.

Passengers on deck remained calm as they boarded the lifeboats. As Mahala climbed into a lifeboat, she requested that Walter join her. “No, I must be a gentleman,” he said before joining a group of men waiting for another lifeboat.  Dressed in his tuxedo, Walter was last seen helping women and children into the final lifeboats.

After Titanic sank, initial reports of the disaster were sparse and contradictory. The limits of wireless communication and the isolation of the disaster limited accurate information. When news of the tragedy reached Cedar Rapids, the magnitude of the disaster and the fate of Walter and Mahala were unknown.

“The news of Titanic’s disaster came at noon while we were at luncheon,” noted an April 15 diary entry written by Irene Douglas, Walter’s sister-in-law who lived at Brucemore. “Did not seem serious until evening about 7:30 – spent the evening at the [Cedar Rapids] Republican [newspaper] office.”

Hearing no news, Irene and her husband, George, left Cedar Rapids on April 16 to meet the Carpathia, which was carrying Titanic survivors to New York. On April 17, the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette reported:

“Up to 1 o’clock today no definite news had been received in Cedar Rapids concerning the fate of Mr. Walter D. Douglas…. The wireless telegraph companies having great trouble in effecting communication with the Carpathia…. It appears that a considerable number of the first and second cabin passengers, especially the men, must have perished, but it is still hoped that Mr. Douglas was among the ones rescued. Mrs. Douglas is on the Carpathia, but whether Mr. Douglas went down with the boat, as did many others of the male passengers, remains to be determined.”

On April 18, thousands of people waited in the rain in New York as the ship bearing approximately 700 Titanic survivors slowly approached the dock.

“Carpathia landed 7 in the eve.,” Irene noted in her diary. “Walter not with Mahala.”

Eight days after the sinking, the Douglas family received word on April 23 that Walter’s body had been recovered by the cable ship MacKay Bennett, the same ship that recovered the body of Wallace Hartley, whose seven-member band played as Titanic sank.

The Mackay-Bennett recovered 306 bodies near the scene of the sinking, including the body of Walter Douglas, who was identified by his monogrammed shirt and cigarette case. The ship’s crew recorded the following information:

• No. 62 – MALE – Estimated age, 55 – Hair grey
• Clothing – Evening dress, with “W.D.D.” on shirt.
• Effects – Gold watch; chain; gold cigarette case “W.D.D.”; five gold studs; wedding ring on finger engraved “May 19th ’84”; pocket letter case with $551

 

(Interesting side note: The Mackay-Bennett was at sea working on a French trans-Atlantic cable when it got the charter from Titanic’s owners, White Star Line, to join the recovery efforts. After returning to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada to pick up a hold full of ice to refrigerate bodies, 100 coffins, canvas sacks, an undertaker, and embalming fluids and equipment, the Mackay-Bennett headed out to sea to search for Titanic victims in a mission continually hampered by fog, heavy waves and wind. With its supply of coffins quickly filled and a steady stream of bodies being brought aboard by crewmen who went out in lifeboats, the Mackay-Bennett had to borrow canvas sacks and more embalming supplies from other recovery ships. The Mackay-Bennett buried at sea 116 of the 306 bodies it recovered, likely because they were not in good enough shape to be taken to Halifax. The ship took 190 victims to Halifax, where unclaimed bodies were buried in various cemeteries.)

Walter Douglas’ remains were taken first to his home in Minneapolis, then via a special train to Cedar Rapids for entombment in the Douglas family vault at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Mahala returned to her home on Lake Minnetonka, accompanied only by her maid, Berthe Leroy. An advocate of arts and culture, Mahala supported many local charities and made a donation in Walter’s name to Coe College in Cedar Rapids.  A talented writer, Mahala published a collection of stories and poems in 1932. One copy, inscribed to George and Irene Douglas, is stored in the Brucemore archives. The last poem in the book is a haunting account of Titanic’s demise.

Titanic
The sea velvet smooth, blue-black,
The sky set thick with stars unbelievably brilliant.
The horizon a clean-cut circle.
The air motionless, cold – cold as death.
Boundless space.
A small boat waiting, waiting in this vast stillness,
Waiting heart-breakingly.
In the offing a vast ship, light streaming from her portholes.

Her prow on an incline.

Darkness comes to her suddenly.
The huge black hulk stands out in silhouette against the star-lit sky.

Silently the prow sinks deeper,

As if some Titan’s hand,
Inexorable as Fate,
Were drawing the great ship down to her death.

Slowly, slowly, with hardly a ripple

Of that velvet sea,
She sinks out of sight.

Then that vast emptiness

Was suddenly rent
With a terrifying sound.

It rose like a column of heavy smoke.

It was so strong, so imploring, so insistent
One thought it would even reach
The throne of grace on high.

Slowly it lost its force,

Thinned to a tiny wisp of sound,
Then to a pitiful whisper….
Silence.


Food for thought as Titanic’s legacy lives on

While more than 100 years have passed since Titanic plunged to the bottom of the sea, interest in the magnificent ship never wanes. In fact, Titanic II, a faithful replica of the doomed ship, is preparing for passengers by 2018.

The brainchild of Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, Titanic II will have practically the same dimensions of the original Titanic, which would be on the smaller side of modern cruise ships. (Shrewdly, the Titanic II will have more lifeboat capacity than the original ship.)

When Titanic II makes its maiden voyage from Jiangsu, China, to Dubai, no doubt it will offer exceptional meals, just as its predecessor did. The original Titanic’s provisions included 75,000 pounds of fresh meat, 11,000 pounds of fresh fish, 4,000 pounds of salted and dried fish, 7,500 pounds of bacon and ham, 40,000 fresh eggs, 40 tons of potatoes, 2,200 pounds of coffee, 10,000 pounds of sugar and 250 barrels of flour.

When I sampled an unforgettable taste of Titanic in Iowa City during the Johnson County Historical Society’s “Afternoon Tea on the Titanic,” one of my favorite menu items was the Victoria Sponge Cake.

“This cake is everyone’s favorite,” declares Penelope Carlevato in her book Tea on the Titanic: 100 Years Later. “No leftovers when you serve this cake.” I can see why, especially with this cake’s light texture and sweet filling that’s perfect with homemade jam (my favorite) or your best store-brought preserves.

Victoria Sponge Cake served at the Johnson County Historical Society’s “Afternoon Tea on the Titanic” in Iowa City on April 2, 2017

Victoria Sponge Cake
Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups self-rising flour, sifted flour

Filling:
1 cup jam, preserves or lemon curd (or whipping cream, if you desire)
Powdered sugar

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Grease and line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Divide batter between the pans and smooth the tops for evenness.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes in pans; then turn cakes out onto wire racks to continue cooling.
Place a paper doily on a footed cake plate. Sandwich bottoms of cake together with jam or preserves (strawberry preserves, raspberry preserves or apricot jam work well). Whipping cream could be substituted for the jam, if desired. Sprinkle top of cake with powdered sugar.

Decorate cake plate with chemical-free flowers such as violets or nasturtiums, if desired. (Wash the flowers well before use.)

Want more Iowa culture and history?
Read more of my blog posts if you want more Iowa stories, history and recipes, as well as tips to make you a better communicator.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press, as well as my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, which showcases the history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too. Coming soon in September 2017–my third Iowa history book! Watch for more details on “Dallas County” from Arcadia Publishing.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Leftover Ham? Make This Amazing Crustless Spinach and Ham Quiche

A ham for Easter dinner has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.  It’s no wonder, since I grew up on a farrow-to-finish hog farm in Calhoun County, Iowa. Ever wonder why ham became an Easter tradition?

In the days before refrigeration, hogs were harvested in the fall. The hams were preserved by curing (salting and/or smoking). This process took a long time, and the first hams were ready to eat in the spring. Ham, then, was a natural choice for the Easter celebration.

The National Pork Board recently conducted a Ham Research Study (wouldn’t you love that job?) and found that that 69 percent of Americans served ham for Easter dinner in 2016. Also, 55 percent of consumers enjoy ham as an everyday meal. I’m certainly one of them.

If you have leftover ham this Easter, why not power up your next meal with my Crustless Quiche? This recipe is incredibly simple, flavorful and packed with veggies and protein. What more could you ask for?

Crustless Spinach and Ham Quiche
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or 2 cans sliced mushrooms)
Diced red and orange peppers, if desired
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup chopped, fully cooked ham
5 large eggs
3 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

In a large skillet, saute onion and mushrooms in oil until tender. Add spinach and ham; cook and stir until the excess moisture is evaporated. Cool slightly. Beat eggs; add cheese and mix well. Stir in spinach mixture and pepper; blend well. Spread evenly into a greased 9-in. pie plate or quiche dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Yield: 8 servings. Enjoy!

Want more Iowa culture and history?
Read more of my blog posts if you want more Iowa stories, history and recipes, as well as tips to make you a better communicator.

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press, as well as my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, which showcases the history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 


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