Category: Recipes

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. 

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. 

How to Clean a Burned Pan in 6 Simple Steps

Hey, it happens. If you cook, you’re going to have burned-on food once in awhile. Fear not! While dish soap is no match for this kitchen foe, arm yourself with baking soda and white vinegar to concoct an inexpensive, all-natural, non-toxic way to clean up the mess with as little hassle as possible.

I’m speaking from experience here. When the crew from the “State Plate” TV show hosted by Taylor Hicks came to my family’s Iowa farm recently, I was in the field filming with them as my pot of homemade Italian-Bean Soup simmered on the kitchen stove. The trouble started when I didn’t get back to the kitchen in time to turn down the heat. While the soup was still tasty, a scorched portion had formed on the bottom of the stainless steel soup kettle. Ugh.

If you end up in a predicament like this, first try the simplest trick–sprinkle some powdered dishwasher detergent in the messy pan, add some hot water, and scrub. You may have to repeat this a few times, but it usually works like a charm.

If you want to try a different method, you’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Sturdy plastic spatula
  • Scouring pad

Here’s how to take control of that scorched pan in 6 simple steps:

1. Fill the bottom of the pan with a layer of water to cover the scorched food.

2. Add 1 cup vinegar.

3. Bring the pan to the boil. (Some of the debris will probably start breaking loose–yeah!)

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add two generous shakes of baking soda. Watch it fizz and work its magic!

5. Empty the pan and scrub with a scouring pad. The plastic spatula can also come in handy to help loosen the scorched food. If necessary, add an extra bit of dry baking soda and keep scrubbing.

6. If there any stubborn marks don’t come off, make a paste of baking soda and a couple of drops of water. Leave the paste on the marks for a while and scrub again.

Depending on how tough the scorched food is, you may need to repeat this entire process a second time. You will get good results, though–I promise.

*If you have really tough scorch, pull out a box of powdered dishwasher detergent. Pour a dollop in your pan, cover the scorched area with water, bring to a boil, and watch the detergent work its magic. You still may need to scrub, but this gets results fast! 

Congratulations, and good job! Now you’re ready to cook again.

Want more food for thought?
Check out my blog posts if you want more handy kitchen tips, recipes, culinary history, and Iowa food stories, along with simple tips to make you a better communicator.

If you’re hungry for even more, 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. 

Cooking with Iowa’s Radio Homemakers

Long before there was Martha Stewart, there were KMA’s radio homemakers. These creative, talented ladies from southwest Iowa revolutionized women’s roles far beyond their humble farm kitchens starting in the 1920s. As they delighted Midwestern audiences by sharing their favorite recipes and providing down-home, daily visits with their radio friends, some of the women also became successful entrepreneurs along the way.

Their story begins in the early 1920s with the debut of a fabulous new invention called radio. In 1925, when a local businessman named Earl May began broadcasting KMA Radio-960 from Shenandoah, Iowa, to promote his seed and garden business. The station gained a following by airing practical information designed to help with the day-to-day life in Midwestern farm kitchens.

Before long, KMA was a trusted friend throughout the wide listening area, offering inspiration, companionship, and all manners of domestic counsel. The power of this connection can’t be understated when you consider the era—a time when farm wives were much more isolated than today due to poor roads, limited social opportunities and long days filled with endless chores.

A roster of personable, lively women who quickly became known as the KMA Radio Homemakers hosted KMA’s daily radio programs, including the Home Hour, the Stitch and Chat Club, and the KMA Party Line, while live cooking demonstrations drew thousands to the KMA auditorium in Shenandoah.

Evelyn Birkby was one of the beloved radio homemakers from southwest Iowa.

Broadcasts reached across the Midwest
The radio homemakers’ history is also linked to Earl May’s local competitor, Henry Field, another nursery and garden entrepreneur who seized on the power of radio to help expand his business. Field recruited family members to go on the air, including his sister, Leanna Field Driftmier, who began broadcasting “The Mother’s Hour,” which became “Kitchen Klatter.” Without any training, Leanna sat down at the microphone and just started talking about her home, family, recipes, household tips, advice for child- rearing and whatever news seemed worth sharing during the afternoon show.

In 1930, Leanna broke her back in a car accident but wanted to continue her show, despite her injuries. The radio equipment was brought to her home, and she broadcast from her bed and later from her kitchen table. The show became so popular amongst listeners that it was eventually was broadcast in six Midwestern states.
Neighboring on the air

As the radio homemakers’ concept gained momentum, local farm women like Evelyn Birkby began broadcasting from their kitchens in the 1950s. In her show “Down a Country Lane” on KMA Radio, Birkby would discuss her family and share snippets from her daily life, as well as offer suggestions for making the home a more pleasant place to live. Birkby called this phenomenon “neighboring on the air,” and it met a vital need when farm life could often be isolating.

Fans would follow the doings of favorite homemakers for years, tuning in each day the same way they’d listen to episodes of radio soap operas. Of course, recipes figured prominently in the broadcasts, with old-fashioned, Midwestern fare focused on meat and potatoes, hearty casseroles, cakes, pies, cookies and more.
Kitchen Klatter became home-grown success

Through the years, a line of Kitchen Klatter products (including food flavorings, bleach and more) was developed and sold over the radio by broadcasters like Leanna Driftmier. In addition, a monthly Kitchen Klatter magazine was circulated to thousands of Midwestern readers who enjoyed the articles, letters and recipes like Company Ham and Potatoes, Emerald Mint Sauce (made from Kitchen Klatter Mint Flavoring), Mary’s Pineapple Pie and Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies. The Kitchen Klatter enterprise and the radio homemakers endured for a number of years, with some of the broadcasts lasting until the 1990s.

Recipes preserve a taste of Iowa history

In 1991, Evelyn Birkby published the fascinating book “Neighboring on the Air,” where you can almost hear the voices of the KMA homemakers while you get a taste of their philosophy of life and sample their recipes. You can learn how to make hearty Midwestern fare ranging from Sour Cream Apple Pie from Florence Falk, “The Farmer’s Wife,” to Six-Layer Washday Dinner from Doris Murphy, who took to the air in 1949 with her “Party Line” broadcast.

You’ll get a sense what a grueling schedule the radio homemakers often endured as they broadcast radio shows out of their kitchen while their own family life went on about them. These ladies also knew the needs and interests of their audience, because they, too, were well acquainted with hard work, hard times and making do.

Through it all, the radio homemakers were Martha Stewart and Dear Abby all rolled into one as they shared news about their children, home beautification tips and their trusted recipes. Thousands of devoted listeners depended on them for weekly entertainment, information, humor and continuity. These listeners considered the radio homemakers a valued part of their lives, which is reflected in the longevity of the radio shows. The radio homemakers’ remarkable contributions are an enduring legacy to power of Iowa farm women and add unforgettable flavor to Iowa’s rich culinary heritage.

Six-Layer Washday Dinner
Like today’s busy working women, Iowa’s radio homemakers like Doris Murphy knew the value of being able to put a hearty, nutritious meal on the table without a lot of fuss. No doubt her recipe featured home-grown and home-canned vegetables.

2 cups hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups diced potatoes, raw
½ cup uncooked rice
1 cup sweet peppers, cut fine
1 cup diced carrots, raw
1 pint tomatoes

Brown hamburger and onion together. Combine meat, onion, potatoes, rice, peppers, carrots and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with water. Cook 2 hours in 350-degree oven.

 

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. 

Celebrating Pi Day in Iowa with Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

As a food writer, here’s my foolproof equation: Pi Day (3/14) + old-fashioned chicken pot pie = true Iowa comfort food. Foodies like me aren’t nearly as concerned about the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (which is approximately 3.14159), UNLESS that pie is either a sweet or savory creation. Check out my recipe for Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie (it’s what’s on the menu for lunch at the farm today!), including a recipe for the easiest—and tastiest—homemade pie crust.

I tip my hat to my friend Marlene (Lasher) Glasnapp of Lytton, Iowa, for the fantastic, lard-based pie crust recipe I’ve included below the pot-pie recipe. When you compare notes with an experienced farm cook like Marlene, don’t be surprised if you find new ways to break the “rules” of pie baking outlined in the cookbooks.

“I don’t use ice water when I make my pie crusts, and I prefer old-fashioned enameled pie tins to other types of pie dishes,” says Marelene, who grew up on a farm near Lake City and lives with her husband, Roger, on their farm south of Lytton. “Basically, I try to keep things as simple as possible.”

That includes sticking with tried-and-true favorites, such as her mother’s flavorful lard pie crust recipe, which Marlene has relied on for more than 60 years. I love this pie crust for three big reasons, including 1) it’s so easy, 2) it tastes great, and 3) lard-based crusts are one of the most forgiving, easy-to-work with pie pastries I’ve encountered.

Enough talk–let’s cook!

Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe is hearty, filling and makes enough for two 9-inch pot pies. If you’re not feeding a crowd, this freezes well.

2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups milk
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup whole-kernel corn
Pie crust (either 2 packages of refrigerated pie pastry or homemade pie crust—see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, covered, 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. (I save the vegetable broth for future cooking adventures.)

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Stir in flour and seasonings until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken, green beans, corn and potato mixture; remove from heat.

Roll out your homemade pie crust, and cut the dough into a circle big enough to cover your pie plate. OR, unroll a pre-made pastry sheet into each of two 9-in. pie plates; trim even with rims. Add chicken mixture. Unroll remaining pastry; place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in tops.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked pies. To use, remove from freezer 30 minutes before baking (do not thaw). Preheat oven to 425°. Place pies on baking sheets; cover edges loosely with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven setting to 350°; bake 70-80 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and a thermometer inserted in center reads 165°. Yield: 2 potpies (8 servings each).

World’s Best Pie Crust
For more than 60 years, my friend Marlene Glasnapp has relied on this classic Iowa recipe, which yields up to 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.)

Shakespeare Club Maintains 123 Years of Good Taste in Small-Town Iowa

While one of Lake City’s oldest clubs likely wouldn’t have had any farm women for members when the group formed the 1890s, a farm wife (who is also my mom) is now the club’s president and has belonged to the group longer than any other member.

Jan Dougherty, Shakespeare Club president

“This was originally a very formal club where the ladies in town served white-tablecloth-style dinners and used their good china and silverware,” said Jan Dougherty of Lake City, president, who joined the Shakespeare Club in 1972. “Now we’re much more relaxed and just like to have fun.”

Part of the fun involves cooking classes, preparing homemade treats for the “lunch” following the meeting and sharing recipes. The group has visited Sweet Things Bakery in Lake City and recently enjoyed a cooking class taught by Robin Qualy of Lake City, who runs La Casa Cuisine and teaches people how to make homemade pasta and more.

“I like the camaraderie and enjoy getting to know people better through Shakespeare Club,” said Pam Feld of Lake City, who joined the group a few years ago.

Organized in 1894, the Shakespeare Club holds the honor of being the second oldest club in Lake City. It was organized by four young women interested in their social and intellectual advancement. Programs were arranged to study the lives and works of famous authors, although the greater part of each year was devoted to the works of Shakespeare. Later, the programs were diversified to include the study of music and the arts, as well as the cultures of Europe and South America.

During World War 1, Shakespeare Club members held benefit teas and auctions to raise money for the Red Cross. In the 1920s, a three-day celebration was held to commemorate the club’s silver anniversary. Parties, picnics, and a presentation of a picture to the library were part of the festivities. “The Shakespeare Club is famous for doing things right,” quoted the Lake City Graphic newspaper in 1923.

Through the years, club members have been instrumental in supporting the progress of schools and the local library, as well as civic improvements. As it has for years, the group continues to meet in members’ homes, and each meeting includes a program or special activity and ends with a luncheon.

“I like meeting in people’s homes,” said Pat Albright of Lake City. “It’s a comfortable feeling where we can be ourselves and enjoy each other’s company.”

Members of Lake City’s Shakespeare Club enjoy homemade food and lots of laughs during this holiday celebration at Jan McClue’s home.

This also appeals to Jan McClue, who hosted the group’s 2016 Christmas party at her home near Lanesboro. “I like that we’re a group for fun, and I enjoy the interesting outings we go on around the area.”

One of the group’s favorite destinations is Studio Fusion in Fort Dodge, where members design their own glass picture frames, dishes, jewelry and more.  No matter where they meet, however, snacks and homemade treats are always on the agenda. “Good food has always been part of Shakespeare Club, and I think it’s neat the club has lasted all these years,” Dougherty said. “Our motto could be, ‘We don’t meet if we don’t eat.’”

Darcy’s Corn Tortellini

Healthy Tortellini Corn Chowder

Smoky bacon combines with tender cheese tortellini for a creamy and comforting take on the usual corn chowder, which is one of my favorite soup recipes. I served it at the Shakespeare Club’s 2016 Christmas party at Jan McClue’s home near Lanesboro. 

5 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup red, orange, yellow peppers, diced
2 cups fresh, canned or frozen corn kernels (about one and a half cans of canned corn)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sliced carrots
⅓ c unbleached or all-purpose flour or Wondra flour
3 cups 1% milk
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
8 ounces low-fat fresh or frozen cheese tortellini, cooked and drained
1 cup frozen green beans
1 to 2 cups diced ham, optional

Set a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon. Cook for 1 minute, or until it releases some of its moisture. Add the onion, celery, and bell peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the corn, broth and carrots. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Place the flour in a medium bowl. Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth. Pour mixture into the Dutch oven. Stir until well-blended. Add the basil, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until the soup thickens. Add the tortellini, green beans and ham, if desired. Cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through.

Jan McClue’s Beef Dill Dip

Beef Dill Dip
This tasty dip from Jan McClue is simple to make and can be served with bagel wedges or crackers. 

1 16-ounce carton sour cream
2 tablespoons parsley
2 teaspoons Accent seasoning
2 packages dried beef, chopped
1 1 / 2 cup Miracle Whip
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 medium onion, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together. Serve with crackers or bagel wedges.

 

 

Cheesy Artichoke Dip
This three-ingredient appetizer from Jan Dougherty of Lake City takes only minutes to make.

1 package cream cheese
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees, or until top of the dip lightly browns.

Celebration Slush is oh-so-tasty!

Celebration Slush
This simple slush from Jan McClue, a Shakespeare Club member who lives on a farm near Lanesboro, makes any party more festive.

12 ounces frozen lemonade
12 ounces frozen limeade
1 1 /2 quarts cranberry-apple juice
1 / 2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups strawberry schnapps
2 cups water

Combine all ingredients and freeze in a plastic container, like an ice cream bucket. To serve, add a splash of lemon-lime soda pop, raspberry vodka or strawberry daiquiri.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taco Soup
This flavorful soup from Marie Schwarm of Lake City is sure to please on a cold winter day.

1 pound of ground beef (cooked and drained)
1 can of corn 1 can great northern beans
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 medium size can of diced tomatoes
1 packet of Hidden Valley dressing mix
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 cup of water
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Combine all ingredients in crockpot (do not drain the beans) except tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with chips, sour cream and cheese. To spice up the soup, add a small can of diced green peppers.

Chili Bean Salad

This fresh, healthy recipe comes from Sharon Richardson of Lake City.

1 15-ounce can chili beans, heated Chopped tomatoes
Fresh spinach or lettuce, chopped
Corn chips

Make a bed of fresh spinach or chopped lettuce on plate. Top with chopped tomatoes and chili beans that have been heated. Top with crushed corn chips.

 

This luscious, rich dessert is a sweet symphony of creamy goodness.

Peanut Butter Dessert
This creamy, sweet Peanut Butter Dessert from Shakespeare Club member Pam Feld of Lake City offers an enticing ending for any meal. 

For the crust:

1 cup finely-chopped cashews
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 / 2 cup butter

Cream cashews, flour and butter together. Press mixture into baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 28 minutes.

First layer of filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 / 3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whipped cream topping

Combine cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and whipped cream topping. Spread over cooled crust.

Second layer of filling:
2 2 / 3 cups milk
1 package chocolate instant pudding
1 package vanilla instant pudding

Combine milk and the two pudding mixes. Chill in refrigerator. When set, layer mixture on top of peanut butter layer.

Top dessert with whipped cream topping and pieces of chopped candy bars. Butterfinger and Heath work well.

Savor more Iowa food history

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

@Copyright 2017 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

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