Category Archives: Recipes

Recipes: Bitter Fruit and Lemon Zucchini Bread


How many of us learned about the tartness of  lemons as small children when we happily accepted a slice from someone we trusted only to bite into the thing and have one eye slam shut in an uncontrollable muscle spasm as juices of potent sourness surrounded a shocked and outraged tongue that no matter how tightly it curled up just could not convince a traumatized throat to swallow until after all of your facial features skewed into a grimace that silently screamed, “Nasty Bad!!!”

Yes, lemons are the hypocrites of the fruit family.  Oh, they look all cheerful and bright and smell so very citrus and sweet.  However, inside, this sunny yellow fruit lurks uncompromising bitterness.  Lemons, unlike humans, do not get to choose whether to be bitter or not. Nature just thrust bitterness upon them. And, its bitterness makes the lemon unpalatable…until…sweetness is added.   Sweetness soothes a lemon’s bitterness until only fresh, tangy, delightful citrus flavor remains.

There is a saying that when life gives you lemons….make lemonade.  The thing is, you cannot make lemonade out of lemons alone.  To make lemonade, sweetener must be added. In the case of humans dealing with life’s lemons, sweetening up a bad situation requires human sugar….love, compassion, empathy and kindness.

A great way to show a friend, neighbor or family member you care is by bringing them a home-baked treat or by taking some excess garden zucchini off of their hands.  Lemon-Zucchini Bread will bring success to both of those endeavors.

Lemon-Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine:

1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat together:

1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg


2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup (packed)  finely shredded zucchini

Stir until completely combined.

Slowly stir dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Put bread batter into the greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove bread from oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Remove loaf from pan by running a knife around the edge of the pan then inverting. Cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, frost top of the loaf with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoon lemon zest

Other Zucchini Recipes on this blog:

Chocolate Spice Zucchini Cake
Zucchini Bread
Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Zucchini Boat Races 














RECIPES: An Angel of a Gluten-Free Strawberry Cream Pie!


Fresh Minnesota strawberries have always been a favorite of mine.  As a child on the farm, I spent many hours, nose down, elbows up, with pink stained berry juiced lips, fingertips, and knees in our berry patch helping to fill bowls and my belly with fresh strawberries.

In addition to the threat of ravishment by predators such as hungry children, our berry patch was constantly under surveillance and in immediate peril from the farm’s chickens. I have often wondered why no one ever put a chicken wire fence around the berry patch to keep the chickens out, and have concluded that it was either because of the patch’s large size, it seemed like a lot of work to haul the small roll of chicken wire from the shed all the way across the lawn and find enough sticks to hold it up, it would be an eye sore, or that we all believed that grandma enjoyed chasing chickens with her broom and it was a good source of exercise for her.

Grandma’s broom protected, from friend and fowl alike, a berry patch that produced oodles of strawberries.  Many large mixing bowls and gallon ice cream buckets were filled everyday during the height of the season.  Berries that were not consumed fresh or used in a dessert became jam or were preserved by canning or freezing.

In addition to our farm producing lots of berries, we also seemed to have a never ending supply of heavy cream and eggs.  This recipe for Strawberry Angel Cream Pie calls for only five ingredients, eggs, sugar, cream of tartar, cream and strawberries….which makes it gluten-free.

Strawberry Angel Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of sugar

In a large stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, beat four egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy.  Gradually beat in, a little at a time, one cup of sugar.  Continue to beat until very stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy looking.   Spread meringue into the bottom and sides of a nine-inch pie pan.

Bake for 60 minutes.  Do not remove from oven.  Turn the oven off and leave the pie crust in the oven until completely cooled.


2 cups of heavy cream
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of mashed fresh strawberries, sweetened to taste

In a medium-sized mixing bowl add two cups whipping cream.  With an electric mixer, beat until stiff. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Fold mashed fresh strawberries into the whipped cream.  Fold gently until the berries and cream are combined.  Pour into meringue pie shell and cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.


Fresh strawberries and/ or an additional cup of sweetened whipped cream.


Additional strawberry recipes on this blog:

Praise the Lord, Leukemia and Pass the Strawberries

Honey, I Miss You and Jamming with the Queen Bee

Father’s Day Breakfast “WOW!”: Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

Impressive Father’s Day Dessert: Chocolate Strawberry Cream Puffs

Sweet Heat: Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

Something Old, Something New: Microwave and Crockpot Strawberry Jam Recipes

Taming the Wild Strawberry: Mary Lincoln’s Strawberry Jam Recipe

Picking Berries and Fresh Strawberry Dessert

Great Aunt Ida’s Fresh Strawberry Pie


The memory of picking ripe strawberries and eating them as God intended, right out of the patch and warmed by the sun, was such a pleasant one that I wanted to pass it on to my children.  So, every June, when the berries became ripe, we made our annual pilgrimage to one of our local growers to pick fresh strawberries.

Good memories and traditions rarely happen by accident.  Someone, at sometime, made a conscious decision to make an effort.  Always choose to make that effort for the children in your life.  Sharing your time with children is the most important thing that you can give them, in addition to your love.  

And, don’t forget to support our local growers! 



Recipe: Stuck in the Mud Fudge Bars

My Uncle Myrwin passed away this past December and is greatly missed.

This post reminded me of spring in the fields, standing behind my Uncle Myrwin, holding on for dear life to the drivers seat of a tractor, hearing him holler with gusto over the loud tractor engine noise to,”Hang on tight, I think we can make er.” Then, sneaking a peek around him to see us heading right into some type of body of water.

Yes, on a day like today he’d have been out in the field working hard to get those seeds in the ground to help feed the world, and he’d have been very appreciative of having these fudge bars with a cup of hot coffee for his mid-morning coffee break.

God bless all of our nation’s farmers! Your hard work is greatly appreciated.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Stuck tractor 2

My dad and my Uncle Myrwin farmed together for most of their lives.  The brothers and their families were all very close.  In fact, when I was a child  the phone would ring bright and early every morning and it would be my uncle calling to talk to dad about the day’s farm business and work. I cannot remember a day while growing up when I did not talk too or see my Uncle Myrwin.

About five years ago my Uncle Myrwin had to move from the farm into a nursing home, because he had developed memory issues.  He has been there ever since and over the years his cognitive abilities have declined.

From the first week he entered that home, I decided that he was not going to ever be forgotten by his niece and so I began to write him a letter every week.  I have continued this…

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RECIPES: Church Ladies Critique and Chewy Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

anson aprons

Yesterday my parents came down for a visit and I made them lunch.  The menu included sauced pulled beef, Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns, potato salad and cherry pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

There is just no way to serve pie and ice cream without remembering the many ice cream pie socials I attended in my youth.  I have baked a lot of pies.  The pies shared at a community events were always special.

Baked goods delivered to our church pie socials were as expertly critiqued as any work of art ever entered into a juried art show.  I have many fond memories of watching the faces of the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and neighbors as they assessed each newly delivered donated baked item.   So many of these dear ladies are now gone and live with the Lord.

These gals could convey a complete critique of  your pie baking performance with a single look or a gesture.  The silent language used by church ladies for bake good assessment had been passed down from generation to generation and mastered by each. So it paid to pay attention and learn to read faces.

However, unless you wanted to live in a state of perpetual self-disappointment, it was best, at a very young age,  to acquire the skill of recognizing people who never have anything good to say about anything or anyone.  I have always felt sorry for folks like that. It must be awful to always live in darkness and never see sunshine.

Once you have learned to “dust off your feet and move on” to people who actually have good intentions in mind, being judged by others, while not always fun, is a great opportunity for self-reflection, personal and professional growth.

Our church ladies could judge the quality of your pie and render a verdict without uttering so much as a word. I can still picture the sad shake of bent curly heads sporting raised eyebrows with a lone dimple appearing in a cheek above tightly compress lips when improvement was required.  And, remember the proud sense of mature accomplishment when you finally received the coveted in unison nod, slight grin and and saw that quick wink from behind bespectacled eyes.

As a Lutheran Swedish farmer’s child growing up in rural Minnesota, understanding nonverbal communications was a necessary skill.  To actually confront or praise someone in person was just not done. Outrageousness such as that would have been terrifying for entire congregation, sent some poor old soul into instant menopause, and probably would have lead to the cancellation of any future church activities that included the word social.

Church ladies taught life lessons. Such as, there is always room for improvement, and to get used to being judged, because its going to happen. They taught me that people are a lot like pie pastry production.  Oh, sure there are times when I want to just flatten an ornery one with my rolling pin. However, I know that only leads to a tougher crust.  So, when you are the object of judgement, fair or unfair, its best to think of the butter in pie crust. The total excellence and success of the pastry depends on the butter’s temperature which, like a person’s temperament, needs to remain a cool as possible.

choc choc cookies

Chewy, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have become my husband’s new favorite.  The trick to getting them chewy is the baking time.  Since you cannot see if a chocolate cookie is browning, you cannot see when they are getting done.  You must rely on baking time.  These cookies do not look done when you remove them from the oven and are quite soft.  They need to remain on the hot cookie sheet for about a minute before you remove them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two cookie sheets.

1 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
3 cups of chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Blend in cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix until completely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping teaspoon-sized pieces of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet for one minute.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cookies will flatten and firm up as they cool.

These cookies are great alone, but with a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies, they become a fantastic quick ice cream sandwich dessert.


Matthew 7: 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? …

Playhouse in the Lilacs and Pies: Mud and Rhubarb

I can hardly wait for my lilacs to bloom and to get fresh rhubarb from my son and make this wonderful Rhubarb Crumb Custard Pie….

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter


This morning while I watched my puppy as he explored the back yard, I found myself admiring my lilac bush.  It is not blooming yet, but will be soon. I love lilacs.  I like the color, scent and the memories they evoke.   Blooming lilac bushes take me back to a time long ago when they were transformed into the roof and walls of my very lovely play house on the farm.

My playhouse did not come from a store nor was it made out of beautifully designed colorful plastics that include microwaves, cupboards, sink, stove, refrigerator with matching dishes, utensils and play food. Those types of playhouses did not even exist in my world.  If I wanted a play house, I had to build it myself from discarded farm resources.

I constructed my playhouse in the lilac bushes just up the hill from the cow pasture. The dark green leaves were my roof. I tied…

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Recipes: Here Comes the Kittens, Graduates, Brides and Heavenly Lemon Torte



The other day, my father stopped by my nephew’s farm to say hello to his great granddaughter.  This young preschooler is quite the little farm girl.  She helps her mom and dad with all aspects of farm work and has since the day she was born.

I am convinced that this youngster knew the difference between a plant and a weed before she could walk. There were many naps taken inside tractor or combine cabs when she was a baby and toddler. This preschooler has mastered farm tool identification, fishing, hunting, eating fish and wild game, taking eggs away from old hens, unflinching helping her dad rid the farm of unwanted critters and, if need be, steering a stuck vehicle out of its muddy prison.

She can be seen traipsing around wearing the farm kid uniform of a dirty face, hands and clothes smartly accented with boots or shoes glistening with sticky slimy blue-black Minnesota mud. Yup, she is pretty much the average farm kid.

One of her greatest loves is her farm cats. She loves those cats and they reciprocate the sentiment. Which is as it should be as both are adorable. The arrival of spring on her farm means the arrival of new kittens.  So, each spring she is inundated with same question over and over again, “Got any new baby kittens, yet?”

When my dad got to her farm, he found her sitting on the house’s front porch step holding and gently petting one of her beloved cats.  So, he asked her the standard question, “Got any new baby kittens, yet?”  She shouted back, “Not yet!.”  Then, with a flourish worthy of a great circus showman, she hoisted the cat high into the air and with great joy exclaimed, “But, this one is plump full!.”

Just like as new kittens arrive each and every spring on the farm, so too, do the special celebrations life such as graduations, confirmations, and bridal showers.  For those of you who are host or hosting one of these traditional springtime events check out my blog posts called, “Salad, Bar and Cookie Recipes for Graduation Celebrations” and “Graduation Party Recipes for Meats, Beans, Appetizers and a Couple of Punches.” These posts provide a variety of excellent recipe options.

However, Heavenly Lemon Torte is the recipe you are looking for if you want to serve a light, tasty, elegant dessert at a Bridal Shower.

Heavenly Lemon Torte

You must use a table top mixer to make this torte.  Hand mixers do cannot whip the egg whites stiff enough. 

Meringue Crust:
7 egg whites
1/2 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of sugar

In a a large stainless steel or glass mixing bowl mix the egg whites, vinegar, vanilla and sugar together.  Then beat on high speed for about 15 minutes until mixture becomes very stiff.  Pour into an ungreased 9 X 13 cake pan.  Bake for one hour in a 300 degree oven. Turn oven off, after one hour, and leave crust in the oven for another 20 minutes. Remove and cool.

Lemon Filling:
7 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
6 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 lemon rind

In a double boiler cooking pot, mix ingredients together. Cook until mixture becomes thick.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Whipping Cream Topping: 
Whip one pint of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Cover cooled torte with one half of whipped cream.  Cover with lemon filling.  Top with remaining whipped cream.


Bloggers note: This recipe comes from the home of Karen Peterson and can be found in the cookbook, Trinity’s Book of Heritage and Recipes, Trinity Lutheran Church, Grove City, Minnesota.  

My great-grandfathers helped build this church and served on its first church council.  I was baptized, confirmed, bridal showered and was married here, almost 39 years ago, when Trinity Lutheran was still known as First Lutheran Church. It became Trinity Lutheran when all of the Lutheran churches in my small hometown of Grove City, MN, came together and united. 





Salad, Bar and Cookie Recipes for Graduation Celebrations

This variety of salad recipes could come in handy during this season of graduate party celebrations.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

When I was the Recipe Editor for ECM Publisher’s Forest Lake Times, North Branch Post Review and St. Croix Valley Peach community papers, I always wrote a two-page graduation special edition …

Source: Salad, Bar and Cookie Recipes for Graduation Celebrations

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