Tag Archives: farm

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

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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.

Crust: 
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.

Filling: 

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.

Garnish:

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

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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! 

 

 

Praise the Lord, Leukemia and Pass the Strawberries

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Throughout my life I have been active in Christian education as a director/teacher of a Christian preschool, member of a variety of church boards,  Sunday school teacher for over thirty years,  confirmation teacher,   junior and senior high youth group mentor and co-coordinator of vacation bible school with my good friend Dana.

For several years Dana and I led the Vacation Bible School (VBS) program at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Circle Pines, MN.  We had over 60 students enrolled for our week-long, half-a-day summer christian education program.

Our program planning always left plenty of room for group worship activities, art, music, physical movement, storytelling and snacks. Prior to the start of  VBS, we would advertise our program theme using huge original hand-painted cartoon posters.  The posters would then be raffled off to a few lucky students at the end of the week.  They were highly sought after and the children that won them were pretty excited to take them home.

I recently posted that my three-year-old grandniece’s leukemia had returned.  For me, her battle with this disease has brought back many memories of a little girl with big, bright eyes and a constant smile who was one of our bible school students. Her name was Kelly.

Kelly was as an adorable of a bundle of energy as any young child.  Her mother Sue was a good friend of mine and always helped teach Bible School and Sunday School classes.  It was great fun to watch her and her brother Timmy grow up. Unfortunately, as the years went by my family and I began attending a different church and we lost track of many of our friends at St. Mark.  For years I did not see Sue or Kelly.

Then one day while shopping I saw Sue in the store and she was horribly distraught. When I got to her, she frantically explained that Kelly was in the hospital being treated for leukemia.  She had been in remission, but it had be short-lived.  Kelly’s cancer had returned. The plan was to get her into a second remission to be followed by another bone marrow transplant.

Sue’s news from the hospital that morning had not be good.  She literally ran out of the store to get to her hospitalized daughter.  As she ran, she shouted over her shoulder that they were having a fundraiser and that the plan was that Kelly would be there.

I immediately contacted the fundraiser organizers to see what I could do. The fundraiser was going to be held within a week or so and I wanted to be involved.  I volunteered to face-paint the children and for the silent auction donated an original oil painting, had my boss at the time, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Richie, donate a certificate for a personal tour of our state capitol with him as a guide and a second certificate donation for a lunch at the Governor’s mansion with the governor was collected from Governor Mark Dayton.

That evening, after running into Sue,  I sat and prayed for her “little Kelly” who was now a young woman in her early twenties. I fondly remembered how much Kelly always loved those cartoon posters from Bible School.  I couldn’t remember if she had ever won one, so after working all day, I spent my evenings drawing and painting a mural of her favorite Disney characters. We quickly got the painting framed so that it could be given to Kelly at the fundraiser as a gift from all of the event organizers and volunteers.  We all just wanted to help brighten up her hospital room.

Kelly’s story did not have a happy ending for her family here on earth. Kelly was too sick to attend the fundraiser. Her mother took her cartoon painting to her hospital room.  I do not believe that Kelly ever saw it, as she had slipped into a coma. Kelly died shortly after the fundraiser.

The memories I have of Kelly are of her zeal for life and great energy.  I don’t believe I ever saw that child walk.  She always trotted or ran, just as I am sure that she ran into Christ’s arms the second that he called her home.

It is because of the brave cancer soldiers like Kelly and her family that little ones like my niece and her family today have more hope than ever of being cured of leukemia. The advancement in cancer treatment in just this past five years since Kelly has been gone has been amazing and in some cases miraculous.

One of the other special events Dana and I included in our VBS programming was the fresh strawberry feed snack on the last day of school.  Our Bible School always took place in June when the strawberries become ripe for the picking here in Minnesota. So, on that last morning of school, while Dana, Sue and the rest of the teaching team held down the fort, I went strawberry picking.  I would pick dozens of pounds of fresh strawberries then rush back to church, with scarlet strawberry juice stained knees, to help wash them and set up our strawberry snack attack party.

Learning about a loving God, Children and strawberries just seemed to go together. After all, children and fresh strawberries are two of God’s creations that are perfect just the way he makes them. Those Minnesota strawberries we consumed were almost as beautiful and delicious as all of those darling little faces stained with berry juice!

A good strawberry recipe compliments the berry and should never overshadow or complicate its natural taste.  This cake recipe is  an old-fashioned Swedish Almond White Cake and was shared with me by my sister-in-law Heidi.  Topped with fresh strawberries this cake recipe is the perfect dessert for any special occasion held during strawberry picking season.

Swedish White Almond Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
4 egg whites (beaten to form stiff peaks)
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and lightly flour two eight-inch round cake pans.

In a small mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a medium-sized metal or glass mixing bowl, beat the four egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Mix in the almond extract and set aside. (Never use plastic anything when whipping egg whites, they will not form into stiff peaks if you do.)

In a large-sized mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together.  While mixer is running on low, slowly add dry ingredients alternately with water. Thoroughly combine into a smooth batter. Then, with large medal spoon, gently fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.  Keep folding until all of the egg whites have been combined into the batter.

Pour one half of the cake batter into each cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in the middle.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from cake pans and cool completely.

Frost cake with sweetened whipped cream.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium-sized mixing bowl with a hand mixer whip cream on high speed until it thickens.  Slowly add in sugar.  Beat until peaks form.  Add in vanilla.  Mix only until vanilla is combined.  (Over mixed whipping cream makes butter.  If you have not made whipping cream before, buy two pints of cream.  If you over mix the first pint and the cream becomes yellow and separates, you have a spare pint of cream to start over and  succeed with.  Should your cream become over mixed and separate into a thin buttermilk and yellow butter curds…do not panic.   Drain off milk.  Squeeze butter curds together with your hand to get out any milk that may be hiding.  Salt, shape and wrap your freshly made butter in plastic and store in the refrigerator until you want to use it.  Then, start over again with your spare pint of cream and quit whipping when it looks like the dessert cream you have had before.)

To make cake:

Put one round cake on a cake plate.

Top with about 1/2 inch of whipping cream and a layer of freshly sliced strawberries.
Top with the second cake layer.  Generously frost cake with whipping cream.  Decorate the top of the cake with more sliced strawberries.

I always have some additional sliced, sugared and juiced strawberries in a bowl to spoon over the cake.

Allergy Alert:  Make sure to tell your guests if you use real nut extracts.  If you have a guest that has allergies, you can use and imitation almond extra.  Nobody wants a dessert or entree to kill, so be heads up on nut and food allergies.

Remember to support your local growers! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peach Upside-Down Cake

On the farm we always bought our peaches in crates to can, eat and bake. After the canning was done, it was time to process and freeze peach slices for pie. It was so handy for later baking to process the peeled, slice peaches flavored with sugar and cinnamon in the exact amount needed for a pie. A freshly baked peach pie in the middle of a long cold Minnesota winter was good tonic for a bad case of cabin fever. Yes, frozen peaches can be a blessing.

However for one recipe only fresh peach halves would do and that was fresh Peach Upside-Down Cake. Both my grandmother and my mother used to bake this cake. As it baked the kitchen would be filled with the aroma of rich caramel, peaches, and maraschino cherries. Not only is it delicious, but it is a very pretty cake.

This cake is actually quite easy to make. The important thing to remember is to make sure that your cake is baked through completely before you flip it. You must use the toothpick coming out in the center clean test to check for doneness.

It is best served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Prepare your pan:
In a heavy 10-inch cast-iron skillet of 9-inch square pan melt 1/3 cup of butter. Sprinkle ½ cup brown sugar evenly over the melted butter.

4-5 peeled fresh peaches cut in half (If fresh peaches are not in season you can use well-drained canned peach halves.)
1 jar of maraschino cherries

Arrange fruit in an attractive patter on top of the brown sugar and melted butter mixture. I always put a maraschino cherry into the center of each peach half, then place the flat side of the peach half, with the cherry inside, on the brown sugar mixture. Once I have arranged the peach halves, I add more cherries to the design. Remember that what you put on top of the sugar is what is going to show when you flip the cake out of the pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cake batter:
Sift together in a medium-sized mixing bowl:

1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Add:
1/3 cup soft butter
2/3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix for 2 minutes with electric mixer.

Add:
1 large egg
Beat for 2 more minutes.

Pour batter over fruit. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately turn upside down on a serving platter. Leave pan over cake for a few minutes. Remove pan and allow caramel mixture to run down into the cake. I spoon any caramel that misses the cake onto the top of the cake.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

The strutting rooster

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

I just returned from three hours of chemotherapy to fight my multiple myeloma. With my limited mobility due to last summer’s multiple spinal fractures, I have been doing a lot of writing and artwork to strengthen my weakened back and core. While cancer has temporally robbed me of my ability to even lift a tray of cookies from an oven, I refuse to let it steal my love of baking.

I have decided that now is a good time to post many of the recipes I have collected from family, friends and those I interviewed when I was a recipe columnist and recipe editor for ECM Publishers.

Yesterday I posted a recipe about blackberries and included a reference to a wonderful bread made with oatmeal and molasses. The recipe for Oatmeal Molasses Bread has been passed down for generations in my family. My great grandmother who came to this country in the 1880’s made it. My grandmother made it during the great depression years of the 1930’s and for many thrashing crews who came to help bring in the yearly harvests. My mother and my aunt always made this recipe and I, too, have followed the tradition and baked this bread for my family.

Oatmeal was an important staple in our diets. I can vividly remember a conversation with my grandmother about oatmeal. She was sharing with me how hard it was to weather the poverty during the great depression and dust bowl years on the family farm. How when food was short they would eat oatmeal three times a day. She also described how there was no hay or grain for their cattle and the poor animals survived by eating the thistles that grew in a large slough we called Mud Lake.

The irony of our conversation was at the very moment she was telling me this story, she was eating her breakfast—a bowl of oatmeal. I took notice of this and asked her if she wasn’t sick of oatmeal. “No”, she said in a very resolute voice with her Swedish accent, “I like oatmeal!”

The lesson I learned from her that day was hardship is what you make of it. Perseverance is often about attitude not luck, and you can almost always find a measure of joy in simple things if you are just open to looking for it.

I hope you enjoy this hearty bread with the tang from molasses. I hope you take time today to look for joy in the simple pleasures of life like the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

2 cups oatmeal
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening (Crisco or lard)
1 cup mild molasses

In small bowl dissolve 3 packages of yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water. Set aside.

Place oatmeal, sugar, salt, shortening and molasses in large bowl and add 4 cups boiling water. Stir and cool until lukewarm. When cooled to lukewarm, add in 4 cups of flour and stir until completely combined.

Next, add the dissolved yeast mixture to the flour mixture and again stir until combined.

Roll the sticky dough onto a floured flat surface and knead in approximately 6 cups of flour. (The amount will vary slightly depending on humidity). The dough has enough flour when it is still just barely sticky, holds its shape and is soft and smooth like a baby’s butt.

Place dough into a large buttered bowl and let rise until double. Punch down dough and let it rise a second time until double.

Grease and flour the pans you want to use for your bread or buns. A loaf pan for loaves or 9X13 pans for buns.

Form the loaves or buns, place in the pans and let rise until double.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until browned and hollow sounding when knocked on.

Eat warm with lots of melted butter and blackberry jam!

Note: The rooster painting is one that I did last winter for physical therapy to strengthen my back. I painted a lot of roosters, because they are the clowns of the farm and bring back so many wonderful memories. If you want to see more of my prints visit: http://www.turgeonart.com.

Recipe: Grandmother Esther’s Fabulous Lemon Bars

Grandmother Esther’s Fabulous Lemon Bars

Fifty years later I can still vividly remember cooking with my Grandmother Esther in the kitchen of her small farm house. It wasn’t a fancy kitchen anything but, but it was beautiful to me.

The kitchen’s south window was always surrounded by sweet pea flowers. Their sweet fragrance drifted into the house and was mingled with the delicious smells coming from the oven and stove. From that window she could see the nuts growing on the black walnut tree, the feathery asparagus floating in the breeze amidst the bright pink cosmos and blue bachelor button flowers. She could watch for chickens getting into her gardens and was quick with a shout and to give chase with a broom raised above her head to route the invaders.

That tiny kitchen, with its old stove and cabinets with the stain worn off around the cabinet pulls, was beautiful because grandma was there. I will always picture her as she was then in her homemade gingham dress topped with a hand embroidered apron, bent over a steaming kettle with a hand-carved wooden spoon in her snarled hands and steamed up bi-focals fogging her vision perched on the tip of her nose as she tasted a culinary creation.

Grandmother Esther was always cooking something whether it was boiling a cow’s tongue in a cast iron skillet, baking cookies, breads and pies or cooking down the farm’s fruits into preserves and jellies. Grandma was cock robin of her kitchen.

My grandmother was known for her lemon bars and she knew they were my favorite. I hope you will try this recipe and let them become a favorite in your home too.

Grandmother Esther’s Fabulous Lemon Bars

Crust:
2 cups of flour
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar

Lemon Filling:
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoon flour
2 medium lemons, juice and grated peel
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine flour, butter and powdered sugar until dough forms. Evenly press crust into the bottom of a greased 9 X 13 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Prepare filling while crust bakes. Beat eggs with granulated sugar, flour, juice and grated peel of 2 lemons. Just before pouring filling into hot crust, add the baking powder to the filling and stir until well blended. Pour filling into hot crust and bake for another 20 minutes, until filling is set and just barely browned. Dust with powdered sugar. Cool and cut into bars.

My Stories: On Grandmother’s Knee

When I was growing up on the farm, I spent lots of time with my Grandmother Esther.    I remember my grandmother.

The life of Esther Kronbeck was not an easy one.  She was the oldest child in a very poor pioneer immigrant household with a sickly mother.  When her mother died, her funeral was held on my grandmother’s birthday.

She spent most of her youth, raising her younger siblings. Her youngest sister always said that she was more of a mother to them, than sister.

As a child she  worked hard doing chores, cooking, cleaning, and did the family sewing. Her siblings always said that she was good fun, laughed a lot and saw to it that special moments in their lives were recognized, even when they weren’t in her own.   They described her as a treasure.

Her sister once told me of a Christmas, when they were so poor they had no money for gifts or even decorations for a tree.  Then, on Christmas morning a neighbor came with a bag of apples and each child got an apple.  She said it was the best present she had ever received up until that moment.  Then, my grandmother presented each child in the home with a gift.  She had spent any free time she had late at night in the barn making traditional Swedish straw ornaments.  They all decorated a tree and had a very lovely holiday.  Over 70 years later, my great aunt still had that ornament!

As a young woman grandmother worked as a servant girl in a mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, MN.  She saved her money to buy items to be used to set up housekeeping with a young man that she greatly loved and hoped to marry.  He went away to fight in World War I and never came home.

Eventually she met my Grandpa George and they married.  They had five children and raised them on a farm that is owned by our family.

Her youngest child, Ruth Marie, died in her first year from birth defects.  She lost her son Wendall in the Korean War when he was killed in action.  The funeral for her son was held on his birthday.  She suffered bouts with depression and anxiety for the remainder of her life.

In the 1930’s when the great depression hit this nation, my grandpa and grandma came hours away from losing their farm.  Grandma used to tell me that they were so poor that they fed the cows thistles harvested from the slough and they ate oatmeal three times a day.  We were eating oatmeal when she told me that story.  I asked her, how she could still eat it?  Wasn’t she sick of it?  She smiled and said she liked oatmeal.

My Grandmother Esther had fortitude and perseverance.  She had learned to, “make do”.  She never stopped loving the simple joys in life like planting a seed, watching baby chicks hatch, baking the perfect peanut butter cookie or playing with a child.

I remember these things and so many more about my grandmother, but what I remember the most about her was her unshakable faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  No matter what came to us on the farm good or bad, she turned to the Lord.

My grandmother died when I was just seventeen.  I was there that day when she left us to go home to the Lord.  I will always have wonderful memories of my Grandmother Esther.  I remember her laugh,  kindness, generosity, creativity, honestly, perfect penmanship, work ethic and her speaking Swedish.  While are many words and stories  can be used to describe my Grandmother Esther she was defined by her faith.

It is the memories of her perseverance during hard times that helps me cope with many of the emotions,  stresses and physical pain in my current battle with the cancer — multiple myeloma.  It is her legacy that the faith learned on her knee gives me peace, hope and keeps fear at bay as I face more chemo and a stem cell transplant.  She taught me that I am never alone and that no matter what comes the Lord is with me, will stay with me and in his own good time will call me home to heaven.

I wrote the following poem when my children were young so that they too could meet this remarkable woman and share in her legacy of faith.

On Grandma’s Knee

When I was a little girl, I’d sit on my Grandma’s knee,
And she would tell many stories to me.
She’d never talk about princes, queens or kings.
Her stories were about glorious marvelous things.

She’d tell me about pigs and how sloppy they’d eat.
She’d chuckle about the horse who just loved a sweet.
She’d tell me why cows are milked in the barn.
Then, ma would explain how sheep’s wool is spun into yarn

Ma told me about toads, one that could climb a tree.
She explained about snakes, so they’d never scare me.
She’d marveled that lakes were made out of rain,
Those same drops when heated to stream could power a train.

Sometimes, we’d sit on the back steps and pound,
Walnuts we’d pick right off of the ground.
She’d ask if I knew how we had that nut tree?
Why, “That nut in your hand is really a seed.”

Patiently, she would take the time to explain,
Why birds can fly, then, we’d pretend to be planes.
Ma would always walk slowly, even to get her mail.
She understood about short legs, little hands and puppy dog tails.

Ma, Ma, why do some ships have a sail?
Ma, oh, Ma, how much is in half a five gallon pail?
Did, men really, Ma, walk on the moon?
Do those big black beetles only come out in June?

And, will bats really, get stuck in my hair and bite?
Oh, no, She’d say, their job is to eat bugs in the night.
My questions she’d answer, on her face was a smile.
She’d answer them all, and sometimes it took quite a while.

Today, I’m big and all grown-up
With two children of my own, a dog and a pup.
Ma’s stories now, it’s my turn to tell
To my children, whom she’d have loved so well.

Stories like the one about honey and old Henry the bee.
Oh, I can just hear her laughing with me.
At night when I tuck my children safely into bed,
The greatest of all her stories pops into my head.

Her favorite was of Jesus of Galilee
Who said, “Let the little children come unto me
With folded hands, bowed heads on bended knee,
we’d pray, “Jesus Tender Shepherd Hear Me.”

Each night with my children I share,
The love of my grandmother, by praying this prayer.
May my children and grandchildren repeat this phrase,
Praising our Savior, Jesus, all of their days.

Jesus Tender Shepherd Hear Me.
And, bless this little Lamb tonight
Through the darkness be thou near me,
keep me safe until morning’s light.”

Amen.

Pat Turgeon
Copyright 2000