Tag Archives: farming

Recipe: Snow Pile Misery and Mischief and Caramel Apple Cinnamon Bun Coffeecake

snow covered lane

Yes, the snow has finally began to fall here in Minnesota.  The flakes this morning are particularly large and lovely and are just now starting to accumulate making the yard look like it has been dusted with powdered sugar.

Since breaking my back, snow on the ground and the slipperiness it brings means that I am indoors for much of the duration of winter.  I have always hated being indoors. Still, those first few beautiful delicate white flakes initiate a sense of childlike joyful excitement, create a rush of memories and a need to preheat the oven.

Maybe it was because I was a lot shorter or that farmsteads were so isolated, but it seems to me that the snow storms during the 1960’s, when I was growing up on our farm, were monsters compared to any in recent memory.  Of course, no matter how severe the whiteout conditions or how buried we were in ten foot high snowdrifts, nothing ever compared to the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940.  And….it didn’t.

Snow on the farm was always much more fun for children than it was for adults.  In those days, there were no cozy defrosted and heated cabs on tractors.  Snow removal was a freeze your face, hands and feet operation for our farm’s menfolk.  It was their  mission to remove the tons of snow that isolated us from contact with fellow human beings or an excess of family bonding.  Either way the situation that required immediate action.  Most importantly prevented our cow’s milk from being delivered to the creamery in town.


The long tree-lined picturesque lane of spring, summer and fall became their nemesis. For it morphed into a glacial blue chasm that needed to be constantly defended against an onslaught organized by the wind and rolling sea of snow drifts  to erase everything of color.  Eventually they devour even the sliver-laden wood snow fences whose red stripes inevitably disappeared completely from view.

Our old green John Deere tractor and its front loader, which was purchased right after World War II, was well-trained in the task of removing nuisance solids.  Whether it was cow manure or snow, that tractor always seemed to have its wheels spinning in something slippery whenever it worked on destroying or making piles.


There are many types of piles on a farm.  Some are more fun than others. Stinky or painful ones should be always avoided.  However, ones of grain or snow are great fun.  All of the snow removed from the lane and farm yard would create mountainous piles of snow for sledding, belly surfing, and fort building and defending.

A day of playing on a snow pile often ended with piles of wet woolen mittens; socks; hats; snow pants; and old plastic bread bags, forced into emergency service as boot liners, hanging on the wooden clothes drying rack.  In the heavily cinnamon-scented dining room around a great round oak table, warm delicious baked treats, made especially for weary snow pile builders and players, disappeared as quickly as the visibility outside of the old farm house’s leaded glass windows in a snow-laden gust of wind.

apple coffeecake

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Bun Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Lightly grease an 8 X 8 X 2 inch cake pan

2 cans of cinnamon rolls
4 large apples, peeled and finely diced(Tart apples are best my favorite is Haralson)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup caramel sauce

In a large bowl mix together apples, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Coat evenly.

Open cinnamon roll containers and separate the rolls. Cut each roll into 1/4 in slices.  On a floured counter, roll out slices until thin.  If rolls are too sticky to roll out…coat with a little flour and proceed.

In the bottom of the prepared baking dish arrange the first layer of thinly rolled cinnamon bun dough.  Be sure to cover the entire bottom of pan and up the sides.
Seal all of the edges by pressing them together with your fingers.

Spread half of the apple mixture over the first layer of dough.  Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of caramel sauce on top of the apples.

Cover with another layer of flattened cinnamon roll dough.

Spread remaining apples on top of dough and drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.

Cover with remaining flattened cinnamon roll dough.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Cool for at least a half and hour.  Before serving,  drizzle with the icing that came with the cinnamon bun dough.

Slice and serve.






What Is On My Mind Today? Genius Is As Genius Does….Gopher Hunting!


Gopher population control can be a real issue for gardeners and farmers. Those little buggers can become annoying pests really quickly.  To limit the amount of damage these rodents could inflict, we would hunt gophers.

I usually gopher hunted with my Grandpa George who was in his eighties. I was not yet six years old.  Grandpa and my method of gopher extermination was to flood their holes with water and try to hit them with a shovel when they emerged.  I got to hold the water hose and grandpa was the shovel guy.  Any gopher who was a good swimmer, had nothing to fear from our shovel.  We sure scared them though!

My cousins and brothers were much more successful getting gophers, as they used traps.

Even our dog was more successful at getting gophers and Grandpa and I.

This video is about some folks who use common household products coupled with oxygen and propane to blow up gopher holes.  I bet grandpa would have been against us trying this method of gopher hunting. Using oxygen and propane to blow up gopher tunnels doesn’t seem like something a Swedish Lutheran farmer would do.  Too noisy and showy. Honestly, it all seems a bit Baptist.

Enjoy the video. Don’t try this at home! And always remember:

Election 11




Recipes: First Day of School, Rotten Apples, Cabbage Rolls and Refrigerator Pickles


The first day of school is always exciting, even if the only thing you are looking forward to is getting back with your friends and recess. Yesterday was the first day of the new school year for many of Minnesota’s youngsters.  I really enjoyed checking out all of the Facebook posts of happy, and some not so happy faces, setting off to tackle another year of education dressed in new duds, and toting backpacks that in some cases looked almost as big as the child.

I will never forget one of my preschool students, a very petite three-year-old girl who marched into each class session with a look of determination and a backpack that absolutely dwarfed her. I never knew what she kept in that backpack, but she always had room left inside to cram her papers in to bring home.  Honestly, when that child unzipped that enormous backpack and begin pushing her crunched up papers in, over half of little girl disappeared.  I felt obliged to stand ready to fish her out of that thing, should it gobble her up completely.

As far as I am concerned when school begins, summer ends.  Yes, autumn is here!  It is now time to clean out the house and garden, and begin cooking and baking at will. For the most part, the hot humid days of summer are over. Windows can again be flung wide open, unless you are allergic to rag weed then you have to wait until after the first frost for any window flinging. And, turning the oven on to bake is no longer torture. It takes the chill off of your home and produces wonderful aromas that dance throughout the house.

I was going to try a recipe for rum cake today, but as a teenager I promised my grandmother that I would not be a drinker of alcohol and a promise made, is a promise kept.  Therefore, the only distilled or fermented beverages in my home are used for cooking, and as luck would have it, I am out of rum.  I do have rum extract, but making a rum cake using that stuff, would be an insult to cakes everywhere.  Due to a lack of planning on my part, and my refusal to buy alcohol on a Sunday, there will have to be a rain check on the rum cake.  Disappointing I know, but we must soldier on all the same.

I do have two new recipes that will help use up some of those end of the growing season vegetables.

The first recipe is delicious and a boon for time management…Crockpot Cabbage Rolls. These cabbage rolls are prepared with a sweet and spicy tomato sauce.


Crockpot Cabbage Rolls

12 leaves of cabbage
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced onion
1 pound of extra lean ground beef
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Put the cabbage leaves into the boiling water for about two minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, egg, milk, onion, ground beef, salt and pepper. Place about 1/4 of a cup of the meat mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Tuck ends of leaf in and roll up, just like a burrito or egg roll.  Place rolls in the crockpot.

In a small bowl, mix together tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over cabbage rolls.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.


apple rotten

This second recipe is a bit of pure tasty nostalgia.

Fall on the farm meant cricket serenades, swimming in huge piles of harvested corn and beans, apple wars with siblings, cousins and neighbor kids and pickles.

Apple fights were as much of fall tradition as a good snowball fight is in the winter. Throwing rotten and/or wormy apples at a worthy or whiny opponent was not done out of spite or to advance yuckiness.  It was not to create additional suffering for your target or laundry for your mother.  Nor was it to increase your thrill or justify the level punishment that would be meted out should you be caught. It was not to enjoy the sound of a good splat.  Not at all.  Rotten apple throwing was a matter of religious observance.

We were all Lutherans and wasting food in any form was highly frowned upon by those in authority and who were observant. Therefore, good tree apples had been long ago banned for use as weapons or ammunition in broad daylight. While good apples delivered a much smarter sting, sadly, we had to be content to use their softer rotten treemates to teach the unsuspecting how to, “take it like a man.”

With all of the flinging, fight, fun and frolic of fall, it is important to remember that it is also the time of year for pickles. I have always loved eating pickles.  My Great Uncle Ed would often hand me a very tart dill pickle and dare me to try it while loudly declaring, “That will grow hair on your chest!”  Eventually, it became clear to me that I needed to cut back on of my dill pickle consumption and focus on sweet pickles, as I began to have nightmares about displaying a hairy bosom in a prom dress.

This recipe for sweet pickles tastes just like the bread and butter pickles canned and shared at every family get-together by my grandmother and great aunts.  However, these are much easier to make and keep well for about two months in the refrigerator.  I hope you make and enjoy…..Sweet Spicy Refrigerator Pickles.


Sweet Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

6 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 cups onions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups of sugar
1-1/2 cups of cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, scant

Place sliced cucumbers and onions in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium-sized sauce pan combine and whisk together:  sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and cloves. Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until sugar has dissolved.

Pour boiling vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and onions.  As the mixture cools, press cucumbers under the vinegar mixture.  Cool.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before you serve.

Another pickle recipe on this blog:  Watermelon Pickles the Happy Pickle




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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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. 





What is On My Mind Today: Blind Chicken?


The strutting rooster

Why on earth would anyone give my 84-year-old farmer father who is still a dead shot a blind chicken?

It cannot find its food or water.

My father has never been able to stand watching an animal suffer or pass up an opportunity for target practice when a shooting is called for. So, he is on his way out to the hen house right now with his 22 rifle to shoot the doomed old biddy.  It will be one clean shot to the head and he won’t miss.

Moral of story:  Don’t give blind chickens away. They can only eat and drink because they have memorized where their food and water are placed.  Giving blind chickens away to a farmer in Swede Grove township, Minnesota is a capital offense….for the chicken, and unfortunately not for the dumb ass who gave the poor hen to my dad.