Hot!The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey

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blizzardstormus
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2016/05/11 14:26:48 (permalink)

The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey

   Since reluctantly closing my restaurant in December, 2013, I have been twiddling my thumbs between dialysis sessions. I finally decided to accomplish something constructive with my spare time and also give my 80 year old mother Charlene an incentive to release some of her hoarded recipe treasures. We decided to collaborate on a cookbook which would highlight some of our family favorite recipes. Because so many of my fellow Roadfooders have been a major influence with my culinary career, I was hoping to share our work in progress and elicit feedback. If this sounds interesting, I will post snippets of the book as I slowly type, hunt and peck style.
  
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    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 14:30:03 (permalink)
           The 2009 holiday issue of THE IOWAN featured on its cover a glorious photo of a meringue pie from The Farmer’s Kitchen located in Atlantic, Iowa. A six-page article focused on the restaurant’s philosophy that “Good food is good medicine.” For over 10 years, The Farmer’s Kitchen strove to provide a dining experience which is rapidly disappearing from the American culinary landscape: an affordable meal prepared the way Grandma used to cook, utilizing local ingredients and produced with pride. I am proud to admit that I was the owner of The Farmer’s Kitchen. Along with my mother Charlene (who became de facto co-owner over the years) and with help of my father Kenny and my brothers Nathan and Arden, we operated a restaurant dedicated to serving HOMEMADE not HOMESTYLE meals.           
       This cookbook is not just a book of recipes but, is also one family’s journey through the American culinary landscape over the last 60 or more years. The recipes are not haute cuisine; they reflect a Midwest farm family’s gathering at the dinner table not only for sustenance, but also for times of celebration and also times of sorrow.                 
    #2
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 14:32:10 (permalink)
    PIES
        Pie is the choice of dessert in the Midwest. No matter how mundane a meal may be, if it ends with a delicious slice of pie, then the repast is considered to be wonderful. At the Farmer’s Kitchen, pie was raised to an art form which brought national attention and recognition to the restaurant.
      The person solely responsible for our success with pie was my mother, Charlene. When I opened the restaurant, I had little experience in dessert making. My style of cooking was rather a free-wheeling cooking style. Pie making requires a dedication to precision which I quite frankly lacked. Mom graciously agreed to demonstrate how to make a few types of pie for our opening. Ten years later, she was making at least 10 pies a day and had earned the moniker PIE LADY of Atlantic.
       Pie aficionados will travel the length of the country for that one exceptional slice of pie. After Roadfood contributor Amy Briesch reviewed the restaurant, we started to meet new customers with strange monikers such as Buffetbuster, Wandering Jew, Traveling Man, and so on. Ultimately, Jane and Michael Stern of ROADFOOD fame arrived at the restaurant. Because of that meal, Mom’s sour cream raisin pie was listed in their book 500 THINGS TO EAT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE (and now it IS too late), NPR’s SPLENDID TABLE featured the restaurant as a must-go-to eatery and GOURMET ranked the Farmer’s Kitchen as one of America’s premier pie joints.
       Our customers became enamored of our pies. One customer who adored the sour cream raisin pie would look in the pie case and would abruptly leave if there was no slice of sour cream raisin. Another time, a man returned from a relative’s funeral and enthusiastically exhorted that “THE LAST THING SHE ATE WAS YOUR PIE!” When Mom and I went to her first Iowa Hawkeye football game, we brought a peanut butter chocolate pie to Eddie Podolak, a local football legend, now radio commentator for the Hawkeyes. After showing us around the facilities, Eddie shared his pie to his associates, including the replay guy. During the fourth quarter, a controversial play was made in Iowa’s favor by the replay booth. Now, I am fairly CERTAIN that our pie had nothing to do with his decision. By the way, Iowa won!
        Holidays became notorious for large pie orders, at times 5 pies for one family. Mom routinely assembled 50 or more pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. During Ragbrai’s (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), 5000 bicyclists infested the community. Mom baked 130 pies! My contribution… I peeled the apples for the apple pies. I did at least have the use of an apple peeler.
     
    #3
    Michael Stern
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 14:41:22 (permalink)
    More, more! I am loving this!!
     
    #4
    wanderingjew
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 14:54:47 (permalink)
    Michael Stern
    More, more! I am loving this!!
     




    ditto!
    #5
    Greymo
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 15:03:03 (permalink)
    This is so terrific.  I cannot wait to buy the book when it is published!
    #6
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 15:03:40 (permalink)
       Well, if you insist!
     
    SOUR CREAM RAISIN PIE
     
       This is the pie which began it all and it was a fluke that Mom even baked the first one. When I was beginning the process of developing the idea of opening a restaurant, Dad insisted that we needed to feature a sour cream raisin pie. He mentioned that another local restaurant baked one a week and it sold out within an hour after coming out of the oven. I had never heard of such a pie but I was willing to locate a recipe just to satisfy my father. After all, he was volunteering his time to help remodel whatever building we bought. A pie seemed to be a small price to pay…
        But, a few obstacles threw themselves in front of my attempt to make this pie. First, I needed a recipe.  None of the cookbooks in the local library contained the recipe and the ones on the Internet did not match Dad’s description. Finally, I located a suitable recipe in a book featuring recipes from the Norske Nook restaurant, a Wisconsin restaurant featuring Scandinavian fare and…pies.  
        Second, I needed to taste a slice of Sour Cream Raisin pie before I could justify making one. I finally was able to imbibe in a piece of sour cream pie when Dad and I attended a local Lenten fish dinner. On the dessert table, I spotted a plate of pie which fit the description Dad had given me. So, of course, I had to try it. Not bad.
        Okay, now I needed someone to make the pie. Well, that was easy, Mom, of course. That became the third hurdle! Mom vehemently hates Raisins! But, she finally acquiesced to my entreaties (or perhaps she became tired of my ranting and railing) and reluctantly gathered together the necessary ingredients and managed to produce a pie which Jane and Michael Stern described in the book 500 THINGS TO EAT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE as “the buffest pie we’ve ever slid a fork into… The meringue is twice as tall as the filling, but the filling is so creamy-thick and packed with raisins that all the meringue simply melts into a halo around it.”
       Over the years, Mom was the principal pie maker but every once in a while I was pressed into making the pies. My first attempt at sour cream raisin pie turned into a disaster. A customer ordered a whole pie for her office and, although Mom was not available that day, I confidently stated that I could comply with her request. I diligently followed the instructions (which I had originally typed up) and proudly delivered the pie later that day. As I was patting myself on the back for a job well done, I received a phone call, “Mark the pie is like concrete!” I had read the recipe incorrectly and had used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon for the flour!
       Several years after we became known for our Sour Cream Raisin pie, we received a letter from an elderly lady living in Florida. She had heard from a relative about our pie and remembered her mother making it when she was a child. Could she have the recipe? “I promise not to share it with anyone else!” Who could resist such a request!
     
     
    INGREDIENTS
    2 cups sour cream
    4 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
    1 cup sugar
    4 heaping teaspoons flour
    1 ½ cups raisins
    1 baked 10-inch pie crust
    1 prepared recipe for meringue
     
    • Stir the sour cream and egg yolks with a rubber spatula in a saucepan.
    • Add the sugar, flour, and raisins. Stir together.
    • Cook and stir over medium heat until raisins are plump and the mixture is glossy.
    • Pour into the pie crust. Top with the meringue.
    • Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven until peaks are golden brown.
    • Cool and slice.
     
     
    Note: Several people have commented that the recipe does not call for soaking the raisins first. The cooking process plumps them quite nicely.
    post edited by blizzardstormus - 2016/05/11 17:59:07
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    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 15:42:26 (permalink)
    MERINGUE
     
       In my humble opinion, meringue pies are the ultimate pie. In my 30 years of cooking, I have not experienced a mass-produced meringue pie. I have been exposed to a plethora of pies crowned with whipped topping. Meringues are just too fragile to freeze or ship properly. Commercial meringue powder is available but does not come close to a real meringue.
       It takes a true baking artist to produce a great meringue and my mother is one of the most gifted. After spending 10 years of observing Mom make flawless meringues after flawless meringues, I can muddle through an acceptable meringue. It may not be as airy or as peaky as my Mom’s but it will do in a pinch. Or so I thought.
       Mom was unfortunately in the hospital for an extended stay. While she was terrorizing the staff (a retired nurse does NOT make a good patient), I reluctantly gave in to our customers’ pleas for a sour cream raisin pie. While I was preparing the soup of the day, boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes and other necessary prep jobs, I finished my second meringue pie of my career. As I carefully carried the pie from the oven to the counter, I beamed with justifiable pride for my glorious meringue. HA! Mom was no longer the only great pie maker in the family!
       I set the pie down next to the container of sugar which I had used to make my awesome meringue. But, wait! The container’s label read SALT. Oh, crap!
     
    INGREDIENTS
     
    4 to 8 egg whites
    ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
    4 to 5 tablespoons sugar
     
    • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed in mixer until frothy.
    • Add sugar slowly until peaks form.
    • Using a rubber spatula, spread the meringue over warm pie filling.
    • Carefully seal the meringue over the pie’s edge.
    • Swirl the top of the meringue with the spatula to create peaks.
    • Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven until the peaks are golden brown.
     
    Note: It does not matter how many egg whites you use; always use ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar.
       All of your equipment MUST be oil-free. Any residue will ruin the meringue.
    post edited by blizzardstormus - 2016/05/11 15:44:06
    #8
    Ralph Melton
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 15:54:36 (permalink)
    I'm enjoying reading this.
     
    I've made your sour cream raisin pie recipe several times, and it's turned out well each time.
    #9
    lleechef
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 16:41:45 (permalink)
    This is AWESOME!!!!  I have never eaten or made sour cream raisin pie, simply because I do not like raisins. 
     
    I am thoroughly enjoying reading this.........more, more, more!
    #10
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 20:11:19 (permalink)
    Absolutely!
    #11
    buffetbuster
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/11 21:06:13 (permalink)
    What a fantastic idea! I don't even cook and want one of the cook books.
    #12
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 03:32:32 (permalink)
    Thanks for the encouragement! I will attempt to post one or two entries a day. I am finding this is actually very therapeutic.
    LEMON MERINGUE PIE
     
       During my idyllic childhood, I do not remember Mom baking many pies. Usually our dessert consisted of homemade cookies or cake and, sometimes, during the summer, homemade hand-cranked ice cream. One of the pies I do remember Mom making was Lemon Meringue. The pie was inexpensive with easily found ingredients.
       A few months after opening the restaurant, I wanted to expand our pie repertoire. I fondly recalled the delicious tartness of Lemon Meringue so I humbly implored Mother to recreate my childhood memory. Unfortunately, Mom had misplaced her recipe which had been bequeathed to her by her mother. Undaunted, I located several recipes; but, none passed Mom’s strict standards. After her first taste of each pie, Mom would first exclaim “This is NOT your grandmother’s pie!”, followed by her exasperatedly declaring “Your Aunt Jean has the recipe.”
       After several months of constant repetition of this scenario, I finally convinced my somewhat obstinate mother to place the call to her sister. After a cordial conversation between the two rather elderly siblings, Mom got up the gumption to inquire about the recipe. Aunt Jean matter-of-factly declared “Why, Charlene, the recipe is on the Argo™ Cornstarch box!”
       And, the rest is history. Of course, Mom had to tweak the recipe to satisfy her taste buds, but, from then on, Lemon Meringue Pie became a staple of our growing repertoire of pies. A few years later, I scored major brownie points with my beloved aunt by sending her to Orlando accompanying Mom on her second trip to the American Pie Championship. Years later, Aunt Jean’s health is failing, yet she still fondly recalls the trip so graciously provided by her favorite nephew.
     
    INGREDIENTS
     
    2¾ cups water
    ½ cup cornstarch
    2 cups sugar
    6 egg yolks, slightly beaten
     Zest from 2 lemons
    2/3 cup lemon juice
    1 heaping tablespoon butter
    1 baked 10-inch pie crust
    1 prepared recipe for meringue
     
    • Combine the water, cornstarch, sugar and egg yolks in a saucepan.
    • Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
    • Simmer for several minutes.
    • Add the zest, lemon juice and butter into the mixture and blend.
    • Pour into the pie crust. Top with the meringue.
    • Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven until peaks are golden brown.
    • Cool and slice.
    #13
    WarToad
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 08:18:41 (permalink)
    Can I pre-order?
    #14
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 12:08:29 (permalink)
    TRAVELING WITH DAD
       My father Kenny was the epitome of the American farmer. His life revolved around agriculture even after he was forced to give up farming when he was diagnosed at Mayo Clinic with poisoning attributed to farm chemicals. The stubborn old Swede that he was, he lived 50 more years although the doctors had given him only one year to live.
       When I was three years old, my parents decided to move away from all the relatives in Creighton, NE and attempt to farm in northeast Iowa. Thus began our yearly pilgrimage back to visit our kinfolk in Nebraska.
       Dad had a set routine for every trip. After bundling the family into the station wagon at 4 AM, he set off down country roads westward to Creighton. My father abhorred interstates; he wanted to see the developing crops as closely as possible. My brother Arden and I bedded down in the back of the station wagon, Mom held the baby and Elizabeth occupied the middle seat. She was joined in the ensuing years as first Nathan and then Sara became too big for Mom’s lap.
       As the sun started to rise, Dad would locate the nearest grocery store to procure breakfast for his family. He would always purchase the same items: a pack of 6 to 8 sweet rolls smothered in sugar icing and a package of bologna. Mom would separate each roll, top it with a slice of bologna and divvy out the glorious concoction to her “starving” offspring. TOTAL NIRVANA!
       Our return trip had its culinary tradition. During the 1960s, Stuckey’s was ubi- quitous on America’s highways. It was imperative that Dad stop at least at one in order to purchase their famous pecan logs. TOTAL BLISS!
     
       Over the years, Dad and I drifted apart, our situation mirroring Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” We were able to reconnect when I attended several chili cook-offs in one year and Dad, recently retired, was able to join me for several of the events. My salsa qualified for the World Championship and Dad consented to accompany me on a road trip to Las Vegas. As we were traveling through the deserts of the West, Dad exclaimed, “They need to irrigate.” A true farmer!
     
    DAD’S TRAVELING BREAKFAST
     
    1 package prepared sweet rolls with sugar frosting
    1 package bologna
     
    • Place a slice of bologna on each sweet roll
    • Devour this guilty pleasure!
    #15
    mar52
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 12:57:43 (permalink)
    This is wonderful!  Besides the great recipes (I've never made or eaten a raisin pie of any sort)
     
    Your commentary is wonderful.  I can't wait to read more.
     
    Let us know if it does go to print.  I think you'll be selling a few here!
    #16
    pnwchef
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 13:26:41 (permalink)
    Great idea! It was thinking back about how good of a cook my Mom was that always gave me incentive to serving quality food in my business. 
    #17
    buffetbuster
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 13:31:03 (permalink)
    blizzardstormus
    MERINGUE
     
       In my humble opinion, meringue pies are the ultimate pie. In my 30 years of cooking, I have not experienced a mass-produced meringue pie.
    I could not agree more.  Meringue pies have always been my favorite. 
     
     
    And Charlene's sour cream raisin pie is not only the best version of it I have ever had, but it is on the short list of best any kind of pie.  It really is something special. 


    #18
    TnTinCT
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 14:43:40 (permalink)
    This will be on my "must buy" list when it's ready -please let us know!! Really great stuff.
    #19
    1bbqboy
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 22:27:43 (permalink)
    Ed Podalak is still beloved in KC too
    Sorry about your renal problems. I'm familiar with the drill.
    #20
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/12 23:09:42 (permalink)
    Eddie's parents were very good customers of the restaurant. The first time Eddie came in, Mom rushed into the kitchen and excitedly exclaimed "There's a man with a Super Bowl ring!" . Eddie and his family became not only loyal customers but good friends; He will pop up again in a future segment.
    #21
    Ralph Melton
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/13 10:50:15 (permalink)
    This seems like it will be a cookbook for reading as much as cooking from. I am very much in favor of that.
    #22
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/14 15:40:37 (permalink)
    KENNY’S BREAD PUDDING
       One of my father’s favorite comfort food was bread pudding. This seemingly pedestrian concoction is easily prepared even by a culinary novice and the inexpensive ingredients are staples in most kitchens.
       During the first part of their marriage, Mom and Dad played traditional gender roles: Dad running the farm and Mom in charge of the household and supervising the growing horde of rambunctious offspring. Of course, farm work sometimes compelled Mom to assist her husband with chores, especially at harvest time, but for the most part, each had their own individual labors. This state of affairs abruptly altered after Dad’s departure to Mayo Clinic and Mom took over the operation of the farm. After my father was given the Hobson’s choice of dying or leaving farming, the family relocated to a residence in town. Mom returned to school, graduated with a nursing degree and started in her professional career at a local doctor’s office.
       Soon after moving to southwest Iowa to the small town of Walnut, Mom began working the night shift at a local hospital. We children were either in college or old enough to entertain ourselves. Left on his own in the evening, Dad found himself with too much time on his hands. He began occupying his free time by producing prodigious quantities of his favorite childhood foods. And of course, bread pudding was at the forefront of his gastronomic endeavors.
       For a week at a time, Dad would mix up a batch of bread pudding. Each pan was distinctly different from the next; it all depended on what was available. Raisins, apple slices, chocolate chips; whatever was available and piqued Dad’s taste buds. Although Mom did not care for bread pudding because she considered the dessert too sweet, she did not object to Dad’s endeavor. After all, there were a lot worse things that could occupy Dad’s time.
       When I began developing the Farmer’s Kitchen menu, I wanted to include a few exceptional family food favorites. I felt that Dad’s rendition of bread pudding fit the bill nicely. But, as usual, translating a cherished family gastronomic delight into an easily reproducible commercial recipe was not easily accomplished. Dad’s “throw in whatever strikes your fancy” laid back approach to cooking, while producing unique meals, did not fit well into a restaurant’s need for product consistency. After several frustrating sessions, we finally were able to produce a recipe which satisfied my father.
       Even though raisins are pervasive in many bread puddings, ours did not include this morsel. Mom absolutely refused to add “rabbit turds” to one more dessert. Sour cream raisin pie was already pushing her limit! Over the years, the delectable custardy concoction became a hit with our customers, especially our more elderly clientele. But, a few of our customers pined for the little wrinkled dried fruit. One of our frequent customers consistently and loudly complained about the lack of raisins. Mother finally decided to deal with our obstinate client. When the gentleman arrived with a party of friends, she presented him with a portion of bread pudding “on the house” and then proceeded to push several raisins into the dessert!
     
    INGREDIENTS
     
    12 slices white bread, cubed
    10 eggs
    1¼ cup sugar
    4 cups milk
    4 cups half & half
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
     
    • Spread the bread cubes in a greased 9” by 13” baking pan.
    • Blend the rest of the ingredients together and spread over the bread cubes.
    • Bake in a 350° oven 45 minutes or until the custard on the bottom is set. Insert a knife into the dessert. A clear liquid indicates that the custard is done.
    • Cool and slice into squares. Serve with cream or whipped cream.
     
    Note: If a denser bread pudding is desired, increase the amount of bread cubes.
    #23
    ann peeples
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/14 15:57:42 (permalink)
    I am so enjoying this!!
    #24
    blizzardstormus
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/14 22:04:43 (permalink)
    I am not writing in any particular, just however the muse hits me.
    INTERNATIONAL CUISINE
        Mom and Dad grew up on farms near Creighton, NE. Farming provided access to fresh food unavailable to urban folk during the Depression and World War II. The respective families might be cash poor but food was always available in abundance. However, the traditional cuisine of both Mom and Dad’s kinfolk leaned heavily towards a meat-and-potatoes diet. Grandma Johnson might prefer boiled potatoes accompanying her Sunday chicken while Grandma Rohwer prepared mashed potatoes with her pot roast; but, this was just a difference of degree. Preparing foreign dishes was considered, well, just “foreign.”
       Mom continued this state of affairs for years with her growing family. During the 60s, the most exotic foreign fare that she attempted was the spaghetti dinner which she prepared for her children’s birthdays. Even this meal was more American than true Italian. This state of affairs continued until the 70s when a number of events occurred which turned the Johnson family’s culinary world upside down.
       The first gastronomic upheaval occurred when Mom was invited to accompany Doctor Tam, who she worked for as his nurse, to Taiwan to open up an Advanced Life Support Clinic. Doctor Tam was continuing a tradition of paying back to his boyhood home. Mom and Dad were treated like royalty while in Taiwan. Towering over most of the population, they were driven around in one of the few air-conditioned limousines available in Taiwan and saluted by Taiwanese generals. More importantly for their ever-ravenous horde of children, they were exposed to REAL Chinese cuisine. After their return to Iowa, such exotic foodstuffs such as egg rolls, hot Chinese mustard and sweet & sour chicken began appearing on the family dinner table.
       The second culinary disruption occurred when I won a scholarship from the Des Moines Register to attend Lake Forest Academy, a private college prep school. Located north of Chicago in one of the area’s wealthiest towns, the institute exposed this naïve impressionable young man to experiences unavailable in rural Iowa. More importantly from a gastronomic perspective, I became enamored with bratwurst. At that time, brats did not have the wide appeal which they do today. Bratwurst were only widely available in areas with a large population of German descent. I visited such a region when I attended an archaeological dig near Oshkosh. Our teacher delighted us with bratwurst simmered in beer (actually, near beer). When I returned home for summer vacation, I related my experience to my parents. Intrigued, Dad located some bratwurst and bought a six-pack of beer.
       Dad was so besotted by the meal and the use of beer for cooking that he sought other recipes utilizing beer, such as beer-battered fish. Alcohol had never been in abundance in our home. Our parents kept beer for the harvesters during the fall while living on the farm but did not partake of it themselves.  The only time a large quantity of alcohol was present was for Mom’s graduation from nursing college. Being mature responsible young men, Arden (12 years old) and I (an elderly 15) liberated a bottle of whiskey and generously shared the contents with our friends. Unbeknownst to us, our bratty little sister Sara spied on us and told Mother that the boys drank the pop forbidden to the kids.
       Over the years, the family became more and more exposed to different cultures and cuisines. Elizabeth spent her senior year in Costa Rica where she became so immersed in the culture that she unthinkingly spoke Spanish to Mom on the ride back from Costa Rica. My parents and Elizabeth traveled to Peru at various times to visit my aunt and uncle who were missionaries previously residing in Liberia. Arden ventured to Russia to adopt a darling young baby. Although never traveling beyond the US border, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Russian and International Affairs, hoping to join the State Department (Wow! I really strayed from that career path)! Later on, after I began my culinary career, I was employed for a year as head cook at The Danish Inn, a restaurant specializing in Danish cuisine, which was located in the small Danish-American community of Elkhorn, IA.
       Sara, the aforementioned bratty little sister, is perhaps the family’s most accomplished world traveler. As a member of a missionary group based out of Los Angeles, Sara traveled throughout the continental US for a number of years. Eventually, she was given the opportunity to venture overseas. She journeyed to Rwanda, South Korea, Japan, China and Mongolia. Naturally, my sister couldn’t enjoy pleasant but uneventful trips. While traveling by train in China, soldiers began to traverse through the train seeking Christians. Several fellow Chinese passengers hid Sara until the danger was past. This should have given Sara an incentive to maintain a lower profile. Instead, she soon was administering aid and comfort to a group of Chinese protesters gathered at Tiananmen Square. A week after Sara administered to her fellow Christians, the tanks rolled.
       Of course, Sara couldn’t stay away from world events. The Rodney King riots occurred outside her LA apartment. Although she was one of the few white inhabitants in the area, she was protected by several gangs who had “adopted” her. She survived the ’94 LA earthquake but was subsequently evicted from her heavily damaged apartment building. I HATE my sister! (not really, but I truly envy her!)
     
     
    post edited by blizzardstormus - 2016/05/14 22:06:16
    #25
    mar52
    Porterhouse
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/14 22:35:07 (permalink)
    Cool look into your family life.  Very nice!
    #26
    blizzardstormus
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 319
    • Joined: 2004/08/01 20:09:00
    • Location: Atlanic, IA
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/15 20:20:17 (permalink)
    DINER OMELETS
        I began my culinary career out of sheer necessity. After graduating from college, I went through the arduous process of applying to the US State Department for a job. The initial step consisted of a written test which was administered to about 5000 hopeful applicants. The process was narrowed down to 1200 contenders who were invited to participate in groups of 6 in a day-long grueling face-to-face with 4 highly experienced Department officers. I passed the written exam but failed the oral part miserably. Although I was book smart, I seriously lacked management skills.
       Disheartened, I soon returned home to take up temporary residence with my parents. For some unbeknownst reason, my mother kept harping at me to “GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND FIND A JOB!” There were only 2 employment positions available in our tiny hamlet, farming and cocktail waiter. I knew what farming was like, long hours, hard work, low pay. I decided to take the second option and ended up with short hours, easy work, low pay.
       Every Friday and Saturday night, I served drinks at a local hotel to mostly elderly couples who shuffled around the dance floor to the tunes of local bands, all of which were poor imitations of Lawrence Welk. My grandparents enjoyed this type of music; after all, they had actually danced to Welk’s band when he toured Nebraska before he was a TV sensation. I became reluctantly acquainted with the melodic orchestration of Lawrence Welk on our sojourns to Nebraska. On Sunday nights at Grandma Johnson’s, we kids were forced to watch his music hour before we could watch Bonanza. Being the polite angelic children that we were, we acquiesced to Grandma’s request. Granted, our television options during those years were rather limited; ABC, CBS and NBC were our only choices and, after all, it WAS Grandma’s house.
       A few months of receiving quarter tips and listening to accordion music ad nauseum convinced me that this was not a suitable career path. Fortunately, the hotel contained a restaurant open 24 hours a day. A cooking position became available on the graveyard shift. I applied for the job and naturally was hired, perhaps, due to the fact that I was the only applicant. After a few nights of training, I began my culinary career by preparing delicious entrees for the occasional traveler off of I-80 and the slightly inebriated locals looking for a late night repast after the bars closed at 2 AM.
       One of the most frequent early morning requests was for Ham & Cheese Omelet. I don’t recall omelets being a staple for a Johnson breakfast. Usually, breakfast consisted of a bowl of cereal with as much sugar as we could sneak past Mom. Eggs were always scrambled or fried in bacon grease.
       Diner omelets are a special breed of omelet. Unlike the traditional French omelet cooked in a small sauté pan, Diner omelets are prepared on a flat griddle. Because of the crepe-like thickness, this type of omelet can be easily overcooked and become rubbery. Only a true master of the art can achieve the perfect Diner omelet and I (and later, Mom) modestly claim to have perfected the necessary skills. I later experienced the more traditional method of preparation when I visited a Waffle House near Atlanta. When I worked the Sunday brunch line at The Heidel House in Green Lake, WI, I learned how to prepare a classic omelet but I still prefer the more plebeian method.
       A griddle is the focal point of a diner kitchen. During breakfast, 90 per cent of all food is prepared on the griddle. Pancakes, eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, all came off the 4 to 6-foot griddle. During a breakfast rush, it became a major balancing act timing everything to be plated at the correct time. I usually set the left side of the griddle at 350° for hash browns, reserved the middle for pancakes and meat, and cooked eggs at a lower temperature on the right half. The food for a table of 4 which ordered hearty breakfasts would easily fill the entire griddle.   
     INSTRUCTIONS
    ½ tablespoon butter
    3 eggs
    2 slices American cheese
    ½ cup ham, diced
    Water
    • Beat eggs until frothy.
    • Melt the butter on a preheated 275° griddle.
    • Pour the eggs onto the butter. Carefully spread the eggs out to form a large circle.
    • Place the cheese slices in a line on the left side of the circle.
    • Top the cheese with the ham.
    • Cook the eggs until the top is mostly firm.
    • Using a spatula, fold the omelet like a burrito.
    • Cover the omelet with a domed pot lid. Squirt some water under the lid. Steam the omelet for a minute.
    • Remove the lid and flip the omelet over. Repeat the steaming process. 
    #27
    blizzardstormus
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 319
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    • Location: Atlanic, IA
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/15 20:51:09 (permalink)
    DINER OMELETS
      
       I began my culinary career out of sheer necessity. After graduating from college, I went through the arduous process of applying to the US State Department for a job. The initial step consisted of a written test which was administered to about 5000 hopeful applicants. The process was narrowed down to 1200 contenders who were invited to participate in groups of 6 in a day-long grueling face-to-face with 4 highly experienced Department officers. I passed the written exam but failed the oral part miserably. Although I was book smart, I seriously lacked management skills.
       Disheartened, I soon returned home to take up temporary residence with my parents. For some unbeknownst reason, my mother kept harping at me to “GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND FIND A JOB!” There were only 2 employment positions available in our tiny hamlet, farming and cocktail waiter. I knew what farming was like, long hours, hard work, low pay. I decided to take the second option and ended up with short hours, easy work, low pay.
       Every Friday and Saturday night, I served drinks at a local hotel to mostly elderly couples who shuffled around the dance floor to the tunes of local bands, all of which were poor imitations of Lawrence Welk. My grandparents enjoyed this type of music; after all, they had actually danced to Welk’s band when he toured Nebraska before he was a TV sensation. I became reluctantly acquainted with the melodic orchestration of Lawrence Welk on our sojourns to Nebraska. On Sunday nights at Grandma Johnson’s, we kids were forced to watch his music hour before we could watch Bonanza. Being the polite angelic children that we were, we acquiesced to Grandma’s request. Granted, our television options during those years were rather limited; ABC, CBS and NBC were our only choices and, after all, it WAS Grandma’s house.
       A few months of receiving quarter tips and listening to accordion music ad nauseum convinced me that this was not a suitable career path. Fortunately, the hotel contained a restaurant open 24 hours a day. A cooking position became available on the graveyard shift. I applied for the job and naturally was hired, perhaps, due to the fact that I was the only applicant. After a few nights of training, I began my culinary career by preparing delicious entrees for the occasional traveler off of I-80 and the slightly inebriated locals looking for a late night repast after the bars closed at 2 AM.
       One of the most frequent early morning requests was for Ham & Cheese Omelet. I don’t recall omelets being a staple for a Johnson breakfast. Usually, breakfast consisted of a bowl of cereal with as much sugar as we could sneak past Mom. Eggs were always scrambled or fried in bacon grease.
       Diner omelets are a special breed of omelet. Unlike the traditional French omelet cooked in a small sauté pan, Diner omelets are prepared on a flat griddle. Because of the crepe-like thickness, this type of omelet can be easily overcooked and become rubbery. Only a true master of the art can achieve the perfect Diner omelet and I (and later, Mom) modestly claim to have perfected the necessary skills. I later experienced the more traditional method of preparation when I visited a Waffle House near Atlanta. When I worked the Sunday brunch line at The Heidel House in Green Lake, WI, I learned how to prepare a classic omelet but I still prefer the more plebeian method.
       A griddle is the focal point of a diner kitchen. During breakfast, 90 per cent of all food is prepared on the griddle. Pancakes, eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, all came off the 4 to 6-foot griddle. During a breakfast rush, it became a major balancing act timing everything to be plated at the correct time. I usually set the left side of the griddle at 350° for hash browns, reserved the middle for pancakes and meat, and cooked eggs at a lower temperature on the right half. The food for a table of 4 which ordered hearty breakfasts would easily fill the entire griddle.   
     
    INSTRUCTIONS
     
    ½ tablespoon butter
    3 eggs
    2 slices American cheese
    ½ cup ham, diced
    Water
     
    • Beat eggs until frothy.
    • Melt the butter on a preheated 275° griddle.
    • Pour the eggs onto the butter. Carefully spread the eggs out to form a large circle.
    • Place the cheese slices in a line on the left side of the circle.
    • Top the cheese with the ham.
    • Cook the eggs until the top is mostly firm.
    • Using a spatula, fold the omelet like a burrito.
    • Cover the omelet with a domed pot lid. Squirt some water under the lid. Steam the omelet for a minute.
    • Remove the lid and flip the omelet over. Repeat the steaming process. 
    #28
    blizzardstormus
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 319
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/15 22:33:51 (permalink)
    Why aren't all my posts showing up?
    #29
    mar52
    Porterhouse
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    Re: The Farmer's Kitchen Cookbook: One Family's Culinary Journey 2016/05/15 22:48:44 (permalink)
    Which ones aren't here?
    #30
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