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Paul and Becky Nowachek are standing in their garden with sons Sam, on the left, and Emmett, on the right, holding tomatoes from the family garden. Everyone loves to be in the garden.

“Living in the country, enjoying fresh garden produce is something I really enjoy!” Becky Nowachek says enthusiastically.

Becky and her husband, Paul, live in rural Maquoketa. They have two sons, Emmett and Sam. Emmett is a first-grader and Sam attends preschool.

Becky works for the Iowa Department of Public Health. Paul works for AY McDonald.

“I really enjoy living in the country. My dad loves to garden and has a beautiful garden. Both my mom and dad garden and can their produce. I always helped snap peas when I was growing up. I have always been used to eating fresh garden produce,” Becky says with a smile.

Paul likes to garden and watch how his seedlings grow. The boys like helping in the garden. They wanted watermelon this year, so Paul grew that in his garden. He also has a lot of tomatoes because he like making his own salsa, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce. Paul likes using his own ideas and adds spices to his recipe. 

“I like following the recipe, but Paul likes to make his own recipe,” Becky says.

Other vegetables in the Nowachek’s garden are onions, egg plants, potatoes and three kinds of peppers. Paul also has an herb garden.

“I always watched my parents can as I was growing up. Now I use their canner when I’m ready to can my produce. Paul likes to freeze his spaghetti sauce,” Becky says.

Her parents like to make homemade jams and jellies. They make a variety of jams and jellies using rhubarb and adding different fruits to the rhubarb. 

“My mom, grandma and sisters like to make cookies and candy for the holidays. When it gets closer to Christmas, we will make candy and bake for an entire day,” Becky says.

She enjoys making cut-out sugar cookies and decorating them with the boys. They have made Halloween treats for the staff at school and for Emmett’s birthday treats.

“All but one year I have made Emmett and Sam’s birthday cakes. I get my ideas from Pinterest,” Becky says.

“I have learned a lot about gardening, canning, baking and cooking from my parents. Just by having family gatherings and picnics, you are always around good, tasting foods! Enjoy the time with family and friends!” Becky advises.

Buffalo Cauliflower

for Air Fryer

Cauliflower

¼ c.bread crumbs

Garlic powder

Black pepper

Salt

Olive oil

Hot sauce

Put cauliflower in a resealable plastic bag, coat with a little olive oil. Mix dry ingredients and put in the bag. Coat cauliflower. Drizzle with your favorite hot sauce. Put in air fryer on 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

 

Roll-Ups

10 tortilla shells (soft shells)

8 oz. cream cheese

Garlic

8 oz. sour cream 

Cheddar cheese

Chopped chiles

Mix cheese, garlic and chiles. Spread over shell. Roll, refrigerate until set. Then cut. May be served with salsa or plain.

 

Curry Sauce with Meatballs

Meatballs:

¾ lb. ground pork

¼ lb. ground beef

Medium onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. salt

Pepper

1 egg

Milk (enough to moisten meat)

Mix well, let sit while bringing water to a boil. Form meatballs and place in boiling water. Boil until well done. Take meatballs out and use some of the meatball water to make the curry sauce.

Curry Sauce:

Water from meatballs

Curry powder (enough to make a mustard-yellow color)

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a boil, add flour to thicken. Serve over rice. Serve with Danish Dream Cake.

 

Potato Soup

2 stalks celery

4 medium carrots

6 medium potatoes

1 small onion

2 c. water

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

4 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. butter

4 c. milk

8 slices bacon

Cook bacon until crispy. Set aside. 

To drippings, add potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, water, pepper and salt. Cook until tender, 15 minutes. Combine flour with a small amount of milk until dissolved. Add to potato mixture along with remaining milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Add butter and cook until melted. Garnish with bacon. Serves 4 to 6. 

 

Dad’s Breakfast Skillet

Don Naderman

6 eggs

½ lb. sausage, cooked

1 small onion, chopped

½ bell pepper, chopped

Mushrooms, optional

4 cooked potatoes or tator tots

3-4 slices American cheese

In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, brown sausage. Remove from pan and place on paper towel, remove most of the grease from the pan. Layer potatoes in bottom of skillet. Whisk together eggs, onion, peppers, mushrooms and sausage. Pour over potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Place cheese on top, put back in oven until cheese melts.

*Great way to use up left over baked or boiled potatoes.

 

Rhubarb Rumble

1 1/3 c. flour

1 1/3 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. melted lard (can use Crisco instead of lard)

1 c. oatmeal

1 1/3 tsp. cinnamon

5-6 c. diced rhubarb

1 1/3 c. sugar

2 2/3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/3 c. water

1 1/3 tsp. vanilla

Mix flour, brown sugar, lard, oatmeal and cinnamon together. Press half of mixture into 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover with rhubarb. In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir together, then add water and vanilla. Cook until mixture is thick and clear. Pour over rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. 

*Baking time may vary; topping needs to be browned. Serve with ice cream. All-time favorite!

 

Single Serving Apple Crisp

1-2 tsp. coconut oil

1 sliced apple

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

¼ c. oats, optional

Melt coconut oil in skillet. Add sliced apples and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook in skillet, add ¼ cup oats, then add peanut butter until melted. Taste like apple crisp.

 

Sugar Cookies

½ c. butter

½ c. oleo

¼ c. milk

1½ c. sugar

3¾ c. flour

2 eggs

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together. Chill. Roll out and cut. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Frost with favorite frosting when cooled.

 

Becky “Date Bars”

Filling:

½ c. sugar 

1 c. chopped dates

1 c. water

½ c. nuts, optional

Cook until thick.

½ c. butter 

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

¾ tsp. salt

 1 tsp. baking powder

1 c. oatmeal

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour salt and baking powder. Add oatmeal, mix until crumbly. Place ½ mixture in a 9-inch pan. Spread on date mixture and top with remaining crumb mixture.

*This is Grandma Nancy’s recipe. You can double the recipe and put in a 9x13-inch pan.

 

Carmelitas

¾ c. butter, melted

¾ c. light brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. whole-rolled old-fashioned oats (not instant/quick cook

1 c. (6 oz.) chocolate chips or chunks

Pinch salt, optional and to taste

35 caramel squares, unwrapped

½ c. heavy cream

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt, optional for caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for easier cleaning; set pan aside.

In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds. Add brown sugar, vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.

Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside. Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.

Combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth. Optionally stir in ½ teaspoon of salt, or to taste, for salted caramel sauce; set sauce aside.

After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate. Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate. Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.

Return pan to oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.

Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours, or overnight, at room temperature.

 

Spiced Cranberry Cider

4 c. cranberry juice cocktail

4 c. apple cider

½ c. lemon juice

2/3 c. light brown sugar

8 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

Combine in 4-quart stainless steel or enamel pan, not aluminum. Bring to a boil; turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

The recipe that follows is the recipe I use for the holidays. Here’s a few pointer Grandma gave me:

If you are going to use mashed potatoes, be sure they are very fine, almost the size of rice. I don’t usually use the potatoes. I use potato water instead.

The yeast water should be a temp that you cannot feel. Yeast is very picky about water temp.

For shortening, I use ½ Crisco and ½ butter to make 2/3 cup. Be sure the melted shortening is not hot when combining with other ingredients.

Bun or roll dough is not as stiff as bread dough, so don’t add too much flour.

Knead the dough just enough so that it sits in the palm of your hand and slowly starts to fall.

Brush butter on rolls when you remove them from the oven.

The dough will keep in the refrigerator for a week, cover loosely with Saran Wrap with a damp flour sack towel on top. 

Buns are done when bottoms are lightly brown.

 

Refrigerator Rolls

2 pkg. yeast

1 c. warm water

1 or 2 tsp. sugar

1 pt. of warm water

1 c. mashed potatoes

3 tsp. salt

¾ c. sugar

2/3 c. shortening, melted

2 eggs

10 c. flour, plus some

Soak yeast in 1 cup warm water with 1-2 teaspoons sugar. Grandma always added a sprinkle of ginger. The sugar and ginger help the yeast react. Mix 1 pint of water with mashed potatoes. I cook my potatoes in water, then let temperature come to room temperature. I use the potato water (1 pint and 1 cup). I don’t use potatoes. Combine all ingredients, adding enough flour to make soft dough. Cover with towel, let rise until double in size; punch down. Place in greased baking pan and cover, let rise again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

 

Cranberry

Christmas Cake

3 eggs

2 c. sugar

¾ c. butter, softened

1 tsp.vanilla

2 c. all-purpose flour

12 oz. fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step. This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.

Spread in a buttered 9 x 13 pan. (This pan is my favorite!)  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.) Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1” x 2”, so that they could be easily eaten at a party. Enjoy!