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Learned cooking by growing own food

By Staff | Nov 21, 2008

Farm News staff writerIDA GROVE – Betty Davison was raised by her grandmother in rural New Jersey. She now resides in this county seat town of Ida County.It was the rural upbringing that Davison credits for her knowledge of cooking and farm life.“If we didn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it,” said Davison. “I was exposed to a lot of that stuff. I had to milk cows, and we made our own cottage cheese and butter. I’ve always liked to cook.”Davison said she can’t remember a time in her life that she was not cooking.Through all of the years that she has been cooking, either as a child or for her own family, Davison said her favorite thing to make is homemade bread.“I like to make all kinds of homemade bread,” she said. “I like to include vegetables into the baked goods with ingredients out of our garden.”Davison is a big fan of cookbooks and will find most of the recipes she makes by reading them. She estimates she is the owner of several hundred cookbooks.When she is finished with a cookbook, she said she will always recycle them by donating them.Davison advises that preparation is key to when it comes to preparing meals or baking, and if you prepare enough, you can actually have the ingredients ready to go ahead of time.Many things can be prepared in advance, she said, adding, “Just read through the recipe and see what can be done ahead of time. You can always get your dry ingredients mixed together and store them until you’re ready.”Davison said she is always trying new stuff and although she has all of those cookbooks, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll follow that recipe to its entirety. “To help save money I come up with different ideas,” said Davison. “If the ingredient is too costly I’ll substitute” some ingredients.Just recently, for example, a recipe called for nuts and Davison realized the price of nuts has gone up so she substituted them for sunflower seeds that she already had on hand.One particular cookie that Davison has been more often lately is gingersnaps.The Davisons have a son that is serving in Iraq and likes the easy-to-ship sturdy cookie.Their son will be receiving a large batch of gingersnaps for Thanksgiving. While she was raising her family, Davison said it was always fun to bake because it would be gone right away, however, if it wasn’t she would wonder what was wrong with it.Now that their family is grown and moved out of the house, she has had to teach herself how to cutback and cook in smaller servings.“It was nice to bake for the family because it would get all gone,” said Davison. “Now I have to cook in smaller quantities and it took me some time to learn how to cut back.”Davison’s love for cooking and baking has not only benefited her family over the years, but she has reaped the benefits as well.For many years, Davison has entered her goodies in the open class at the Ida County Fair and has a large display case full of purple ribbons to show her talents.And now, as a payback, she volunteers to help out with that open class. Carrot pineapple cake (Awarded a purple ribbon at 2007 Ida County Fair)11/2 cups of flour1 cup of sugar1 teaspoon of soda1 teaspoon of baking powder1 teaspoon of cinnamon1/2 teaspoon of salt2/3 cup of salad oil2 eggs1/2 cup of crushed pineapple with syrup1 tablespoon vanillaSift dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix in other ingredients until moistened. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.Pack in greased and floured 9-by-9-by-2-inch pan at 350-degrees for 40 minutes, or bake in 2, 7-inch pans for 28-minutes.This cake can be frosted with a cream cheese frosting or Cool Whip.Oatmeal bread(Awarded a purple ribbon at the 2006 Ida County Fair)2 cups of boiling water1 cup of rolled oats2 tablespoons of butter1/3 cup of warm water2 packages of dry yeast2 1/2 teaspoons of salt1/2 cup of molasses5 6 cups of flourPour boiling water over rolled oats and butter. Let cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in water and let stand five minutes. Add yeast mixture to the oats and stir in salt and molasses.Gradually add flower to form a stiff dough. Knead for 7-10-minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn once and cover and let it double.Punch down dough and divide in half and place in two well-greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch pans. Cover and let rise until doubled.Bake at 350-degrees for 50 minutes.These loaves can be frozen.Venison seasoning mixDavison recommends this mixture for seasoning venison or any ground meat. Add 1 teaspoon of the mixture to 1 pound of ground venison or beef – or any type of ground meat. 3 tablespoons of ground cumin 3 tablespoons of dried oregano 1 tablespoon of garlic powder 1 tablespoon of paprika 2 teaspoons of salt 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper Mix and store in an airtight container.Dipped gingersnaps2 cups of sugar1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil2 eggs1/2 cup of molasses4 cups of all-purpose flour4 teaspoons of. baking soda3 teaspoons of ground ginger2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon1 teaspoon of saltAdditional sugar2 packages (10 to 12 ounces each) vanilla or white chips1/4 cup of shorteningIn a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs. Stir in molasses. Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.Shape into 3/4-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookie springs back when touched lightly.Remove to wire racks to cool. In a small saucepan, melt chips with shortening over low heat, stirring until smooth. Dip the cookies halfway into the melted chips; shake off excess. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets until set.Yields about 14 1/2 dozen.Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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