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Mrs. Iowa’s Ag Sec.—

By Staff | Mar 13, 2009

Urbandale is now home for the Northey family while Bill serves as Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture. Cindy enjoys cooking up family favorites for family and guests.

URBANDALE – Cindy Northey likes to cook. Growing up in Ames, Northey learned many cooking skills from her mother. “My sister liked to clean, and I liked to cook.” Funny, how they each had their preferences, cooking definitely seemed more fun to Northey then cleaning.

Today when she cooks, the recipes she uses bring back happy, family times.

“When looking through my recipe box, it was like a step back in time,” said Northey. “Whenever we had a family celebration, I brought the blueberry salad. It was pretty much decided when the menu was written. The brownies I often made were my mother’s and before that my grandmother’s.”

A good portion of the Northeys’ favorite recipes were those she received at her bridal showers. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law have given her many good recipes.

Cindy met Bill on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Bill graduated from Iowa State University and Cindy from the Univesity of Iowa with a nursing degree. She was home on a college break when she and Bill first met.

This blueberry dessert has been the request at family gatherings for Cindy Northey to bring for as along as she can remember.

Recently, Northey and her three daughters learned the secrets to making good lefse and kringla. These Scandinavian treats are part of their heritage, but Northey remembers how the kringla helped her deal with morning sickness during her pregnancies.

And is now a remedy for her oldest daughter Jessica, who is married to Thomas Meirotto, living and working in Ames. The Northeys are looking forward to the arrival of their first grandchild in June.

Emily has graduated from ISU with a hotel, restaurant and institutional management degree, is engaged and living in Ames. Katie is currently doing a mission internship in Ecuador and will graduate from Liberty University in December 2009.

Cindy Northey works at ChildServe in Johnston in the transitional care unit as a pediatric nurse.

Everyone wants to know, does Bill cook? Well, no, in fairness to him, he is just too busy, she said.

The tantalizing arome of the crock pot roast dinner at one time filled the Northey home in Spirit Lake, but now in Urbandale, Cindy Northey relies on family favorites to satisfy their appetites.

“But when the girls were young, he would make the best hash browns. He would put the potatoes in the food processor, fry them up and add the toppings that the girls requested. That makes for a favorite memory of all our daughters.

“Iowa’s farm wives are the best cooks in the world,” Cindy Northey said. “We get to attend many farm events, potlucks and the home-cooked food is always so good. I find some really good recipes in Farm News. There are a lot of good cooks in Iowa.”

Crock pot roast

1 tablespoon oil

3 pounds beef pot roast

1 bag baby carrots

5-6 medium potatoes, cubed or 1-inch slices

1 envelope onion soup mix or 1 can cream of mushroom soup, or both.

1/2 cup water

Brown roast in oil in skillet. Put carrots and potatoes in crockpot and top with roast. Mix dry soup mix with water or use can soup and add on top.

Cook covered on low 10-12 hours. Serves 8.

Blueberry salad

2 small packages raspberry Jell-o ( you can use sugar free)

1 can blueberry pie filling

1 8-ounce carton Cool Whip

6 ounces cream cheese (you can use fat free or Neuchatel)

2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Dissolve 1 package Jell-o in 1 cup boiling water. Stir in blueberry pie filling. Pour into 9-by-13-inch pan. Put in refrigerator. Dissolve 1 package Jell-o in boiling water and cool. Add powdered sugar to cream cheese and whip well, stir in softened cool whip.

Blend into cooled Jell-o and pour over blueberry layer and chill.


1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond

3 1/2 cups flour

Mix sugar, butter and unbeaten egg. Add soda and buttermilk and mix. Mix in salt, baking powder, vanilla and almond. Mix in 1 1/2 cups flour. Add another 1 cup flour and mix. Add another 1 cup flour and mix. Should be stiff dough. If not add up to 1/2 cup flour and mix.

Cover with waxed paper. Refrigerate overnight. Use 1 teaspoon rounded dough for each cookie. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Shape into figure 8. Bake at 450 degrees for 6 minutes.

Contact Renae Vander Schaaf by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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