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Aprons and Overalls

By Staff | Apr 10, 2009

Janine Robertson, of Manson, usually doubles the recipe for her Cheesy Vegetable Chowder, since leftovers can be frozen.

MANSON – When Mike and Janine Robertson moved to their acreage northeast of Manson a few years ago, the young couple looked for opportunities to develop a part-time business that would combine their love of agriculture, cooking and gardening. The result was Aprons and Overalls, which provides home-baked goods, locker pigs and other locally-grown foods for area consumers.

“We focus on back-to-the-basics food,” said Janine Robertson, 31, who grew up on a farm near Eagle Grove and works at NEW Cooperative in Palmer.

The pair discovered their common interests when they met at Living History Farms in Urbandale, where Janine was a scheduling coordinator and Mike worked at the 1900 Farm.

Their career path led them to Northwest Iowa, when Mike was hired as an agriculture instructor at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. Early on, the couple began transforming their acreage into a small-scale livestock operation, complete with chickens, hogs, miniature Hereford bulls and low-line Angus cattle. Janine also planted a garden and experimented with dishes made from fruits and vegetables grown on the property, including mulberry-rhubarb pie.

“Most of the time I don’t cook with recipes,” said Janine, who sells cheesecakes, candies, cookies, bars and other baked goods direct to the public and through a variety of local outlets, including Candles by Kathy in Manson.


“I improvise and make meals based on whatever food we have on hand and what sounds good.”

4-H cherry pie

Janine Robertson first made this flavorful pie when she was a member of the Troy Trojans 4-H Club in Wright County.

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca

1/8 teaspoon salt

Egg rolls.

1 cup sugar

6 to 8 drops red food coloring

2 cans drained sour cherries*

1/2 cup cherry juice

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Cherry pie.

Mix all ingredients together and let stand 15 minutes. Pour into an 8- or 9-inch pie shell. Seal with top crust and make air vents. Brush top crust with milk and top with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes. Pie is done when bubbles well through vents.

* For a larger pie, use three cans of cherries, leaving the rest of the ingredients unchanged.

Cheesy vegetable chowder

The Robertsons often make double-batches of this chowder and sometimes add ham, chicken or turkey to the recipe. Leftovers can be frozen.


Janine Robertson says her husband, Mike, is a great taste tester for the couple's food business, Aprons and Overalls, which they run from their farm home near Manson.

2 cups water

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 pound fresh broccoli,(about 2 1/2 cups) chopped

Cheese sauce:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

Salt to taste about 1 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

4 cups milk

1 pound processes cheese spread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes.

1 cup shredded mozzarella or Colby jack cheese

In a large saucepan, combine water, celery, carrots and onion. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add broccoli; cook until broccoli is tender/crisp, about 4 or 5 minutes. (To keep broccoli bright green, leave the cover slightly ajar.) Do not drain.

To make sauce, melt butter in large saucepan; blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in milk; cook until mixture thickens. Stir in the processed cheese and cook until melted.

Add shredded cheese. Combine cheese mixture with un-drained vegetables; stir. Makes about 12 servings.

Egg rolls

Janine Robertson says this recipe can be edited to fit individual tastes. She has often made the egg rolls with whatever she can find in the fridge, including green peppers, mushrooms, shrimp and chicken.

1 pound hamburger or sausage

1 1/2 teaspoons of 5 Spice Asian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon curry

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 cup stir fry sauce

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 cups cabbage, shredded

2 or 3 large carrots, shredded (about 2 cups)

1/2 large onion, shredded (about 1 cup)

1 can bamboo shoots, chopped

1 can water chestnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

20 egg roll wraps

Vegetable oil

Brown and drain meat. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Add 5 Spice Asian seasoning, curry and ginger. Stir fry sauce and hoisin sauce to meat, set aside.

In the same skillet that browned the meat, cook cabbage, carrots, onion, bamboo and water chestnuts. In small glass bowl, mix corn starch and soy sauce. Add to vegetables. Cook until onion and cabbage are transparent. Combine meat and vegetable mixtures, set aside.

In fryer or saucepan, heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees. Spoon about 1/4 cup of filling into each egg roll wrap, wet edges with wet finger and wrap. Fry until browned. Drain excess oil on paper towel – keep warm. Serve with sweet-n-sour sauce, hoisin sauce, or ketchup. Makes 20.

Chicken broccoli casserole

3 cups broccoli

2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup soft bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Bring broccoli to a boil in 1 inch of water, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain. Place in a greased 8-by-12-by-2-inch baking dish; set aside. Combine chicken, soup, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and curry powder; spoon over broccoli. Top with bread cubes and butter. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serves 6.


Dash of salt

1/4 cup melted oleo or butter

1 cup dairy sour cream

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together sugar, salt and butter. Add sour cream and mix well. Stir together dry ingredients.

Add vanilla to buttermilk. Add buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately into creamed mixture. Stir thoroughly and chill several hours. Roll teaspoonfuls on floured cloth and shape on cookie sheets.

Bake 7 to 8 minutes at 375-400 degrees.

Serve with butter.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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