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Sweet successes

By Staff | May 15, 2009

Annette Wedemeyer, who raises home-grown chickens on her family’s acreage between Lake City and Lohrville, often serves escalloped chicken, along with cheesy corn casserole, a favorite of her husband, Alan.

LAKE CITY – Depending on where you meet her, Annette Wedemeyer is known by a number of different names. Customers at the Rockwell City farmers market have dubbed her the “Pie Lady,” while neighbors, grieving the loss of a loved one, who receive one of Wedemeyer’s home-cooked meals call her an angel.

For Wedemeyer, in this community in southwest Calhoun County, “stay-at-home mom” is the best title of all, since she can use her culinary skills to spend time with her two children while contributing to the family’s income.

“This has been a great experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” said Wedemeyer. She raises a flock of nearly 300 chickens, tends a garden that spans nearly an acre and a half, operates a community supported agriculture business, and sells baked goods and produce at the Rockwell City Farmers Market from June through October.

Her daughter, Rachel, 11, enjoys cooking with Wedemeyer and bakes brownies and chocolate chunk peanut butter cookies, which sell well at the market. “It’s fun,” said Rachel, who enjoys participating in the Pride of Iowa cooking demonstration each summer at the Calhoun County Expo.

Building on years of experience

This crescent sausage ‘n’ cheese bake is a Wedemeyer family favorite for breakfast.

Wedemeyer, who grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa between Adair and Casey, was helping prepare meals by age 10. Her mother taught her simple recipes for casseroles like tuna and noodles, while her grandmother shared her secrets for perfect pies and cakes. Wedemeyer, a member of the Way Out Walnuts 4-H Club, put this knowledge to good use and earned a blue ribbon at the Adair County Fair for her peach pie.

After marrying her husband, Alan, who currently works for Monsanto as a seed manager, the couple relocated to Calhoun County in 2003 after living in Illinois, eastern Iowa and Early, in Sac County.

The couple planted a fruit orchard on their acreage and established a garden filled with spinach, peas, sweet corn, potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, beets, radishes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelons, fennel and more. They also started a poultry flock, which includes many barred rock chickens.

Wedemeyer, who helps lead the Union 4-H Club in Lohrville, began selling fruit pies, tarts and fresh produce four years ago at the Rockwell City farmers market. In addition, the family provides hormone-free and antibiotic-free chickens and farm fresh eggs to local customers. To increase their customer base, the Wedemeyers also started a CSA that offers full and half shares.

“I like to support this local business, because the Wedemeyers provide high-quality food,” said Judy Panning, of Lake City, a loyal CSA customer. “I know how the food was raised and I trust it.”

Rachel Wedemeyer, 11, enjoys baking chocolate chunk peanut butter cookies, which she sells at the Rockwell City farmers market.

Chocolate chunk peanut butter cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby Rachel Wedemeyer, 11, and her brother David, 7, collect eggs from the family’s poultry flock, which will include nearly 300 birds this year.

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Annette Wedemeyer’s double-crust cherry pie is filled with our cups of juicy, tart red cherries.

1 3/4 cups (10-ounce package) milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and peanut butter together until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In small mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir flour mixture and chocolate chips into batter until well blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until light brown.

Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet onto wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Double-crust cherry pie

Crust:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup lard (shortening may be used instead)

6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

In a mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Cut in lard or shortening till pieces are the size of small peas. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and gently toss with a fork after each tablespoon of water is added. Continue until all is moistened and starts to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball of dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edges, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Fold pastry in half and then in half again; unfold pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry.

For top crust, roll remaining dough. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Fill pastry in pie plate with desired filling. Place top crust on filling. Trim crust a half inch beyond edge of plate.

Fold top crust under bottom crust; flute edge. Bake in a 375 degree oven.

Filling:

4 cups tart red cherries, pitted

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

Mix ingredients together in mixing bowl. Transfer to a pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate. Cut slits in top crust. Adjust top crust. Seal and flute edges. Spread about half a tablespoon of milk on the top crust, then sprinkle sugar on top. Cover edges with a pie crust protector or aluminum foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove foil or protector. Bake for 25 to 35 more minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit is tender. (Bake cherry pie for 50 to 60 minutes total).

Serves 8.

Escalloped chicken

(This recipe comes from the Casey Quasquicentennial cookbook.)

1 cooked chicken, cubed

1 pint of chicken broth

3 cups dry bread cubes or croutons

1/4 cup melted margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 cup of cream or half-and-half

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

6 tablespoons margarine, melted

Put cut-up chicken in greased casserole dish. Make gravy of margarine, flour and broth; set aside. Toss bread cubes, melted margarine, cream, onion, sage, salt and pepper together.

Spread this dressing over chicken. Dribble gravy over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This recipe also freezes well.

Cheesy corn casserole

(This is a favorite recipe of Annette Wedemeyer’s husband, Alan.)

1 cup whole kernel corn

1/4 cup water

1 cup cream-style corn

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

1 cup cheese, cut up

1 cup macaroni

1/4 cup grated onion

Stir all ingredients together and place in buttered 1-quart casserole dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes more. Serves 6.

Crescent sausage ‘n’ cheese bake

8 ounces crescent rolls

8 ounces brown-and-serve sausages, sliced

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese

4 eggs, slightly beaten

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Separate crescent roll dough into two large rectangles. Place in ungreased 13-by-9-inch pan; press over bottom and half an inch up the sides to form a crust. Seal perforations.

Place sliced sausages over crust; sprinkle with cheese. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Yield 5 to 6 servings.

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

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