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One batch just isn’t enough

By Staff | Jun 5, 2009

A double batch of fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies lie ready for either the cookie jar or the freezer.

CLARION – Judy Kirstein simply likes to cook. This farm cook who is definitely at home on the range has a philosophy that asks, “if you are cooking something good, why only make one batch?”

When baking bread, she bakes five loaves at a time. The recipes she contributed are for a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, two tea rings and two loaves of cracked wheat bread.

Cooking has been a big part of her life since she was young. As a teenager, her parents were both working and it was her job to prepare supper for the family.

As the daughter of an Extension agent, she was active in 4-H. The 4-H activity continued as an adult leader for 15 years, serving on the Extension council and currently she helps with the open class at the county fair.

Her family moved from a farm in southeastern Minnesota to north central Iowa in 1961 because her father was hired as the Wright County Extension agent.

Judy Kirstein of Clarion likes to cook with multiple batches of good recipes.

Kirstein recalled that while living in Minnesota, she participated in a silent bread-baking contest. Each contestant was given the ingredients for their bread and prepared the dough for baking without saying anything. The dough was taken to a bakery, cooked and judged. The first year she got a purple ribbon, but was too young to go to the state competition. The next year she got a white ribbon and to this day is not sure what went wrong.

Around age 10, she was taking muffins to the fair. After two batches that had not gone well, and with the family waiting because it was time to go, her mother cleared everyone out of the kitchen so Kirstein could concentrate on the third batch. That one was awarded a blue ribbon.

Kirstein and her husband, Phil, moved to the family’s century farm in 1977. They are the parents of three sons. Phil Kirstein passed away two years ago, at age 59, from cancer. Two of the sons continue the farming operation with their brother who lives in Ankeny helping during busy times.

Judy lives in the family home and hauls seed in the spring and drives the grain cart in the fall. She knows enough about driving a semi to move it out of the way if she has to, but she says, “I am not a truck driver.”

She has a lunch route each spring and fall as the farms are spread out over 15 miles, making stops for each of her three sons as they are working on different fields.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a family favorite all year long. Kirstein makes enough to put one batch in the jar and the second batch in the freezer. Her sons prefer eating the cookies frozen.

Her loaves of bread have been popular at church fundraisers and as gifts at Christmastime.

Kirstein’s six grandchildren are close by and enjoy overnights at grandma’s house. They range in age from 18 months to six years. With her quick smile, Kirstein summed up her years saying, “It’s been a good life.”

The Kirstein family’s favorite chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

(makes a double batch)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup margarine

1 cup Crisco

Cream these ingredients together, then add:

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups flour

4 cups oatmeal

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Bake for eight minutes at 350 degrees. Do not over bake them.

American sour cream pecan tea ring

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup melted margarine

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup water

2 packages of yeast

7 1/2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

melted margarine

Combine the first five ingredients

Dissolve yeast in water and add mixture

Mix in enough flour to make soft dough

Knead 8-10 minutes and let rise

Divide dough in half

Roll into 16-by-9-inch rectangle

Brush with melted margarine and sprinkle with pecan mixture

Roll up dough similar to cinnamon rolls and form into a ring

Cut slits through ring at 1-inch intervals

Bake 375 degrees for 25 minutes

Frost before serving

(Note: Kirstein prefers to bake for 15-18 minutes and switch the top and bottom pans at 7 minutes. She cautions to not over bake the tea ring.)

Cracked wheat bread

(2 loaves)

1 1/2 cup boiling water

3/4 cup bulgur (soaked in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for at least 1 hour)

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons honey (3 teaspoons will make the bread more moist)

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Pinch of sugar

2-3 cups white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast on the water.

Add all ingredients, except the flour, then add the yeast and the bulgur and stir into a mixture.

Add wheat flour, stir and add white flour until stiff. Pour lump out onto a floured board and knead for five minutes. Place in greased bowl and let rise in warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size. Turn out on floured board, cut in half and form into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Let rise until dough reaches top of the pan, or about 45 minutes.

(Note: Since Kirstein prefers her bread on the doughy side, she sets the temperature at 350 degrees for 36 minutes. This bread will not rise as high as white bread and is more dense.)

Contact Clayton Rye by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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