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Doesn’t miss the old cooking ways

By Staff | Apr 9, 2010

RoSanne Schmit relaxes in the kitchen of her rural Algona farm home. She grew up cooking over wood. She was in the eighth-grade the day electricity was brought to her farm home.

ALGONA – As part of a grade school class assignment, Rosanne Schmit, of Algona, was asked by her granddaughter what she thought was the biggest improvement during her lifetime.

The granddaughter expected the answer to be cell phones, but Rosanne Schmit points to the day electricity was brought to her farm home when she was an eighth-grader.

It was during her senior year in high school in 1952 that Schmit’s home was equipped with running water.

A lifelong resident of Kossuth County, who has always lived on a farm, Rosanne Schmit was the third child and oldest daughter in a family of four boys and four girls. Her memories of growing up include carrying both water and corn cobs as part of each day’s chores.

Her mother, who lived to be 93, taught her to cook on a cob- and wood-burning stove. She remembers making pies with her mother, along with canning both produce and meat.

Each night, she and her sisters were responsible for carrying in a bushel of cobs and enough wood for the next day’s stove needs. Her father lit the stove fire each morning.

The stove had uses other than cooking, she recalled, including keeping a tea kettle warm and an open pan of water warm for humidity.

Schmit said there was a thermometer on the door of the stove. If the heat was too hot, the door was opened to release it and cool the oven’s interior. If it needed more heat, cobs were added.

They used about a bushel of cobs throughout a day.

When asked if her husband were to buy her one, would she’d enjoy using it, Schmit said no. “I don’t miss it at all.”

During the winter, the stove was also put into use as a laundry dryer. After the morning cooking, lines were stretched around the kitchen on Mondays – wash day – and wet clothes were hung on the line to dry.

Rosanne and Mike Schmit were married in November 1955. They live in a comfortable, spacious home built in 1975 with the original cabin just a few yards away from the front door on the family farm which was homesteaded northeast of Algona by the Schmit family.

Rosanne Schmit graduated from parochial school in Algona and the Schmits are active members of St. Cecelia’s church. She also belongs to the Plum Creek Homemakers, a social and literary group that has been meeting since 1911. She is a member of the Red Hat Society in Algona, too.

The Schmits served as foster parents from 1974 to 1995 and Schmit has served on a three-county foster care review board.

Mike Schmit remains active on the farm while his son in law Bill Grandgenett, is the operator of the farm ground raising seed corn and seed soybeans for the nearby Pioneer Seed facility in Algona.

Filled cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

Sift together. Make a well in the center and add in the following order:

2 eggs (slightly beaten)

1 cup oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons soda dissolved in 1 cup of hot water.

Beat well. Fill cupcake liners about half full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.


1.2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup milk

2/3 cup Crisco

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon water

Beat together for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and beat well. Put into cake decorator and with leaf end squeeze the filling into each cupcake.

Press end about 3/8 inch into cupcake to fill. Note: Cool cupcakes before filling. Cupcakes taste good without filling, too.


1 1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons milk

6 tablespoons margarine

Boil one minute, then add 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Cool slightly.

Strawberry salad

2 packages strawberry gelatin

1 tall can crushed pineapple, undrained

1/2 carton dairy sour cream

2 small packages frozen strawberries

2 large ripe bananas, mashed and whipped

Dissolve gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Add thawed berries with juice, pineapples and bananas.

Pour half of the mixture into an 8-by-12-inch pan and chill until set. Keep remaining mixture at room temperature. Spread the sour cream over the set layer. Then cover the remaining mixture. Chill completely before serving.

Raspberry ribbon pie

1 3-ounce package raspberry gelatin

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup boiling water

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1 10-ounce package frozen red raspberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dash of salt

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

1 9-inch baked pastry shell, cooled

Red layers: Dissolve gelatin and granulated sugar in boiling water. Add frozen berries and lemon juices. Stir until berries thaw. Chill till partially set.

White layers: Blend cheese, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and salt. Fold in small amount of whipped cream. Then fold in remainder. Spread half the white cheese mixture over bottom of pastry shell. Cover with half of the red gelatin mixture. Repeat layers. Chill till set.

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

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