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Cookstove adventures

By Staff | Jul 2, 2010

Doris Meshek enjoys baking sour cream chocolate cake in her 1930s-vintage copper clad cookstove.

COON RAPIDS – When the hardware store in Templeton sold all its contents in the late 1970s, no one wanted to place a bid a long-overlooked Copper Clad cookstove than had never been used and likely dated to the 1930s. When Gary and Doris Meshek of Coon Rapids agreed to take the stove at no cost, they were thrilled with their new acquisition.

“In my way of thinking, I don’t know how anyone can get along without a cookstove,” said Doris Meshek, who has run an antiques store in Coon Rapids for 14 years. “The cookstove became our prized possession this past winter.”

The cookstove, which can run on wood, corn cobs or coal, became a necessity when blizzards broke 1,000 power poles in the area and knocked out the Meshek farm’s electrical power for five days around Christmas and for another nine days in January. “We’re at the end of the line and will always be the last ones to get our power back on, so the cookstove pulled us through,” said Gary Meshek, who raises cattle and grew up on the Audubon County farm where he and Doris live.

In fact, a cookstove has always been a fixture of the Meshek farm, added Gary, who noted that the farm didn’t get electricity until 1948. The cookstove wasn’t foreign to Doris, an Urbandale native, when she married into the family in 1963. Her maternal grandmother, Delila Bute, from Stanhope, prepared meals and baked pies with her cookstove. “When I was eight or nine years old, she taught me how to cook simple things like scrambled eggs with the cookstove,” said Doris, who enjoys making homemade meals on her Copper Clad cookstove, which has two burners, a griddle, an oven and a firebox.

When the Mesheks were forced to spend many days this past winter fighting blizzards to bring feed to their cattle and keep waterers open, returning to the kitchen and stoking the cookstove with wood and cobs compensated for the long, cold days.

Doris Meshek doesn't use her cookstove for all her meal preparations. She relies on her bread machine when making homemade raisin bread.

“Lifting the lid on a fragrant pot of soup that had been simmering for hours, or pulling a wonderful baked pudding from the oven was soul satisfying,” said Doris Meshek, who enjoys sauteing sweet onions and preparing hamburgers on the cookstove for quick meals during the warmer months. “Talk about comfort food.”

Chili

(Gary Meshek is the soup cook in the family and enjoys making this chili.)

1 pound hamburger, browned and drained

1 can Mrs. Grimes Tex Mex Style Chili Beans

Doris Meshek credits this potato salad recipe to Eva Accola, who ran the South Side Lounge in Coon Rapids for many years and always served this signature dish.

1 15-ounce can Stokely’s Tomato Sauce

Onion, chopped

2 cans of water (fill empty chili bean can and tomato sauce can with water)

Combine all ingredients and cook chili for 3 hours.

Potato salad

This Meshek family's cookstove, which can run on wood, corn cobs and coal, came in handy when blizzards knocked out electrical power to the farm multiple times this winter.

(Doris Meshek credits this recipe to Eva Accola, who ran the South Side Lounge in Coon Rapids for many years.)

5 pounds red potatoes

1 dozen boiled eggs, chopped fine while still warm

Onions, to taste

1 cup sweet pickle relish

1/2 jar Miracle Whip

1/4 cup mustard

Dash of sugar, optional

Cook potatoes with the skins on. Peel the warm potatoes and chop them fine. Combine with remaining ingredients.

Sour cream chocolate cake

(This recipe comes from a vintage edition of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook in Doris Meshek’s collection.)

2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup hot water

3 beaten egg yolks

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 stiff-beaten egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Melt chocolate in hot water over low heat; cool. Beat egg yolks with sour cream. Gradually add sugar and beat vigorously until thickened. Add chocolate mixture and vanilla, and mix thoroughly.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add to cream mixture. Beat until smooth. Fold in stiff-beaten egg whites. Bake 45 to 50 minutes.

Chocolate frosting

1/2 pint heavy cream

10.5 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat cream just to a boil. Add chocolate to cream and stir until melted. Let cool. Chill for 30 minutes, and then whisk until thickened to a spreadable consistency.

Queen of puddings

5 eggs (separate three and leave two whole)

3/4 cup sugar, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 / 2 cup

Dash of salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon melted butter

4 cups milk

4 cups cubed bread

1 cup apricot or peach jam

1/2 cup strawberry jam

Combine three egg yolks, 2 whole eggs and 1 / 2 cup sugar. Add salt, cinnamon, vanilla and melted butter. Stir in milk. Pour mixture over cubed bread placed in 8-cup dish. Let mixture stand 15 minutes.

Bake the bread pudding at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

After baking, spoon 1/2 cup of apricot or peach jam over hot pudding.

Beat three egg whites until foamy. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar until peaks form. Spread meringue over pudding.

Fill a cake pan a third of the way with water, and place the dish of bread pudding in the pan. Bake pudding until meringue is golden.

Cool completely for two hours. Melt remaining apricot or peach jam, while melting strawberry jam, in two small, separate sauce pans.

Cool slightly. Drizzle over meringue.

Raisin bread for bread machines

(If the weather is too warm and/or Doris Meshek chooses not to run the cookstove, she enjoys baking bread in her bread machine.)

1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon dry skim milk

1 tablespoon shortening or sweet butter

1 cup less 1 tablespoon warm water

1/2 cup raisins

Put dry yeast in inner container in the bread machine. Add remaining ingredients, except water and raisins.

Carefully pour in warm water. (On Doris’s bread machine, she next presses the select button for medium. Press the start button.

Before the secondary kneading is finished, add the raisins. After bread is baked, let it cool before slicing and serving.

One can drizzle the bread with a frosting made by mixing half-and-half and powdered sugar.

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

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