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Planning makes perfect

By Staff | Sep 10, 2010

Peggi Theis making Texas brownies in her Melvin kitchen in central Osceola County.

MELVIN – When busy farm wife, mother and cook Peggi Theis prepares meals for her family of six, in this central Osceola County community, there is more than a “little” thought that goes into it.

Theis not only works in the family’s farrow-to-finish hog operation, she and her husband, Don Theis, are the parents of four high school students. Triplets Paige, Emma and Amelia Theis are seniors this year at Sibley Ocheyedan High School and son Dillon Theis is a sophomore.The Theis siblings are active in a variety of sports and music activities and the whole family is active in their church.

Peggi Theis is an active participant in the swine operation.She not only works to record all breeding and sow records, she also helps with weaning, breeding and loading out. “I do it all,” she laughs.

To keep up with farm work and busy schedules, Theis has devised several quick, economical ways to cut corners in the kitchen.

First, she swears by her convection oven.She claims that it not only cooks faster and more evenly, but that it also has a time bake feature, which she is able to utilize for quick starts to her meals when she needs to be away from the kitchen.

A plaque on Peggi Theis’ kitchen wall.

She also cooks large amounts of browned hamburger and cooked chicken and places it in freezer containers once again giving her a jump start to meal preparation.

“It is just too expensive to take a family of six out for dinner on those nights we are on the go” said Theis. “I need to be organized to make evening meals work.”

She uses a dry erase board to plan her meals and takes stock of her freezer and pantry each week making her grocery list according to what meals she has on the schedule.

“I don’t always serve what’s on the schedule, but having the ingredients on hand to prepare our favorite foods quickly makes my system work for us,” she explained.

Texas brownies

(This is a Theis family

favorite)

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup water

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FROSTING

2 tablespoon cocoa

1/4 milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease an 11-by-17-inch baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, shortening, coffee and cocoa. Stir constantly until heated to a boil. Pour boiling mixture over flour and sugar. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla.

Mix well, using a wooden spoon or high speed mixer. Pour batter into baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until done in center.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting combining butter, cocoa and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until heated to a boil. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth. Pour warm frosting over brownies as soon as they come out of the oven. Cool and cut into squares.

Quick chicken Alfredo

6 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

2 packages frozen cauliflower and broccoli mix

3 jars of Ragu Alfredo sauce

2 1/4 cup of skim milk

2 packages whole wheat linguini noodles

Combine all the above, except for the linguini, and heat until the veggies are cooked to desired doneness.

Meanwhile cook linguini according to package instructions. Serve sauce over linguini noodles. Serves six with leftovers.

Health bread

(Peggi Theis’ grandmother’s recipe)

Soak 2 cups of 100 percent bran in 2 cups of buttermilk for 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup of raisins

4 tablespoons of molasses

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soda

Mix and put into greased pans, either four small loaves or two regular-sized loaves).

Cover with a greased cookie sheet or foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 hours, but less baking time if baking smaller loaves. Cool and remove from pans.

Peggi Theis said her family enjoys eating this bread with a slice of American cheese.

Contact Robyn Kruger at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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