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Fixin’ family’s favorites

By Staff | Feb 18, 2011

Jill Vander Veen, of Hartley, enjoys making apple pie from scratch, including a crust made from lard. She and her husband, Roger, farm on the land her parents previously farmed.


Farm News staff writer

HARTLEY – Like many farm women, Jill Vander Veen, who lives near this northeastern O’Brien?County community, juggles many responsibilities – wife, mother, farmer and a full-time job off the farm.

And somehow, she still maintains the role of cook.

Vander Veen and her husband, Roger, are fourth-generation farmers, working the same ground her parents did. They grow corn and soybeans on 300 acres and have 700 head of cattle.

In addition, Vander Veen works as a grain buyer for the Valero ethanol plant, also in Hartley, while Roger Vander Veen is a sales representative for Pioneer.

Despite their hectic schedule, the Vander Veen family, which includes John, 9, tries to make time to eat together.

“We try to make sure that we have a family meal together, and we’re all sitting down together,” Jill Vander Veen said.

She said she learned to cook from her late mother, who lived across the section from her, and enjoys making some of her childhood favorites, including meatloaf, scalloped corn and basted potatoes.

The scalloped corn recipe from her mother includes some delectable surprises like macaroni and cheese and potato chips, which are met with delight by son John.

“That is one of his absolute favorite dishes,” she said.

For other recipes, Vander Veen draws upon the passion and expertise of other relatives.

“I have a couple of aunts that love to cook. They help me out with breads and some of the things I didn’t have the opportunity to do before,” she said.

Another flavor-laden favorite from her childhood is basted potatoes, which entails peeling potatoes, cutting them in half and cooking them, flat-side down, in butter in a pie tin.

Then, the potatoes are basted with butter a few more times while they bake.

Vander Veen also likes trying new things, which sometimes is difficult to do.

“I like to try new stuff, but my family doesn’t always agree with trying it,” she said. “I have a husband who is pretty meat-and-potatoes-and-bread driven.”

When inspiration for a new taste or new recipe goes against a desire for standard meat and potatoes fare, Vander Veen turns to John as a sounding board.

“My son helps me out a lot. I always ask him, ‘What do you want for supper tonight?’ “

Vander Veen also enjoys baking, particularly apple pies, and makes it all from scratch, including a crust made with lard.

“I’ve never made a pie crust without it. It makes a really nice crust. It’s light and flaky,” Vander Veen said.

Vander Veen shared recipes for three of her favorites:

Apple pie


2 cups flour

1 small egg beaten

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon vinegar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup lard

In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Mix together egg, vinegar and water in a small bowl and add to flour mixture.

Mix until dough is moist enough to form a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface.


3 to 4 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon tapioca

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Mix apples, flour, sugar, tapioca and cinnamon. Stir gently.

Place mixture into unbaked pie shell. Dab with butter and pour milk over filling. Roll top crust same as bottom and lift onto filled pie. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

Basted potatoes

3 large potatoes

1 stick butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Slice butter and place on the bottom of pie plate or a 9-by-9-inch baking dish. Place potato halves flat side down on top of butter slices in baking dish.

Place another slice of butter on top of each potato half. Bake for 1 hour.

Baste potatoes three to four times while baking beginning as soon as butter melts.

Scalloped corn

1 15-ounce can of cream style corn

1 8.75-ounce can of whole kernel corn

1 to 1 1/2 cups rotini macaroni, cooked

6 to 8 ounces Velveeta cheese cubed.

Regular potato chips

Mix cream style corn and whole kernel corn in a baking dish. Add cubed Velveeta cheese and cooked macaroni. Mix well.

Crush potato chips on top of mixture to make a layer. Bake at 350 for 45 min to 1 hour.

Contact Dave DeValois at dwdavalois@yahoo.com.

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