homepage logo

Cooking is a family affair

By Staff | Jul 15, 2011

Allison Brown removes fresh dinner rolls from the oven in the kitchen of the Brown family.

NEW?PROVIDENCE – Arriving at the farm of Paul and Andrea Brown near this southeast Hardin County community, a person sees a sign announcing they are at Alderland Farm.

Andrea Brown explained that Alderland is from the first few letters of their children’s names, Allison, 20, Landon, 15, and Derek, 20.

Brown is a New Providence native while husband Paul is from Wilton. They met when they were students at Iowa State University.

There is a strong cooking tradition in the Brown family. Andrea Brown’s mother graduated from ISU in home economics.

Andrea’s mother-in-law wrote a cooking section for the newspaper in Wilton.

Allison Brown fills a plate with food prepared from recipes furnished for this story.

Brown looks for new recipes using what is grown on the Brown farm – hogs, cattle, chickens, and produce from their large garden.

“We raise most of the vegetables we eat,” Brown said.

All three children were encouraged to cook and each one was responsible for the evening’s meal each week from sixth-grade through high school.

The family has a strong 4-H tradition.

Derek Brown is a senior at ISU and his cooking ability has meant that he prepares most of his own meals at college. He said he would like to return to the family farm after graduation.

Allison Brown shows a plate of her chocolate raspberry bars.

He’s an Iowa youth pork ambassador and two weeks ago, he along with his mother and sister, Allison, served pork burgers, pork loin and pork chops in Washington, D.C.

This was a cooperative effort between the National Pork Board and Iowa Pork Producers sponsored by Safeway stores.

Allison Brown is a senior in high school. She became the reigning Hardin County pork queen after preparing a paper on her role in the family’s hog operation.

Allison started cooking at age 3 when she made cookie dough and told her parents that she needed the oven turned on so she could finish them.

After high school she is considering enrolling in culinary science at ISU.

Allison Brown said she enjoys cooking bread, cookies and cakes. Andrea Brown said her daughter is “getting a reputation” in her ability to prepare them.

Landon Brown is a sophomore in high school and he received a blue ribbon at the recent Hardin County Fair for the whole wheat refrigerator rolls recipe, which is included below.

Paul Brown described his farm, as, “We’re pretty unconventional here.”

Unconventional means they are pasture-farrowing all their hogs. They are growers for Niman Ranch which is specific in the way hogs are raised.

All the soybeans grown on the Brown farm are food grade. They are processed at a cleaning facility in Kanawha, loaded onto rail cars and eventually shipped to Japan.

The Brown’s have worked with ISU and the Iowa Farm Bureau to give tours of their farm showing visitors an operation that raises much of its own food.

Old-fashioned green beans

6 bacon strips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 pounds fresh green beans

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup water

In a large skillet, fry bacon over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, brown sugar and water.

Stir gently. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender.

Remove to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon.

Yields 6 to 8 servings.

Marinated pork chops

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Marinate overnight. Grill until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, or bake at 350 for an hour.

Makes five chops.

Crunchy lettuce salad

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup chow mein noodles

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

8 cups torn iceberg or romaine lettuce

4 green onions with tops, diced

5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled, optional.

Combine almonds and chow mein noodles in a baking pan.

Bake, uncovered at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted; set aside.

In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine oil, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper; shake well.

In a large bowl, toss lettuce, onions and bacon.

Just before serving, add almond mixture and dressing. toss.

Whole wheat

refrigerator rolls

2 packages active dry yeast

2 cups warm water

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided.

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups whole wheat flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 5 minutes.

Blend in sugar, salt and 3 cups all-purpose flour at low speed until moistened; beat two minutes at medium speed. Beat in egg and oil.

By hand, gradually stir in whole wheat flour and enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Punch dough down and form into dinner-size rolls. Place on greased baking sheets for plain rolls or knots, or in greased muffin tins for clover-leaf rolls. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour for dough prepared the same day or 1 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough.

Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm.

If desired, dough may be kept up to four days in the refrigerator. Punch down daily. Yields two dozen.

Almond honey butter

1 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon brown sugar.

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In a small mixing bowl, beat butter, honey, brown sugar and extract until light and fluffy.

Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap. roll into a log or transfer to a serving dish or bowl. Refrigerate until chilled.

Chocolate raspberry bars

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/8 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup butter


3/4 cup raspberry jam

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted


1 3/8 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons shortening

In a bowl, combine flour and confectioners’ sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly.

Press into an ungreased 9-by-13-inch pan.

Bake at 375 for 15 to 18 minutes or until browned. Spread jam over warm crust.

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth. Add vanilla chips and beat until smooth.

Spread carefully over jam layer. Cool completely. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

For glaze, melt chocolate chips and shortening; spread over filling. Chill for 10 minutes.

Cut into bars and chill another hour. Yields four dozen bars.

Contact Clayton Rye at crye@wctatel.net.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page