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A non-traditional childhood

By Staff | Aug 19, 2011

Donna Sutcliffe rolls a crescent roll, which will raise for an hour and then be baked.

MASON?CITY – As the second of seven children, Donna Sutcliffe’s childhood included the traditional lifestyle of children of her generation on the farm.

However, as the daughter of Bardelt W. H. Broers, her childhood was far from typical, too.

In the ’50s and ’60s, her father owned the Deer Farm Zoo located on the family farm for 10 to 12 years, a popular place for families and school field trips.

Livestock chores on the Broers’ farm included hogs, chickens and dairy cattle, but there were also snakes, leopards, bears, flamingoes, swans, zebras, llamas, lions, wolves, porcupines, wild pigs, chimpanzees, baboons, and parrots to provide for each day.

“There were no elephants or giraffes,” said Sutcliffe, as the Iowa winter was too severe for them.

Donna Sutcliffe’s crescent rolls, baked to perfection.

Sutcliffe remembers learning to cook by helping her mother.

“I grew up cooking. I always enjoyed cooking,” she said.

She gives credit to her high school teachers in Mason City, Mrs. McAuley and Miss Dickinson, for giving her most of her cooking education.

“Mother didn’t have time to teach us,” she said.

Sutcliffe helped her husband Gary as a 4-H leader of the Mason Booster Boys for 27 years. The club sold food to raise money.

Sutcliffe adds a scoop of ice cream to a slice of peach pie. The recipe for the filling is found below.

They now live on a farm between Mason City and Clear Lake, just south of the Avenue of the Saints. She and her husband Gary have been married since 1962 and the farm they live on is Gary’s childhood home.

She has worked for 10 years at Pies ‘N More in Mason City preparing pies for the day’s menu and helping anywhere else she was needed including the business’ catering service runs.

To do this meant cooking at least 10 pies a day, six days a week. She made 45 pies for the Holy Family church festival.

Sutcliffe has made wedding cakes to order, but calls it a hobby because of the time and expense required when measured against the income.

She recently completed a family cookbook with her sisters – The Brazel Family Cookbook. Brazel was her mother’s maiden name.

Sutcliffe's ham balls taste even better than they look.

The cookbook has recipes from Alaska to North Carolina. The cover has a picture of thecookstove used by her mother that is still in use today.

Copies of the cookbook are available for $14, plus postage, and can be bought by calling Sutcliffe at (641) 423-7593.

Crescent rolls

(Donna Sutcliffe said this is a she got from a neighbor 10 years ago. When she takes them to a gathering, she said, she “doesn’t bring many home.”)

2 cups warm water

2 packages yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

6 1/2 cups flour

Combine warm water and yeast and let stand until foaming (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, sugar, oil, and salt. Stir. Gradually add 6 1/2 cups flour while stirring. Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Put dough on cutting board and divide into thirds. Roll out 1/3 quite thin.

Cut 16 pie shaped rolls out of each third. Spray with butter flavored oil and roll from the wide end to narrow. Place on baking sheet and let raise (45 minutes to 1 hour).

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Spray with oil again.

Ham balls

(“When I take these to a picnic, I have never brought any home,” said Donna Sutcliffe.)

4 pounds ground ham

1 scant cup milk

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 10-ounce cans tomato soup, undiluted

2 1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup cider vinegar

Combine ham loaf, milk, eggs, and graham crumbs in a large bowl; mix well.

Form balls (three tablespoons for each) and put in a greased 10-by-15-by-2-inch pan.

Mix soup, brown sugar, mustard vinegar and vinegar in a bowl. Pour over ham balls. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Note: You can also use 2 1/2 pounds ground ham and 1 1/2 pounds ground pork to equal the four pounds of meat. “I usually turn the ham balls halfway through baking time,”?Sutcliffe said. “These can be baked covered or uncovered.

Golden peach

pie filling

6 sliced and peeled fresh peaches

1 tabalespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch (may need more if peaches are real juicy)

2 tablespoons butter

Mix together and let stand until you get your pie crust ready.

Contact Clayton Rye at crye@wctatel.net.

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