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On the job training

By Staff | Sep 23, 2011

Sharon Boenke serves up a slice of meatloaf in her farm kitchen near Garner. She is flanked by bulgar honey bread and custard pie. She provided recipes for all three.

GARNER – Sharon Boehnke grew up in Albia with three sisters and a brother. After finishing high school, she went to Minneapolis where someone she knew wanted her to meet a farmer.

Boehnke’s answer was simple and direct: “I don’t want to meet no farmer.”

That farmer was Philip Boehnke, of Garner, in Hancock County. Philip and Sharon Boehnke have been married for 42 years.

After moving to the Boehnke farm she learned she “had to cook for all these farmers.” There were six of them.

These farmers expected a morning lunch, a noon meal, an afternoon lunch and supper.

Boehnke’s custard pie.

If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Boehnke did not know how to cook.

However, she rose to the occasion and learned.

“My pie crusts in the beginning weren’t anything to rave about,” she said.

Today, Boehnke said she loves cooking for dinner parties for family, friends and neighbor ladies. Her favorites are baking bread, sweets, pies and desserts.

She said she is noted for her sweet pickles.

Sharon Boehnke slices a loaf of her bulgar honey bread.

Her fondness for baking bread comes from when she was growing up.

“Mom always had fresh home made bread, coming home from school,” she said.

Philip and Sharon Boehnke are the parents of four children. Their oldest, Jeff, and youngest, David, both farm near Garner. Teresa is their second child and lives in Bronson, and daughter Amy lives is in Portland, Ore.

The Boehnkes have five grandchildren.

Boehnke said she especially enjoys helping people. Providing care for her husband’s aunts and parents was a job she found atisfying. Both her parents are alive and living in Albia, and she sees them regularly.

In her spare time, she enjoys antiques, especially jewelry, dishes and pottery. She also likes to read, garden, bicycle and ride horses.

When asked if she was retired, she said she was not. “I’ve been doing the same thing for 42 years,” she said.

Bulgar honey bread

1 cup bulgar wheat

2 tablespoon cooking oil

3 cups boiling water

6 1/2 to 7 cups flour

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

2 package yeast

1/4 cup warm water

Combine bulgar wheat, honey, oil and salt. Add boiling water

Mix and let stand until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to mix.

Add flour in three parts beating after each addition.

Knead until smooth and elastic.

Let rise until double.

Punch down and let rise for 15 minutes.

Form into two large loaves or four small ones.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

French bread

1 package dry yeast

1 1/4 cup warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 to 3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 egg white

2 tablespoon cold water

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Stir in sugar, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth.

Stir in rest of flour.

Knead until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes.

Place in greased bowl. Cover with damp towel. Let rise until double.

Punch down and let rise 15 minutes.

Roll into 15-by-10-inch rectangle.

Roll tightly and seal edges.

Put on cookie sheet with corn meal sprinkled on it and greased.

Make 1/4-inch slashes in loaf at 2-inch intervals.

Brush with cold water.

Rise uncovered about 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 375 degrees.

Bake 20 minutes.

Beat one egg white.

Add 1 tablespoon cold water and brush on.

Bake another 5 minutes


2 pounds hamburger

1 1/4 cup Ritz cracker crumbs

2 beaten eggs

1 8-ounce tomato sauce and about 1/4 cup catsup

1/4 cup finely chopped onions

Dash thyme

Dash marjoram

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Bake 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Put this topping on when half-baked – mustard, catsup and brown sugar.

Custard pie

4 slightly beaten eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond

2 1/2 cups scalded milk. (Boehnke uses either all Half & Half or cream and then add 1/2 cup milk or soy milk.)

Blend eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla and almond extract.

Gradually stir in scalded milk.

Pour into chilled unbaked pie shell.

Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Pie is done when knife is inserted and comes out clean.

Oatmeal raisin cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cloves

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup raisins

Beat together shortening and sugars very good.

Add eggs, vanilla and beat well.

Add flour and other dry ingredients. Mix well.

Stir in oats and raisins.

1 cup chopped nuts (optional).

Drop on cookie sheet with small scoop. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cream filled cupcakes

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cocoa

1 cup oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoon soda

1 cup hot water

Sift first five ingredients.

Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Beat 1 1/2 minutes at medium speed.

Combine soda and hot water together, add to the rest. Beat another minute.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, remove and cool completely before filling.


1/2 cup powder sugar

1/3 cup evaporated milk

2/3 cup shortening

1 tablespoon water

1 teasppon vanilla

Combine all except the powder sugar.

Mix until very creamy for 5 for 7 minutes.

Add powdered sugar.

Beat 5 minutes.

Makes 40 cupcakes.

Apple dapple cake

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 t soda

1 cups pecans, finely chopped

1 cup Wesson oil

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups raw apples, finely chopped

Mix oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla

Sift together flour, salt, soda, and add to first mixture

Fold in pecans and apples

Bake in 9 X 13 pan or tube pan

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees


1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup butter

Mix and cook 3 minutes

Punch holes in cake while hot and pour sauce over it while hot. If in tube pan, let cake cool before removing

Angel cake supreme

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 1/4 cup sifted powder sugar

1 1/2 cups (12) egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup sugar

Sift powder sugar and flour three times

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla, almond extract until stiff enough to hold a soft peak, but still moist and glossy.

Beat in regular sugar, 2 tlb at a time until the meringue holds a stiff peak.

Sift about 1/4 of the flour over whites.

Fold in lightly with a down and up motion.

Fold in rest of flour a quarter at time.

Bake in ungreased 10-inch tube pan at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

Invert and cool completely.

Contact Clayton Rye at crye@wctatel.net.

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