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Accidental cook

By Staff | Dec 23, 2011

Floyd Renze, of Ida Grove, drizzles the last of his powdered-sugar frosting on a Swedish pastry. Renze practiced his baking skills after being in a vehicle accident in 1993 and couldn't actively farm under doctor's orders. "I spend a lot of time during the holidays baking for friends and family," Renze said.


Farm News staff writer

IDA GROVE – When Floyd Renze learned how to bake, it was quite by accident – literally, a 1993 vehicle accident.

“I was coming back from a cattle sale, pulling an empty goose-neck trailer,” said Renze. A truck pulled from an intersection, its driver, apparently not seeing Renze and his brother, crashed into the front of Renze’s vehicle, totalling it.

The goose eck trailer came unhitched and piled into the back of the truck as well, causing additional damage. “If that trailer had been full of cattle,” said Renze who suffered a head injury as he was thrown into the rear view mirror, “the accident could have been much worse.”

Floyd and Arlis Renze stand next to an aerial photo of their Century Farm and certificate presented to the family during the 2011 Iowa State Fair. "It was a great day," said Arlis. "All of our family including our 15 grandchildren came to Des Moines for the event." The Renzes, aside from their crop operation, had a 1,500-head farrow-to-finish hog operation.

His brother, the driver of the truck, walked away without so much of a scratch.

At the time, Renze, and his wife Arlis farmed 180 crop acres and raised 1,500 hogs farrow-to-finish. Suddenly, Floyd had some time on his hands to heal – doctor’s orders.

So what does a farmer do when he suddenly finds himself with a week or more to himself? Well, this farmer learned to bake, in fact, baking everything from scratch recipes.

The Renzes have box mixes in the cupboard that are bordering on five years old, Floyd said, who will have nothing to do with them.

“I got bored, so I started to learn to make cookies that didn’t come from a box,” Renze said. He has expanded his baking repertoire over the years. “I had a bit more time to look at recipes that came in publications.”

Renze said that he has tested more than a few Farm News baking recipes over the years. He likes to try new recipes and come back to those that work.

“My daughter Julie (Phillips) just called me yesterday to see if I’d stop over to bake. Her husband, Tim, likes my ‘thumbprint’ cookie quite a bit,” Renze said, who is busy baking during the holidays. “I also bake for friends and some folks that like company for the holidays.

“I made a lime pie for card club just last weekend.”

At get-togethers, Renze is also known for his peanut clusters, ranger cookies, Swedish pastry, and peanut butter bars.

“I haven’t had any success with cinnamon rolls yet,” Renze said. “Arlis does those and I just help with the stirring.”

Renze said that he enjoys working in the kitchen and at times will shoo Arlis out so he can get some baking done.

“It’s a good arrangement,” said Arlis. “If he’ll do the baking, I don’t mind doing the dishes.”

Renze admits that he is an improvisational soup-maker as well, having little use for recipes.

“With the cold weather coming on,” he said, “I’ll be making chicken noodle soup, vegetable and broccoli cheese soup.” Arlis nodded her head in approval.

After the Renzes discontinued their hog operation in 2002, they expanded their crop acreage. Soon after, son Randy began crop farming the family’s 480 acres.

“Just this last year, we celebrated our farm’s century farm mark at the state fair,” said Arlis. “Our entire family attended, including our 15 grandchildren.”

Floyd still is involved planting and harvesting on the farm that he worked for so many years.

“I make sure I hit my freezer before I go out,” said Renze. “I’ve always got cookies or other goodies to take with me for lunch.”

Swedish pastry

Bottom crust

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons water

Cream flour and butter together. Add water. Mix until dough sticks together. Pat into pizza pan.


1 cup water

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring butter and water to a boil. Add flour. Beat until smooth. Remove from heat and add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each is added. Add vanilla. Place on crust.

Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Frost while warm with powdered-sugar frosting. (Renze said he puts 1/2 cup walnuts on top.)

Ranger cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups quick oatmeal

2 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup shredded coconut

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Add dry ingredients. Mix well.

Add oatmeal, Rice Krispies and coconut. Mix and form into small balls and press down with fork.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees until light brown.

Oreo balls

1 package Oreos

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 package almond bark (chocolate or white)

Twist Oreos to take apart. Scrape cream from cookies and put into large bowl. Add cream cheese to bowl and cream together.

Put remainder of cookies into a Ziploc bag and seal. Use a rolling pin to finely crush.

Add crushed cookies to the creamed mixture and stir. Roll into one inch balls and chill.

Melt almond bark in double boiler. Dip cookie balls into almond bark and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Peanut clusters

1 package almond bark

1 12-ounce package chocolate chips

1 16-ounce bag peanuts

Melt almond bark and chocolate chips in double boiler and add peanuts. Drop by spoon on wax paper.

Butter brickle cookies

1 cup white sugar

1 1/4 cup butter

2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup butter brickle chips

Cream sugar and butter. Add vanilla and eggs.

Mix dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Stir in butter brickle chips.

Shape into two rolls, two inches in diameter and chill until firm.

Cut into 1/4-inch slices and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Do not overbake.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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