homepage logo

‘Grow our own’ is more than choice

By Staff | Jan 6, 2012

Gayla Voss slices a fresh loaf of rye bread in her home near Fonda.


Farm News staff writer

FONDA – Growing what they ate was a way of life for the Voss family, even after the era when it was a way of life for many farmers.

Due to their oldest son’s food allergies, the family grew everything it fed its members, even going as far as growing its own wheat to make flour for breads.

Up until the last few years, Gayla Voss grew large gardens and enjoyed canning fruit and vegetables and canning the meat they raised, as well.

Baking the Amish angel food cookies, Voss said, is a great way to use up the egg yolks not included in baking the angel food cake.

Voss said she began cooking when her mother fell ill with rheumatic fever and had to be bed ridden for an entire year.

“Mom became sick when I was nine or 10 years old and I took over some of the responsibilities,” said Voss.

One could say her talents in the kitchen could almost be inherited, as Voss said she comes from a very long line of good cooks in her family including her grandmothers, aunts, cousins and her mother-in-law.

She enjoys the time spent in the kitchen.

“Some like to cook. Some don’t; but I do,” said Voss.

Bread baking is a favorite for Gayla Voss, including these Swedish rye loaves.

Yeast breads are some of her favorite foods to make, she said, remembering that her mother was always baking bread.

Voss also enjoys baking cakes and pies and canning.

Not only has the Voss family had to accommodate a son for food allergies, but a grandson, as well.

Voss said dealing with someone’s food allergies is a matter of knowing exactly what ingredients are being used.

“We read labels and did what we had to do,” said Voss.

She learned how to make a safe angel food cake for her family, which is a long-standing tradition for birthdays in her family.

When she is outside of the kitchen, Voss said she likes to spend her time quilting and reading.

Draft horses were a large part of the family for many years.

Voss has been married to Louis Voss for 52 years. They reared three sons, Steven, married to Kendra and lives in Missouri; Bill, married to Laurie and lives near Fonda, and Rodney, married to Wendy and lives in South Dakota.

Voss said she has been a busy farm wife and also has worked as an activity coordinator for the Fonda Nursing and Rehab Center and the Pleasant View Home, in Albert City.

In addition to their three sons, the couple also enjoys time with their eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Swedish rye bread

2 packages yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons lard or shortening

4 cups lukewarm water

3 cups rye flour

White flour as needed

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.

Mix molasses, brown sugar, salt and lard. Add the water then the three cups of rye flour. Mix well, then add the yeast mixture.

Add white flour as needed and knead.

Put in a large greased container and let rise. Punch down and divide into five to six loaves and place in greased loaf pans and let rise.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the loaves. Note: Five loaves will take longer to bake than dough split into six loaves.

Gayla’s favorite rolls

(Voss uses this recipe for dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 heaping tablespoon of lard

1 heaping tablespoon of butter

2 cups boiling water

6 to 7 cups flour

2 packages yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup warm water

2 eggs – beaten

Dissolve sugar, lard, butter and salt in boiling water. Cool to lukewarm and add two cups of flour, then the yeast that was dissolved in the warm water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and add the beaten eggs; add the flour to make a soft dough.

Knead and place in greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down. Form into desired shapes, tea rings or cinnamon rolls.

Bake dinner roll at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cinnamon roll filling:

1/4 cup butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2-3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Punch dough down and divide in half. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, roll out each half into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Spread with butter.

Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over butter. Roll up from a long side; pinch seams together to seal.

Cut into 12 slices; place with cut side down in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Can drizzle icing over warm rolls or cover with icing.

Angel food cake

2 cups egg whites (set out for 45 minutes to take chill off)

1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

Sift together cake flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Sift again four times. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites with a wire whisk until frothy about three minutes.

Add cream of tartar and salt and continue beating until egg whites stand in firm peaks.

To egg whites add 1 1/3 cups sugar in four additions, beating lightly after each addition. Add flavorings.

Add flour-sugar mixture in four additions, beating lightly, about 15 strokes for each addition. Put wax paper in bottom of angel food pan and spoon into pan.

Bake on bottom rack in oven for 30 to 40 minutes until cracked, dry to touch or until golden brown.

Invert pan on funnel until completely cool.

Hints: Make sure no egg yolks get into whites while separating and everything is 100 percent grease free.

“I do use my electric mixer,” Voss said, “but do not over-beat whites when beating to firm peaks.”

Amish angel

food cookies

This is a good recipe for using the 12 egg yolks that remain after making the angel food cake, Voss said.

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups shortening (Crisco works the best)

12 egg yolks

2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 teaspoon lemon flavoring

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

3 1/2 cups flour

Cream together sugar, shortening, egg yolks and flavorings. Sift dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture. Roll dough into balls the size of a half dollar.

Roll ball in sugar and place on a lightly-greased cookie sheet. Flatten to a little less than 1/4 inch thick with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not over bake.

Macaroni and cheese

2 cups raw macaroni

1 1/4 pound cheese (Velvetta or American cheese)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons margarine

3/4 cups flour

3 3/4 cups milk

Cook macaroni until tender in boiling water. Drain.

Grate cheese or cut fine.

Melt margarine. Add flour and stir in the milk. Using a double boiler, stir until smooth.

Add cheese and stir until it melts and flour is cooked and mixture thickens.

Pour over macaroni in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until done.

Take out and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Hot chicken casserole

2-3 cups diced cooked chicken

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 can drained water chestnuts (optional)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chicken bouillon

1 can cream of chicken soup

3/4 cup milk

2 cups broth (that chicken was cooked in)

1 1/2 cups Minute Rice

1/2 cup shredded cheese

Heat broth to boiling; pour over rice. Let set at least five minutes. Mix all ingredients and put into a greased baking dish. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Taco pasta

1 pound ground beef

1 package rigatoni noodles

1 green pepper

1 or 2 tomatoes

1 onion

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 16-ounce package shredded cheddar cheese

1 package taco seasoning

1 to 1 1/2 bottles French dressing

Season and brown ground beef; cook noodles according to package. Cut vegetables into small pieces. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate.

Holiday mashed


10 pounds potatoes, cooked and mashed

4 cups sour cream

4 3-ounce packages cream cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Place in casserole. Refrigerate until ready to use. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or heat in well-buttered crock pot.

These will keep well in refrigerator for a couple days before baking.

Serves 20 to 30 people. Can be cut in half for fewer people.

Raspberry danish


1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm sour cream

1/4 cup butter (melted)

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/4 2 1/2 cups flour


8 ounce cream cheese

1 egg (beaten)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cups raspberry jam


1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water; add 1/2 teaspoon sugar to help activate it. Warm the sour cream and add melted butter.

Beat the egg and add after the sugar and salt, then add the yeast.

Add the flour, starting with two cups and add more as needed.

Have enough flour to make a soft ball. Knead 20-times or more if needed until smooth. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double (about 1 1/4 hours).

Stir all the filling together except the jam and set aside.

Punch down dough. Divide in half. Roll out each portion to 8-by-12-inch rectangle.

Spread with filling within 1-inch of all sides. Spread jam (1/4 cup on each) down the center.

Roll out jelly roll style lengthwise. Pinch all seams and place seam side down on baking sheet.

Cut shallow slashes across the top. Let rise until double – about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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