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Cooking from the garden

By Staff | Jan 27, 2012

Tami Hemer, of rural Arthur, spoons peanut butter-coated Special K drops on wax paper before spreading melted morsels on the treats. “You can make a pan of bars, which is most common,” said Hemer. “or you can drop spoonfuls on wax paper to make a more fancy presentation for a holiday or school event.” Hemer said that when she was growing up in Ida Grove, she enjoyed baking with her grandmother.


Farm News staff writer

ARTHUR – When Tami Thies became Tami Hemer 25 years ago, more changed than just her last name.

“I’d never planted a garden before. I grew up in Ida Grove and went to school in Des Moines for business and accounting,” said Hemer. “My husband Don told me that he was going to till a garden for us to plant.

“When I came home, there was a garden the size unknown to few town people. I was a little overwhelmed.”

Tami Hemer is owner and operator of Fancy Threads, her retail embroidery business. Part of the business is run from her residence and the other from Hemer Farm Supply, located in nearby Arthur. Hemer has a business and accounting background that has played a large role in the Hemer family’s farm operation, farm supply business, as well as her embroidery business.

Hemer adjusted, however, and – while the space has been adjusted down a bit from that first year – her garden fare is an integral part of many of her recipes.

“I plant potatoes, radish, jalapenos, cucumbers, onions, green beans and peas,” Hemer said. “My chili is made with homemade tomato sauce and many of the ingredients come from our garden.”

While sizable gardening was new to her, cooking was not. Hemer learned to bake from her grandmother, Leona Dutler.

“My grandma was a big part of my first cooking experiences. She taught me how to make saltwater taffy. I remember stretching and pulling it,” Hemer said. “We made cookies and candies together. Her strawberry pie is one of my favorites.”

Hemer has three sons who have counted on her baking skills for after-school snacks. Tanner, 14, a freshman at Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School, encouraged his mother to share her Special K bar recipe with Farm News readers.

Hemer’s two other sons are out of school. Eric is employed at Crop Production Services in Ida Grove, and Ryan is studying global positioning at Kirkwood Community College.

“Now that my youngest is in high school, this is the first in many years that I haven’t made something special for his teachers and bus driver,” said Hemer. “I still make my cheesy potato soup for his FFA soup supper, and this upcoming weekend I’ll have bars for the Herb Irgen’s Wrestling Invitational in Ida Grove.”

Hemer also helps out with church events, staying plenty busy in the kitchen, as well at Hemer’s Farm Supply.

Hemer utilizes her business and accounting degree to keep books for the store in Arthur. “Our family and two of my husband’s families purchased the feed store in 1995,” said Hemer. “I keep the books and mind the counter.”

Hemer notes that winter brings special challenges with the forklift, suggesting that her responsibilities stretch further than “minding the counter.” In addition, she also owns and operates an embroidery business.

Fancy Threads is the name of her retail embroidery business she operates partially out of the farm supply. “I started with a single needle machine in November of 2006,” Hemer said. “It was only a few months after when I found out that wasn’t going to cut it.

“In June of 2007, I was getting enough business to purchase a 10-needle embroidery machine with computer-assisted design.”

Fancy Threads has grown by supplying area schools, banks, farmers and others with professionally embroidered apparel.

Hemer also performs the accounting duties for the farm that Don operates with his brothers, Dave and Jay.

The Hemer farm’s crop operation includes soybeans, corn, alfalfa and hay.

The farm has been in the family since Don’s grandfather, Clarence, bought the land in 1941.

The families also manage a cattle operation which amuses Hemer – she’s been a vegetarian since she was a kid.

“My mom just couldn’t’ get me to eat any meat, and I still don’t. Don and I go to the cattleman’s banquet regardless – it’s a lot of fun.”


2 pounds hamburger

1/2 onion

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 large can – Mrs. Grimes chili beans

2-quarts homemade tomato sauce (see recipe below)

Brown hamburger with chopped onion and chili powder. Add can of chili beans and homemade tomato sauce.

Serve with crackers or Doritos, cheese and onion.

Homemade tomato sauce

4 quats tomatoes

2 quarts water

3 bay leaves

4 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoon pepper

2 tablespoon oregano

2 cups. onions

4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup sugar

3 12-ounce cans tomato paste

Put tomatoes through blender. After blending, combine tomatoes with remaining ingredients. Cook 2 hours on simmer. Add tomato paste. Cook to desired thickness. Seal jars.

Optional: May add green peppers through blender with tomatoes.

Special K bars

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups white syrup

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 package butterscotch chips

8 cups Special K cereal

Bring sugar and white syrup to a boil. Add peanut butter and stir together. Pour mixture over the Special K cereal and mix, making sure the cereal is coated.

For traditional bars, press coated cereal in a jelly roll pan.

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together in microwave. Spread on bars.

If you need something a little fancier, drop coated cereal by the teaspoon to waxed paper and top individually with melted chocolate/butterscotch chips.


strawberry pie

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups. flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup salad oil

3 tablespoons milk

Mix the above ingredients and press into pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Let pie crust cool.

Add 3 cups uncut strawberries.

1 cup strawberries, mashed

2/3 cups sugar

2/3 cups water

3 tablespoons corn starch

1/3 cups water

Red food coloring

1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix mashed strawberries, sugar and water. Place in saucepan and cook on stove-top, adding corn starch, additional 1/3 cup water, food coloring and almond extract until the mixture thickens.

Pour mixture on top of uncut strawberries. Let cool.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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