She takes requests
By CLAYTON RYE/Farm News staff writer
FOREST CITY – Lisa Steffen is a popular person at the Albert Lea Medical Center, where she works the 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift, three days a week.
Her co-workers are on the receiving end of her kitchen creations. She takes requests and often for recipes that have become favorites including her old-fashioned molasses cookies.
“I love to bake,” Steffen said.
She said she’s made cookies and sold them for Forest City’s Relay For Life, contributing $500 in sales to the cause.
One of Steffen’s cooking goals is food that will keep for several days and retain its flavor.
“I make what tastes good after two days in a refrigerator,” she said.
Growing up in town in nearby Mason City, she became a farm wife when she married Jim Steffen and moved to the farm west of Forest City.
She discovered food purchasing and planning required a different set of procedures, because the convenience of a grocery store close by did not exist out in the country.
Gardening is essential to her, and she raises her produce using raised beds, which she can see outside her kitchen window.
Here she grows green beans, carrots, tomatoes for sauce and salsa, asparagus for cream of asparagus soup, apples for sauce and apple butter, potatoes, rhubarb and habanero peppers she uses to make rhubarb-habanero jam.
When she suggested gardening using raised beds, she said her husband thought she would start with three or four beds.
However, Steffen’s philosophy is “Go big or go home,” she said and 17 raised beds were built. She grows vegetables with three of the beds having perennial flowers and one as an herb garden.
She harvested 400 yellow, white and red onions from her garden and used them all herself.
She described her raised bed garden as a “container garden on steroids.”
Raised beds, she said, allows her to use hand tools for soil preparation with no need for a tiller. Weeds are controlled with mulch. Because the soil is raised, it dries out first in the spring for early planting.
A patio was built next to her raised beds, and a favorite evening pleasure for Steffen is to sit on the patio with a glass of wine and survey her garden’s progress.
However, Steffen’s active life recently got busier with the creation of a family business, LLJD, LLC. The business uses the initials of Lisa, her sister Lori and her brother JD.
Six months ago, while enjoying a salad dressing made from a family recipe, her brother JD said, “We need to do something with this.”
That was the beginning of the family business that is bottling, for retail sales, Gramma Amber’s Salad Dressing.
Steffen’s paternal grandmother was from northern Indiana and and handed the secret recipe, in shorthand, to Steffen’s mother, who in turn gave it out to no one.
The recipe became a family favorite, Steffen said, because it is flavorful, can be used sparingly meaning a lower caloric intake, and is free of gluten, monosodium glutamate, and is low in sodium.
The startup business met with a bottler in Shenandoah in September, who became enthusiastic about the dressing after tasting it.
LLJD developed a business plan, created an operating agreement, and trademarked their name with registration expected soon.
The Steffens bought product liability insurance, obtained an EIN number, have a label with its barcode, and had it tested for nutrition that appears on the product label.
On Jan. 26, Steffen said, they had their first run of the salad dressing of 120 gallons that filled 60 cases.
The family has approached regional grocery stores, and the product, she said, has been well received with retailers displaying the salad dressing for sale.
Steffen said there are 25 cases remaining from the first run.
“We are very passionate about this,” she said. “It is near and dear to our hearts.”
Besides grocery stores, Steffen said the salad dressing is being offered to restaurants, because of it being MSG- and gluten-free and low in sodium.
“The places that don’t have it yet,” Steffen said, “is because I haven’t been there.”
Steffy’s breakfast burritos
Start by making a traditional egg bake recipe
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 pounds pork or turkey sausage or bacon (cooked)
1 large onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Package of hash rounds
3 packages of burrito shells
4 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
Mix first five ingredients and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and top with hash rounds.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and let cool.
Cut into 18 to 20 pieces – cutting down the middle and across in small slices
Slightly warm the burrito shells in a microwave oven to make them easier to work with.
Put a slice of egg bake on the burrito and sprinkle it with cheese.
Fold in the side and you roll it up and wrap in foil. Store 10 to 12 burritos in 1-gallon freezer bags for later.
Can be warmed up from the freezer in a microwave oven for 2 minutes seam side down.
Serve with salsa or any family favorite.
Habanero-glazed pork loin with iceberg and spinach salad
Pork loin, 3 to 4 pounds.
Bake at 300 degrees (low and slow) for 4 to 5 hours.
During the last hour of baking make small slits on top of loin and cover with habanero jam.
Let sit 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.
Note: Works well for pulled pork sandwiches for leftovers.
Toss equal parts of iceberg and baby spinach leaves.
Garnish with carrot slices, raisins, bacon bits, almond slices and egg wedges
Drizzle with Gramma Amber’s Salad Dressing.
Add dressing just prior to serving and toss.
Can serve individual salads or make a family salad.
Gramma’s Kugelhopf German chocolate coffee cake
1 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
3 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 heaping tablespoons Nestles milk chocolate.
Cream margarine, sugar, and vanilla, adding eggs one at a time.
Add dry ingredients with milk alternating.
Take out one cup of batter and add almond extract and 2 heaping tablespoons of Nestle’s milk chocolate.
Grease and flour kugelhopf pan.
Add half the batter and three dabs of the chocolate.
Pour in the rest of the batter and add three more drops of the chocolate batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Let cool, then plate and sprinkle with fine sugar.
Note: Yellow cake mix can be substituted to save time.
1/2 cup molassis
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Crisco
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in molasses and eggs and then set aside.
In another bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
Gradually mix flour mixture into creamed ingredients until dough is smooth.
Roll into 2-inch balls and dip or roll in sugar.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 11 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes approximately 3 dozen.
Clayton Rye is a Farm News staff writer. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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