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Cooking on a whimsy? Not

By Staff | Mar 2, 2012

SUE MADSEN SPREADS chicken salad on homemade bread at her home near Galva. Madsen’s chicken salad is one of 14 products she markets under the brand WMSY Acres Foods and Gifts. “Everything is handmade in our small, state-licensed food processing plant,” said Madsen, “and delivered to customers in its freshest state.”

By DOUG CLOUGH/Farm News staff writer

GALVA – It wasn’t exactly on a whim that Sue Madsen decided to start her own business.

After a health scare in which she was diagnosed “sodium sensitive,” it was recommended she reduce her sodium intake to a minimum to avoid continued problems with fluid imbalance.

So it’s a bit ironic that she’d name the endeavor that resulted from her sodium sensitivity as WMSY Acres.

Madsen decided to create WMSY Acres and wmsyacres.com when she found how much of a struggle it is to locate low-sodium foods at grocery stores.

BILL AND SUE MADSEN crop farm east of Galva. Sue Madsen operates her brand WMSY Acres out of their farmstead. She handles the books for their farm and helps with harvesting in the fall, as well as run her own business.

“I was spending one to two hours at grocery stores for each visit just to find items that were truly low sodium,” Madsen said. “People started approaching me about what I was trying to do, and I found out that I wasn’t the only one frustrated.”

It was that frustration that got Madsen thinking how she could get something going that could benefit others, as well as herself.

That something was a website that touted her low sodium products and her blog about healthy living and her life at WMSY Acres, just east of Galva.

“In 2009, I started to offer some low-sodium items at area garage sales, and they sold way better than I expected. Sales and interest began increasing without taking a lot of time to push it.”

Madsen began to wonder what would happen if she actually started to market her products – low sodium with “variety and pizzazz.”

“The Galva Economic Development Corp., provided a grant for business classes and small business development,” she said. “The classes were offered by Western Iowa Tech and they offered courses in business plans, legal issues, financing, marketing, packaging and other topics.

“Taking advantage of those classes was one of the best things I could have done.”

Her website is one of the marketing efforts that arose out of her education. Madsen decided simple was best.

She said she developed 14 products that she thought would sell well and has marketed them on her site.

“Chai Tea has done very well,” she said. “I also never realized how many people are passionate about my cornbread.”

Madsen has also been happy about how well her double chocolate brownie mix has sold.

“It’s a little-known fact that most deserts are low on sodium. It was a big seller during Christmas.”

Madsen’s seasonal soups also do well during wintertime. During the summers, the Cherokee Farmer’s Market is another place that where she promoted and sold her products.

“I learned to cook from my mom, Carolyn Young, and some from Betty Crocker,” Madsen said. “I experimented on my brothers. If they came back for more, then I knew I was onto something.

“I’m lucky to have a husband who is supportive and has agreed to be my tester for new recipes.”

Madsen’s husband, Bill, is part of the creative persona behind the WMSY brand name.

‘WM’ are his initials; ‘SY’ incorporates her maiden name, Sue Young. “It just seemed right to bring both of our names together for our endeavor,” Sue Madsen said.

The couple has been married for 37 years farming beans and corn full time.

“I do the books and help with harvesting,” Madsen said. “I combine in the fall with our six row, 2388 Case-IH.”

Chicken salad

1 cup cooked, cubed chicken

1/2 cup chopped celery (1 to 2 ribs)

1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained

1/2 cup grapes, sliced in half

1/2 cup fat-free, cholesterol-free or low-fat mayonnaise dressing

In medium bowl, combine chicken, celery, pineapple and grapes.

Stir in mayonnaise until well combined. Cover and refrigerate.

Makes 5 1/2-cup servings.

Note: Can be served on bread or in pita pockets with lettuce leaf and sliced tomato, if desired.

Susan’s no-cook noodle lasagna

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained

1 package Susan’s Italian Sauce, prepared per label directions

1 3/4 cups (15 ounces) Ricotta cheese

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

9 pieces lasagna noodles, uncooked

4 cups (16 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In 3-quart saucepan, brown meat and drain. Stir in sauce.

In small bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, egg, basil and oregano.

For assembly:

1. In 9-by-13-inch pan, spread 3/4 cup meat sauce.

2. Place three pieces uncooked lasagna over sauce; do not crowd.

3. Spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture over pasta. Spread 1/3 of meat sauce over ricotta, covering pasta completely; sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3. Top with remaining three pasta pieces.

Spread remaining meat sauce completely over pasta; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

5. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes; remove foil and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Store extra pasta pieces tightly wrapped, in a cool dry place for another time.

Makes 12 servings.

Make ahead directions: Prepare recipe as directed, but do not bake.

Cover with plastic wrap, then foil.

Refrigerate up to 48 hours or freeze up to 2 months.

Remove plastic wrap, replace foil and bake at 350 degrees.

Refrigerated lasagna bakes for about 40 minutes.

Frozen lasagna bakes about 1 hour 30 minutes.

Remove foil during last 10 minutes of baking.

Chocolate mocha

angel food torte

2 packages WMSY Acres Quick Cooked Chocolate Pudding Mix. prepared per package directions, adding 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules.

1 cup whipping cream, whipped and divided, or 2 cups Cool Whip, thawed.

1 10-inch prepared angel food cake, cut into bite-size cubes

1 1.4-ounce Heath or butter finger candy bar, crushed (may use chocolate chips or any small candy desired)

Prepare pudding mix; chill till set.

Whisk in half of the whipped cream.

In large glass bowl, layer half of cake cubes, half of pudding mixture and half of remaining whipped cream; repeat layers ending with whipped cream.

Sprinkle crushed candy bar over top. Chill before serving.

Makes 10 servings. Serve in clear glass footed serving bowl for an impressive presentation.

Strawberry

bliss parfailts

1/2 cup Cool Whip

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup diced, plus six whole fresh strawberries, stemmed

1 package (four-serving size) sugar-free strawberry gelatin

3/4 cup boiling water

Combine Cool Whip, yogurt, honey, lemon and diced strawberries; set aside.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Combine 1/2 cup cold water plus ice cubes to make 1 3/4 cups. Add to gelatin and stir till thickened; remove any unmelted ice.

Place 1 whole strawberry in each parfait glass, top with gelatin to cover. Add a layer of topping mixture, then remaining gelatin .

Garnish with Cool Whip and berries, if desired.

Makes four to six servings.

Fresh vegetable

pita pizza

Good with pitas made from whole grain hot roll mix, Madsen said.

1 pound fresh tomatoes, held at room temperature

4 7-inch pita breads

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced (2 cups)

1 cup thinly sliced sweet red or white onion

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Core and slice tomatoes, then cut each slice in half. Place pitas on 2 baking sheets; brush with oil.

Arrange tomato slices on each pita, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and half of Italian seasoning.

Bake until tomatoes are heated and pitas begin to crisp, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle tomatoes with half of the mozzarella cheese.

Top with zucchini, green pepper and onion. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Italian seasoning.

Bake until cheese is melted and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

Serve with crushed red pepper and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves 4.

Quick blarney stones

A great recipe for St. Patrick’s Day, Madsen said.

1 10-inch angel food cake, cut into 10 slices

6 cups peanuts, finely chopped

1 2-pound bag powered sugar

2/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cut cake slices into three finger-size servings.

In a mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth (frosting will be thin).

Frost all sides of the cake pieces and immediately roll in peanuts. Place on wire racks to dry.

Makes 30 servings.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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