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No cookin’ like home cookin’

By Staff | Apr 6, 2012

BRIDGET DREY places a tray of crackers and ham dip on the family table as her daughters Tristin, left, and Ashley sit for dinner. “My grandma Val always tells me I make the best ham dip,” said Drey. “That always makes me smile because I got the recipe from her.” Drey also has two high school-aged sons, Austin and Tyler. She and husband Mark Drey farm just south of Holstein.

By DOUG CLOUGH

Farm News staff writer

HOLSTEIN – Bridget Drey has a sign in her kitchen that reads: “There’s No Cooking, Like Home Cooking.” It’s not unlike most catch phrases in country kitchens across the Midwest. For Drey, however, it’s more than a slogan; it’s a legacy.

“I’ve been lucky enough to learn from some of the best cooks,” said Drey, “and they all come from my family.”

“My mom, Marzella Schuldt, was a cook in the Odebolt-Arthur schools and the head cook (for) Holstein schools,” Drey said. “She has requests all the time for her potato salad for graduations and weddings. My [maternal] grandma, Val Greene, owned a cafe in Humboldt where she made outstanding pork tenderloins.

BRIDGET DREY proudly displays — and uses — the cookbook her grandmother, Val Greene, assembled of her favorite recipes in 1978. “This gets lots of use,” said Drey. “It’s more than just the recipes, though. It’s the memories of our times together preparing and enjoying the food as a family. I am working on making my own book of recipes for the same reasons.”

“My grandma Opal Schuldt, she passed away in 1998, made homemade buns that are out of this world and custard pie, too. She made the custard pie every Easter.”

Drey paused and then said: “You know … it’s more than the food, it’s really the love that’s always gone into making it.”

Sitting around the Mark and Bridget Drey family table, it’s a claim that is impossible to refute.

All family members are at the dinner table on this Saturday afternoon, not only enjoying the food, but each other. They talk about the years that Bridget owned a flower shop, Country Treasures, in Holstein – 21 years in before calling it quits this past year. “I miss it,” said Drey.

Emphasizing the importance of the shop in their lives, daughter Tristin, 12, said, “I’m going to be a florist. I helped at the shop.”

THE DREY'S AMERICAN FLAG has been photographed by a professional for competition as well as for the cover of a regional phonebook. Bridget painted the corn crib in 2005. "I was mowing and kept thinking how the shape of the crib was perfect for our flag," said Drey. "I counted the boards and figured out the stripes and made a stamp out of sponges to do the stars." The Dreys repainted old glory in the summer of 2010. Standing in front of the flag, from left to right, is Ashley, Bridget, and Tristin Drey.

“Those were fun days,” said Drey. “Ashley went to market and craft shows, too.” Daughter Ashley, 19, nods.

“It gave them some business experience,” Drey said.

During a good portion of those years, the family recalls the period from 1988 to 2000 when Mark Drey farmed with his father, Raymond, raising livestock and growing corn and beans.

Bridget Drey worked with her mother-in-law, Susan Drey, at Country Treasures.

“We’d take turns managing the shop and cooking for our families,” she said. “We made lunches for the men in the field.” Today, Mark custom-feeds hogs on the couple’s farm.

When the family meal was finished, Drey pulled a cookbook from a shelf. It was created by her grandmother Val in 1978 when Bridget was in third grade. The book was well-thumbed with an ingredient or two embossed on its cover. “This cookbook means so much to me,” Drey said. “It has all the recipes from my grandma. I am going to make one of my own to pass on to my kids.”

For Drey, finding family favorite recipes will be an easy task. Ashley’s favorite is tater tot casserole. Son Tyler, 16, loves the ham ball recipe. Austin, 17, said “Definitely my mom’s cream puff dessert.”

Tristin claimed “There’s too many to decide.”

Mark appreciates her homemade pizzas.

With Easter approaching, Drey began to think about what will be on the menu.

“I have the holiday meals for my side of the family at our house,”she said. “I’d better make sure to have my deviled eggs for my nieces.”

As for Tristin, she finally decided on her favorites: “Corn bread, biscuits and spaghetti.”

It appears there won’t be any shortage of ideas for the Bridget Drey cookbook, which is certain to be a keeper for years to come. It’s sure to be complete with ingredients embossed on its cover from lots of family use … and love that comes with its author’s recipes.

Drey and her husband, Mark, live just south of Holstein with their four children. Ashley attends Morningside College while the boys attend Ridgeview High and Tristin attends Ridgeview Middle School.

Ham dip

(“I usually double this recipe, because everyone loves it and they always ask for the recipe.)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup chopped ham (thin sliced)

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Soften cream cheese. Chop 1 package ham slices. Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix together on low speed until well-blended.

Serve with choice of crackers.

Baked pork cutlets

(Tastes great with mashed potatoes, Drey said.)

6 tenderized pork cutlets

Flour, salt, pepper

Lawry’s seasoned salt

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Coat each cutlet in flour. Heat oil in pan and brown cutlets. Season with salt, pepper and Lawry’s to taste.

Place browned meat into greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spoon soup over top and spread with spoon. Pour 1 1/2 cans water over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

Macaroni corn bake

(“This is one of my most requested dishes and one of my kids’ favorites,” Drey said)

1 can cream-style corn

1 can whole kernel corn, undrained

1 cup uncooked macaroni noodles

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup melted margarine

1 cup shredded Velveeta

Grease casserole dish. Add all the ingredients, stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, uncovered.

Can also be made in a crock-pot, three hours on low or one hour on high.

Cream puff dessert

Crust:

1 stick oleo

1 cup water

1 cup flour

5 eggs

Bring oleo and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in flour. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added.

Spread into a greased 9-by-13-inch. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. The crust will puff up.

Filling:

3 cups milk

2 packages vanilla pudding

Mix together until smooth. Pour over cooled crust and store in refrigerator until set. Cover with one container of Cool Whip. Drizzle Hershey’s chocolate syrup over the top.

Refrigerate.

Snack mix

2 bags Bugles

1 bag pretzels

1 bag oyster crackers

1 box Cheeze-It crackers

1 bottle Orville Redenbacher Butter Oil

2 envelopes ranch dip

Mix oil and ranch dips together. Pour crackers, Bugles, and pretzels in larger roaster pan. Pour oil mixture over all and stir well.

Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring often.

Pour onto wax paper to dry. Store in air tight containers. Makes a large batch.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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