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60 years cooking, and counting

By Staff | Apr 27, 2012

Clara Sickelka cuts into her rhubarb dessert. Friends and family say whenever she cooks for a group, it’s an event.


Farm News staff writer

SUTHERLAND – Clara Sickleka has been cooking for her husband, Delmar, for some 60 years and some days, she said that she feels like, “I’ve done my share and it’s time for someone else to cook.”

Now, how many farm cooks out there haven’t thought that same thing?

But Sickleka won’t be hanging up her apron any time soon, not if her family and friends have anything to say about it.

“Running to the farm gives me a chance to see my grandchildren. They help me pick the rhubarb.” —Clarte Sickelka Sutherland

“Clara is a phenomenal cook who enjoys sharing her many talents with her family and others in her community,” said Linda Ranson, of Ocheyedan, Sickleka’s neice.

Living in town gives Sickleka a chance to focus on her gardening skills.

She grows a variety of flowers and also keeps a small vegetable garden.

“My rhubarb is still out at the farm,” she said. “I have not had good luck transplanting it into this garden in town.

“But that’s OK, because running to the farm gives me a chance to see my grandchildren. They help me pick the rhubarb for the rhubarb turnover I prepared for today.”

One of Sickleka’s community projects involves printing, in braille, books of the Bible for blind readers around the world.

She and fellow church members from Bethel Lutheran Church, in Sutherland, meet weekly to work on this project.

“Our group also creates quilts which are sent on to church missions where they are distributed to those in need,” Sickleka said

Sickleka said she enjoys quilting and has a project in the works for this year’s O’Brien County Fair.

Each year O’Brien County Extension sells kits for creating one’s own quilt block. After purchasing the kit, one creates the 12-inch block and brings it to the O’Brien County Fair. Names of those who created blocks are drawn from a hat and someone will win all of the blocks entered.

This winner will agree to create a quilt to be shown at the next year’s fair.

Sickleka was last summer’s winner and she is now in the process of compiling those squares into a new quilt.

The O’Brien County couple moved to their farm near Gaza in 1959.

After rearing five children on the farm, they have since moved to a new home in Sutherland. Their son, Jamie and his wife Denise, live in the farm home.

Sickleka has included the recipe for her favorite rhubarb dessert and other family favorites.

Easy rhubarb pie

In a 10-inch pie plate add:

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Combine dry ingredients with fork and add:

1/2 cup of oil

2 tablespoons milk

Mix into dry ingredients and pat into pan.

In a bowl combine:

4 beaten eggs

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

Pinch of salt

Place 4 cups of chopped rhubarb into crust and pour egg mixture over all.

Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees.

Clara’s party mix

1/4 cup white syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

Cook over medium heat bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes.


1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large roaster add:

8 cups popped corn

4 cups Crispix cereal

2 cups of mini pretzels

1 cup of pecan halves

Pour cooked mixture over ingredients placed in roaster.

Bake in 250-degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir and bake 15 additional minutes.

Cool and break apart.

Clara’s favorite cheeseball

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese softened

1 10-ounce package shredded cheddar

1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

Combine ingredients and roll into ball or place in serving container.

Chill and serve with crackers.

Contact Robyn Kruger at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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