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City girl has learned farm ways

By Staff | Jul 20, 2012

ELLEN TUSHA SHOWS two of her favorite activities, cooking with these slices of rhubarb bread and flowers from her perennial garden.

GARNER – Growing up in Mason City, Ellen Tusha was a city girl who would eventually move to the country to be a farm wife and everything that comes with it.

To say Tusha has thrived on the farm is almost an understatement. She has learned to serve meals for large groups in her home and for two to eight workers in the field during the busy season.

Living in Mason City, she was not a 4-H member, but became a leader for six years for the Orthel Jolly Workers, a girls 4-H club.

Tusha has become a strong 4-H supporter.

“Everything you do in daily life, you get to do it in the 4-H program,” she said.

ELLEN TUSHA’S summer days are spent outside caring for the wide variety of plants she has around the landscaped Tusha home.

As a 4-H leader, she encouraged clubbers to try projects to learn new things, even projects that seemed difficult and challenging.

In addition to her family, Tusha’s two other passions are cooking and the plants she has scattered outside the Tushas’ spacious home.

One of the characteristics she values in her cooking is flexibility. She prefers to use what she has on hand because on the farm, meals can be served anytime, anywhere.

Once a recipe has been tried, she said, she will continue to improve it through trial and error using her own inspiration.

The grill is a favorite way to cook many of her meals. She cooks a variety of meat, including fish, on the grill and especially enjoys grilled vegetables.

She said her father told her the way to grill perfect chicken is to turn it every seven minutes and use only salt, pepper and lemon pepper as seasoning.

Thanksgiving is a family favorite with a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie. These meals are served to guests numbering as low as 20 and as high as 43.

Tusha said she enjoys serving meals to large groups and two years ago, for a post-prom party, served Cajun food as part of a Mardi Gras theme to approximately 80 people.

When not inside cooking, Tusha can be found outside during the summer planting flowers, grasses and shrubbery. Perennials are a favorite of hers, she said.

She enjoys flowers because, “You never know what you are going to get,” Tusha said. “It’s the beauty of nature.”

Last June, Ellen and Tim Tusha celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. They are parents to three daughters – Liz, 19, will be going to Iowa State University this fall, looking to prepare herself for the world of business; Maddie,17, a junior, and Grace, 15, a sophomore, both attending Garner-Hayfield-Ventura School.

Rhubarb bread

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2/3 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

2 cups raw rhubarb

Topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon soft butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bread pans or coat with cooking spray.

In large bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, salt and soda. In small bowl, beat egg slightly; stir in buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture, stir in cut rhubarb. Stir just till moistened. Pour into bread pans. (Makes two regular loaves or three to four small loaves.)

Combine topping mixture of sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle over bread mixture.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.

Egg and ham bake

3 cups french bread, cubed

3 cups. ham, diced

1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, grated

4 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 dash of Tabasco sauce

3 cups milk

3 tablespoons melted oleo (margarine)

1 dash of salt

Layer bread first in a well greased 9-by-13-inch pan, followed by ham, topped with Cheddar cheese. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the first three layers. Refrigerate overnight.

Bake, covered, for 1 hour at 300 degrees. Serves 8 to 10 people.

Coffee cake

1 yellow cake mix

1 package of vanilla pudding (have used banana cream)

4 eggs

3/4 cup oil

1 cup water

3 teaspoons of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and measure out all items.

Mix all in a bowl except for sugar and cinnamon. Split batter in half and prour into two, round pans, or into a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Sprinkle on half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture across the top. Then pour remaining batter on top covering the sugar cinnamon.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar and cinnamon on top.

Place in oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, checking with a toothpick at the end. Let cool and enjoy.

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