A moveable feast
LAKE CITY – Pedaling nearly 500 miles across Iowa on a bicycle in the heat of July should be the recipe for weight loss, but it’s hard to resist all the homemade pie and other treats that enthusiasts of RAGBRAI have come to love.
“If you go away hungry from RAGBRAI, it’s your own fault,” said Holly Johnson, 38, from Sedona, Ariz. “RAGBRAI is quite a phenomenon and we’ve had excellent food along the way.”
Don Hess, 62, from Redding, Calif., was especially pleased with the homemade peach turnover he bought in Lake City.
“It’s excellent,” said Hess, a two-time RAGBRAI veteran who enjoys the camaraderie that abounds along the route.
Volunteers who raised money for the Lake City Pool Project made 868 peach, apple and blueberry turnovers, using a recipe that Jane Johnson, of Yetter, and her daughter, Ali Batz, showcased when they ran Appleberry Farms in Lake City.
Ben Williams, 15, of Mesa, Ariz., was impressed with his apple turnover. “This is the best food I’ve had so far,” said this young member of the Arizona Penguins bicycle team.
Turnovers weren’t the only option for pie after RAGBRAI riders left their overnight stop in Lake View and headed east on Iowa Highway 175.
Members and friends of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Auburn, baked nearly 130 pies to serve to the riders, while Richard Vanderheiden from Van’s Cafe, in Auburn, served up a full breakfast buffet.
It takes massive amounts of food to feed the 10,000 registered riders and other people who come along on RAGBRAI, a seven-day extravaganza that has become the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world during its 40-year history.
Burning all those calories every day works up quite an appetite for hearty comfort foods like biscuits and gravy.
“We sold out of biscuits and gravy by about 8:30 a.m. when RAGBRAI came through Lake City on July 24,” said Gerry Weidert, a former Army and U.S. Marine Corps cook, who served this specialty at the Lake City Union Church.
“All our local vendors did well, and we had a lot of fun.”
(These fruit-filled treats by Jane Johnson and her daughter, Ali Batz, both of Yetter, offer a unique twist on traditional pie.)
2 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup hot water
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
A little cinnamon and sugar (sprinkle on the prepared apples)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Enough water to make frosting
Mix flour, vegetable oil, water and salt together. Roll out dough into small circles and fill each circle with a small amount of apple mixture.
Fold dough over the apple mixture in each turnover and seal edges. Bake at 385 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Mix all frosting ingredients together, and drizzle turnovers with the powdered sugar frosting.
Biscuits and gravy
(While Gerry Weidert used prepared mixes for his biscuits and gravy to feed the large RAGBRAI crowds, here’s the version that he enjoys cooking at home)
To make biscuits:
2 1/4 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
Combine Bisquick and milk, and knead dough.
Dust a countertop with flour, and roll out dough to a thickness of about one half of an inch up to 1 inch.
Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.
To make the sausage gravy:
1 pound Jimmy Dean sausage
2/3 cup flour
5 cups 2 percent milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown the sausage; reserve the grease. Stir in flour until dissolved.
Gradually stir in milk. On medium high to high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
Cook until mixture is thick and bubbly. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve sausage gravy over biscuits.
(This oil-based crust is quick, easy and better for you, since it doesn’t contain saturated fats, said Glenna Daiker, of Auburn, who made a number of pies to serve during RAGBRAI.)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons cold water
Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Pour oil and water into same measuring cup; do not stir.
Pour oil mixture over flour mixture. Stir mixture lightly with a fork until blended.
Form into a crust in the pan by patting out the dough with a spoon. (You can also roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper before placing the dough in the pan.)
Recipe makes two 9-inch pie shells or one double crust.
Luscious cherry pie
(Glenna Daiker, of Auburn, enjoys baking this tempting pie, which is always a crowd-pleaser.)
2 cups pitted cherries
1/3 cup cherry juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon butter
1 recipe for plain pastry (Glenna uses her oil-based pie dough recipe)
Combine cherries, juice, almond extract, granulated sugar, brown sugar and tapioca; let stand 15 minutes.
Pour into an 8-inch, pastry-lined pie pan; dot with butter.
Adjust top crust and flute edges. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Smothered hash browns
(Van’s Cafe, in Auburn, is well-known for its smothered hash browns. While each hash brown is a meal in itself, Richard Vanderheiden serves them with toast. Some customers also like two fried eggs on top.)
1 to 2 potatoes (depending on the size of the potato)
1/4 cup cooked, diced sausage
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup mushrooms
Slices of American cheese
Boil potato(es) with their skins on. (They don’t have to be completely cooked, Richard said. Prick the potatoes with a fork. If you can get the tines in about half way, the potatoes can be removed from the water.) Peel the potatoes once they have cooled. (Richard likes to let his potatoes sit overnight in the refrigerator before finishing.)
Shred the potatoes. Add butter to a frying pan. Add the shredded potatoes, and brown them on both sides.
While the potatoes are cooking, saute the sausage, onions, green peppers and mushrooms in vegetable oil.
Place the cooked hash brown on a plate, and top the hash brown with the sauted sausage and vegetable mixture.
Add a slice or two of American cheese, which will melt over the hash brown.
Makes one serving.
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