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Retirement brings cooking changes

By Staff | Sep 27, 2013

LINDA KRUGER prepares to cut tomatoes in her rural Sheldon kitchen. Since her retirement in 2011, she said she’s been pursuing an interest in canning her garden produce for better nutrition control for her family.

SHELDON – Linda and Al Kruger retired from their city jobs in 2011, which brought numerous household changes to their O’Brien County farm life, including cooking.

Linda Kruger said she had the room for a huge garden – about a quarter of an acre in size – and so nurtured a new-found desire to can their food.

“It was a way for me to know what is in the food we eat,” Kruger said. “There are no additives, dyes or chemicals, I know exactly what I put in those jars.”

She said she gives many of her canned goods to her children and grandchildren.

This year’s canning included green beans, beets, carrots, sweet corn, pickles, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, grape jelly and apple butter.

A PORTION OF the canned goods in Linda Kruger’s pantry stand waiting for use.

“It is a lot of work,” she said, “but there is such an amazing payoff in the end by making my own healthy food and sharing it with my family and friends.”

One more change for this upcoming year, Kruger said, will be starting all the seeds in a greenhouse she and her husband have built.

City to farm

Forty-four years ago Linda Kruger moved to the country.

Growing up in Council Bluffs, Kruger said she never would have guessed this was where life would take her.

It was a chance meeting in Okoboji, she said, that started the ball rolling, and it didn’t take long for this city girl to find herself in the middle of a farm.

Eight years later, the Krugers and their budding family moved to what was called the “family farm.”

Originally settled by the Kruger family in 1914 by Al’s grandfather, Al Kruger’s parents made the move to the farm in 1940.

When the Krugers moved there in 1977, Linda Kruger said, it was a real adjustment for her.

Although they had lived just two miles away, Kruger said the biggest change the move required of her was making lunches and dinners for multiple workers.

“Gone is the day of the whole section working together to chop silage,” she said, “but back in the day that was the only way to do it.”

Having 10 to 15 men to feed, plus two coffee breaks to prepare for was not an easy feat.

Kruger said she was not the typical farm wife, since she was holding down a full-time job in town during those years.

There was also added pressure to out-do the last farm wife’s dinner.

Obviously, meat and potatoes were a must, but there was also fresh bread, a vegetable and a dessert or two for coffee times.

Kruger said she went as far as to fix a turkey with all the trimmings for the men once.

“That was a real favorite because beef roast was the most common main dish, so this was something out of the ordinary,” she said.

As the years passed, Kruger said there was more grilling and slow-cooker cooking to accommodate her kitchen chores and the changing farm needs.

When they moved to the farm, Kruger said they added pigs and added a dairy operation.

The dairy cattle added to the stress. Kruger recalled picking up the added responsibility of milking on top of her city job.

During the 1980s farm crisis, she said, the economy tanked and the Krugers were forced to sell the dairy cattle, and began raising horses.

Still, cooking large meals were a necessity due to hay baling.

Canned apple pie

mix cake


1 can apple pie mix

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat and add:2 eggs, 2/3 cup oil nd 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour batter into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and while the cake is still warm, pour the following mixture over the cake:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 stick of margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

Angel bars

Beat four eggs for 5 minutes and slowly add 2 cups sugar taking 10 minutes to add the sugar.

Sift and slowly add:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Finally, add 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Bake in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Frost with the following:

1 egg

1/2 cup margarine

1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla

2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

Beat until smooth and top with chopped peanuts

Raisin spice cake

Boil 2 cups raisins in 2 cups water for 15 minutes.

Turn out in large bowl and add 6 tablespoons margarine and 1 cup cold water.

Let cool and add 2 cups sugar.

Sift and add to above:

4 cups flour

1teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cloves

1teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Allspice

Lastly, add 1 cup water and put in a 9-by-13-inch pan or can make as cupcakes.

Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

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