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Cooking reflects her farm life

By Staff | Jan 17, 2014

SANDY BOEKELMAN stands with two pies she prepared. The coconut cream in foreground and a cherry pie, which she made by request for a friend’s birthday.

ALGONA – Many years ago Cletus and Darlene Zweifel farmed near Burt, a town in Kossuth County north of Algona. They were the parents of five children two daughters, a son and two more daughters.

Their second daughter was Sandy, now Sandy Boekelman, who lives north of Algona with her husband, Cal.

Sandy Boekelman’s parents are gone, but the memories of life on the farm are strong and her cooking reflects years of farm life.

“I was a good farm girl,” said Boekelman, recalling baling hay, walking beans, milking cows, raising chickens and cattle, and learning to drive a manual shift transmission.

During hay baling, Boekelman said she stacked hay on the flat rack as her mother drove the baler. She refused to stack bales in the barn, leaving that to the other family members.

BOEKELMAN SAID she uses a ready-to-whip topping for this coconut cream pie that won’t wilt or separate for two days.

While her parents were outside working, Boekelman said, “I was inside cooking, making meals and baking.”

“Everything is (from) scratch,” said Boekelman.

She uses fresh ingredients as much as possible. Her grocery stores purchases are staples such as flour, sugar and eggs.

Apples from trees outside the Boekelman home and peaches are frozen to bake pies.

Bread and pies are Boekelman’s preference in the kitchen. Family and friends know this when asking her to bring food to a gathering.

“I’m not bringing a salad,” said Boekelman. “Bring on the desserts, and I’ll do it. Everybody requests pies.”

She makes pies frequently for family and friends as a favor.

On Jan. 8, Boekelman had a coconut cream pie she had already made and was finishing a cherry pie that was requested for a friend’s birthday.

One of her favorite things to do when making a pie is to multiply the ingredients by one and a half to make a fuller pie, she said.

She did this for her coconut cream pie.

This pie and cherry pie are in 9-inch pans with the cherry pie having its ingredients at normal amounts and the coconut cream pie at 1.5 times normal.

When baking, Boekelman said she only measures two ingredients.

“Everything else, I just dump,” she said. “I don’t use the timer on my oven, either.”

She received a purple ribbon as best of show for her peach pie at the Kossuth County Fair three years ago and the same award for her Grandmother Myrtle Zweifel’s bread recipe two years ago at the fair.

In an unusual twist, while Boekelman’s pies have a reputation for their flavor, she does not care to eat the pie crust, which everyone tells her is just as delicious; but she leaves it on the plate.

Boekelman has worked at Snap-On Tools in Algona for 41 years.

The Boekelmans are parents of four children.

Son Jace lives in Titonka, and son Stacy lives in North Dakota. Daughters Lisa and Miranda live in Orange City and Wall, S.D., respectively.

For the past two years, Cal Boekelman and son Jace have been working two weeks on and two weeks off in the western North Dakota oilfields where Stacy works.

Father and son car pool for the biweekly ride to western North Dakota and back.


Boekelman calls this layered bread, which is mixed in a large bread bowl.

3 cups scalded milk, cooled

1/2 cup sugar

4 heaping tablespoons shortening or lard

3 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons salt

2 packages yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Flour, enough for stiff dough

Mix yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and sugar in a measuring cup. Let sit while scalding milk.

Stir the 1/2 cup sugar and lard into the scalded milk and let cool.

Put water in bread bowl with vinegar, ginger and salt. Add cooled milk mixture and yeast mixture.

Begin adding flour, stirring until very stiff.

Continue to add flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Let dough raise.

To form loaves, take small hunks of dough and roll into logs. Layer the logs into greased bread pans.

Let raise a second time.

Bake in 350 degree oven until golden.

Makes four large loaves.

(Note: Boekelman said this is her great-grandmother’s recipe, so she does not have the exact baking time.)


This dough can be used for cinnamon rolls.

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup water

2/3 cup shortening

4 eggs

1/2 to 1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 cakes yeast

Warm milk and water together. Pour over shortening.

Add eggs, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix well.

Add 8 to 10 cups flour. Let raise. Punch down and make into buns. Let raise again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

(Note: Boekelman said she buys her cake yeast from a grocery’s bakery department)

Vanilla cream pie

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch or 1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

3 slightly beaten egg yolks

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 9-inch baked pastry shell

1 recipe for meringue

In saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in milk.

Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cook two minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir small amount of hot mixture into yolks, then return to hot mixture.

Cook two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Add butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature. Spread into baked pastry shell.

Spread meringue over top, sealing to pastry.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Coconut cream pie

1 9-inch baked pastry shell

1 vanilla pie filling, see previous recipe

1 cup coconut, plus more for topping

1 carton of a ready-to-whip topping

2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Make vanilla filling and stir in 1 cup coconut with butter and vanilla.

Let cool, then spread in baked pastry shell.

Thaw a carton of ready-to-whip topping until a few ice crystals remain.

Pour into bowl and whip until thick, adding sugar to taste. Spread on coconut filling.

Toast a small amount of coconut in moderate oven until light brown.

Sprinkle toasted coconut over whipped topping. Chill.

This topping keeps for a couple of days without wilting or separating.

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