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A lifetime in the kitchen

By Staff | Jan 31, 2014

MARIE POMERENKE, standing in the kitchen where she was born, said cooking was not her strong suit growing up, but marriage and children changed that.

SHELDON – More than 70 years ago Marie Pomerenke was born in the exact kitchen where she would spend the rest of her years making meals and preparing the sweets that made this farm function.

She said she never imagined she would spend most of her entire life on this farm. After graduating from high school in the spring, she went on to marry Bob Pomerenke and remain on the Kannegieter family farm as her mother moved into town.

Pomerenke considers 1953 a landmark year: she graduated from high school in Ashton and got married.

Since then, she’s filled a not-so-common role around the farm; she and her brother, John Kannegieter, worked doing chores and jobs together, such as baling.

“I suppose it wasn’t common for woman at that time to do much in the line of farm work,” Pomerenke said.

CLUB CRACKER bars lie waiting for guests at the Pomerenkes’ farm in Sheldon.

“I really had no desire at the time to go to college. Now, I wish that I might have though.”

Cooking was not a practiced art in her formative years, she said, but after she married that all changed. With a husband and two sons, Kelly and Shane, it was now a necessity.

Combining that with the role of working the farm, Pomerenke said she was one busy woman.

“Early on we milked about six or seven cows which provided our milk, and we sold the remaining amount,” she said, “but mostly we concentrated on hogs and feeder cattle.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Pomerenke solely tended to 400 laying hens – washing and selling eggs twice a week.

When farrowing sows, she said she worked right along side her husband feeding, cleaning and watering the sows.

“Most meals we took along with us to the field,” Pomerenke said, “as I combined all the corn and hauled the loads of beans when they were combined, so it was mostly sandwiches and such.”

She said she also assisted with spring seed bed prep.

However, if there was baling or shelling to do, Pomerenke said she prepared large meals for the men.

Usually this consisted of roast, potaoes, a vegetable and some type of dessert, usually bars or cookies.

Casseroles were a staple of her family life though, because everyone enjoyed them.

“I really prefer baking and my family really like sweets,” she said.

A common family dinner might consist of a hot dish, salad and either French bread or garlic

“It used to be more common to bring and share meals with neighbors during that time,” Pomerenke said.

Usually neighbors were close by and sometimes they would play games or just visit and enjoy a good meal.

The whole family went visiting. The children could play while the adults visited.

Doing some limited gardening during this time, Pomerenke said it was not her favorite thing, but a necessity. The same holds true for canning, she said.

Cooking is still a big draw for Pomerenke’s family, gathering for birthdays and holidays, but she said her daughters-in-law “bring wonderful things too.”

Church is an important part of Pomerenke’s life and always has been.

She said bringing food or baked goods to friends and others who are ill gives her great satisfaction.

“Coffee and cards, that is what my life consists of now,” Pomerenke sad. “With two ladies groups to play cards with and a standing date of coffee date twice a week and Saturday morning breakfast at a local restaurant,” she keeps a busy social schedule.

Club cracker bars

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan and line the bottom with club crackers.

Bring to a boil:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup margarine

1/3 cup milk (not skim)

Turn down the heat, and continue to boil for another 5 minutes.

Pour over the crackers and then top with another layer of club crackers.

Frost with:

1 cup chocolate chips

2/3 cup peanut butter

Melt the above ingredients and pour over the second layer of crackers.

Refrigerate, and then cut when cool.

Hot dish

1 large can canned spaghetti

1 can tomato soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 quart canned or cooked carrots

3 large potatoes cooked and diced

1 pound hamburger

1/2 onion (chopped)

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the hamburger and the onion, then add all remaining ingredients and bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Sweet and sour meat balls

1 1/2 pound hamburger

1 cup milk

3/4 cup oatmeal

A small onion (chopped)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together thoroughly.

Form into balls and place in a greased baking dish.

Then pour over the balls with the following sauce:

4 tablespoons brown sugar

3 teaspoons vinegar

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup water

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Pretzel salad

8 ounces cream cheese (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

8 to 12 ounces whipped topping

2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1 1/2 cup chopped pretzels

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

Combine cream cheese, sugar and whipped topping. Add fresh strawberries.

In another bowl combine pretzels, butter and sugar.

Press these into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan and bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes.

When cooled, break up the pretzel mixture into small pieces.

Combine this with the strawberry mixture just before serving to keep them crisp.

Butterfinger dessert

2 cups milk

1 quart vanilla ice cream

2 3.5-ounce packages of instant vanilla pudding

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers

1 8-ounce container of whipped topping

4 2-ounce Butterfinger bars crushed

Combine milk, softened ice cream and dry pudding mix in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Melt the butter and pour over the cracker crumbs and stir well.

Pour these into a 9-by-13-inch pan, reserving half of the crumb mixture for the topping.

Pour the ice cream mixture over the crust and freeze for 1 hour.

Spread the whipped topping over the frozen filling then mix the crushed Butterfinger bars with the reserved crumb mixture and sprinkle over the top.

Return to the freezer to set.

This serves 10 to 12 people.

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