Rising to the occasion
CARROLL – When Trish Roberts wants to make something special for her family or someone in her community, many times she reaches for the yeast to get things started.
“I enjoy using yeast – I’ve always found it rewarding,” she said. “It fits my schedule, and I can trick the dough into doing what I want it to do.”
In fact, Roberts enjoys using yeast so much she makes doughnuts as an annual holiday activity with her grandchildren.
“It’s a way we can create memories – by doing something like that together,” she said.
Growing up on a farm near Renwick, she said her mother was – and still is – an “awesome” cook.
“Both she and her own mother were very good at putting a meal together with what’s on hand,” Roberts said. “They were both great bakers, too.”
Roberts said she’s not a baker of fancy things, but she does like to make tasty things.
She said her two children live away from the area, and that when they are home, she wants to make it special for them.
One way of doing that is to make all of their favorite things.
“That’s my role when they’re here,” she said. “I know what all of their favorite things are.”
These dishes include cheese chicken ole, which she said is a creamy, cheesy enchilada casserole; meatballs; ham balls; and stromboli.
Stromboli and other yeast-based dishes are not as difficult as people think, Roberts said.
When she brings something yeast-based to a gathering and people tell her they would never be able to make something similar, she said she always encourages them.
“The trick is not to use too warm of liquid so you don’t kill the yeast, and don’t use too much flour so the dough doesn’t get hard and dry,” she said. “I don’t even measure out the flour anymore because I know how the dough should look and feel as I’m working it.”
One of her fondest memories was inviting her class of fifth-grade Sunday school girls to her house to make stromboli, rolls and other yeast-based treats.
“Those girls are in their 20s now and are getting married,” Roberts said, “and they still say to me that they remember doing that.”
One thing she said she’s learned through years of cooking is to make things that aren’t too complicated.
“I like to try new things, but I do try to make things that I know will turn out and that people will like,” she said. “I don’t want to go through oodles of steps to make something.
“I stick with what I know my skills are and what my time allows.”
Roberts has a rhubarb dessert recipe that is a family favorite. The recipe card is spattered and dog-eared.
“I have the best rhubarb patch you can have,” she said, adding that she gets her rhubarb from a friend who lives in nearby Breda.
“Sometimes I go and cut some, but sometimes it shows up on my doorstep cut and cleaned up. That’s the best kind of a rhubarb patch.”
Her husband, Rod, is director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.
She is foundation director at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Carroll and also mentors local children by teaching piano lessons.
The couple has two children and two grandchildren.
The Roberts family works hard at getting together every six weeks to eight weeks.
“Our daughter (a home economics teacher) is a better cook of foods than I am,” Roberts said.
She said she considers her family to be “foodies” who enjoy trying new things. One thing she said helps her in the kitchen is her stand mixer.
“I got it for Christmas in 1981, and I use it all the time,” she said, adding that the only thing she doesn’t use it for is kneading bread dough.
“I used to do that, but now it’s important to me to feel the dough and know that it’s the way I want it to be,” she said. “I’ve also learned that you need to cook with good ingredients.
“If a recipe calls for butter or margarine, I’m going to use butter.”
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter
Cut together as for pie crust. Press in 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes, until lightly brown.
Spread 5 cups diced rhubarb on crust.
2 1/4 cups sugar (Roberts uses 2 cups)
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix together and spread over rhubarb.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes until golden brown.
(Roberts said she enjoys this dessert because it isn’t as heavy as typical cheesecake. It also has no crust.)
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar (Roberts uses 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix for eight minutes with electric mixer.
Pour into 9-inch pie plate sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. (Puffy top will settle.)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour into indented area on top of cooled cheesecake.
Bake 10 additional minutes.
Serve with pie filling or fresh fruit.
4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup brown sugar or honey
2 packages yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons oil
1 1/3 cups rye flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup craisins
1 tablespoons flax seed
Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 cup warm water. Let rest 5 minutes.
In large bowl, combine 1 cup warm water, brown sugar or honey, oil and salt.
Add yeast mixture.
Slowly add rye flour and 2 cups bread flour.
Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Using dough hook or by hand, add remaining bread flour (enough for bread to leave sides of bowl), walnuts, craisins and flax seed.
Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double.
Form into desired shape. (Roberts said she usually makes two round loaves.) This dough works well in loaf pans, also.
Cover and let rise, then bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
Note: Roberts said this recipe can be made using caraway seed or any other kind of nut or seed on hand; nuts and craisins can be omitted as well.
She said she usually makes the dough a couple days ahead and refrigerates until needed. It takes longer to rise, she said, but it fits her schedule better.)
4 cups grated zucchini
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup Bisquick or Jiffy baking mix
6 tablespoons stick butter, cut up
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Mix together and place in greased casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until golden.
Cheese chicken ole
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 chicken breasts, cooked, boned and diced
6 small tortillas (sliced in one-inch pieces)
Green chiles (or 1 small can)
Spray bottom of 9-by-13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Layer (beginning with soup mixture on bottom): tortillas, green chiles, chicken, cheddar cheese, ending with soup on top.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 0 minutes.
Serve with white rice.
(Best if made the day before; cover and place in refrigerator.)
Vegetable bean salsa
Chop into small pieces:
1 cup onion
1 cup green and red peppers (Roberts sometimes uses yellow and orange)
1 cup celery
Drain and add:
1 can white corn
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can pinto beans
1 large can (or 2 small cans) black beans
1 can green chiles
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon water
Boil two minutes, then pour over vegetables.
Marinate overnight for best flavor.
Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.
Rich dinner rolls
(NOTE: Roberts said this is a basic roll dough that can be used to make dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, caramel sticky rolls, Stromboli, etc. She likes to make the dough 2 or 3 days (or more) ahead of time and refrigerate the dough until needed.)
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup cool water
2 packages yeast
2 eggs, beaten
8 cups (approximate) flour
Add shortening, sugar and salt to boiling water. Let cool to room temperature.
Dissolve yeast in cool water; add to first mixture.
Add eggs and about half of the flour. (Stand mixer works well for this.) Add remaining flour and mix by hand.
Dough will be fairly stiff. Place dough in large covered plastic bowl and refrigerate for one to three days. (Roberts said doing that improves taste and texture, and allows flexibility in a baking schedule.)
When ready to make rolls, remove dough from refrigerator and punch down.
Knead until smooth, adding flour as necessary.
Shape into rolls. Let rise until double in size.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.
Brush with melted butter to keep tops soft.
Caramel for sticky rolls
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
Cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla.
Yields enough for two 9-by-13-inch pans. Recipe may be cut in half.
To make sticky rolls
Begin with rich dinner roll dough. (Half the recipe makes one 9-by-13-inch pan of rolls.)
Roll dough into rectangle and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll into log and slice into 1-inch rolls.
Pour caramel mixture into greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Add pecans if desired.
Place rolls on top of caramel. Cover with towel or plastic wrap and let rise until double in size.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown (approximately 30 minutes).
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Turn pan upside down on cookie sheet so the caramel/nut side is on top.
Begin with half of the recipe for rich dinner roll dough. Roll into rectangle.
Layer pepperoni, sliced ham, Provolone cheese and mozzarella cheese on dough.
Roll into log, pinching ends and seam of dough. Place on cookie sheet.
Let rise 10 to 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.
Cool 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with marinara dipping sauce if desired.
Can substitute with Italian sausage, onions and peppers.
(Note: Roberts said this recipe is a favorite with their children, grandchildren and other family and friends, and makes a “fun and easy meal” for a crowd of teenagers.)
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