Necessity drove her to cook well
GALVA – When Wendy Vohs married her husband Joel, she was a city-girl who rarely cooked anything, she said, and was driven to learn how to feed her new farmer husband.
With thanks to family members and friends, she quickly became an established cook and gardener, learning how to can and freeze her homegrown fruits and vegetables.
“I have done a complete 180 going from the single-girl city life to a farm wife with a family,” she said.
Vohs said she especially enjoys trying new things and, with help from her culinary school graduate nephew, Tyler Vohs, excels at many new recipes, but admits it hasn’t always been without a lot of trial and error.
“It has been fun having him around,” said Vohs. “We have fun figuring out how to make foods and re-creating foods we like at restaurants.”
Vohs has learned firsthand to always use quality ingredients while cooking.
“I try to make healthier choices by eliminating salt and cutting down on sugar in the recipes,” she said.
To add diversity to their farm, and because they were interested in some of the health benefits, the Vohs family has added 2,000 aronia berry bushes to their farming operation.
Vohs said that last year was their first harvest – 250 pounds of berries – and they kept about 40 pounds for themselves, freezing the berries for later use in smoothies; jelly and aronia berry apple crisps.
In addition to growing aronias, the Vohs family raises a variety of vegetables in its large gardens.
Vohs said they raise tomatoes, a variety of peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, potatoes, green beans, carrots and peas.
With her harvest, she likes to can salsa and spaghetti sauce and freezes a lot of her vegetables.
Spinach and cranberry salad with cranberry vinaigrette
5 ounces or more of baby spinach
1/2 small red onion diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
1/2 pound of crispy bacon, cut into small pieces
1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/4 cup candied pecans
(To candy the pecans, mix together pecans, two tablespoons melted butter, one egg white and 1/4 cup sugar. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet and spread out. Stirring once half way through. When done, stir and let cool.)
Mix 2/3 cup jellied cranberry from the can with 1/4 cup white sugar and warm in the microwave for 35 seconds mixing well with a fork or whisk after.
Then add that to a 2-cup dressing container. Continue to add the following ingredients to the container:
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup caramel flavored syrup (the kind people used for flavoring coffee)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice
3/4 cup oil (Vohs said she prefers grape seed oil, but vegetable oil works also)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cathy’s cowboy caviar
1 15-ounce can black beans (drained)
1 15 ounce can pinto beans (drained)
1 green pepper (chopped)
2 stalks of celery (chopped)
1 cup red onion (diced)
1 can white corn (drained)
2 jalapenos (diced small without seeds)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon parsley
Mix dressing ingredients and bring to a boil. Then pour over vegetables. Marinate for a few hours and serve with chips.
20 cups of skinned, chopped and drained tomatoes
8 cups of onion chopped
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 green bell peppers chopped
7 yellow banana peppers chopped
8 jalapeno peppers chopped seeds removed with make it mild; seeds left in will make the salsa hot
5 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (added at the end to keep color bright).
4 teaspoons red pepper (tabasco or dry red pepper)
5 tablespoons of salt
(Vohs said her cousin also adds sweet corn to this recipe.)
Mix cornstarch with 20 cups tomatoes, making sure lumps are smooth, then set aside.
Cook remaining ingredients in a large pot over medium heat until peppers are tender.
Add cornstarch mixture and cook until desired thickness.
Stir in lemon juice and then put in hot jars and seal by using a water canning bath for 10 minutes.
Take out and set on counter on a towel and do not touch or move for 24 hours to make sure the jars are sealed.
Makes approximately 15 pints.
blushing peach pie
Line a pie pan with a regular pie crust.
1 cup sugar (can cut this in half if using canned peaches)
1/2 of a cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter softened.
Crumble ingredients together using fingers.
Sprinkle half of the sugar crumble mixture over the bottom of the pastry in the pan.
Arrange two cups of sliced peaches over the sugar crumble.
Fresh peaches are the best, but be sure they are good peaches or they won’t cook right in the pie, and they will be hard.
Canned peaches can also be used, one large can or two regular-sized canned peaches is approximately two cups.
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of water on top of the peaches. (Leftover peach juice drained from the cans can be used.)
Sprinkle the rest of the sugar crumble mixture over the peaches.
Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Warren family’s favorite breakfast casserole
(Vohs said this casserole is fantastic to make for company. It is easy and can be made and frozen ahead of time.)
1 package ranch-flavored croutons
1 pound breakfast sausage browned and drained
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 can cream of celery soup
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1 package of dried Hidden Valley Ranch dressing seasoning (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, cream of celery soup and seasoning together. Set aside.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread the croutons evenly on the bottom, then layer the cooked breakfast sausage on top of the croutons.
Evenly pour the egg mixture on top. Cover and let sit overnight.
The next morning, cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45-minutes to an hour.
The casserole is done when the center isn’t shiny or runny and it does not jiggle when you move the pan.
(Note: If baked while frozen, bake the casserole at a lower temperature – 300 or 325 degrees covered for the first 45 minutes. Remove foil and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for at least another 45 minutes or until done. Total baking time for a frozen casserole will be 1 1/2 hours.)
Morgo’s southern sweet or unsweetened tea
In a sauce pan bring to a boil 1 1/2 quarts of water.
Remove pan from heat and add four bags of Luzianne or Lipton tea bags and five to six Constant Comment Tea bags.
(Note: Vohs said this is a must ingredient that adds flavor. It will not be the same without it.)
Let steep about 20 minutes then add 1/4 cup of sugar and pour over ice in a 1-gallon pitcher, then finish filling with water.
Sugar is optional and is tasty without it.
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