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It’s Pork Month in this kitchen

By Staff | Oct 10, 2014

CAROL SCHNEIDER puts the finishing touches on her cheese ham puffs she describes as basically cream puffs with cheese and a different filling. This is a family favorite, she said. The family also gives them away as an outlet for promoting the pork industry.

OYENS – A worn, well-used, blue recipe card lies on the kitchen as Carol Schneider prepares to “finish off” the preparation of the cheese ham puffs just taken from the oven in the kitchen of her Century Farm home near Oyens.

“It’s definitely one of my old stand-bys, and one I always enjoy making not only for the family but friends,” she said.

Schneider, an elementary teacher at Gehlan Catholic School, in Le Mars, said the recipe is one from her early days with Iowa State University Extension in Mills County.

She said the treats are “basically cream puffs with cheese and a different filling.”

The filling in this instance, she said, is ham salad. It’s available at most meat counters and is a time-saver in preparation of the cheese ham puffs.

Schneider said her love of cooking is an extension of growing up as one of three children in the family’s Mills County home.

“I’ve always loved cooking and more so, baking,” she said. “For me, the giving of what comes from the kitchen is equally important than the baking itself.”

Pie-baking, too, rates high in this category.

“For me pie-baking is even more wonderful when I can give it to someone else to enjoy,” she said.

“It’s the knowing that food is essential for life, and when you can prepare something with your own hands, putting love into it and passing it on, you’re creating a smile for someone else with what you have done.”

She said preparing the puffs as an appetizing snack for others allows her to promote pork products during National Pork Month.

The opportunity, she said, is one she and husband John Schneider, long-time Plymouth County pork producers, think is important to the industry.

“We like to use pork whenever we have guests,” Schneider said. “Other of our favorite pork products are those we grill or a stuffed roast loin.

“You can’t beat the flavor.”

Schneider has a long history of joining promotional activities of the Plymouth County Pork Producers Association. John Schneider is a former county president. He’s following in the footsteps of his parents, Frantz and Sylvia Schneider, as county pork producers.

Schneider is the first woman to serve on the county producers’ board, following dissolution of the long-standing county Porkettes organization.

“I’d always admired the Porkettes for what they accomplished and felt it important their efforts be continued,” she said, recalling the group’s promotions at the Plymouth County Fair and other local events, emphasizing the support received from local ag businesses within the community.

“The pork industry is a leading industry in Iowa with Plymouth County ranking high in the list of active producers,” she said. “It’s a vital part of our economy contributing to our main street, our local employment picture and local businesses.”

Cheese ham puffs

Puffs:

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup boiling water

Dash of salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese.

Melt butter in boiling water in sauce pan.

Add flour and salt. Stir vigorously.

Continue to cook until mixture forms a ball that doesn’t separate.

Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Add eggs and beat with mixer well until smooth. Stir in cheese and stir to combine.

Drop onto a greased baking sheet using a teaspoon for each small puff.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove puffs from oven, cool and split.

Fill with any ham salad spread or, when time is a factor, the ham salad spread from a local meat counter.

Filling:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped ham

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

Kielbasa bites

3 pounds kielbasa

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 bottle chili sauce

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Cut kielbasa into 3-inch pieces and put in a large pan.

Mix pineapple, chili sauce and brown sugar and pour over kielbasa.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Baste often.

(Note: The ingredients may also be prepared in a slow-cooker on medium heat until heated through.)

Schnieder said this appetizer was entered in a Plymouth County Annual Pork Producer banquet competition several years ago. While not winning, it received many favorable comments.

Cake mix bars

1 15-ounce yellow cake mix

1 15-ounce can of vanilla pudding

3 eggs

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

1 12-ounce package of vanilla baking chips

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar or sanding sugar

Combine the cake mix, pudding, and eggs with a mixer until thoroughly combined.

Add almond flavoring and spread in a greased 10-by-15-inch pan. Sprinkle with vanilla baking chips, sliced almonds, followed by granulated sugar or sanding sugar.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven or until it tests done.

(Note: Sanding sugar is available in larger markets in the baking area or in a specialty cooking store. This recipe can be varied with a chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding and baking chips. Pecans and walnuts go with the chocolate option.)

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