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Cooking for others is her delight

By Staff | Nov 28, 2014

Jane Olson


WALLINGFORD-Jane Olson grew up cooking. It was just part of the deal.

“If Mom was on the tractor, I was in the house taking care of things, and if I was on the tractor, she was in the house,” said Olson. “Between the two of us we took care of the laundry and cooking for our family.”

The first thing she remembers cooking was macaroni and cheese – from scratch.

“Now I make a big batch of that (also from scratch) for the holidays and it’s always the first thing gone,” she said. “I grew up making roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy – no small meals, but lots of meat-and-potato meals.

COCONUT CREAM dessert is a deep-dish delight that Olson said her family and restaurant customers have always liked. It has nuts in the crust and has a whipped topping with toasted coconut.

“And I made a lot of lunches. There were a lot of (mid-day) lunches going on when I was growing up.”

Olson attributes some of her cooking skills to her maternal grandmother, a known baker of pastry delights for the local grocery store in Ringsted back in the day.

“She was such a great baker,” Olson said. “She had to be with 12 children.

“She inspired me. We used to help her with her baked goods, taking them to the grocery store on Saturdays. Everyone knew she did that and people would be waiting for her when she got there.”

When Olson got a little older, she purchased the former grocery store in Wallingford and turned it into a restaurant called, “The Farmer’s Grill.”

-Farm News photos by Karen Schwaller JANE OLSON scoops out a serving of her deep-dish lasagna. It’s one of her family’s favorites.

The restaurant was open for breakfast, dinner and supper. She cooked at the Elk’s Club in Estherville for eight or nine years and then ended up opening a restaurant in Estherville called, “Jane’s Place.”

“After a few years I was realizing that life was passing me by,” she said. “I would do some field work then go back to the cafe, then out to do field work and back to the cafe to prepare for the next day.

“It got to be a lot.”

With her children grown and with children of their own, Olson cooks at the Elk’s Club in Estherville and enjoys working and cooking on the farm.

She has also done a little catering here and there, and especially enjoys time in her kitchen when all is quiet and she has time to cook for her family and friends.

“I like to give things away,” she said, adding that she often bakes small pies to give to neighbors and friends who may not otherwise get to enjoy fresh, homemade pies.

“And I really like it when I try something new and the kids tell me they like it.”

She said food has always played an important role in her life, as she has made it her life’s work.

“When I’ve catered at weddings, I knew people wouldn’t remember what the wedding dress looked like, but they would remember if the food was good,” she said. “It’s fun when someone you don’t even know comes up to you and says something you served them was really good.”

Olson still drives the combine during harvest and runs the hay rake when the harvest is done. She said she doesn’t have too much down time, but that she likes to be busy.

She and her husband, Ron, have four children-two sons and two daughters, and all of them enjoy cooking. They have five grandchildren-all girls, ages newborn to 12.

The Olsons grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa near Wallingford and have a cow/calf operation as well.


2 pounds ground beef

Onion to taste, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

9 to 12 lasagna noodles (to line pan and layer)

8 ounces ricotta cheese

8 ounces cottage cheese

2 cups Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup parsley

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef with onions and seasonings. Boil noodles according to package directions.

Mix in bowl ricotta, cottage and Parmesan cheeses and parsley.

Layer in the following order: meat sauce, noodles, (all of the) cheese mixture, noodles, meat sauce, (half of the) mozzarella cheese, noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, approximately one hour.

Let set for 25 minutes to set up.

Deluxe chocolate cake

1 German chocolate cake mix

1 large jar caramel topping

1 container whipped topping

1 Skor candybar

Bake cake according to directions on box.

While hot, poke holes in cake and pour the jar of caramel topping over the top; cool.

Cover generously with whipped topping.

Crush a Skor candy bar and sprinkle it on top.

Pizza burgers

2 pounds ground beef

Onion to taste, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

4 teaspoons oregano

2 cans pizza sauce

4 cups grated American cheese

1 package English muffins

Parmesan cheese to sprinkle

Brown ground beef with onions and seasonings. Drain grease and cool.

Combine this with oregano, pizza sauce and cheese, and place large spoonful on top of English muffin halves.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil until nicely browned.

Coconut cream

layered dessert


1 cup flour

1 stick margarine

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix like pie crust and pat into 9-by-13-inch pan.

Bake 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

Second layer:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 8-ounce container whipped topping

Mix first two ingredients and add 3/4 of the whipped topping.

Spread on cooled crust.

Third layer:

4 packages coconut cream instant pudding

6 cups milk

Mix and pour over cream cheese layer.

Fourth layer:

Top with 2 8-ounce containers whipped topping and toasted coconut.

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