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When healthy foods go back-burner

By Staff | Dec 12, 2014

-Farm News photos by Michele Lincke CLARIZA BURGGRAAF shows off all three of her Christmas treats, which are, clockwise from the top, the cornflake Christmas wreath, thumbprint cookies and chocolate-covered marshmallows.



INWOOD – Clazina Burggraaf, 74, is a dynamo.

She is a long-time high school special education teacher. Widowed nearly three years ago, she recently stepped back a bit and works four days a week and is no longer the department leader at Netherlands Christian Reformed School, in Rock Valley.

The oldest of seven children, she is the only one to go to college. She earned her degree in education at Dordt College, in Sioux Center.

-Farm News photo by Michele Lincke A CLOSE-UP shows off the holiday sweets. In the foreground is a miniature of the larger flaky Christmas wreath, which shares the plate with chocolate-covered marshmallows. To the right is a glimpse of the thumbprint cookies.

And, as the oldest, she also became a good cook. Even though cooking was one of her required household chores as a child, she said she still loves doing it today, especially the baking.

“I learned to bake with my mom,” Burggraaf said. “By the time I was 14 I was able to do everything in the house except make homemade bread. But I remember baking cakes and bars and pies, as well as making soup, meat, potatoes.

“We never had casseroles,” she said. “My dad did not like casseroles.”

This mother of three and grandmother of seven is still the master of the kitchen. Her nephew, William Lange, 17, dropped over to feed the dogs while she was making holiday sweets.

He couldn’t help but be distracted by the tell-tale aroma of thumbprint cookies baking in the oven.

Despite the sweet yumminess of her baked goods, Burggraaf said she enjoys eating healthier foods. Homemade pizza came to mind.

She said it’s her favorite thing to make. Homemade pizza doesn’t sound that healthy, until she tells you how she makes it.

“We make the dough from scratch,” Burggraaf said. “Very little processed food comes into the house here. We throw a lot of veggies on it.

“We put a layer of onion on, and cilantro.

“If we have tomatoes, we put those on top. We put peppers on it, too. The girls (her two daughters) come home every other weekend with their families. We always make the pizza.”

The pizza sauce is homemade, too, using frozen tomatoes from last summer’s garden. She grows pumpkins, strawberries, green and yellow beans, spinach, kale, cauliflower, kolorabi, just to name a few veggies.

Burggraaf prepared “Christmasy” delights for this story, sharing two recipes and baking three desserts.

She didn’t use a recipe for the third dessert a chocolate-roll cake. She later dictated the recipe for Farm News readers.

Chocolate-covered marshmallow roll

1/2 cup of peanut butter

2 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips (or butterscotch chips)

1 10-ounce package of colored marshmallows

Optional: Mix chopped pecans or walnuts into the dough after melting the other ingredients; or form the dough into a log shape and roll it in a half-cup of shredded coconut. Then sprinkle more over the top.

Crispy flaky wreath

1 cup butter

60 marshmallows (not minis)

1 teaspoon vanilla

A dash green food coloring

9 ounces of cornflakes

Red candy hearts (for decoration)

Melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and a bit of green food coloring. Stir until blended.

Add cornflakes and stir gently until combined.

Turn mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet and let it cool a bit.

Then, shape it into a wreath and decorate with the red candy hearts.

Thumbprint cookies

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup flour

1 egg white, beaten

chopped nuts, as desired

Mix the first six ingredients while reserving the beaten egg white and nuts.

Shape the mixed ingredients into small balls, then dip each one into the beaten egg white.

Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes.

Then remove from oven and press the thumb into each cookie. Bake 8 more minutes

Remove the cookies from the oven. When cool, fill with colored frosting or jelly.

(Note: Frosted cookies freeze better than the jelly-filled cookies.)

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