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Her story begins (and ends) at home

By Staff | Mar 13, 2015

-Farm News photos by Clayton Rye BILLIE SHELTON prepares vegetables for her cheeseburger soup and bowtie sausage soup that will be served to guests later in the day.


STANHOPE – Billie Shelton’s meals are served on a refinished antique wood table her parents bought at an auction for $3 when she was growing up on the family farm south of Stanhope.

“Nobody wanted it, and it didn’t have any chairs with it,” said Billie Shelton.

Her parents bought the four chairs that sit at the table today at another auction, paying 50 cents each for them.

When Antiques Roadshow came to Des Moines, she took one of the chairs there for an appraisal where they said it looked like it was made in Germany.

The table and chairs are located next to a cabinet with a saying on top of the cabinet that reads, “Home is where your story begins.”

Shelton said she enjoys cooking for friends, making simple dishes from scratch using basic ingredients.

She prefers cooking main dishes, and her Chicken Every Sunday is a family recipe.

“My mom’s recipe, it always smells good cooking,” Shelton said.

The chocolate, triple-layer pie recipe, she said, is light and easy and is a frequent request by family and friends.

“I really like living here,” said Billie Shelton. “It’s important to know your neighbors.”

Shelton’s 7-year-old home is a few hundred feet east of the home where she grew up.

The farm home acreage was sold in 2010, while the crop land is rented to an area farmer.

The journey that ended a short walk west from her childhood home took 18 years, a route that included stops at St Louis, Missouri; Columbus, Ohio; and New Hampshire.

“Nothing ever felt quite real,” she said.

In 1980, she returned to Iowa, moving to Fort Dodge.

Shelton’s father, Bill Henderson, a native of Alabama, died four years ago. Part of Shelton’s daily routine is watching over her mother.

Her father farmed with her grandfather on a traditional farm that included a dairy herd where they did their own bottling and had a milk route.

It was her years in 4-H, Shelton said, that introduced her to cooking.

After completing high school, she continued her schooling at the American Institute of Business in Des Moines and Des Moines Area Community College, completing her education at Drake University where she received a degree in journalism.

“I’ve always written,” said Shelton. “I enjoy freelance writing so I could be my own boss.”

Her writing and photography skills provided a second income for her family while her son and daughter, who live in Michigan, were growing up.

Since moving back to Iowa, her stories have appeared in Farm Wife News, Farm Bureau Spokesman and newspapers in Jewell and Webster City.

Nine years ago she went to work part-time as a cook for the high school at Gilbert, for health insurance coverage.

“The hours are good, ending at 1:30 (p.m.) when there is a lot of day left,” said Shelton.

Weekends and summers off are another benefit.

Shelton said she enjoys being part of the Stanhope community. She is active with Stanhope Development and with her church, where she serves on the board and is a member of the hand bell choir.

For five years, Shelton was a field director for the Girl Scouts where she was in charge of recruiting, support, and training volunteers.

She values community organizations because “people want to belong” she said.

Chicken Every Sunday

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces

1 cup long-grain rice

2 10.75-ounce cans mushroom soup

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan and add uncooked rice.

Cover with water and lay chicken pieces on top.

Spread mushroom soup over chicken and rice/water.

Sprinkle on the dry onion soup mix.

Cover and bake two hours at 350 degrees.

Marinated chuck roast

2 chuck roasts, less than 2 inches thick (can use arm roast)

2 to 4 tablespoons water

Meat tenderizer

3/4 cup strong coffee

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 chopped onion

1 tablespoon vinegar

Pierce both sides of roasts with fork, moisten with water and sprinkle with tenderizer.

Mix coffee, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion and vinegar for marinade.

Put meat in double resealable zipper storage bags or plastic container. Add marinade.

Turn several times during 36 hours marinade time.

Grill 18 minutes per side for rare or 20 to 22 minutes per side for medium.

Oven-fried chicken

1 tablespoon margarine

1 frying chicken, cut in serving pieces

2/3 cup ready-made baking mix (such as Bisquick)

11/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 425 degree.

Melt margarine in 9-by-13-inch pan. Mix baking mix, paprika, salt and pepper. Coat chicken.

Place chicken, skin side down, in pan. Bake uncovered 35 minutes.

Turn chicken pieces over.

Bake another 15 minutes.

Cheesy ham chowder

10 bacon strips, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

1 1/2 cups water

2 1/2 cups cubed potatoes

1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

black pepper to taste

3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

2 cups fully cooked ham

In a Dutch oven or large soup kettle, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Saute onion and carrots in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour until blended.

Gradually add milk and water. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until thickened.

Add the potatoes, corn, bouillon and pepper. Reduce heat.

Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add cheese and ham. Heat until cheese is melted.

Stir in bacon.

Yields 10 servings.

Bow tie sausage soup

1 pound Italian pork sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 cups chicken broth

2 1/2 to 3 cups bow tie pasta

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

Combine sausage, onion and garlic in a heavy, large, covered pot.

Cook until sausage is brown. Break up sausage with wooden spoon. Drain.

Stir in chicken broth, uncooked pasta, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, basil and thyme. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serves 6.

Cheeseburger soup

1 pound ground beef

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups diced potatoes

3/4 cups chopped onion

3/4 cups chopped celery

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1 8-ounce package shredded Velveeta cheese

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup sour cream

Brown beef. Add broth, potatoes, onion, celery, basil and parsley. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes until potatoes are tender.

In a small skillet, melt butter. Add flour, cook and stir until bubbly.

Add to soup, bring to a boil.

Cook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add cheese, milk, salt and pepper.

Heat until cheese melts. Blend in sour cream.

(As a time saver, diced hashbrowns work well instead of the diced potatoes).

Chocolate triple-layer pie

2 cups cold milk

2 4-serving-sized packages Jell-O chocolate flavor instant pudding

1 6-ounce graham cracker pie crust

1 8-ounce tub Cool Whip topping, thawed, divided

Pour milk into large bowl. Add pudding mixes.

Beat with wire whisk 1 minute (mixture will be thick).

Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the pudding into remaining pudding. Spread over pudding in crust.

Gently stir half of the whipped topping into remaining pudding. Spread over pudding in crust.

Top with remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate 4 hours until set.

Makes 8 servings.

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