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The kitchen as tension therapy

By Staff | Mar 20, 2015

-Farm News photos by Jolene Stevens LAURA SCHILLER gives ‘Grandma’s Beans’ a final stir following their overnight cooking in a slow cooker for an easy-to-go-to family meal.


SERGEANT BLUFF – Laura Schiller takes a last minute check of the slow cooker with beans saying her kitchen-time isn’t just about cooking and baking.

It’s also about relieving stress.

“I love to cook. I bring out my mom’s recipes, those grandma used and even some from my great-grandmother,” Laura, said.

She explained many of her oldest and favorite have their roots in those prepared by three generations while she grew up in the dairy business in central Minnesota.

SCHILLER CALLS this dish “almost a casserole.” The beans made from her mother’s recipe is simple and easy with a slow cooker.

She also likes to put new recipes to the test.

“The kitchen is where I go when I really feel stressed out,” Schiller said. “Maybe I’ll decide to bake bread. I know it’s something of a lost art, but I love the smell of yeast and enjoy the kneading of the dough.

“It’s calming. And when you prepare something for your family or friends there’s a good feeling when what you’ve done is successful, and it’s something you’ve had at least a little control over.”

The smoky aroma of beans on the stove, she said, brings to mind memories of her mother. The recipe, Grandma’s Beans is a tribute to her mother, Eleanore Vogler, who died of cancer last September in Hawarden. Schiller’s father, the Rev. Loren Vogler, had served 17 years as pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Hawarden.

“Grandma’s Beans,” Schiller said, “have long been one of my family’s favorites with the boys – Christopher, Micah and Josiah – and their sister, Naomi.”

The boys are grown and left the home, and Naomi is a Sergeant Bluff High School sophomore. Schiller said her children frequently request it.

What makes the beans different, Schiller said, is the simplicity and ease of putting ingredients together and the almost casserole-like appearance of the finished beans. She uses “whatever beans are on the shelf,” plus bacon, hamburger, onion powder, dry mustard and catsup.

As her family nest emptied, Schiller said, along with the daily schedule of her husband, the Rev. Tim Schiller, pastor of Shepherd of Peace Church, in Sergeant Bluff, has necessitated the change to having ready-to-go meals.

“I admit I still have to work really hard to adjust my cooking to avoid leftovers,” she said, adding that her slow cooker is often used to prepare the at-any-time meals.

Taking a momentary break from food preparation she said chocolate chip cookies, a grandmother’s recipe, ranks high in her family and her frequently requested tacos what she calls “Skinny (Swedish) Pancakes, which are “more crepes than pancakes,” she said.

Schiller has worked 11 years at Famous Dave’s in Sioux City. She said she feels the job as a server and helping to set up new branches of the restaurant – 36 in all – fit well with her own love of cooking.

Grandma’s beans

1 pound bacon

2 pounds hamburger

1 medium onion

Cook together until done set aside


2 cups ketchup

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vinegar

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Add meat mixture.

Put in slow cooker.

Add 1 can of pork and beans, plus 4 cans of other beans your choice, all drained

Cook on high 2 to 3 hours or low 4-6.


Brown 1 pound hamburger

Then simmer for 45 to 60 minutes with hamburger:

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon parsley

1 tablespoon basil

2 cups tomatoes

2 can tomato paste

2 12-ounce packages cooked lasagna noodles


2 12-ounce containers cottage cheese

2 beaten eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoon parsley

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 pound Mozarella

Layer the hamburger, cottage cheese mixture and lasagna noodles in sprayed 9-by-13-inch pan.

Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Swedish pancakes

3 eggs

1 cup flour

1 1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons melted shortening or oil, but can use 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1 cup milk

Mix and prepare on a griddle.

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