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Generational cooking

By Staff | May 15, 2015

-Farm News photo by Karen Schwaller EMMA PEARSON shows her daughter, Cindy Pearson, and Niki Berends, her granddaughter, a recipe that she uses often. Pearson said she taught herself to cook after she was married.


EVERLY – Emma Pearson said she enjoys her kitchen and bakes something nearly every day for someone in her family.

But it wasn’t because her mother taught her so well.

“My mother never had me in the kitchen,” said Emma Pearson. “I learned to cook on my own after I was married.”

She grew up near Cherokee. After she was married, the couple moved to Clay County in the 1950s and raised cattle, hogs and chickens.

Though husband Edgar Pearson is deceased, Pearson said she still enjoys bringing out hot meals to the men in her family who are working long hours in the fields.

“She even brings warm pumpkin pies to the guys and has real whipping cream to put on it,” said Cindy Pearson, Emma Pearson’s daughter-in-law. “Everyone loves it when they see her car coming.

“They know it’s going to be good.”

Emma Pearson said her signature dish is rice pudding.

“It’s a slow process because you have to stir it for a long time,” she said.

She said the recipe for successful cooking is simple.

“If you just follow a recipe, it will work,” she said.

Cindy Pearson, married to Emma Pearson’s son, Jeff, said she didn’t know how to cook at first because she was involved in sports and other school activities while growing up around the Rossie area in Clay County.

“I didn’t know how to make anything. I called Emma up all the time if I needed something,” said Cindy Pearson. “She was just half a mile up the road and could answer my questions, and she often had the things in her pantry that I needed for a recipe.”

Cindy and Jeff Pearson had a few head of cattle and farrowed sows for many years, then got out of hogs and switched to cattle.

Cindy Pearson said she’s active on the farm, running the skid loader and combine, and hauling grain in the fall.

She knows how hungry people get when they’re in the fields working, and today she feeds her field crew twice a day.

“I do mostly casseroles and grilled (foods),” she said. “It’s important to give them some good, hot meals on those long days so they don’t wear down.”

She said her best entrees included roasts and chili, but her daughter, Niki Berends, said her mother always made the best birthday cakes.

“I liked to make red cake, or Waldorf Astoria cake,” Cindy Pearson said. “There was no box mix then red cake, which consists of butter cream, red dye and cake flour.

“The frosting was the best.”

Cindy Pearson said her biggest challenge is yeast products.

“My yeast (foods) don’t turn out like (Emma’s) do,” she said.

Niki Berends, Cindy Pearson’s daughter and Emma Pearson’s only granddaughter, said the challenge of cooking today is figuring out what to make and having the time.

“The thing that lacks in my generation is that we’re always in a hurry,” she said. “The best part about all the things Gram makes is that they’re foods we don’t have the time to make.”

Growing up around Everly, she learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, and through 4-H.

Today she is teaching her daughter, Haley, 10, to cook.

“Teaching Haley is a special time for us,” said Berends. “It’s a feeling of pride and satisfaction that I get to pass our recipes down to her.”

Berends said as much as she enjoys cooking, it’s not what she looks forward to most.

“One of my favorite parts about cooking for my family is that it brings us all together at the supper table” she said. “We can talk about what happened today and what’s going on tomorrow.

“I have a sign in my kitchen that says, ‘Kitchens are made to bring families together.’ It’s true.”

All three of the women are active at Hope Lutheran Church in Everly.

Danish puff

(From Emma Pearson)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of butter

2 cups flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Cut 1/2 cup butter into 1 cup flour. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over. Form into ball and divide in half.

On baking sheet, pat each ball into 12-by-3-inch strips. Place three inches apart.

Bring remaining 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in almond flavoring and remaining 1 cup flour.

Stir vigorously over low heat, and beat eggs in one at a time until smooth. Divide mixture in half and place on strips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Frost with powdered sugar frosting.


Mix well powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Spread on baked puff. Can sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Gold nugget meatloaf

(From Emma Pearson)

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 slices bread (crumbled)

1 1/2 pounds hamburger

1 chopped onion

1/2 cup raw shredded carrots

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup catsup

1 tablespoon dry mustard

Beat eggs, add milk, salt, pepper and bread. Mix and let stand.

Mix hamburger, bread mix, onion, carrots and cheese.

Pat into loaf pan and spread sauce over.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Rice pudding

(From Emma Pearson)

1/2 cup rice

Sprinkle of salt

4 1/2 cups milk

Heat on low, stirring often. When done (about one hour) add 1/2 cup sugar and sprinkle cinnamon over all.

Beef au jus

(From Cindy Pearson)

3 to 4 pounds roast

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 1.25-ounce package onion soup mix


Place roast in slow cooker. Add soy sauce, soup mix and enough water to nearly cover the roast.

Cook for eight to 10 hours on low, about 200 degrees. (Can use a frozen roast and begin cooking just before bedtime to be ready for the next day’s noon meal.)

Slice and serve or put on hoagie buns. Dip in au jus.

Rhubarb pie

(From Cindy Pearson)

3 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped fine

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter

9-inch double crusts

Place rhubarb into unbaked pie shell. Beat egg and add sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Pour over rhubarb.

Place thin slices of the butter over rhubarb.

Place top crust on and brush with milk, sprinkling sugar over that.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.


(From Niki Berends)

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup crushed graham crackers

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter in 9-by-13-inch pan in oven, then remove.

Sprinkle graham crackers over butter and pat to form a crust. Sprinkle chips, nuts and coconut over crust.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

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