The Bakers’ guide
CLEAR LAKE – “I’m pretty basic as a cook,” said Patti Baker, who lives north of Clear Lake in Cerro Gordo County with her husband, Denny Baker, who is employed by POET Biorefining at its Hanlontown operation.
She was describing how she prepares meals with common ingredients used by most cooks in their kitchens.
She said the food she serves is from recipes she has made so many times that the only guide she uses is a family cookbook she helped prepare in 1995 for a family gathering in Kalispell, Montana – a central location for family members arriving from the east and west.
“It’s pretty special to me,” she said of the cookbook. “The recipes are tried and true.”
The doughnut recipe is from her great-grandmother, Ingeborg Peterson.
Fifty copies of the cook book were printed with contributions from nieces, nephews and other family members.
Patti Baker grew up on a nearby farm that has received a Heritage Farm award, having been owned by her family for 150 years.
“I have great memories of growing up on a farm,” she said.
Baker said farm life is where she learned responsibility and accountability.
Taking care of livestock was a favorite job.
“I’d rather be in the calf pen than helping inside the house,” she said. “I’m an outdoor person.”
She did help inside, however, freezing sweet corn and butchering chickens for many years.
She said she appreciated the life cycle of farm living.
“You always knew where your kids were,” said Patti Baker, “which was another advantage of raising kids on a farm.”
For the past 18 years, Baker has been employed by the Clear Lake Community School District as a para-professional working in special education with 5- and 6-year-olds.
During her summers off from school, she has run a detasseling crew for the past eight years.
Patti Baker said her chili recipe is family favorite served when the kids come home for family gatherings and Christmas.
The Bakers are parents to three children – Jeremy, 26, and twins, Jacob and Rebecca, 21, both students at Iowa State University.
Jeremy Baker lives in North Carolina where he is employed by Penske Racing as a crew member traveling to various NASCAR events during race season.
Jacob and Rebecca Baker are in the college of agriculture, working as interns this summer with eventual employment in agriculture.
Baker credits the years spent showing livestock at fairs for helping instill direction and motivation in her children.
“We were really fair people,” said Patti Baker.
The Bakers showed livestock at local, state and national competition including AK-SAR-BEN.
“Now the barn is kind of empty,” said Patti Baker.
2 pounds hamburger, browned with onion and green pepper
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 cans of chili beans
1 large can of tomato juice, or V8 juice
Add chili powder, salt, pepper and a bay leaf to taste.
Date nut bread
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten light
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup sugar
1/4 cups nutmeats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup boiling coffee, with teaspoon soda dissolved in it
Let it stand 15 minutes, then bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Dried beef casserole
4 hard-cooked eggs
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 pound cubed cheese
1 box macaroni, uncooked
1/2 pound dried beef
Onion, to taste
Mix and refrigerate overnight.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Peanut toffee bars
2/3 cup butter or margarine
4 cups uncooked quick-rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
Pack into large jelly roll pan or two well-greased 7-by-11-inch pans.
Bake 350 degrees 10 to 12 minutes.
Cool and add:
1 6-ounce package chocolate chips
2/3 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup peanut halves (optional)
Melt over hot water and spread on bars.
Loosen edges, but let cool before cutting.
Chicken and grape salad
2 cups cooked macaroni, cooks choice
2 cups cooked chicken, diced (or can use turkey, ham or tuna)
1 cup green grapes, halved
1/2 cup cashew nuts (add just before serving)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 /2 cup salad dressing
1/4 cup sugar
8 ounces of whipped topping
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Mix together and refrigerate.