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Still cookin’ at 92

By Staff | Nov 6, 2015

RUTH?TRAMPEL cuts into her butterscotch coffee cake. At 92, she said she still enjoys cooking and baking. “I like to eat,” she said.

KLEMME – For Ruth Trampel, old-fashioned farm cooking has been part of her life for decades – and that’s just how she wants it.

“I’ve always liked to cook and bake, because I like to eat,” said Trampel, 92, who lives on the same Avery Township farm southeast of Klemme she’s called home since 1943. “I still enjoy cooking for myself and others.”

Trampel fine-tuned her culinary skills as she grew up on a farm southwest of Garner.

While her father spent his days working the land with draft horses, Trampel spent her time in the kitchen, cooking with her mother, Rose.

Trampel said she still enjoys preparing many of the recipes she grew up with, including frosted raisin bars.

BUTTERSCOTCH coffee cake

Several years ago, Trampel and her sister, Pearl, made headcheese, a family favorite from years ago.

Trampel also enjoys preparing family favorites around the holidays when her children and grandchildren gather at the farm.

One of these not-to-be-missed foods includes New Year’s cake.

Also known as specken dicken (or specken decken), these German-style pancakes cooked with chunks of summer sausage or bologna are a holiday tradition for the Trampel family, as well as many other families in the area.

“I’d never heard of it until I met my husband, Clarence,” said Trampel, who met her future husband at a roller skating rink one Sunday afternoon in Clear Lake. “I liked it from the first time I tasted it, and my family likes it, too.”

THE RECIPE for Elisa’s chocolate chip cookies yields crisp, tasty treats.

New Year’s cake is always on the menu at the holidays, along with a variety of other home-cooked goodies, Trampel said.

“We always have a full house here, and there’s always plenty of food.”

Butterscotch coffee cake

1 box yellow cake mix

3 eggs

1 can butterscotch pudding

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup English toffee chips

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Combine cake mix, eggs, and pudding. Pour batter in 9-by-13-inch pan.

Sprinkle cake with butterscotch chips, toffee chips and sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Elisa’s chocolate chip cookies

This recipe from Ruth Trampel’s former daughter-in-law produces crisp, tasty cookies.

1 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 teaspoons cream of tartar

6 ounces milk chocolate chips

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter, vegetable oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar.

Add eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.

Combine wet and dry mixtures. Add milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Drop by large spoonfuls on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cornmeal yeast bread

This unique, old-fashioned bread tastes great toasted, said Ruth Trampel, who noted that she used to buy cornmeal bread at Sawtell’s Grocery, in Klemme. She said that when she donates her homemade cornmeal bread to charity auctions, the loaves often bring $30 each.

2 packages of yeast

1 cup water

2 cups scalded 2-percent milk (warm but not boiling)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup cornmeal

4 cups bread flour, plus an additional 3 cups of bread flour

Dissolve yeast in water with a pinch of granulated sugar.

Add yeast mixture to milk after the milk has cooled.

Add sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and butter.

Beat thoroughly.

Add 4 cups flour and cornmeal.

Then add remaining three cups of flour. (The dough might be a little sticky at first, so add flour a little at a time until dough is no longer sticky.)

Knead dough for 10 minutes.

Place dough in greased bowl. Let rise in warm place until dough doubles in size.

Punch down dough. Let rise again. Punch down dough and shape into 3 or 4 loaves.

Place dough in greased loaf pans, and let dough rise again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. (This bread browns easily, so watch it closely.)

Frosted raisin bars

This recipe was a favorite of Ruth Trampel’s mother, Rose.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup shortening or butter

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup raisins (cooked in water and cooled)

1 cup juice from cooked raisins


1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 cups powdered sugar

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well.

Sift flour with baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.

Alternate adding the raisin liquid and flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture. (Trampel said she does this about four times).

Add cooked raisins.

Pour batter into well-greased cookie-sheet pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool and frost.

To make frosting, melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring until mixture comes to a boil.

Add milk. Remove from heat.

Add powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.

Note: This frosting sets up quickly. Add more milk, if necessary, to thin the frosting.

New Year’s cake

Also known as specken dicken (or specken decken), these German-style pancakes are a holiday tradition for the Trampel family, as well as many other families in the area.

1/4 cup anise seed (roughly a small handful)

1/2 cup water

2 cups white flour

2 cups rye flour

2 cups graham flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (can be reduced to 1 cup, if preferred)

1 1/2 cups sorghum

4 cups milk

4 eggs

Bologna or summer sausage, sliced (optional)

Raisins, optional (plump in hot water and drain before adding to cakes)

Add anise and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil for about 1 minute. Set aside.

Mix white flour, rye flour, graham flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.

Add anise seed (and the water it was boiled in), sorghum, milk and eggs to the dry mixture. Stir.

Note: New Year’s cakes are better if the batter is prepared several hours before frying. Store batter in the refrigerator until needed.

Heat griddle or electric frying pan to a fairly high temperature. Add butter to griddle before pouring batter.

Pour batter onto the hot griddle. If you want to add pieces of bologna or summer sausage to each pancake, add meat right after the batter is poured onto the griddle.

Add raisins, if desired. Fry the cakes like a traditional pancake.

Pancakes can be served with syrup or rolled up and enjoyed without syrup.

Spring salad

Trampel said she received this favorite recipe from a friend.

1 3-ounce package lemon gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing (don’t substitute mayonnaise)

2 cups whipped topping

1 cup diced celery

1 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup green pepper, diced

3 tablespoons diced onion

1 12-ounce container cottage cheese

Combine gelatin and boiling water. Cool.

Add Miracle Whip and whipped topping.

Add celery, carrots, green pepper, diced onion and cottage cheese.

Pour into 8-by-8-inch pan.

Chill for two to three hours before serving.

Overnight chicken


“Everyone just raves about this casserole,” said Trampel, who often takes it to potlucks. This casserole freezes well, she added.

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 cups cooked chicken

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked

8 ounces Velveeta cheese

2 tablespoons diced onion

1/2 cup diced celery

1 can water chestnuts, drained

1 small jar pimentos, drained

1 jar mushrooms, drained

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine milk and chicken broth to cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup.

Blend well until smooth.

Add remaining ingredients; mix well.

Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

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