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Farmer improves on new recipes …

By Staff | Feb 12, 2016

DAVID NELSON stirs two of his winter time favorites; a bean with hamburger dish and baked beans — comfort food that can last several days.

BELMOND – It would seem that an antique tractor would not have anything in common with a recipe.

But when farmer, antique tractor restorer and cook David Nelson, of Belmond, in Wright County, looks at an old tractor or a new recipe, he looks at both and wonders what he can do to improve each of them.

Nelson said he first tried his hand at cooking about 20 years ago when his wife, Sue Nelson, worked late in Belmond and he would start supper.

Many of the ingredients he uses in cooking come from the Nelson garden in front of their home.

“About everything that I cook, I grow,” said Nelson.

DAVID NELSON stirs baked beans,a comfort food that can last several days. Also pictured is his bean and hamburger dish.

Two-thirds of the garden, or about 2 acres, are planted to sweet corn. The remaining acre grows potatoes – red, white and blue – plus sweet potatoes, cucumbers and zucchini as well as green, yellow, red, banana and chili peppers. There are also red, yellow and white onions and tomatoes.

Besides eating their produce through the growing season, the Nelsons sell their produce at the Belmond farmer’s market. What isn’t sold, they put in their freezer.

Nelson said he’s been “dabbling in refrigerator pickles” and has made a lime pickle.

The Nelson’s grill is used almost daily from spring through fall, cooking steaks, hamburger and pork – the Nelson’s favorite.

In addition to steaks and chops, Nelson grills chicken and salmon.

A FAVORITE GARNISH David Nelson likes to add to his cooking is bacon that has been cooked in a flat skillet with a flat weight over the bacon to keep it from curling.

Shrimp is prepared on the grill with small unbreaded shrimp using a shallow pan with olive oil, served as an appetizer.

Nelson said he seasons with salt, pepper and butter to bring out the flavor. He likes to sautee green peppers and onions on the side.

“You can grill about anything,” said Nelson. “We do pizza and potatoes.”

Nelson cuts his potatoes into bite size pieces, covering them with Parmesan cheese.

“We do that a lot,” he said. “You can do it in the oven, but it is better on the grill. We eat it for breakfast the next morning.”

When not grilling in the winter, the Nelsons said they prefer comfort foods, using things they have canned and will last a week.

Potato cakes are a family favorite from his childhood when he made them with his Aunt Verna and his landlord, Marjorie Simmerson.

They are an end-of-season favorite when the Nelsons set aside a day to prepare enough for themselves and their children at Christmas.

“It’s a big process,” said Nelson.

They freeze their potato cakes, along with mashed potatoes and grilled potatoes.

“If it is nice out, it is on the grill,” Nelson said.

But, there is a place where Nelson draws the line on grilling.

“No wild game.”

Bean and hamburger dish

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Brown beef with the above ingredients

Add 28 ounces of baked beans

1/2 cup of ketchup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Cook until warm enough to eat

Grilled potatoes

Use sweet, red, white and blue potatoes (any combination of what you have)

2 pieces of aluminum foil that is sprayed with oil

Onion, green pepper, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt and pepper

4 thinly sliced potatoes

To prepare:

Put potatoes on foil

Add salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese to taste, plus chopped onion and green pepper

Put slices of butter on top

Cover with foil

Put on grill or in oven.

Bake or grill at 400 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes depending on how crispy you want the potatoes.

If on grill, turn them over half way through cooking time.

Baked beans

1 16-ounce can of Homestyle Bush’s Baked Beans

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped green pepper

1 tablespoon mustard

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon steak sauce

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons ham chopped into small cubes or 1 hot dog

Mix together and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes without a lid

After baking, garnish with 1 slice of crispy bacon

Potato cakes

10 pounds potatoes

2 sticks of butter

1 carton half & half

Peal and boil potatoes until soft, but not mushy. Drain well.

Put potatoes through a ricer. Then mash them really well removing all chunks.

Add 2 sticks of butter and one-half to a whole carton of half & half. Observe the texture.

Keep the dough fairly stiff; you do not want it sticky and too wet. Put in the refrigerator overnight.

Take 4 cups of potatoes, 1 cup of flour (more or less depending on softness of potatoes), a dash of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

Make into 2-by-6-inch loaves.


Take one loaf at a time and cut into five sections.

Take one section and roll into a ball and roll out onto rolling board with a cloth cover that is thoroughly coated with flour.

Use a rolling pin with a cloth cover that is also thoroughly coated with flour. Roll into 1/4-inch thick, then gently pick up potato cake and flip to other side. Further flatten the cake to 1/16-inch thick.

Take a 1-inch spatula, slip under the potato cake and slide it back and forth under the cake to make sure it is not stuck to the cloth.

Gently lift up the potato cake and put on an electric griddle that is set at 450 degrees.

When the underside of potato cake is slightly brown, flip over and when that side is slightly brown, put cake on tea cloth and cover with another tea cloth to keep moisture in.

Let cool. Once they are cool, stack 12 on a paper plate using wax paper in between each potato cake.

Put the paper plate into a baggie, pushing the air out.

You may use immediately or can be frozen. Store in refrigerator. May be eaten cold or warm.

You may eat them a variety of ways using any combination of butter, sugar, brown sugar, jelly or honey.

After putting on topping(s), roll up and eat.

Clam chowder

Serves 6

4 slices of bacon

1 medium onion

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 16-ounce mixed vegetables, drained

2 7.5-ounce cans minced clams

1 8.5-ounce can cream-style corn

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon in pan.

Set bacon aside.

Cook onions in drippings. Stir in the flour then add the milk all at once.

Cook and stir until the mixture is thickened and bubbly.

Stir in vegetables, undrained clams, corn, salt and pepper.

Heat through.

Garnish with crumbled bacon.

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