(If you would like to listen to the interview with Ashley Thronberg and Doug Hamilton on Prairie Public Radio - CLICK HERE)
Who doesn’t like frozen sweet treats? And, today there are so many flavors to pick from that we could eat ice cream every day. There’s no less than six days celebrating ice cream in June.
On a few Saturdays, which was always baking day at my house, my mom would hand me a quart jar with a dollar bill in it and ask me to bike over to the Schlittenhard farm. It was the closest farm to the east end of Gackle. I would exchange the jar for one filled with freshly-separated cream.
That cream was for caramel rolls or kuchen most of the time because ice cream was a very special treat at our house. We didn’t have our own cow so we ate something called Ice Milk. Yep, it was less expensive than store-bought ice cream and had less calories.
According to Wikopedia, Ice milk is a frozen dessert with less than 10 percent milk fat and the same sweetener content as ice cream. Ice milk is sometimes priced lower than ice cream.
However, in 1994 a change in United States Food and Drug Administration rules allowed ice milk to be labeled as low-fat ice cream in the United States. And of course, the price for low-fat anything is slightly higher than the real deal these days. It’s all in a name.
Again, there’s nothing better than real ice cream; which is so easy to make. The ingredients are simply cream, milk, sugar and flavoring. I love vanilla the best especially when made with real vanilla beans.
If you like really rich ice cream there are several recipes made with egg yolks. The color is creamy yellow and the flavor is very rich. This ice cream is cooked like a pudding, and then chilled before freezing it in the ice cream freezer. The other stuff can simply be mixed, chilled and then put in the ice cream freezer.
For those of you who feel they cannot justify a 5-quart ice cream machine, or find rock salt, or just don’t want to bother sharing your creamy concoctions; you can invest in a small $50 Cuisinart. The inside container is kept in the freezer until it is needed and it makes about 1 quart of homemade ice cream. They don’t take up much space and are well worth it if your family loves ice cream.
In my experimenting with the flavors in the handy recipe book that comes with the unit, I have also developed some of my own. At Christmas I make Egg Nog Ice Cream and in July, cinnamon ice cream has become my favorite.
If you don’t like exotic flavors, You can add just about anything to the cream mixture you have around the house like snicker bars or peanut butter cups chopped in pieces. Some of the recipes that I have tried are S’mores, peanut butter, rhubarb and chokecherry ice cream.
My old standby is vanilla made with the bean. That’s because you can easily add nuts, chocolate, caramel, etc. etc. etc. to plain old vanilla and you can change your mind about flavors on a whim.
Besides vanilla bean vanilla there are several other ways to make a great vanilla ice cream.
There’s French Vanilla, Vanilla and New York Vanillas out there. I did a little research to see what the differences were and I found a couple of vintage ice cream recipes.
In these two recipes I found from 1907 for French Vanilla and New York Vanilla, the French Vanilla has cream and egg yolks in abundance. The New York Vanilla has half milk and half cream and fewer whole eggs for a little less rich ice cream.
So, if you love ice cream, I would recommend you give it a try. Oh, and if you are fortunate to score some real cream, you know the kind that comes from real cows with no added ingredients, my Aunt Laverna and Uncle Clifton suggest adding a tablespoon of brandy to your ice cream recipe to minimize the raw “cream” taste. Oh so they say.
Italian Ice Cream (1907 Recipe)
French Ice Cream (1907 Recipe)
New York Ice Cream (1907 Recipe)
If you only want a quart, here’s a recipe for rhubarb ice cream since rhubarb is abundant. If you have strawberries you can also make topping for rhubarb ice cream and then wow, enjoy.
IF YOU would rather listen than read. CLICK HERE.
It all began as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk. This day created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus has since developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world.
After the National Dairy Council stepped in to promote the cause, the name soon changed to "Dairy Month."
Dairy products like milk contain nine essential nutrients, which may help to manage your weight better, reduce your risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Whether it's protein to help build and repair the muscle tissue of active bodies or vitamin A to help maintain healthy skin, dairy products are a natural nutrient powerhouse.
There are only 91 dairy farms in North Dakota today according to the ND Department of Agriculture website. But growing up, there was a time when all my farm relatives had dairy cows.
Since June is also Immigrant Heritage Month (https://www.iamanimmigrant.com/), I can share with you that my great-grandparents came to North Dakota with the first wave of Germans from Russia in the late 1800s. I am the fourth generation, and my grandchildren are the sixth generation German-Russians.
We are agrarian by trade and my maiden name “Kaseman” translates into “cheese man.” So, that might be a clue as to why my father’s siblings all kept dairy cows on their farms in McIntosh County. My mother’s relatives also milked.
That meant growing up; we always planned our gatherings, weddings, baptisms, etc. either before or after milking, cause cows don’t wait. Ellen Tuttle who was 100 or 101 when I spoke with her for my first book, “Ewiger Saatz,” said, “Celebrate the Fourth of July - oh yes, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day those were big days. We would get up in the morning on the Fourth of July and milk the cows and get everything and get in the wagon with the horses and come to Linton to celebrate and come home in time to milk.”
It didn’t matter if you lived in town. Interviewing Helen Frisch, who was 98 years old, told me that even though they lived in town, they had house cows were kept in a community pasture and milked for the daily cooking and drinking milk. In the winter they were tethered near the home, or in a shelter on an individual property.
One of our favorite treats for breakfast was fresh cream seasoned with salt and pepper with fresh-baked bread to dunk.
Benjamin Vetter, Linton, enjoyed his cream with chokecherry jelly. He and his wife, Delphine, told me about how 15-20 cows were nothing, simply saying if there were 10 children and each milked two cows, it went fast. Like milking before going to school could ever be fast enough.
Rhubarb Strawberry Jam
Listen to the Prairie Public Radio Interview here.
May has passed and so has North Dakota’s last frost date. That opens the gate to adding all warm weather crops like cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and peppers to the already planted radishes, lettuce and potatoes.
And, the race is on. Serious gardeners are off the starting blocks in full force getting everything placed before it rains.
Farmers, gardeners and general soil-enthusiasts begin looking at seed catalogs early in December. Like the old Sears and Roebuck catalog of yesterday, we drool over new vegetable varieties, seek out our old reliable varieties and calculate just how much soil we have to introduce to our ever-growing list of seeds and seedlings. There is never enough space for everything, ever.
Then we order. Not from just one company, but from several. Old standby varieties first, and then the newest and most recently-offered heirlooms. Sometimes we select varieties just out of curiosity.
In our minds, we begin a competition to see who can get their garden planted first; or bragging rights, “my plants are bigger than your plants,” or better yet, who can harvest radishes, rhubarb or lettuce earlier than their neighbors.
We observe the weather. Once the snow is gone, if we can work the soil, however, we bury peas, radishes, lettuces and spinach in the earth; all the while caring for our tomato, cabbage, pepper and herb starts in our greenhouses and on sunny window sills.
When nighttime temps continue to dip below freezing, it seems senseless to plant warm weather crops. They require so much coddling and resist growing anyway until everything warms up to 50-degrees or more.
Once those frost dangers disappear, it’s off to the races and we plant in furious fever everything we can, whether seed or three-feet tall. For experienced market gardeners, this spans the course of a week or longer depending on which relatives are available to help. Fully expecting of course, in return for labor, their fair share of veggies at harvest time.
There are still many folks that think gardening is a lot of work. It could be.
There are, however, some things that make gardening a bit simpler once the seedlings have taken root. Plants desire to grow becomes evident in short time. (Have you ever tried to kill off an established perennial? If so, you know what I mean. Plants have a strong desire to live. That of course, includes weeds.)
Whether you have planted your garden entirely or are still in the process of filling in the blank spots, there are ways to keep your garden growing without all the “perceived” work of caring for a garden.
1. For the first few weeks it is essential to weed and water and water and weed. When your vegetables become stronger than the weeds, you can begin to relax a bit.
2. Do not allow your little seeds like carrots to dry out. Sprinkle them on the soil and cover with grass clippings instead of soil. It keeps the wind and birds from running off with them until they root.
3. Once your plants are established you can mulch like crazy around peppers, tomatoes and cabbage to keep the weeds away.
4. Lay down mulch before you plant squash and summer squash. I cut holes in the barrier and put large tin cans around the area. Once the squash are up and healthy, I think from three to one plant and remove the cans. By the end of July your garden will be lush with vines so leave plenty of space.
5. Carrots, beets and radish need to be thinned to grow up big and strong. It’s painful, but if you get down to eye level and use a manicure scissors to cut out other seedlings, you can eat them as microgreens and you will not disturb the soil with your oversized fingers.
6. You can also use the scissors to cut down weeds near new seedlings so you don’t inadvertently pull the good stuff out of the ground.
7. Once your plants are bigger than your weeds, water deeply every three or four days… this establishes roots deeper into the ground and makes your plants stronger and more drought resistant.
8. Remember that plants that have to fight off pests, etc. develop stronger immune systems, just like people. Therefore your vegetables will provide you with more of these good strong defenses when you consume them. Which we recommend you eat lots of veggies and fresh veggies …
9. Don’t plant onions too deep, they like to sun on the surface of your soil.
10. If at first you don’t succeed. There’s always farmers markets. They should be up and running beginning this month. You can find your local market at https://www.nd.gov/ndda/marketing-information-division/local-foods/farmers-markets.
June 17 is Eat all your Veggies Day. Remember at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables is the recommended daily. Regarding leafy greens, 2 cups are considered 1 cup; otherwise, 1 cup of raw or cooked veggies counts toward the vegetable group.
Saturday is Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day in Mandan.
Come on down to Susie Q's and buy a pie, or jar of strawberry rhubarb jam.
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
outside the old beanery next to Dykshoorn Park, West Main Street, Mandan. Also it's time to deck your garden with lots of wonderful items from Susie Q.
IT’S RHUBARB TIME and surprise, surprise June 9 has been named national strawberry rhubarb pie day.
The warm, the wet, this wonderful weather brings us rhubarb. A common plant grown on every farm of my childhood, there’s always a rhubarb patch next to a garage on every homestead. As children, we played under the canopy of enormous rhubarb stalks.
Varieties of rhubarb have been discovered in history since ancient China. It has been used for medicinal purposes during the plague and given as gifts to the king. Many historical events surround ancient Chinese rhubarb, and some can be found at http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/rhubarb-history.html.
According to the website for the “Rhubarb Capitol of the World” in Sumner, Wash., rhubarb was smuggled to Seattle in 1893 by Adam Knoblauch from Eastern Europe. The German people tasted rhubarb while in China, and as they say, the rest is history. There’s a complete recounting of the growth of rhubarb production in Washington at the website: http://www.ci.sumner.wa.us/Rhubarb/History.htm.
If the Germans loved rhubarb, they no doubt brought it with them to North Dakota when they settled the “triangle” of Germans from Russia in the central part of the state. A good German can turn rhubarb into just about anything. Many abandoned houses in small towns still have thriving rhubarb plants in the backyard.
Rhubarb (as well as Germans) are cold-hardy making it a perfect plant for this zone. It grows until temperatures reach 90 degrees in the summer and goes dormant. It is usually the first edible perennial that appears in the spring.
Rhubarb grows itself. The large-leafed plants will thrive in well-drained soil of almost any type but prefer lots of organic matter in slightly acid soil. Fertilize new growth in the spring with either a commercial mix or well-aged manure.
If you cannot obtain cuttings from your neighbor, you can purchase plant roots. Growing rhubarb from seed is not recommended because it takes too long to produce a good healthy plant. Space the roots two feet apart if you decide you need more rhubarb than one plant can provide. Once established it is a prolific producer and will continue to grow new stalks until it becomes too hot. Usually, one or two roots will provide enough rhubarb to eat fresh and freeze for winter.
Do not pick the first year’s crop; the roots need those leaves to become established. As your plant grows larger and roots more crowded, it's time to separate and share the cuttings or start new patches.
In addition to being easy to grow, studies show that rhubarb has anti-cancer properties and when eaten fresh is an excellent source of fiber.
The acid in a cold piece of fresh rhubarb can counterbalance stomach acid. Some also believe that rhubarb extract can alleviate hot flashes.
This fantastic plant also has anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties which would explain why the Chinese valued this fruit for treating almost anything that ails.
There is a toxic chemical in the leaves, however, so you do not want your animals or children ingesting them. They do however work very well for concrete bird baths and other fun art projects.
Around here, we love rhubarb pie made in a fashion similar to an apple pie with fresh fruit, sugar and cinnamon.
Here is an alternate recipe from my mother. She used to make pies, juice, jellies, and more from her rhubarb patch that may still be growing in the lot of their former house in Fredonia.
Rhubarb Pie Filling
2 cups cubed rhubarb
1 ½ cups fine breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups sugar
Brown bread crumbs in butter, add beaten eggs and sugar, mix with rhubarb and pour into 9-inch pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees until firm.
And of course, I couldn't keep my word.
It's been more than a couple of weeks since I put my thoughts to paper. Not that I don't have tons of ideas for sharing with my audience, but boy it's been a busy couple of weeks. My gardens are finally all full of seeds and seedlings. And, then it rained.
What a blessing.
Gray days are a welcome change from the bright hot sunlight. Seems like people are more relaxed. For those fortunate folks that are home on a rainy day, it's a perfect time to bake some cookies or weave some place mats.
Yep, in addition to my job and the garden, my three looms have warped projects just waiting for the hands to complete.
But first, the garden. One must take full advantage of the weather and plant like crazy to beat the rain. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that replaces the nourishment of rain on the earth.
Isaiah 55:10-11 English Standard Version (ESV)10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
My Uncle Marvin once said that he couldn't figure out why the weather forecaster always proclaimed doom and gloom when the potential for rain presented. As a farmer, he welcomed the rain. And, from that day on, I took that attitude about rain.
Now, the wind? We'll save that comment for another day.
So for today, enjoy the rain.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.