Hearty Minnesota Fare
By Clara Groenhoff, Minnesota
My Norwegian great-grandparents homesteaded the farm where I grew up. I’ve also always been a homesteader at heart. I’ve raised 11 children on a small farm just 10 miles from that homestead. I enjoyed the simple life I had as a child and tried to instill that in my children. Enclosed are some of the recipes using milk that I have used for years.
I grew up on a farm in the 1950s and I remember having egg sandwiches and milk and dumplings a lot. I have milk goats and chickens just so I can enjoy these foods today. To make milk and dumplings, beat 1 egg in a bowl and add salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup of flour. Stir this until well mixed. Pour milk into a saucepan (as much as you think you will eat). Heat the milk just until there is a skin on the top. Drop the dumpling mixture into the hot milk by using a teaspoon filled 1/2 full. The dumplings will slip off the spoon easier if you dip the teaspoon into the hot milk first. Cover the saucepan, but watch so it doesn’t boil over. After about 5 to 7 minutes the dumplings will be done. Put this in a bowl; add a little butter, some salt and pepper and crackers. Enjoy!
Another treat that my family enjoys today is pudding. Put in a saucepan:
1 quart of milk
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks, beaten
Stir this well. Heat slowly, stirring continually, as it will scorch easily. A heavier pan will work best. Keep stirring until it becomes thick, and then take it off the stove. Now add 4 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. This is vanilla pudding. You can also add shredded coconut.
To make chocolate pudding use the same recipe and add chocolate chips (about 3/4 cup).
Another way to make chocolate pudding is to use 3/4 cup of cocoa and increase the sugar to 2 cups. If you use brown sugar instead of white, it would be butterscotch pudding.
You can eat this as pudding or make it into two cream pies. Put the pudding into two single piecrusts in pie pans.
For the meringue:
Beat 6 egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. When this has become stiff, continue beating it while you add 1 cup granulated sugar (1 tablespoon at a time).
When all the sugar is in, beat a while longer to be sure the sugar is mixed well. Now divide this meringue between the two pies, spreading it to the edges to seal. Bake in a 350°F oven until the meringue is brown.
Another variety to this is to make the vanilla pudding and layer sliced banana with the pudding. Put the meringue on, bake until brown, and you have banana cream pie.
For breakfast, we like to make Swedish pancakes.
2 cups of milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Put into a mixing bowl and beat until well mixed. Fry on griddle like pancakes. We like them thin, so spread them out after putting them on the griddle. Cook both sides until lightly brown. If there are any leftovers, just butter them, add sugar and roll them up. This is good for an afternoon snack.
We also make our own syrup! Heat 1 cup water, 2 cups granulated sugar (or 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar); heat this just until the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil. Now add 2 capfuls of maple flavor and 2 capfuls of vanilla. You can add butter too, if you like. Serve warm over pancakes.
For cream soups, I use this simple mix.
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup bouillon (beef or chicken)
2 tablespoons onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil (for chicken I use 1 tablespoon dried celery)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Mix and store in a glass jar. When you want to make soup, just add 3 tablespoons of mix to 1 1/2 cup milk. Cook this until thick. You can add any cooked vegetables or cooked meat to this soup, or just eat as is. You can experiment with different spices until you find what your family likes best.
This simple recipe for scalloped potatoes is also one we like. Slice up peeled potatoes into an ovenproof dish. When you have a layer of potatoes, add diced onion, salt and pepper, a slight layer of flour, and dot with butter. Repeat these layers until you have what you need, ending with potatoes. Now pour milk over this until at least 3/4 of the potatoes are covered. Cover the dish and bake in a 350°F oven for about 1 hour or until potatoes are soft. It will cook faster if you use hot milk. You can also add cooked hamburger or ham between the layers, if you like.
The kids always like hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes. Simply brown 1 1/2 pounds of hamburger with one large diced onion and salt and pepper until done. (If the hamburger gets a little crispy, it adds more flavor.) This can also be used with cut up ham or chicken, but you will need to add some fat such as butter when browning. Next add 4 tablespoons flour to soak up whatever liquid or fat that is in the pan. Mix well so all the flour is mixed in. Now add 3 cups milk. Be sure it boils, as it will get thicker as it boils. If you make too much hamburger gravy, just put it in the refrigerator and the next day add some cooked noodles and make a hot dish.
Hot Milk Cake
One more recipe that we enjoy is Hot Milk Cake with peanut butter frosting.
In a bowl, beat until very stiff:
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Set aside. Mix:
2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup hot milk
Beat this until smooth. Next, fold in the egg white mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in a greased and floured 9 x 13 (preferably glass) cake pan. Bake this at 350°F for 25 minutes or until done.
For the frosting, use a heavy saucepan and place:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cream
4 tablespoons peanut butter
Bring this slowly to a boil. Boil to a softball stage (about one minute at a full boil — about 235°F). Take off heat and add 4 tablespoons peanutbutter. Beat until thick and quickly spread on cooled cake.
These are just a few of our favorite dishes that can be made with milk. So get yourself a cow or goat, a few chickens, grow a garden, and purchase some staples—you will be set for some good eats. As Julia Child would say, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients.”
Originally published in the July/August 2012 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal.