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June 12, 2011 | Iowa,Summer

My peonies are blooming late this year. On this day two years ago, I posted this progression of photos.

Oops. I forgot a photo.

Posted by Becky @ 4:20 pm | Comments  

Family branches


We’re going to Kansas next weekend to bury my mother’s ashes next to where my father and his parents are buried. We thought about scheduling the burial for today, which would have been my parents’ 51st wedding anniversary, but decided on next weekend because that’s also when a family reunion will be held.

As part of the reunion festivities, we will get to see this house, which is 100 years old this year, and it’s where my grandmother grew up. I took this photo 22 years ago (I think that’s my Great Aunt Lindy off to the right), when I visited my grandmother.

I wrote a story about that visit for a writing class. I always wondered what happened to it, and I finally ran across it when clearing out boxes last year. It’s not brilliant writing, and the details may not be perfect, but I wrote it from what I remember my grandmother telling me.

Nov. 26, 1989 — This summer, I traveled to Kansas to spend a week with my grandmother. I had been working on family history, and I kept Grandma up late every night to tell me story after story. She recalled a bittersweet memory on my last day there.

We had spent the entire day driving around to several cemeteries so I could record headstones for my family tree book. Seeing the churches and the names on the stones brought back many memories for Grandma. We walked through the rows of markers, and as I paused for photographs, she reminisced.

Between stops at cemeteries, we drove past many farms and buildings she had known since she was a young girl. Each place opened a window to her past, and she shared her memories with me.

She told me of hiking across vast fields and encountering snakes and wild animals when going to visit neighbors’ homes. She told me about her parents and how they built a brand new house on the old farm place where she grew up. It was quite impressive at the time, because it was the only house with running water, a bathroom with a toilet and tub, and electricity. She sat up straight as she told me about it.

Our last stop was a church cemetery. In it was one little gravestone with the name Kathleen Suzanne on it. The date was March 21, 1950.

It was the dead of winter, and Edna went into labor. Her parents lived across the state line in Nebraska, and she had been planning to stay with them so she could deliver at the Beatrice hospital. But now the roads were covered with ice and snow, and her husband, George, drove her into town to the brand new Hanover City Hospital. This was her fourth child and quite a surprise. Edna was 39 years old.

A young, new doctor was in charge at the hospital when George and Edna arrived. Edna’s labor was very difficult and wasn’t progressing as well as with her other three children. George and Edna began to worry; the baby should have been here by now. They wondered what was wrong. The doctor decided Edna should stay where she was instead of making the trip to Beatrice for surgery.

The baby finally decided to arrive. Oxygen was needed. The hospital had just celebrated its grand opening, and the oxygen tank had never been used. There wasn’t a wrench to turn on the oxygen.

George scrambled out of the hospital and bolted down the street to the hardware store. Nobody was there, so he scanned the shelf and grabbed a wrench, praying as he raced back to the hospital that it would fit. The wrench fit perfectly, and the baby got the oxygen she needed. Little Kathleen Suzanne died the next day.

Grandma recalled the day when Grandpa was on his deathbed in that same hospital. He raised his hand and pointed at the wrench beside the oxygen tank he was breathing from. He looked at Grandma and nodded. Grandma knew he was telling her that it was the same wrench he had swiped so many years ago on that cold day in March.

Posted by Becky @ 1:56 pm | 4 Comments  

Waldorf cookbook


As Anne Bakke made the syttende mai dinner, she kept mentioning “the Waldorf cookbook.” In fact, all of the recipes she used that night came from it. I wanted to get my hands on this cookbook. I finally found one from a collector just west of here.

The best I can determine, the cookbook was published in 1981, in honor of Tillie Rasmusson, who was food service director at Waldorf College for most of the 20th century. According to The Iowan, “She was beloved for her welcoming campus kitchen, housed in the basement of Salveson Hall, and for her delicious cinnamon rolls, baked every weekend. Waldorf students would reportedly make their travel plans around Rasmusson’s baking schedule, returning to campus in time for rolls fresh from the oven. So legendary were those rolls that two of them were placed in the cornerstone of a new building dedicated in 1955 — Rasmusson Hall.”

According to Waldorf, “Rasmusson Hall (1955) is a three-story residence hall for approximately 56 students. It is named for Tillie Rasmusson, a former food service director who was beloved for her caramel rolls.”

The cookbook opens with Tillie’s Chapter and Recipes.

“We feel it appropriate that this cookbook be named in memory of Miss Tillie Rasmusson, since for nearly fifty years she served delicious meals to thousands of students, teachers, and friends at Waldorf College. If there is one thing everyone remembers about Tillie’s cooking, I’m sure that it would be her cinnamon rolls. Students, especially the men, who went home for the weekend would return Sunday morning in order to enjoy Tillie’s rolls.

“Just before Tillie retired I asked her about the amounts purchased and the amounts served at the college while she was cook. She fed around 375 students and teachers every day. As you read the quantities remember everything was ‘home baked.’ There were no cake mixes, no frozen foods and no instant potatoes. When I mention potatoes, she didn’t have an electric peeler for many years, so they peeled the potatoes by hand.

“40 sacks of flour every two months (100 lb. sacks)
150 lbs. of potatoes a day
60 dozen eggs three times a week
150 lbs. of butter a week
150 lbs. of roast beef for one meal or
10 large turkeys
12 gal. of canned fruit for sauce
75 gal. of milk every day
Every Saturday she baked
50 loaves of bread
500 buns for maid-rites for Saturday evening
15 doz. large cinnamon rolls
55 pies — each pie cut in 7 pieces”

That section includes the ingredients for rolls, although I’m not sure whether they were cinnamon rolls, caramel rolls … or both, but the recipe was for making a couple hundred rolls. It also has 13 other recipes, with a few Norwegian delicacies, such as fattigman and julebrød (Christmas bread). The rest of the cookbook is filled with recipes — Norwegian and otherwise — from others.

Posted by Becky @ 11:23 am | Comments  

Syttende mai

June 10, 2011 | Holidays,Iowa,Norway

I spent syttende mai in a cooking class about Norwegian cuisine. I wore my sølv.

And my red, white & blue.

Then I got to eat a fabulous dinner, thanks to Creative Kitchen Cooking School, run by Anne Bakke. She made shrimp salad with asparagus, Norwegian meatballs and whipped-cream cake with strawberries. Wonderful food, great company and, of course, Ole and Lena jokes. It was a fun way to celebrate syttende mai.

Posted by Becky @ 9:31 am | 2 Comments  

I love that it’s not winter

June 5, 2011 | Iowa,Spring,Summer

Posted by Becky @ 12:02 pm | 2 Comments  


June 4, 2011 | Stuff

My mother loved lilacs. I like the idea of them (and they’re pretty in pictures), but they give me a raging headache if I bring them inside. Still. I knew Mom liked them, so I would put them in the guest room (we called it Gramma’s Room) when she came to visit. Our lilacs are in bloom now. They make me miss her.

Posted by Becky @ 8:00 am | 3 Comments  

Apple tree

June 3, 2011 | Iowa,Spring

Here’s the tree in full bloom just *minutes* before the wind blew them all away.

Happy spring! Looking forward to juicy apples in the fall.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | Comments  


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