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This week’s cook, Lois Nerem, has pretty much come full circle. Lois grew up in the Thor area. She graduated from Eagle Grove High School and the American Institute of Business in Des Moines. She met her future husband, Chuck, when she attended the graduation of her cousin; Chuck’s brother graduated in the same class. Chuck Nerem is a Renwick native. He graduated from Renwick High School, the University of Iowa and Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, OK. Chuck spent 26 years in the United States Army and the family lived in Oklahoma for three years, Iowa for two years, Nebraska for 37 years and now back to Thor, Lois’ hometown.
The Nerems are the parents of three children: daughter, Tracy Nerem, who lives in Winside, NE; son, Brett Nerem and his spouse, Lori, who live in Colorado Springs, CO; and daughter Kris Nerem-Lowery and her spouse Cornell who live in Gowrie. They also have four grandchildren, two girls and two boys, and three great-grandchildren, two girls and one boy. Lois and Chuck have been married for 53 years and attend Ullensvang Lutheran Church in Thor.
Besides raising their family, Lois was a court reporter, the Area Director of the National Kidney Foundation and the Executive Director of a Child Crisis Center. Chuck was a rancher and an aircraft inspector and mechanic after retiring from the Army. Lois now spends her time writing children’s stories, cooking, reading and raising money for Children’s Cup International. Chuck’s hobbies include singing, welding art objects, anything military, reading, and building grandchildren’s toys.
Lois says, “Anything that promotes good conversation and ambiance at the table is a favorite menu. You will find that I tend to go to familiar recipes that have either been in my family for many generations, or to recipes that have made a great impression on me for “whatever reason.” I am also very drawn to recipes with sour cream or buttermilk. I very seldom add salt to anything and it has not affected the things I bake. All of the recipes with the exception of the “Roni’s” and the Apple Crisp freeze very well. When I bake I usually double every recipe. I figure if I’ve got all the ingredients right before me, why not??! It’s always good to have some extra things in the freezer(s)—I have three!”

Pumpkin Bread
makes one loaf
Make two loaves and you’ll eat the first one right away and the bread freezes beautifully.
1-2/3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin (if you double
the recipe, just use the entire
contents of one-15 ounce can)
1/2 cup walnuts
Mix all ingredients together, pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour.

Date Balls
Makes 3 dozen about the size of a small walnut.
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 cup chopped dates
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
1/3 cup walnuts
2 cups Rice Krispies
In large pan, combine sugar, eggs, dates and butter. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often so as not to scorch. Add vanilla, salt, walnuts, and Rice Krispies and stir until well mixed. Cool enough to handle. Make into balls about the size of a small walnut and roll in coconut.

Powdered Sugar Cookies
Makes 3 dozen.
1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 cup oil (yes, you use this in
addition to the margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Cream margarine and sugars together. Stir in eggs, oil and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Chill dough. Roll into small balls and dip into white sugar. Flatten with a glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Do not over-bake.

Ham Balls
Makes 2 dozen balls about the size of a tennis ball, 3 dozen if you make them a bit smaller. GREAT to make ahead/freeze meat dish!
2 pounds ground ham (or ham
1 pound ground beef
1 pound sausage
2 eggs
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1-1/2 cups milk
Mix all ingredients together. Cover with sauce (recipe below). Bake 2-3 hours at 300 degrees uncovered with sauce.
1 cup tomato soup
1/2 cup vinegar
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard

Crockpot “Roni’s”
2 cans whole corn (do NOT
2 cans creamed corn
2 cups dry macaroni
1-1/2 cups chunked Velveeta
1 stick margarine
Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients and dump in crockpot. Cook 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low. Great for potlucks!

Cranberry-Orange Scones
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
12 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
(or 1 tablespoon orange
1/2 cup (cut up) butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup dried cranberries
Combine above ingredients. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead 5 or 6 times. Pat into 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place 1 inch apart on lightly greased (cooking sprayed) baking sheet. Brush with extra buttermilk and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until scones are golden brown. (They’re addictive!)

(My) Grandma Minnie’s Orange Cake
A “MUST” for the holiday season!
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (or buttermilk)
1 cup chopped raisins
1 chopped orange (rind and all)
Mix all ingredients, pour into greased cake pan and bake at 350 degrees until tested with a knife in the center and it comes out “dry.”

Apple Crisp
3-5 cups cut apples (be sure to
fill pan VERY full!)
1 cup sugar
1 rounded tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix all ingredients with apples, covering each piece well.
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
Place apples in baking dish, mix topping together and sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Top with ice cream or whipped topping.

Walnut Coffee Cake
Absolutely the VERY BEST coffeecake I have ever eaten! From a little Polish grandma-friend in Nebraska. This recipe is for an 8”x8” pan. I ALWAYS double it for a 9”x13”!
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream (THIS IS THE
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
Mix cake ingredients together and pour into a greased 9”x13” pan. Sprinkle topping over and bake at 350 degrees until inserted knife comes out clean.

German Chocolate Cake
A purple ribbon winner at a Nebraska bakeoff!
1 package sweet cooking
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 unbeaten egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 eggs whites, stiffly beaten
Melt chocolate in 1/2 cup boiling water. Cool. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add egg yolks and beat well. Add vanilla, melted chocolate, flour, soda, salt, and buttermilk. When all of those ingredients are well blended, fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into three 8” layer pans or two 9”x9” pans lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes. Cool, then frost with following frosting recipe and stack layers:

Coconut Pecan Frosting
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine above ingredients. Cook about 12 minutes stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Add about 1-1/3 cups of flaked coconut and 1 cup chopped pecans. Beat until cool and frost layers. This is what I call a “fussy recipe” in that you need to do a few extra steps while mixing the cake and frosting, but IT IS WORTH IT! Enjoy!

The COOK OF THE WEEK 3rd Edition Cookbook is available. Cost per copy is $10.70, plus $4.80 shipping/handling. Order a copy today by sending a check or money order, along with name and shipping address, to: Humboldt Independent, 512 Sumner Ave., Humboldt, IA 50548.