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Mary Torkelson and her husband, Bruce, both grew up in Humboldt County, and even maintained a home in Gilmore City while working in Des Moines, but returned permanently only three years ago after they retired. Mary’s parents were the late Cap and Edna Shimon from Gilmore City. Bruce grew up in the Thor area. His parents were the late Jacob and Amy Torkelson Dencklau. Bruce and Mary will celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary in February.
Mary graduated from the Gilmore City-Bradgate High School and Bruce graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High. They were introduced to each other by their mutual friend, Susie Gangestad, when all three were working in Fort Dodge. They spent a portion of their lives working in Des Moines. She retired from Wellmark Blue Cross-Blue Shield in Des Moines and Bruce retired from making custom cabinets in West Des Moines.
Mary and Bruce have two sons. Their oldest is Jake and his wife Mindy. They have a beautiful 2-year old daughter, Violet. They reside in Minneapolis, MN. Their younger son, Josh, resides on his acreage in Pleasant Hill. You can tell that Violet is the apple of Grandma’s and Grandpa’s eyes by the pictures they showed me. In fact, as they are remodeling, they decorated one of their extra bedrooms “Princess” style just for when Violet comes to visit them.
The First Lutheran Church in Gilmore City is their church home. Through the years they have been very active in their church in many capacities. Now that they are retired they have relaxed some from these many jobs so they can take off to be with their two sons and especially their granddaughter, Violet. Mary’s hobbies include singing, playing piano, photography, reading and especially family time. She is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary in Gilmore City.
Bruce is a member of the American Legion in Gilmore City. His hobbies are drawing and painting wildlife art, woodworking, and photography and of course, he too enjoys the family time. If you drive through Gilmore City on Highway 3, you might notice the Art Barn. Bruce continues to do wildlife art (paintings and drawings). Bruce has always framed his art but will be offering custom framing in the near future as part of the retail business in the Art Barn.
Right now Bruce is using the Art Barn building as a shop area, as they continue remodeling their home, room by room. I was fortunate enough to be taken on a tour of their home, seeing all that Bruce has already done and what is still happening in their future plans. Mary was excited to show me the “Princess” Room as Violet calls it. Since she only had boys, decorating a girl’s room has been fun as it is her real pleasure to be thinking PINK!
They agreed that their favorite menu is Mary’s homemade Manicotti, a green salad and garlic toast. She also makes bread. When I came to their door, she had just removed a loaf of bread and a pan of cinnamon rolls from the oven and in a short while we were feasting on a delicious slice of warm homemade bread and homemade raspberry jam and a cup of coffee. Both were yummy and I felt lucky that they shared with me some of Mary’s good cooking! Both of these recipes are shared with us today.

Homemade Bread
This recipe is from Bruce’s sister-in-law, Mildred.
Mary starts this in the bread machine running through the dough cycle but then moves it into a regular baking pan and bakes it in the oven.
1 cup warm water
4 to 6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg (beaten)
6 tablespoons sugar
4 cups bread flour
2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
(2 packages equal 2-1/2
Put all ingredients in the bread machine in this order. Run through dough cycle, then remove to a regular greased bread pan or make into rolls, and then bake after dough has risen. Bake in oven till done.

Mary’s Manicotti
Made with the Bohemian touch. She tells me that when they lived in Chicago and would order Manicotti in a restaurant, they always asked her if they wanted it with cheese or meat. They like both so she revised her friend’s authentic recipe to include both.
1/2 medium onion
2 leafy stems celery
1 large tomato puree
1 small tomato paste
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
1 tablespoon salt (optional)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon oregano
Dice onion, celery and garlic. Fry in oil until onion is transparent. Add puree, paste and add 1 can water from the puree can and 2 cans water from paste can. Add all seasoning. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours.
Meat/Cheese Sauce:
After sauce has cooked for 1-1/2 hours.
1-1/2 pounds Italian sausage,
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
Brown the above and add part of it to the sauce. Rest goes into cheese mixture.
1 package mozzarella cheese
1 cup Romano or Parmesan
1/2 chopped medium onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 eggs
1-1/2 pounds ricotta cheese (or
cottage cheese)
Mix cheeses, onion and egg. Add all seasonings and meat and mix thoroughly with hands. Fill manicotti tubes. Put part of the sauce in baking dish. Put filled manicotti in baking dish and pour sauce over all. Keep layering that way and on top sprinkle Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This recipe fills 1 to 2 boxes of manicotti shells. This makes a very large recipe.

Bohemian Kolachy
3 cups flour
2 egg yolks
1 cup melted margarine
2 package yeast
4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pint sour cream
Sift and mix yeast with flour. Mix together salt, sugar, egg yolks and margarine and add that to flour mixture. Pour in sour cream and blend only. Don’t over-stir. Let stand overnight. Roll out thin and cut in squares. Add filling and fold. Brush tops with egg whites and sprinkle with ground nuts. Bake in ungreased pan at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Taco Seasoning
Mary prefers this to the prepackaged mixes that have additives in them.
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Mix all together and store in a jar.

Ricotta Almond Cookies
Makes: 4 dozen cookies.
Time: 11 minutes.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 pound whole milk ricotta
1 stick butter-flavored
2 teaspoons almond extract,
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 teaspoons water
1/4 cup sliced almonds for
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together eggs, sugar, ricotta cheese, shortening, and 1 teaspoon almond extract, until smooth.
Alternately add flour mixture and chopped almonds to ricotta mixture, and beat until well blended. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bakes 11 to 13 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, remaining almond extract and water; mix well until smooth. Drizzle cooled cookies with frosting and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Breakfast Sausage Casserole
Serves 8
1 pound bulk pork sausage,
cooked, drained and crumbled
4 cups cubed day-old bread
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 cans (12 oz.) evaporated milk
10 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
freshly ground black pepper to
Grease 9x13 inch baking dish. Place bread in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine evaporated milk, eggs, dry mustard and onion powder in medium bowl. Pour evenly over bread and cheese. Sprinkle with sausage. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
Next morning, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Cover with foil if top browns too quickly. Season with ground black pepper to taste.

6 medium potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
Grind potatoes. Add flour until thick. Add beaten egg. Add baking powder and soda.
Drop by teaspoonfuls into boiling broth.

This recipe comes from Bruce’s sister, Lois.
1 cup commercial sour cream
1 stick oleo
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour or more
Mix all together and refrigerate overnight. Bake in 400 degree oven. DO NOT OVER BAKE!

Mom’s Baked Beans
Mary’s mom always made these and many times these were requested when she needed to serve for a group like Scouts or something.
1 pound dry baby lima beans
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 cup catsup
4 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Sort and wash beans. Cover with 6 to 8 cups hot water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover. Let stand one hour per bean bag instructions. Then simmer another hour and a half. Drain beans, saving bean water.
In separate pan, lightly brown bacon (may have to add 1 tablespoon oil), add onion, cook until soft. Add catsup, molasses, brown sugar, salt and dry mustard and 1 cup of bean water. Add mixture. Bake 1 hour or until done in a 350 degree oven. Cover with foil if edges burn. Add more bean water if needed.

Snicker Bar Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package bite-size Snicker
candy bars
Cream together first 5 ingredients. Add flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cut Snickers in half. Wrap dough around Snickers. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flatten each cookie with a spatula.

If you are reading this, then you probably enjoy new recipes. If you would like to share some of your recipes with the community YOU could be Cook of the Week. Please contact me, Sally Cuthbertson, if you would like to be in this column some week. I can be reached by phone at 515-373-6346 or email me at sacuthbe@msn.com.
I will be happy to email or send you my short questionnaire and set up a time to come and visit you at your convenience. I’m always looking for NEW Cook’s of the Week. Also if you are new in town, this is a good way to introduce yourself to the Humboldt County and surrounding communities. I will look forward to visiting with you.
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.