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COOK OF THE WEEK - SHARON AND RON LARSON

Sharon and Ron Larson were an interesting couple to visit with. Although they say they are both retired, they appear to be very busy running the affairs of Boone Valley newsletters from their home in Renwick. Ron told me they began the newsletter business when the school in Renwick closed. Actually the newsletters are Ron’s hobby. The Boone Valley Newsletter comes out weekly and is 25 years old. They have been doing the Alumni newsletter, for graduates of Renwick, Vernon and Boone Valley, since 1997. The “Alumni” is a monthly newsletter. Their computer database contains addresses of over 90 percent of approximately 2,000 graduates from across the country.
“We are trying to do our part in keeping alumni connected,” Ron said. The Bobcat Football Report is 28 years old and involves a lot of fun and participation from local and long distance subscribers.
They publish their newsletters in an effort to keep the community together and supplement their retirement. Both say they feel a sense of satisfaction when each publication is completed. Their newsletters are delivered in both hard copy and electronic format and by the end of this year they will have published 2,000 newsletters.
Ron was utilizing online computer services such as local bulletin boards, Prodigy and USA Today in the late 1980s before the internet began to evolve in this area. His knowledge of computers is entirely self-taught. Sharon says she does most of the interviews; helps write stories, sells ads and does most of the telephone work. She does the bookwork and billing, and also some of the scanning of old slides and pictures to the computer. These are converted to digital format and then burned to a DVD for viewing on a television or a similar device.
Both have been involved with the Boone Valley Betterment for many years, and have been chairpersons the last 10 years. Their son, Rick and his wife, Melody, have now taken the reins. The Boone Valley Betterment Association (BVBA) sponsors two big events in Renwick, Donkey Daze and a Community Christmas party and also financially supports the Easter Egg Hunt and kid’s Halloween party.
Sharon and Ron met through a mutual friend at Anver’s in Fort Dodge while Ron was home on extended leave from the Air Force in 1961. They began dating and then Ron shipped out for 13 months of duty in Korea. They wrote nearly every day while he was away and when he returned to the states, Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha was his next duty assignment.
They were married on May 25, 1963 and celebrated their 50th anniversary last May. Sharon grew up in the Fort Dodge area graduating from the Fort Dodge Senior High School. Ron attended Vernon Consolidated and Boone Valley Schools in Renwick and Eagle Grove Junior College. They are members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Renwick where she is a member of WELCA, their woman’s organization at the church. She also is a part of the Hardy Red Hatter, the Renwick Cosmopolitan Club and of course still helps on the Boone Valley Betterment Association.
Sharon loves to read, care for her flowers and loves to spend time with their family and attend the grandkid’s various activities. Ron’s favorite activities are following the nationwide sports scene and making use of the computer. He enjoys the time spent on their newsletter business along with the interesting connections he has been fortunate to make over the years.
“We are lucky to have our children all living nearby,” Sharon said. Their son, Rick, lives in Renwick. He is on the city council, commutes to Mason City, Wednesday through Sunday, to operate his store in the Southbridge Mall. “Larson Red Zone Sports,” sells sports memorabilia, cards, pennants, cups, blankets, etc. His wife, Melody, is the office manager at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Renwick and St. Olaf Lutheran, Belmond, along with being the city ambulance director and helping out in Rick’s store.
Their daughter, Brittany, lives in Humboldt and works at Abens-Marty-Curran Insurance Agency. Melody’s sons are, Kyle Bortell (Missy) and daughters who live in Pocahontas. Kyle works at Hagies in Clarion. Curtis Bortell (Liz) and daughters reside in Columbus, NE and are employed by Hy-Vee. Daughter, Tracey (Mark) Wigans farm near Renwick.
They have seven children between them. Tracey’s, Jacob, has returned from the Navy and works at Van Diest Chemical, Webster City; Zachary (11th grade) and Emma (9th grade) attend school at Clarion-Goldfield. Mark’s son, Sam, (7th grade) also attends Clarion; Kate (11th grade) lives with her mother in Alpha, MN; Jacob is a freshman at DMACC and Nathan works construction in the Twin Cities area. Daughter, Crissann (Mark) Campbell reside near Otho. Crissann is manager at Travel and Transport in Fort Dodge and is also a director with Vault Denim jeans. They own/operate Amigos Restaurant/Bar by the river in Fort Dodge and Mark is also the Second District Webster County Supervisor.
Not to be forgotten is Sharon and Ron’s 8-year old dachshund, Max, who rules the roost in the Larson household.
Ron’s favorite meal is kumla made with beef. Sharon named grilled chicken or salmon as her favorite meal. She shares many good recipes with us today that are family favorites.

Sharon’s Crockpot Pork Loin
2 or 3 pounds boneless pork
loin or Boston butt roast
chicken broth to just cover meat
Sharon seasons pork with basil, garlic, onion and pepper. Cook on high the first hour, and then turn to low. The longer it cooks, the better the flavor. Slice or make pulled pork.

Chicken Casserole
(from Ron’s brother and wife)
This is an easy recipe to cut in half.
1 cup minute rice
1 cup milk
1 can low-fat cream of chicken
soup
1 can low-fat cream of celery
soup
Mix together and spread in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Put several pieces of chicken into mixture. Sprinkle one package of dry onion soup on top of chicken. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours.

Peanut Butter Krispies
Melt in a saucepan:
1 cup sugar
1 cup white Karo syrup
1 stick margarine
1 cup peanut butter
Pour over 8 cups Rice Krispies. Spread in a lightly sprayed 10 x 15 pan. (Do not press down to hard.) Melt 3/4 package of chocolate chips and 3/4 package of butterscotch chips. Spread over bars. Refrigerate.

Sharon’s Favorite
Strawberry Jell-O
1 large box sugar free
strawberry Jell-O
1 package of frozen whole
strawberries
Boil 2 cups water. A blender is needed. Fill blender half full with frozen strawberries. Add boiling water, grate until liquid. Pour into a pretty glass bowl. You can easily increase the amount, by adding another box of Jell-O and hot water. HINT: Never fill blender to the top!!

Easy Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups warm
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs. Combine rest of ingredients. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Fluffy White Frosting
(perfect for this chocolate cake)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a saucepan combine sugar, cream of tartar, water and a dash of salt. Cook and stir until bubbly and sugar dissolves. In a mixer bowl, combine egg whites and vanilla. Add sugar syrup very slowly to unbeaten egg whites while beating with mixer constantly at high speed for about 7 minutes or until peaks form. This frosts tops and sides of two 9-inch layers or a 9 X 13 inch cake. (Sharon makes this cake and frosting quite often for birthday cakes, as their kids love it!)

Delicious Cookies
Recipe came from Ron’s Aunt Louise when they got married. Sharon has used it for over 50 years.
1 cup margarine
1 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat these six ingredients together until creamy.
3-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup coconut
1 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Mix flour, salt, soda, cream of tartar together. Add to the creamy ingredients, beat well, add oatmeal, coconut, Rice Krispies and chocolate chips, one item at a time. (Use mixer on slow speed, or mixture will spill out.) This is a large recipe and very easy. Drop by teaspoon on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 minutes. (Sharon always uses a timer.) If you want to omit the coconut, just use another cup of oatmeal or Rice Krispies or 1/2 cup of each – just so the measurement stays the same.

Easy Angel Food Dessert
One box angel food cake mix,
bake as directed.
Let cake cool, then tear cake into small pieces. Sharon uses a 9 x 13 inch glass pan with a lid. Spread one 15-ounce can of crushed pineapple with juice over the top of cake pieces. Spread lite cool whip on pineapple. OPTIONAL: You may add sliced strawberries on top. If you want to get a little creative, make a fourth of July cake, simply by adding blueberries for the stars and sliced strawberries for the stripes. Keep refrigerated. LOW IN CALORIES ALSO!

Homemade Chicken and Noodles
This is a family favorite.
Boil 1 whole chicken in large pan.
Add chicken bouillon, cubes or granules for extra flavor.
Sprinkle basil, salt and pepper, as desired.
When chicken is done (about 2 hours), let cool. Remove from pan and remove skin and bones. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Return cooked chicken to pan and reheat the broth. When broth comes to a boil, add noodles.
For a large family gathering, like 15 to 25 people, use at least 3 or 4 bags of noodles. For a small group, use less chicken and noodles.
NOTE: More chicken broth will probably be needed as this usually cooks down. Sharon’s family likes mashed potatoes and baking powder biscuits served with this meal. Sharon also fixes a half arm roast the same way. Cut in chunks and boil in beef broth. Sharon uses rosemary, etc. for seasoning for the roast.

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 community and surrounding communities. I 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.