My Top Ten Cookbooks

This time of year we tend to search for comfort food recipes. Nowadays, it seems that many of us tend to search for recipes online.  I still enjoy reading magazines and clipping recipes.  (My almost 30 year collection needs to be organized.  By now if I have not made the recipe; I think it is time to dispose of it!)  However, now I also find my self searching on the internet and using Pinterest to save recipes to try some day!  Nevertheless; most of my favorite recipes come from cookbooks.  Following you will see My Top Ten Cookbook List to celebrate National Cookbook Month!


A collection of recipes from Kevin’s Grandma Jansen’s family in honor of Grandma and Grandpa J.’s 60th wedding anniversary.


My mom listened to this family on the radio each week.  They published several cookbooks.


It is hard to beat a church cookbook.  This is one of my favorites because the cover was drawn by my little brother – one of my best friend’s brother.  It also contains one of my favorite chicken casserole recipes.


The Sully Christian School cookbooks contain some great  recipes!  I have an older edition (1987) that I received as one of my first cookbooks as a shower gift from Grandma J.  (The cover is missing from it!)  When the newer edition was printed, our children were students and I was a teacher.


One of my college roommate’s mother’s family created this unique cookbook.  It is fun because the recipes are organized by the month while featuring celebrations of the particular season.


Hamburger can be used so many ways as is featured in this cookbook.  One of my favorite recipes, Stromboli is from this cookbook.


Just a couple of weeks ago I was able to visit with Julie at our local grocery store.  She is a farm wife who opened up her family farm home to guests.  She makes the best sweet rolls!


This is one of the newer cookbooks in my collection.  I was able to meet the authors at the Iowa State Fair a few years ago.  They share their love of baking which includes many recipes that have a story behind them.  A good cookbook when you want some great desserts!


In a few weeks, this cookbook will come in handy!  Hot turkey sandwiches and turkey salad are two of my favorite recipes.


Another rather new cookbook in my collection which features some of my farm women friends/bloggers.


Remember to share the link to this blog post and you could win your copy of the Iowa Food and Family Cookbook!

What is your favorite cookbook?

For previous year’s recipes see the links below.

31 Days of Fall Flavors

31 Days – Farm to Table


Enjoy a good cookbook this weekend!


Grandma Van’s Potato Salad

Since yesterday, the fourth Sunday in October,  is known as  Mother-in-Law Day I thought it is the perfect time to share one of my mother-in-laws most requested recipes. (Actually, I could probably feature one of her recipes each day for 31 days!) First a little bit about my mother-in-law, Trudy (a.k.a Grandma Van).  To begin with she has patiently taught this city girl many things about being a farm wife.  In addition to her many skills and duties on the farm such as milking cows and driving the combine; my mother -in-law has many other wonderful talents including the following: quilting, decorating, entertaining, flower gardening, and baking.  You can usually count on Grandma Van providing a yummy coffee time each morning!  She welcomes anyone who stops in on any given day!  Thank you Grandma Van for all you do!!


Two sweet ladies – my mother-in-law and my soon to be daughter-in-law!!


Grandma Van has fed many calves in her day!


Grandma Van talking about milk replacer to a group of school children.


Grandma Van’s contribution to the sweet corn business – the Gator driver.


Grandma Van sharing her love for quilting with Emily.  (Ever now and then Grandma needs a little help with the computer part of her new long arm quilting machine too!)


Grandma Van (and Grandpa too) with their brood of grandchildren!


*5 potatoes cooked with 1 ½ Tbsp. of salt, drained

8 eggs, hard boiled, sliced


1 ½ Tbsp. mustard

2 cups Miracle Whip

¾ of ½ cup sugar

2 ½ Tbsp. cider vinegar

1/4 – 1/3 c. chopped onion

1 -2 ribs celery, chopped

8 eggs, hard boiled, sliced

Mix dressing, potatoes and eggs together.


*I used potatoes from our garden, so I used 3 qts. quarted potatoes.

Snickers thought we had time to play ball when digging potatoes!  After cooking the potatoes, cool and dice. I like to drain them in a colander and rinse with cold water.  After that I put on a cookie sheet to cool before dicing/cubing.  Grandma Van uses a slicer with wires.  I have used what I have on hand – a French Fry cutter.  (Looks very similar.)  However; it is VERY sharp.

I use an egg slicer to slice the hard boiled eggs.  Mix dressing and add onions and celery.

Mix all ingredients together and chill before serving.


I usually think of potato salad in the summer; however, it has been a little warmer the last few weeks.  In addition, I found this to be a good side for cold sandwiches or warm sandwiches this time of year!

Have a great week!  (Remember to give your mother-in-law an extra hug this week!)


Local Food and Mini Cheesecakes

A little food for thought today –

The words locally grown or local food are terms that you read or hear quite frequently.  I totally agree that local food is great – we have a large garden, the children grow sweet corn, and we eat our own beef and pork.  In addition, the children sell their sweet corn and we sell a few cattle and pigs directly to people.  However, there are few things to think about here.   Read what Wanda from Minnesota Farm Living says about this topic.  I could not have said it better.  In addition, certain parts of the country having better growing conditions for certain crops.  Following I have listed a few of the states and what local products that you think of when you think of the particular state.

Yesterday, when I (actually Emily made them for a trial run for a bridal shower she is hosting today) made these cheesecakes the other day, I was not able to go to my garden and harvest fresh strawberries, blueberries, or the Kiwi; therefore, I was thankful I could stop at my local Fareway and purchase them.

BlueberriesFlorida OrangesGeorgia PeanutsIdaho potatoesmarch-of-the-apples-posterMissouri Peaches 2wisconsin cheese

Corn Fed Beef

Steak photo credit to Iowa Beef Industry Council and Beef Checkoff.

Iowa Chops

Pork Chop photo credit to Food and Swine.

Iowa Sweet Corn

Lower right photo credit to Joe Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association.


AE Dairy is a local dairy in our state.  When Kevin’s family milked cows they sold the milk to AE; furthermore, all of our calves that we have purchased the last eight years are from a dairy that sells its milk to AE!




1 14oz. sweetened condensed milk

3 eggs

3 pkg. cream cheese ( 8 oz.)

Vanilla Wafers

Fresh fruit for topping

Regular size cupcake wrappers

Place vanilla wafer in cupcake wrapper in muffin tin.

Mix other ingredients together.  Place on top of wafers.

Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes.  Cool

Top with fruit.


Have a great weekend!


Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

Today we had a nice surprise as Emily came home for the day!  She had no classes as most of her professors are attending the National FFA Convention.  Since Ham and Scalloped Potatoes is one of her favorite meals that is what we had for supper tonight!


Unloading the corn from the combine.  It looks like we should be done with harvest in time for the wedding!


We were able to move home tonight!


Our calves enjoy their fresh corn!


Our pets enjoy being part of the fall displays.


Snickers is surrounded by some of Jacob’s pumpkin crop!


Helping the crew move from field to field can be exhausting!


Two months from today this will be the new Mr. and Mrs. Van Manen!!


Recipe credit to my sister-in-law Michele from the Jansen Family Cookbook

6-8 slices of cubed ham

8-10 thinly sliced potatoes

1 or 2 cans cream of celery soup of mushroom

2 cups shredded Velveeta cheese

1 onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Put half of ham, potatoes, onion, and cheese in greased crock pot.  Sprinkle with with salt and pepper.  Repeat layers.  Spoon soup over top.  Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. Tonight I actually put it in a 9 x 13 and baked for 2 hours at 325 degrees.

(I love Pampered Chef stoneware.  I use the 9 x 13 baker.  I also have the basket with handles.  The stoneware keeps it very warm and I think it is just as easy to transport a 9 x 13 as a crock pot!)

I had good intentions of getting it in the crock pot this morning, but we ended up attending a land auction.  Then this afternoon Emily and I met up with the lady that will alter her bridesmaid dress.  She is also a farm wife and we needed to time it with her when her truck was at the bins! Next thing I knew it was about time for me to go to church.  With Emily’s help we threw this together before I left for church!

It was another beautiful night for a field meal! Kinda scary what winter could be like!  We just pray for good weather for Nov. 19th!

Take care,


World Food Prize

Last Friday we had the opportunity to host a group of teachers/parents that were in Des Moines for the World Food Prize events. Thanks to the Iowa Soybean Association for providing  afternoon soybean snacks in the field.  Here are some thoughts from the afternoon.

Dear Global Institute Teachers and Parents,

I want to thank you for taking the time to visit us in the field on Friday!  Thank you for your interest in experiencing modern agriculture up close.  We  enjoyed visiting with you and sharing the story of our family farm.  It was interesting to hear where you were from  and what subject areas you taught.  Following are a  few things we had conversations about and some things that we did not have time to talk about! Thank you for all you do to educate future consumers!


The planter boxes filled with seed corn last spring.


Here we are “unloading on the go” – which means the combine does not stop.


Yesterday  we were able to harvest the test plot that contained several different hybrids where we visited on Friday.  Everyone is anxious to see the results!


We keep track of our yields by the bushels.  Corn is also sold by the bushel.


The majority of our corn is fed to our cattle.  We use the grinder/mixer to mix up different rations for different groups of cattle.


This is Iowa CORN FED BEEF!  (Notice our hoop barns in the background.)


Our pigs are also a part of the sustainable cycle on our farm.  Corn and soybean meal is fed to our pigs.


The manure is stored in an 8 ft. concrete pit under the building.  We pump the pits in the fall.


The manure is then injected into the soil for it provides a natural fertilizer for next year’s crop.


We also have plenty of cattle manure!


We also talked about how the children’s sweet corn business has grown over the years. Sweet corn is sold to local grocery stores,  at a roadside stand in town, and at the farm. Most of the corn you see when you drive down the road is field corn.  Less than 1% is sweet corn.  Our sweet corn is harvested by hand.  In northern Iowa and southern Minnesota where sweet corn processors are located you will see machines used to harvest sweet corn.


Photo credit to photographer  Joe Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association.


Sweet Corn Video  – This video tells about their combined efforts with Monsanto, Iowa Food Bank Association, and Iowa Food and Family Project to fight hunger in Iowa.

Iowa Ag Literacy Foundation – Here you will find a great wealth of information on agricultural literacy including lesson plans, links to other educational websites, and resources including  JOURNEY 2050 which takes students on a virtual simulation that explores world food sustainability.

I am anxious to read some of the student papers that were written as part of the Global Youth Institute!  We actually know a couple of students from previous years!  (It is a small world!)  2014’s theme was Confronting the Greatest Challenge in History when our neighbor, Anna Barr wrote her paper.  Cultivating Innovation to Feed the World was the theme in 2012, when my college roommate’s daughter, Stephanie McMillan wrote her paper.

As the evolution of technology has improved practices on the farm over the last few years, one thing remains the same – at the end of the day we are a family working together caring for the land and livestock to the best of our ability on the farm – where the miracle of food begins!

Thank you for your interest.  Please contact us if you have any questions. Have a great rest of the school year!

Julie and family

Food for Thought – Sunday in October


October is known as Pastor Appreciation Month.  Last Sunday we were pleased to have a soup dinner (This year I made Chicken Noodle Soup  – see post from last Oct.) at church in honor of Pastor Wayne and Tammy.  They are both a blessing to the community and our church.  As a family, we are especially thrilled that they will be a part of J and K’s Big Day (Only about a month away!) as Pastor Wayne will be officiating the marriage ceremony!


Thanks Pastor Wayne and Tammy!


J and K’s Big Day is getting closer!!

In other church news…I have taken on a new volunteer role this fall working with the STARS after school program on Wednesday afternoons.  My job is to help all 64 children to memorize Bible verses.  Since September we have been working on Psalm 121 and last Wednesday we recited the verse as a group in front of the parents who came for a monthly supper.  They did a great job! Next up is Psalm 100.


Psalm 121 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.


We are thankful for a good fall so far!  We just pray that everyone continues to have a safe harvest.


Happy World Egg Day!

Celebrate eggs today!

Following are some interesting egg facts from the Iowa Poultry Association:

Did you know that…

  • Iowa ranks #1 in the nation for egg production
  • #1 in egg processing
  • Iowa produced almost 16 billion eggs in 2014
  • Iowa’s chicken layers consume 58 million bushels of corn and 30 million bushels of soybeans
  • Iowa’s egg producers create more than 8,000 jobs annually. $2 billion in total sales, $424 million in personal wages and over $19 million in state tax revenues!

General Facts:

  • Iowa has approximately 60 million laying hens
  • Iowa produces enough eggs to provide an egg-a-day for the world for 2 days.
  • An egg-a-day for China for 11 days
  • An egg-a-day for all Americans for 47 days
  • Iowa’s egg farmers add value to Iowa corn and soybeans – 58 million bushels of corn and 30 million bushels of soybeans

Eggs can be consumed in a number of ways!   Here are a few of my favorite ways to use eggs.


 Ham & Egg Enchiladas

Mix together the first 4 ingred. and set aside.

2 c milk

6 eggs, beaten

½ tsp salt

1 Tbl flour

2 C cubed ham

½ c chopped gr onions

10 – 8” flour tortillas

2 c shredded cheddar

Grease 9 x 13 pan. Place meat & onions in tortillas, top each with some cheese, roll up, put seam side down in 9 x 13 pan. Pour egg mix over tortillas in pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Set out 30 minutes before cooking. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover it and continue to bake 10 minutes longer or until all the liquid is gone. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cook 3 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes.

At the Iowa State Fair we enjoy Egg on a Stick!  Hard-boiled eggs make a quick easy hand held food for this time of year.  Sprinkle with a little seasoning salt and enjoy!


Photo credit to Iowa Egg Council.

A few years ago my friend Shannon Latham from Latham Seeds featured my OVEN OMELET.

Enjoy some eggs today!