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I’m Not Martha

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on April 4, 2020

Our library in Kaycee carries an interesting mix of magazines. Not a huge selection, but a nice variety. I usually check out the Western Horseman and the Reader’s Digest and sometimes some women’s magazine that’s all pretty on the cover.  

            The Martha Stewart Magazine is there also. I occasionally bring it home to “check in with Martha.” I accept Martha Stewart, she is a self-made woman. She may have stepped on quite a few toes to get where she is, but I suppose that is the price of fame.  

            She did her time behind bars and even taught knitting to the inmates while there. She lost a few pieces of her empire after that, but from here in Wyoming the 78-year-old connoisseur seems to be doing well.  

            I passed her magazine by the other day.  It was a springy looking cover, with colorful Easter eggs.  I know I’m not going to try the latest kale recipe or alter my Easter egg coloring ritual.  Everyone seems to like my deviled eggs, a splash of Tabasco is the secret, and the Harlan ham will grace the table, without any fancy changes.  

            It’s fun to look at someone’s refurbished farmhouse, but my house is pretty well fixed how I like it. I love it when it’s clean and orderly, but that is another subject.

            I’ll gaze at the colorful dishes and know that I don’t need any more clutter. My old Kitchen Aid mixer, a ranch mom’s must have, is white and ancient. If it dies, I’ll wonder what amazing color I will replace it with. It will probably outlive me.

            The gardening section is always majestic, and I look out at my winter-scaped lawn and know I’ll be lucky to get all the doggie deposits picked up before green grass. I’m envious of all the ranch gals who find time and energy to plant and care for a garden and flowers and a lawn. 

            I feel good just sticking in a few petunias here and there and keeping the grass and the trees alive.

            So, Martha may have to go ahead without me. I’ll still check in periodically and say to myself, “I should try that.”  I may even buy some fancy ingredient and stick it in the fridge and find it much, much later. 

            I have yet to perfect the basic cinnamon roll recipe, a staple at any ranch working. My rolls always look and taste like hockey pucks.  I have given up, and instead I make a pan of Cinnamon-Nut Coffee Cake, a recipe from Baking at High Altitude, a cookbook put out by University of Wyoming Extension. It can be baked ahead and put in the freezer for future ranch workings. The recipe reads as follows.

Cinnamon-nut coffee cake

            I make a nine-by-13 pan size. We’ll need to make the topping first, it’s probably easier and faster to use purchased chopped nuts, but I always store a big bag of pecans in the freezer.  

            The first part of this project is always going out to the freezer and digging for the nuts and then chopping them up.  

            For the topping, start by melting four tablespoons of butter. Then, add one cup of brown sugar, one-fourth of a cup of flour, four teaspoons of cinnamon and one cup of chopped nuts.  Stir up and set aside.

            For the batter, we’ll need three cups of flour, one tablespoon of baking powder, a half tablespoon of salt and one and a half cups of sugar. Then, stir together in the mixer.  Add in a half cup of butter-flavored Crisco and mix until shortening looks like coarse meal. 

            Beat two eggs in a bowl, and add one and a quarter cups of milk and two teaspoons of vanilla. Pour in the dry mixture and blend. Don’t overmix!

            Pour half the batter into a greased and floured pan and spread evenly, the batter is very thick. Sprinkle with half the nut topping.

            Drop and spread the remaining batter in the pan and sprinkle with the other half of topping. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. 

            My cookbook is old enough that it doesn’t have any of those unnecessary footnotes about the calories. There may be a new printing out with that information.

Mexican lasagna

Another family favorite is Mexican lasagna.

            Ingredients include one pound of hamburger, one chopped onion, four ounces of chopped green chilies, one-quarter tablespoon of garlic powder, one can of tomato soup, one soup can milk, a half cup of grated yellow cheese and 12 corn tortillas.  

            Begin by sautéing the hamburger and onion and drain. Then, add green chilies, garlic, tomato soup and milk.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  

            In a nine-by-13 pan, spread a little sauce on the bottom, then lay six corn tortillas flat across the pan. Pour half the sauce over the tortillas, then sprinkle with cheese.  Repeat with tortillas, sauce and cheese.  

            Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve over lettuce and add garnishes such as chopped tomato, sour cream and salsa.

            This is fairly mild, we can substitute chopped jalapenos for the green chilies if preferred.  This freezes well, so make a double batch.

Wilted leaf lettuce 

            An easy and different salad is wilted leaf lettuce salad. This recipe comes out of an old red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cook book.  If there is no leaf lettuce in the store or we don’t grow our own, we can easily substitute fresh spinach. 

            Cook up six slices bacon until crisp and then drain and crumble, reserving drippings.          Add a half cup of sliced green onion and cook until tender. Add in one-quarter cup of vinegar, four tablespoons of sugar, one-quarter cup of water and a half teaspoon of salt. Add the bacon and cook and stir until boiling.  

            Place about eight cups of leaf lettuce, torn in bite size pieces, or the spinach in a bowl. Pour the hot dressing over and toss to coat.  This serves about six.

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