Though planting and harvesting season is months ahead of us – or behind us, depending on your outlook – the needs of the younger crew still keep me hopping in the kitchen. They are eager eaters and honest critics. This makes for a good combination when you like to try new recipes, as I very much do. I have mentioned before that I am quite loyal to my tried and true Taste of Home recipe collections. My Taste of Home Breads cookbook is showing its level of love these days – the binding is giving out in spots, but those splash covered pages contain so many delectable treats, and notes of great importance, I simply can’t retire it. It is just hitting its prime years of cookbook life. 
I’ve added a few must-have cookbooks to my shelves (and to the back and forth ‘cookbook bag’ I carry from home to farm daily). I have a soft spot for all things Tasha Tudor: the children’s books that she wrote and illustrated, her books filled with incredible pictures of her gardens, books about her life in Vermont, and of course, her cookbooks. I was paging through The Tasha Tudor Cookbook: Recipes and Reminiscences from Corgi Cottage when I happened upon her recipe for Oatmeal Bread a couple Sundays ago, and it was so easy and divine that making it has become part of my Sunday routine. She notes that she won first prize with this bread at the Danbury Fair when she was 15, and still boasts of it at age 77. She says it is best eaten fresh; freezing is not for these lovely loaves. I agree, and it will fill your house with such an enticing aroma, you will not want to wait until they cool to eat them. My boys all love it, and it makes my heart happy just to make it. 


Oatmeal Bread by Tasha Tudor 
(makes 3 loaves)


2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
4 teaspoons salt
1 cup light molasses (or maple syrup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups boiling water


Mix the above ingredients together and let set for one hour. Then add: 


2 packages dry yeast, dissolved in 1 cup warm water
10 cups flour


Mix lightly, then turn onto floured surface and knead well for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in large, greased bowl, turning dough over to grease top, and cover with warm towel. Let rise another hour or until doubled. 
Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 3 sections. Work out air bubbles. Place loaves in prepared pans, cover, and let rise until doubled, another hour. 
In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and cool on racks. 

Another of my absolute favorite cookbooks is Farm Recipes & Food Secrets from the Norse Nook by Helen Myhre with Mona Vold. The Norse (Norwegian) Nook is a restaurant in Osseo, Wisconsin, and this cookbook is filled with the most delicious, easy, farm friendly recipes. Much like Tasha Tudor’s book, it has little stories before most all of the sections or individual recipes. You can read it like a novel. The author has a spot titled “Hints” at the beginning of each new section. These sections are filled with the answers to all the questions you would call and ask your grandma about cooking her recipes. Seeing as how my Gramma Ike was a Norwegian woman, it feels like I’m talking to her. Right down to the occasional ‘uffda’ making it on the page, this book will fill your farm cooking heart with joy. This biscuit recipe is a breeze to make and was well used during cropping to fill with meat; now it accompanies soups. It also works to add cheese and herbs into the dough, and push into muffin cups to hold scrambled eggs and sausage. 


Fair’s Choice Baking Powder Biscuits
(makes a dozen biscuits)
“There are a lot of baking powder biscuit recipes in the world, but I am fond of this one. On the farm, baking powder biscuits are as handy as wheels on a wagon.” 


2 heaping cups of flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup butter
1 egg
¾ cup milk (approximately)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add butter and, using your fingers, mix until crumbly. Put the egg into a 1-cup measuring cup, beat a bit with a fork. Fill the cup with milk. Pour into dry ingredients, and mix until moistened (not too hard). The dough will be coarse and lumpy. Pat dough out on floured board or table and cut with a water glass or old sharp-edged Calumet baking powder can. Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the biscuits begin to get golden.
Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira (14), Dane (12), Henry (7) and Cora (4), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.