It never seems to fail. I am cleaning out my freezers to make room for a half of beef from my brother. My mouth waters at the thought of good Illinois beef steaks melting in my mouth. Ketchup and BBQ sauce are banned from the table when these steaks are served. Even the hamburger has a different and satisfying taste of being back home. I am cooking up lost packages found on the bottom of the freezer. Packages of venison, soup bones with broth, vegetables and smashed loaves of bread. It has been a smorgasbord of dishes served for the past couple of weeks. Between the four freezers, I have carved out enough space for my special beef. It will nestle between the packages of sweet corn, strawberries, apple pies and ice cream.
    Then it happens. A perfectly healthy cow goes down with split hips. Not only is she our best cow, she is our biggest cow. Now I have to find room and recipes to use up several hundred pounds of hamburger. I started with cooking up 10 pounds of BBQ’s to stash away in the freezer for those nights when I have been in the fields and do not have a clue of what is for supper. I will also cook up and store several pounds of beef to have on hand for chili, hamburger tater tot hotdish and goulash. I found a couple of new recipes using beef that I think will become family favorites.

Hamburger stew
2 pounds ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cans (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes, undrained
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
In a Dutch oven (or heavy bottom pan), cook beef and onions until no longer pink; drain. Add all the other ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until veggies and rice are tender. Uncover and simmer 20-30 minutes longer or until thickened.
Can freeze leftovers once stew is cool. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary.

Church supper spaghetti
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. chili powder
10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed
4 ounces mushroom stems and pieces, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, water and chili powder. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add corn, peas, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir in spaghetti.
Layer half of mixture in a greased 4 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese; repeat layers.
Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Oat pan rolls
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 Tbsp. salt
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour
Additional butter, melted
In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter and salt; stir in boiling water. Cool to 110 to 115 degrees. In a different bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand five minutes. Add the oat mixture and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 20 pieces. Place in a greased 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack; brush with melted butter.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.