Hard to believe we are off to another year of discovering new recipes, tips and ideas. I have fun working on these articles, but I know there are many great cooks out there. I am sharing some recipes from family and friends today. The first one is from Honey. She is my niece-in-law’s great grandmother. Her aunt put together a cookbook of recipes and photos of Honey and the family. They scanned all of the handwritten recipes to the pages of the book. The delicate cursive handwriting is an art form. AJ said there were a few recipes which were never shared or passed down but some in the family have almost recreated her chicken wings. I really like her take on meatloaf.   
    Of course, what is cooking without a snicker and giggle or two? Eric shared his recipe for surviving a rough day of farming during the holidays. If you haven’t come off of your holiday sugar rush and need another fix, Becky’s caramel bars are perfect. At least there is oatmeal in them to make them sound healthy. I am grabbing some of my frozen cranberries and using up the rest of my holiday fruit to make a quick bread which tastes like a hint of spring. But not all recipes are about food as Helen Steiner Rice explains in her favorite recipe. Enjoy!

Honey’s Italian meatloaf
2 beaten eggs
¾ cup bread crumbs
½ cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed or garlic salt
2 pounds ground beef
8 thin slices baked ham
6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
    Combine eggs, crumbs, juice and spices. Work meat into the spices/egg mixture. On a piece of tin foil or wax paper, pat meat to a 12 inch by 10 inch rectangle. Place slices of ham on beef mixture. Top ham with shredded cheese. Roll up carefully using the foil/wax paper to help. Seal ends tightly and place sealed seam side down in a 9-by-13 pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Put wedge slices of mozzarella cheese over meatloaf and return to oven for an extra 15 minutes until melted and browned.

Eric’s Christmas cure-all by Eric Sonnek
8 ounces eggnog
1 shot Baileys Irish Cream
    If your favorite cow had a bull, add a second shot of Baileys. If your barn cleaner broke, skip the eggnog.

Chocolate caramel bars by Becky Fey
2 (11-ounce) bags of caramel bits
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups quick oats
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups butter, melted (3 sticks)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13 pan. Melt caramel bits and whipping cream over medium heat until smooth. Stir to prevent scorching. Set aside. Mix together oats, sugar, flour and baking soda. Stir in melted butter. Pat half this mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over baked base. Drizzle caramel mixture over chips. Crumble up remaining dough into small chunks and gently cover caramel/chips. Bake 15 more minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool on wire rack at least 4 hours or overnight. Need to set up to hold their shape. If you cut too early, then you just have a gooey mess.

Cranberry orange yogurt bread
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups cranberries
½ cup butter, melted
¾ cup yogurt (Greek or regular)
3 eggs
3 tablespoons orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease standard loaf pan. Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, yogurt, eggs, orange zest and juice and vanilla. By hand, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until moistened. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in cranberries. Spoon into prepared loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Check at 50 minutes and lay a piece of aluminum foil on top to prevent over browning. Cool in pan for 30 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
    One of my favorite go-to cookbooks is “The Media Centennial Cookbook.” I recognize many ladies and treasure their signature dishes from my childhood. At the bottom of many pages are words of wisdom. There is a poem by Helen Steiner Rice at the bottom of one of those pages which caught my eye:
“Take a cup of kindness,
Mix it well with love,
Add a lot of patience
And faith in God above.
Sprinkle very generously,
With joy and thanks and cheer
And you’ll have lots of angel food
To feast on all the year.”
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minn. 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