Danelle cooks out of necessity

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By Sandy Bond

Mud Butte, where Danelle Stiegelmeier spent her early life, is sheep country. An unincorporated town located in Meade County, it has more sheep, cattle and wild horses than people.
The children of Renee and Bill Kluck, Danelle, the middle of five girls, Danelle and her sisters, Melanie Beardsley, 31, Haley Michelson, 29, Nicole, 19, Kimberly, 16, thrived on the ranch where the family raised Rambouillet sheep and Angus cattle.
Although the other girls enjoyed domestic duties, Danelle could often be found tagging after her dad, fixing fences, herding cattle and branding calves. And because implement companies are few and far between, following in her dad’s footsteps she became extremely proficient as a mechanic.  Looks can be deceiving. Extremely petite, Danelle can ride and rope and change the oil with expertise.
Attending Believers Fellowship Academy in Sturgis, she transferred to Newell High School for her junior and senior years. After graduating in 2004, she was certain as to which career she should chose.
“I absolutely love to help people,” she said, “and I learn best by working with my hands.”
She chose Williston (N.D.) State College because they had an excellent reputation in career preparation in such diverse fields as massage therapy and diesel mechanics.
“I figured that if I became disillusioned with massage therapy, I could always transfer to the diesel mechanic program,” she said.
She had first met Matt Stiegelmeier, the eldest of seven children born to Emily and Jim Stieglemeier of Blue Blanket Organics in rural Selby, when Matt was 15, and had offered to come out to help her dad with his cattle.
“I was not impressed,” she said. “He acted like any 15-year boy.”
However, in 2005, he was invited to the wedding of Haley and her fiancée Travis. Smitten, Matt began to relish trips to Mud Butte. Soon he came to visit at her at college. They fell in love and were married in 2006, after she graduated with a degree in massage therapy.
Originally moving to a farm in rural Java owned by Florence and Merle Noess who also raised sheep, they lived in the tiny little farmhouse.  Their first daughter Katya, was born in 2007. Soon farm duties and motherhood became her overwhelming passion.  Katya, who is now 5, was soon joined by Esther, 3, and Shiloh, 17 months. Matt and Danelle needed a larger home. Hearing about a house owned by Garnet and Lyle Perman at Lowry, they purchased the 1913 era dwelling and relocated it to the farm. The huge picture window looks out over the acres of wheat ripening in the fields and their four horses.
Never having any more sheep than a bottle lamb or two when growing up, Matt asked Danelle if she wanted a few sheep.
“I’ve always had them, she said, “and I wouldn’t know what to do without them.”
Being the second eldest child, Matt is admittedly an excellent cook and has taught Danelle the fundamentals of cooking.
“Cooking, to me, is basically a necessity,” she said.
Her only culinary catastrophe was broiling a taco shell when it burst into flames.
Since her second year of college, Danelle has noticed she has intolerance to gluten, perhaps a precursor to celiac disease.  Autoimmune diseases affect individuals in different ways and in vastly different parts of the body. A powerhouse of energy, Danelle began to suffer bouts of fatigue. Shortly thereafter, she noticed swelling and joint pains after eating anything with wheat. Gluten is seemingly in everything, most notably in wheat, but also in rye and barley.
A voracious reader, she virtually diagnosed herself. For a while, the use of organically grown wheat flour minimized the reactions. She has learned to make piecrust with a glueten-free rice flour mix and coconut. Now, she creatively substitutes rice flour and spelt into her bakery products. Katya has shown intolerance to red and yellow dyes in commercially produced products, she said.
Milk from their milk cow goes into homemade yogurt. And nothing tastes as good as milk fresh from the cow with a heavy head of thick, rich cream or good rich butter.
A lark by nature, one of her first duties, even before breakfast is started, is milking their cow, Spot.

DANELLE’S RECIPES

Roast Leg of Lamb
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves (crumbled)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves (crumbled)
3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
5 to 6 lb. boneless leg of lamb
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, stir all ingredients except lamb until well mixed. Place lamb in shall roasting pan (keep netting on lamb.) Spread herb mixture over entire surface of lamb. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of lamb and does not rest in fat. Roast uncovered for 2 hours and 15 minutes for medium rare or until thermometer reads 140 degrees; for medium doneness bake until thermometer reads 155 F. Remove from oven; cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes or until thermometer reads 145 degrees (or 160 degrees for medium doneness. Remove netting or string before serving. Serve with pan juices if desired.

Prune or Date Cake
1 cup prunes/dates (cut and pitted)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup white sugar
1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Put prunes/dates in pan or kettle. Add soda. Pour boiling water over above ingredients and stir slightly. Add butter, white sugar, flour, salt and vanilla. Stir. Bake in an 8 inch by 8 inch pan or a 2 inch by 13 inch pan at 350 degrees until when touched it springs back.

Baked Oatmeal
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs (beaten)
Mix together and pour into a 9-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

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