No store-bought bread for Dad

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“I absolutely love this job,” Oahe Special Education Cooperative Director Mary Austad said,  “having the opportunity to work with the member schools of Selby Area, Bowdle, Eureka, Edmunds Central, Herreid, Hoven, and Smee.”
Could kismet play a role? Mary believes it just may. When she began her career as a music education teacher, she interviewed in the Java School District. She opted to accept another job to be closer to her family. Mary worked as a music teacher for 10 years before deciding to become a school administrator. When she heard director Fred Carpenter was retiring, she jumped at the chance to apply.
“It’s absolutely my dream job,” she said. “My husband Robert and I can buzz on down U.S. Highway 83 to the Pierre-Ft. Pierre area to see the kids and the grandbabies.”
Their son Joseph is employed by the federal government in Pierre. Daughter Roberta graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in elementary education and special education and has been employed in that field for the past 10 years. She has taken a leave of absence to care for a 10-month old foster baby and is foster mom for four children, siblings, between the ages of 10 months and 8 years.
“She was just able to adopt a fifth foster child, a 4-year-old,” she said. “A very energetic boy.”
Lucky to have a support system her entire life, she said, her parents and husband Robert have been her biggest cheering section.
“Education was very important to both my parents,” she said. “My dad never attended high school, but could help with high school algebra homework. A real lifelong learner.”
Born to Ausbrand and LaVerne Valentine, she and her two brothers and two sisters grew up in a very musical family.  “Jamming” together with trombone and trumpet, raising their voices in song was simply a part of life. Their favorite song was “How Great Thou Art,” with Mary and younger sister Colleen carrying the soprano part and her mom and sister Berniece, alto.
Mary also learned to bake at a very young age.
“My dad didn’t like ‘store-bought bread,’” she said.
The highlight of their Saturdays was watching their mother make homemade bread.
Mixing it up in the morning and then washing clothes in the wringer washer, by mid-afternoon the bread was ready to put in pans.
“She would bake the bread that evening,” she said, “and while we were watching ‘Gunsmoke,’ we could have a fresh bun. They were so good! ”
Mary tries, she said, to bake fresh bread, just not every Saturday as her mom did. She tries to bake fresh bread at Christmas time, and when the family has a gathering.
“It’s a treat that brings our parents back to us,” she said.
The family began life on a ranch in rural Stanley County and then moved to Ft. Pierre in 1959. After her dad fell ill from asthma and emphysema, he was forced to quit ranching. He found employment helping to build Oahe dam in late 1959. LaVerne was employed by an attorney in Miller. When he accepted a position in Ft. Pierre, he requested that LaVerne move to Ft. Pierre. She eventually became the Deputy Director of the Insurance Department for the State of South Dakota.
Mary married the love of her life, Robert Austad, and they lived in Ft. Pierre for a few years.
“Being a non-traditional student with two little babies to care for was the best thing,” she said. “I never had to question where I wanted to go in life, like many other students.”
She received her music education from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
She taught music education in Viborg, Lyman School and Stanley County Districts. In 1995, her mom died, and she began to rethink her career.
“I was totally passionate about music,” she said, “and it broke my heart to attempt to teach students music that didn’t share my passion.”
She knew in her heart that she had a desire to work with schools, staff, parents and children with special needs in the area of special education. She returned to USD and earned her master’s degree in administration with superintendent endorsement and post master’s degree work.
She served as superintendent of schools for a total of 16 years in Roslyn, Egan, Estelline, and Kadoka before coming to the cooperative.
“All I have left is my dissertation for my Ed.D. in administration,” she said, “but I don’t think I am going to write that dissertation!”
Right now, she and Robert are comfy in The Panther Inn apartments in Java.

MARY’S RECIPES

My mother’s homemade bread
(I make bread as I was taught by my mother.)
Warm water up to the dent in the pan (about six cups)
1 lid of yeast (2 packets?)
About two scoops of sugar (approx two cups)
Salt in the palm of my hand (about two teaspoons)
Shortening (mom liked to use lard – and many times she rendered her own lard! I use melted butter flavored shortening and canola oil  – about 1 ½ cups)
A couple of eggs, beaten (About two, if there are three left in the carton, I use three)
Flour – enough to make the “right consistency” (about 12-15 cups)
Mix warm water and half the sugar until dissolved. Add yeast and let it set until dissolved fully (it will be “fluffy on top” (about 10 minutes)
After the yeast has “proofed” you may stir the yeast mixture carefully.  Into the stirred yeast mixture, add three to four cups of flour (do not stir yet). Make a little “hole” in the middle of the flour. Place salt, remaining sugar and beaten eggs in the hole. Stir. While stirring, add the oil. Continue to add flour until dough is “the right consistency.” Knead the dough on a lightly floured counter to thoroughly mix the ingredients (three to five minutes). Be careful to not mix in too much flour. It will make your dough stiff.  Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a dish towel or other cloth large enough to cover the bowl. Let the dough rise until doubled.  Make into buns or rolls.  Put buns or rolls into greased pans.  Let rise about one hour and then bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Calico Beans
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 lb. bacon (diced)        2 tsp. vinegar
1 c. onion (chopped)        1 can baby butter beans (drained)
1/2 c. catsup            1 can kidney beans
1 tsp. salt            1 can navy beans
3/4 c. brown sugar        1 tall can pork n’ beans
Brown the ground beef, bacon and onion. Drain. In a slow cooker add beans, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, salt and catsup.  Mix well.  Add browned beef, bacon and onion. Mix well.  Cook on high for two to three hours or low for four to six hours.

Crazy Cake
(The first cake I taught my children how to make.)
3 c. flour            1 stick butter
2 c. sugar            1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. cocoa            2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt            2 cups water
2 tsp. soda
Mix first five ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and soda).  Melt butter in a small pan. Add water, vanilla and vinegar.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes in a floured 9-inch by 13-inch pan.

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