Her baked beans are legendary
By Sandy Bond
Yvonne Helm silently walks through a field of native wildflowers and grasses, the dew saturating her tennis shoes. But any discomfort is far from her mind. Her gaze is fixed upon white and yellow daisies. Yvonne is on a photographic safari. Amid nature’s blanket of color, she spies her quarry: a brilliant Monarch butterfly rests atop a flower. On its journey from the warm climes of South America north to the Dakotas, its wings flutter softly. In the snap of the shutter of her digital camera, the image is preserved forever.
“It was a keeper,” she said. “Just what I’d been hoping for my first entry for the Mobridge Art Show.”
The oldest daughter of Dorothy and stepfather Bill Shepherd, she and her siblings Tom and Janet grew up in five different states including a stone’s throw from the white sands of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and to the beat of The Beach Boys in California. The family moved to California where her dad was a trucker. After graduating from Magnolia High School in 1969, she met a handsome young U.S. Marine, Dwight Helm, just returning from a tour of duty as a helicopter mechanic in the Vietnam War. They fell in love and set their sights on following Dwight’s dream of following in his dad’s footsteps as a farmer in central Walworth County. His young bride didn’t know what to expect, but soon succumbed to culture shock.
“The homesickness was devastating,” she said.
The first four months the family lived with Dwight’s family. The Art and Frieda Helm farm was located at Rosella, the first settlement in Walworth County. With its 12-inch walls, the Russian sod brick house was nice and warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer, she recalled. Still, it lacked running water. The big old cook stove was used to heat water hand pumped from the well for baths and kept two generations warm that first winter.
She learned a lot from her new in-laws, including how to cultivate a garden, make her own laundry soap and perpetuate the tradition Frieda had established as being one of the best cooks in the county.
Later the family moved into town where Yvonne became a stay-at-home mom and worked at part-time jobs at the Java Community Café and grocery store after the kids were in school. Dwight found employment with the North Central Farmers Elevator. They raised four children, Jeffrey, Jonathan, Jennine and Joshua.
Dwight is a mechanic at the Walworth County Highway Department and Yvonne finds gratification from cooking at Shorty’s One Stop and volunteering at the D & D Café.
A people person, she said, she enjoys cooking and serving her friends and neighbors.
“Because sometimes time is tight, I enjoy making chili or goulash,” she said. “Sometimes I like to prepare what some people call breakfast, like bacon and eggs, for supper.”
Her baked beans at Java Community Steak Feeds are legendary.
Her favorite activity is babysitting for her six “grand-girls,” introducing them to nature and photography, and taking walks down long country lanes. Yvonne and Dwight’s sons Jonathan and Joshua are carpenters and have recently founded their own company, Oahe Builders, LLC, with James Fiddler. Jonathan and wife Lindsey and their three girls Brenna, Brooklyn and Briley, live in rural Selby. Josh is engaged to Misti Ryckman and they live in Mobridge. Jeffrey lives in Wichita, Kan., and Jennine and daughters Zoey and Aysa recently moved to Watertown where Jennine is a second year student at Lake Area Vocational Technical Institute pursuing her dream to become a certified public accountant. Yvonne misses them terribly and writes to them every day, she said.
Yvonne has a dog, Tucker Joe, a schnoodle, and is pet-parenting Jeannine’s two cats and one dog.
Her favorite reads are novels by Richard Paul Evans and Nicolas Sparks and mysteries by Janet Evonavich. With a smidgen of Irish, she has fallen in love with Irish ballads but most specifically Celtic Thunder. She loves listening to nearly every genre of music including the ‘60s and disco but definitely not jazz and rhythm and blues.
She also has an eclectic collection of pins. Literally hundreds of giraffe collectables peek out of every little nook and cranny of their turn-of-the-century house.
The family is life-long members of the St. Paul Lutheran Church and members of the church council.
Both she and Dwight have served their community as members of the Java Board of Trustees.
YVONNE HELM’S RECIPES
Real Italian Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb. hamburger
1 large onion (chopped)
1 large can whole tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes (unpeeled)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. sweet basil leaves
2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. pepper
22 oz. water
Brown hamburger and onion in Dutch oven or large pot. Sprinkle in garlic, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, sauce, and water and add to hamburger. Add sweet basil leaves, parsley flakes, bay leaves and vinegar. Stir and simmer for 3 hours uncovered. Add more water if needed. Must be thick before serving. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles. Served with a tossed salad and garlic toast. Sauce freezes well if you like to prepare in advance. “I usually cook a double or triple batch and freeze.”
Cherry Jell-O Salad
1 large box raspberry or strawberry Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 can cherry pie filling
Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water and add cherry pie filling. Stir well and refrigerate until set.
1 lb. bacon (chopped-slices well when semi-frozen)
4 stalks celery (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 cup tomato ketchup
4 cups cooked white rice
Cook bacon, celery, and onion until tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Crack eggs in bacon grease and cook until hard on both sides. Chop eggs in small pieces. Mix together all of the ingredients and add ketchup and soy sauce to taste. Mix well and serve. “If you wish, fry all of it a bit in a wok or in the same frying pan.
1 lb. hamburger
1 large can pork and beans
1 onion (chopped)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup molasses
Brown hamburger with onion until done and add all of the other ingredients. Slow cook for 15 minutes and serve with garlic toasts and/or salad.
2 large cans pork and beans
1 large chopped onion
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
Mix all ingredients and slow cook on stove or in Crockpot. “I double it and use the Crockpot and freeze half. I usually take a big Crockpot of baked beans when I go to a potluck. They’re always a hit!”