Tomboy also learns to cook

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Bernice Miller said she believes the best things in life are free. She credits her brother Don for introducing her to the “tomboy life,” horseback riding, fishing, and pheasant and deer hunting. She credits one of her friends and mentors Vivian Perman for teaching her a lot about cooking that would be a blessing in disguise.
The daughter of Rose and Jake Goetz, Bernice and her brother Don lived an idyllic life, growing up on the farm, five miles south of Akaska. They attended the Ritter School, a half-mile east of the farm.
“I never liked working in the house,” she said. “I spent as much time as I could outside. So I learned very little about cooking from my mom who happened to be a good cook.”
Bernice graduated from Selby High School in 1962, with a background in the then state-of-the-art office skills of shorthand, bookkeeping, and typing. Her favorite teacher, Merle Klein, helped her get her first job as bookkeeper in the First National Bank in Selby.
“That was a lot of driving back then,” she said, “So when Boyd and I were married, Boyd found employment locally with Leroy and Vivian Perman.”
Boyd helped with the farming chores and the Perman’s cattle, and Bernice helped with babysitting, cooking and housekeeping chores.
“Boyd is so easy to cook for because he’s very easy to please,” she said, “He’s not fussy at all. But I had a lot to learn.”
From helping Vivian cook for the family, which included six children and also the hired help, and inspiring a love of gardening, Bernice learned much from Vivian.
“She was a joy to work for and is still one of my friends,” she said.
In 1968, Boyd and Bernice built their own farm, and began milking Holstein cattle, and eventually built a milking parlor. They spent the next 20 years running a dairy farm.
“It was a great place to raise our four children,” she said. “They all learned to work hard. They were very active on the farm and in 4-H. When we quit milking we discovered it was like escaping from prison. In dairy farming, the cattle always come first, and have to be milked twice a day, 365 days a year.”
Always an accomplished finish carpenter, Boyd began his own carpentry business.
They made their home in beautiful downtown Akaska, remodeled, and began to accommodate hunters and fisherman. A cabin and a trailer home supplement the space in their five-bedroom home.
With its proximity to the Missouri River, the town of Akaska has grown by leaps and bounds in just a few years.  With the first few warm spring days the town’s population of approximately 50 or so full-time residents explodes to hundreds. Some are summer people, some are snowbirds, and many came for the incredible fishing and decided to stay.
“We credit the annual South Dakota Walleye Classic and our progressive town board,” Bernice said.
The Classic began with an attempt to attract high profile fisherman, she said. Today, the emphasis is much more on local anglers.
The unofficial season begins with the Akaska Trail Ride, the first Sunday in June, followed by a splendidly patriotic Fourth of July celebration, and continues with the Walleye Classic and Bull-O-Rama later in the summer. Punctuated with the influx of anglers aplenty, the season formally culminates in the fall with German Fest. This year it will be held Sept.  29, to accommodate other area activities.
Bernice and some of the best cooks in the county are nurturing their rhubarb plants to be used in their legendary kuchen. Also on the menu for German Fest are pigs in a blanket, hot potato salad, knoepfla, and sauerkraut and Hosmer sausage.
Conceding that the previous winter was an unusually balmy one, Bernice said that boats were on the water until Jan. 12.
Ice fishing began by the end of January, although anglers used caution when venturing on the ice, she said.
“Boyd and I did a lot of ice fishing last winter and it was great,” she said.  “And we’re never far from pheasant and deer hunting opportunities.”
When they do venture away from their little place in paradise, it’s to visit their three daughters and son and 14 grandchildren.

BERNICE MILLER’S RECIPES

Kuchen Dough
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup scalded milk (cooled to lukewarm)
1/2 cup Crisco, melted and cooled until it sets up again. Do this the day before.
4 cups flour
2 small eggs
Then mix and add 1/4 cup lukewarm water, 1/2 tsp. sugar and 1 pkg. yeast that has set and bubbled a little.
This recipe works well in my KitchenAid Mixer. It makes about five kuchen.
Mix sugar, salt and then add scalded (lukewarm) milk and dissolve. This mixture should be lukewarm. Then add the yeast mixture. Mix well. Add 2 cups flour. Beat 1 minute. Add 2 small unbeaten eggs. Blend thoroughly. Add the Crisco. Beat 1 minute. Add remaining 2 cups of flour. Let rise until about double, usually only about 45 minutes to an hour. Dough will be quite soft, but just grease your hands and take approximately 1 cup of dough and press into each pan. Put on choice of drained fruit, then custard topping and last of all the crumbles. I like to sprinkle on more cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until nice and brown around the edges.

Kuchen Topping
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
(mix flour and sugar together first)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
Mix this all together well and cook in microwave until thick. Stir a couple of times while cooking. I make this the day before so it is at room temperature to spread.

Kuchen Crumbles
This goes on last. I like to make this the day before and stick it in the freezer, as it crumbles and spreads better when frozen.
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
Mix until crumbly. KitchenAid wire mixer works well. Freeze until next day.

Fish Breading Mix
4  21-ounce boxes of bread crumbs
2 lbs. pancake flour
5 lbs. regular flour
1/4 of a 26-ounce box salt
4  1 5/8-ounce Lawry’s Seasoning Pepper
4  3-ounce Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
1/2  box dry mustard
1  4 1/2-ounce Accent
1  2.37-ounce garlic powder
1 .87-ounce size sage
This recipe makes about 2 gallons of mix and keeps a long time in the freezer. Dip fish in whipped egg and then roll in this mix.

Zucchini Garden Chowder
2 med. zucchini chopped
1 med. onion chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1/3 cup oleo
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 10-ounce package corn
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cups water
3 chicken bullion cubes
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 can diced tomatoes
1  12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Pinch of sugar
Saute zucchini, onion, parsley and basil in oleo. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add water slowly. Add bullion and lemon juice. Mix well. Boil and stir two minutes. Add tomatoes, milk and corn. Boil and then simmer until corn and all vegetables are tender. Add cheeses just before serving. I use fresh vegetables from the garden during gardening season.

Zucchini Bars
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Place in a large bar pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts and bake at 325 degrees until done.

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