Janice keeps cookbook handy
By Travis Svihovec
Cooking is a little like playing the organ for Janice (Wingerter) Kraft of McLaughlin.
“I have to have a recipe, just like I have to have music in front of me,” she said.
She’s honed both of those skills since she was a girl. She started playing the organ in church when she was a seventh-grader at St. Philomena Catholic School in Selfridge. She continued to play there until she graduated from Selfridge High School in 1969.
After high school, Janice attended the School of Practical Nursing in Dickinson, N.D. She went to work at the clinic in McLaughlin after earning her licensed practical nurse degree. It was in McLaughlin that she met Dan Kraft, and they married in Selfridge in 1973. Dan worked for Cenex in McLaughlin for a time and has been self-employed since 1975.
Janice’s introduction to cooking and baking started when she was a girl, too. Her mother kept her at her side, especially when it was time to bake.
“She made caramel rolls. I still use that recipe,” she said. “And there’s a bread recipe that I still use.”
After she and Dan married, Janice was happy to cook meals at holidays and other special occasions. Her parents, Dan’s parents and the children were usually there, and the gatherings often included several other relatives. Her cooking got good reviews.
“Grandpa (Dan’s dad) always said ‘Janice, you cook the best food,’” she said.
Janice worked at the clinic for eight years and then started working at the McLaughlin School. She and Dan have a daughter, Jody Sahli, who lives in Aberdeen. Their son Brent was born with muscular dystrophy. By age he 8 could no longer walk and Janice started staying home with him at that time. Brent died in 2007 and Janice again went to work at the school. She’s been a substitute teacher, substitute nurse, and has helped in the kitchen in the last few years. She keeps a collection of cookbooks at home, which helps her branch out from what some might consider routine cooking.
“We’re German, so we think we have to have meat and potatoes,” she said. She hasn’t had many cooking accidents but some of the dishes she’s tried just weren’t what they expected.
“But I can’t remember what they might have been,” she said. “There were some we tried and didn’t like. We’d just throw them and wouldn’t use them again.”
Among her and Dan’s favorite recipes are vegetable soup and knoepfla soup, two meals that make good leftovers.
“And there are always cookies in the freezer,” she said.
In December Dan and Janice met 25 of Dan’s cousins in Minneapolis. From there they flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to start a cruise that took them several places including the Panama Canal.
“If you’ve never been on a cruise you should go,” Janice said. “And it was nice to go with so many relatives.”
They also visited Janice’s brother this winter. They took advantage of a flight that goes directly from Bismarck to Phoenix, Ariz. Their luggage, for some reason, took advantage of a direct flight from Bismarck to Orlando, Fla. They had a good time once they got that straightened out.
“We’ve done more traveling this winter than we’ve done our whole life,” she said.
JANICE KRAFT’S RECIPES
Breaded Ranch Chicken
3/4 cup crushed corn flakes
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (2 pounds)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
In a shallow bowl, combine the corn flakes, parmesan cheese and salad dressing mix. Dip chicken in butter, then roll in corn flake mixture to coat. Place in a greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 45 min. or until chicken juices run clear.
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Additional shredded cheddar cheese
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are very tender. Drain well. Mash potatoes. Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onion, egg, salt and pepper and beat until fluffy. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cheese.
Creamy Orange Fluff
1 6-ounce package orange Jell-O
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 cans (11ounces each) mandarin oranges, drained
1 18-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 16-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup cold milk
1 3-ounce package vanilla instant pudding
Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Stir in oranges, pineapple, and orange juice concentrate. Pour into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Refrigerate until firm. Beat cream cheese until light. Gradually add milk and pudding mix. Beat until smooth. Spread over orange Jell-O. I sometimes fold 1 to 1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip into the topping mixture before spreading it onto the Jell-O layer.
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 F
Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat well. Combine dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture. Add chopped nuts. Spread into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Cover top with marshmallows. Return to oven until marshmallows are puffed (about 5 min.) Remove from oven and cool.
3 Tbs. melted butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. cocoa
2 to 3 Tbs. milk
Combine ingredients and spread over cooled bars.