Big batches mean leftovers
By Travis Svihovec
Gail Bonn grew up in a family with eight children and learned early on how to cook for a big group. It’s a skill that’s served her well on one hand, but on the other has made her less than enthusiastic about certain recipes.
“Most of my recipes are my grandmother’s,” Gail said. “She was a great cook and so was my mom.”
Her mother, Lavern Hepper, and grandmother Ida Schatz cooked in big batches and taught Gail the same way. She and her family like hamburger hotdishes and German food, and Gail makes sure there is enough to feed them on her busy days as a physician assistant at Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics.
“I never cook on Tuesday or Thursday. Those are my call days,” she said. “I try to cook all the other nights.”
Gail cooks recipes that make enough to produce Tuesday and Thursday leftovers for husband Jeff, manager at Cam-Wal Electric in Selby, and daughter Allie, who will graduate from Mobridge-Pollock High School this weekend. Son Jared works in the North Dakota oil fields and plans to go to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City this fall to study engineering. Oldest son Brett is an X-ray technician in Lead and will start physician assistant school at the University of North Dakota on Monday. Allie is headed to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion to pursue a nursing degree and then go on to become a nurse anesthetist.
Gail has lived in Mobridge since 1983, when she ran the Button and Bow. She later earned a nursing degree and worked as a nurse for four years before going on to get her P.A. certification in 1998. She’s worked at MRH&C in that capacity since then, practicing family medicine and taking her turn in the emergency room.
She and Jeff have been married since 1992. She made strudels the first time she cooked for him. As was her habit, she made a big batch so there would be leftovers. Jeff thought it was all for him.
“He ate almost all of it,” she said. “I told him I couldn’t believe he ate that much and he said ‘I didn’t think I was going to be able to eat it all.’”
When she was old enough to bake, her mom would tell her to make cookies but multiply the recipe by five so there would be enough on hand for the family of 10.
“That’s why I don’t like to bake today,” she said. “I hate making cookies.”
Grandma Ida’s recipes were put into a cookbook in 1990 by Deanne Mott, Gail’s cousin, and Gail still refers to it for some of her meals. The Crimson Velvet Cake is a family tradition on birthdays.
For Allie’s graduation party this weekend, there will be sloppy joes, salads, chips, and salsa that Gail and Lavern made from vegetables they grew in a garden at Lavern’s house just up the block from Gail.
“We do a lot of canning in the summer,” she said.
Jeff and Gail enjoy golfing and the outdoors. Jeff uses a wood pellet grill to smoke and cook meat, especially pheasant, grouse and fish he harvests in the area. The two plan some trips to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., this summer. They own a racehorse in partnership with some others and want to be on hand for those races.
GAIL BONN’S RECIPES
Poor Man’s Soup
1/2 pound butter
1 27-ounce can tomatoes or tomato juice
Brown butter until very dark, but not burnt. Add tomatoes or juice carefully. Add enough water to make desired amount of broth. When hot, drop in noodles, stirring often. Simmer until noodles are tender. Note: soup will not turn out with dry noodles.
Chicken and Dumplings
12 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. salt
Enough milk to make dough sticky (approximately 2 cups)
Slightly beat eggs. I add milk to eggs because it is easier to mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
Boil a chicken in water with bay leaves. Add enough chicken soup base for flavor. Do not add any extra salt as soup base will have enough. Cook until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth, debone, cut up meat and return to broth. Drop dough in broth by spoonfuls. Simmer for a few minutes until dough is cooked.
Grandpa’s Stewed Peas
1 large onion, diced
1 can tomatoes
1 can peas
Stew onion in butter. Add peas, tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until heated through. If preferred, thicken with corn starch.
4 to 5 cups flour
Dash of salt if desired
8 large eggs, beaten
Mix thoroughly, adding enough water to make stiff dough.
2 large cartons dry cottage cheese
1 small onion, diced fine
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix thoroughly and let stand in refrigerator overnight. Using egg noodle recipe, roll out about 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough in approximately 4-inch squares. Put spoonful of mixture in middle of each square. Fold over dough to make triangles and pinch together edges. To cook, drop in boiling salt water.
Crimson Velvet Cake
1 tsp. soda
1 Tbs. vinegar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 heaping tsp. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring
2 1/2 cups flour
Add vinegar to soda. Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Mix milk with vanilla and food coloring. Add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients. Stir in soda and vinegar. Pour in three round pans. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes.
2 heaping Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
Cook flour and milk, stirring until thick. Set aside to cool. Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add cooked mixture, beating well after each addition.