Ruth Van Orman, Deputy Treasurer of Walworth County and adventurous Javaite, has been many places and seen many exciting things, but still calls South Dakota her favorite place on earth.
Attending first grade through fourth grade in the Meyer school, a one-room school house in Corson County, she was the only sister amongst brothers and was raised in kind.
“All of us siblings were treated pretty much the same” said Ruth. “Mom did teach me to cook and sew, but I also learned to weld and swing a hammer.”
Her father, Forrest, and her mother, Lyla, moved the family to Minnesota, where she went to school through the 11th grade in Osseo but graduated high school in Liberty, Mo. Ruth attended and graduated from Park College with a bachelor’s degree in International Business.
In 1995, she won a scholarship from the University of Missouri in Kansas City to study German in Germany for six weeks. At that time Ruth visited several of the neighboring countries and made many friends.
“Europe is probably one of the most fun places I’ve ever been,” said Ruth.
Ruth eventually moved to Atlanta, Ga., and found employment in international shipping.
Each member of the logistics team was assigned to different regions or countries of the world, all with different requirements. For example, products shipped to Cuba had to be third-party inspected at the point of load, and Middle Eastern Countries will only accept product that is Halal slaughter certified.
“This was a very intense and stressful job,” she said. “There is also a political aspect. One year we reduced the quantity of Russian steel we could import, so they banned our poultry.”
All of the product that was on the water at that time had to be reloaded and shipped to places that would accept Russian labeled product.
One memory that sticks in Ruth’s mind is of a visit to Cuba for an international food show. Americans weren’t allowed to use the modern airport and it took most of the morning to get through the suffocating heat. Afterwards, Ruth’s group was taken to a mansion and treated to the finest Cuba had to offer including cultural shows, amazing Cuban cuisine and tours of the region. But the people of Cuba were very poor, waiting in line for monthly rations. When those rations were gone, Cubans had to go without.
Ruth has one son and two grandchildren. Her granddaughter, Kenyatta, is studying literature and writing in Mississippi and her grandson, Talon, is a professional WWE wrestler in Atlanta.
Ruth loves to garden and spend time outside working in her yard. She also loves to bake and to travel. Besides Europe and Cuba, she has been to Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica.
In February she and a friend, will attend “Ice Music Festival Norway,” a yearly festival in Finse, in which all of the music is performed on instruments carved from ice. They also plan to take a northern lights tour while they are there and see as much of Norway as they are able.
“It depends on what inspires me at the time,” said Ruth when asked what she likes to cook. “I really like Asian/Indian food because I like the spices,”
Garam masala, a mix of ground spices common in Indian cuisine, is an essential. It’s usually composed of black pepper corns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, brown and green cardamom and nutmeg.
Garam is a word that means “heating the body.” This combination of spices is believed to elevate the body temperature and is used in some Middle Eastern medicine.
Ruth came to Java by way of Forrest’s cousin who lived in Java as well as her grandmother, Bertha Bieber. When the house next door came up for sale, Lyla fell in love with the woodwork in the home’s interior and the couple moved from McLaughlin where they had been living since 1995. In 2016 Ruth was ready to retire and spend more time with her mother and came home.
Ruth Van Orman’s Recipes
Morning Glory Muffins
1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Fuji apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsps dried flaked unsweetened coconut, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, breaking up any lumps. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla. Add both mixtures together and then add apples, raisins, carrots, walnuts and 1/4 cup of the coconut. Spoon batter into 16 paper-lined muffin tins. Top with remaining 2 Tbsps coconut and bake until golden brown. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
Red Beans and Rice
1/4 cup dried red kidney beans
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 tsps. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp sea salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Water, as needed
Place beans, garlic, coconut milk and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer the beans until they are tender, about 2 hours.
Add 2 1/2 cups water, rice, scallions, thyme, 1 Tbsp of salt, and some freshly-ground black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, stir, then reduce heat, cover, and cook without stirring about 20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all the liquid.
Allow mixture to stand for 15 minutes, still covered. Fluff rice and beans with a fork before serving and add additional salt and pepper, to taste, if desired.
Jamaican Oxtail Stew
2 -3 Tbsp cooking oil
2-3 lbs. oxtail cut into medium pieces
1 onion chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp ketchup /tomato paste
1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper
2 green onions chopped
5-6 whole pimento seeds (allspice)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp curry or more adjust to preference
15-ounce can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp browning sauce
1 Tbsp bouillon powder or cube (optional)
Salt to taste
Season oxtail with salt and pepper. Set aside
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, until hot, and then add the oxtail, sauté stirring frequently, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, until oxtail is brown. If desired, drain oil and leave about 2 to 3 Tbsps.
Add onions, green onions, garlic, thyme, all spice, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, stir for about a minute. Throw in Scotch bonnet pepper, tomato paste, bouillon and curry powder, stir for another minute.
Then add about 4 to 6 cups of water, it’s best to start with 4 cups, then add as needed. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until tender (depending on the oxtail size and preference) about 2 to 3 hours, occasionally stirring the saucepan. This can be cooked in a slow cooker for approximately 6 hours.
About 20 to 30 minutes before you remove from the stove add butter beans. Adjust thickness of soup with water or stock.
Steamed Cabbage and Carrots
1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 carrots, quartered and halved
1 cup water
Salt to taste
4 Tbsp butter
Simmer until cabbage and carrots are tender.