Charlotte Lewis enjoys cooking and she loves cooking for a crowd. However, she has to wait until one or both of her sons and their families come home for a visit before she can prepare those old favorites. Son Brad generally requests chicken and dumplings (frozen bread dough for the dumplings).
She uses a bit of this and a bit of that in most of her recipes, and like many good cooks, many of Charlotte’s recipes aren’t written down.
Charlotte was born and raised on a farm near the small town of Wolford in northern North Dakota. Her dad farmed and did home construction while her mother “was the chief dishwasher and cook and milked cows.”
Charlotte’s maternal grandmother had an Amish background, so all the girls learned quilting, cooking and canning. “And when Grandma visited, it was all work and no play!” she said.
The family’s ever-present thought was: waste not, want not; they even drank rhubarb juice and thought nothing of it … because it was there.
How Charlotte and Ken came to be in Mobridge is quite a story. Ken used to visit Mobridge in the summers with friends from Ellendale, N.D., to go fishing; and he often said if he had a job here in Mobridge that he’d move here.
One summer day after he returned to Ellendale, Ken told Charlotte that he’d interviewed for a job (mechanic at Larry Jensen Motors) and was hired on the spot. He said he was moving and did she want to come along?
Charlotte elected to wait until she had a job in Mobridge before packing up. She then worked nine years as receptionist and clinic manager at Oahe Veterinary Hospital; now she’s the insurance billing clerk at Mobridge Regional Hospital.
Charlotte’s worst cooking disaster was when she forgot she turned the burner on under the pan of oil for the first step in making caramel corn, and went instead to fold some clothes fresh from the dryer. The blast of the smoke alarm and huge clouds of black smoke alerted her to the oil fire in the kitchen.
Charlotte did not, as was her first thought, grab the water sprayer at the sink to put out the fire on the stove. Instead, she snatched the pan’s lid and slammed it onto the pot, then rushed everything outside onto the patio.
Harley Overseth was showing the house next door to Charlotte’s, saw the smoke and rushed up to ask her if he should call the fire department. She assured him everything was under control at that point and thanked him for his concern. And now whenever Harley sees Charlotte, he grins and she ducks her head.
The smoke damage was limited to what could be scrubbed off walls and Charlotte never leaves the start of caramel corn for any reason at all. Never.
Hot Fudge Sauce
1 cup sugar
4 Tbs. cocoa
1 Tbs. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
¾ cup milk
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
2 Tbs. corn syrup
½ tsp. vanilla
Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk. Add butter and syrup. Microwave on high 3-4 minutes until thick and smooth. Stir in vanilla. Serve hot. Reheat each ½ cup of sauce in microwave for 15-30 seconds on high.
Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars
¾ cup butter or margarine
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. baking cocoa
½ cup chopped nuts, optional
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1½ cups (8 oz.) chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups crisp rice cereal
In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa; add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if desired. Spread in a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake; return to oven for 2-3 minutes. Using a knife dipped in water, spread melted marshmallows evenly over cake. Cool. For topping, combine chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and well blended. Remove from heat; stir in cereal. Spread over bars. Chill. Yield: about 3 dozen.
6-8 slices of ham, diced
8-10 medium potatoes, pared and thinly sliced
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup grated Cheddar or American cheese
1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of celery or mushroom soup
½ cup milk
Toss sliced potatoes in ½ tsp. cream of tartar and 1 cup water. Drain. Put half of ham, potatoes and onion in Crock-Pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then grated cheese. Repeat with remaining ham, potatoes and onion. Mix soup and milk together and spoon over top of second layer. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4 hours. Makes a wonderful dish for Sunday dinner after church.
Caramel Apple Salad
6 small apples, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 8-oz. can unsweetened crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1 box (1-oz. size) sugar-free butterscotch instant pudding mix, unprepared
1 cup miniature marshmallows
¼ cup chopped peanuts (optional)
1 8-oz. container fat-free whipped topping
In large bowl, mix first 5 ingredients together and stir well. Gently fold in whipped topping, then transfer to another bowl and chill. Serves 8.
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed, or garlic powder
2 Tbs. chopped green pepper
¾ cup catsup
¼ cup water
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ tsp. dry mustard
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
Few drops Tabasco sauce to taste, optional
Melt butter and sauté onion, garlic and green pepper until tender. Add remaining ingredients. Heat until sauce bubbles. Makes 2¼ cups. Pour on poultry and bake for 20-30 minutes. Works well also with meatballs or over country-style pork ribs.