Mary Biegler loves music and going to concerts. She was raised in a house with music and required all 13 of her children to take piano lessons.
“Some of them play piano and others play guitars,” she said. “All of them have an appreciation for music.”
Mary was raised on Scherer Dairy Farm in Dewey County, about three miles southwest of Timber Lake. She remembers her mother received Hit Parade magazine, which had the words to all the hit songs of the day. The kids would prop the magazine behind the sink and sing their favorite hits while doing kitchen chores. She recently attended a Mobridge Concert Series event at which some of those hits were played, which she said she especially enjoyed.
The family worked hard on the dairy farm with all the kids and her mom helping.
“My dad delivered milk as did us kids,” she said. “My mom washed all of the (glass) bottles by hand everyday. We delivered every day of the year, even Christmas.”
Mary said they knew where everyone lived in Timber Lake and knew what they usually ordered. She still has several bottles on top of her refrigerator, imprinted with Scherer Dairy, Timber Lake, along with a picture of her father delivering milk in the snow.
She met and married Alfred Biegler and within five years they had purchased the farm from her parents, but they were out of the dairy business by that time. She and Alfred raised all their children on that farm.
“I say I didn’t get very far in life,” she laughed.
There is a 20-year span within which her children were born, all but one were born while they lived on the family farm.
“They didn’t come all at the same time which was good,” she said. “I had one set of twins. Kids nine and ten are twins.”
Her older daughters helped with the housekeeping, cooking and taking care of the younger kids. The family lived in a three-bedroom home and it was crowded.
“We also had two live-in hired hands that lived in the basement,” she said. “When I had my 12th child (in 1972) we added on to the house. I got to enjoy that house for many years. It was nice house.”
The family always ate meals together, except for breakfast. The older boys had chores to do and they wanted to eat before they hit barns and feedlots.
“I always said that when the Bieglers hit the floor their stomachs growled,” she laughed.
Mary still loves breakfast and has eggs, bacon or sausage for any meal of the day.
With her large family, Mary needed a lot of cupboard space for cooking essentials. Saving space meant putting the last portions of some items from a larger box into small jars. That led to a memorable reaction from her sons to a batch of her caramel rolls.
“I grabbed one of the jars thinking it was sugar,” she said. “The boys came in from the feed lot and grabbed the still warm rolls. “They spit out the rolls and asked me what I had done. I added salt instead of sugar.”
She said she got a little bit better at labeling the jars after that incident.
“You remember the days when things don’t go right,” she said. “That is how you make memories.”
Mary baked two cakes a day for her family, one for after lunch and one for after dinner. She came home from church one night to find the boys had just finished their dinner and told them there was cake for dessert.
“I looked and looked for that cake. I could not find it,” she said. “I knew I had baked two cakes that day, so I checked my pans. Sure enough, there was that cake pan in with the clean pans.”
The boys confessed they had tasted the cake before dinner and it was so good they ate it until it was gone. They cleaned the pan and stashed it away with the others just as she got home.
“There was a lot of pranks back then,” Mary laughed.
Mary moved to Prairie Sunset Village in Mobridge this summer. She said it is the best-kept secret in town. She keeps busy going to concerts, attending workout classes, taking walks and playing cards with other residents.
She said she is very proud of all her children and their accomplishments and how they raised their families. Although most of her children, grandchildren (more than a hundred) and great grandchildren, live all around the country, she has three boys who live in the Timber lake area.
“I tell them they better call before bringing the grandkids to see me,” she said. “I may not be here if they just show up.”
Mary Biegler’s Recipes
Crustless Apple Pie
Peel and chop about 6 cups of apples
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup water, approximately. Be careful not to add too much.
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
In a saucepan add apples; mix dry ingredients and sprinkle over apples. Add water and butter and cook over low heat, stirring regularly until the apples are done.
Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream. Or use your imagination!
Caramel for Popcorn
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white Karo syrup
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 to 5 quarts popped popcorn.
Cook first four ingredients together in a saucepan until light caramel color, (soft ball stage). Pour over salted popcorn and spread out on buttered cookie sheets or form in balls.
1 1/2 cups browned hamburger or shredded beef
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup onion
1 can mushroom soup
1 can tomato soup
1 can mild enchilada sauce
Combine soups together.
12 tortilla shells, softened (microwave works fine)
Mix beef with 1/2 cup onion and 1/2 cup of the cheese
Put heaping Tbsp. of meat mixture in tortilla, roll up. Place seam side down in a 13×9-inch pan. Pour sauce over the top, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
(for following recipe)
Dredge tenderized round steak in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat oil (I use canola) in a frying pan. I season (additional salt) the top side first and then season the second side after placing the seasoned side down in the frying pan. Brown each side quickly. It shouldn’t take more than 6 to 10 minutes. Onions can be added to steak while browning.
Prepare tenderized round (above recipe).
Remove excess oil from steak and add sliced onions and green peppers (to you taste) to the pan. Add tomato juice, sauce or diced tomatoes or a mixture of tomatoes and add 2 Tbsp. sugar. Pour over steak, onions and peppers. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for one to one and a half hours, adding some water when needed.
I like to serve the extra sauce over potatoes or noodles.
Prepare tenderized steak for minute steaks. Cover steaks with sliced onion and about 1/2 to 2/3 cups water. Cover pan and bake in oven at 325 degrees for about one hour.
Make gravy by browning flour in frying drippings. May need to add more shortening. Pour milk into pan while stirring quickly. Add water if needed, (potato water is great.)
Simmer until flour is cooked. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.