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Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Traditional Farm Life - MeeMaw’s Pumpkin Pie

A Traditional Farm Life - MeeMaw’s Pumpkin Pie

By Shasta Hamilton

Greetings from Enterprise, dear friends!   Have you ever watched a boy make pumpkin pie?  I had the privilege of doing so this morning.

As I write it is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and this year we are baking the pies a day ahead.  (Last year, they took longer than expected Thanksgiving morning, making us late to the big Hamilton gathering.  After my husband received repeated hints regarding the correct time to arrive this year, I decided arriving on time with day-old pie was a win-win situation.)

We will be taking seven pies tomorrow:  three pumpkin, two apple, and two cherry.  When finalizing this over the phone with my mother-in-law, she commented, “You have MeeMaw’s pumpkin pie recipe, right?  She made the best pumpkin pies.”

My ears perked up, as I did not have this treasured family recipe in my recipe box.  MeeMaw was my husband’s beloved maternal grandmother, so I had my pen and paper ready when my mother-in-law came back to the phone—with an time-worn label from a can of Libby’s pumpkin, marked “MeeMaw.”   I transcribed the recipe over the phone and made a mental note to buy a can of Libby’s and compare.

As my 12-year-old son’s favorite pie just happens to be pumpkin, he quickly volunteered this morning to help make the pies.

We used MeeMaw’s method (hers was slightly different from today’s Libby’s label) when preparing the pie filling, mixing ingredients in the order listed.  We got out our largest stainless steel bowl and a whisk, and got started.

Because we had found earlier this week on a pumpkin pie trial in the Test Kitchen that this pie recipe makes more than our 9-inch pie pan could hold, we decided probably two 8-inch pans would be about right.  With this advance knowledge, we doubled the recipe for three 9-inch pies.

First came beating the eggs.  My son asked, “Do I beat them like scrambled eggs?”

“Yes,” I replied.

Next thing I knew the whisk was vigorously circling the bowl, and the eggs were lemon-colored in a matter of seconds. 

As I turned to get the sugar from the cabinet, I directed, “Go ahead and add the pumpkin.”

I turned just in time to see him give the can a hard shake to release the pumpkin—from about three feet above the mixing bowl.  The resulting splash of lemon-colored eggs up and out of the sides of the bowl is permanently etched in my memory.

The mess wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared, so we pushed on and added the sugar, salt, ground cinnamon and ginger.  After that was vigorously whisked, it was time to add the evaporated milk.

I got out the can opener and directed him to punch a hole in each side, one for the pouring of the milk, and the other to release the vacuum.  It was a teaching moment, as his first pouring hole was too small to allow much to come out. After it was enlarged, he lifted the can up and down—with a big grin and a playful look in his eyes--as the milk now flowed freely into the pumpkin mixture.

Taking no chances with Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pies, I divided the filling evenly between the three prepared pie shells.  It filled them perfectly—just full enough to carry them on their baking sheets to the oven without causing them to spill over the sides of the nicely fluted edges.

We followed the baking time as directed, switching baking pans top for bottom around halfway through.

All in all, we’re looking forward to a day full of food and family tomorrow.  There’s a chance, however, that my growing boys may be putting slightly greater emphasis on the former.  As we were preparing the pies this morning, my “bottomless pit” boy helper tentatively asked, “What’s my pie limit at Thanksgiving?”

MeeMaw’s Pumpkin Pie
2 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Libby’s pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 can (12 oz.) Carnation evaporated
unbaked pastry for 2 (8-inch) single
    crust pies, or 1 (9-inch, 4-cup   
    volume) crust

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place pastry-lined pie pans on baking sheet.
2.  Combine filling ingredients in order listed:  Beat eggs, mix in pumpkin. Add sugar, salt and spices; mix well.  Slowly whisk in evaporated milk. 
3.  Divide filling between the two pans; carefully place in oven on rack near bottom to ensure a crisp bottom crust.
4.   Bake 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees.  Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until thin-bladed steak knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Yield: 2 (8-inch) pies.

Copyright © 2015 by Shasta Hamilton

Shasta is a fifth generation rural Kansan now residing in Enterprise, Kansas.  She and her husband own and operate The Buggy Stop Home-Style Kitchen with their six home-schooled children.  You can reach The Buggy Stop by calling (785) 200-6385 or visit them on the web at

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Bear Sign" Buttermilk Doughnuts - A Traditional Farm Life

A Traditional Farm Life - "Bear Sign" Buttermilk Doughnuts

By Shasta Hamilton

Greetings from Enterprise, dear friends!  Our town’s new Grist Mill has bones and skin, but unfortunately it doesn’t have a head on its shoulders!

Turnout was great last Saturday morning for the mill’s “barn raising.”  The girls and I took a break from preparing the crew’s lunch to walk down the block that beautiful morning, and were rewarded with an awe-inspiring sight.  Just as we came to the corner with the site within view, the first 32-foot wall was “walked” up into place by a large group of men.  It is always amazing to see how something that would be impossible for one or two is relatively easy for a group of folks with a goal in mind.

Work progressed well that day—the four framed walls were put up and were in the process of being “skinned,” but there was, and still is, much to be done to make the dream a reality.  The amount of behind-the-scenes planning that goes into such an endeavor is incredible.  Joe Minick has spent a lot of time and effort putting the plans in order and coordinating the building old-fashioned building “bees” that have got the project on its way.

Work on the mill did not begin last Saturday, of course.  Men were on site the week before, cutting wood so the walls could be quickly framed, as well as other preparatory work. 

Work has continued since Saturday.  Both stories are now skinned and doors and some of the windows have been installed.  Although work has on hold for the time being, by the time you read this, trusses will probably be installed in preparation for putting on the roof.

As a lover of history and a resident of this fine city, it’s exciting to see the Hoffman Mill rising again.  It’s been encouraging to see folks from our community coming together to see this nod to Enterprise’s founding fathers become a reality.  Our family is honored to be able to contribute our boy’s time to help with construction and have been delighted to feed hungry crews of workers as needed.

In the spirit of the community “work bees” of days gone by, the girls and I whipped up a batch of buttermilk doughnuts this morning.  The crew we were feeding was limited to a bunch of hungry Hamilton’s--and perhaps that’s all right, because there would not have been enough left to feed the construction crew.

Buttermilk doughnuts would have been a familiar treat when the original Hoffman Mill was founded.  The following recipe was handed down to the King Arthur Flour Company from a farmwife in Wisconsin, and was believed to be over one hundred years old.  We’ve made it several times over the years to the delight of the children.

Made the way I’ve revised the recipe, it resembles a cowboy treat we’ve read about called “bear sign.”  Bear sign was the cowboy term for doughnuts made out on the range for hungry cowhands by the dishpan full, and from my research I’ve learned the cook who made them was highly regarded. 

They were not particularly difficult to make in my home kitchen, but I can only imagine how difficult it would be to whip these treats up for the boys on the range from the tailgate of the chuck wagon. 

Though I won’t be traveling down the Chisholm Trail next week with a chuck wagon ready to feed my hungry boys, I will be in the kitchen preparing pies and other goodies for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Please note:  The Buggy Stop will be closed November 25-28.

“Bear Sign” Buttermilk Doughnuts

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in
            1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
about 4 cups all-purpose flour (enough to hold a spoon upright)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 cups (3 lbs.) lard or vegetable
shortening, for frying
confectioner’s sugar

1.  In medium bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth.  Beat in the baking soda/buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.  Add baking powder, flour, and nutmeg, stirring until well combined.  Dough will be sticky, but should be stiff enough to hold a spoon upright.

2.   Place dough on a well-floured surface, sprinkle flour on top and roll 1/4 inch thick.  (Dough may be divided in half for easier handling.)  Cut dough with a 2 to 2-1/2 inch biscuit cutter or rim of a large drinking glass.  (Dough can also be cut into traditional doughnut shapes.)

3.  In a large, deep kettle, melt the lard or shortening and heat to 375 degrees.  Carefully slip doughnuts into oil and fry 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Remove and drain on paper towels; cool slightly.  Put confectioner’s sugar in a paper bag, add a couple donuts at a time, and shake to coat.  Excellent served warm with a cup of coffee strong enough to float a horse shoe in.  
Yield: 1 dishpan of doughnuts.

Copyright © 2015 by Shasta Hamilton

Shasta is a fifth generation rural Kansan now residing in Enterprise, Kansas.  She and her husband own and operate The Buggy Stop Home-Style Kitchen with their six home-schooled children.  You can reach The Buggy Stop by calling (785) 200-6385 or visit them on the web at

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hot Fudge Sauce - A Traditional Farm Life

A Traditional Farm Life

By Shasta Hamilton

Hot Fudge Sauce on Deb Sanders Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
Greetings from Enterprise, dear friends!  Blustering winds and dropping temperatures are a cool reminder that winter is indeed on its way.

We’re hoping to see walls and a roof up on Enterprise’s new Grist Mill before cold weather truly sets in.  Concrete was poured, and walls are in the process of being built to be put in place on Saturday’s “Barn Raising.”  By the time you read this, the barn raising will be history, but the historical nature of the project will continue. 

Joe Minick has spearheaded this nod to Enterprise’s long history connected to the Hoffman Mill.  We appreciate his desire to see a flour mill back in Enterprise.  It is located on Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad property immediately after you cross the bridge across from Great Plains Manufacturing—and within eyesight of the location of the old Hoffman Mill.

Flour has been flying lately here in the Test Kitchen, but for an altogether different reason.  I’ve been busy putting together bakery and spice mixes for sale at our restaurant and specialty shops here in the area.

Currently we have Buttermilk Pancake, Maple Cornbread, Wholegrain Maple Cornbread, Quick Cream Biscuits and Country-Style Milk Gravy mixes to make your meal preparation a little less hectic this time of year.

We are also offering four spice blends our Buggy Stop customers will find familiar.  You can now make Buggy Stop Chili anytime in your own kitchen with our Chili Seasoning blend.  Don’t forget the Maple Cornbread!

We use our “House Seasoning” on our ribs and chicken, add it to ground beef we’re browning, to simmering soups and gravies, and even stir it into sour cream for a quick chip or veggie dip.

We’re even multiplying the many ways you can eat Buggy Stop Bread.  With the help of our Garlic Bread Seasoning, you can now make garlic butter at home just like we use for our Custom Grilled Sandwiches.  In addition, we are even offering our own Cinnamon Sugar blend to sweeten up you next slice of toast!

I’m currently developing a line of gourmet pancake mixes here in the Test Kitchen to add some welcome variation to our Buttermilk Pancake Mix.  Our children have been willing taste testers as I’ve served up Gingerbread Pancakes, Double Chocolate Chip Pancakes, and even Sunflower State Multigrain Pancakes--taking hint from our popular Sunflower Multigrain Bread. 

Next up in the Test Kitchen are Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Banana Nut, Pumpkin Spice, and just for fun—Cranberry pancakes.  And to think our children used to think breakfast was boring!

While it is true that a chocolate pancake with chocolate chips topped with whipped topping and hot fudge sauce for breakfast will rival—and perhaps exceed--my childhood favorite, “Cocoa Pebbles,” for an early morning sugar rush, at least your blood sugar will be on an “all-natural with no artificial ingredients” high!  (Parents with young children, a note of caution--maybe you better save this one for the weekend!)

Surprisingly, it turns out the pancake the children all flipped for was my Brown Sugar Oatmeal version.  With chocolate chips it was superb—no topping needed--but I couldn’t resist trying the Hot Fudge Sauce recipe I’d been wanting to try on top.  Since our goal is usually to restrict sugar at breakfast, none of our children passed up the chance at putting what they would usually only see on ice cream on top of a pancake!

And so, friends, the choice is yours:  Sweeten the family up at breakfast, or wait for until later for a Hot Fudge Sundae.  Either way, this simply rich homemade fudge topping is sure to bring a smile to their faces.

Hot Fudge Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
dash salt
1/4 cup butter, cut in 4 equal pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  In medium saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, and salt.
2.   Add butter and milk; bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat, but maintain the full rapid boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; remove from heat.
3.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.  Sauce will thicken considerably as it cools.  Refrigerate leftovers.  
Yield: 1 cup.

Copyright © 2015 by Shasta Hamilton

Shasta is a fifth generation rural Kansan now residing in Enterprise, Kansas.  She and her husband own and operate The Buggy Stop Home-Style Kitchen with their six home-schooled children.  You can reach The Buggy Stop by calling (785) 200-6385 or visit them on the web at 
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Great Plains Theatre Presents On Golden Pond

Great Plains Theatre Presents On Golden Pond

Fifth Show of GPT's 21st Season On Golden Pond begins Nov. 13th

L-R Front : Lindsay Odegaard, Marcia Sattleberg, Herman Johansen
L-R Back:  Paul Evans, Ted Kitterman, Nick Wright
Great Plains Theatre continues its 21st Season with Ernest Thompson's heartwarming comedy On Golden Pond.  The fifth show in the 2015 season opens Friday, November 13th and runs through November 22nd.  Directed by Mark Robinson, the production will feature Herman Johansen as Norman, the curmudgeonly retired English professor and Marcia Sattelberg plays his feisty wife, Ethel.  Together, the retired couple spend their summers on Gold Pond in Maine.  This particular summer, their estranged daughter Chelsea (Lindsay Odegaard) comes home for a visit, and the family learns to heal through humor and forgiveness.  The cast also features Nick Wright, Ted Kitterman, and Paul Evans.  Scenery is designed by William Snyder and costumes are by Peggy Riley.  Mark Warner stage manages and serves at the Technical Director.  "This will be our second production at our new location at 401 Cottage Ave, the home of Thunder Struck Bumpers, Inc.," states Elizabeth Weese, executive director of GPT.  "Those patrons that had the opportunity to attend our last production were very impressed with what we had accomplished inside the building."  "The theatre, once again, has a very intimate feel which is what our patrons like," stated Weese.  With limited seating, Weese advises to get your tickets early. 

Tickets for On Golden Pond may be purchased at the box office, 401 Cottage Ave., or by phone at 785.263.4574 or online at

Great Plains Theatre's entire 2015 Season is graciously underwritten by ASTRA Bank, with Corporate Sponsorship provided by Brierton Engineering, Inc., First Bank Kansas, Holm Automotive Inc., and Pinnacle Bank.

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Delivering Change - Best Baby Shower 2015

Delivering Change - Best Baby Shower 2015

Delivering Change: Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies, in partnership with the Kansas Infant Death and SIDS ( KIDS ) Network, hosted the 2nd Luke’s Community Baby Shower last Saturday, November 7, 2015 at Washington Elementary in Junction City, KS.

The turnout for the second Luke's Community Baby Shower totaled over 300 people with 127 pregnant mothers and their support personnel. That total was up from the first community baby shower in June. Jill Nelson, Program Coordinator for Delivering Change, Healthy Moms-Healthy Babies said the focus of the shower was on safe sleep practices "We want to make sure that all of our Geary County Families know about safe sleep and how to keep their babies safe".  Ashley King, Marketing Director with Delivering Change "We had a great turnout and I know our mama's that attended today, learned about how important safe sleep is". King also noted that Delivering Change is hoping to have two Luke's Community Baby Shower's a year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

The baby shower — named for local SIDS baby Luke Nelson — was an opportunity to educate pregnant women and their support systems on safe sleep and other community resources available to them in Geary County. The community baby shower provided a free Graco Pack ‘n’ Play portable playard, a free Halo Sleep Sack, and other free items to pregnant women who completed the safe sleep training at the baby shower.

The local resources featured at the baby shower are: Breastfeeding Coalition, Geary County WIC, Parents as Teachers, OB Navigator, New Parent Support, Infant & Toddlers, Pawnee Mental Health, Geary County Health Department Mother & Infant/Home Visits, Geary Community Hospital Social Work, KanCare, and Geary Rehabilitation and Fitness.

Luke’s Community Baby Shower is funded as a part of the Healthy Start Grant that Delivering Change received last year.

Delivering Change: Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies is a local collaborative established in 2011 to address health issues faced by infants and the women of chil-bearing age in order to reduce infant mortality and morbidity in Geary County.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Traditonal Farm Life - Toasted Zwieback

A Traditional Farm Life

By Shasta Hamilton

Greetings from Enterprise, dear friends.  How novel it is to have the calendar page change to November and still be comfortable in shirtsleeves!  That little voice of reality in the back of our minds tells us it’s too good to be true, but we might as well enjoy it while it lasts, right?

Yet even knowing that “all good things must come to an end” somehow fails to motivate me this year to accept and prepare for the reality of winter.

In these modern times, of course, there is less to prepare for than for our pioneer ancestors.  It is very easy for us to forget how the seasonal cycle dictated the activities for farm and city folks alike for hundreds if not thousands of years. 

While we may still be motivated to lay in a certain amount of supplies for emergency situations, we are often lulled into a false sense of security these days, I’m afraid.  When the supermarket has everything we could possibly want to eat—and more--ready for us to purchase at our whim to supply the day’s need, it’s easy to forget how our ancestors spent three seasons of four preparing for the cold, dark days of winter when fresh food would be scarce.

Those among us blessed with the wisdom of white hair remember the large gardens and the stifling heat of canning winter’s supply of vegetables in the height of a Kansas summer.  Other methods were—and still can be—employed to preserve the harvest.

Before the advent of water bath canning, pickling was done by lactic fermentation in those large heavy crocks now often used for nostalgic decoration around our homes.  Root cellars not only housed the pickles but potatoes, carrots, onions, apples and other fruits and vegetables that were “good keepers” into the winter.

Summer sun and heat also provided the means to preserve food for later use by drying.  Sliced apples and apricots first come to mind, but some vegetables were also prepared in this manner.  Dried corn can be prepared in a myriad of ways, and indeed was a pioneer staple.  Perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that green beans were suspended in hot attics by needle and butcher’s string, dried, and these “leather breeches” were later rehydrated, cooked, and served.

Let’s not forget about salting, smoking and curing.  Family, friends, and neighbors used to gather for hog butchering bees when temperatures remained cold enough in the late fall to safely process the meat.  Our pioneer ancestors “used everything but the oink” to frugally prepare for the weeks and months to come.  Salt pork, bacon, smoked sausage and ham, pickled pig’s feet, and head cheese were just a few examples of delicacies prepared from the humble hog.  Butchering day often included spare ribs fried in the newly rendered lard—what a treat after a day of hard work and fellowship!

Preservation methods could also be employed to “extend the shelf life” of some baked goods.  My Mennonite ancestors regularly “toasted” zwieback, as this homemade bread stales quickly. The top “double bun” was pulled off and cut in half vertically to create two half-moon-shaped pieces.  The larger bottom was also cut vertically into three equal pieces.  In days gone by, the zwieback was toasted after regular baking was completed, as the brick ovens held heat well and slowly cooled down over a period of several hours—perfect for slowly dehydrating the soft bread into a crisp cracker-like treat.

Before emigrating in 1874, my ancestors baked and toasted bushels upon bushels of zwieback to sustain them on the long trip from the Ukraine to central Kansas.  How comforting this taste of home must have been in the dark, dingy confines of a steamer slowly chugging across the Atlantic toward an uncertain destination of unbroken prairie!

Making zwieback for our family gathering last weekend inspired me to carry on the tradition of simple food, simply prepared for our own family.  A table simply set in the tradition of our humble forefathers with zwieback, sliced bologna, wedges of cheddar, and sheet cake shared among family can draw us together just as well as the finest fare a king could offer—and perhaps even better.

Toasted Zwieback

zwieback, as many as desired
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.   Pull zwieback apart; cut smaller upper bun in vertically in half and bottom bun vertically into three equal pieces. Place in a single layer on baking sheet.
3.  Bake for about 90 minutes or until zwieback have dried out completely all the way through and have browned slightly.  Remove from oven to cool.  Delicious served warm with butter.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Copyright © 2015 by Shasta Hamilton

Shasta is a fifth generation rural Kansan now residing in Enterprise, Kansas.  She and her husband own and operate The Buggy Stop Home-Style Kitchen with their six home-schooled children.  You can reach The Buggy Stop by calling (785) 200-6385 or visit them on the web at 
Keep up-to-date with everything in the Junction City Community!!
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