Pioneer Potluck: About my eighth grade graduation present

A trip to Kansas to see my dad’s relatives


About 1950-51 fort collins, colorado

To Beverly and Ellsworth, Kansas

After my eighth grade graduation in May, my Uncle Guy who lived with us, decided to take a trip to Kansas.  He wanted to take my brother John and as a graduation present, he offered to take me with them.  I can remember the great discussion between my Dad and Mom about letting me go on such a long trip. I guess my Dad won out because the next thing I knew, Mom was washing and ironing my dresses and shirts for my brother. I was never asked if I wanted to go!!  I had instructions to wear my dresses for three days each, because we were staying for two weeks and I had four dresses.  I also had two pair of jeans and a couple of shirts. Plenty of underwear also with instruction!  I never told Mom but I’d lived in those jeans and shirts almost the whole trip. 

My Uncle Guy owned a “1940 something” Plymouth-I believe.  I sat in the back and brother John (Butch as he was known then) and Uncle Guy the driver.  Now in those days there were no bottles of bottled water and the snacks were Mom’s cookies.  The day we left, Mom made sandwiches for our lunch.  We left the farm, something like four in the morning and traveled through eastern Colorado on dusty washboardy roads, along the dry lands of wheat fields and vast expanses of nothing for ever!!  I am sure we ate our sandwiches right at noon some where out on the prairie along side the road, close to the Kansas border. There were no convenient rest stops at all.  Men can do their business behind the car but not this shy almost teen. It was probably a good thing we did not have bottles of water for that trip!

I remember parts of Kansas having cement highways that went clickety clack, clickety clack forever! Still it was better than the dusty washboard roads we had just traveled through.  There was no conversation, just the hum of the car and looking out the window for who knows what.  The radio signals faded out and most of the rest of the trip was in total silence.  I was so use to looking at mountains, trees, rocks, farmhouses, cattle and horses that I was in disbelief of the total nothingness! What a difference today with the cell phones, iPods, Ipads, digital games with ears plugged in to something, bottles of water, soda pop and fruit juices and loads of snacks. No one looks out the widow at our vast America from inside a car anymore!  Oh, but they HAVE To wear seat belts!!  They were not invented on our trip!!

When we reached Beverly, Kansas late in the evening, the first thing I told my Aunt Ruth was I needed to use the outhouse.  She gave me a big hug, took my hand and led me to their outhouse.  She was waiting for me when I finally came out and took my hand and led me into her nice warm cozy little house.  She handed me a warm wash cloth to wash my face and hands, then fed us tasty hot soup and wonderful homemade bread.  I had my own bedroom and now that I think about it was probably Uncle Evan and Aunt Ruth’s bedroom.  I slept and slept.

 I woke up to the smell of ham, eggs, fried potatoes and hot coffee.  My Aunt Ruth was a wonderful cook!  I do not remember much else about this trip, just that I met all kinds of strangers, every one of them relatives I had never seen before. 

My Aunt Laura Stonebraker wanted me to stay with her for a week (because it would be fun to have a girl in the house) then she would send me home to Colorado on the train. My Uncle Guy and my brother headed home without me after two weeks and I stayed a week with my Aunt Laura and Uncle Fenton and their eight BOYS!  The only thing I remember about the whole visit was the boy’s setting at the huge oval-shaped table reaching for the large bowls of food that Aunt Laura had prepared for those hungry mouths. I sat beside my Uncle and Aunt and I am sure I wound have never gotten anything to eat if my Aunt had not filled my plate for me.  The boys never said a word!  They never looked at me, told me hi or goodbye. When they were finished eating, they told their mother thank you for the food and excused themselves from the table.  I am sure they were just as shy about having a girl at the table as I was shocked to be setting at the table with eight boys!!

Two of the boys eventually spoke to me, Skip, (real name Atwood) and Robert.  Skip visited our farm very often during the following years.  He and my Mom were great friends.  He helped Dad during hay season and eventually ended up in Colorado working for the phone company for many years. 

I slept at Aunt Laura’s in an upstairs, big bare bedroom with lots of quilts.  I remember Aunt Laura taking me places, but mostly I remember her cooking and baking all the time!

When it came time to leave for Colorado, the train was scheduled to leave early in the morning, (my first trip on a train) I woke up right at the time I was supposed to get on the train! I went running downstairs in total panic telling Aunt Laura and Uncle Fenton, I had missed the train!!  No said Uncle Fenton, seated at the huge table with a hot cup of coffee, there had been lots of rain in eastern Colorado and a bridge and the train tracks had washed out, so my trip was canceled.  I was very homesick and very disappointed! 

Two days later, Uncle Fenton and Aunt Laura said goodbye and I climbed on the train. That was to be first and last train trip for almost 60 years!  I arrived in Greeley, Colorado, my grinning Dad standing outside the depot waiting for me!  I talked all the way home.

It was so glad to be back on familiar ground around my brothers and sister and Moms great food.  My “vacation” was over and I went back to milking the cow and doing chores around the farm and the house. I did not mind a bit!! 

Next week: Going to High School!


This past week I’ve been asked for this recipe three times,  it is not my Mom and not Uncle Eddie’s Chow Chow, but a recipe I modified for the things that I had in Alaska a long time ago. It’s almost never fail! You can vary this to what you have on hand.  And by adding cabbage you will have Chow Chow!


OR CHOW CHOW**see below

24 green tomatoes medium to large partially red are ok –

 I used all my small tomatoes- whatever I have to make about at least

6 cups of ground green tomatoes.

2 large green and red bell peppers

One of two grated or ground carrots – mostly for color

2 large onions

Grind the vegetables and sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons salt. 

Stir and put cheesecloth inside a colander to drain.  Make sure it

drains at least three to four hours or over night.

 I do mine over night to make very dry.


In a large glass or enamel kettle add:

4 cups of sugar – cut down to 3 1/2 if you prefer a more tart relish

2 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar

2 tsp salt – non iodized or pickling salt

4 tsp ground mustard

4 tsp celery seed

2 cups water

1 tsp turmeric

Stir and heat to boil.* Stir in the ground vegetables and cook

 to a rolling boil for 15 minutes.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.

Put in sterilized hot jars, making sure some of the hot liquid covers

the relish and jar has 1/2 inch head space.  Seal with hot lids and

screw lids on to seal.  You can hot water bath – but as long as your

 relish is hot out of the kettle and it seals I skip the hot water bath.  


Here are variations.  Omit the turmeric and add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

 to the syrup and other spices.  This is called German Sweet Relish.

 Great Christmas presents.  I sometimes add other vegetables that I have

 on hand – zucchini – one large, two small (do not peel), two stalks of celery

 with strings removed, ground with tomatoes. 


**CHOW CHOW IS: Ground cabbage added to this recipe – like two cups

– which would be 4 cups of ground tomatoes,  with 2 cups of ground cabbage .to make 6 cups..

*Taste the liquid-if too sweet add 1/2 cup vinegar to boiling liquid  


You can make this with canned tomatoes also

2 one pound cans tomatoes diced or

4 cups diced ripe peeled tomatoes

3 stalks celery, chopped, minced fine

2 medium onions, minced

1 green pepper, minced

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

2 whole cloves-the spice

1/4 teaspoon each, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper.

1/2 cup vinegar

Mix the vegetables in a heavy bottom kettle and bring to a boil and simmer uncovered stirring constantly 10 min.

Mix sugar, salt, spices and vinegar to mixture. Simmer three to four minutes, stirring constantly.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Wipe mouth of jars and place hot lids, screw bands on firmly.  Hot water bath for 10 min. (This recipe is so old it just said to seal and store.)  Be sure and hot water bath this recipe. So excellent on Moose or Caribou.



I understand blueberries are not available on the Upper Peninsula this year.  That is so sad!

3 cups frozen* or fresh picked Alaskan blueberries

Blueberry juice

Water or apple juice

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

two pie shells unbaked

Thaw berries and drain off juice. If using fresh berries crush about half a cup and add water (or apple juice) to make half a cup of juice. Stir in sugar and cornstarch into saucepan, heat rapidly to thicken, bringing to boil, then take off heat and set aside.

Line 9 inch pie pan with piecrust. Add berries to the thickened juice and the lemon juice. Pour into lined pie shell, dot with butter and place pie shell over top. Cut to vent. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a hot 425° oven on the lowest part of your oven rack until bottom crust is cooked in top crust is browned.  This does not take very long.  Watch carefully. 

*Be sure and use frozen blueberries without sugar added.


This recipe is from Bernie

Easy to do, can be made the night before to have a no fuss breakfast in the morning.

Eight slices white bread, cut in 1 inch chunks, about 6 cups

1 package cream cheese, cut in 1/2 inch chunks

1 cup blueberries

8 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

Put one half of the bread chunks on the bottom of 13 x 9 glass buttered baking

Sprinkle with the cream cheese chunks. Sprinkle with blueberries. Place the remaining bread chunks over top.

Beat eggs and milk and pour over bread chunks. Let set in refrigerator, covered at least eight hours and up to 24 hours. Bake 25 to 35 min. in a 350° oven. Delicious with blueberries syrup and whipped cream.


This great recipe is from Susan

Put in a large bowl:

4 cups grated cabbage

1/4 cup finely chopped green onion

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup cucumber diced

1/4 cup green pepper diced

1 cup cauliflower, chopped

In a separate smaller bowl, mix:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

Pour over slaw

Prepare the following topping in a small saucepan, melt

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup peanuts

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Mix and toss. Sprinkle over top of salad


Makes two dozen bars

Set oven at 350°. Prepare a 13 x 9 x 2” baking dish with nonstick spray.

Sift together in a small bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt

Set aside

Beat together in a mixing bowl

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter room temperature

1/4 cup peanut butter

Mix until smooth and creamy


2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in flour until well blended.

Add 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts. You can use salted peanuts; just skip the salt in the recipe.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool in pan and Frost with the following.

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 tsp butter

1/2 teaspoon peanut butter

Melt in microwave just under 1 min.-Watch carefully.  Drizzle over the bars.  Kids love these, so do big kids!


This is an old old recipe mixed in the pan you’re going to bake it in. Use glass is possible. 

Heat oven to 350°.

In a 9 x 9” or a by 8 x 8” ungreased pan the following:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Stir with a fork until blended and resembles coarse crumbs. Remove and reserved one cup crumbs for topping.

To the remainder in the pan, add the following:

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoons salt

Stir with a fork until well blended.


1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar stirred into 1 cup milk-let stand 5 min.)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Stir with a fork until no lumps remain. Using a rubber spatula to scrape corner’s and sides to mix any remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over top. Bake 40 min. until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cut into nine squares. Serve warm with whipped cream or lemon pudding or ice cream.