When Jerry Apps was growing up on a Wisconsin farm in the 1930s and 1940s, times were tough. Yet most folks living on farms had plenty to eat. Preparing food from scratch was just the way things were done, and people knew what was in their food and where it came from. Delicious meals were at the center of every family and social affair, whether it be a threshing-day dinner with all the neighbors, the end-of-school-year picnic, or just a hearty supper after chores were done. As Jerry writes, "For me food will always be associated with times of good eating, storytelling, laughter, and good-hearted fun."
Inspired by the dishes made by his mother, Eleanor, and featuring recipes found in her well-worn recipe box, Jerry and his daughter, Susan, take us on a culinary tour of life on the farm during the Depression and World War II. Seasoned with personal stories, menus, and family photos, Old Farm Country Cookbook recalls a time when electricity had not yet found its way to the farm, when making sauerkraut was a family endeavor, and when homemade ice cream tasted better than anything you could buy at the store.
About the Author
has been a rural historian and environmental writer for more than forty years. He is a former county extension agent and professor for the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He is the author of many books on rural history, country living, and environmental issues, including Old Farm: A History and Garden Wisdom: Lessons Learned from 60 Years of Gardening. Jerry and his wife, Ruth, divide their time between their home in Madison and their farm, Roshara, in Waushara County.
has been an elementary and middle school teacher for more than twenty years. She is the author of One Room Schools: Stories from the Days of 1 Room, 1 Teacher, 8 Grades. Susan lives in Madison with her husband, Paul. When she’s not reading, teaching, or writing, she loves biking or hiking in the woods with her family.
Jerry Apps has become the living memory of rural Wisconsin’s past—an age when agribusiness seemed far away from the red barns of the Dairy State. In Apps’ childhood, the distance from farm to table was measured in yards, not miles. He was a teenager before electricity was installed; the place ran with well water, a wood-fired oven and a cellar of pickled and canned produce from the garden. Along with memories, Apps resuscitates family recipes in Old Farm Country Cookbook, transliterating the “salt to taste” and “bake for an hour” instructions on his mother’s faded recipe cards into meals for today’s kitchens. There is much homespun delight in his directions for preparing strawberry jam and rhubarb sauce and pies along with German-American dishes involving sauerkraut and festive entrees like roast duck with gravy and dumplings. Dig in! (Dave Luhrssen The Shepherd Express, Milwaukee, July 12, 2017 )