Dolieslager learned to bake from her mother

Jerilyn VanDeWoestyne
Jane Dolieslager displays one of her favorite cookbooks in the kitchen of her Atkinson home.

Jane Dolieslager likes to spend time cooking in the kitchen of her Atkinson home. Baking, especially, is something she has enjoyed doing since she was a young girl, watching and learning from her mother who was an excellent cook.

“I learned all the basics from my mother — she was a big influence on my life,” Jane said.  “She won honors and blue ribbons for her cooking and was featured in a newspaper article in 1978. Cooking was no big deal to her, it just came natural  and she always made everything so special.”

One of Jane’s fondest childhood memories was coming home from school to the aroma of freshly baked bread.

“I always remember having homemade bread when we got home from school and it smelled so good,” she said. “I have many of my mother’s recipes, and they are the ones I use most often.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but we had lots of love and good times — those are where the good memories come from.”

Jane grew up on a farm near Cameron and recalls riding a horse to school. “Then, when the school consolidated, I rode the bus to Monmouth. Those are great memories for me,” she said, adding she remembers her mother cooking big meals for farm workers. “She would serve big dinners and then a lunch in the afternoon. They all wanted to come to Mom’s because of her delicious meals.

“I don’t care as much for making big meals, I’d rather bake,” she said, adding she was in 4-H for 11 years and took all the cooking projects she could. “I loved 4-H, it is a wonderful program, and I had great leaders.”

She not only took food projects in 4-H, Jane also raised “fancy red chickens” and laughs remembering she had “the best pen” of Duroc hogs.

“Those are also good memories and the week spent at the county fair during the summer was priceless,” she said. “I remember working at the 4-H stand at the fair and that was a lot of fun.”

Jane said she still uses her  original 4-H recipe for chocolate cookies.

Jane and her husband, Don, reside in Atkinson and have been married 53 years. Their family includes children, Monty and Dianne Dolieslager of Austin, Texas, and Kendra and Kevin Gerschefske of Robertsville, Mo. Their granddaughters, Meagan and Mallory Dolieslager are both college students.

Jane is a physical education major with a minor in library science having graduated from Western Illinois University. She taught in Mineral for one year and spent the majority of her career teaching physical education at Atkinson Elementary School. Following the annexation of the Atkinson School District into the Geneseo District, she spent four years at the Geneseo High School  library before retiring in 1992.

Her husband was superintendent of the Atkinson School District and, after the annexation, was principal of Atkinson Elementary School for four years before his retirement.

Jane and Don have also always stayed in close contact with a group of college friends and still meet with them as often as they can — it has been a lifelong friendship.

“There are still six couples who we get together with and we all graduated about the same time, in the early 1960s,” she said. “We were on campus at the same time, and we’ve been good friends since that time. We’ve been camping together many times, and we’ve gone on vacations or met in each others homes.”

Jane adds she has gotten a lot of good recipes and cooking ideas from those friends. “When we get together someone might bring some new or different dish to share and then I get that recipe,” she said.

One of her favorite things to do is make homemade pies. She likes to use lard for a flakier crust. “I like to do fruit pies using whatever fruit is in season or available.

“Don always picks wild black raspberries in the summer, and I always used them for a pie. One time I also had some tart cherries on hand so he thought I should try adding the cherries to the black raspberries so I did and it was very good,” she said. “That soon became one of our favorite pies. The tartness of the cherries goes well with the sweetness of the black raspberries. It was a new pie for us.”

Jane really likes to make any kind of pie and says pie is a favorite dessert at their house.

“Cookies are fun to do also and chocolate chip is probably one of  our favorites,” she said, adding her granddaughters often request a sour cream cookie with burnt sugar icing. “The last time we visited them, I took a batch of chocolate chip cookies but Meagan and Mallory asked about the sour cream cookies,” she laughs.

When baking Jane said she always uses real butter, no substitutes, that is just something she has always done.

“That’s the way my mother cooked — we made our own butter on the farm and I can remember helping churn the butter,” she said, adding her mother also made homemade cottage cheese.

“The flavor of butter is just something you can’t duplicate,” she said, adding they also make homemade ice cream often.

“I use a recipe of my mothers for the homemade ice cream and we always make vanilla ice cream then top it with sliced strawberries or whatever we like.”

Jane laughs recalling she had a hand-cranked ice cream freezer for years before Don finally bought an electric freezer. “But I used it so much I burned up the motor,” she laughs, adding the electric freezer she currently uses has parts from a couple of different motors. “We’ve always done the homemade ice cream. I used to make a batch of ice cream and then call my neighbors and say ‘I’ve got ice cream’ and they would be right over.”

Jane says her husband wasn’t an ice cream or dessert person until they were married. “Now, he loves dessert,” she laughs, adding pie is probably his favorite dessert. “For his birthday, I make him a pie and put a candle on it.”

If Don were to pick his favorite meal, Jane said it would probably be something like steak, a baked potato and a salad, or cabbage rolls with a meat filling. “Don is the soup maker in the family. He makes wonderful chili, broccoli and cheese soup or potato soup,” Jane said, adding her favorite meal is pan fried chicken.

“I just dredge the chicken pieces in flour that I season with seasoned salt and fry it in Crisco in my cast iron skillet,” she said. “I brown the chicken on both sides and then simmer it in the skillet until it’s done.”

Jane adds the meal wouldn’t be complete without mashed potatoes and peas or maybe corn on the cob.

Keeping her pantry well stocked is something Jane likes to do and says it’s kind of a habit from when she was teaching. “In those days, if we had a snow day I wanted to have the staples on hand so I could start doing my holiday baking,” she laughs.

At one time Jane said she did a lot of holiday baking, but lately she has cut back a lot. “I used to make many different kinds of cookies and candy, but I don’t do that so much any more, although

I do still take something to the bank and post office and leave something for the mailman during the holidays as a thank you gift,” she said. “I did make peanut clusters this year, but that was all.”

A family favorite, and something she makes for almost every holiday, are scalloped oysters. “We have that for almost every holiday and if we go somewhere for the holiday, I pack them up and take them along,” she said.

“Last Thanksgiving, we met our family in Missouri so I took everything along for the Thanksgiving meal, including the scalloped oysters.”

The scalloped oysters are another recipe she received from her mother and one she remember her mother making for holidays.

Downsizing her cooking to include just the two of them has been the biggest change in her cooking through the year, according to Jane. “It’s hard for me to cook for just two, but I usually make a big meal a few times a week and then we can have leftovers the remainder of the time,” she said. “On Sundays, I might put a beef or pork roast in the crockpot with some carrots,

potatoes and onions and let it slow cook for six or eight hours, then the next day I might make a stew with the leftovers.”

Jane said her most used items  and most needed items in the kitchen would be a good, sharp knife and her hand mixer. “I use that mixer for everything,” she said.

Her favorite part of cooking, Jane said, is the creativity that is involved, along with the satisfaction of seeing people enjoy what she has prepared.

One of her most appreciative fans is her husband. “Jane’s blueberry buckle — it would take your breath away,” he claims, while Jane explains that particular dish came about when she combined two of her favorite coffee cake recipes into one. “I liked the blueberry part of one recipe and the streusel-type filling from another recipe, so I put them together,” she said. “And he loves it.”

Along with many of her mother’s favorite recipes, Jane said her most-used cookbook is a Betty Crocker cookbook she received from her mother when she got married. “I still use that cookbook all the time — and it has seen a lot of cooking during the past 53 years.”

Jane Dolieslager shares some of her favorite recipes.

Cabbage rolls

Jane Dolieslager

1 medium head cabbage, cored

1-1/2 C. chopped onion, divided

1 T. butter

2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) Italian stewed tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. brown sugar

1-1/2 t. salt, divided

1 C. cooked rice

1/4 C. ketchup

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 t. pepper

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/4 lb. bulk Italian sausage

1/2 C. V-8 juice, optional

In a Dutch oven, cook cabbage in boiling water for 10 minutes or until outer leaves are tender; drain. Rinse in cold water. Drain.

Remove eight large outer leaves (refrigerate remaining cabbage for another use); set aside.

In a saucepan saute 1 C. onion in butter until tender. Add tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar and 1/2 t. salt.

Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine rice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and remaining onion and salt. Add beef and sausage; mix well.

Remove thick vein from cabbage leaves for easier rolling.

Place about 1/2 C. meat mixture on each leaf; fold in sides. Starting at an unfolded edge, roll up leaf to completely enclose filling.

Place seam side down in a skillet. Top with remaining sauce. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for one hour.

Add V-8 juice if desired.

Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes longer or until rolls are heated through and meat is no longer pink.

Yields: four servings.

Sour cream cookies with burnt sugar icing

Jane Dolieslager

3/4 C. shortening

1-1/2 C. brown sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

2-1/2 C. flour

1/2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 C. sour cream

1 T. vanilla

1/2 C. nuts (if desired)

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients together and add, along with sour cream and nuts.

Drop from spoon on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Burnt sugar icing:

3 T. melted butter, melt until browned, but not burned

1-1/2 C. powdered sugar

1 T. vanilla

Add sugar to butter, adding gradually four tablespoons of hot water.

Stir until right consistency to spread.

Chocolate caramels

Jane Dolieslager

2 C. sugar

1 C. brown sugar

1/2 C. butter (not oleo)

2 C. chopped nuts

1 C. corn syrup

1 C. cream

1/2 t. salt

1 T. vanilla

3 squares unsweetened chocolate

Cut chocolate in small pieces and put in bottom of large, heavy pan.

Add sugar, butter, salt, syrup and cream. Cover. Boil five minutes.

Uncover and boil slowly stirring constantly to a firm ball stage, 248 degrees. Remove from fire.

Add flavoring and pour quickly over nuts which have been placed in a well-buttered pan (6-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch).

When cool, cut in squares and wrap.