Noard learned the basics of cooking from her mother

Jerilyn VanDeWoestyne
Carol Noard relaxes in the kitchen of her Atkinson home.

Carol Noard enjoys cooking and spending time in the kitchen of her Atkinson home.

“I used to cook a lot more than I do now,” she said. “But I especially like to cook for gatherings of family and friends.”

As a child, Carol learned the basics of cooking from her mother, the late Meta Noard, but said she has never quite mastered the technique of ‘cooking by taste’ that her mother was famous for.

“My mother would always say ‘Oh you can just tell’ when I would ask her how much of a certain ingredient to add to a dish to make it taste just right,” Carol recalls. “But I would get so frustrated because I couldn’t do that, so I started writing down the measurements she used as she cooked.

She was a very good cook, but she was the kind of cook who seldom measured anything — it was always a pinch of this and a palmful of that.” Carol said she doesn’t recall having a favorite item her mother made. “Everything she made was so good,” she said.

Growing up on a farm south of Atkinson, Carol has fond memories of that time in her life. She remembers helping her mother cook on a cookstove that was heated by corn cobs. “We would gather the clean cobs in the field and use them to heat the cook stove,” she said. “You would put the cobs in the cookstove and light them with some paper.”

Carol also remembers the challenge of cooking with no electricity or running water. “We had a full farm though, with cattle, hogs and chickens. We never went hungry, even during the Depression, we always had eggs, milk and meat,” she said. “And we had a big garden and did a lot of canning. My mother canned everything.”

She recalls her mother and a neighbor buying fresh pineapple by the case and canning the fresh fruit. “They would divide the case up, and then we would can the pineapple, that was so good. We would put the sliced pineapple in big fruit jars and can them in a hot water bath.”

According to Carol, one of her earliest cooking experiences was when she was about 10 years old and her father came into the house about 10 a.m. one morning and said they would be having a few extra men for their noon meal.

“My mother just looked at me and said we’d better get busy and get the meal started,” she laughs. “I remember we had canned meat with biscuits on top, along with other side dishes. We put it together pretty quickly.”

Carol said during those days on the farm they always had their big meal at noon and leftovers in the evening. “And we always had some kind of dessert with supper — not at noon, but with our evening meal,” she said.

Besides helping her mother cook at home, Carol received cooking and baking experience as a 4-H member, first a member of the Loraine Smilers 4-H Club and later as a member of the Burns Busy Bustlers. “I had a lot of baking projects and also  did canning, breads and flowers,” she said. “Then, after I got out of school, I helped form the Cornwall Girls’ 4-H Club.”

Carol also remembers taking home economics classes in high school when, on one occasion, a new football coach at the school asked if their teacher would prepare a meal for a meeting of

coaches he was planning on hosting.

“Our teacher said, ‘Sure,’ and then assigned myself and a classmate the task of making the meal,” Carol laughs. “We were pretty intimated, but we planned the menu, set the table and prepared the meal. It turned out well, and we even got extra credit for doing it.”

Carol attended rural grade schools and then graduated at the top of her class at Atkinson High School. After high school, she went on to graduate from Moline Lutheran Hospital nursing school with a three-year diploma course.

She then began a 35-year nursing career at Hammond-Henry Hospital, Geneseo. She began working in the surgical department and, after a few years, was named manager of that department, a position she held until her retirement.

“Nursing has been a big part of my life, and I don’t regret any of it. I always thought I wanted to be a nurse, I was always patching things up. It was a good career choice for me,” she said.

Along with her brothers and sisters-in-law, Carol’s family includes many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. “We are a close family, and we get together as often as we can,” she said, adding the little ones are “so much fun.”

“We have a good time together, and we usually take turns hosting our family dinners,” she said, adding she always has the Christmas dinner, which is usually turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and all the trimmings.

“We also get together for Easter and then one time during the summer to celebrate birthdays.”

Carol said one of her contribution to a family gathering is usually a taco salad, which her family all seem to enjoy and is  something she likes to make. “It’s just something I always bring,” she said.

If she had to choose a favorite meal, Carol said she could “live on” BLTs (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches) during the summer, when the fresh tomatoes are plentiful.

“Or I will put a roast in the crockpot with carrots and potatoes. I usually do a beef roast the same way my mother did, simply by seasoning it with a little salt and pepper and adding a bay  leaf,” she said. “That’s all the flavoring it needs. And then I let it cook all day. I don’t do gourmet cooking, I guess my style is more comfort-food cooking.”

Carol said besides the roast, she might make a meatloaf for a meal and then have it for leftovers for several meals.

“I usually cook a few times a week and then have leftovers the rest of the week,” she said.

Admitting she is a cat lover, Carol said most of the feline friends who share her home were given to her by relatives. “They are my greeters,” she laughs.

Carol enjoys spending time in her yard working in her many flower beds and credits her years of farm life with her love of being outside. “I really like working outdoors with flowers and plants,” she said.

She is also the family historian, keeping track of family births, deaths and marriages.

“I mostly keep track of my mother’s side of the family. She came from a family of nine children so it’s a large extended family,” Carol said. The extra large three-ring binder she uses for chronicling family events includes pictures, information and special anecdotes of the many members of her family. “It sometimes takes a lot of time, but I do enjoy doing it and I like that we have a history of our family. It is so interesting to work on those things.”

If she had to pick a favorite kitchen appliance or utensil, Carol said it would have to be her microwave oven. “I use the microwave all the time. It is so handy for heating things up or melting things like butter or chocolate,” she said. “I also use my crockpot a lot, and I couldn’t do without my rubber spatulas and my whisk. I guess I pretty much have everything I need in the kitchen as far as gadgets are concerned.”

Carol said she has many old family recipes from her mother and she also gets recipes from friends and family members. “When I worked, I got a lot of wonderful recipes from co-workers,” she said, adding her family all have their favorite family recipes.

When Carol goes into her kitchen to prepare a meal, it’s important to her that she have on hand all the ingredients she might need. “I like to have stuff on hand and I like to keep my pantry very well stocked,” she said. “My pantry is usually full, and I have shelves full of supplies in the basement also. I could probably go all winter long without going to the grocery store.”

Carol feels it is very important to shop locally as much as possible. “I like to buy in town and locally — I really feel strongly about supporting our  hometown businesses,” she said.

One of the things Carol is probably most well known for are her pies. “I’m the pie baker of the family, I guess,” she said, adding some of her family’s favorites are soft pies like banana cream or coconut cream, a Dutch apple she makes with a crumb topping and strawberry pie.

“My 4-year-old great-niece, Reagan, is a real pie lover. She is always asking me for a certain pie, and I love making them for her,” Carol said. “One time she asked for a strawberry pie so I made one for her, and then she wanted an apple pie, so I made that, then she thought a lemonade pie sounded good.”

Carol told her great-niece she didn’t know if she could find a recipe for a lemonade pie. “But I found a recipe for a Key Lime pie that called for frozen limeade concentrate, and I just improvized with lemonade concentrate instead,” she laughs. “It turned out really well — it was kind of like a chiffon pie and Reagan loved it.”

Carol is an active member of Concordia Lutheran Church in Geneseo and is on the church’s Care Committee, calling on the elderly church members. “I was baptized, confirmed and brought up in the Lutheran faith, and my faith is very important to me,” she said.

To keep cleanup a little easier, Carol said she always cleans up as she cooks. “I usually have a sink full of soapy water and just do the dishes as I dirty them, and then there’s not a big mess in the end,” she said.

Affectionately known as “Auntie” to family and friends, Carol said she enjoys the time she spends with her family, especially her great-nieces and great-nephews. “I love spending time with the little ones — they are the light of my life,” she said.

Carol Noard shares some of her favorite recipes.

Oatmeal brownies

Carol J. Noard

1 C. margarine

2 C. brown sugar

2 eggs

2 t. vanilla

2 C. flour

1/2 t. baking soda

2 C. oatmeal


1 C. chocolate chips

1 C. butterscotch chips

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

2 T. margarine

1/2 C. chopped nuts

1/2 t. vanilla

Cream margarine and sugar.

Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, soda and oatmeal.

Spread 2/3 of mixture in bottom of greased jelly roll pan. Set aside.

Mix filling by melting chips, milk and margarine in microwave.

Stir and add nuts and vanilla.

Spread over oatmeal mixture. Dot with remaining oatmeal mixture on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Scandinavian vegetable salad

Carol J. Noard

2 cans tiny peas, drained

1 can French style green beans, drained

1 can white whole kernel corn, drained

1 small jar pimento, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 stalks celery, finely chopped

Mix together:

1 C. sugar

1 C. white wine vinegar

1/2 C. oil

2 T. water

1 t. paprika

Blend together. You may need to warm to melt sugar. Cool.

Add mixture to veggies. Refrigerate 24 hours. Keeps well refrigerated. Makes a large amount.

Choco-mint freeze

Carol J. Noard

1-1/4 C. vanilla wafers, finely crushed (about 28 wafers)

4 T. butter or margarine (melted)

1 qt. peppermint stick ice cream, softened, or chocolate chip mint

2 sq. (2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate

3 egg yolks (save whites)

1-1/2 C. sifted confectioners sugar

1/2 C. pecans, chopped

1 t. vanilla

Toss together crumbs and margarine. Reserve 1/4 C. of mixture.

Press remaining crumbs in 9x9 inch baking dish.

Spread with softened ice cream and freeze.

Melt 1/2 C. margarine and chocolate. Blend. Gradually stir into egg yolks with sugar, nuts and vanilla. Cool.

Thoroughly beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Beat chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold in egg whites.

Spread over ice cream. Top with reserved crumbs.

Freeze. Makes 8 servings.