Wiechmann: Blizzard Baking | TSLN.com

Wiechmann: Blizzard Baking

Three days into a two day blizzard, with a week of sub zero temperatures lurking in the forecast had me thinking that it was the perfect time to get a lot of pre-Christmas baking done. I had all kinds of grand ideas, traditional cookie recipes from both sides of my family, lefse from the Norwegian roots on my husband’s side, extra loaves of bread to share as gifts… My ambitions may have been more full than my flour bucket!

Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry that I might not be able to finish what I start if the power goes out, thanks to the old Monarch wood range that stands in my kitchen, and a pile of ash cut into stove lengths and split, waiting just outside the front door.

I may have had to modify recipes that call for eggs, as our chickens are currently in hibernation and not laying many eggs, but I had baking supplies aplenty in the store room.

Whether or not I would have enough gumption to tackle Christmas cookies after getting in from trudging through snowbanks to get my chores done was a legitimate concern.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of a blizzard when we were snowed in at my grandparents’ house. They lived in town, only three miles from our farm, but we were staying with them while my parents moved a house to the farm and remodeled it. If my (then young, now old) memory serves me right, Easter of 1985 brought a huge blizzard and a lot of snow, so much that my great-grandparents, who only lived a few blocks away, also stayed at grandpa and grandma’s overnight.

Somewhere between the games of pinocle and ‘hand-and-foot,’ someone had the idea to make kuchen.

I am pretty proud of how well my pantry is stocked with home canned peaches, tomatoes, jellies applesauce and pickles, but it will never compare to my grandma’s. She had everything on those shelves downstairs. We thought it was a store when we were little, and often begged her to let us play ‘store’ with the rows and rows of cans and cereal boxes that lined her shelves. So it is no surprise as I look back on that memory that grandma had fruit enough to make a wide variety of kuchen in quantity. I do wonder how she ‘happened’ to have enough cream—it would have taken several quarts!

There were four generations of us working together, my great-grandma Bossert, my grandma Phyllis, my mom and me. I think the men may have helped too: Grandpa Bossert, Grandpa Milton, my dad and my little brother: but my memory is clouded on that aspect. What I do remember, clear as a picture, is grandma’s long dining room table filled with rows and rows of kuchen when we got done, and even some that wouldn’t fit remaining on the smaller table in the kitchen. And I remember the snowbanks, as tall as I was, on Grandpa’s driveway after they shoveled out Grandpa and Grandma Bossert’s car.

The girls and I made peach pie, chocolate chip cookies, apple bread and a batch of sourdough bread. We’ll see what strikes our fancy next. Maybe it will be lefse. Or pecan pie. Or my great-great-aunt Louise’s famous chocolate sandwich cookies. Or Pfeffernuse. I have cream cheese and lemons to make spritz cookies with the recipe that my grandma Morelli in New York sent when I was little. ‘S’ cookies, we call them, as she had written ‘S’ is for South Dakota on the recipe. ‘S’ is also for Stiegelmeier, my maiden name.

We have good traditions. Fun, delicious and creative recipes, and well stocked pantries. And baking our way through blizzards.