Real Cooking

Men’s voices are coming from my utility room. From what I hear, they’re formulating a strategy that should-if all things go as planned-make their work proceed more efficiently.

I wish I could tell you I have a work crew once again laboring away at our home-remodeling project. I wish that those men, whose voices ebb and flow out of the back of my house, were trying to figure out the best way to tear down the existing wall that separates the old utility room with what will be the new, expanded laundry facility.

But, no. The house will have to wait. The wheat is ripe and ready for harvest, there’s hay to bale and milo to plant and the men are in the fields leaving only their voices at home to pour out from the radio base unit that sits in the back of the house.

At this busy time, I turn up the volume on the radio a little because I never know when Keith might call for me.

“Can you come and help us move?”

“Call the Co-op and see how long they’re staying open tonight.”

“I’ll be home in 20 minutes to eat.”

I do turn the radio up so that I’ll be able to hear Keith when I’m working in an adjoining room. But I also turn up the sound so that I’m better able to discern Keith’s voice from his brother Clyde’s. Their voices, especially when they’re tired or preoccupied, can sound very similar. And when they call for their wives, whose names are Cheryl and Sharon, it can sometimes get a bit confusing.

Bert, my father-in-law, who is still an active but part-time member of our farming operation, has a radio, too. He’s easy to identify. When he’s speaking from the cab of the combine, there’s always some FM radio station playing in the background.

And now there is Clyde’s teenaged son, Dustin, on the radio, too. For the most part, I can readily pick out Dustin’s voice because he usually starts out by saying, “Dad…” as in: “Dad, I’m finished here. Where should I go next?”

Where should I go next? That question makes me laugh. Why? Because if you’re a Jost kid working on the farm, you had better have learned the distinct names for each of the fields by the time you’re old enough to drive a truck or a tractor.

Otherwise, you’ll be totally lost.

I know as a young bride, I was. And on more than one occasion.

I remember Keith would say something like, “At noon, come and pick me up at the Hundred-n-Twenty.'” I would look back at him, shake my head and say, “Where’s that?”

“It’s the piece of land over by Eloise’s.”

“Who’s Eloise and where’s her house?”

“Eloise? Eloise Jost. She lives in town. Why do you want to know where Eloise lives?”

“You said the Hundred-n-Twenty is by Eloise’s”

“Not her house, her farm land. We rent her farm land.”

“OK. So the Hundred-n-Twenty is by Eloise’s land?”

“Yes, it runs into Uncle Dan’s.”

Well, I remembered Uncle Dan and I knew he lived in town.

“Keith, where is Uncle Dan’s?”

After getting more instruction about so many miles this way and so many miles that way, I finally called Sharon, who was also a newlywed, and asked her how to get to the Hundred-n-Twenty.

“I know this one!” she responded with glee. “Go one corner south of Aunt Evalina’s house and turn left. Then go down that hilly road until you see the big tree that we got mulberries from…remember? That’s the Hundred-n-Twenty.”

Well, that was easy enough. Why didn’t he just say so?

Over time, I became familiar with all the fields and their names. Plus all the other terms for roads and landmarks that the Josts have named.

I can easily take you to the North Range and, if Keith tells me he’ll be “by the dogs,” I know he’s on the south side of that field. I know the difference between the South Forty and the South Eighty and getting to the Hundred-n-Twenty is no longer a problem.

Miller’s, Lavern’s, Eloise’s, Cheryl’s , Clyde’s (formerly Uncle Dan’s), Judy’s…I know them all.

Then there is Durham One…not to be confused with Durham Two or Three. Or Durham Park.

The Ranch is across the road from Home and Lehigh is down the road from Bezel Hill.

Today, when Keith stopped by to eat lunch and said, “Mom’s Bottom got hailed on,” I knew he wasn’t talking about his dear mother’s derri?re. He was telling me the soybeans planted on a piece of bottomland that his mother owns was damaged during the latest round of thunderstorms that had passed through Durham.

Yep, that’s right. We might have to make an insurance claim on Mom’s Bottom. (Don’t worry. She’s a good-natured woman who’s heard all the jokes before).

It took me awhile to learn all of the names the Josts have used in referring to this part of the prairie they call home. But I knew I had achieved Jost-dom the other day when someone asked me how to get to Lincolnville.

“Well, I said. You go down 15 until you hit the D ‘n’ L. Go east and you’re there.”

“What’s the D ‘n’ L?” came the reply.

“You don’t know the D ‘n’ L?”

It was then that I realized I was doing it, too. I was speaking “Jost.”

Keith was so proud.

* * *

Meg found this recipe in one of my many cookbooks and whipped up some for the guys on the harvest crew. It is so nice to have a kid who is old enough-and capable enough-to be let loose in the kitchen. It makes my job so much easier.

June Bug Cookies

1 cup white sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

11/2 cup peanut butter

6 cups cornflakes

1 cup chocolate chips

2 cups mini marshmallows

In saucepan, bring to boil sugar and corn syrup. Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter. In very large bowl mix cornflakes, chocolate chips and marshmallows. Pour hot mixture over cornflakes mixture. Mix until well coated. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto wax paper and let it set up.

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