Holiday Cookbook: Pat Bartel

In many respects, Pat Bartel has come a long way from her childhood home in England.

Born near the ancient Stone Henge in Salsbury, England, she has lived for almost 20 years now on the family farm of her husband, Herb, northeast of Hillsboro.

Spiritually, she has moved from nominal faith to vibrant faith. Nutritionally, Bartel has traded the traditional meat-eating ways of her British home life for a vegetarian diet.

She could not have predicted so radical a change when she and a boarding-school roommate decided in 1962 to do some traveling before settling down.

“We decided it would be easier to go to the United States than a lot of countries because of the language,” she said. “Although, when we got here, we had to repeat every single thing we said.

“It was appalling and frustrating,” said Bartel, who has kept her delightful-and now quite understandable-accent to this day.

The two young women landed in San Francisco, worked a couple months at a dude ranch in Arizona, then launched a 23,000-mile sojourn through the United States, traveling from coast to coast and border to border and even into Canada. The entire experience took about five months.

“It was a terrific experience,” she said. “My abiding memory of Kansas was the millions of pigs, and all the different colors they came in. I had never seen tortoise-shell pigs before, and I haven’t lately, but I sure did then.”

Less than a year after returning to England, Bartel and three British friends returned to this country for a ski trip in Aspen, Colo. While living in that city, she met Herb Bartel, who was a city and county planner in the Aspen area. The two were married in 1975.

Their life’s path took a six-year detour to Barrow, Alaska, where Herb worked as a land-use planner for the eskimo government’s development of communities on state’s oil-rich North Slope. They enjoyed the cultural experience of that challenging environment, where it sometimes grew so cold in winter that the lenses of eyeglasses would crack during a walk outside.

The Bartels moved to Marion County after Herb received word that the family farm was requiring some attention.

“He said it would be a good place to hang our hats,” she said. “But it literally was going to be a very temporary arrangement.”

Over the next few years, Herb made frequent trips to Alaska as a consultant. Between jaunts, the couple made friends in the area.

“While he was away on one trip, I got my job here (at Tabor College),” she said, “and that made all the difference in the world. I owe to Tabor the fact that I graduated from being a nominal Christian to being a very excited, active Christian. God brought us here for a good reason.”

Bartel said she wasn’t particularly interested in cooking until she got married.

“Mother would always have us help her in the kitchen, but my diet growing up was very much ‘meat and two veg,'” she said. “It was fairly plain cooking.”

During her sojourn in America prior to getting married, Bartel said she was exposed to various expressions of international cooking. But it was while living in Alaska that Pat and Herb decided to take a very different direction in their diet.

“We had to buy meat in huge quantities in Barrow, shipped by air,” she said. “One shipment arrived on Friday in spring when it was thawing and we were away for the weekend. There was no place to store it and so it spoiled.

“We just had been reading more and more about diet and decided to try (vegetarianism),” she added. “Now we eat much more in the way of tofu and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Part of the attraction of vegetarianism was the Bartels’ conclusion that it was far more efficient to eat grains themselves than to feed them to cattle in order to produce meat for their table. They were also convinced it would be a healthier choice.

“We feel there’s less grease in our life now,” she said. “We’ve really tried not to eat too much saturated fats and have reduced our salt intake by a huge, huge amount. And we try to substitute refined sugar with honey when we can.”

As the cook in the family, Bartel said the switch away from meat required some adjustments, but not many problems.

“At first it was tough because you get used to one way of doing it,” she said. “Now, I do find that on the whole I have to think ahead a little bit more-like soaking beans ahead of time, for instance. But it’s become so automatic, it isn’t tough to do.”

The Bartels feel vegetarianism is the right choice for them, they aren’t doctrinaire about it.

“We aren’t hard and fast,” she said. “In other words, we don’t try to make ourselves difficult to live with.”

She said she still frequently prepares meat and meat dishes when they have guests over for a meal, and she and Herb enjoy eating turkey at Thanksgiving time.

But the choice to change their eating habits has also led to other, related lifestyle choices.

“We try not to have many electrical appliances, so I do a lot of things by hand,” she said. “For one thing, our house is very small and we just don’t have a lot of room for that kind of thing. We’re also at a point in our lives where we don’t want to accumulate a lot of things. We want to live a simpler lifestyle.”

But not every decision to simplify has worked out.

“I will say that when we first came here, we had all these visions of growing our own food and this kind of thing,” she said. “But by the time we spent all afternoon shucking a few soybeans, we realized it was a lot easier to get a job and pay to have it done.”

Bartel’s unique life path has taken her far away from the her English upbringing. But she has not abandoned all of the traditions she grew up with-like making fruit cakes and various puddings during the holidays.

“I suppose it’s mostly Christmas things that I hang on to,” she said. “But I find on the whole that people don’t like fruit cakes. And most of the Christmas things-like Christmas pudding-have a lot of dried fruit in them. Very occasionally it would be fun to have Yorkshire pudding, but that’s extremely rare. Again, there’s a lot of grease in it.”

Bartel said she finds herself making these traditional English delicacies for the enjoyment of friends who might appreciate the cross-cultural experience.

One tradition she maintains each year is setting English Christmas crackers at her table. Each cracker comes with a party hat attached.

“Every place setting has one,” she said. “The first thing you do after you’ve sat down is cross your arms, hold the end of the cracker and pull-and everybody has to wear a hat.

“There are a few people around here who understand it and go along with the fun of it,” she said.

From the Bartel kitchen

The recipes she offers Free Press readers are for dishes she enjoys cooking as much or more than actually consuming. The recipes come from a set of cookbooks she collected while living briefly on the U.S. East Coast.

“They’re all very tasty recipes that are tried and true,” she said. “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed them.”

Pork Chops Dijonnaise

4 thickly cut or butterfly, pork chops, or 8 thin pork chops

3 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan


6 tablespoons heavy cream

6 tablespoons cider

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 cup stock

11/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

salt and pepper

In a skillet or shallow casserole, heat butter and brown the chops lightly on both sides. Mix the cheese to a paste with one to two tablespoons cream and spread over the top of the chops. Bake in a moderately hot oven (375 F) for 25 to 40 minutes, or until they are tender, depending on the thickness of the chops.

Transfer chops to a platter and keep warm. Add the cider and vinegar to the pan and boil until reduced to a glaze. Add the stock, remaining cream, mustard and seasoning to taste. Reheat the sauce without boiling and spoon it over the chops.       

Serve with saut?ed potatoes and braised green cabbage.

Braised Green Cabbage

1 head of firm green cabbage, shredded

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, sliced

1 tart apple, pared, cored and sliced

salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons stock

Heat the butter in a flameproof casserole and cook the onion until soft but not brown. Add the cabbage with the apple and seasoning, stir well and pour in the stock. Cover with foil and a lid and braise in a moderately low oven (325 F) for 45 minutes or until the cabbage is very tender.

French Bread

4 cups flour

1/2 cup milk

1 cup water

1 package dry or 1 cake compressed yeast

1/4 cup warm water

11/2 teaspoons shortening

11/2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

French bread as you find it in France is a dream long sought after by bakers here, both amateur and professional. Our flour, ovens, milk and even our yeast are different, and only a passable imitation of the crisp French original has ever been achieved. Here is one of the best attempts.

Heat milk with one cup water to boiling and cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over the one-fourth cup warm water, leave five minutes or until dissolved and add cooled milk with the shortening and one-fourth tablespoon of the sugar.

Sift flour into a warm bowl with salt and remaining sugar, make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir thoroughly to mix but do not knead. The dough will be soft. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for two hours or until doubled in bulk.

Set oven at hot (400 F).

Work dough lightly and turn out onto a floured board. Cut in half and pat into two flat rectangles 12×9 inches. Roll up and continue rolling, tapering the dough at the ends to form a thin loaf that is 15 inches long. Place loaves on a greased baking sheet and cut diagonal shallow slits one-inch deep across the tops.

Cover and let rise again in a warm place for 15-20 minutes or until almost doubled in bulk.

Bake in heated oven with a pan of hot water placed in the bottom of the oven. (The steam from the pan of water ensures a crisp crust.) After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking 30 minutes or until bread is crisp and brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Ham with Orange

11/2-2 inch thick ham steak

2 oranges

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon black pepper cup

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Lay ham in a shallow, flameproof casserole. Cut the unpeeled oranges in thick slices and arrange on top of ham.

Combine sugar with spices and spread on top of the ham, pour over the orange juice, cover and bake in a moderate oven (350 F) for 45 minutes or until the ham is tender, basting from time to time during cooking. Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes so the sugar and orange juice form a glaze.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

1 bunch fresh spinach (or 1 package frozen, thawed)      

1 cup ricotta cheese      

grated nutmeg      

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cream

1 cup milk

4 eggs      

salt and pepper

Line a deep 10-inch quiche pan with your favorite rich tart pastry and bake 15 minutes at 425 F.

Wash spinach and cook for a few minutes. Squeeze out all water and chop (should be about 3/4 cup). Combine with ricotta cheese, a little nutmeg and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese. Spread over the bottom of the pastry shell. Beat eggs lightly and combine with cream and milk, season with salt and pepper and pour over ricotta/spinach mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and bake in a 375 F oven for about 30 minutes until puffed and set. Let quiche rest five to 10 minutes before serving.

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