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Cook makes family meals possible with a bit of hamburger, kids’ help

Cook makes family meals possible with a bit of hamburger, kids’ help

Katie Ricklefs

DAKOTA CITY, Iowa — Comfort cooking and comfort food are important in the Ricklefs household.

As a professional and the mother of two young children, Katie Ricklefs knows that just getting meals made and on the table can sometimes be a challenge. Family meals are not gourmet treats, but they are tasty.

“We kind of have a joke that my husband will ask ‘What’s for supper?’ and I’ll answer with ‘Something with hamburger,’” Ricklefs says with a laugh.

As long as there is some hamburger thawed, she can figure out something to make for the family, whether it is burgers or tater-tot casserole or one of a dozen other dishes.

“I like simple ingredients,” she says.

The love of cooking started early for Ricklefs, who grew up in Indiana.

She and her two sisters were drafted to help make meals for the family before they were out of grade school. By the time she was in high school she was in 4-H and FFA. She showed cattle and lambs in the 4-H livestock shows, but she also took part in the cake decorating contests.

After earning a degree in agricultural economics at Purdue University she got a job with Pioneer Hi Bred International and ended up in Iowa, where she eventually met her husband, Brian.

Today she still works for Pioneer while he works at a bank and farms. They have two children, Brock, 4, and Kacey, 2.

“He banks by day and farms by night,” Ricklefs says of her husband.

That hectic schedule means time in the kitchen is rarely time alone. Luckily, her two young children enjoy helping out.

“They actually like to cook with me,” Ricklefs says.

Baking and cake-making and decorating is still at the top of the list when it comes to food preparation for Ricklefs. She loves making desserts for her family and items like her banana bread muffins are always popular.

“It’s relaxing for me,” she says. “And during COVID we did a lot of baking.”

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Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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