Molly Petersen

Molly Petersen, of Danbury in western Iowa, says each of her three children has different food preferences, and she eats gluten-free and sugar-free meals.

DANBURY, Iowa — Molly Petersen grew up on a farm, and while she and her husband work off the farm, they enjoy the advantages of living in the country.

“I’ve always liked rural living,” she says. “It’s kind of relaxing.”

She and her husband, Eric, live near Danbury, Iowa, in Crawford County. She works as a Title I reading and math teacher and works at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Mapleton.

Eric works for a structural construction company. The couple also raise Red Wattle pigs, a heritage breed known for meat quality.

“I grew up on a farrow-to-finish operation, so we enjoy having a few pigs here,” Petersen says.

Petersen says she learned to cook from her mother, Vickie Buettner.

“We were a meat and potatoes family Monday through Friday, but on Saturdays, she sometimes would take the entire day to make our meal,” she says.

Petersen says she enjoys cooking for her family. She has three children — Zach, 18; Chris, 17; and Billi, 13. She says each has different tastes in food, ranging from just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to items a bit more extravagant.

“Zach loves home-canned peaches. It’s something I do every year and it reminds me of my grandma’s peaches,” Molly says. “I’ve even canned them without any sugar, so I can have them. And my kids help me can them, too.

“Billi loves the addictive chicken dip. She also likes cream puff dessert. Chris loves steak and apple pie. He does a great job grilling steak and even helped me make the apple pies at Christmas.”

Eric also enjoys cooking, she says.

“I eat gluten-free and sugar-free, but Eric and I have found great ways around it,” Peterson says. “He’s a great cook and even makes me gluten-free fried zucchini and makes the kids gluten-free chicken strips. He does all of our butchering and processing on our meat, even curing and smoking the bacon and ham. He’s an adventurous cook and inspires me to try new recipes.”

Petersen says baking is her favorite.

“I really love doing that, especially pies,” she says. “I just enjoy the process of baking.”

She is also active in her community. She is involved with the local ambulance services, and has been the group’s director the past two years. She is also president of the local education association, and works as a volunteer 4-H and Girl Scouts leader.

“I don’t get too many early nights at home,” she says.

Petersen also enjoys teaching kids about agriculture.

“I have a ton of books in my classroom that are ag related — everything from honeybees to farm animals, milk to gardening, farm equipment, how to grow a pizza (or all of the ingredients, anyway) and so much more,” she says. “I like to show kids where their food comes from.”

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Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.