WEBSTER CITY - The tradition of the farm cook is in the good hands of the Richardson household a few miles south of Webster City.
That's where Angie Richardson, a full-time mother, full-time program technician for the Farm Service Agency and full-time farm wife, is training her 6-year-old daughter, Abby Richardson, to cook the old-fashioned way, albeit with some contemporary twists.
Take Abby's homemade noodles, for instance. The old way meant rolling the dough by hand with a wooden rolling pin, then a long stretch of waiting for the flattened dough to dry before cutting it into noodles.
-Messenger photo by Jane Curtis
Abby Richardson, 6, measures flour under the tutelage of her mother, Angie Richardson. They are making homemade noodles from an old family recipe.
Not today. The rolling pin has been replaced by an Italian-made pasta machine.
But the recipe is one passed down through generations and its purpose - to feed the family - hasn't changed.
When the noodles are finished, they will either go into the freezer for another day's meal, or they will go into a pot of homemade chicken soup.
"This is a recipe that my mom made when we were growing up," Angie Richardson said. Her mother factors into the new-fangled rolling device, too. "My mom got this for me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It really changes your life."
Richardson needs the time-saving device. She and her husband, Adam Richardson, who is also a full-time equipment specialist for WinField Solutions in Vincent, and two children - Abby and Jack, 2 - live on 20 acres where they have Cornish rock chickens - 25 layers in the winter, 200 chicks in the spring - and raise Suffolk-Hampshire sheep.
They've also raised hogs and cattle, and keep an impressive garden in the growing season.
"We have a very large garden that we eat fresh vegetables from, and we also can and freeze much of what we grow for the winter months," Richardson said. "We can things like spaghetti and pizza sauce, tomatoes, green beans, apple butter and hot peppers.
"We freeze broccoli, peaches, blueberries, apples, peppers."
Adam Richardson's father, Jim Richardson, is a farmer who is phasing into retirement. Eventually, Adam and Angie will take over the family farming, which comprises roughly 1,000 acres.
As a family, what they consume is often dictated by the season and chores, but they make a concerted effort to have meals together.
"It really depends on the time of year," Angie Richardson said. "This time of year we're a little bit more successful at having sit-down suppers, I would say this time a year four or five times a week.
"In the summer time it's particularly hard because we're generally outside doing things until it gets dark - and it doesn't get dark until 9 o'clock."
The go-to meal then is basic.
"Spaghetti or tacos. Anything quick," she said.
"We usually try to have a good meal, a big meal, on Sundays. It's usually more of a supper for us. And then we'll have leftovers throughout the week."
Her recipes come from her mother, Adam's mother - and the iPad charging on the kitchen counter.
"We're always looking for something different."
She said this as she watched her daughter break eggs into a batter bowl.
"Did you get any shells in there?" she asked.
Her daughter shook her head no.
The shells go into a "chicken bowl," destined to be fed to the chickens.
Abby Richardson, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, is too young for 4-H, but she's a member of Clover Kids and has shown bottle lambs at the Hamilton County Fair.
Angie Richardson is a Clover Kids leader.
She's also the strong arm that kneads the noodle dough.
"It's sticking right to it," her daughter observed as she watched her mother work.
"OK, just put a little bit more in there," Angie Richardson instructed, referring to the flour. She kneaded until the dough became sticky again.
Meanwhile, her daughter was at work.
"I'm making a wall," Abby Richardson said, referring to a line of flour on the counter. "It's a curvy wall."
The noodles freeze well, her mother explained as she cut the dough in smaller chunks for the pasta machine.
"It has to go in straight," Abby Richardson reminded her mother.
Together, they cranked out the noodles that will be part of another farm family meal.
Once, a friend borrowed the pasta machine, Angie Richardson said. "I thought, that's no big deal."
Instead of retrieving it, she rolled out the noodles the old fashioned way.
"It was a whole afternoon ordeal and I had forgotten how involved this was."
1/3 cup milk
3 1/3 cups flour
Pinch of salt
Lightly beat eggs, salt and milk, then slowly add flour.
On a flour-covered surface roll out to cover a 2-by-3-foot area, let set for at least 1 hour.
Cut into strips. Remember, noodles will nearly double in size when cooked. Let noodle dry for at least an additional hour.
If using a noodle maker, dough can be pressed and cut through machine immediately then let to dry for at least an hour.
These can also be frozen for later use.