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Farm and family inspire cooking
Yvonne Reick stands in the log cabin her husband Walter built on their property in Axton. Someday, the couple hopes to retire there. The dishes in front of her draw inspiration from the cooking styles of her mother and grandmother as well as her husband. The family farm also provides both the ingredients and flavor concepts for her cuisine. (Bulletin photos)
If you are in desperate need of a new recipe, one source can be found in Yvonne Reick’s living room: A chair that is covered with stacks of cooking magazines being saved for their recipes.
Reick, who lives in Axton with her husband Walter, loves to share recipes, be it with her friends, family, coworkers or with the “church ladies,” said Reick.
However, raising a family and tending a farm have not left much free time in Reick’s schedule. The Reick property has many functions: it’s where the family live; it’s home to an expanding herd of livestock; and it’s the location of a getaway cabin rented by race fans and hunters.
In addition to farm chores, Reick is a technician at the Moorehead Hospital laboratory on the weekends, and she plays the piano every Sunday at Anderson Chapel Methodist Church.
The husband and wife duo have lived on the farm for 25 years. They raise hogs, chickens and beef cattle and get eggs. Soon they plan to start raising turkeys. The poultry live in large pastures.
All of their products are processed and sold to individual buyers or at farmers markets, including in Roanoke and Danville.
Living on a farm affects the family cooking positively. They keep a lot of the meat for themselves, said Reick. When customers purchase their products, they often ask her for recipes.
Her earliest memories of cooking revolve around her grandmother, the late Fern Hertzell. Often her grandmother would bake miniature apple pies. “I would love to go help roll out the dough,” Reick recalled.
Reick grew up on a farm in southern New Jersey. Her stay-at-home mother always had dinner and dessert prepared for her family of two sisters and one brother. She taught her children how to cook.
“Dinnertime was always so important in my life growing up,” Reick said. “We always tried to get together (at least) three or four times a week.”
This tradition of the family dinner has continued with her own family. “My favorite meal is dinner. I like being able to sit down with my family and share our thoughts of the day,” Reick said. “Dinner is primarily my time to cook,” while her husband makes breakfast.
“I still learn” ways of cooking, said Reick. Mostly, that’s through the experimentation of new or exchanged recipes.
Reick’s go-to cookbook is the classic Betty Crocker. She got the book when she first married her husband of 30 years. “My Betty Crocker book is kinda my Bible,” she joked.
Reick seeks challenges through cooking. If she’s not trying out new recipes based on meat ingredients, then Reick is mastering the art of baking bread. “Not that I’m a good one — it’s just a challenge,” said Reick. “I like making it. I love the smell of the bread when it’s cooking.”
Some of her favorites to bake are sourdough and potato bread. “It’s a satisfying feeling to work with my hands,” she said.
This likely harkens back to childhood memories of her grandmother preparing little yeast rolls. Her mother, also, is an “excellent baker,” Reick said. “She can bake cakes and pies that are out of this world. It must be something in the taste of her hands.”
At 54, Reick only has one child left at home, Hattie, age 13. Reick has been teaching her how to cook. “Her favorite is spaghetti. She says she makes the best spaghetti in the world.”
Her other two children, Keith, 34, and John, 29, know how to cook, too, but not so much baking, said Reick with a chuckle.
Reick and her husband recently have been “playing around with smoking” different meats. They have been pleased with the results: “It was out of this world,” said Reick, “It was juicy and tender. The smell (of the wood chips) is put into the food and vegetables.”
One ingredient Reick uses most often is sausage. “It seems so versatile so I put it into a lot of recipes.” Reick also tries to use fresh ingredients, especially from her vegetable garden.
“I try to cook from scratch as much as possible. That’s the way I was raised,” she said. “You would never find cake mix in my mother’s house.”