January 21, 2021

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Simply The Best Food

Love of gardening, sharing recipes leads to cookbooks, website for Quincy woman | Lifestyles

QUINCY — A retirement plan to start a hobby garden for sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables led to a second career for a Quincy woman — and reinforced her love of cooking.

Rebecca Bobier and her husband Dave retired in 2015, moving from South Dakota to Quincy to be closer to family, and started raising strawberries, organic blueberries, tomatoes and other crops.

“I started a little Facebook page just to let people know where we were selling our produce,” Bobier said. “We called ourselves the Farm Stand. It was a mobile operation. We’d pick, and then we’d go sell.”

A request for a recipe led Bobier to start posting seasonal favorites to go along with the produce available for sale, then someone asked her how to make homemade noodles.

“I told Dave about it and said I’m not sure I can just tell her and she’d be able to do it,” Bobier said. “He said let’s just make a video, put it on the page and she can watch it. That was our very first video.”

Before long, the Facebook followers asked for a cookbook, and Bobier compiled right at 100 of her family favorites.

Now six cookbooks — with a seventh all-cookie volume in the works — and some 400 videos later, the Bobiers have more than 360,000 followers around the world on Facebook, a website and merchandise line including Dave’s handcrafted wood pieces and a new goal of starting a farm stand storefront, complete with a studio kitchen, just outside her hometown of Camp Point.

“We never had any of this planned,” Bobier said. “We weren’t expecting this to happen. It’s all good. It’s fun to see where life takes you.”

All of it evolved from Bobier’s love of cooking for family — her husband, their three children and eight grandchildren — and friends.

“My grandmother lived with us. My mom and my grandma were cooking all the time and they also home-canned. I remember being plopped up on the table when I was a little tiny thing helping to stir things,” Bobier said.

“I’ve just always cooked. I haven’t been to culinary school. I’m just self-taught,” she said. “My whole family enjoys cooking. We’re just a bunch of foodies.”

The Bobiers enjoy from-scratch dishes, made with ingredients people often already have on hand, including the “really good” Dave’s Favorite Meatloaf.

“I put some chopped home-canned tomatoes in my meatloaf. That’s what makes it different. It’s moist,” she said. “I also put my meatloaf on what I call a ‘bread bed’ and bake it. That’s a little different, too.”

Loaded Mashed Potatoes “is easy to put together, and who doesn’t like potatoes,” Bobier said, and another favorite is a hot beef sandwich turned into a casserole with a layers of bread, shredded beef, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Bobier caters to her husband’s sweet tooth with Chocolate Snack Cake featuring a pudding-style icing and her Killer Banana Bread, the most popular recipe on the website.

“This has chunks of banana in it instead of mashed banana, but it’s the topping that everybody’s crazy for. It turns into a crispy crumb on top of the bread. It’s quite delicious,” she said.

Winter Lettuce Salad combines fresh apple and pear with Swiss cheese, cashews and dried cranberries along with a homemade dressing, and Dill Pickle Soup “sounds a little strange, but it’s really delicious,” she said. “It’s silky, savory and comforting on a cold winter day.”

“Really we’re just teaching people how to cook, inspiring people. We hear that a lot that you inspired me to get back in my kitchen to cook. It’s a good thing,” Bobier said.

“You need to have an interest to be a good cook,” she said. “You need to feel inspired. You have to try things.”

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes

10 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup grated dill pickle (any kind, and use a box grater to grate them)

2 tablespoons dill pickle juice

1 tablespoon fresh snipped dill

In a soup pot, melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrot; sauté just until tender. Add potatoes, and sauté 2 minutes. Add the dill pickle, garlic, broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Ladle one cup of the soup into a small bowl to cool slightly. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Very quickly, whisk the egg yolks into the slightly cooled soup. Once the two are combined, whisk mixture quickly into the pot of soup. Let simmer for 2 minutes to make the soup silky. Turn off heat. Stir in pickle juice and fresh dill.

Serve garnished with a sprig of fresh dill.

3 tablespoons light corn syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon onion powder or granulated onion

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 romaine hearts, washed, drained and chopped (approximately 10 cups)

2 medium red apples, washed, cored and chopped

2 medium Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup salted cashew pieces

Add all dressing ingredients to a small jar with a lid. Shake until combined. Set aside.

Combine lettuce, apples, pears, cheese and cranberries in a large salad bowl.

When ready to serve, drizzle with the dressing, toss and add cashews to the top. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Dave’s Favorite Meatloaf

2 pounds 85% lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes

1/4 cup crushed saltine crackers

1 large onion, caramelized

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

To caramelize onion, peel and slice onion. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, and let cook for two minutes before stirring. Then stir and cook until the onions are light brown. Add 3 teaspoons sugar and 3 teaspoons water, and continue to cook until dark brown, caramelized and sticky. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature before using in meatloaf.

To a stand mixer, add the first eight ingredients; mix for one minute. Dump mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Divide mixture in half, and shape into two loaves. Line a cookie sheet with sides with parchment paper. Using 1 1/2 slices of bread for each, make two “bread beds” for each loaf to lay on. Add the meat loaves to the bread.

In a small bowl, mix together glaze ingredients. Add a generous portion to the top of each loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until loaf is done in the middle. Check meat loaf for doneness at 45 minutes. Add more glaze during the bake time as desired. Remove from oven, and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Hot Beef Sandwich Casserole

1 (5-pound) beef roast (your choice)

1 (32-ounce) box (or cans) beef broth

1 package Italian dressing mix

2 (one-ounce) packages au jus gravy mix

2 pounds potatoes, mashed

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons fresh snipped parsley

Place the beef in a roasting pan. In a bowl, mix the broth, gravy mix and Italian dressing mix; whisk to combine. Pour over the roast. Add enough water to cover the roast. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Reduce heat to 300 degrees, and continue to bake for another hour. Check for tenderness. Continue to bake until fork-tender. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. Shred beef, and reserve gravy.

Slice baguette into 1/2-inch pieces. Lightly toast them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

Assemble the casserole by placing the bread slices in an even layer on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add the shredded beef, then mashed potatoes. Add 2 cups of the reserved gravy to the top. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with extra gravy.

4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup French onion dip, prepared

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

12 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1/2 cup sliced green onion

Quarter the potatoes, and place them in a large pot of salted water. Cook until fork-tender. Drain well, and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash with a potato masher. Add French onion dip, butter, milk, salt, pepper, bouillon and garlic to potatoes; mix well. Stir in Parmesan cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese and half the bacon. Pour potatoes into a 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with green onions before serving.

1/4 cup butter, slightly softened

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the water and butter. Add vanilla and egg; whisk to combine. Combine the dry ingredients, and add to the wet ingredients. Thoroughly combine. Coat two eight-inch square or round pans with nonstick spray. Divide batter between the pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 24 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 30 minutes.

For icing, combine milk, flour and salt in a one-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Boil for 1 minute. Pour into a dish, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cooled. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl until creamy. Gradually add the cooled flour mixture. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Place a cooled cake layer on a serving plate. Add the icing. Place other layer on top. Dust with powdered sugar.

1/2 cup salted butter, melted

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

2 medium-large ripe bananas, sliced thin

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Coat 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine melted butter and brown sugar. Add eggs; whisk to combine. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to lightly combine. Add sliced bananas and sour cream; mix until you don’t see any more sour cream. Fold in nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

1 small banana, cut in half lengthwise

1/3 cup light brown sugar

For topping, add brown sugar and flavorings to a plate. With the back of a spoon, infuse the brown sugar with the flavorings. Roll the banana halves in the mixture, and place on top of the batter. Sprinkle remaining brown sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until center is done. Remove from oven. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan.