Kalona Cooks: Hi, ho, a derry-o, a-disking I did go

Posted 5/27/99

This disk is nothing like the one I was pulling last week. but it’s much more interesting….

By Mary Marek

This disk is nothing like the one I was pulling last week. but it’s much more …

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Kalona Cooks: Hi, ho, a derry-o, a-disking I did go


This disk is nothing like the one I was pulling last week. but it’s much more interesting….

By Mary Marek

This disk is nothing like the one I was pulling last week. but it’s much more interesting. Simpler to use, too. That’s Aunt Helen (Zahs) Harden posing in the photo. I’m guessing the pictures were taken in the late ‘40s or early ‘50s when the disk was brand new.

I wore my “farmer’s hat” one day last week. I haven’t had a chance to wear it lately; not since last fall when I hauled corn in from the field, but I took it out of the closet and dusted it off and wore it again last Thursday.

Now, I don’t mean that literally. I don’t actually have a hat that says “farmer” on it. Well, actually, I do; it’s green and says “farmer” right above the bill; Jim and Cody gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not even sure where it is.

No, the “farmer’s hat” I’m talking about is imaginary, just like my “mom’s hat” and my “wife’s hat” and my “housekeeper’s hat” (that one’s really dusty) and my “short-order cook’s hat” and my “bookkeeper’s hat” and my “columnist’s hat” and my “chauffeur’s hat” and my “grain vac mover’s hat” and my “sports mom’s hat” (that’s the one I would wear to all Cody’s ball games if it really existed) and my “receptionist’s hat” and my “lifestyles editor’s hat” and there’s probably a few “hats” I’m forgetting.

You’re probably wondering what all the “hat” stuff is about. Well, several years ago, I was telling someone about my life and all it’s various facets, and they said, “My, you wear a lot of hats.” Enough about hats.

Anyway, I wore my “farmer’s hat” last Thursday. Jim asked me to disk one end of a field while he planted beans in the other end. He hasn’t asked me to pull the disk for a long time, ever since I disked the same strip about three times a few years ago. Hey, it wasn’t my fault. The sun was in my eyes and I couldn’t tell where I’d already disked. He gets upset at the silliest things.

I was a little nervous about disking again. It looks so easy – you just drive back and forth across the field, but (trust me on this) it’s not nearly as easy as it looks.

You have to be careful not to go over the same ground too many times (that’s the voice of experience speaking), but you have to make sure you don’t miss any. And then there’re the turns. You have to turn really sharp and raise the disk so it doesn’t drag the dirt and then lower it again just at the right second so it disks out any tractor tracks you made while turning. But, don’t lower it too far or it will dig too deep. I swear, sometimes I think you need about three hands just to turn a corner when you’re disking. Eyes in the back of your head wouldn’t hurt either.

So, I met Jim out in the field and he rode one round with me to make sure I knew what I was doing. I didn’t, but he turned me loose anyway. It took me a few rounds before I felt comfortable making the turns, but I thought I was doing okay. The field was corn last year and the stalks had only been disked once, so seeing where I’d been was easy. By the time I was almost done, I was feeling pretty good about the whole experience.

Then Jim motioned me to meet him in the middle of the field so he could borrow my tractor and disk to make a couple of rounds near the waterway. He doesn’t trust me to get near the waterways with a disk or any other implement that makes holes in the ground, and I’m just as happy to have it that way. The fewer things I have the chance to mess up, the better.

Before I climbed back in the tractor to finish up what I was doing, Jim gave me a few last minute instructions about disking the ends to eradicate any tracks I might have left and I asked him (very specifically, I might add), if he had planted any beans north of where we were standing. I didn’t actually use the word “north”, I pointed straight down to the ground and asked, “Have you planted anything past here?” and he said, very plainly, “No.”

I thought that both, my question and his answer were pretty specific and easy to understand. I was speaking English (since that’s the only language I speak) and, as far as I know, the word “no” has only one meaning. As far as I was concerned, he had planted no beans beyond that point. Now, isn’t that what you would think?

So, I got back in my tractor and made a couple of rounds at each end to clean up and met Jim back in the middle of the field. He wanted to know if I was done, and I said I thought so, but I might go back to the other end and come down along the fence, just to make sure my cleaning-up-the-ends turns got cleaned up.

In a very loud and frightening (at least from where I was standing) voice, he said, “YOU STAY AWAY FROM THE FENCE. THERE’S BEANS PLANTED THERE!!!! YOU DIDN’T GO NEAR THE FENCE, DID YOU?!?!?”

Of course, I said, “No,” I mean, I don’t have any self-destructive tendencies and, from the sound of his voice and sort of bright red look of his face, I figured a “Yes” answer wouldn’t be in my best interests. Then, I got mad.

“I asked you if you had planted down there and you said ‘no’!”

“I haven’t planted down there, except the end rows! Didn’t you see the tracks?”

“There weren’t any tracks!”

“That’s because the (little things on the back of the planter whose names I can’t remember) wipe them out. Didn’t you see the marker tracks?” Huh? How was I supposed to see tracks that weren’t there? And I was driving at right angles to any marker tracks there might have been, so they would have just looked like disk marks to me.

“No, I didn’t see any marker tracks!” Of course, I hadn’t been looking for any. Hadn’t he told me he hadn’t planted anything down there? Why would I look for marks I didn’t know existed?

“Didn’t you see me planting it?” Jim asked.

“No, I didn’t. I was concentrating on what I was doing, not watching you!”

I told Jim I was sure I hadn’t gotten close enough to the fence to disk up any beans, crawled up in my tractor and headed for home. Fast, before he could check the end rows. I really didn’t think I’d done any damage, but I really didn’t want to hang around to find out for sure. I figured if it turned out that Jim had to replant some beans, it would be better if he had a chance to cool off a little before he saw me again.

When he got home Thursday evening, the first thing he said when he walked in the door was “Bean killer!”

I was getting ready to hide when I saw the grin peeking out from between his beard and mustache. He had to replant about 12 feet of beans. Not great, but not too bad, either.

But, I bet he won’t ask me to dust off my farmer’s hat any time soon.


In memory of the 12 feet of beans I killed, the first recipe this week will feature tofu.


Orange-Flavored Beans with Tofu

1 c. brown rice

1/2 c. orange juice

1/2 tsp. crushed red-pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbls. honey

2 tbls. soy sauce

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tbls. rice vinegar

1 lb. extra-firm tofu

1 lb. green & yellow string beans, trimmed

1 orange

2 tbls. vegetable oil

1 medium sweet red pepper, cored, seeded & cut into thin strips

1 1/4 tsp. cornstarch

1 green onion, thinly sliced

Prepare brown rice according to package directions; keep warm.

While rice is cooking, mix orange juice, red pepper flakes, ginger, honey, soy sauce, garlic and rice vinegar in glass measuring cup.

Drain tofu; press gently with paper toweling to remove any excess moisture. Cut unto 1/2-inch cubes and place in 8 x8–in. glass or plastic dish. Pour half of orange juice mixture over tofu; cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate to marinate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to boiling. Add green and yellow beans; cook for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

Using knife, remove rind and bitter white pith from orange. Section, removing membranes and seeds. Cut sections into pieces.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans and red pepper; saute 5 minutes. Add remaining orange juice mixture; cook another 3 minutes. Remove tofu with slotted spoon from marinade and add to skillet; reserve marinade in dish. Stir orange pieces into skillet.

Whisk cornstarch into marinade in glass dish until smooth. Stir into skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and clears, about 3 minutes. Serve with brown rice. Sprinkle with green onion.


Layered Eggplant

1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds), trimmed

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

3/4 to 1 cup vegetable oil

1 lb. cottage cheese OR ricotta cheese

1/4 lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh marjoram

1 tbls. bread crumbs

Fresh Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 400 deg. Cut eggplant crosswise into 18 slices. Pat dry with paper toweling. Spread out more paper toweling for blotting. Mix together flour, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in shallow dish or onto waxed paper.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in each of 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Dredge each eggplant slice in flour to coat both sides.

Fry 2 or 3 slices of eggplant per skillet until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to paper toweling to drain. Repeat until all slices are fried, adding more oil as needed.

Mix cottage cheese or ricotta, Cheddar cheese, parsley marjoram and remaining pepper in a bowl.

To assemble stacks: in large baking dish, place 1 slice eggplant. Spread on 3 tablespoons cottage cheese mixture; top with eggplant slice, 3 more tablespoons cottage cheese mixture and final slice of eggplant. Repeat with remaining cottage cheese mixture and eggplant to make 6 stacks. Sprinkle with crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, in 400 deg. oven 10 minutes. Serve immediately with Fresh Tomato Sauce.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Mix together in bowl 1 large tomato, seeded and diced; 3 tablespoons sliced fresh basil; 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 3 tablespoons olive oil; 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black peeper. Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.