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On Your Table Blog

March 3, 2023

Benefits of being old

Benefits of being old

by Dawn Smith-Pfeifer

A positive benefit of being an old-timer at a job is that you have more than likely accumulated a lot of "memorabilia" over the years.

Back in the '90s, I was the editor of a magazine for NDFB called Dakota Family. I cringe when I look at some of those old issues, not because of the content, but because of the layout. I probably thought it looked good at the time, but really through a 2023 lens, it just looks like a disaster!

But denigrating my younger self and the questionable design choices I made are NOT the reason for this post! I am finding a bunch of inspiration for On Your Table from Pantry Shelf, a regular column that was penned by Arlene Peterson when she was the NDFB Program Coordinator. 

For instance, she usually shared some helpful kitchen tips like these:

* When cooking anything that grows under the ground start off in cold water -- potatoes, beets, carrots, etc. Anything that grow above ground, start off in boiling water -- peas, greens, string beans, etc.

(I had to go to the internet for an explanation for this. Apparently, carrots started in cold water will be more tender. I assume the same is true for beets, although I will never try that because I do not like beets. At all!)

* Hard boiled eggs will peel easily when cracked and placed in cold water immediately after taking out of the hot water.

* To keep icings moist and prevent cracking, add a pinch of baking soda to the icing.

But the very best part of Pantry Shelf was the recipes. I'm sharing this one from 1993:

Tomato Green Beans


2 slices of bacon
1/4 tsp. crushed basil leaves
2 Tbs. water
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can tomato rice soup
1 tsp. vinegar
1 can French cut green beans


Cook and drain green beans. Cook bacon until crisp; remove from pan and crumble. Cook onion with basil and bacon drippings, until tender. Add remaining ingredients, except for bacon. Heat, stirring occassionally. Garnish with bacon. 

Dawn is thDawn Smith-Pfeifer portraite editor of On Your Table and is celebrating her 38th year with NDFB.