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Today's Farmer recipes are communities in action
By Steve Fairchild

When you make a recipe that's been featured in the pages of Today's Farmer, you mix more than ingredients. You help mix improved communities. Behind every issue of Today's Farmer recipes is a community-based group of testers. Chapters of the Missouri Association for Family and Community Education (FCE) review submitted recipes, choose the best candidates and put them to a test in the kitchen.

As a state member of the National Association for Family and Community Education, Missouri's FCE is focused on family and community. In fact, the national organization's charter is to promote healthier and better lives for individuals, families and communities, especially by building on the strength of the family as the center of a strong citizenry.

There are about 1,300 FCE members in Missouri. Betty Schalk, president for the state organization, said that testing recipes for Today's Farmer fits the group's mission in a couple of ways. For one, when recipes are tested, FCE members in a region of the state get together as a community. Some chapters use the testing event as a meeting, some as a way to make money to fund other community-based projects.

"Some chapters use testing as a fund raiser," said Schalk. "They donate the ingredients and invite the community to be part of the testing."

Recipe testing also fits the group's mission to focus on family health and nutrition. "We like to point out the heart-healthy recipes," said Schalk. "One of our recent emphases has been called 'balancing act.' We focus on the small things, like nutrition, that can add up to make a big difference for a family."

Schalk has been in FCE for 25 years and said that the organization has helped her to build leadership skills; she's gone from shy to being able to address her peers in public settings.

She said the average FCE member in Missouri is 55 to 60 years old. And they're obviously civic minded. Through guidelines provided by the national FCE, state chapters choose areas to focus upon with specific projects. Missouri chapters head up projects that promote literacy, develop members' leadership skills, support children through advocacy and expand members' world view.

Schalk said that this year chapters are promoting homeland security by increasing awareness of actions that can be taken on a local level. But they're not circling the wagons in this post-September 11 world.

"One thing we're doing is studying Tasmania, Australia, this year. It's host of the next Association of Country Women of the World meeting. There's 9 million members worldwide (FCE members included). We have an international meeting there in 2004."

FCE puts Cajun to the test...


1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2   cup green onions, chopped
1/2   cup green pepper, chopped
1/2   cup onion, chopped
4   oz. cubed ham
3   tbls. butter
5   cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
3   (14.5 oz.) cans tomatoes
1/2   tsp. cayenne powder
2   bay leaves
1/2   tsp. salt
1/2   tsp. pepper
3   cups hot water
16   oz. small frozen shrimp, washed and drained
3   chicken bouillon cubes
2   cups of uncooked rice

Simmer first 5 ingredients in 3 tbls. butter until soft. Add tomatoes and spices. Dissolve bouillon cubes in 3 cups hot water and add to first mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes then add rice. Cook until rice is tender and liquid has boiled away. Add shrimp; cook 10 minutes more and serve. Yields 4 to 6 servings. Mary Woodfin, Puxico, Mo.

Cajun Shrimp Creole

1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4   cup green pepper, chopped
1/2   cup green pepper, chopped
1   clove garlic, minced
1   tbls. Cajun seasoning
2   tbls. vegetable oil
1   lb. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1   (10 3/4 oz.) can tomato soup
1/2   soup can of water
1   tsp. lemon juice
4   cups cooked rice

Cook onions, green peppers, garlic and Cajun seasoning in oil in a 10-inch skillet, over medium-high heat, for 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Add shrimp. Stirring often, cook 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Add soup, water and lemon juice. Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot rice. Yields 4 servings. Marlo Bockting Morrison, Mo.

Cajun Burgers

1 large green pepper, chopped
1   large onion, chopped
6   green onions, thinly sliced
1   egg
2   tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1   tbls. soy sauce
1   tbls. dry bread crumbs
1   tbls. cream cheese, softened
1/4   tsp. cornstarch
1/4   tsp. seasoned salt
1/4   tsp. thyme
1/4   tsp. salt
1/4   tsp. pepper
1/4   tsp. ground mustard
1/4   tsp. hot pepper sauce
2   lbs. ground beef
8   hamburger buns

In a bowl, combine first 15 ingredients. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 8 patties. Pan fry, grill or broil until done or no longer pink. Serve on buns. Yields 8 servings. Arlene Schmiedeskamp, Quincy, Ill.

  MARCH 2003
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