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More notes from a country kitchen.


By Vicki Christianson

Fri, May 17th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

When I learned how to drive a car it had an automatic transmission. I figured that was the only kind there was. I didn’t know a thing about driving a “stick” shift till I got married. My husband only owned and drove 3-speed or 4-speed vehicles. I believe his comment back then was “automatics are for old ladies”. So, if I wanted to drive his car (the only vehicle we had when we got married) anywhere and not depend on him I had to learn to drive a 3-speed on the floor.

When he finally decided to teach me, he took me out to a grocery store parking lot after hours in Winona (which is where we first lived). We had a very sharp 1972 red Chevy Nova that was his pride and joy! There were no dings, dents, or rust anywhere and he wanted it to stay that way!! He first pointed out all the necessary “gadgets” that I needed to know about and then showed me how everything worked by driving slowly around the parking lot. I learned where the clutch was and that I had to push it in each time I shifted from one gear to the next (why a car needed all these gears was beyond me!!). I got behind the steering wheel and started practicing. I was able to shove in the clutch and change gears but I couldn’t get to the footfeet quick enough and so I always ended up killing the engine! It took me many, many, many tries before I got the hang of it. If I wasn’t killing the engine I was revving it too much!

Finally Den thought I could handle going out on the road! Didn’t do too bad. The first few times I drove around town Den went with. I had trouble getting started when I was stopped at red lights and God help me if I had to stop on an uphill incline!! That was not pretty at all!! I just couldn’t get going fast enough without rolling backwards. Needless to say I avoided all intersections that had an incline for a long time!! Eventually I got the hang of it and drove vehicles with clutches for many years. But, then we moved to the farm and I had to learn how to drive a tractor with a clutch! The tractor had twice as many gears as the car did! Figured shifting a tractor couldn’t be any different than shifting a car, right?? Just get your speed going, shove in the clutch, and shift. WRONG! Who thought up the dumb idea that each time you shift from one gear to the next in a tractor you have to actually stop the tractor??!! So I got another verbal lesson on how tractors actually work. My first tractor was an old John Deere that had a hand clutch. That turned out to be quite fun to drive! Didn’t go real fast and switching gears was easy. Next I learned on a couple of M Farmalls. Was a little harder but still I learned. Eventually I learned how to drive our big Farmalls. Those poor tractors sure took a beating before I finally mastered the knack of smooth shifting! I eventually got to the point where I could drive a tractor pulling 2 full loads of corn up hill and through snow!! I was quite proud of myself by that time! That city bred gal had come a long way!!





Moist Rhubarb

Coffeecake

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

1 egg

1 cup plain low fat yogurt

½ cup applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups raw chopped rhubarb



Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl mix the egg and 1 cup brown sugar; add the yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir this into the flour mixture and blend well. Finally add the rhubarb and stir. Dump into a 9-inch square greased pan. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. Can double for a 9x13 pan.

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