"I cook 45 Meals in One Day!" That headline grabbed readers' attention when opening the July 1957 edition of Capper's Farmer magazine. Geraldine Hagen - young mother of three and farmer's wife in Ayr, rural Cass County - was highlighted in the magazine that month for her cooking skills and kitchen organization.
Her husband, Murlin Hagen, was already working at 5:30 AM. With 400 acres of golden wheat to harvest; there was no time to waste. Back at the Hagen farmhouse, Geraldine had her days down to a science. She spent her 16-hour workdays preparing meals to feed 33 people and packed 12 field lunches per day.
"I am all set now with my wonderful new kitchen and equipment," reported Geraldine to Capper's Farmer magazine. "That is my secret weapon. I can manage swell even in rush seasons with just a high school girl to watch the children and do dishes."
Geraldine baked eight loaves of bread every Thursday during the summer months, storing extras in the freezer. She baked buns and cinnamon rolls as well.
"You can always figure that men will take ‘seconds' of everything, especially meat. The important thing is to have plenty of good, simple food and have it all ready at once! There is no time for delay or fancy food when wheat's ripe," explained Geraldine.
The busiest time in the Hagen household was wheat harvesting time, when Geraldine cooked up meals for eleven people per day. Murlin Hagen farmed three and a quarter sections of wheat, barley, oats and corn. And with Geraldine's organization in the kitchen, cooking for her family and the extra farm-hands was ‘a piece of cake.'
Geraldine served simple meals that ‘stuck-to-your-ribs.' Diners and farm workers at the Hagen household enjoyed meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, lettuce salad, ready-mix chocolate or butterscotch pudding served hot with country cream, wieners and sauerkraut, home-canned green beans, boiled potatoes, gelatin salad and ice cream.
"I find I work most efficiently by myself in getting meals ready for men," said the attractive farmwife. "Supplies and equipment are at my fingertips."
Like many farmers wives in rural North Dakota, Geraldine Hagen spent her days giving moral support to her husband, raising her children and cooking with love.
Dakota Datebook written by Jill Whitcomb
Sources: Capper's Farmer magazine, July 1957. Author of article- Eula Mae Kelly.
Article reprinted in: Our Community- Ayr- 100 Years of Caring and Sharing-Carmen Weyers, et al.