Megan Davis-De Geus (left) and Monica Davis cooking in Monica’s condo in Cedar Rapids at Thanksgiving. Two sisters cooking for Mom and Dad and friends. Monica recently moved back from the East Coast after 18 years and hosted Thanksgiving at her home.
Megan Davis-De Geus (left) and Monica Davis cooking in Monica’s condo in Cedar Rapids at Thanksgiving. Two sisters cooking for Mom and Dad and friends. Monica recently moved back from the East Coast after 18 years and hosted Thanksgiving at her home.
Monday, January 3, 2011

This past Thanksgiving was a first in 18 years for the Davis family of Carroll. All four members, including Mike, Nancy, Monica, and Megan, were living in Iowa and were able to give thanks together.

Daughter, Monica, moved back to Iowa after accepting a job offer in Cedar Rapids. The whole family, including Megan’s husband and some friends, gathered at Monica’s condo for a Thanksgiving feast. Nancy says if someone would have told her they would all be together this fall, she’d have been very doubtful.

Nancy stays busy accompanying for Carroll High’s music department and the First United Methodist Church. She has accompanied for Doug Sweeney for 21 years. She also shares organ and piano responsibilities at church. When she has a break from music, she enjoys reading and working on genealogy.

Mike (who retired a year ago from the Carroll Veterinary Clinic) and Nancy love to travel in their RV. They have explored many parts of the United States together, including an adventurous visit to the canyons of the southwest. Since retiring, Mike rediscovered woodworking and enjoys working on the family’s farm in Nemaha.

Older daughter, Monica, a 1992 Carroll High graduate, came to ride RAGBRAI in July and rode with her sister, Megan, and Megan’s husband, Brent, and other bikers from the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area.

Along the way, Monica connected with a principal from OPN Architects Inc. in Cedar Rapids. When she returned home, she sent her resume, flew back to Iowa for a weekend interview, and accepted a job offer as a project architect. Since leaving for Rhode Island School of Design after high school, she returned to her home roots after 18 years of living on the East coast.

Younger daughter, Megan Davis-De Geus, a 1997 Carroll High graduate, and her husband, Brent De Geus, live in Iowa City. Megan graduated from St. Olaf College in 2001 and works for the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing. Most of her time is spent practicing as a family nurse practitioner, but also teaches at the college. Her husband, Brent, is a mechanical engineer in Cedar Rapids for Square D/Schneider Electric.

Both Monica and Megan enjoy the outdoors including biking and skiing. Now that the sisters are both living in eastern Iowa, they will have plenty of time to spend together.

When Monica and Megan were young, Nancy taught them how to bake and decorate cut-out sugar cookies and she allowed them to do whatever they wanted in the kitchen. She says both girls are both great cooks today.

Nancy learned to cook by watching and helping her mother, Lois Mason, and her grandmother, Elsie Mason, while growing up on a farm in Early. Her mother was a Home Economics major in college and her grandmother used to feed teachers around the 1920s and 30s during their lunch hour before there was a hot lunch program at school.

Refrigerator Roll

This is a basic homemade bread recipe Nancy uses for anything from frosted cinnamon rolls, caramel pecan rolls, or cinnamon twists (recipe follows).

2 envelopes yeast
1 c lukewarm water
1 t sugar
1 cube margarine
2 c hot milk
2 eggs
small tablespoon of salt
½ c sugar
7 c flour (2 c flour, plus 2 more, plus 2 more, plus ½ to 1 c more)
Combine yeast, lukewarm water, sugar.  Let this stand until foamy and set aside. Melt cube of margarine in 2 cups hot milk. Cool to lukewarm. Add eggs, salt, sugar and 2 cups of flour.  Beat with electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture and 2 more cups of flour. Beat. Add 2 more cups of flour.  Use a large spoon to mix in the last portion of flour.

Flour counter surface and add another half to 1 cup flour as you knead the bread. The dough will form a large ball. Place in a greased (buttered) large bowl, grease the top of dough with more butter, cover and place in a warm area. In about an hour, punch the dough down and make into cinnamon twists or place in refrigerator until the next day. Refrigeration keeps the dough from being too sticky to handle. The dough can remain in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.

Cinnamon Twists

Monica made this family favorite at Thanksgiving for breakfast. Her late great grandmother would be proud of her cinnamon twists!

refrigerator roll dough
bowl of melted butter
bowl of mixture of cinnamon and sugar (ratio of 2/3 sugar, 1/3 cinnamon)

Roll out portion of dough with a floured rolling pin on a floured board to about ½ inch thickness. Cut into 1- inch by 3-inch strips. Melt butter and combine cinnamon and sugar. Dip a strip into the melted butter and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Twist the strip. Place the strips close together and let rise for one hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. This recipe makes at least two 9 x 13 pans.

Cherry Pineapple Sherbet

This is another Davis family favorite. This, too, is a recipe from Nancy’s grandmother. This was served almost at almost every family reunion, especially in the summer, but it was also enjoyed at Christmas. The pale pink color and the light refreshing taste make it a holiday favorite.

1 large can (3 ½ c) crushed pineapple
1 10 oz jar maraschino cherries, diced with juice
½ can (small) frozen orange juice
½ can (small) frozen lemonade or ¼ cup real lemon juice
3 c sugar

Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Fill a one-gallon ice cream freezer bowl half full with milk. Add 1 can of evaporated milk or 1 pint half and half. Place the freezer bowl in the freezer for a couple minutes until the milk is very cold. Remove the freezer bowl from the freezer and add the fruit mixture. Follow the ice cream maker directions. This recipe usually takes at least 30-45 minutes to freeze.

Fruit Slush

Nancy has made this every Christmas morning for about 25 years for Mike, Monica, and Megan, except one — and it was greatly missed! The recipe is from a Carroll United Methodist Church cookbook and it used to be served at the Methodist Church Valentine Brunch. Nancy usually makes half a recipe because the following recipe makes 10 one-cup servings.
3 c water
2 c sugar
3 oranges
3 bananas
1 large can (3 ½ c) crushed pineapple
juice of 3 lemons
Heat, but do not boil water and sugar. Cool. Finely dice oranges and bananas and add to sugar and water mixture. Add crushed pineapple and the juice of lemons. Mix together and freeze. Serve on Christmas morning in pretty bowls along with cinnamon twists and egg casserole.


When Nancy asked Monica and Megan about their favorite foods, Megan mentioned this one. The family liked Shipwreck because of its name and shared laughs about a shipwreck. Nancy’s mother passed this recipe on to her.

2 to 3 raw potatoes
1 onion
several large carrots
1 green pepper
parsnips (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can tomato soup (undiluted)
Grease a large baking dish. I use a deep, round casserole. Cut 2 or 3 raw potatoes into large pieces. Cut onion into large sections. Peel several carrots and cut into large pieces. If you like green pepper, dice into large sections and throw them in. If you like parsnips, peel and cut into large pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Crumble one pound of raw ground beef over all vegetables. I use the leanest ground beef. Pour a can of tomato soup over meat and vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake another half hour.

Buttermilk Brownies

Nancy used to bake these brownies for Carroll High School swing choir competitions. The moist brownie is good for mailing to college students.

When Nancy’s daughters were in grade school, she remembers a time when Megan tried to make her own brownies. Nancy was busy teaching a piano lesson while Megan was busy reading the directions for a brownie mix. She asked that Nancy help her find the “oil” in the garage.
The recipe was given to Nancy by a woman who babysat Monica as a baby. At the time, the family was living in Gilman during Mike’s first years as a veterinarian and Nancy was teaching high school English.

Brownie batter:
2 c flour
2 c sugar
¼ c cocoa
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter
1 c water
½ c vegetable oil
½ c buttermilk
2 eggs
1 ½ t baking soda
1 t vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Bring to a boil a stick of butter, water, and vegetable oil. Pour this over the flour mixture and mix together. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into greased, floured jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

1 stick butter or oleo
1/3 c buttermilk
¼ c cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar

Melt butter or oleo. In a small mixing bowl, add the melted butter to buttermilk, cocoa, vanilla, powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Can add nutmeats if desired. Frost brownies while warm. I don’t usually make a full frosting recipe.