Verona Fuller learned how to cook the old-fashioned way. Today, Fuller’s children enjoy visits home with mom – and the farm-inspired treats that roll of the kitchen in a time-honored way. Pictured (from left) are Verona’s daughter Vicki, son Roger and daughter Bev.
Verona Fuller learned how to cook the old-fashioned way. Today, Fuller’s children enjoy visits home with mom – and the farm-inspired treats that roll of the kitchen in a time-honored way. Pictured (from left) are Verona’s daughter Vicki, son Roger and daughter Bev.
Monday, August 30, 2010

Many families have annual traditions, but not many can say their family tradition has lasted 58 years.

Verona Fuller has been hosting an annual Christmas coffee at her home since 1951. Her gatherings have grown into an event that lasts from morning until evening. Last year she hosted a total of 85 guests for food and refreshments. Verona serves coffee, punch, pastries, breads, cookies, and open-faced sandwiches. She even had guests drive from Kansas City to attend. Verona says, “I love seeing all the people from year to year. It’s fun to do and I love to do it.”

Verona is the administrative-financial secretary at the United Methodist Church in Carroll, and has been managing the church office for over 40 years. She has chosen five of her favorite desserts to share, but says she also likes to cook full meals such as pot roasts and various soups.

When she visits the homes of her three children, she also cooks at their houses. She and her daughters enjoy cooking and baking together. Her son, Roger Fuller, lives in Marion, daughter, Vicki Van Westen lives in Sibley, and daughter, Bev Sides, lives in Elkhorn, Neb. Verona also has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Growing up on a farm near Essex, Verona was the middle child of three children. Sadly her mother, Florence Johnson, died when Verona was six. Eventually, her father’s sister, Verna Johnson, quit her job as a school teacher to come live with the family to become their caretaker for several years. This prompted Verona to learn to cook at an early age. She attributes her skills and love of cooking to her Aunt Verna.

The Johnson Family Farm was quite efficient at providing for a family of five. Verona recalls lots of dishes made with applesauce and many topped with whipped cream. The farm always had a lot of fresh apples and cream to be used. In fact, she says they seldom had to buy any food at the grocery store.

Heavenly Chocolate Pie (Verona’s special Christmas dessert)

Verona calls this pie “terrible rich” and always serves it for dinner on Christmas Day. It is her son, Roger’s favorite dessert and she doesn’t mind making it for him, even though the steps are a bit time consuming. It contains layers including melted chocolate chips and a creamy chocolate layer made with whipped cream and cinnamon. She said it’s so good one can only eat a tiny piece.

Beat together until stiff:
2 egg whites
dash of salt
1/2 t. vinegar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
Spread mixture on bottom and sides of pie crust. Bake 15 - 18 minutes, at 325 degrees . Cool.

Melt 6 oz. chocolate chips and 1/4 c. water in microwave. Add 2 beaten egg yolks and beat until smooth. Spread 3 T. over baked, cooled merge. Chill the rest until thick.

To one small carton Cool Whip - add 1/4 t. cinnamon. Spread 1/2 of this cream over chocolate in pie shell. Fold the rest into the chilled chocolate mixture and pile into shell. Chill 6-8 hours.

Cream Wafers (Verona’s grandchildren call them Button Cookies)

These tiny cookies are a family favorite. Each cookie contains two cream wafers the size of big buttons that have been glued together by frosting in the middle. Verona likes to color the frosting pink and serves them at her Christmas coffee. She uses a pill bottle lid to cut each cookie the right size (about 1 ½ inches across).

1 c. soft butter
1/3 c. whipping cream
2 c. flour

Blend together and chill for one hour. Heat oven to 350. Roll dough to 1/8” thick on a lightly, floured board. Cut into 1 1/2 inch-circles, coat both sides with sugar and place on cookie sheet. Prick with fork. Bake 7-9 minutes. Let cool and put 2 together with powdered sugar frosting, color if desired. They are very fragile, like pie crust.

1/4 c. soft butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

French Pastry

College kids in Verona’s network have long been treated to care packages containing this flaky treat. Each pie crust is sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, divided into pieces, baked and frosted. Verona enjoys baking these crescent shaped goodies and shipping them off to those far away. These little “tastes of home” are packed up in plastic bags and surrounded by plenty of newspaper in the box to protect them during shipping. They can be shipped fresh or frozen.

1/2 lb. oleo
2 c. flour
1/2 pint sour cream

Mix and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Divide into 5 pieces and roll to shape. Cut into wedges (8). Sprinkle with 3/4 c. sugar, 1 t. cinnamon, 3/4 c. nuts (optional). Roll up like crescent roll. Bake 30 minutes at 325.  Pour  powdered sugar frosting over each while warm, 1 t. on each slice. Freezes well.

Peach Custard Pie

Verona says this is her most requested recipe. It is not only easy to prepare, but also a crowd favorite. She has had this recipe for many years and enjoys sharing it at potlucks. It begins with a store bought pie crust, although homemade crust would work the same. The other ingredients of canned peaches, half and half, and cook and serve vanilla pudding complete this dish. This is an open-faced pie to allow the custard to cook correctly.

1 unbaked pie crust
1 can sliced peaches, drained
1 box vanilla pudding (not instant)
1/2 carton half & half

Drain peaches and place in bottom of pie crust. Add vanilla pudding on top, a little cinnamon and pour 1/2 and 1/2 over top. Bake until set in oven 350 degrees about 30 - 40 minutes.


This is a Swedish (Scandinavian) dessert dish, traditionally served at Christmas. It’s not really custard and not really cheese cake. It can be enjoyed it at any time of the year. It is most definitely not a light food given the generous use of whole milk, but it is a treat to be enjoyed.

Verona, her daughters, and nieces get together each fall to make several batches of Ostakaka. They will gather together in October for the annual event. It is an all-day affair and they will make eight to ten pans, plenty to send home with family. This is her brother’s favorite dessert and one is always reserved for him even though he lives in Minnesota. Ostakaka freezes well, so it can be made ahead of time.

There is one ingredient that may be a bit tricky to come by. This ingredient is rennet and it comes in tablet or liquid form. Verona purchases rennet from a meat locker in Essex. Rennet is used to separate the curds from the whey, one of the steps before baking.

Verona and family will use several gallons of whole milk while making their batches of Ostakaka. Since she grew up on a farm, there was always an abundance of whole milk to be used.

2 1/2 gallons fresh milk
6 eggs
2 c. flour 2 c. sugar vanilla
2 c. cream
1 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 c. cold water
dash of salt

Dissolve rennet in warm water. Warm milk to lukewarm. Mix flour with 1 c. cold milk to make a thin paste. Add dissolved rennet to this mix and stir slowly into warm milk. Let stand until clabbered or whey forms, about 1 hr. Cut through to let the whey form. Remove whey by draining in colander. Beat eggs and mix with sugar, pinch of salt and cream. Stir into curds. Mix lightly. Bake 375 for 20 min. then turn back to 325 for 1 hr. or less. Bake until knife blade comes out clean.