I’ve never gotten ready for a 100th birthday before, but I’m having fun doing it this time. So far it has involved lots of good friends and food coming to our house.

My son Bob and Claudeen arrived a few days ago from Seattle. They came bearing a big piece of sockeye salmon fresh from Alaska. They cooked it the first evening they were here and served it with some of the best Iowa sweet corn and tomatoes you can imagine.

I love salmon. It reminds me of our many trips to the Northwest to visit our sons and their families.

I also like Dungeness crab. Bob and Claudeen told me they had been crabbing a few days before coming to Iowa. They paddled a canoe from a beach on Whidbey Island into Puget Sound. There they lowered four crab pots, each baited with a turkey leg. They let each pot down about forty feet into the cold water and tied the other end of the rope to a buoy.

They left the pots overnight, then paddled out in the morning and pulled them up. Claudeen has done this most of her life and was the one who reached in to get the crabs. Bob was happy to steady the canoe and keep his fingers away.

They kept only the biggest male crabs. Nine of them fell into that category, so there was a wonderful crab feast with friends when they got back to their Seattle home.

My son Jeff was the next visitor to come through my door. Both he and Bob are getting ready to join RAGBRAI for the bicycle ride across Iowa. Jeff brings little jars of jam made from huckleberries near his home in Missoula, Montana, to give as gifts to RAGBRAI hosts. I always get a delicious taste, too.

My friend Sandy Harvey stopped by with three jars of pickled beets. I had gotten fresh beets a few days earlier and given them to her. She had turned them into a delicious side dish we will enjoy with many meals.

She also brought several dozen eggs from her chickens. Some of the egg shells were a beautiful pale blue. Others were dark brown, and creamy white. The yolks were rich yellow in color, and the breakfasts they yielded were delicious.

Of course, no visit to Sidney is complete without having lunch at the Penn Drug soda fountain. Jeff joined Bob and Claudeen there for sandwiches and chocolate malts, which they say are the best anywhere.

Friday evening they went out to the sweet corn feast at the Fremont County Fair. The weather was very hot, but that did not discourage the crowd.

Local farmers had provided bushels of newly picked corn. They blanched it in big pots of boiling water, then moved the ears over to a serving table. Fremont County Fair Queen Bailey Maher and her court rolled the ears in butter and offered them to hungry fair goers.

The feast also featured a corn eating contest. There were various age groups for children, teens, and adults. Competitors were given one or two ears of corn. The first to eat all the corn won the prize.

My family brought home an ear of county fair corn for me. Along with some leftover salmon, pickled beets, and a slice of tomato, it was the perfect summer supper.

A few days from now more relatives will be arriving. They will include my son Craig and his family from Seattle and many others.

I am welcoming everyone to join me for my 100th birthday party this Sunday, July 28. It will be at the Gathering Place in Sidney from 2-4 in the afternoon. I look forward to greeting so many friends and enjoying this special time together.


When Jeff, Bob, and Claudeen went to the Fremont County Fair, they had Sloppy Joe sandwiches made by the 4-H. That’s a great dish to serve during summer gatherings. We used to make enormous pans of it to serve at the Methodist Church food stand during the Sidney Rodeo.

Here’s a variation on the Sloppy Joe recipe that you can make for a family or an event. It comes from my Through a Country Town Cookbook.


1 pound ground beef

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

salt and pepper to taste

1 10 3/4-ounce can chicken gumbo soup

2 tablespoons catsup

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

hamburger buns

Brown ground beef and onion in a small amount of shortening. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer about 15 minutes or until flavors are blended. Spoon onto hamburger buns. Serves 8 to 10.

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