Rosalee’s rhubarb preserves are a hit with her grandchildren
“Where’s my jelly, Grandma?”
“Listen, Mister, if you want the jelly you need to return my jars.”
One of the first things you notice when you talk to Rosalee Nordhues of Randolph is her beautifully infectious laughter. She has faced her own set of hardships in life, including the loss of her beloved husband Joseph in 2018. The couple were married 59 years. But she focuses on the positive side of life and is sustained by her faith and her family.
The 81-year-old has lived in the Randolph area throughout her life. She grew up a dairy farm northeast of Randolph. She has worked with cows since she was 6 years old.
“We are dairy people. We milked cows all our life,” she said, noting she always worked on the farm right along with her husband, in addition to keeping house, cooking, canning and caring for their family, which over time grew to eight children.
Canning has always played a big role in Nordhues’ life. She started canning with her mother when she was a child. Canning was an economical way to feed the family with what was available. Nordhues preserved rhubarb, mulberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and beef.
“In those days you used what you could find,” she said.
But besides the value of canning as a way to feed her family, Nordhues has always found joy in doing it. “We’re just farm people. That’s what we do,” she said. She likes carrying on the traditions of her family and she thinks that people today could take a lesson from those who lived before. “Those older people worked hard. They were thrifty.”
Nordhues still cans to this day, sharing a lot of her jams and jellies with her grandchildren. A grandson recently said he was out of rhubarb jam.
“Grandma, where’s my jelly?” he asked.
Nordues’ reply was: “Listen, Mister, if you want more, you’ve got to return my jars.”
Nordhues does not spend a lot of time sitting around. She regularly bakes treats to take to the Randolph elevator. One of the men there told her he would gladly supply her with coconut if she ever ran out of it for her coconut bars.
“Whenever you can’t afford it, I’ll buy it,” he told her. “You just keep bringing the bars.”
Nordhues misses working on the family farm, now operated by two of her son, Doug and Marvin Nordhues. The farm has been in the family for more than 100 years. But since moving to town in 1998, she has kept busy with volunteer work. She hosts two days each week Randolph Senior Center, which entails wiping tables, helping to serve food, clearing plates and making sure salt and pepper shakers are full. One day a week she helps cook at the Senior Center. She also helps the priest of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic church of Randolph when he makes visitations and offers Mass at the nursing home.
Nordhues’ rhubarb recipe goes back to her mother Mary Gubbels. She said her whole family loves rhubarb in jelly, desserts, pies, and bars.
4 cups rhubarb cut in small pieces
4 cups sugar
Mix well and bring to a boiling point; cook 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, add 1 small can of pineapple, drained,
Add one box of cherry flavored Jello. Seal in jars.
(For added preservation, put jars in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn off the burner and let the jars sit for 5 minutes.
Then use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars and place on a towel or rack on a counter
that is away from drafts. Do not disturb the jar for 12 to 24 hours. At the end
of the time, check the lids for seals. Refrigerate any jars that are not sealed. Store the
rest in a cool, dark place.)
By Alexandra McClanahan
***Not all of our recipes are “USDA APPROVED” We highly recommend that you follow the USDA guidelines when canning and cooking. Our recipes are all “tried and true”….some are recipes our families have passed down for generations, some are just made up from the joy of cooking and canning, some of the recipes that we use are straight from the USDA Canning Book and some are passed along by our dear readers. With all of that being said – can and cook at your own risk. If you feel that a recipe is “unsafe”, simply overlook it and move on. None of us are, “Canning Police” and we all should respect others. Safe in your kitchen and safe in my kitchen – two different things….We won’t criticize your recipes please don’t criticize ours :).
Make these recipes at your own risk, we assume that should you desire to follow the recipes in this magazine, you are doing so “at your own risk”. We are and the writer is not liable, not responsible and do/does not assume obligation for…..