The Belgian families who moved to Shawnee and became truck farmers brought along their favorite recipes from their homeland and adapted them to the foods and lifestyle of their new communities.
It should come as no surprise that truck farmers with fields of vegetables ate a lot of vegetables. Produce raised by local truck farmers for market and home consumption included: asparagus, beets, broccoli, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, dill, garlic, green beans, lima beans, onions, oyster plants, parsley, parsnips, peas, popcorn, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, sweet corn, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, and squash.
Belgian truck farmers typically ate meat and potatoes and veggies for dinner. Lorene De Brabander Rieke said that in her family they “always (had) plenty of fruits and vegetables around the house. My dad’s favorite thing was always a good homemade soup and (he) always had to have a sandwich with it."
At the De Brabander household, they usually had a daily menu something like the following:
Breakfast - Fried or scrambled eggs or oatmeal with homemade raisin bread
Add a Dash of History to Dinner!
Dinner - Soup and a sandwich, lemonade, watermelon
(School lunch) - Homemade bread with headcheese or baloney.
Supper - Boiled or fried potatoes, fried beef or pork, with canned or fresh vegetables. Pie for dessert.
Belgian Fries Frites
Frozen French fries, prepared just as though you had done the first frying yourself, can be practically as good as fresh fried potatoes. To get the full flavor, though, you have to let them defrost before adding them to the very hot oil.
Fried potatoes are sold from pushcarts at street corners in Belgium and eaten right out of the bag.
Source: Center for Belgian Culture of Western Illinois, Belgian Cook Book, (Moline, Illinois: 1978), 94.
- Peel and wash potatoes. Cut them in sticks the size of your little finger. Dry them thoroughly in a towel.
- Have a large pot of smoking fat for frying (suet, oil or vegetable shortening, according to taste). To make sure fat is at correct temperature, throw in a bread crust. It should come to the surface immediately and start browning, but not burning.
- Place potato sticks in wire basket and dip them in deep fat until pale yellow. Remove, cool for half an hour and repeat procedure until potatoes are golden brown. Remove wire basket.
- Shake potatoes in brown paper bag to drain extra fat and serve piping hot, sprinkled with salt.
Hot Pot Stew
- 2 lb. pork loin
- 3 ½ lb. potatoes
- 1 c. leek
- 1 c. carrots
- 2 c. celery
- 2 c. turnips
- 1 onion
- 1 small Savoy cabbage
- Salt and pepper
- 2 qt. water
Source: Center for Belgian Culture of Western Illinois, Belgian Cook Book, (Moline, Illinois: 1978), 51.
- Brown meat thoroughly. Drain off fat, then add water.
- Clean vegetables and cut in small chunks. Add to water.
- Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for one hours.
Potato & Buttermilk Soup
- 1 qt. buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons butter (butter in preference to margarine)
- 8 medium sized potatoes, boiled, drained and mashed without milk
This is good served with rye bread. The number of potatoes may be varied to make a thinner or thicker soup.
Source: Center for Belgian Culture of Western Illinois, Belgian Cook Book, (Moline, Illinois: 1978), 29.
- Boil buttermilk, stirring constantly and vigorously, using a slotted spatula, (pancake turner), with a back and forth motion, and without stopping until buttermilk comes to a roiling boil.
- Add hot mashed potatoes and butter which has fist been browned. Allow to come to a boil again for a minute.
Cook until rice is soft. Mix:
- 1 qt milk
- 1/3 cup rice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon
Serve hot or cold. Good served with brown sugar on top.
Source: Center for Belgian Culture of Western Illinois, Belgian Cook Book, (Moline, Illinois: 1978), 28.
- Place the ingredients in a large saucepan.
- Add above to mixture in saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add a little saffron for flavoring.