Homemade in the High Plains Featured Recipe: Karen Armbruster, main dishes category prize winner

Karen Armbruster, of Burlington, Oklahoma, was selected as the main dishes category winner for the Homemade in the High Plains cookbook for her three-ingredient brisket recipe. Armbruster has plenty of experience on the farm and in the kitchen. She grew up in Mississippi, with seven siblings and her mother cooked for the whole family and ranch hands on the ranches the family lived on.

“My older sister loved to sew and make clothes, but that turned out not to be my forte, so I thought I’ll just go to the kitchen,” Armbruster explained. “I loved being in the kitchen and observing my mother. She was a master cook and she would allow me to make cookies or cakes and at an early age I was very fond of the color green and I would grab the green food coloring and I was famous for making green desserts.”

Armbruster married a farmer and rancher in Oklahoma and became an Extension educator; she retired in 2015. During her career, she gave many lessons on harvest dinners, 30-minute meals and meals from the freezer. She fed many field meals while the family grew wheat, but now they focus on their commercial Angus cattle operation. Apart from the cattle, Armbruster is just as busy as evern, even in retirement. She serves as the scholarship chairman for the Oklahoma Angus Association, is a member of the Alfalfa County EMT Association, is active in her church and enjoys being a grandmother. Armbruster also judges 10 to 15 county fairs in the summer and fall and has been a bread judge for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission for the last 20 years. Her three-ingredient brisket recipe came to her as a result of her many years in Extension.

“I was always researching recipes for different programs that I would present. I was looking for meat dishes for harvest one year and somewhere I found this recipe and latched onto it,” she said. “I made it several times at home and it just proved to be a handy-dandy, quick way to prepare a brisket and I was always pleased with the outcome.”

When she’s not judging a contest, Armbruster loves to be home on the farm and help her husband, Alan, with their livestock.

“I just love the peace and tranquility of being out in the country,” she said. “I love the nature, hearing coyotes at night and watching cardinals come to my bird feeder in the winter. I enjoy riding with Alan to see newborn calves and talking with him about what bull sires he’s going to be using next and planning the genetics for the next calf crop.”

Armbruster said she believes farm wives should play an integral part in farming and ranching operations and help with decisions making and that their decisions should count. As for advice to new farm wives, she said patience is the one word that must be understood when it comes to harvest and meals.

“Taking meals to the field is never going to happen at 6 p.m. precisely. Sometimes you have to wait until they finish a field and hopefully things stay hot or cold until they arrive. But preparation is the key to success, so have all the utensils, dinnerware and good dependable ice chests at the ready.”

A large portion of Armbruster’s Extension career was focused on teaching others about healthy meals and benefits of a balanced diet and she still looks for opportunities to teach others, even in retirement.

“In this day and age, we’re a fast, mobile society and too many families are relying on drive-thru restaurants and eating too many foods that are high in saturated fats,” she explained. “I think that’s why it’s important for us to come back to the kitchen and teach our children to have a meal that’s colorful, full of texture and has a good protein source.”

She also gave high praise to the Homemade in the High Plains cookbook.

“I highly encourage anyone who’s involved in agriculture or farming to get this cookbook and have it on their countertop ready to use, because it’s a good source for wonderful new dishes and they’re all unique.”

HPJ cookbooks can be purchased at www.hpjsubscribe.com/cart/.

Three-Ingredient Brisket
by Karen Armbruster, Burlington, OK

Servings: 10
Total Time: 7 1/2 hours

(1) 6 – 8 lb. trimmed brisket

1 package onion soup mix

1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup barbecue sauce of your choice

Trim all visible fat from the brisket. Place in a foil covered roasting pan. Combine the onion soup mix, the Worcestershire Sauce and the barbecue sauce in a small bowl and mix thoroughly to form a paste. Spread the paste over the brisket. Cover the brisket with additional foil and bake low and slow at 275 degrees F for 7 hours. Drain and cover with additional barbecue sauce for 30 minutes. Then slice or shred and serve as a tasty harvest meal with buns and cold salads of your choice. A great
recipe to keep as harvest comes around each year.

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