Promoting dairy is all in the family

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June is a time to celebrate all things dairy. And the Wangen sisters of rural Albert Lea are poised to put the spotlight on it.

Rachel Wangen, 11, is serving her second year as the Freeborn County Milk Maid. Her sister Elizabeth, 17, is the 2010 Freeborn County Dairy Princess. Both are the daughters of Matt and Sharon Wangen.

So far this summer, the sisters have cut dairy promotion commercials for KATE Radio. They also plan to be in the July 3 parade in Albert Lea and the July 4 parade in Blooming Prairie.

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Sometime this summer, Rachel will also visit The Children’s Center to read “Daisy the Calf” to the children there. “Daisy the Calf” was written many years ago especially for the Freeborn County Milk Maid to share with children.

The sisters also are getting cows ready to show this summer at the Freeborn County Fair.

They said they enjoy their job of urging people to drink milk and eat dairy products.

Elizabeth said she likes nothing better than a cold glass of milk and cookies.

Rachel said she likes cheese, milk and yogurt. “But it’s all good,” she said.

The Wangens also use the opportunity to set the record straight about dairy farming.

They said some people believe all farmers inject their cows with growth hormone. “That’s not true,” Elizabeth said. “My dad doesn’t do that.”

They love living on a farm, they said. Rachel feeds calves and the goats on the farm. Elizabeth bales hay, feeds calves and gets the cows ready for milking.

“You learn how to work hard on a farm,” Elizabeth said.

“I never really get bored,” Rachel added.

The Wangens milk about 50 cows, twice a day, currently at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. Recently, they were at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., Elizabeth said.

The whole family helps out. Their sister, Mary, 19, was the 2009 Freeborn County Dairy Princess. They have a brother, Josh, who is 15.

The sisters share the following favorite family recipes using dairy products.

Cheese Soup

1/2 c. grated carrots

1/2 c. finely chopped celery

1 c. water

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1/4 c. butter

6 Tbsp. flour

2 c. milk

2 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. sharp cheese, diced

Cook celery and carrots in boiling water until tender. Cook onion in butter until tender, but not brown. Stir in flour. Add milk and chicken broth; cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cheese; stir to blend. Stir in vegetables and cooking water. Serve topped with chopped parsley or popcorn.

Makes about six cups.

Pistachio Salad

1 pkg. (3.25 oz.) instant dry pistachio pudding

1 can (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits

12 oz. carton cottage cheese

1 to 2 c. miniature marshmallows

1 container (8 oz.) light whipped topping

Mix pudding and pineapple thoroughly. Add cottage cheese, marshmallows and whipped topping and chill.

This is a quick and easy salad to make.