The Joys of Country Living and Country Cooking

This week for National Pork Month we’re honoring the Gansen family – proud Iowa pork producers.

Ken and Jamie Gansen farm near Elma, Iowa, in the northeast corner of the state.  They’re two youngest children, son Joey and daughter Josie, are their farming operation’s biggest advocates. Joey simply loves everything about farming, and his favorite role is serving as “resident expert” for all things related to machinery. He’s been fortunate to learn all about the original farm equipment from Grandpa Joe Gansen.  Plus, young Joey is knowledgeable enough to teach his grandpa about the operation’s new technologies and is quick to offer his opinion on what equipment is “needed” to make chores easier or more efficient.

Josie’s favorite thing about living on a farm is having pets. She loves all animals, big and small.  For Christmas last year, she asked Santa Claus for a house dog and/or a bottle calf. Josie must have been a good girl because Santa delivered her a Pomapoo house dog named “Buddy.”  Her second wish was granted this summer when her dad brought home a bottle calf that she named “Tipper.”  I can just imagine how Josie felt when Buddy – and Tipper, too – arrived.  When I was 10 years old, Santa brought me a goat named “Merry” to wish me a Merry Christmas.  Although that’s been more years ago than I care to admit, I can still remember how excited I was that Christmas morning!

The Gansen family wouldn’t be complete without their two Golden Retrievers, several farm cats, three horses, one pony, and a guinea pig. Joey is now in 4-H and using it as way to “plot” (as his mom would say) to add rabbits and chickens to their farm’s animal lineup.  As a kid, I too plotted for rabbits and actually showed California Whites as a 4-H project. (Keep with it, Joey.  Persistence pays!)

In addition to having a passion for living the country life, the Gansens have a passion for country cooking. Jamie has been serving home-made meals in the renovated farm house that has become the clubhouse at Maple Heights Golf & Country Club (, which she and Ken purchased fully in 1998.

The future site of Maple Heights Golf & Country Club in 1989.

They cater everything from wedding rehearsal dinners to birthday parties. With all of Jamie’s catering expertise, I was especially eager to see what kind of recipe she would share with me. She was generous enough to share her Pulled Pork recipe, which is a  favorite at home and at the country club.  Plus, she says any pulled pork that is leftover from supper makes a great harvest lunch for Ken the next day.

Jamie’s recipe is included below. I’m licking my lips already!

What’s your family’s favorite way to enjoy pork?

Pulled Pork



  • 1, 5-lb boneless pork butt (shoulder)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water



  1. Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl and run evenly over roast.
  2. Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker.
  3. Add water.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours or until pork is very tender.
  5. Remove pork to large cutting board or platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Pull, slice or chop to serve.
  7. Serve in buns with barbecue sauce.


Photo from Foodphoria