The first time I met Adam Rudebuch ’08 was in my English freshman seminar course, “The Spirit of Place.” In the past three years, there have certainly been some changes, but most things have remained the same. He still enjoys English courses with Professor Kowalewski, who has inspired him to choose English as his major without hesitation. His classy vest-and-pants outfits and his soft smile have also remained unchanged. However, instead of his freshman year residence, Burton Hall, he is now living in one of the best town houses with a fully equipped and fancy kitchen. Since he now has access to a new stove and huge refrigerator, it would be silly not to explore his creative culinary talent further and more often.
When I arrived at his sweet townhouse for the interview, he welcomed me with warm greetings and took me into the kitchen where he was cutting a chicken, and using a 1930’s cookbook from his grandmother for some tips on cleaning and cutting the chicken. It was Adam’s turn to cook for the house, and he had decided to make his grandmother’s oven-fried chicken—the epitome of homemade comfort food. The towel over his right shoulder completed the professional chef look, better than any apron could have done. The story of this experienced cook goes back to South Dakota and to memories of his grandmother.Adam lived on a farm in Castlewood, a town located in the east side of South Dakota, bordering Minnesota. About a mile from his house was his grandmother’s old house, where his father was born. Between the houses was a field of beans and corn, as well as a farm with chickens, cattle, lay-hens and hogs. In the summer, he would return to his grandmother’s house rather than his own house after school and would spend his whole afternoon there with his usual “crew” of his younger brother and cousins. Grandmother would be busy cooking dinner for the men who were working in the field. Adam was always an extra hand for her, chopping vegetables or attending the boiling soups.
When the sun came down, the men would return from the field to the house. The dinner was always big—it had to be in order to feed the men who worked all day as well as the growing kids. The whole family would fill up the dining room and bring lively conversation to the table. Adam always loved the feeling of being at home especially at the dinner table surrounded by the family members, including uncles and aunts on weekends.
For these cherished family times, Adam’s grandmother always prepared a delicious meal big enough to feed everyone. Nobody could go back home hungry—at least never after eating at her house. She fed people as if it was what she ought to do, making her job seem easy and effortless. However, Adam knew that the generosity and kindness she offered with her meals were beyond anyone’s duty but from a grandmother’s pure love.
Adam brought the lesson from his grandmother to Carleton. He makes savory meals for his housemate but he also makes various desserts for his friends. “Desserts are at my heart,” added Adam while I was going through small notebooks where he put his favorite recipes together in his stylish, cursive handwriting. The dessert book, indeed, had more pages by far compared to the savory dish book. Dashini Jeyathurai ’08, one of Adam’s good friends and a colleague at Carleton’s Write Place, absolutely enjoys his culinary passion and talent as she shares her appetite with him while baking cookies and apple pies together. Also, Maureen Burns ‘08, one of his housemates, attests to Adam’s exceptional culinary skills, after having become a big fan of his sticky buns and lasagna. “The secret to sticky buns is very simple: vanilla ice cream,” Adam said. Then he recites the recipe as he would a sonnet, “You can get any dough from the store, but the syrup is very important. A cup of vanilla ice cream, a cup of brown sugar, a table spoon of cinnamon, and …” He takes a moment to think, then finishes his sentence “ah, and four table spoons of butter. It’s the best sticky bun you will ever have.” His spirit of Carleton is definitely a tasty one and maybe almost as savory as his grandmother’s spirit at Castlewood.The oven-fried chicken dish will be served at both Burton and LDC dining halls during the dinner hour on Sunday October 21, 2007.
Adam’s Oven-fried Chicken (serves 6)
2 lb chicken (or 6 boneless chicken breast halves)
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. Bisquick
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
(You could cut up some onion and throw it on top of the chicken in the pan before you bake it, too)
1. Cut chickens into pieces.
2. Combine above in bag and shake the pieces of chicken in the mix.
3. Pour 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a 9x13 pan. Place powdered pieces skin side down in the pan and bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.
4. Turn over and bake for another 30-40 minutes.
5. Serve and enjoy.
-Adam Rudebusch is a fourth year student.