Category: Iowa

Is This Iowa’s Favorite Appetizer?

Who would have thought pickle wraps (a.k.a. pickle roll-ups) would be the hot food topic this holiday season? Of course, you don’t need a holiday to celebrate if you want to enjoy some “Iowa sushi,” as I explained to Des Moines Register reporter Courtney Crowder recently.

Here’s the great article from Courtney, along with my take on why pickle wraps are so undeniably Iowan (along with recipes, of course!) 

Is This Iowa’s Favorite Appetizer?

Courtney Crowder , ccrowder@dmreg.com8:28 a.m. CST December 15, 2016

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/entertainment/dining/2016/12/14/iowas-favorite-appetizer/94676550/

My obsession with “Holiday Pickle Wraps” — also known as “Iowa Sushi” or “Lutheran Sushi” — began with a Facebook post.

Just before Thanksgiving, fellow reporter John Naughton posted a picture of a Hy-Vee display replete with cream cheese, pickles, dried beef and a sign noting that it was time for “Holiday Pickle Wraps.” Above the photo he wrote, “Sure sign you’re in Iowa.”

To me, the sign and its gathered foodstuffs might as well have been in a foreign language. Pickle wraps? Naughton’s post should have read: “A sure sign you’re not from Iowa.”

After living in the Hawkeye State for two years, I like to think I have at least a passing grasp on what is Iowan, but here I was simply gobsmacked by pickle wraps. What exactly are pickle wraps? Are these truly Iowan or just a quick appetizer Iowans are co-opting? And, most importantly, aren’t they incredibly salty?

“No, they’re not overly salty,” I was assured by Darcy Maulsby, lifelong Iowan and author of “A Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites & More.

“Pickle wraps are very, very popular in Iowa,” Maulsby added. “So many friends say pickle wraps are the first thing on the appetizer tray to go at their parties.”

Traditionally, a pickle wrap begins with a pickle (obviously), which is then slathered in cream cheese, wrapped in ham and cut into bite-sized pieces. However, there are variations on the general pickle wrap theme, Maulsby said. Some people sheathe the ham with a tortilla and others don’t use ham at all, instead opting for a dried beef encasement. Others make pickle wrap dip, where all the indigents of a pickle wrap are blended together and served with crackers.

“This is definitely a Midwestern thing,” Maulsby said. “You go to Arizona, Oklahoma, California, Michigan, they’ve never heard of a pickle wrap. Some Wisconsin and Minnesota people do know about pickle wraps, but I think Iowans should embrace this as our own, for sure.”

The exact genesis of the pickle wrap — or pickle roll-up as it is also called — is unknown, but Maulsby said the appetizer most likely originated as a modification of an old-world German recipe.

“I think of this as being in the same category as the fried breaded pork tenderloin, as far as its German-ness goes,” she said. “Anytime you have a German community or a place with a strong German heritage, you got pickles and red meat and that is two-thirds of a pickle wrap right there.”

As with its origins, the enduring legacy of the pickle wrap is up for grabs as well. So what is it that keeps Iowans coming back to the simplest of hors d’oeuvres?

“It’s the pickle wrap’s flavor sensation, and it’s a texture thing, too,” Maulsby said. “It does everything a good food should do: It’s interesting to the palate. The tang of the pickle plays nicely off of the smooth cream cheese and salty meat. The crunch of the pickle is in contrast to the creaminess of the cream cheese. As a food, it does so many things well.”

The best thing about the pickle wrap is that it is soeasy to make that even I, a cooking novice, feel confident in my abilities to master the roll-up. Simply slather, wrap and cut. But Maulsby urges chefs not to rest on their pickle wrap laurels, but to attempt their own variation on the classic roll-up. Take something conventional and make it your own!

“There are a lot of fun things you could do with pickle wraps,” Maulsby said, “and no one is going to get too worked up if you tweak the classic roll-up — at least I don’t think they will.”

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Pickle wrap recipes

Here are culinary historian Darcy Maulsby’s favorite pickle wrap and pickle wrap dip recipes. To learn more about her work and other classically Iowan foodstuffs, check out her website at Darcymaulsby.com.

Classic Iowa pickle wraps

1 jar dill pickles
Ham slices 
Cream cheese, softened

Lay the ham slices flat on a serving plate and pat dry. Spread with cream cheese. Place a pickle spear at one end of each slice and roll the slices into cylinders around the spears. Secure with toothpicks. Chill in refrigerator. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Tortilla pickle-ham rolls

1 (32 ounce) jar dill pickles
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened and divided (make certain that the cream cheese is very soft for spreading)
1 pinch garlic powder, to taste (optional)
1 pound sliced cooked ham (I like to use honey ham)
6-inch flour tortillas

Mix the softened cream cheese with garlic powder (if using). Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese onto one side of a tortilla. Place 1 slice of ham over the cream cheese. Spread another layer of cream cheese over the ham. Roll a pickle up in the tortilla. Cover the roll with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours (to make slicing easier). Remove the plastic wrap. Using a serrated knife, slice the roll into about 1-inch pieces or to desired size.

Dried beef pickle dip 

1 package (3 ounces) dried beef, finely chopped
1 package (8 ounces) regular or reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped dill pickles (not dill relish)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Soften cream cheese and combine with remaining ingredients. Chill until serving. Serve with crackers or fresh vegetables.

— Dip recipe from the Iowa Beef Industry Council. 

Savor more Iowa food history

Want more great recipes and Iowa food stories? Check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa” book from The History Press, and order your signed copy today. 

All Aboard! Rockwell City’s “Depot People” Offer a Taste of Iowa History

Eating like a hobo never tasted so good, at least when the “Depot People” are cooking. The savory aromas that emanate from the historic railroad depot in Rockwell City for one afternoon each fall signal that something good is coming down the line.

“I love this little museum and enjoy giving people a taste of the past,” said Carol Hupton of Rockwell City, president of the board of “Depot People” who have transformed the 1899 depot and freight shed into a museum.

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A train rolls into the Illinois Central Railroad depot in Rockwell City years ago.

During the annual fundraiser, which Hupton has helped with for the past six years, home cooking offers a feast at the Rockwell City depot a block north of the Calhoun County courthouse. Guests can dine on homemade hobo stew, hot dogs, homemade cookies, bars and more, with all proceeds going to restoration projects at the depot.
Saving the depot has been a labor of love for the Depot People, a group of about 25 people who want to preserve their community’s history. “There was a time when the depot was in danger of being torn down,” said Hupton, who has been volunteering with the depot museum for 10 years. “People don’t always realize the important role the railroad played to help Iowa and small towns like Rockwell City grow.”

The first railroad to arrive in Rockwell City was the Des Moines & Northern line, which was later taken over by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. The first passenger train rolled into town in 1881.

Rockwell City’s second railroad was the Illinois Central. Surveying the land between Fort Dodge and Rockwell City for this rail line began in 1899. Around 1903, the Newton and Northwestern Line, an interurban line, became the third rail line to Rockwell City. For decades, it brought passenger cars from Newton and Des Moines every two hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
During the heyday of the railroad, Rockwell City became a stop for multiple passenger trains and freight trains each day. Weary travelers could enjoy a meal at the nearby Hotel Brower or various restaurants in town.

In time, paved roads and interstate highways led to increased traffic from cars, pickup trucks and semi-trucks across Iowa and the nation, marking the end of an era for passenger trains. Railroad transportation itself changed as powerful diesel engines replaced the steam engines that once powered the many trains that rolled across the Iowa countryside. “Now the old depot here in town stands alone as a reminder of our history with the railroads,” Hupton said.

rc-depot-hobo-dinner-carol-hupton-oct-2016-lowresSharing this history is important to Hupton and her fellow volunteers. The depot’s fundraising meal offers another way to encourage people of all ages to visit the museum. “Many kids don’t know anything about the history of the railroad in Rockwell City or other small Iowa towns,” Hupton said.

That’s why the Depot People have created historical exhibits in the depot, including vintage photos of the depot, to show the important role it once played in the community. A recreated hobo camp east of the freight shed also helps visitors learn how the railroad influenced people’s daily life in various ways.

The Depot People continue to apply for grants and host fundraisers with meals to preserve local railroad history. A summer car show allows car, truck and motorcycle fans to display their prized vehicles, while guests can dine on pulled pork sandwiches, potato chips, homemade desserts.

In the fall, the depot becomes an informal dining room where guests can enjoy a hearty bowl of homemade hobo stew, sugar cookies, salted nut roll bars and other goodies prepared by some of Rockwell City’s best cooks and depot supporters, including Maurine Zuetlau.

“Rockwell City’s depot is a landmark,” Hupton said. “We’ll continue to do what we can to preserve this local history.”

Savor more Iowa food history

Want more fun Iowa food stories and recipes? Check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa” book from The History Press, and order your signed copy today. 

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Hearty Hobo Stew from Iowa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearty Hobo Stew
4 pounds rump roast, cut up into cubes
Olive oil
2 cups diced celery
1 1 / 2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups apple-cider vinegar
2 cups French onion condensed soup
3 to 4 cups potatoes, cubed and cooked
2 cans diced tomatoes
Beef stock (use as much as desired for the right consistency of stew)
Corn kernels, optional
Peas, optional

Brown the cubes of beef in olive oil. Combine beef with remaining ingredients. Place stew in roaster and cook until heated through.

 

 

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Homemade Sugar Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World’s Best Sugar Cookies
These Amish sugar cookies come from Maurine Zuetlau of Rockwell City.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (can use half butter and half margarine)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups flour

Mix all ingredients. Roll dough into balls to form each cookie. Roll each dough ball in granulated sugar. Press down each ball with a glass dipped into granulated sugar. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies and place on cooling rack.

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Salted Nut Roll Bars

Salted Nut Roll Bars
These tasty bars are reminiscent of salted nut roll candy bars and come from Maurine Zuetlau of Rockwell City.

1 package yellow cake mix
1 / 2 cup softened margarine
1 egg
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 / 3 cup white corn syrup
1 / 4 cup margarine
1 12-ounce package peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped, dry-roasted peanuts

Combine cake mix, 1 / 2 cup margarine and egg. Pat mixture into 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Cover bars with marshmallows. Return to oven for 2 to 3 minutes. (Marshmallows will puff up.) Cool.

Boil white corn syrup and 1 / 4 cup margarine. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter chips. Pour mixture over marshmallows and top with nuts. Cool completely, cut into bars.

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2016 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

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Riding with Harry: 2016 Presidential Election Reflects Truman’s Iowa Revival at 1948 Plowing Match in Dexter

Unpredictable. Shocking. Historic. All have been used to describe the 2016 presidential election, but they also characterized the remarkable presidential election of 1948. Back then, no one thought Harry Truman had any chance of returning to the White House, although he accomplished one of the biggest upsets in U.S. presidential history—and it all started on a farm near Dexter, Iowa.

Bob Larson, an 18-year-old farm boy from Casey, saw it all.  “Harry Truman was a farmer, not a politician, at heart,” said Larson, 86, who met Truman on September 18, 1948, at the National Soil Conservation Field Days and Plowing Matches in Dallas County. “We can thank him for the conservation practices that are now common in agriculture.”

A recent high school graduate, Larson was working construction in 1948 with his future father-in-law. The crew was recruited to help build a dam and pond in the conservation demonstration fields north of Dexter. Larson first saw Truman on the afternoon of September 18, when the president jumped off a hayrack at the national plowing matches and headed toward the conservation area. Truman visited with Larson and his friends and family, who were eating lunch under a shade tree.

“Truman said, ‘What the hell are you doin’ just sitting here? Get your dozers started and get back to work. I want to watch you,’” said Larson, who noted that the construction crews had been told to shut down their machines when the president was in the area. “Truman rode with me on my bulldozer for about 10 minutes.”

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WhenTruman arrived in Dexter on Sept. 18, 1948, he was a 50-to-1 underdog against his presidential rival, New York Governor Thomas Dewey. Nevertheless, a crowd welcomed Truman to Dexter, Iowa, in grand style. As part of his whistle-stop presidential campaign, Truman arrived in Dexter via the Rock Island Railroad, where he was greeted at the depot by the Dexter school band, a parade and a queen and her court. The president, his wife, Bess, and their daughter, Margaret, were escorted to the farm site north of Dexter by a motorcade that included Truman’s convertible limousine.

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Donald Hanson (left of the radio microphone), a farmer from Roland and competitor at the 1948 National Plowing Matches near Dexter, Iowa, was interviewed on WHO Radio. Hanson is the grandfather of Eric Hanson, a television reporter and anchor on KCCI in Des Moines.

Truman came to Iowa to “Give ‘em Hell”
When Truman arrived in Dexter on Sept. 18, 1948, he was a 50-to-1 underdog against his presidential rival, New York Governor Thomas Dewey. Truman’s appearance in Dallas County stemmed from a White House visit months before when Iowa Farm Bureau President E. Howard Hill and other Iowa ag leaders met with Truman in May 1948 and invited him to come to the National Soil Conservation Field Days and Plowing Matches. The president tried to discourage the men, asserting that they’d have nothing but problems if he and his entourage came.

Dewey was also invited to attend the event but turned the Iowans down flat. “Dewey thought he had the election locked up,” Larson said. “The Midwest didn’t like Dewey, because he was an elitist who had no time for Iowa dirt farmers.”

Months went by with no word from the White House. Then three weeks before the big day, plowing match organizers were notified that Truman had accepted their invitation. Once Dewey heard Truman was headed to Iowa, he immediately arranged for a farm-press event to be held on his Pawling, N.Y., farm on the same day as the national plowing matches near Dexter.

While the media focused on New York, all roads led to the nation’s largest farm event in central Iowa on the September 18, 1948. As the sun rose and the mercury soared, bumper-to-bumper traffic soon clogged the roads near Dexter.

The crowd welcomed Truman in grand style. As part of his whistle-stop presidential campaign, Truman arrived in Dexter via the Rock Island Railroad, where he was greeted at the depot by the Dexter school band, a parade and a queen and her court. The president, his wife, Bess, and their daughter, Margaret, were escorted to the farm site north of Dexter by a motorcade that included Truman’s convertible limousine.

Much to Truman’s delight, a huge crowd of 100,000 people gathered on Lois Agg’s farm to watch the plowing matches, see new conservation practices in action and hear him deliver a speech about farm policy.

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President Harry Truman spoke about farm policy before a crowd of 100,000 people on Sept. 18, 1948, near Dexter, Iowa. This was the first speech that was referred to as “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry,” a slogan that stuck with Truman for the rest of the campaign.

WHO Radio personality Herb Plambeck introduced Truman. During Truman’s 29-minute speech, which was the first major speech of his 1948 presidential campaign, he was interrupted by applause 13 times. The loudest cheers came when he referred to the 80th Congress as the “do nothing Congress.” This was the first speech that was referred to as “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry,” a slogan that stuck with Truman for the rest of the campaign.

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President Harry Truman greeted the crowd at the 1948 National Soil Conservation Field Days and Plowing Matches in Dallas County.

Event ushered in the modern era of ag conservation
After the speech, Truman and his entourage dined on fried chicken before heading out to the demonstration sites to see terraces, ponds and other conservation practices. Truman jumped off the hayrack to get a closer look, as members of the Secret Service scrambled to catch up with him.

“Truman was very interested in soil conservation and asked us a lot of questions,” Larson said. “While some guys thought terraces and contour farming were crazy, many farmers were intrigued by new conservation practices that were being promoted by the Soil Conservation Service.”

Truman took off his suit jacket, rolled up his sleeves on that hot afternoon and continued asking questions as he rode on Larson’s bulldozer while the Secret Service looked on. Larson wasn’t nervous as he chauffeured the president. “Truman was just an old farmer who wanted to know practical things, like how much dirt I was hauling.”

The response Truman received in Dexter that day revitalized his presidential campaign and Truman himself. While the polls still had Truman trailing Dewey on the eve of the 1948 election, and his margin of victory was small, Truman went on to become the 33rd president of the United States.

Truman’s appearance at Dexter also helped usher in the modern era of conservation in agriculture. Larson’s conservation work left a lasting impact, as well, since the dam and pond he built in 1948 are still there. His story, along with photos from that unforgettable day, are preserved at the Dexter Museum and on a historical marker north of Dexter.

“Truman made a good impression on me,” Larson said. “If I’d been old enough to vote in 1948, I probably would have picked Truman.”

Explore more rural Iowa history 

Want to discover more stories and pictures that showcase the unique history of small-town and rural Iowa? Check out my top-selling “Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, and order your signed copy today. 

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2016 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

Iowa Eats! Why Radio Iowa, Newspapers and Libraries are Hungry for “A Culinary History of Iowa”

Everyone has an Iowa food story, even those doubters who sounded incredulous when I first proposed my idea for my “Culinary History of Iowa” book. Their amusement, followed by the inevitable question, “Iowa has a culinary history?” quickly dissolved into stories of Maid-Rites, potlucks and more.

The media, Iowa libraries and others across the state have really embraced these stories, too. I was honored to offer book programs and signings at the Ruthven Public Library and beautiful Kendall Young Public Library in Webster City. I was also pleased that the Webster City Freeman Journal ran a feature story on my book, at Pat Powers from KQWC Radio in Webster City interviewed me in a broadcast that has now popped up on Radio Iowa.

Need a fun read or a great gift idea? Click here to visit my online store, where you can purchase copies of “A Culinary History of Iowa,” a unique set of 15 vintage images from “A Culinary History of Iowa,” and my first book, “Calhoun County,” which shares the remarkable, illustrated history of small-town and rural Iowa through the eyes of those who lived it.

 

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Book details Iowa foods

RADIO IOWA NEWS

November 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

http://www.kjan.com/index.php?cat=3&paged=2

From pork tenderloins to sweet corn to Jell-o, a new book is out focused on Iowa foods and the flavors that make the state so delicious. The book, “A Culinary History of Iowa,” traces the popular tastes of Iowans through the years, according to author Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, of Lake City.  “We do have great cuisine,” Maulsby says. “It’s funny. When the book came out, I had some people questioning, ‘Iowa has a culinary history?’ We sure do. I said, ‘Just starting thinking what defines Iowa food,’ and everybody always comes up with an answer.” Maulsby says she’s done research for the book by exploring all four corners of the state and everything in between.

“I’ve been working on it in bits and pieces for almost 20 years in my career as an ag journalist,” Maulsby says. “I’ve traveled the state and met with some of Iowa’s finest chefs and lots of great old-school farm cooks. I’ve seen the spectrum of really awesome Iowa food and it’s been so much fun to collect all of these stories and photos in one place.” Some might categorize it as a cook book but Maulsby says it’s more than that.

“It’s the story behind the things that define Iowa food,” Maulsby says. “Whether that’s Maid-Rites, Dutch letters from Pella, there’s so many fun stories, Laura Ingalls Wilder turns up in there, the Younkers Tea Room, all of these amazing traditions, meat lockers, sweet corn, all of the things that make Iowa food great.” Find the book at the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites as well as at: www.darcymaulsby.com. (Radio Iowa)

 

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Darcy Maulsby is the author of “A Culinary History of Iowa,” which serves up stories, photos, recipes and more!

Iowa Eats: Maulsby pens book on the state’s culinary history

NOV 16, 2016

by ADRI SIETSTRA, Webster City Freeman Journal reporter

asietstra@freemanjournal.net

 

Author Darcy Maulsby will be bringing Iowa food stories to life during a free program Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Kendall Young Library. The program will feature a cooking demonstration with book signing to follow.

“You’ll love this fun, fast-paced program filled with stories, rare vintage photos and surprising recipe tips. Be prepared to dig into the remarkable stories behind Iowa classics like Maid-Rites, breaded pork tenderloins, Iowans’ obsession with Jell-O, and our distinctive chili-and-cinnamon roll phenomenon,”said Maulsby. “I’ll also share practical, proven tips on how to preserve your own family’s history and food traditions.”

Maulsby, 43, is a self-described foodie and home cooking enthusiast from Lake City. She began baking and cooking in grade school while growing up on the farm. She entered many cooking contests at the Calhoun County Expo while a member of the Lake Creek Go-Getters 4-H Club.

“Food writing is a large part of my work as a small-business owner, freelance writer and marketing specialist who focuses on agriculture. I work with clients ranging from the National Pork Board to Farm News, where I often interview chefs and home cooks, create recipe pages and write feature stories that highlight the farm-to-fork connection,” said Maulsby.

In 2007, Maulsby completed the Master Food Preserver course through University of Illinois Extension. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communications and history from Iowa State University (ISU) and also earned her master’s degree in business administration from ISU.

Maulsby’s jams have won blue ribbons at the Iowa State Fair, and cookies have earned top honors at the Clay County Fair. She is also a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge.

Maulsby credits a variety of sources for the inspiration for her new book.

“The stories in “A Culinary History of Iowa” have come from the Iowa State Fair, as well as long-time restaurant owners, experienced farm cooks, candy shop owners and other foodies throughout Iowa,”Maulsby said.

Maulsby is excited to share some of Iowa’s culinary history with attendees Thursday evening.

“Everyone has a food story. Sometimes we don’t realize just how unique-and tantalizing-Iowa’s food traditions are. If you like to travel, you’ll walk away from this program inspired to explore Iowa, where you can sample flavors from around the globe without leaving the state,” said Maulsby. “If you have an appetite for adventure, you can’t do better than Iowa when it comes to history, agriculture and one-of-kind culinary experiences.”

Signed copies of her book “A Culinary History of Iowa” will be available for $24 a copy.

 

Celebrating great Iowa eats

LINDSAY ANDERSON, Kendall Young Librarian

webster-city-freeman-journalWe Midwesterners are known far and wide for our excellent, down-home cuisine. Having only lived in Iowa for two years, I have already eaten enough to be amazed at Iowa’s particular brand of culinary delights.

Have you ever wondered why Iowans cook – and eat – so well, and from where your signature recipes and food traditions originate? Iowa author and Lake City native, Darcy Maulsby, explores these and other food stories in her recently published book, Culinary History of Iowa. In it, she discusses everything from Maid-Rite classics to Iowan’s homemade cinnamon rolls (served with chili, of course). The Library is delighted to be hosting Maulsby at Kendall Young Library on Thursday, November 17 at 6:30pm for a presentation, book signing and cooking demonstration. Maulsby has been featured in the Iowa History Journal, Our Iowa magazine, Iowa Public Radio, and more. During Maulsby’s fun, interactive program, she will serve up fascinating tidbits related to more than 150 years of Iowa cuisine from all corners of the state.  Attend this free event and discover how Iowa’s delectable cuisine is quintessentially Midwestern, grounded in its rich farming heritage and spiced with diverse ethnic influences.

On the Shelf

If all this talk of food has left you hungry, here are some titles that can help get some great, local Iowa eats cooking in your kitchen:  The following cookbooks were recently added to the Library’s Genealogy Reference collection.  While we do not allow these unique cookbooks to be checked out, you are welcome to browse them and make copies of any recipes that catch your eye.

The Famous Old Webster City Cook Book

Curated by The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Congregational Church in 1916, this cookbook boasts only “tried and tested” local recipes, including everything from waffles and pancakes, to salads and corn breads. A fun addition: the past page of this cookbook includes “Discoveries and Household Hints,” a delightful list of tips and tricks from some early 1900s kitchen experts.

4-H & Friends Cookbook

Assembled in honor of the Hamilton County 4-H program’s 70th anniversary in 1987, this nearly 400-page volume is painstakingly indexed, and boasts over 13 sections of recipes. Explore and discover some delightful gems; experiment with recipe choices ranging from “Shoo-Fly Cake” to “Gramma’s Hamburger Soup”.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Anniversary Cookbook

Compiled by the ALCW of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Williams, Iowa in 1987 to commemorate their 75th anniversary, this volume boasts more than 250 pages of hardy, time-tested eats that will satisfy your hunger and delight your taste buds. Try your hand at everything from “Buttermilk Cinnamon Bars,” to “Zucchini Date Pecan Loaf,” to “Highbrow Haddock.”

Try out these locally celebrated recipes for some delicious mealtime fun, and don’t forget to join us at the Library with Darcy Maulsby on Thursday, November 17 at 6:30pm for an unforgettable (not to mention delicious) journey into Iowa’s culinary past.

Order you copies today!

Click here to visit my online store, where you can purchase copies of “A Culinary History of Iowa,” a unique set of 15 vintage images from “A Culinary History of Iowa,” and my first book, “Calhoun County,” which shares the remarkable, illustrated history of small-town and rural Iowa through the eyes of those who lived it.

Voice of Reason: Iowa Pork Producer Dave Struthers Offers Top 10 Tips to Speak Up for Ag

 

With 40 years of hog production under his belt, Iowa pork producer Dave Struthers has seen it all, from pasture production to confinement barns to hoop barns. He’s also willing to help set the record straight about modern pork production and encourages other farmers to do the same.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about modern agriculture and livestock production,” said Struthers, a past president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association who farms near Collins. “Since people often don’t take the time to investigate or seek out more information on their own, it’s important for farmers to offer their perspective.”

Here are Struthers’ top 10 tips to help share agriculture’s story:

  1. Be a voice of reason. Who knows more about the realities of modern agriculture than the farmers who live it every day? “I tell people there are pros and cons of every swine production system,” said Struthers, who runs a farrow-to-finish operation along with a row-crop operation with his family. “I try to offer a practical point of view and provide a voice of reason.” Struthers takes a practical approach when non-farm audiences raise concerns about whether pigs are happy in confinement barns. “What tells me a pig is happy is when it’s healthy and growing,” he said.
  2. Say yes to opportunities. When the local newspaper, area radio station or major news outlet comes calling, be willing to go on the record, said Struthers, who raises approximately 250 sows and also has hoop barns. Along with participating in many media interviews, Struthers has appeared in the Humane Society of the United States’ documentary film “At the Fork” and has hosted international visitors on his farm. In addition, Struthers and his wife, Elaine, have helped with a bacon festival in San Francisco. “Don’t be afraid to engage,” he said. “It’s good to have these conversations and keep the lines of communication open.”
  3. Explain what motivates you. Farming is a multi-generation tradition for the Struthers family. “We’re in this for the long haul and care about our animals,” said Struthers, who has raised hogs since he was 9 years old.
  4. Share your practical experience. This extends from livestock care to nutrient management. “Just explain what you’ve seen and experienced on your farm,” said Struthers, who points out things that are interesting to non-farm audiences, such as the fact that he checks his animals daily and keeps daily observation records of the hogs. “I also explain that swine manure is a valuable asset on our farm,” said Struthers, whose family received the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award this October. “I note that we soil test every three years and test the manure’s nutrient content, as needed, so fertility is managed properly on our farm.”
  5. Don’t hold anything back. Struthers is willing to explain the production practices he uses, from confinement barns to biosecurity protocols to tail docking. “Just be open and honest,” he said. Also, acknowledge that farms are complex biological systems, and there are no silver bullets. When asked about various production systems, Struthers addresses the challenges of livestock production in Iowa. “Pigs outdoors are wonderful when it’s 75 degrees and sunny. It’s not so good in freezing rain or snowstorms. Indoors we can create a consistent, comfortable environment and also provide good ventilation and air quality.”
  6. Be prepared for hot-button issues. Acknowledge that many people are concerned about manure management, water quality and antibiotic and hormone use in livestock production. Struthers explains to non-farm audiences that he only uses hormones when a sow is having trouble giving birth. “I use oxytocin, which is metabolized by the sow’s body and excreted in about 30 minutes,” he said. “I also note that this treatment is similar to Pitocin, the brand name of the hormone oxytocin that women sometimes use to have a baby.”
  7. Use analogies. Linking farm-specific information to examples that non-farm audiences can relate to is key. Consider antibiotic use in livestock. “I ask people, ‘If your child gets sick, are you going to cross your fingers and hope she gets better? No. You’re going to give her the medicine she needs.’ If antibiotics are required to help a sick pig, it would be contrary to animal well-being not to treat that animal.” Struthers also tells his audiences that all meat at the grocery store is antibiotic-free, since there are mandatory withdrawal times, plus packers conduct tissue tests to make sure the meat is antibiotic-free.
  8. Help others learn. Be willing to host farm tours, share information through social media and blogs, answer people’s questions and find other ways to help them learn. “Be proactive, and share what you know,” Struthers said. “Become a trusted source of information.”
  9. Be realistic. Having all the answers isn’t a prerequisite for sharing ag’s story. “If you can’t answer a question, be honest,” Struthers said. “Also, refer the person to Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Agriculture or other resource that can provide the answer.” In addition, understand that everyone may not agree with your point of view about modern pork production practices, but that’s okay. “It’s progress when these people say, ‘You know, I can see why you’re doing what you’re doing,’” Struthers said.
  10. Focus on continuous improvement. Struthers is Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus certified, plus his farm has been part of a site assessment to ensure that best-management practices are being followed. Struthers also works closely with his local veterinarian. “I’m always trying to learn more and improve our farming operation,” he said.

Finally, keep connecting with non-farm audiences, Struthers said. “The more you share agriculture’s story, the easier it gets. “

This originally appeared in Farm News, Oct. 2016. 

Explore more rural Iowa history 

Want to discover more stories and pictures that showcase the unique character of small-town and rural Iowa? Check out my top-selling “Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, and order your signed copy today. 

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2016 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 


dave-struthers-hoop-pigs-sept-2016-5

 

 

Rustic Cooking Refined: Iowan Robin Qualy Embraces Global Flavors

Call her a fusion of culinary creativity. While Robin Qualy has a strong German heritage, she loves Italian flavors. Although she didn’t care for home ec (now family and consumer sciences) classes during her school years in Lytton, Iowa, this self-taught cook loves to experiment in the kitchen. Most of all, she’s proud of her farm roots but takes a distinctly non-traditional approach to Iowa cooking.

It all started with a magnum of French champagne. “It was a gift from a client in Europe,” said Qualy, a court reporter who lives in Lake City, Iowa. “It sounded fun to have a crab fest with the champagne, so we did.”

The event evolved into a seafood fest with everything from clam chowder to crab cakes with remoulade (pronounced “rem-oo-laud”) sauce. “Finding Emeril Lagasse’s remoulade sauce recipe was a breakthrough,” Qualy said. “While it had 18 ingredients, it showed me why chefs’ food tastes so good, because everything is built up from all those layers of ingredients.”

This also inspired Qualy’s passion for showcasing global flavors. One of her favorite cookbooks is Marcella Hazan’s “Marcella Cucina,” which is filled with Italian recipes and interesting stories. Some of Qualy’s creations, including Pain D’Epi, a wheat-stalk bread inspired by French baguettes, can take on a variety of flavors, from Italian to Greek. This offers her customers options if Qualy happens to be selling her baked goods at the Lake City Farmers Market or the Clear Lake Farmers Market.

Qualy’s goal for this winter? Learn to prepare sushi. Through her part-time business, La Casa Cuisine, where she serves as an in-home guest chef, Qualy also enjoys sharing her best cooking tips, which include “reduce, reduce, reduce” to remove excess moisture and concentrate the flavors in sauces, “fresh, fresh, fresh” for everything from herbs to coffee beans, and “healthify” recipes by using more whole grains and vegetables, less sugar and healthier oils like olive oil.

By adding plenty of vegetables, Qualy “healthified” her chili recipe and took top honors in the 2016 Dell Blair Memorial Chili Cook-Off at Lake City’s fall festival this September. “This contest has been around for a number of years, so I knew I needed to offer something unique,” said Qualy, a first-time competitor. “Since there was no meat in the recipe, I used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to add a hearty, smoky, spicy base.”

Sharing her culinary creations with friends and family is important to Qualy, who credits her mother, Marlene Glasnapp of Lytton, for inspiring a love of family, food, cooking and baking. Qualy’s advice to other home cooks? “Keep learning, and have fun refining your culinary techniques. Cooking is a skill you can use all your life.”

Savor more Iowa food history

Want more fun Iowa food stories and recipes? Check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa” book from The History Press, and order your signed copy today. 

robin-qualy-farm-cook-oct-2016-7-llow-resChampionship Veggie Chili

Robin Qualy’s unique chili won top honors in the 2016 Dell Blair Memorial Chili Cook-Off in Lake City this fall.

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup onion, diced

2 cups zucchini with skin, diced

1 / 2 cup red peppers, diced

1 / 2 cup yellow peppers, diced

1 / 2 cup orange pepper, diced

1 / 4 cup poblano or jalapeno pepper, diced (to taste)

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)

1 tablespoons sugar

1 box (32 ounces) unsalted vegetable stock (Qualy recommends the Kitchen Basics brand)

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

28-ounce can garlic-celery-onion stewed tomatoes, diced or mashed

1 can green chilis, diced

2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced

2 ears of sweet corn cut off cob, or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed

14-ounce can each white kidney, red kidney, and black beans – drained, rinsed, and mashed with potato masher

14-ounce can each white kidney, red kidney and black beans – drained and rinsed

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and zucchini, cook about 5 min., then add peppers and garlic. Cook 5 more minutes. Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and sugar. Cook until onion is translucent and zucchini is soft.

Pour in vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, green chilis and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sweet corn, mashed beans and whole beans. Stir well; simmer another 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with shredded extra-sharp cheddar, snipped cilantro and blue corn chips.  Ole!  Ole!  Ole! Yield: 1 gallon

 

robin-qualy-farm-cook-oct-2016-5-lowresCrab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce

For the crab cakes:

2.5 cups crushed dry bread crumbs

3 6-ounce cans crab meat

1 / 3 cup salad dressing, Miracle Whip or mayo

1 / 2 cup red pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 / 3 cup onion, diced

4 shakes of Louisiana hot pepper sauce (to taste)

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1.5 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning

1 / 2 teaspoon salt

1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Canola oil to generously coat surface of non-stick skillet

 

Combine bread crumbs, crab meat, salad dressing, red pepper, celery, onion, hot pepper sauce, Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper, salt and black pepper. Taste test and adjust seasonings, as desired.

Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten. Form mixture into 10 2.5-inch patties. Firmly coat each crab cake with panko crumbs in pie plate. Heat canola oil until medium hot.  Patties should sizzle when touching oil. Fry five patties at a time, 5 minutes per side, or until dark brown.  Keep warm until serving with remoulade sauce on the side. Yield: 10 crab cakes

 

robin-qualy-farm-cook-oct-2016-8-low-resRemoulade sauce

1 cup salad dressing or Miracle Whip

1 / 4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard (such as whole-grain Dijon)

2 tablespoons horseradish

1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 / 4 cup scallions (or regular onions), diced

1 / 3 cup celery, diced

1 / 2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons brown sugar

 

Blend all ingredients, using a blender or food processor with S-shaped chopping/blending blade. Pour into bowl, cover and refrigerate.  Best when served at room temperature. Laissez les bons temps rouler!  (Let the good times roll!)

 

Beef Asian Stir Fry

Brown sugar is a secret ingredient in this flavorful stir fry.

 1 pound lean steak (charcoal steak is a good option), sliced thinly against the grain into 2-inch-long strips

1 / 3 cup teriyaki sauce (liquid)

2 tablespoons canola oil for stir-frying

2 cups carrots, sliced

1 / 2 cup red peppers, sliced

8 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms (one box), sliced

1 / 3 cup onion, sliced fairly big

1 / 2 of a fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, small dice

8 ounces pea pods (can also substitute fresh green beans or broccoli florets)

1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots

1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, sliced

1 can baby corn

1 / 2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1 / 2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (keep fresh ginger in freezer)

1 beef & broccoli seasoning packet (usually found near the gravy mixes in the grocery store)

1 cup water

6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 / 2 cup teriyaki baste & glaze (thick consistency)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Red pepper flakes, as desired, for heat

Chopped cilantro, as desired, for flavor

8 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained, or cooked rice

 

Marinate sliced beef in teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Heat oil in wok or large skillet to medium high. Add beef and stir-fry until almost fully cooked.  Remove and set aside.Add more oil if needed. Stir-fry carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, onion, jalapeno, pea pods, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and baby corn until crisp-tender. Do not overcook the vegetables.

Note: if fresh green beans are substituted for pea pods, slice the beans on the diagonal. If using broccoli, do not add until the very end. Microwave broccoli until crisp-tender. Using the microwave method allows you to control the broccoli doneness, and keeps it bright green.

Add garlic and ginger, and stir-fry another minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk the contents of the beef & broccoli packet, water, soy sauce, teriyaki thick sauce, cornstarch and brown sugar until combined; add to hot wok mixture. Add beef.  Cook until hot and bubbling.

If using spaghetti, stir in drained spaghetti and combine. If using rice, do not combine with stir-fry mixture, but serve separately. Taste and adjust seasonings and heat.  Use red pepper flakes or jarred jalapeno juice to increase heat.  Top with cilantro, if desired. Serves 4.

 

robin-qualy-farm-cook-oct-2016-1-lowresPain D’Epi—Wheat Stalk Bread

This French-style bread can take on a variety of flavors, depending on the ingredients you add. Break off bite-sized pieces during the meal, and freeze the leftovers.


Prepare baguette dough:

1.5 cups warm water

1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1.5 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons fast-rise (bread machine) yeast

 

Add ingredients to bread machine; let the machine handle the mixing and first rise.

 Spray countertop with cooking oil spray. Take dough out of bread machine and place on counter. Let dough rest 15 min. Divide into three portions.

 

Greek Pain D’Epi
2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Greek seasoning (Cavender’s is a good option)

8 Greek olives (Kalamata olives), sliced

2 tablespoons dry Parmesan cheese

 

Italian Pain D’Epi
2 teaspoons olive oil

One 6-inch length of fresh rosemary stripped and chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary)

2 tablespoons dry Parmesan cheese

 

Roll dough out with rolling pin to 14-inch by 5-inch shape. Pour on olive oil, sprinkle on other ingredients to make either the Greek or Italian Pain D’Epi. (Recipe yields three loaves.)

 

Roll up dough so it’s 14 inches wide. Pinch to seal. Place dough on parchment-lined 11-inch by 17-inch cookie sheet (up to three bread loaves fit per cookie sheet). Using kitchen shears, make six cuts at a 45-degree angle to within half an inch of bottom of dough. Position each cut dough section in the opposite direction, keeping bottom of dough intact.

 

Cover with flour-sack cloth, or spray plastic wrap with cooking oil spray and cover. Let dough rise 45 minutes. Place pan in middle of preheated 425-degree oven. Mist inside of oven with water to create steam. Bake for 17 to 23 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Serve warm with olive oil for dipping.

 

robin-qualy-farm-cook-oct-2016-3-lowresChicken Piccata
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to approximately one-quarter inch thickness

Salt and pepper, to taste

Lemon & Butter Cream Sauce for Chicken Piccata

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons shallots, minced

1 pound baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced

1 / 3 cup white wine (Chardonnay is a good option)

1 tablespoon capers

1 / 4 cup lemon juice

1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 14-ounce can chicken broth or stock

3 / 4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound angel hair pasta, cooked, drained and buttered

Parmesan or asiago cheese

Heat a generous amount of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Salt and pepper the chicken; sauté for approximately three minutes per side. Set cooked chicken aside, covered in foil, on baking sheet in 275-degree oven.  Continue sautéing all the chicken and place in oven.

Add butter to drippings in the skillet. Sauté shallots and mushrooms 5 to 7 minutes until browned. Increase heat and add wine, boiling 2 minutes to reduce the liquid.  Add capers and lemon juice; simmer two minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in chicken broth and add to pan. Boil mixture down for two to three minutes. Reduce heat and whisk in cream. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly.

 

Place chicken on pasta and ladle sauce over half the plate, top with Parmesan or asiago cheese.

Serves 4.

This article first appeared in Farm News, Oct. 2016 

P.S. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad you’re here. 

@Copyright 2016 Darcy Maulsby & Co. 

FarmHer #RootedinAg Spotlight–FFA Attracts More Women to Careers in Ag

Heard about FarmHer? It’s a phenomenon that showcases the key roles women play in American agriculture. It’s fun, it’s intriguing, and I was honored to be featured in a #RootedinAg video spotlight on RFD-TV, thanks to Syngenta.

 

Click here to check out my 30-second FarmHer #RootedinAg spotlight video that appeared on RFD-TV. 

Syngenta’s latest issue of Thrive magazine also shared my story in the feature “Open Doors” of how FFA helped me pursue a career in ag. I give the credit to my FFA advisor, Ed Ricks, who showed me the possibilities back when I was a sophomore at Southern Cal High School in Lake City. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, being a girl in FFA was somewhat novel. Now, more young women than ever are involved in FFA, and they are also filling key roles in ag careers.

Here’s my take on this trend, as presented in the feature story and this Syngenta press release:

• Female membership in FFA continues to grow nationwide
• This organization helps women develop leadership skills

These kinds of leadership and communication skills helped prepare me for unique opportunities, such as speaking about Iowa farmers’ perspectives on the 2016 presidential election. See how “stilettos in the cornfield” became a hook when Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed me on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to discuss key issues here in rural Iowa from a farmer’s point of view:

FFA attracts more young women to careers in agriculture

GREENSBORO, N.C., Oct. 2016 – When the 2016 National FFA Convention convenes on October 19 in Indianapolis, representatives from Syngenta predict they could see record numbers of female attendees. That’s because female membership in FFA grew from 26 percent during the1992-93 academic year to 44 percent during the 2015-16 academic year. Plus, females have risen to top leadership roles; this year, young women hold five of the six national FFA offices.

“Organizations like FFA and 4-H help foster leadership skills for all participants,” said Jenny Heaton, head of talent management for Syngenta, North America. “As more leadership opportunities open up for young women, these experiences should provide them with more confidence that the agricultural world is ready to accept them as equal partners.”

Megan Moll, a Golden Harvest® Seed Advisor manager at Syngenta, said FFA helped put her on a path to her agricultural career. As a young girl, she loved working on her family’s farm in Michigan. In high school, she became involved in her local FFA chapter by holding different offices and participating in activities, including the National FFA Convention and a leadership conference in Washington, D.C.

“I’m grateful for my FFA experience, because not only did it teach me organizational, team-building and public-speaking skills, but it also built my personal confidence to be able to talk in front of a large group of people,” said Moll. “Everything I learned from FFA has helped me become what I am today.”

Similarly, Darcy Maulsby worked on her family’s farm in Lake City, Iowa, and was an active participant in 4-H during her youth. But she didn’t think about joining FFA until an ag teacher recruited her. Only a few girls were in FFA then, and her experiences proved to be life-changing.

“I look back and think, ‘They were really on top of it for giving us an opportunity to do that,’” said Maulsby. “FFA pushed me in new directions and really helped me grow with communication and leadership skills I have used my entire life.”

Today, Maulsby operates her own ag writing and marketing business on the family farm, where she stays tightly connected to the farm business. She’s also very involved in Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers and Iowa Soybean Association.

“There are a lot of smart women out there transforming agriculture, and it’s exciting to see that change,” Maulsby said. “I definitely encourage young women to get involved in agriculture.”

Syngenta encourages all National FFA Convention attendees to stop by its booth (number), where they can read other stories about being #RootedinAg or tell their own on a special digital wall. For the latest news and trends in agriculture, go to www.syngentathrive.com.

 

Explore more rural Iowa history 

Want to discover more stories and pictures that showcase the unique history of small-town and rural Iowa? Perhaps you’d like a taste of Iowa’s culture and favorite recipes. Check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa” book from The History Press and “Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, and order your signed copies today. 

Talking “Stilettos in the Cornfield,” Taxes, Trade and More on CNBC

What’s on Iowa farmers’ minds regarding the 2016 presidential election? See how “stilettos in the cornfield” became a hook when Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed me on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to discuss key issues here in rural Iowa from a farmer’s point of view.

Check out the video here. It all went down on a beautiful fall afternoon on a farm near Linden, Iowa. Proud of Iowa farmers who give a voice to rural America!

Explore more rural Iowa history 

Want to discover more stories and pictures that showcase small-town and rural Iowa’s culture and history? Perhaps you’d like a taste of Iowa’s culture and favorite recipes. Check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa” book from The History Press and “Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing, and order your signed copies today. 

 

Very Veggie: Iowan’s Farm-Fresh Recipes Offer Guilt-Free Eating

For a guy who didn’t care for vegetables as a kid, Adam Nockels has come a long ways. Now he runs Iowa’s Raccoon Ridge Farm, which specializes in an array of naturally-grown produce.

“My foodie friends in college, including one who is a gardener, got me interested in fresh foods and new flavors,” said Nockels, who was born in Lake City but grew up on military bases before returning to the Lake City area.

Food production also appealed to Nockels, a U.S. Air Force veteran who used the G.I. Bill to attend Iowa State University, where he earned his biology degree in 2010. After completing an internship at Turtle Farm near Granger, where he learned about vegetable production and community supported agriculture (CSA), Nockels knew he wanted to work in production agriculture. When he proposed the idea of starting a farm on the land his family owns between Lake City and Auburn, his grandparents Dennis and Sheila Moulds liked the idea.

“My Grandma Sheila and my mom, Debby, have green thumbs,” said Nockels, who has 10 acres in Raccoon Ridge Farm, which includes 2.5 to 3 acres of vegetables grown with organic practices. “I also like working outdoors and growing healthy food for people.”

Nockels grows a wide variety of crops, including green beans, spinach, lettuce, radishes, strawberries, kale, herbs, squash, peas, potatoes, beets, heirloom tomatoes and more, which he sells at the Lake City Farmers Market and through his weekly CSA deliveries in Lake City, Rockwell City and Carroll. Nockels’ favorite heirloom tomato is the Cherokee Purple Tomato, a flavorful variety that was reportedly gifted to a farmer in Tennessee in the 1890s from Cherokee natives. “Nothing is better than an heirloom tomato,” Nockels said. “For me, it’s either slice, salt and go, or use the tomato in a BLT sandwich.”

Nockels’ weekly newsletters for CSA customers include a list of produce supplied that week, brief descriptions of the unique items in the box, tips for storing the produce, recipes and seasonal cooking tips such as how to roast chile peppers. Some of Nockels most popular items are his green beans. In 2015, the sandy, loamy soils of Raccoon Ridge Farm produced almost 450 pounds of green beans, so full-share holders received roughly 23 pounds of green beans each.

Nockels enjoys experimenting with new recipes, as well as relying on tried-and-true family recipes, to showcase the bounty of the harvest. “When good food is prepared properly, it tastes better. This is guilt-free eating.”

Savor more of Iowa and its food stories, history and more
Want more fun Iowa food stories and recipes? Sign up today for my blog updates and free e-newsletter, or click on the “Subscribe to newsletter” button at the top of my blog homepage.

Also, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa” book from The History Press, and order your signed copy today. 

You can also order my “Calhoun County” Iowa history book, postcards made from my favorite photos of rural Iowa and more at my online store. Thanks for visiting!

Adam.Nockels.beet.salad.June.2016.1.lowres

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
1 / 4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/ 3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
6 cups fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc.)
1 / 2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Whisk the vinegar, shallots and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season the vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet, and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the greens and walnuts in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad to taste with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop four plates. Arrange beets around the salad. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Serve.

Adam.Nockels.Radish.Toast.2.June.2016.lowres

Radish Toast with Sesame-Ginger Butter
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons minced chives, divided
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
3 / 4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 / 4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
16 1 / 4-inch-thick baguette slices, lightly toasted
10 radishes, thinly sliced

Mix butter, 2 tablespoons chives, sesame seeds, ginger and sesame oil in small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spread butter mixture over each bread slice. Top with radishes, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with remaining chives.

 

Spinach Quiche
1 tablespoon butter
2 spring onions, minced
2 bunches spinach, thick stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 ounces Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 frozen pie crust
4 large eggs
1 1 / 2 cups half-and-half
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium. Add spring onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add as much spinach to skillet as will fit; season with salt and pepper, and toss, adding more spinach as room becomes available, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer spinach mixture to a colander. Press firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Sprinkle cheese onto crust. Spread spinach mixture over shredded cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour egg mixture into crust.

Bake until center of quiche is just set, 55 to 60 minutes. Let quiche stand 15 minutes before serving.

Cover and refrigerate leftovers up to 1 day. Reheat at 350 degrees until warm in the center, 30 to 40 minutes.

 

Easy Kale Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove large central stem from kale leaves and tear into chip sized pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt or seasoned salt. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until leaves edges are brown but not burnt.

Peas and New Potatoes
1 pound new potatoes
1 cup shelled peas
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk or half & half

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Boil potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Simmer peas in boiling water for 6 to 7 minutes, or until tender (do not overcook). Drain.

Using the same saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour to make a thick paste; gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add potatoes and peas to the sauce; simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Serve immediately.

Crisp Tuna-Cabbage Salad
One 5-ounce can tuna, drained
2 cups finely chopped green or red cabbage, from about 4 ounces or 1 / 4 of a small head of cabbage
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shred the tuna with a fork and mix thoroughly with the cabbage. Stir in mayonnaise and yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Eat immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days. Makes two 1-cup servings.

Basil Pesto
1-2 cups fresh basil leaves
2-4 cloves of garlic
3 / 4 cup good olive oil
1 / 2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 / 4 cup pine nuts or walnuts (opt.)

Put basil in blender or food processor. Add garlic, and blend, adding olive oil slowly. Add Parmesan and pine nuts. Blend all into a thick sauce.

This is good over any hot pastas. It can be also added to salad dressing, 1 tablespoon at a time, used as a spread for tomatoes, on crackers, etc. Pesto can also be frozen in small container for use later.

Green Bean and Pasta Salad
4 ounces penne pasta, uncooked (1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces green beans, halved crosswise (about 1 cup)
1 cup canned red or kidney beans, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and run under cold water to cool.

Toss the cooled pasta and green beans with the red beans, parsley, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, 1 / 2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 / 4 teaspoon black pepper. Divide the salad between two containers and refrigerate for up to one day.

 

Mayday, Mayday—The Lost History of May Poles and May Baskets in Iowa

Remember the fun, colorful tradition of creating homemade May baskets? (I do.) If you’re a certain age, you may even remember dancing around the May pole. (I don’t). All were once beloved rites of spring here in Iowa and across America.

In many Midwestern communities, May Day celebrations were a highlight of the year. As I researched my book “Calhoun County,” which showcases the history of small-town and rural Iowa through the eyes of those who lived it, I came across a unique picture. Thelma Basler, a member of the senior class of 1935, was elected May Queen by the Lohrville High School student body. In addition to voting for the May Queen

Lohrville.May.Queen low res

Lohrville High School May Queen, Thelma Basler, 1930s, Lohrville, Iowa

, students decorated the school flagpole in honor of May Day and delivered May baskets to friends.

While these May 1 customs have largely faded from American pop culture, they still endure in pockets of Iowa and beyond, where some of my friends’ children still enjoy making May baskets filled with treats. I started thinking—where did these May Day traditions come from? A little research hinted at something less wholesome than childhood craft projects and school celebrations.

Taming a raucous rite of spring
May pole dancing, for example, dates back to ancient pagan cultures in Europe. Each spring, people would erect a May pole, often of cedar or birch, and dance around it, typically weaving colorful ribbons around the pole as they went, to ensure a fruitful planting season.

An obvious phallic symbol, a May pole was strongly associated with fertility. After the European continent became Christianized, the more raucous elements of May Day celebrations were toned down, but the May pole dance and May baskets survived in a more G-rated form. These customs were carried to America, where they endured well into the twentieth century.

May Day memories from small-town Iowa
In my home town of Lake City, Iowa, Jolene Schleisman recalls weaving ribbons around a May pole in the gymnasium/lunchroom at Lincoln Elementary School in the 1960s. This spring ritual had ended by the time I attended Lincoln Elementary in the 1980s, although I did take square-dancing lessons in

May baskets Jolene Schleisman 2016

Homemade May baskets created in Lake City, Iowa

music class, a tradition that has now gone the way of the May pole.

During my time at Lincoln Elementary, I did get to experience the joy of making May baskets filled with candies and popcorn to give to friends and family. In the 2015 article “A Forgotten Tradition: May Basket Day,” NPR explained the phenomenon this way:

“As the month of April rolled to an end, people would begin gathering flowers and candies and other goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors and loved ones on May 1. In some communities, hanging a May basket on someone’s door was a chance to express romantic interest. If a basket-hanger was espied by the recipient, the recipient would give chase and try to steal a kiss from the basket-hanger.”

In Lake City, homemade May baskets became a fundraiser for the ladies of the Presbyterian Church in the mid-twentieth century. Church members including Fanny Howell, principal of Lake City High School from 1928 to 1935, made May baskets out of small paper milk cartons (washed and sanitized with bleach). The ladies decorated each May basket with colorful crepe paper and attached pipe cleaners for handles.

The cheerful baskets were displayed in the front window of McIntyre Furniture store on Center Street, where the smaller baskets could be purchased for a penny apiece. Buyers could then fill the baskets with the treats of their choice and deliver them to friends around town.

Long gone are the penny May baskets, McIntyre Furniture, Fanny Howell and many of the traditions that once defined May 1 in communities across Iowa and beyond. In one respect, however, I’m glad that some major company has not rediscovered May Day, only to mar its simplicity with commercial baskets, cards and trinkets. There’s still something to be said for simplicity and tradition.

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