Whenever I enjoy food that someone else has prepared, it's only natural I ask for the recipe. Sharing recipes is a kindness I think we all should offer each other. About 15 years ago, I was at a Fourth of July picnic in Gowrie, Iowa, at the Johnson's which I attended with my friend Brandi. The Johnson family hosts an exquisite get together and the parade at this celebration is second to none.
When fall is cold and damp, I tend to bust out the slow cooker far too early. Chili seems to strike on the meal plan at least twice a week and nearly everything has a baked potato under it because I bought far too many in planning for holiday meals. The comfort food season is among us but has been here for a good long while already. Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get out of the routine and back into experimenting and introducing new foods to family and friends.
Fall has been here for quite a while and harvest season in the Midwest has been uneventful for most unless you happen to be a meteorologist or a rain gauge. There have been more soggy days than dry days since August it seems, which have left me more time to organize my kid's schedules, coach softball and give pitching lessons. Once we are able to cut any soybeans or pick any corn, I'm pretty sure nobody will be sleeping and the extras of life like pre-season basketball, flag football and more will be less attended by family because we will be holed up in a field somewhere nearby.
When the calendar turns and the days become shorter and cooler it is certainly an enjoyable time to take in the surrounding scenery. Late summer blooms are beautiful, wildlife is abundant and leaves begin to change colors to welcome the crisp coolness of fall. I have always enjoyed this time of year for the fair weather and the transition from the lighter meals of summer to the hearty, comforting meals welcomed by cooler months.
August has officially arrived here in Iowa which for our family means a lively experience at the Iowa State Fair, 3-on-3 basketball and back-to-school.
Pork is king in Iowa but even I'm guilty of making the same recipes over and over. Summertime and grilling season brings a desire to experiment with flavors and preparation methods that will surely please the palate. State fair time is just around the corner, and there's nothing quite like a glorious pita filled to the brim with bold, flavorful meat and incredible toppings. Shawarma and Gyro-Style Pork Plates are perfect for a fun night in or a casual evening with friends.
"Most people here don't understand farming like you. Don't forget that." Fourteen years ago, these words were spoken to me by the late Ronda Menke, my then advising professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. At the time I didn't realize how impactful those words would be in my future.
My mom makes the most fabulous peach pie. Peaches are notorious for being considered a "fussy fruit" to experienced pie bakers. If you aren't a pie-oneer, then maybe select a fuss-free fruit, like apples, when baking your first fruit pie. However, if you are ready to tackle one of the most delicious pies out there, listen up! • Pick proper peaches: Choose peaches with great color (not green anywhere), and that are semi firm with a taught outer skin. If the peaches have wrinkly skin, they are past their prime.
Spring has finally sprung, melting the snow that has covered the landscape all around us here in Iowa for the past few months. Warmer weather means a switch-up when it comes to the weekly family meal plan. Comforting soups, stews and casseroles take a back seat to the fresh vibrant foods of spring and grilled fare as temperatures heat up and there's no snow to melt off of the grill before using it. In my opinion, there are a few key "ingredients" in grilling successfully.
In early spring, the weather occurring in Midwest states can be described in approximately 1,000 ways. Growing up, it was expected that my sister Tanna's March birthday parties could take on several different forms. She could potentially have the warm-weather basketball-themed outdoor party she dreamed of, or there could be rain drenched thunderstorms moving the party indoors. Some years we'd even have the gift of a massive blizzard that would lay a fresh blanket of snow on the ground for a winter sledding party.