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.
The art of bread baking is a beautiful craft that can be passed down through generations. Sharing a slice of freshly baked bread with my grandmas is one of my fondest childhood memories and the reason that bread-and-butter is my ultimate comfort food to this day. There's a complex connection to something or someone that I feel when I push a soft, elastic ball of dough around on my counter top. However, baking bread from scratch isn't the only way to do it.
Winter time game day parties are some of my favorite parties to host. Cold weather, great friends and a decent ball game to watch stacks the deck in your favor when it comes to having fun. Warm weather parties and barbeques have two elements, an opportunity to take in the great outdoors and delicious food. People tend to eat a little less when it is muggy and hot outside so nailing the food aspect of your party isn't as critical as it is in the wintertime, but do make sure your beverages are ice cold.
For many farm families in America's heartland, mealtime during harvest seems to go one of two ways. If the farm isn't pressed for time and decent weather is on the horizon, a "slow-down meal" is in order. Typically this type of meal involves stopping your machine and letting your boots hit the earth to enjoy dinner with the whole crew.
Fall has arrived and grain harvest is on the horizon, and that means a few things in our family. Rest assured there will be an abundance of family time, and now that my children are in school, I enjoy quiet tractor time and an unending supply of country music as I move bushels of grain around. It is an unusual kind of "slow down" for me as the last breaths of a hectic summer slip away.
"Guys, we are getting beat by Iowa on this. Iowa. If nothing else, do it for pride." — Mike McFeeley, regarding the North Dakota food scene's absence of a classic Iowa breaded pork tenderloin sandwich which I read on INFORUM from my Iowa farm home.
Summer has rolled in, gale-force-style in Iowa. More often than not, it seems we skip the true season of spring. Now that it's July, those 90-feeling-like-100 degree days are commonplace, especially if we have activities that require us to be outdoors for lengths of time. This makes for hot kids, hot livestock and one hot mama.
As a self-proclaimed "DIY Dummy," my husband nearly fell on the ground when I told him I was going to practice my pathetic Pinterest-ing skills on the 2004 Forest River Cherokee fifth wheel camper we purchased from some good friends. After reading Katie Pinke's recent column about slowing down for summer, I'm sure glad I did. My kids are at the perfect age to spend some time with no distractions.
When warm, damp spring weather finally arrives in Iowa, morel mushrooms start to poke through the landscape in wooded areas. This brings serious mushroom hunters out of their winter slumber to forage for the finest fungi Iowa has to offer. I'm no mushroom hunter, I can thankfully turn to my brother-in-law Drew for that. He's got all of the special secret hunting spots; he picks, cleans and prepares them. Oh, and he's not divulging any of his secrets.