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.
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.