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Celebrating the Abundance of Iowa’s Local Foods, Season by Season Number 17 Harvest, 2010
IOWA RIVER VALLEY®
Member of Edible Communities www.EdibleIowa.com
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All of us at Edible Iowa are proud to call these folks our Friends. ey understand the importance of supporting local farms, local food, and the local economy. Be sure to visit the eiFriends listed here, and thank them for supporting local, sustainable food and Edible Iowa River Valley. You can also follow many of them via Edible’s regular posts on Facebook and Twitter. To join the growing list of eiFriends, please contact us at 319.337.7885 or Kim@EdibleIowa.com El Banditos—pg. 30 Bur Oaks Farm—pg. 30 Cafe del Sol Roasting—pg. 21 Classic Smiles—pg. 4 Colony Inn—pg. 21 Cook-oﬀ for a Cure—pg. 26 Devotay—pg. 36 Edible Bazaar—pg. 23 Edible Marketplace—pg. 35 e Englert eatre—pg. 26 Fireside Winery—pg. 21 Field to Family—pgs. 17-20 Freighthouse Farmers Market—pg. 21 Hills Bank—pg. 26 Iowa City Farmers Market—pg. 4 Jasper Winery—pg. 27 John’s Grocery—pg. 21 L. May—pg. 33 La Reyna—pg. 25 Local Heroes—pg. 27 Locally Grown—pg. 4 Madhouse Brewing—pg. 21 MidWestOne Bank—pg. 29 Mote Wealth Management—pg. 21 Motley Cow—pg. 13 New Pioneer Co-op—pg. 33 Oneota Community Co-op—pg. 30 Peace Tree Brewing—pg. 27 Pepper Sprout—pg. 29 Pet Central Station—pg. 16 Robinson Family Wellness—pg. 26 Rubaiyat—pg. 25 Scattergood—pg. 33 Seed Savers Exchange—pg. 36 Share Wine Lounge—pg. 30 Tassel Ridge Winery—pg. 2 Templeton Rye—pg. 30 Terri Wiebold—pg. 26 University Lecture Committee—pg. 33 USA Pears—pg. 6
5 6 7 8 16 22 23 27 28 34 Grist for the Mill Canned Goods Season to Season Pear Chutney Back of the House Detrás de la Casa—By Brian Morelli Behind Closed Doors Eating with Style—By Rob Cline Buy Fresh Buy Local Update Stocking the Pantry—By Elizabeth Brown Notables Food News & Tidbits from Around the State Edible Bazaar One Stop Shopping for the Best in Local Businesses Vote for Your Local Heroes The 99 Scott County Divide—By Brandi Janssen The Last Word Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Put’em Up!—By Kurt Michael Friese
9 10 An Open Letter to the People of Iowa An Appeal for Your Vote for Secretary of Agriculture—By Francis icke The Purple Time Enjoying Wild Berries and Fruits of Iowa—By eresa Marrone Outstanding in their Fields Practical Farmers of Iowa Gives Producers New Ways to Network—By Renee Brincks Sauces Full of Secrets—By Tim Rask Field to Family A Special Program Section for is Year’s Festival of Local Foods WHAT Is They Feedin’ Our Kids? Q&A with Break-Beat Poet Idris Goodwin—By Katie Roche Welcome to the Good Burger Short’s Burger & Shine Brings Local Food - and Beer Down to Earth—By Stephanie Catlett
On the cover: Canned Goods - Painting by Beppie Weiss
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IOWA RIVER VALLEY ®
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & PUBLISHER Kurt Michael Friese MANAGING EDITOR Kim McWane Friese CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Christine Cuda WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Renee Brincks Elizabeth Brown Matt Butler Stephanie Catlett Rob Cline Luke Gran Brandi Janssen Teresa Marrone Brian Morelli Lisa Phillips John Photos Tim Rask Katie Roche Francis Thicke Sherri Brooks Vinton
DESIGNED BY Kurt Michael Friese CONTACT US Edible Iowa River Valley 22 Riverview Drive, NE Iowa City, Iowa 52240-7973 Telephone: 319.337.7885 www.EdibleIowa.com — info@EdibleIowa.com CUSTOMER SERVICE Edible Iowa River Valley takes pride in providing its subscribers with fast, friendly service. Subscribe • Give a Gift • Buy an Ad www.EdibleIowa.com — info@EdibleIowa.com
Edible Iowa River Valley is published with the seasons by River Valley Press, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscription rate is $28 annually. No part of this publication may be used in any form without written permission from the publisher. ©2010. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings, and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.
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grist for the mill
Dear Eater, We’ve got a jam-packed harvest issue here so we’ll just get right to it. First oﬀ, proper respect to Iowa City artist Beppie Weiss for the wonderful painting that graces the cover as we kick oﬀ our fifth year (!) of bringing you the best local food and food news in the state. Lots of new stuﬀ this go - new departments and new writers. Check out our two new series: Season to Season, a recipe ready to be made right now; and Edible Bazaar, our new “classified ads,” bringing you the best in Iowa’s locally owned businesses. New writers include Elizabeth Brown with the return of the Buy Fresh - Buy Local Update; Brandi Janssen takes the baton for our ongoing county-by-county series e 99; and Stephanie Catlett has a portrait of the great Iowa City burger joint Short’s Burger and Shine. We’ve a couple guests in our midst as well. Edible Iowa has never before made any sort of political endorsement, but we knew when Francis icke announced his candidacy for Secretary of Agriculture we had to get behind him. In his open letter on page nine, you can see why. We also have a recipe from Sherri Brook’s Vinton’s new book Put’em Up in our new Season to Season section (and it’s profiled in e Last Word), and even more from wild food forager Teresa Marrone from her new book Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. All our usual suspects are here too. Brian and Rob return on their usual beats (Back of the House and Behind Closed Doors, respectively). Renee Brincks is back with a story on Practical Farmers of Iowa, and Tim Rask returns and gets all saucy on us. Dig in, we hope you enjoy. And please don’t forget to visit the eiFriends listed on page three, they all support local food and make Edible Iowa possible. We have lots of new ones too, so please support them! With Relish,
PS: We are all over the Internet, with active streams on Twitter and Facebook, as well as our fantastic new podcast, e Blue Plate Special, on www.EdibleRadio.com, starring Kurt and his sister Christine. Tune In, Turn On, Eat Up!
Harvest season is upon us, so that means it’s
See what’s growing in Iowa all year long.
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Season to Season
It’s harvest time, which means time to Put’em Up! is season’s recipe comes from the author of the book by that name, Sherri Brooks Vinton. You can read all about her new book on page 34, and (even better), you can meet the author and see her demonstrate this very recipe at the Iowa City Farmers Market September 4th, as well as during this year’s Field to Family celebration (more on that on pages 17-20) is chutney is a natural companion for Indian dishes or “low-and-slow” recipes, such as pot roast or baked ham.
4 cups chopped pears (4–6 pears) 2 cups apple cider vinegar 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed 1 cup finely chopped onions 1 cup golden raisins 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons ground allspice 1 teaspoon salt Combine the pears, vinegar, brown sugar, onions, raisins, ginger, garlic, allspice, and salt in a large nonreactive saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. To Preserve Refrigerate: Ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Can: Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 15 minutes. Turn oﬀ heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Makes about 5 pints
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Back of the House
Story & Photo By Brian Morelli
Detrás de la Casa
The secret to jarring is to cook the sauce to 200 degrees, pour it in the jar hot, screw on a lid with a seal and flip it over to rest upside down for about an hour and a half. Sealed like this, the salsa has a shelf life of three and a half years, Sueppel-Lansdon said. The salsa must be refrigerated after opening, and the cheese sauces, beans and dip need to be refrigerated at all times. They make about 252 jars of salsa a day, and it remains their most popular item. “I go into Hy-Vee and the store manager shows me a list of all 350 Mexican items they stock on the shelves, and we are usually No. 1,” brother Bart Sueppel said. “So, they tell their friends.” Word of mouth has helped spread La Casa across the state. Sueppel makes the deliveries all over Iowa and into Illinois. His territory is Des Moines to the west, Mt. Pleasant to the south, Charles City to the north and Milan, Ill. to the east. He put 151,000 miles on his truck in two years. The products are found in Hy-Vees, Wal-Marts, Dahl’s, and numerous mom and pop shops, such as Jack and Jill’s in West Branch, co-ops such as New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City and Coralville, and health food stores, such as Campbell’s in Des Moines. “The stores say everyone loves it,” Sueppel-Lansdon said. “It’s the flavoring; it’s not too spicy and not too hot.” Despite the volume, they chop off the stems of each jalapeño by hand. “It’s all natural,” she said. “There isn’t a company around that cuts the stems of the peppers.” Many people are surprised to learn vinegar is not used either, she said. All agree that they could get bigger, but they want to keep the handson approach both in making the products and in how it is distributed. Meanwhile, mom Mercy, misses feeding people in her restaurant but enjoys knowing people are still enjoying her family recipes, and she still tests the products to make sure they taste the way she remembers them. “If it ain’t good enough for me, it ain’t good enough for them,” she proclaimed.
It all started with mom’s recipes. Mercy Sueppel, born into a Spanish family in San Antonio, fed her kids the same spicy dishes she was raised on, her parents and grandparents ate as children, and the same meals that lined the menu at her family-run restaurant for 25 years. The enchiladas, the fajitas, the refried beans and, of course, the salsa, were staples for the Sueppel family and La Casa restaurant. Growing up, and even today, “the salsa is always on the table” in the Sueppel house, no matter what’s on the menu, steak, eggs, potatoes, you name it, papa Bob Sueppel said. It was the same at the restaurant, and on Sundays when La Casa, which translates to “the house”, remained closed, customers could buy it in jars in advance and have it at their home. Back when the jarring operation first began, in 1989, Mercy Sueppel would get started at the crack of dawn. By 5 a.m., she was heating up the salsa, stirring and then ladling it into jars --- all by hand --- in order to finish the job before the restaurant kitchen workers arrived. For years, the jarring happened right out of the old restaurant on Gilbert Court in Iowa City. As they began distributing to local grocery stores, such as Hy-Vee and smaller mom and pop shops, the demand grew, and soon four cases of salsa by hand was no longer sufficient. Over the years, they accumulated equipment to simplify and speed up the process. By 2009, the children had grown and nights and weekends became a chore, so they closed the restaurant, which they had opened in 1984, and decided to focus full time on manufacturing. “We were a very successful restaurant but we knew it was time to open a new door,” daughter Laura Sueppel-Lansdon said. Still working as a family, the Sueppels work out of a new warehouse space on the outskirts of Iowa City. The shop is outfitted with a number of heavy-duty tools: an industrial kettle that can simmer several dozen gallons of salsa at a time, a pushpedal faucet for filling jars, plenty of space for prepping the ingredients, multiple stations for other jobs. The manufacturing is not just about salsa either. Once the restaurant closed they added more products. Sold under the brand La Casa, the Sueppels jar the salsa, “Salsa Caliente,” a white cheese sauce, a yellow cheese sauce, enchilada sauce and refried beans. Other products include tortilla chips, (which are sliced, fried, dried and packaged at the warehouse) a Mexican dip, and three kinds of seasoning – taco, red and fajita.
Mercy’s green Chili Salsa
8 fresh jalapeños and 1 ha1/2 cup fine diced red onionbanero (either fine chopped or Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime. blended in a food procesSalt to taste. Optional cubed avocado. sor)1/3 bunch chopped cilantro. Simply combine all ingredients and refrigerate.
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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Eating with Style
Story and Photo By roB Cline
If I’d had my druthers, I’m not sure the refrigerator is the space I would have most liked to investigate at the Cedar Rapids home of Melonie and Greg Stoll. My first choice might have been wherever Greg, owner of Skippy’s Custom Tile, keeps his hats. See, Greg Stoll is a man who can wear a hat. We’re not talking about baseball caps or floppy fishing hats, but rather the sort of lids that would have done Sinatra’s haberdasher proud. It’s a sartorial feat made all the more impressive by the complete impossibility of imagining Greg in one of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ impeccable suits. Greg is a man who makes contrasts work. I’ve known Melonie for years and years, having been friends with her older sister since high school, and I’m pleased now to count both sisters among my friends. Melonie is a wizard with all variety of fabric and her personal style offers a neo-hippie vibe in contrast with Greg’s modified hipster style. Despite the couple’s height differential—Greg seems to have been allotted an extra portion of inches while Melonie may have been deprived of her fair share—each seems a perfect fit for the other. So would I find harmonious contrasts on display in their Frigidaire? And would I discover some exotic foodstuff that might be linked to Greg’s success with hats? Well, not really. But there was quite a bit of fruit. Not the usual leftovers From fresh fruit to homemade jam “We are a fruit family,” says Greg, and the contents of the refrigerator back him up. There are strawberries and grapes (both green and red) and apples and watermelon. While we chat, the couple’s adorable young daughters, Irish and Lily, will share some grapes and Lily will return for an organic banana. Whether as a dessert or as a snack, fruit is the girls’ favorite choice. Fruit also appears in the form of homemade jams in the Stoll fridge. Greg’s mom grows an array of fruit—raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and grapes—and makes the jams. “She makes the best currant. I don’t know what currant is—but it’s the best,” says Melonie. Speaking of growing things The Stolls have a garden of their own in their backyard, and they often supplement what they grow with fresh produce from the Farmers’ Market. They grow cucumbers and zucchini (though it seems only one or the other thrives each year), tomatoes, and peppers. The last are something of a frustration. “I’m going to have, like, two hot peppers this year,” says Greg. And Greg likes things hot, hot, hot. A number of little bottles are on display in the Stoll refrigerator. “We like hot sauce, in case you couldn’t tell,” says Greg. “That’s one of my favorite things in the world.” Even without the ribs, however, it was clear that the Stoll family fridge can most always offer up a tasty meal. In keeping with the theme of spiciness, Melonie explains that there are usually Mexican leftovers from homemade meals in the refrigerator. “That’s the one thing everyone can agree on,” says Greg. On the afternoon of my visit, however, there were instead leftovers from the Gyro Hut, a local establishment not far from the Stoll’s home. The restaurant serves up plenty of food at an affordable price. That day’s lunch had cost just a smidgen over $20 and there were still plenty of leftovers. “The gyros, you can’t even close them, there’s so much meat,” There was also a baggy of leftover ribs from a family barbeque held the evening before. Greg did a bit of wheedling to acquire them, telling his host, “It must be nice to have a great lunch to take to work on Monday.” Recently, he was pleased to be able to replace something he thought he might have to do without. His brother had brought him a habanero sauce from Mexico, and he was not happy when he finished up his supply. “It was really hot with a real nice flavor.” He was thrilled to find the same sauce—El Yucateco—in La Salsita, a local Mexican grocery store. After all that hot sauce… There are a variety of things to drink in the fridge, and an impressive array of containers from which to drink in the freezer. Though they were out of both at the time of my visit, Melonie says the family is a fan of almond milk and vanilla soy milk. There were a couple of Minute Maid products—pink lemonade and berry punch—thanks to a recent sale at Hy-Vee. I also spotted a two liter bottle of RC Cola. “I believe RC is the best cola to go with rum,” Greg explains. The Stolls also enjoy a variety of beers (no light beer, please). In the fridge at the time of my visit were bottles of Fat Tire Amber Ale and Smithwick’s Irish Ale. And inside the freezer? “That’s our frosty mug shelf,” Greg says as we survey the varied landscape of drinking glasses.
A couple of the Stoll’s Faves... La Salsita 700 1st Ave NW, Cedar Rapids 319.3659733 Gyro Hut 1455 Mount Vernon Rd SE Cedar Rapids 319.364.1959
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Secretary of Agriculture Candidate Francis icke and his wife Susan, with one of their herd of Jersey cows. is particular mama cow was featured on the cover of Edible Iowa River Valley issue #7 with her then 4-hour-old calf.
Photo by Lisa Phillips
An Open letter to the People of Iowa
From Secretary of Agriculture Candidate Francis Thicke
Iowa agriculture will need to change if it is to thrive in these changing times. The good news is that there are exciting solutions for all these challenges. We can: Make Iowa’s landscape more resilient to flooding and keep Iowa’s rich soils and fertilizer nutrients from washing into our rivers by increasing landscape diversity with more perennial and cover crops. Grow a lot more of the $8 billion worth of food we eat in Iowa each year. Locally-grown food can be fresher, safer and healthier, and will provide jobs in rural Iowa. Re-establish local control over CAFOs, and regulate them to protect our air and water quality, and the health, quality of life, and property values of Iowans. Install farmer-owned, mid-sized wind turbines on farms across Iowa, to power farms, and help to power the rest of Iowa with distributed electrical power. With feed-in tariff policies, we can make them an affordable and attractive option for Iowa farmers. Make Iowa farms more energy self-sufficient and put more biofuel profits in farmers’ pockets by refocusing Iowa’s biofuel investment on new technologies allowing farmers to produce biofuels on the farm to power agriculture, using sustainable cropping systems. End predatory practices of corporate monopolies that are stealing the profits of Iowa’s family farmers. We need Teddy Roosevelt-style trust busting to restore competition to agricultural markets. To meet the challenges of the 21st Century will require new vision and leadership. Iowa agriculture could lead Iowa and the nation to a new economy based on sustainable, renewable energy; environmentally sound farming systems; and thriving rural communities. I believe that a major role of the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture should be to provide vision and leadership for Iowa agriculture. That is what I intend to do if elected. I would appreciate your support. Editor’s Note: Election Day is November 2nd. When you vote, please remember the importance of the local foods and farms you love.
I am running for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture because Iowa agriculture is facing major challenges that we are currently not prepared to meet. We also have some great opportunities on the horizon that we could take advantage of to help us meet those challenges. Iowa has a proud tradition as a leader in agriculture. The Iowa prairies left us with some of the richest, deepest soils in the world. We have a good climate for crop production. And we have a strong tradition of hard-working people. All of these things have made Iowa an agricultural powerhouse, a shining jewel among agricultural states. But now we are in a time of great change: Climate scientists tell us that our climate is changing, and we should expect a growing frequency of extreme weather events. Our dominant cropping systems in Iowa are not resilient enough to withstand such weather extremes. Our agriculture is highly dependent on cheap fossil fuels in a world of escalating fossil-fuel prices. Without cheap oil, our current agriculture and food system becomes imperiled and may fail us. Yet, we are oblivious to how we are going to power Iowa agriculture in the future. We are making ethanol for cars driving on highways, but are not securing the energy future of agriculture. Our environment has been compromised by farming practices of the past. Since we began cropping Iowa’s soils, half of our original topsoil has been lost or moved by erosion. And, half of our soil organic matter has been lost. We have water quality problems in Iowa that agriculture must take some responsibility for. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are a source of great divisiveness in rural Iowa, compromising our air and water quality, our property values, our quality of life, and even the health of Iowa citizens. Agribusiness corporations are monopolizing ag markets and stealing profits from Iowa farmers. Economists tell us that when four or fewer corporations control 40 percent or more of a market, that market begins to function like a monopoly. We far exceed 40 percent concentration in most of our agricultural markets. Four corporations control 84 percent of the beef processing market. Four corporations control 66 percent of the pork processing market. One corporation controls 40 percent of the dairy processing market.
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The Purple Time
Enjoying Wild Berries and Fruits of Iowa by Teresa Marrone
Instructions and all recipes adapted from Cooking with Wild Berries & Fruits of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. © Teresa Marrone; used with permission. Photos © Teresa Marrone; used with permission.
Every season has its own color palette, and fall’s never fails to impress. The trees turn glorious shades of flame-red or orange, fields take on a golden glow, and my fingers are always … purple?! You see, I love to forage wild foods, and late summer through fall offers an abundance of wild berries and fruits that are richly colored, with enough staining power to keep my fingers various shades of purplish-red until early November. Blackberries, wild grapes, various wild cherries and elderberries are some of my favorite wild fruits, and most are fairly common in our area. Blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis and others) are the only fruits on this list that have a common domestic counterpart, although wild blackberries are much smaller—and usually far more delicious—than their tame cousins. If you’re substituting wild blackberries for domestic ones in a recipe, remember that because they’re so much smaller, the wild berries pack more tightly into a measuring cup, so you may end up with more fruit by weight than the recipe intended. Other than that, feel free to use your wild harvest in any recipe calling for store-bought blackberries. Look for wild blackberries along forest edges, in pastures and in open woods; they often grow alongside walking paths in urban park areas. But what about wild grapes, you may be wondering—aren’t those similar to the ones sold at the store? Well, not really. Wild grapes (Vitis riparia and others) have about as much in common with regular table grapes as snow peapods do with shell peas: they may look similar, but they are used in completely different ways.
Most wild grapes in our area are too tart to eat raw; they also contain a substance that makes the mouth tingle and burn if more than a few are eaten. They’re typically juiced for use in making jelly, desserts and beverages; they also make excellent wine, especially when combined with chokecherries. Wild grapes are common in thickets, along park edges, and on streambanks. Wild cherries in our area include pin cherries (Prunus pensylvanica), black cherries (P serotina) and chokecherries (P virginiana). Unlike commercially available cher. . ries, these are all small fruits, 3/8 inch across or less—and much of that is a large, inedible pit. They’re typically juiced or puréed before use; attempting to remove the pits to use the fruits in, say, a pie would be a thankless task, yielding little but a pile of wet skins and bits of pulp. Pin cherries do well in rocky areas, and are one of the first plants to appear after a forest fire. Black cherries grow in open woods and along forest borders. Chokecherries are often found on field edges in agricultural areas. Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) have a musty flavor and may cause nausea when sampled raw, but they are delicious when cooked or juiced. The seeds are small and not objectionable as far as texture, although they may cause digestive problems for some folks; others can eat elderberry pie with impunity, and typically enjoy every minute of it. Elderberry juice is easy to make, and whole elderberries can also be dried or frozen for later use. Look for elderberries in moist areas such as riverbanks, slough edges, ditches and abandoned fields. Caution: Always be absolutely certain of the identity of any wild food you harvest before eating it. Consult a reliable field guide for identification, or seek advice of a knowledgeable forager.
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Blackberry Juice or Puree: Measure fruit and place in nonaluminum pot. For juice, add 1 cup water per quart of fruit; for purée, add 1/2 cup per quart. Gently crush fruit with potato masher. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. For juice, strain through strainer lined with three layers of damp cheesecloth; if you’re making jelly, don’t squeeze the fruit or the jelly will be cloudy. For seedless purée, process cooked fruit through a food mill, then discard seeds; if you don’t mind the seeds, the purée is ready after cooking. Wild Grape Juice: In large container, crush washed grapes gently with a potato masher, being careful not to break the bitter seeds. Transfer to strainer lined with three layers of damp cheesecloth; gather cloth around fruit and squeeze to extract as much juice as possible. Place the bundle back into the strainer, open it and pour about 1/2 cup water into the fruit, then gather and squeeze again. Place the bundle back into the strainer and let it drip for 30 minutes. (Wear rubber gloves, or rinse your hands immediately after squeezing the grapes; acid in the grape juice will cause a strong burning sensation on the skin an hour or so later if it’s not washed off immediately.) After the bundle has dripped as much as it will, pour liquid into a clean jar and refrigerate for 24 hours; a grayish sediment will settle to the bottom. Pour off the clear juice into another container, leaving the sediment behind and then discarding it; if you don’t do this, your jelly or other product will have tartrate crystals in it. The separated juice is now ready to make jelly, dessert or beverages; it is very rich, and most folks will want to dilute it a bit (and maybe sweeten it also) before drinking it on its own, or mix it with apple or other fruit juice. Wild Cherry Juice or Puree: Measure stemmed fruit and place in nonaluminum pot. For juice, add 2 cups water per quart of fruit; for purée, add 1 cup per quart. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, crushing gently with a potato masher near the end of cooking (don’t break the pits; they contain a harmful compound that is released when they’re broken). For juice, strain as directed for blackberry juice, above. For purée, process the cooked mixture through a food mill, discarding the pits and skins. Elderberry Juice: Measure stemmed fruit and place in nonaluminum pot. Add 1 cup water per quart of fruit. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Crush gently with a potato masher, then simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Strain as directed for blackberry juice, above. Blackberry Coulis (about 1 cup): Spoon a puddle of this rich sauce onto individual dessert plates, then top with cheesecake or a poached pear. It’s also delicious served atop rich ice cream. 1 cup strained, seedless blackberry purée 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon grated lemon zest In small, heavy nonaluminum saucepan, combine purée, 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon zest. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to sauce-like consistency. Taste and add additional sugar if needed, cooking for a few more minutes to dissolve sugar. Cool before using. No-Cook Grape Jelly (3 half-pints): This easy jelly is sparkling-clear and deep purple, with a super-fresh taste. 1-1/2 cups wild grape juice, settled and poured off as described above 2-1/2 cups sugar Half of a 1.75-ounce box powdered pectin (measure carefully or weigh in grams to ensure accurate division) 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
Combine juice and sugar in Pyrex or glass mixing bowl, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In small saucepan, stir together pectin and water. Heat to a rolling boil, stirring constantly; cook at a rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour into bowl with grape juice. Stir constantly with wooden spoon until clear and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes. Pour into sterilized jelly jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace; cover with new, clean lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours; the jelly should be set. If not set, refrigerate for several days before using or freezing; it may take up to a week to set completely. The jelly keeps for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator, or may be frozen for up to a year. Wild Cherry Zabaglione (6 to 8 servings): A light and fluffy version of the Italian classic, with a subtle pink color. 1 cup whipping cream 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 egg yolks 1/3 cup wild cherry juice In large mixing bowl, beat cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla until stiff; refrigerate until needed. Combine yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in top half of double boiler. Beat with electric mixer until fluffy and light-colored. Add cherry juice; beat until well combined. Place over simmering water in bottom half of double boiler. Cook, beating constantly, until mixture is thick and holds soft peaks, 8 to 10 minutes. Place top half of double boiler on heat-proof surface; continue beating for 3 or 4 minutes. Let stand until completely cool, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with whipped cream; fold together gently with rubber spatula. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or as long as 2 hours. Serve with shortbread cookies, or topped with fresh raspberries. (Note: Leftovers can be frozen for at least 8 hours; the mixture becomes an airy, delicious ice cream.) Elderberry Liqueur (1 quart): Serve straight up or on the rocks as an after-dinner drink. 2 cups stemmed fresh (or previously frozen) elderberries 2 cups water 3/4 cup sugar 2 cups vodka 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 teaspoon anise seeds Chop elderberries coarsely in food processor or blender. Combine water and sugar in nonaluminum saucepan and heat to boiling, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Add chopped elderberries; reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside until cool. Use a funnel to pour mixture into a sterilized glass juice jar that holds at least 40 ounces. Add vodka, lemon juice and anise seeds. Seal tightly and place in cool, dark cupboard for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking every day or two. When steeping period is done, strain through doubled cheesecloth into a clean bottle, discarding mixture in cheesecloth. Refrigerate strained liquid for 8 hours or longer to settle, then pour clear liquid through paper coffee filter into another clean container, holding back any sediment. For best quality, store finished liqueur in refrigerator. Teresa Marrone’s most recent books are Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri (a 336-page photographic field guide) and Cooking with Wild Berries & Fruits of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Both were published by Adventure Publications in April 2010; available at bookstores, outdoors-related stores, other retail locations, and www.NorthernTrailPress.com. Teresa is also the author of Abundantly Wild: Collecting and Cooking Wild Edibles in the Upper Midwest.
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OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELDS
Practical Farmers of Iowa gives producers new ways to network
BY RENEE BRINCKS
After managing a few small vegetable farms in Wisconsin and Montana, 34-year-old Sara Hanson recently returned to Iowa. She purchased ten acres near Wesley that once belonged to her great grandparents, and she’s spent nearly two years working the land, repairing buildings and saving money to start her own vegetable operation. In a way, it’s the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. “I come from a farm family,” she says, explaining that her parents still grow corn and soybeans nearby. “Ever since I was a little girl, helping my dad on the farm was really fun for me. I’d always considered moving back to Iowa and farming myself.” Eventually, Hanson hopes to start a community supported agriculture venture and market her crops to local schools and restaurants. As she builds her business, she’s receiving support from Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI). The Ames-based nonprofit offers programs and resources for producers at all stages of their careers, and works to educate the public about agriculture and the environment. “Over the years, even when I’ve been living out of state, I’ve been a PFI member. It kept me connected to what was happening here in Iowa. The organization is really good at connecting you with other farmers,” Hanson says. This year marks the 25th anniversary of PFI, which was started by farmers interested in sharing information and expertise. According to program coordinator Luke Gran, the organization traces back to a 1985 field day that founding member Dick Thompson put together on his Boone farm. The goal was to show some growers how he was incorporating alternative agricultural practices. When the day arrived, several hundred people showed up. “People said, ‘We want to learn from farmers,’ and it grew into a stronger movement,” says Gran. “Farmers here have real knowledge to share.” That early curiosity about sustainable practices – from natural pest control and crop rotation to cover crops and alternative fertilizers – came at a time when the farm crisis threatened the livelihood of many rural Iowa families. So, since its start, PFI has promoted techniques that offer environmental as well as economic benefits. “We focus on profitable, ecologically-sound, community-enhancing approaches to agriculture,” Gran says, citing the nonprofit’s mission. More than two decades after it was launched, PFI is increasing its membership by 14 percent a year and some 75 percent of its 2,400 members are farmers. Both beginning and established producers participate in the organization, and they work plots ranging from a few acres to 1,500 acres or more While some PFI farmers earn organic certification, many others simply concentrate on conservation and sustainability. “Our core membership is not necessarily organic farmers. They’re raising corn, beans, beef and hay,” says Gran. “But, they are the innovators. They’re the early adopters who are planting cover crops like radish, for example, so there’s not so much water or wind erosion. To inform members about agricultural techniques, PFI hosts 30 onfarm field days each year. Offerings include “Improving a Perennial Pasture,” “On-Farm Poultry Processing,” “Cattle Grazing and Goat Browsing to Increase Biodiversity” and “Biodiesel: Basics and Beyond.” The events provide both educational and networking opportunities for farmers, who enjoy a unique chance to meet others with first-hand experience. Gran tells the story of a cover crop session led by member and vegetable farmer Gary Guthrie, where field crop farmers learned how the practice can reduce input costs and increase environmental quality. “A small one- or two-acre vegetable farmer can help teach 1,500-acre farmers about cover crops, and the same thing works the other way. A
Photo by Luke Gran - PFI - Used with permission
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small farmer can learn a lot about mechanization for a vegetable operation from someone using mechanization for row crops,” says Gran. When the growing season wraps up, PFI continues educating producers through free online “farminars” that address a variety of topics related to growing crops, raising animals and financing and promoting a business. Interested individuals can log on and participate as each 90minute seminar is being produced, or they can download the sessions and watch when as time permits. Outside of organized events, PFI members also share advice and initiate discussions via the organization’s email distribution lists.
“It’s helping us ask the question, ‘What is the nature of farming in Iowa?’ It’s helping us really re-imagine what rural Iowa could be,” he says. Gran points to a recent survey of the organization’s beginner members, which includes those who have farmed for five years or less. They reported an interest in raising vegetables, fruits, organic grains, nut crops, bees, poultry, beef and pork, among others – a diverse mix that opens up new opportunities for the state, according to Gran. “We [PFI] started 25 years ago really focused on field croppers. Just over the last 10 years, we’ve grown to include a much wider offering of enterprises,” he says. At the same time, the organization has welcomed a growing number of non-farm members. Some were raised in a rural setting but no longer live there; others are interested in land stewardship or local food. “These are people that want to know their local farmer,” says Gran, “and they just want to support, in a genuine way, sustainable agriculture in Iowa.” By bringing farmers together, he adds, PFI strengthens the state’s food system and its economy. “If we want healthy food, if we want local food produced by Iowans, we need to find a way to grow it profitably. Who better to help farmers grow profitably than other farmers who have done it before?”
“A lot of it is just getting out and seeing how other people are doing things,” he says. “You can learn a lot more from getting out in the field and seeing something than by reading about it in the paper or in a research article.”
Photo by Luke Gran - PFI - Used with permission
Tyler Franzenburg joined PFI five years ago. The 26-year-old, who grows organic corn and soybeans on 80 rented acres near Keystone, has taken part in field days and farminars where he learned about growing organic flax and raising grass-fed beef. He networks with established PFI farmers and values the lessons that come from those conversations. “A lot of it is just getting out and seeing how other people are doing things,” he says. “You can learn a lot more from getting out in the field and seeing something than by reading about it in the paper or in a research article.”
As the farm industry changes, making those connections becomes increasingly important.
To learn more about Practical Farmers of Iowa, or to donate to the new Savings Incentive Program, visit www.PracticalFarmers.org or call 515.232.5661.
“Iowa agriculture used to be about relationships and neighbors and community. It still is in many ways, but we’ve really outsourced a lot of the neighborly help and advice to corporations,” says Gran. “Instead of having a neighbor down the road to ask a couple of questions to, farmers live more isolated lives or find that the farmers around them are not like them.... These farmers need to be able to talk and ask questions. A lot of times they’re not physically neighbors, although they are spiritually or emotionally neighborly.” Just as facilitating conversations between producers is central to PFI’s work, so is backing beginning farmers. The 2008 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, a cooperative project out of Iowa State University Extension, reports that 42 percent of Iowa farmers plan to retire in five years. Purchasing land and equipment can be challenging for the producers who will take their place. To help new farmers get started, PFI is finalizing its new Savings Incentive Program (SIP). Participants will be encouraged to save $100 a month over a two-year period. Those who meet program requirements will then receive a dollar-for-dollar match; that means they’ll have $4,800 to put toward the purchase of land, livestock, machinery or other assets that will help get their business off the ground. As they save, SIP participants will be matched with a mentor, and they’ll receive assistance with creating a business plan. PFI staff and business consultants will conduct quarterly status checks and offer advice. Beginning farmers will also be required to attend at least four PFI events per year, where they’ll strengthen their skills and learn from other growers and producers. PFI is working to raise $250,000 for the SIP project and plans to put 90 new farmers through the program by 2016. Getting beginners on the land and on their way to success is a “huge challenge,” Gran says, but an exciting one.
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Sauces full of Secrets
Story and Photos by Tim Rask
It’s the thought that probably lurks in the back of every home chef’s mind. You’ve created a fantastic recipe that all of your friends and family love. Wouldn’t it be great to take that next step and produce your own secret recipe commercially? This year, two small companies have emerged to bring their home creations to the marketplace. The Cedar Valley Sauce Company of Evansdale has added a series of big-tasting grilling sauces to the Iowa scene, while Galassi Sauce Company of Coralville has hit the market with their traditional Italian tomato sauce. Cedar Valley Sauce Company Casey’s Pub and Eatery in Evansdale looks like a typical sports bar from the outside. Inside, its kitchen is the headquarters of the Cedar Valley Sauce Company, the producers of Jack & Charlie’s Big Sauce. The company was conceived three years ago by Jason Dugan. Jason is a veteran of the restaurant business, having previously owned Heart Attack Jack’s in Cedar Falls eight years ago. During his stint there, Jason developed a house grilling sauce, which he continued to make at home after he left the restaurant business. “I made batches for friends and gift baskets for holidays and special occasions.” The overwhelming positive feedback from friends induced Jason to explore the idea of producing his secret recipe on a larger scale. A mutual friend knew that Mike Kroeger had some extra kitchen space at Casey’s Pub and introduced Jason to Mike. The two hit it off and decided to become partners instead. Today, a corner of the kitchen at Casey’s is now dedicated to producing hot sauce. The kitchen gained USDA and state approval in February of 2010, and production began shortly thereafter. Jason had already decided to use the name, “Jack &
Charlie’s” in honor of his two sons. When going over prototypes for the label, their graphic designer suggested adding “Big Sauce” to emphasize the bold taste of the sauces. Jason and Mike liked the design, and “Jack & Charlie’s Big Sauce” was christened. To formulate the recipe for the sauces, Jason relied on his years of trial and error experience. “It’s just a matter of trying new things—once you hit the right blend, you just know. I was just playing around one day when I finally hit on the right mix and thought, ‘this is it!” Currently, the pair turn out four varieties of sauce. First on their roster is the “Roasted Garlic #1,” a medium-hot sauce, traditionally used for chicken wings, but intended as an all-purpose sauce. The “Sweet Honey BBQ Sauce #2” employs honey to cut the heat for a more traditional barbeque sauce, while “Spicy Hot #3” kicks the heat up a notch with a dose of garlic to satisfy the grilling aficionado who likes a bolder flavor. “In all our sauces, we stress fresh ingredients,” says Jason. “For example, we use real honey, not artificial sweeteners ,and I think that makes a big difference in the taste.” On a recent visit to Casey’s, Mike and Jason were preparing a batch of the fourth variety, the extra spicy “Holy #%\*@! Sauce #4,” which packs a mighty wallop without completely disabling the taste buds. “It’s not quite to the level of a habanero pepper, “I’m going for more of a back-of-the-mouth, or creeping heat, something that will stay with you,” explains Jason. “It’s not quite as hot as a habanero-based sauce, which would check in about 50000 Scoville units higher.” Jokes Mike, “It only makes your lips burn for half-an-hour or so.” The production operation is delightfully low tech. The sauce typically cooks in 15 to 20 gallon batches, although during my visit, the pair were whipping up a smaller 5-gallon batch of the “Holy #$#$” sauce. “We start with a roux, and add
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the ingredients such as tomato sauce, molasses, cayenne, and honey and go from there. We simmer the batch until it heats to 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and after that it’s ready to put into jars.” There is no mechanized canning line for this crew. Mike and Jason fill each jar by hand using a pitcher, then give each jar a date-stamped sticker and label before loading it into a box for distribution. “Actually, we are automated—we can do this in our sleep,” noted Mike as he ladled a 16-oz portion into a jar. All of the sauces are intended to be used as an all-purpose accompaniment to grilled meats. Dugan says his favorite is to brush the sauce over grilled chicken drumsticks, while Kroeger serves it on the wings at Casey’s. “We encourage our patrons to try it on anything,” says Kroeger. “A lot of people are used to putting on mayo and ketchup on everything, but our customers have been willing give the sauces a try and found they like that extra flavor.” Although the sauce is sold at Casey’s, Dugan and Kroeger don’t rely on the pub for sales. Jason hits the road at least four days per week, visiting retailers and area farmers markets. “We want to gain a foothold in the major markets in Iowa, and farmers markets are a great way to do that,” says Dugan. “Farmers markets give us one-on-one access to customers and we can offer samples, answer any questions or make suggestions for using the sauce. At this point, word of mouth is our main advertising campaign, so spreading the word at the markets this summer, we hope to make it easier to get onto supermarket shelves when the market season quiets down in the fall.” Dugan adds, “I like that we can stress that our sauce is made in Iowa, using fresh ingredients. We know we’re not going to be able to compete on price with a bottle of sauce that costs 99 cents at the supermarket so we have to offer a higherquality product.” So far, the farmers market strategy has worked well. “We don’t have a lot of builtup inventory,” remarks Kroeger. Cedar Valley Sauce has sent its product to several markets in Iowa, including Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Iowa City, Dubuque and even smaller communities like Harpers Ferry and Tripoli. They’ve also used the markets in Galena, Illinois and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to take a few tentative steps across the Mississippi. Staffing the farmers markets booths is a family operation. On one summer weekend, Cedar Valley had Jason visited Davenport, while his wife Pam (with fiveyear-old Jack and eight-year-old Charlie) tended their booth in Iowa City. Dugan and Kroeger have even added a marketing intern, Mike Crow, who can usually be found hawking the sauce in the Dubuque area. Dugan and Kroeger hope to translate the buzz from farmers markets to more conventional venues in the fall. Jack & Charlie’s Big Sauce is available at Waterloo/Cedar Falls area Hy Vee stores, and the company has begun to dabble in in-
ternet sales as well. “The web site has generated a lot of hits, but not a lot of sales yet,” stated Kroeger. “It’s encouraging, though, that people have seen us at farmers markets, and have come back to check us out online. We hope to stress the internet sales more as the market season dies down.” The business is off to an encouraging start, but Dugan plans on keeping things in perspective. “Sure we’d like to expand, but that’s something that’s maybe three years down the road. I’d hate to get big too quickly and compromise the quality of the product. I really like to have that control, so we’d have to look very closely at any expansion to make sure it’s the right fit for us.” Galassi Foods Unlike Dugan and Kroeger, siblings Lisa Galassi and Craig Galassi have no prior experience in the food business. But as with Jack & Charlie’s Big Sauce, their Coralville-based Galassi Foods Pasta Sauce originated with a home recipe. “Our grandmother was second-generation Italian,” says Craig Galassi, “and when we younger she passed the recipe down to us.” Neither Craig nor Lisa had much interest in cooking when they were younger, but over the years they came to appreciate the traditional recipe. “I started watching the Food Network,” says Lisa, “and they really sparked my interest in cooking.” For the past fifteen years, the pair has hosted an occasional gathering of friends and family they dubbed “Soul Food Sunday,” which provided a forum to showcase their-new-found culinary talents. The old-world family pasta recipe often found its way into those Sunday meals, featured in crowd-pleasing recipes for baked ziti and lasagna. “Everyone thought we should find a way to sell the sauce commercially,” says Craig, so the pair pondered ways they could get their sauce to market. Initially, the two thought it would be fun to open a restaurant together, but thought the daily grind of running their own place would be too stressful for a mother of a one-year-old like Lisa. After some more research, the Galassis decided that selling the sauce by the jar would be a viable option. The Galassis arranged with Triple K Manufacturing of Shenandoah to produce the sauce on a large scale. “The home recipe is made in 8-quart batches,” says Craig, “so it took some trial and error to get the proportions right, especially the pepper, but we kept plugging away until we got what we wanted.” Adds Lisa, “I think Triple K might have gotten a bit frustrated with us at times, but they’re a family-owned business, too, so they recognized the importance of maintaining the quality of the sauce. A lot of sauces add water to increase their volume, and we didn’t want to do that. And we refused to add any extra sweeteners—all of the sugar in the sauce comes the tomatoes.”
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After each production run, the Galassis receive 220 cases, each containing 12 25-oz jars of pasta sauce, each with a simple white label inscribed with the Galassi Foods logo and a bright red door. “In Italian culture, the red door is a symbol of welcome, so I thought that was a natural for the logo,” says Lisa. To promote their sauce, Lisa and Craig have embraced the Cedar Rapids and North Liberty Farmers Markets. “Cedar Rapids is phenomenal,” says Lisa, “we usually sell 25 to 27 cases at each visit.” The two have had a blast interacting with customers, exchanging recipes, and convincing skeptics that they really are brother and sister and not just pretending to be as a marketing gimmick. Selling at a Saturday-morning farmers market did pose one interesting challenge, however. “We found that some people weren’t in the mood to taste pasta sauce at 7:30 in the morning,” says Craig. To help break that reluctance, Craig devised a recipe for Italian scrambled eggs, which has proven to be a crowd favorite. “It highlights the versatility of the sauce, says Craig, “Sure, putting it on pasta is most popular, but it works well with chicken, fish, vegetables, and yes, even for breakfast.” The success at the farmers markets also has provided entry to supermarkets in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas as well. “The local Hy Vee and Fareway stores have been fantastic,” reports Lisa. “Both really like to promote Iowa-made products and have been really supported us by letting us do tastings in the stores.” The Galassis are enjoying their initial success, but by no means are they slowing down. In late July, they debuted a wet spice rub at the Cedar Rapids Farmers Market. “You can use it as a marinade,” says Craig, “ but I like brushing it onto steaks just before putting them on the grill.” The pair also plan on unveiling a tomato vinaigrette soon. “We want to help make everyone a good cook,” says Lisa, “with our sauce, we’ve already done the work for you.”
By Elizabeth Brown As the close of the regular farmers market season draws near, local vendors showcase an increased variety of jams and jellies, canned tomatoes and pickled onions, and award-winning salsas and sauces. With these purchases, locally minded Iowans are able to enjoy the preserved bounty of Iowa year-round. But, what about preserving the bounty of interest in fresh, local foods?
Buy Fresh, Buy Local Iowa was founded in collaboration with Practical Farmers of Iowa in 2003. It was one of ten original state branches with the goal to promote and strengthen independent farmers and businesses, to raise awareness of Iowa’s “local treasures,” and to stimulate the social and economic vitality of Iowa. According to Mallory Smith, the coordinator for Buy Fresh, Buy Local (BFBL) Iowa, strong initial grant funding often leads to a quick but weak development for many grassroots initiatives, but that has not been the case for BFBL Iowa. Welcoming a 12th chapter to Iowa this year, Smith, a community developer by trade, is most proud of the organization’s “slow steady, sustainable growth.” While the campaign is “more about marketing than it is about developing local food producers, it is also about local organizational development.” Each chapter is made up of local residents and business people much like a regional chamber of commerce focused on food. Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters bring together people interested in developing the local food system. eir motivations may include encouraging sustainable agriculture, maintaining Iowa’s food heritage, sourcing gourmet ingredients, supporting local economies or providing healthier diets for school children and senior citizens, but they all agree that the solution is more people buying more local food.
STOCKING THE PANTRY
Craig Galassi’s Italian Scrambled Eggs
12 Large eggs 8 ounces sour cream Kosher salt Black pepper 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded 8 tablespoons butter 1 cup Galassi Pasta Sauce Crack the eggs in a large bowl. Add sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the mixture vigorously until the sour cream is thoroughly incorporated and eggs are well beaten. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir well. In a large skillet over medium to medium low heat melt the butter. Add the egg mixture to the skillet. Stir regularly until the eggs just start to set. Add the Galassi Pasta Sauce and continue to stir until the eggs are setting but still a little runny. Remove from the skillet, let sit for a couple of minutes and enjoy! Serves 4-6 The secret to great scrambled eggs is not to over cook them. Eggs are a lot like meat and continue to cook even after they are off of the heat. When you think the eggs are done, they are over done. So remove them from the heat while they are still a little runny and let sit for a couple of minutes. You will be amazed at how much better your eggs taste. Cedar Valley Sauce Company 3521 Lafayette Road, Evansdale www.JackAndCharliesBigSauce.com Galassi Foods 2042 Glen Oaks Drive, Coralville www.GalassiFoods.com or check out Galassi Foods on Facebook
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Field to Family Local Foods Festival Schedule is a Special Supplement to Edible Iowa River Valley, Issue #17, Harvest 2010 - www.EdibleIowa.com
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Field to Family Local Foods Festival Schedule is a Special Supplement to Edib
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nt to Edible Iowa River Valley, Issue #17, Harvest 2010 - www.EdibleIowa.com
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Field to Family Local Foods Festival Schedule is a Special Supplement to Edible Iowa River Valley, Issue #17, Harvest 2010 - www.EdibleIowa.com
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nt to a.com
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In Memorium Scott Bush of Templeton Rye sends us the sad news of the passing of a legend: “It is with a heavy heart that I reach out to tell you that we have lost Templeton Rye Master Distiller Meryl Kerkhoﬀ. Meryl died at Manning Hospital, surrounded by his family. I really struggle to put into words how much we all admired this great man. He will be missed dearly. “Meryl was a child of the Depression, born a mile from our current distillery in Templeton in 1929 to Alphonse and Frances (Bluml) Kerkhoﬀ. He attended Sacred Heart School in Templeton and graduated in 1946. Meryl fought in Korea for two years and went on to a successful career as a farmer and auctioneer. He and his wife Imelda had seven children and 14 grandchildren. “He had a presence that was unmistakable. Meryl was a true gentleman and a man of great stature, both in size and in character. I will always remember how his huge hands, strengthened by a lifetime of farming, would totally engulf those of anyone who would shake them. He dressed well, yet modestly, and had his signature Templeton Rye cap slightly tilted, or "a little cocky" as he would say. “Meryl had a sense of humor and his own language that greatly amused the rest of our team. A nice place was "Uptown" and when things were going well we were "Cadillacing." He was a caring man who was always excited to see you and would ask, "So, how've things been going?" Meryl was a patient man and was more likely to listen than to talk. He gave Keith and me great advice over the years and was always very thorough about issues that impacted our company.
Master Distiller Meryl Kerkhoﬀ 1929-2010
“Obviously things will continue at Templeton Rye and Keith has been handling the day-to-day duties for sometime. Genetics are a powerful thing I guess, as I look at what I have written about Meryl, I could very well be describing Keith.
Photos by Kurt Michael Friese
“Please keep Meryl, Imelda, Keith and all of the Kerkhoﬀ family in your thoughts and prayers.” - Scott Bush, Templeton Rye
Aromas Coffee We found it almost as hard to believe as you will when we tell you, but the very best coﬀee in America is being brewed in Charles City, Iowa. Seriously. Enjoy stunning depth of flavor in a brew made from beans roasted right there, probably that very day. Ours was a long-draw Americano, and to borrow a phrase from the internet, “OMG.” ey have plenty of fresh-roasted whole bean coﬀee too. Aromas Coﬀee 105 North Main Street, Charles City, 641.228.4773 Burrowing Owl Breads And speaking of “OMG,” have you tasted the meringues being peddled at the Iowa City Farmers Market by Allie Gnade of Burrowing Owl Breads? A single bite conjurs up a distinctly George Takei-like “Oh MY!” Full disclosure here, Allie is a some-time writer for this very publication, but our fondness for her is irrelevant when it comes to finding her wares irresistable. Besides the meringues, she also makes wonderful breads and tarts (both sweet and savory) in her home-based bakery in Iowa City. And the only place you can get’em? Saturdays at the Iowa City Farmers Market, now through the end of the season (October 30th). Go get some this weekend, you’ll thank us (and Allie) later. Burrowing Owl Bread is only available at the Saturday Iowa City Farmers Market
Photo Courtesy of Templeton Rye
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Artisans Cheryl’s Salsa Made Best in the Midwest 319.646.2629 www.KenAndCheryls.com Chocolaterie Stam 230 Main Street, Ames 515.232.0656 www.StamChocolate.com Farms Bur Oaks Venison Grass Pasture Raised and Fed Red Deer Venison 3446 Dogwood Avenue, Fertile 641.797.2081 www.VenisonSteaks.com Markets Fresh Connections A Cooperatively-Owned Local and Natural Food Store 14 E. State Street, Algona 515.395.COOP (2667) www.FreshConnectionsCoop.com e Faithful Pilot Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen Since 1991 117 North Cody Road, Le Claire 563.289.4156 www.FaithfulPilotCafe.com
Photos by Kurt Michael Friese
Grass Run Farms 100% Grass-Fed Beef, All-Natural and Confinement-Free Pork Frisian Farms Gouda 2712 Hoover Drive, Dorchester 2321 Highland Avenue, Oskaloosa 563.492.3400 www.GrassRunFarm.com 641.673.3306 www.FrisianFarmsGouda.com Grinnell Heritage Farm Northern Prairie Chevre Certified Organic Produce, Herbs Woodward and Flowers 515.438.4022 1933 Penrose Street, Grinnell www.NorthernPrairieChevre.com 641.236.4374 www.GrinnellHeritageFarm.com Beers, Wines & Spritis Kissing Emu Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery Silly Name, Serious Skin Care Award-winning Wines & Spirits Emu Meat and Skin Care Products 1441 Marak Road, Swisher www.KissingEmu.com 319.857.4300 Hotels and Inns www.CRWine.com B&B on Broadway Where the Past Meets Modern Conveniences 305 W. Broadway Street, Decorah 563.382.1420 Bostick Guest House Historic Properties 115 N. Gilbert Street, Iowa City 319.354.2453 www.BostickHouse.com
Templeton Rye Prohibition Era Recipe Small Batch Rye Whiskey 209 E. 3rd Street, Templeton 712.669.8793 www.TempletonRye.com Toppling Goliath Brewing Big Beers Brewed in Small Batches 310 College Drive, Decorah 563.387.6700 www.TGBrews.com
Proof Inspired Mediterranean Cuisine 1301 Locust Street, Des Moines Gateway Market 515.244.0655 Central Iowa’s Good Food Market 2002 Woodland Ave., Des Moines www.ProofRestaurant.com 515.243.1754 Ralph’s Garden Cafe www.GatewayMarket.com 5 S. federal Avenue, Mason City 641.422.9902 Graziano Brothers Fine Italian Foods 1601 S. Union Street, Des Moines Sbrocco Wine Bar & Wine Shop 515.244.7103 208 Court Avenue, Des Moines 515.282.3663 Greatest Grains www.SbroccoWine.com We Are Health Minded With Your Health in Mind Services 1600 Harrison Street, Davenport 563.323.7521 Mote Financial www.GreatestGrains.com Fee-Only Planning for Your Life Changes New City Market 319.393.4020 e Highest-Quality Organic and www.MoteWealth.com Natural Foods 48th and University Avenue Robinson Wellness Des Moines 515.255.7380 Patient-Centered Chiropractic www.NewCityMarket.com 2140 Norcor Avenue, Coralville 319.354.4186 New Pioneer Co-op www.RonRobinsonDC.com Keepin' It Real Since 1971! 22 S. Van Buren Street, Iowa City Terri Wiebold Or 1101 2nd Street, Coralville Certified Holistic Nurse 319.338.9441 or 319.358.5513 1335 Antler Drive, North Liberty www.NewPi.com 319.626.2416 www.YourHealingInsights.com Restaurants Atlas World Grill 127 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City 319.341.7700 www.AtlasIowaCity.com Centro e Urban Eatery 1007 Locust, Des Moines 515.248.1780 www.CentroDesMoines.com Devotay Real. Good. Food. 117 N. Linn Street, Iowa City 319.354.1001 www.Devotay.net
Photo Courtesy of Templeton Rye
Hotel Fort Des Moines Convention & Visitors Defining Cutting-Edge Comfort, Bureaus, etc. Convenience and Service for Over 80 Years: We Treat You Famously Cedar Rapids Downtown District 1000 Walnut Street, Des Moines 312 Second Ave SE, Cedar Rapids 800.532.1466 www.HotelFortDesMoines.com 319.398.0449 www.DowntownCR.com Hotel Winneshiek Greater Des Moines CVB 21st Century Comfort and 19th Century Charm 400 Locust St # 265 104 E. Water Street, Decorah Des Moines, IA 50309-2350 800.998.4164 515.286.4960 www.HotelWinn.com www.SeeDesMoines.com Quad Cities CVB 1601 River Dr., Suite 110, Moline 800.747.7800 www.VisitQuadCities.com
Enter the Bazaar Interested in seeing your business in the Edible Bazaar? reach thousands of Iowans just like you who care about Iowa and its great local foods. For more information and to get listed in the Bazaar, contact Kim at 319.337.7885 or via email Kim@EdibleIowa.com
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WHAT is They Feedin’ Our Kids?
Q&A With Break-Beat Poet Idris Goodwin
By Katie Roche
Iowa Writers Workshop playwright, teacher, and break - beat poet Idris Goodwin was working in a fledgling charter school in Chicago when he noticed that the kids where turning their noses up at the lunch that the state was providing “to go to the nearby gas station and buy cheap Cheetos and other junk food.” Idris thought that the state lunch looked disgusting, but he saw that there were not that many healthy alternatives in the neighborhood. Limp produce or complete lack of fresh foods are the norm in most urban markets where low income is a norm, but the difference between the lunches supplied by different schools hit a nerve with Mr. Goodwin.
KR: Idris, your piece draws the link between social justice and food in a very subtle way. Could you talk a bit more in detail about this connection? IG: The difficult question we all ask ourselves when we want to see change is “What am I willing to give up?” Of course we all know, generally speaking, why its more expensive to buy a product that is grown as close to natural as possible than one treated with a myriad of chemicals and agents that can harm you. We can easily site good ole fashioned greed, irresposibility and inequity perpetuated by large corporations and government - how they lower the quality of food by increasing its production to increase the profit for a small percent of the population, while slowly killing the insides of the many, particularly those on the margins. This is incredibly unjust, though not surprising in a highly capitalist post industrial society such as ours.
“ I noticed the difference in food quality between some the schools I went to in the more affluent suburbs and the low income areas in the city. So I just wrote the piece.” And that piece, titled “What is they feedin’ our kids?” ended up on the now bySocial Justice is everyone’s job. gone HBO Def Poetry Jam. The piece Change happens when citizens are not only became his signature piece as willing to sacrifice, the problem is a performance poet, but it’s reception that we like how bad we eat. We like struck a chord in the urban and Hip At the market with break-beat poet Idris Goodwin -Photo by John Photos that we can sit in our car and get a Hop Community who had been orhot meal for around 5 bucks. We like ganizing for years to bring healthy, to drink our two liters of soda, which seem to always be on sale. We’ve fresh foods into schools and neighborhoods markets by way of acbeen raised on junk food. Its available and easy. Also, we’ve lost contivism, community and rooftop gardens and education. Now an Iowa nection to our agricultural roots. Many people have no idea where food City resident, Mr. Goodwin is watching Iowa City, a small urban cencomes from, or how its grown. My grandmothers grew up down south ter with abundant fresh, local food struggling with the same problem: on farms and when they came to the city of Detroit they brought with horrible school lunches, with ingredients flown in from far away, with them that knowledge of growing one’s own food. They both had vegunhealthy and unappealing preparations. What does Iowa have to etable gardens in their backyards which paled in comparison to the learn from the harbinger of rhymes, this poet of the mouth, Idris land they grew up on, but they had all sorts of good stuff growing, Goodwin? His message is simple: there is more to it than “you are tomatoes, corn, greens, lettuce, green beans, snow peas, cabbage. what you eat”. The new saying should be, “Beware and be aware of what you eat”. After all, just because you can eat it doesn’t mean it’s Change happens when citizens are willing to gain knowledge and apply food. it. We have to be willing or else the justification will continue to be “We’re giving the people what they want.” I sat Idris down and picked his lyrical brain...
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KR: You were raised in Detroit, lived in Chicago for a long time, and most recently lived in New Mexico. How do you view Iowa in the quest for food justice? IG: I see a lot of local and sustainable here. Though there is a lot of transplants because of the University of Iowa, I do feel a sense of community here that extends to foods. I’ve enjoyed great meals in places like the Lincoln Cafe, Augusta, Devotay and their menus tell me where the pork comes from and where the corn is from. A lady I worked with here in Iowa City used to bring in all sorts of fresh produce that she grew. KR: So what are your favorite Iowa food products? IG: Hands down- tomatoes from Kolona, especially the yellow ones. The corn is obviously off the chain. I also like the meat produced here. All very tasty. KR: You do presentations as a spoken word artist in schools. Much of your work is meant to empower young people to be able to tell their story through performance of poetry. The ability to tell your own story requires self awareness as does healthy, environmentally responsible food consumption. Your most well known piece is about food, so do you talk about food when you present? IG: I do talk a little about it. I’m not an expert or anything, but talking about what we eat is another way of talking about promoting awareness of one’s self in relation to larger society. I try to encourage critical thinking and having an overall awareness of what one allows into their being whether it be food, entertainment, news, etc.
What Is They Feedin’ our Kids?
By Idris Goodwin What manner of meat is mechanically separated lips, entrails? Processed slabs piled high between plastic bread pieces, then bathed in lukewarm cheese sauce. The bundle binds together under heat lamps. What is they feedin’ our kids? Vanessa is 15-years-old. Vanessa is eating Red Hot Cheetos at 10 o’clock in the morning. Big white gas station bags loaded with partially hydrogenated oils, polluting the coiled intestines. What is they feedin’ our kids? Martisha forgets her lunch. I tell her to have some fruit. She says, “I aint no vegetarian,” as if she’s ever seen one. She buys chips instead. There’s strange fruit hanging in our public school vending machines. Like drug dealers, they whisper, “Real affordable! Only 65 cents to get your mouth hot.” What is a Funyun? At Evanston Township, an affluent suburban school north of Chicago, they serve veggie burgers in the cafeteria. On the city’s Westside, at Kelvyn Park High School, students get the No Child Left Behind special: tater tots. Grease staining their white t-shirt uniforms. And by noon, they’re easily riled like hornets. Totally unfocused. Deep fried arteries. Short term batteries. I ask you, what is they feedin’ our kids? See Idris Goodwin perform this poem at www.EdibleIowa.com If you are interested in learning more about efforts being made in Iowa to improve school lunches please visit: Better Iowa City School Food: www.BetterICSFood.WetPaint.com And the Leopold Center is working to improve school lunch statewide: www.Leopold.IAState.edu
iowa river valley
Advertising opportunities are available for upcoming issues. Call 319.337.7885 or eMail Kim@EdibleIowa.com
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Scott County Divide
Story & Photo By Brandi Janssen
To the average traveler driving through Scott County on Interstate 80, the most notable place to eat may be the World’s Largest Truck Stop at exit 284. However, just a short trip off the interstate reveals a rolling, agriculturally diverse countryside anchored by the urban centers of Davenport and Bettendorf. Scott County is bordered by two major rivers: the Mississippi to the east and south and the Wapsipinicon to the north. The Great River Road offers dramatic bluff and shoreline views as it meanders through several historic river towns along the southern border of the county. This diverse landscape supports a number of small, sustainable farms that produce food for rural and urban areas alike. fresh grass. The cattle completely graze each pasture, which is then allowed several weeks to recover before being grazed again. This method is less environmentally destructive, as the cattle are not allowed to overgraze one area. It also eliminates the need to purchase expensive cattle feed, and, as Neal points out, let the sun and grass do all the work. While intensive grazing has recently enjoyed a lot of publicity thanks to the attention of authors like Michael Pollan and films like Food, Inc, the Sawyers are among the first farmers in Scott County to use the method. They have invested many hours learning from other farmers in Missouri and Iowa. The effort is well spent, however, as grass fed beef is not only tender and flavorful, it is high in nutrients and essential fats. You can purchase Sawyer Beef in halves or quarters at the farm or in retail cuts at the Freight House Market and Milan, IL Farmers Market.
The local food scene in Scott County is anchored by Davenport’s Freight House Market, an indoor/outdoor, year-round farmers market overlooking the Mississippi. Open Tuesdays 3:00pm-6:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-1:00 rain or shine, this festive market boasts fresh, local produce, preserves, sustainably produced beef Farther west, near Maysville, sits Nostaland pork products, soap, greenhouse gia Farms. This eclectic small farm plants, snacks and baked goods. While boasts a multitude of vegetables, flowyou’re there, be sure to stop by The Bakers, herbs and livestock. Business partery, owned by pastry chef Rhonda Groh. ners Ed Kraklio and Joe Dennis began Rhonda started baking part time for the Nostalgia Farms co-owner Ed Kraklio with one of his Slow Food USA selling baked goods 13 years ago; slowly market three years ago in her home Ark-registered heritage breed Bourbon Red Turkeys their operation grew to also include prokitchen, and she’s now a fixture at the duce, preserves and pasture-raised poulFreight House with a full time indoor try and eggs. Nostalgia Farms is now based on the family farm where Ed spent stand and an outdoor location on Saturdays. You’ll also find her at the Blue Grass Farmers Market on Thursdays. The Bakery strives to reduce packaging for his childhood. A raucous mix of flowers, including rare varieties of irises and day lilies carefully tended by Joe, borders the property. The chickens and ducks its products and uses many local ingredients, making Rhonda an avid farmers market shopper, as well as a vendor. At the Blue Grass market on Thursdays, she spend their days in the orchard, keeping the bug population in check and the grass clipped. Chicken eggs are sold at the farm and at the Freight House market purchases strawberries and blueberries for muffins and scones as well as zucchini and the duck eggs are used in the baked goods. and onions for her savory tarts that will be sold on Saturday in Davenport. Her farmers market offerings are also made with local eggs and honey. Rhonda is curThe farm also raises heirloom Bourbon Red turkeys, which are processed for sale rently looking for a permanent store location for her business, which has outalong with the rest of the poultry in Greene, Iowa. While all of the livestock on grown her home kitchen. the farm is eventually destined for someone’s local meal, there are a few animals that will live out their natural lives on the farm, including “Happy” the turkey Another stop to make at the Saturday market is the Sawyer Beef booth. Neal Sawyer is the third generation of his family to farm in the rolling hills near Prince- and “Annabelle” the sheep. Two greenhouses help with early and late season production of lettuces, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes and eggplants. Ed and Joe ton, Iowa. Now he and his father, Norman, manage nearly 600 acres, most of also tend a number of berry bushes, including blueberries, currants, gooseberries, which is devoted to rotationally grazing their herd of around 200 Angus cattle. service berries and Russian seaberries. These are available fresh and are used for The Sawyers have sold halves and quarters of antibiotic and hormone-free, cornthe many varieties of jams and preserves that Joe creates in his home kitchen to finished beef from their farm for the past 20 years. More recently, with the insell at the Freight House Market. crease in demand for grass-finished beef, Neal has intensified the grazing rotation for 150 of his herd. These cattle will be fully finished on the lush mixture of Ed and Joe don’t spend all of their time at the farm or in the kitchen, however, grasses that covers the Sawyers’ farm. Neal says that the goal of their intensive they are actively involved in educational efforts around the Quad Cities. The two grazing technique is to mimic nature as closely as possible. This involves confinhave conducted educational workshops at Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davening the cattle to a relatively small space, but moving them twice daily to new,
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port and have welcomed student groups to the farm through Stepping Stones after school programs. Nostalgia Farms also hosts several public events during the season, including an iris walk and a lily walk where you can enjoy the range of rare flowers, along with more well-known garden flowers such as purple coneflower and bee balm, for yourself. You can find their products at the Freight House Market as well as in notable local eateries such as The Faithful Pilot in LeClaire and the Red Crow Grille in Bettendorf. While getting to know your Scott County producers is one of the many benefits of local food, you don’t have to wait for the Freight House Market or drive to a farm to find wholesome fare. Davenport is the home of Greatest Grains, a fullservice natural foods store, open seven days a week. The store was opened in 1979 by Clyde and Julie Martens and has been at its current Harrison St location for the past 19 years. Julie says that their wide diversity of their grocery products and their ability to stay on top of the latest trends in health food and supplements sets them apart from other stores. In addition to grocery items, the store has a full service bakery and deli with nearly everything made from scratch. There is ample space for in-store dining as well as comfortable couches on which to enjoy your coffee, tea or smoothie while you read the morning paper. Julie says that the deli is a popular lunch spot for local business people. The comfortable atmosphere and great food set this establishment apart from any chain grocery or deli. Davenport also boasts two excellent breweries, Front Street Brewery and Great River Brewery. The Front Street Brewery on East River Drive has been in business for over 17 years. Offering lunch and dinner as well as libations such as Old Davenport Gold, the commemorative Raging River Ale and a seasonal Brewmaster’s Special, the Front Street Brewery is a good destination for lunch, dinner or an afternoon pick-me-up. The Great River Brewery on East Second Street is Davenport’s newest brewery; the beer list includes 483 Pale Ale, La Jefa Mexican Lager and the Far Out Espresso Stout. And, for your bar-hopping pleasure, these two fine establishments are conveniently located within walking distance of each other. If beer isn’t your thing, check out The Grape Life, a new wine store and lounge in Davenport. With over 200 wines for sale, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for any occasion. You can pick up a bottle for your home cooked meal, or relax in the Lounge where the staff will open any wine in the store for a $7 corking fee. Weekly tastings and “Unwind Wednesdays” make The Grape Life a notable spot for any day of the week. Scott County offers many incentives to leave the interstate for a country drive or a day in the city. The rolling hills generate a diverse selection of meat and produce; you can easily fill your plate during any meal with the bounty of the local landscape. Davenport and Bettendorf each offer an eclectic urban food experience ranging from crunchy granola to upscale dining, all within shouting distance of the mighty Mississippi. Scott County is a microcosm of Iowa itself: a companionable mix of rural and urban, of river valleys and rolling farmland and the delicacies that abound from each.
When You Go...
Freight House Market 421 West River Drive, Davenport www.FreightHouseFarmersMarket.com e Bakery 421 West River Drive, Davenport 563.332.6149 Sawyer Beef 563.289.4359 www.SawyerBeef.com Nostalgia Farms 24785 80th Avenue. Walcott 563.940.0634 www.NostalgiaFarms.com Faithful Pilot Café & Spirits 117 North Cody Road, Le Claire 563.289.4156 www.FaithfulPilot.com Red Crow Grill 2504 53rd Avenue, Bettendorf 563.332.2370 www.RedCrowGrill.net Front Street Brewery 208 East River Drive, Davenport 563.322.1569 www.FrontStreetBrew.com Great River Brewery 332 E. 2nd Street, Davenport www.GreatRiverBrewery.com e Grape Life 3402 Elmore Avenue, Davenport 563.355.7070 www.MyGrapeLife.com
Be sure to tell’em Edible sent ya!
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EIRV 2010-09 - Issue 17 - Harvest - draft:Layout 1 8/16/10 11:33 AM Page 31
Photo By Matt Butler
Welcome to the Good Burger
Short’s Burger & Shine brings local food - and beer - down to earth By Stephanie Catlett
I’m going to make a judgment call here—Short’s Burgers and Shine has the best burgers in Iowa City. There, I said it, and I challenge you to find better. Made with local beef from just 26.5 short miles away, and served on a madefresh-daily bun, these cooked-to-order, mouth-watering stackers, named for Iowa towns (Dundee, Maynard, Defiance just to name a few), have raised the bar for burger excellence in the city. For those in the know, which now includes you, the $6 Monday night burger special has become something of a tradition. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you skip cooking on Mondays from here on out. The burgers and hand-cut fries are enough to send most foodies into a droolspin, but they are not the reason Edible has chosen to feature the restaurant in this issue. Nope, the most interesting thing going at Short’s these days is the beer. Specifically, the fact that all of the beers on tap are from Iowa. Iowa boasts many a wonderful agricultural and culinary tradition but, with Wisconsin to our northeast and St. Louis due south, few among us would consider our state among the great brewing capitals of the Midwest. Perhaps that’s why it took the keen eye of a relative outsider to take note of our state’s blossoming craft brewing industry and suggest that Short’s put it on full-time display. New Jersey native Raymond Sultan moved Short’s to the forefront of Iowa’s craft beer scene by eliminating all the macro brews from the menu (and even the many noteworthy regional craft beers) and replacing them all with Iowa-brewed beers. A former bartender at the highly-regarded Grad Center Bar in Rhode Island, Sultan brought to his new home in Iowa City lots of experience serving quality craft beers, and his enthusiasm is catching. Having finished his work at Short’s, he currently mans the beer cooler at John’s Grocery, where he’s been honing his Iowa beer appreciation on an even larger scale. Ray didn’t come to Iowa City by choice. His girlfriend came for grad-school, and he tagged along reluctantly. He certainly did not arrive expecting to be impressed with the beer, so his appreciation for Iowa brewers was hard-earned. “This is the most patriotic state I have ever lived in,” Ray explains in a not-exactly-admiring way. But despite his loving disdain for the Iowa pride that surrounds him, he has gained a grudging appreciation for our enthusiasm, if nothing else. A goal he had for Short’s from the get-go was to identify ways to draw a more food-centric, less college-drinking obsessed crowd into the restaurant, which is on Clinton Street amongst drinking venues like the Summit, Jake’s and the Airliner. Having been pleasantly surprised by a few brews from the Hawkeye State, he had an epiphany. “It was like lightning struck my forehead. I thought: Why not get all Iowa beers on tap?” The challenge of serving craft brews in the college atmosphere of downtown was worth the risk. “I knew that trying to create a beer bar on Clinton Street would be tough sledding, but I figured who’s not gonna love it?” Customers noticed a difference right away, and they got excited about it. “Our customers loved that it was beer produced by people who are a part of their community,” Ray says, “Plus, it’s a sneaky way of getting our customers better beer to go with better food.” He also sites a reduction in the carbon footprint and an appeal to “local food types” as additional reasons for the switch. Once the lines had been changed over, Short’s introduced the city to a whole new spectrum of beers never before available on tap. Regulars on their line-up include Court Avenue Black Hawk Stout, Old Man River Helles and Dunkel, Peace Tree Hop Wrangler and a good selection from Iowa’s oldest brewery, the Amana Colonies’ Millstream. The Stout stood in for Guinness, and John’s White Ale replaced Blue Moon (“and it’s better,” says Ray). Sutliff Cider also became a regular in the line-up, with Ray insisting that it’s the best cider he’s ever had. Ray’s interest in Iowa beers was piqued when he began to hear buzz about Peace Tree Brewing Company. He took a drive to Knoxville for a tour one wintry Sunday and was impressed with what he saw and tasted there. “They have the most beautiful taproom I’ve ever seen,” he says. “I hung out with owners Scott & Meghan, and they were great.” The next stop on this Jersey boy’s Tour de Breweries was Court Avenue Brewing
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Company in Des Moines. That’s where, he insists, his “head exploded.” After tasting through their line-up, including the Court Avenue Stout that’s now a mainstay at Short’s, Ray was sold. “I knew [then] that we could feasibly serve all Iowa beers on tap. This is what American craft beer is supposed to be like.” Recent changes in Iowa law have allowed the state’s twenty-plus breweries to create beers containing up to 12% alcohol. This has increased the quality and selection of beers available, but distribution is still catching up to demand. In the beginning, arranging to get the kegs was one of the toughest challenges Ray faced. How many bartenders do you know that would be willing to borrow their girlfriend’s car to make out-of-town pick-ups? After several trips, and having demonstrated his commitment to keeping product in stock, it only took a few phone calls per week to make the deliveries run smoothly. “You have to let the brewers grow into themselves, and be willing to give them a chance,” he says. “If you don’t really care about beer, it’s probably not gonna happen.” He hopes to see more downtown establishments take an interest in offering Iowa craft beers on tap because the increase in demand would allow for more deliveries to the area and a steadier supply for the bars. “I give Ray all the credit for getting this Iowa beer thing started,” says Dan Ouverson, co-owner of Shorts with Kevin Perez. “We support local because that’s what’s right, and this was a really great idea on his part, so we said ‘run with it.’” Ouverson and Perez are familiar with Iowa City’s local food scene, Dan through his former restaurant, Baldy’s and current partnership at the Mill, and Kevin through his experience as a chef at 126 and owner of Mama’s Deli. But both felt there was something missing: the perfect burger joint to catch a Hawkeye game. Before opening Short’s, Dan and Kevin were on the hunt every Saturday, looking for a place to have a burger and a beer, and watch the game. “We were always trying to figure out where we should go,” Kevin explains. After years of disappointment, “finally we just said, ‘we should open something.’” Dan already possessed a space that was perfectly located and, by his own estimation, underutilized (the former Baldy’s location). It seemed a natural fit. The name “Short’s Burgers and Shine” was inspired by the building’s original ten-
ant, H.D. Short, who owned a shoe-shine business back in the ‘20s. A large, black and white photo of Short and his crew hangs by the back booth at the new Short’s. Without much fanfare or promotion, Short’s has taken local food to the next level with their simple “do one thing and do it well” approach to food and drink. “We prefer to walk the walk and not talk,” Kevin laughs. Perez and Ouverson’s nod to the locavore is not just a gimmicky branding initiative, but a business decision made by a couple of business-y guys. “We find that local food tastes better, lasts longer, and is less expensive than anything else we can get,” Dan explains. As for the beer, Kevin agrees that going local has also given Short’s an edge. “The beer junkies … they find us,” he says. An attachment to local history and a respect for local food has created a folksy atmosphere and an “everybody knows your name” feel at Short’s. “We’re a come as you are kind of place,” says Dan, “We’ve got good food, good beer, and outstanding service.” Having drawn huge crowds for the World Cup games this summer, Short’s has become the burger and beer joint Dan and Kevin had envisioned. And, with a little help from a Jersey boy who really knows his beer, Short’s has shown this beer-drinking town that it truly pays to favor local craft brews over the typical ontap offerings. Dan and Kevin plan to expand their repertoire in their new venture, a restaurant highlighting local fare in the old Taste on Melrose location. If you don’t feel like firing up your grill this evening, trek over to the burger joint that’s given us all the Iowa we (or anybody else) can want, seven days a week. Short’s keeps it simple, homegrown and true, honoring Iowa’s old traditions and embracing the new craft beer movement that is gaining momentum throughout the state. Sam, an UrbanSpoon.com reviewer, said it best when she remarked on Short’s “profound simplicity.” “When I’m eating a burger in Iowa, I don’t want some frozen trash plopped on the grill from God knows where. I want Iowa!”
Photo By Matt Butler
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The Last Word
By Kurt Michael Friese
Yes We Can!
When I go down to see Grandma, I gain a lot a weight With her dear hands she gives me plate after plate She cans the pickles, sweet and dill, and the songs of the whip-or-will And the morning dew and the evening moon, I really gotta go down and see her soon Cause the canned goods that I buy at the store, ain't got the summer in’em anymore You bet Grandma as sure as you're born I'll take some more potatoes and a thunder storm -Iowa’s own Greg Brown, Canned Goods Often when I am speaking around Iowa and around the country people ask me about how we can eat local food in the depths of an Iowa winter, and I always tell them we can do so the same way our grandmothers did. In fact it’s the same way everyone did until not very long ago. My grandma called it “Doin’ the puttin’ up,” and it was a latesummer-to-early-fall ritual in almost every home, once upon a time. ese days though folks think they don’t have the time, or the expertise, to put food by on their own. Add to that the slightly overblown fear of food poisoning and soon darn few people want to do it. I do not mean to disregard the potential for botulism and other pathogens, just to say that they are easy to avoid with some very simple tools and techniques, and Sherri Brooks Vinton brings them all to you in and amazing volume full of recipes and methods called, simply enough, Put’em Up! is is not the stodgy instructions in your tattered copy of Joy of Cooking, nor is it the clumsy, skimpy pamphlet that came with the canning set that’s currently gathering dust in your garage or basement. Vinton’s book is much more than approachable, it’s virtually unputdownable. I have no doubt we will soon see blogs from people who, a la Julie & Julia, spend a year or more cooking their way through each and every one of the 160+ recipes included.
Best of all, she makes it fun. Even my sister Christine, long a can-o-phobic, has been enjoying using this book. She was first turned on to it, by the way, when she and I interviewed Vinton for our podcast, e Blue Plate Special, available for you to hear anytime - streaming or for download - at www.EdibleRadio.com. As if that were not enough, Ms, Vinton will be in Iowa City September 3rd and 4th demonstrating a few of her techniques, including the recipe on page six of this very issue of Edible. ree recipes for zucchini. Eight for apples. Nine for cucumbers, nine for chiles, nine for tomatoes, nine for berries. And she’s just getting warmed up. It’s not just canning either. Freezing, drying, pickling, pretty much any way there is to preserve your food, Vinton will hold your hand through it and help you make it not just safe, but awfully dang tasty too. As an extra bonus for those of us who occasionally tip a few back now and again, she includes ten (count’em, 10) recipes for various forms of infused liquers, brandies and wine. Sure to warm your bones by the fire come next February. Chock-full of useful photographs by Kevin Kennefick and pencil illustrations by Elara Tanguy, Put’em Up! is exactly the guide you need to extend your summer into the depths of an Iowa winter. As Greg Brown said, “e canned goods that I buy at the store, ain't got the summer in’em anymore”
Put’em Up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Freezing and Drying to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Published by Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA. ©2010 Sherri brooks Vinton. ISBN 978-60342546-9
Photos (c) Kevin Kennefick, excerpted from Put 'em Up! (c) by Sherri Brooks Vinton, with permission from Storey Publishing.
Photos (c) Kevin Kennefick, excerpted from Put 'em Up! (c) by Sherri Brooks Vinton, with permission from Storey Publishing.
EIRV 2010-09 - Issue 17 - Harvest - draft:Layout 1 8/16/10 11:33 AM Page 35
EIRV 2010-09 - Issue 17 - Harvest - draft:Layout 1 8/16/10 11:33 AM Page 36
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