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Celebrating Iowa’s Local Foods
Number 18 :: Winter, 2010-2011
IOWA RIVER VALLEY®
Member of Edible Communities
Why We Love Dumplings
In This Issue
5 6 8 Grist for the Mill
All of us at Edible Iowa are proud to call these folks our Friends. They 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
Season to Season
Parsnip Oven Fries
Brewed Awakenings Puts the the “CR “in Crema—By Leah Wilson Iowa Chef Hits the Big Time in Colorado —By Renee Brincks Trepidatious Tips on Nose-to-Tail Dining —By Brandi Janssen
Conversation, Coffee, Community
Rocky Mountain High
Heart of the Meal
16 17 18
Buy Fresh Buy Local Update Subscription Form
Searching for Authenticity —By Criss Roberts
Local is the New Normal—By Elizabeth Brown
Food News & Tidbits from Around the State
One Stop Shopping for the Best in Local Businesses
24 28 30
Four Generations of Liver Dumpling Soup—By Kurt Michael Friese The 99
What’s Cooking in Clayton County
Walking the Walk at Cleverley Farms —By Kim McWane Friese
The Commonsense Kitchen
—By Tom Hudgens
The Last Word
Bob Blumer’s Glutton for Pleasure —By Kurt Michael Friese On the cover: Liver Dumpling Soup by Kurt Michael Friese
All-Iowa Cheesemakers’ Dinner—pg. 36 El Banditos—pg. 21 Bur Oaks Farm—pg. 4 Cafe del Sol Roasting—pg. 26 Classic Smiles—pg. 4 Colony Inn—pg. 4 Devotay—pg. 6 Dubuque Winter Farmers Market—pg. 12 Edible Bazaar—pg. 23 Edible Institute—pg. 7 Edible Marketplace—pg. 35 Edible Radio—pg. 9 The Englert Theatre—pg. 13 Fireside Winery—pg. 20 Freighthouse Farmers Market—pg. 26 Iowa City-Coralville CVB—pg. 27 Iowa City Farmers Market—pg. 21 Iowa Public Radio—pg. 13 Jasper Winery—pg. 26 John’s Grocery—pg. 33 L. May—pg. 26 Local Artists Holiday Show—pg. 33 Local Heroes—pg. 5 Locally Grown—pg. 20 MidWestOne Bank—pg. 21 Mote Wealth Management—pg. 21 Motley Cow—pg. 26 New Pioneer Co-op—pg. 27 Oneota Community Co-op—pg. 20 Peace Tree Brewing—pg. 20 Pepper Sprout—pg. 12 Pet Central Station—pg. 13 Robinson Family Wellness—pg. 27 Rubaiyat—pg. 12 SavvyRest—pg. 15 Shaklee—pg. 13 Share—pg. 21 Tassel Ridge Winery—pg. 2 Templeton Rye—pg. 20 Twin Image Salon & Spa—pg. 13 Terri Wiebold—pg. 4 USA Pears—pg. 6
IOWA RIVER VALLEY ®
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & PUBLISHER Kurt Michael Friese MANAGING EDITOR Kim McWane Friese WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Renee Brincks Brandi Janssen Elizabeth Brown Criss Roberts Tom Hudgens Leah Wilson 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. (See page 17) 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.
Proudly printed in Iowa.
grist for the mill
Dear Eater, Few foods fill us with the warm and cozy feelings of home as well as dumplings. Nearly every culture has their variations on them, from dainty dim sum to fleischknoedel as big as your fist. In this season’s issue, we bring you three stories of dumplings. Renee Brincks has a profile of an Iowa boy who traveled the world to become one of America’s best chefs, and he has now opened his own place in Denver, Colorado. Criss Roberts searches for dumpling authenticity on both sides of her family, while we examine four generations of one lowly liver dumpling in the family of our own Kurt Friese. It’s not all dumplings this issue though! Leah Wilson has a profile of one of Cedar Rapids best, and most community-centered coﬀee houses Brewed Awakenings on 1st Avenue near Coe College. And Brandi Janssen brings us a culinary adventure with heart - beef heart to be exact in a story about the thrills of nose-to-tail dining. We also raid the refrigerator of one of the Des Moines Farmers Market’s best-known farmers, Larry Cleverley, and go traipsing out among some of his late autumn greens. One bit of business to take care of: We owe two people an apology for an error in our Summer issue (#16). Seems when we requested a RAGBRAI photo from the Des Moines Register of director TJ Juskewicz for that RAGBRAI-themed issue, we received a RAGBRAI photo, but not of him. Rather it was of dedicated rider Catherine Sue Timberlake. e helmet, shades and bunny ears combined with the fact that we here at Edible had never personally met Mr. Juskewicz, made for a perfect storm of mistaken identity. Still was a great photo though, so our thanks nonetheless to the Register, and our sincerest apologies to TJ and Catherine. We shall endeavor to be ever more diligent. With that, and with the holidays upon us, we hope that they find you and yours surrounded by family, friends, and wonderful food! 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!
vote soon! Deadline Dec. 3rd!
CONVERSATION COFFEE COMMUNITY
Brewed Awakenings puts the “CR” in Crema
Story and Photo By Leah WiLSon
Maybe for you coffee is just coffee. It doesn’t really matter too much what brand it is, where it was brewed or how it underwent its journey from bean to cup. The most important thing is that you get it in you, so you can get on with your day. On the other hand, if you have strong opinions about beans, roasting methods and crema; if your morning begins with an artful, spiritual routine where a warm, aromatic liquid combines with all that is good and sound in the universe to rouse the senses and lighten your footsteps as you take on the new day; if coffee is an experience – and one you prefer to share with others – you belong at Brewed Awakenings. Brewed has its own energy and you feel it as soon as you get inside. There’s nothing cookie-cutter, it’s not overly-polished, not overly-spacious or even a tiny bit industrial. For me, it feels like walking into a friend’s living room, with comfy couches and eclectic decorations I can sit and ponder. It feels lived in, the kind of place where they won’t yell at you for putting your feet up; where your voice doesn’t echo off of hard surfaces; it’s intimate and ownable. And maybe it’s because everyone is abundantly caffeinated, but it just feels alive. People are smiling at one another, some are curled into each other for a close conversation, others are passionately debating the day’s headlines. And as soon as you clutch your cup of happiness, you get to join them. To its owners, expertly-trained baristas and customers, a hill of beans is actually a pretty big deal. It’s something to carefully define and passionately discuss. It’s the raw material of a perfectly-executed coffee drink; a catalyst for the creative process, productive labor, or a noteworthy social experience. Manager Ellen Pelzer has been with Brewed for about 5 ½ years, and she is focused on quality. “Our roasters work with their growers to ensure the best growing practices to achieve the best quality in the cup.”
David Harris, a regular customer at Brewed was quick to give kudos, “Their mochas are the best I’ve had, and I’ve lived in Boston, San Franciso … metro areas with first-class coffee options.” He continues enthusiastically, “They take the process of making coffee very seriously here, like pulling short shots so there’s no bitterness, for example. There’s more flavor and less volume.” Brewed’s primary source of beans is PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. in Topeka, Kansas -- Roast Magazine’s 2009 Roaster of the Year. PT’s focuses on direct trade. On their website, they state, “We are committed to working with coffee farmers who are true artisans of coffee cultivation and practice their craft with dedication, skill and passion. We believe that an artisan coffee farmer who grows an award-winning coffee should be given all the credit. We only work with farmers who think long and hard about economic, social and environmental conditions of their farms and their communities. We seek the highest possible return to farmers.” Pelzer feels that PT’s Coffee sets the bar pretty high and that the holistic approach to coffee production sets them apart. Bean worshippers appreciate the attention to both quality and sustainability with every sip. Brewed has a great assortment of drinks -- one of my favorites is the espresso breve: Made with half-and-half instead of milk, it is rich. Most coffee freaks would take at least 12 words (and almost as many minutes) to describe how much it rocks, but I can do it in one made-up word – zensational. In 2000, owners Richard and Nancy Marsceau went on a trip to Verona, Italy, where they visited a neighborhood coffee bar. Of course the coffee was outstanding, but what they really paid attention to was how the people just stood, drank their coffee and talked. Richard recalls, “It was a slower pace of life in Verona. People wanted to con-
nect.” He says it was this experience that inspired them to bring artisanal coffees to Cedar Rapids, but to also create a place for meaningful human transactions. “We wanted a place for peaceful conversation,” he said, and in 2003, they bought Brewed Awakenings. Of course, conversation comes in many forms. Aside from the couples, friends and families gathering to eat, drink and chat, you might overhear the political science group from Coe debating at 9:00, take in a Shakespeare reading at noon and catch a musical performance later that night. Or you can join the local “Conversation Café.” The concept was the brainchild of international best-seller Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life. Her idea, which was a response to the 9/11 attacks, was that positive and lasting community change requires ongoing community dialogue. According to her website, “Conversation Cafés are hosted conversations among diverse people in public places on subjects that matter.” Brewed’s Conversation Café meets weekly during September - May. Attendees get a complimentary 12 or 16 oz drink to get the cognitive wheels turning, and if the coffee isn’t stimulating enough, the discussion will get you going. “We call it 21st century conversation. We explore politics, philosophy and religion, all the things that tend to divide us.” Marsceau says that talking about those things gives people perspective and helps develop the communication tools that create more cohesive, resilient communities. “What makes our place special, aside from the quality of the coffee, is the people,” says Pelzer. “It’s like a family.” Coe College sits just across the street, so students and staff view the coffee house as a second home. Coe employee and frequent Brewed patron, Marty St. Clair expressed how much the personalized attention means to him, “It’s a Cheers-like atmosphere. I can come in and not say a word, and they’ll hand me a medium dark roast to go, and charge it to my account.” Harris caught the vibe, too. “I noticed right away that there was something going on here. People were great ... I’ve never found a Starbucks with this kind of atmosphere.” Brewed has many loyal fans, but after the flood of 2008 drowned Cedar Rapids’ downtown and the economy tanked, the reduction in business was leaving the shop’s financial cup half empty. They weren’t the only business feeling drained, and after the closure of Blend, a nearby restaurant, co-owner Heather Younker, Richard and Nancy’s daughter, made a bold move. She asked for help. Not just for Brewed, but for neighboring businesses, too. She joined and publicized the 3/50 Project, a national endeavor to save independent brick-and-mortar businesses. The idea is that if half of the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month at their three favorite independently owned businesses, more than $42.6 billion in revenue would be generated. That would leave $68 of every $100 spent in the community compared to $43 returned to the community per hundred spent in a national chain, or $0 retained in the community if the purchase was made online. The owners made another important decision. They vowed to support other local businesses with their own dollars, and to create community partnerships whenever possible. Marsceau explained, “We’d been buying local as much as we could, but our situation pushed us to make it even more of a focus.” In 2009, they launched a partnership with Brucemore, a National Trust Historic Site situated on 26 acres in Cedar Rapids. From the vegetable gardens on site, they obtain seasonal produce like lettuce, zucchini, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, raspberries and herbs for their lunch menu. They supplement
with produce grown in the Marsceau’s personal garden and by local farmers. Brewed also purchases biopaper cups from Baker Paper in Cedar Rapids, and source their teas from Frontier Natural Products in Norway, Iowa. Have their efforts paid off? According to Marsceau, business at Brewed has been on the upswing. “Since Heather’s letter, the community has rallied around us and other local businesses. They love these unique, iconic places and we’ve been overwhelmed and grateful to them for showing us how much they care. That’s why I think the future looks good for us. We’ve seen some very positive signs of growth and we’re excited about the coming year.”
When You Go...
Brewed Awakenings 1271 First Ave SE, Cedar Rapids Hours: Monday - Friday 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., closed Sunday Also located next to the gift shop in St. Luke’s Hospital Hours: M-F 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., closed Sat, Sun www.BrewedCR.com www.e350Project.net www.PTsCoﬀee.com www.FrontierCoop.com www.ConversationCafe.org
Photos courtesy of ChoLon Bistro - used with permission
Rocky Mountain High
Iowa Chef Lon Symensma hits culinary heights in Colorado
By Renee Brincks
Media buzz aside, it often surprises people that one of the country’s most prominent Asian food masters is a blue-eyed, 33-year-old Iowa boy. On his culinary journey from Letts, Iowa, to Denver, Colorado., Chef Lon Symensma stopped off in France, Spain, China, Hong Kong and, most recently, New York City. Along the way, he earned nods from NBC’s “Today” and “The Early Show” on CBS. He became a regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. The foodie website Eater NY dubbed him a “strong contender for the title of New York's hottest chef.” And in October, the Denver Post called Symensma’s new modern Asian restaurant, ChoLon Bistro, “the most exciting new eatery to hit Denver in a long time.” “You wouldn’t look at me and think, ‘That guy’s an accomplished Asian chef,’” laughs Symensma. “But once you get to know me and see my vision and inspiration, it’s pretty easy to see why I got to where I am.” The Louisa-Muscatine graduate traces his culinary interests back to his childhood, though not in a traditional grew-up-working-in-the-kitchen sense. His father was a veterinarian who worked as a government meat inspector, and his mother grew the family’s vegetables in a backyard garden. Consequently, Symensma understood the connection between food, farmers and land at an early age. “Mine wasn’t necessarily a ‘culinary family’...we weren’t cooking for a profession, but we were cooking to live. We had that whole farm-to-table thing going on in our own house,” he says. Each summer, Symensma’s mother canned vegetables to be used in winter menus. His father purchased beef directly from a farmer, rather than picking up meat from the store. “I kind of got into that way of life and living off the land,” says Symensma. At age 14, the young chef landed his first restaurant job at Columbus Junction’s CJ Diner, and during high school he worked in the kitchen at Geneva Golf and Country Club in Muscatine. He started competing in international cooking events, earning the American Culinary Federation’s student chef of the year award in 1997, and eventually enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. “In Asia, there are a lot of flavor dynamics going on, as far as hot, sour, salty and sweet. You’re taking these aggressive flavors and balancing them and utilizing very little fat and calories,” explains Symensma. “You’re trading that for a nice light dining experience with just explosive flavors that keep you wanting more. You don’t get bogged down by heaviness.” Introducing this lighter class of fare in a city where dishes such as steak, lamb and local trout are popular does produce some challenges, but Symensma is finding From there, an assortment of opportunities helped Symensma season his skills. He worked in two Michelin two-star restaurants in France before apprenticing in Italy and Spain – including a stint at the famed Arzak, a Basque restaurant in San Sebastian. After a brief stop in New York City, he set off for Southeast Asia and China. Symensma cooked in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Malaysia before returning to New York to open Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market. A few years later, Symensma was the opening chef de cuisine and then executive chef at Buddakan in Manhattan, one of the country’s highest grossing restaurants. When he addressed a CIA graduating class in 2009, he joked that the restaurant seated more people than lived in his hometown. “I only had 59 people in my graduating class, and most kind of stayed in the area,” Symensma says. “Not too many people really broke out and did something on the national level. I’m really fortunate that I decided at a young age that it’s important to always travel and be doing fun and different things.” That adventurous spirit took him on the road again earlier this year, when he explored the flavors of Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and other countries in the process of planning his new Denver restaurant. Named for the largest Chinese-influenced market in Saigon, ChoLon Bistro is the first by Symensma and his Flow Restaurant Group partners, James and Alicia Pokoik Deters. The eatery, located in downtown Denver’s hip, historic LoDo district, features authentic Asian fare with a modern twist: dishes such as soup dumplings, grilled pork satay, barbeque chicken bao bun, green papaya salad and stir-fried wok items. “I have a whole small bites menu, which is meant to be finger food,” Symensma says. “There’s no structure to the menu as far as appetizer, entrée and dessert – it’s more put together as a selection of different categories all meant for sharing.” The menu capitalizes on the lightness and liveliness of flavors common in Asian cuisine.
ways to present traditional proteins with creative garnishes and tasty twists. While Denver’s culinary scene is less developed than the one he left in New York, he has been impressed by the commitment to local, sustainable and innovative cuisine. “I believe Denver is the next food city. I think that right now Portland, Oregon, is number one in the country, as far as new, cutting-edge things happening in a small community and lots of young chefs working together to enhance the food scene. But I firmly believe Denver is going to be that next food city,” Symensma says, adding that he appreciates the opportunities that come with his new location. “New York City was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget, but at some point it’s time to ask yourself where you want to be and where you want your career to go to the next level. I thought being part of a young and growing food scene was advantageous.” Because his parents have returned to their Indiana hometown, Symensma doesn’t get back to Iowa as often as he’d like. Still, two elementary school friends also live in Denver (“Even though we’re not in Iowa, we talk about it a lot and feel like we’re still part of that small town,” he says), and the lessons he learned growing up in the Hawkeye State shape the adult he has become. “The fact that I’m from a small, homey, farm kind of environment, I think that’s helped me develop my work ethic and become the disciplined, structured person that I am today. But then when you take into account that I was able to have these nice worldly experiences and see new things and different cultures, that also really helped develop me into a well-rounded person.”
Dumpling Tips from Chef Lon
Chef Lon Symensma has built his career making fresh, flavorful Asian fare. Here, he shares three tips for cooking up dumplings: 1. Typical dumpling fillings, such as ground pork or chicken, can be seasoned with fresh water chestnuts, ginger, garlic or scallion. “A lot of times, you can use fresh chiles and also some herbs – a nice handful of chopped cilantro or ai basil is great to add to a dumpling filling,” he says. 2. Finding dumplings too dry? “Egg whites help bind the meat together and actually help absorb some of the moisture as the meat cooks and renders out its fat. e egg whites help keep it emulsified and retaining some of that juiciness.” 3. Folding dumplings can be tricky. For those new to the craft, Symensma recommends searching the internet for instructional illustrations or videos. Don’t forget proper sealing techniques. “ere are two ways of sealing. One is to use just water, which will actually help the edges seal and adhere so the dumpling stays nice and closed tight. You don’t want it to come open when it’s cooking,” he says. “And also try egg wash, which is just the egg yolks with just a little splash of water. You can brush that on, and the proteins from the egg wash help to bind the dough together and create a nice, tight seal.” ChoLon Bistro 1555 Blake Street, Denver, Colorado www.ChoLon.com 303.353.5223
It’s no secret that local food has become mainstream. The measure of one’s environmental savvy often comes down to the speed with which she can calculate the relative food miles of every item on her plate. In Iowa, with our rich agricultural history, we have moved well beyond the basic vegetable stand and have access to a wide array of produce, dairy and meat products. Local food, however, often challenges us as consumers to change our wasteful ways. It requires us to eat seasonally and take on the kale, the kohlrabi, and the celeriac. It encourages us to extend our seasons by putting up our own food, as Sherri Brooks Vinton points out in her recent tome to preservation “Put ‘em Up.” Local food also encourages us to reduce waste by using every part of what we have. Yes, those broccoli stalks are edible! Freeze the leafy parts of your celery to use in soup! Save those carrot peels for your vegetable stock! It is personally satisfying to use up those extra bits of vegetables in creative ways, particularly when you know your farmers and how hard they work to deliver them to your table. The “use it up” philosophy doesn’t stop with vegetables, however. When purchasing local meat by the half or quarter, you are quickly confronted with the reality that a cow is more than just hamburger and a pig is more than just bacon. My husband Marc and I recently found ourselves facing some of the extra bits that we hadn’t bargained on. So, how did we get into this situation? For the past three years, Andy and Melissa Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm CSA have been providing our family with a wonderful variety of produce. We have eagerly signed up for spring shares full of salad greens and herbs, summer shares full of every vegetable and herb you could ever hope to eat, and winter shares that are perfect for holiday cooking: root vegetables, squash, garlic, and onions. When we got an email from Melissa telling us that a couple of their certified organic, grass-fed steers would be ready in August, we jumped on the chance to buy our first quarter of beef. As the friendly folks from Community Lockers in Sully helped us select our preferred cuts, we daydreamed about the juicy burgers, rich stews, and blood-rare steaks we’d soon be cooking. When we arrived home with our finished meat and we began loading up our chest freezer, however, a couple curiosities arose. The first was four packages of liver, which we had been trained since childhood to hate. We certainly didn’t order liver. It stands to reason, however, that since a cow has a liver and we ordered a quarter of a cow, we should get a quarter of a cow’s liver. The second curiosity was a little more intimidating. At the bottom of the cooler was a large
package labeled “Heart – ½.” Beef heart? What in the hell are we going to do with that? Marc fancies himself an at-home chef, and he enjoys springing new recipes on me. His creations are often tasty interpretations of our favorite cuisines using local meats and produce: sautéed Delicata squash with Thai basil and fish sauce, roasted Purple Viking potatoes with roasted tomato salsa and goat cheese, kale and onions braised in mustard sauce with local bratwurst, to name just a few. I consider myself a culinary adventurer as well; I ate haggis in Scotland with relish, enjoyed fried squirrel and frogs’ legs as a child in the Ozarks, and often repulse my friends with a penchant for shockingly rare steaks. Somehow, though, preparing and consuming the internal organs of a fellow mammal put us outside our gustatory comfort zones. Anthropologist Nick Fiddes explains that “meat is not only the most privileged nourishment; it is also the most feared and abhorred. The likeliest potential foods to nauseate us today are those recognizably animal—the gristle, the blood vessels, the organs, the eyes—unlike vegetable foods whose identity we rarely dread.” Judging from the many shock-television programs that show chef-hosts gobbling down the “nasty bits,” we’re not alone in our aversion to offal. On the other hand, there are some very good reasons to eat those “extra bits.” For one, they are often less expensive. As Anthony Bourdain has pointed out, many of the great cuisines of the world are based on “food that poor people eat.” Anyone can go buy filet mignon and have great meal, but turning tough, gristly meat scraps into a perfectly-seasoned sausage is a true art form. Secondly, eating the entire animal reduces waste and helps to moderate excessive meat production. The high demand for specialty cuts and steaks means that we have to produce more animals to meet our demand because there are only a few of these cuts on each animal. If more of us would eat more of each animal, we could reduce our overall meat production and reduce waste as well. Faced with something I didn’t know how to prepare, I did what anyone would do: I called my mom. My mother is no slouch in the unusual foods department, she has cooked and enjoyed squirrel, elk, rabbit, bear, venison, raccoon, quail, pheasant, duck and porcupine. “Well, I can’t take credit for the porcu-
pine,” she clarified, “my mother cooked that.” She also once cooked a live sea turtle that my father and his co-workers caught while working on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland. When I asked her if she had prepared beef heart, she said, “oh sure—I love it!” Her preferred technique was to stuff the whole heart with bread stuffing, “just like you put in a turkey,” cover it with bacon or beef suet and bake. She also has pan-fried it, though she prefers it baked. She told me to make sure to remove the outside membrane and to remember that its very lean, so it helps to add some fat if it will be cooked for a long time. I turned this information over to Marc, whose job, after all, it would be to do the actual preparation. While I consulted my mother, he consulted Google and had learned that beef heart is popular in the culinary traditions of Peru and Korea. In addition, the heart, as a constantly-worked muscle, is very lean and dense and has a higher protein content than other cuts. It is also an excellent source of a number of nutrients, including thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10 and several of the B vitamins. Websites about healthy eating also claimed that beef heart contains amino acids that are thought to improve metabolism and compounds that promote the production of collagen and elastin. Most of the recipes he found recommended either a slow braise in the oven for a tender, succulent dish, or a quick sear on the grill for a medium rare steak-like experience. The late October day we had reserved for our culinary adventure turned out to be sunny and warm, so we opted to quickly grill the heart on our indoor cast iron grill pan. The first task was to remove the outer membrane and “silver skin” from the meat. This proved to be the most difficult job of the entire meal. The halved heart was still quite large and the thin layer of fat and membrane adhered to its surface. After the membrane was removed and the heart was cut into quarters, Marc declared, “now it just looks like meat!” He marinated the heart for a few hours in a simple mixture of white wine vinegar, water, olive oil and fresh thyme. On the side we served mixed greens and roasted carrots and heirloom beets from Grinnell Heritage Farm; we topped the roasted vegetables with goat cheese made by Brenneman’s farm, near Parnell. Finally, Marc made a simple chimichurri to drizzle over the meat as a nod to the many South American dishes that are based on beef heart. Now, for the moment of truth. We each poured a healthy glass of La Posta Malbec and toasted to our adventure. I took my first bite without the chimichurri, wanting to get the full flavor of the meat. It was, well, good! The meat was medium rare and surprisingly tender with a rich, earthy flavor. I was glad for bright, garlicky chimichurri, which provided a balance to the meatiness of the heart. We were pleased with our decision to serve the beets and salad on the side, the meal felt well rounded with the sweet beets, tangy goat cheese and rich meat. We initially approached this meal as one might approach sorting three months’ worth of piled up recycling—a mildly unpleasant task that you do to fulfill your own criteria for ethical consumption and behavior. This was, I assure you, more pleasant than sorting recycling—enjoyable even! A good meal shared with good company for which we gave thanks to our farmer, the bounty of Iowa, and the creatures, head to tail, that sustain us.
Marinated Grilled Beef Heart ½ beef heart, cleaned and quartered 3 garlic cloves, finely minced 1 teaspoon salt ½ cup white wine vinegar ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ½ cup water Combine meat with marinade and refrigerate for 3 hours. Grill the beef heart about 3 minutes per side on very hot grill, slice and serve with chimichurri. Serves 4-6 Simple Chimichurri ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsely 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar Blend all ingredients until salt is dissolved, then whisk in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Roasted Beets and Carrots Heat oven to 425F Peel 4 or 5 large carrots and about 6 medium beets; cut into a large dice (about 1 inch) Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread vegetables out on a sheet pan or in a cast iron skillet and roast for 20 minutes. Toss to redistribute the vegetables in the pan and roast for 10-20 minutes more. Vegetables should be golden brown outside and tender. Serve topped with fresh goat cheese.
Where’s the Beef?
A Few Prime Sources for Local Meat
B & B Farms Barney Bahrenfuse & Suzanne Castello Grinnell - 641.990.7843 Beef, pork, lamb, goats & chicken Grinnell Heritage Farm Andrew and Melissa Dunham Grinnell GrinnellHeritageFarm@gmail.com Beef and chicken Wallace Farms Nick Wallace Keystone www.WallaceFarms.com Beef, pork, chicken, turkey Grass Run Farm Ryan and Kristine Jepsen Dorchester www.GrassRunFarm.com Beef and Pork Sawyer Beef Norman and Neal Sawyer Princeton www.SawyerBeef.com Beef
Season to Season: Parsnips
Winter brings us a plethera of root vegetables and one of our favorites in the Edible kitchen is parsnips. Parsnips seem to get a bit more respect than their other root vegetable cousins like turnips and rutabegas, perhaps because they look like pale, cream-colored carrots. Europeans have been cultivating them for millennia, and brought them to the Americas in the 17th century. When fresh and young (you’ll want to avoid overly large ones as they’ll have a fibrous core), they’re sweet with an earthy, herbal undertone that pairs beautifully with flavors like garlic and rosemary. e have quite a number of uses, but our favorite (and a surefire way to get kids to like them) is this simple recipe for oven fries. Simple, tasty, and much more healthful than the fast-food variety.
Buying Local: the New Normal
By Elizabeth Brown
e U.S. Dept. of Agriculture named Iowa fifth in the nation for the number of farmers markets, with 229 markets of the nation’s 6,132 total (August 2010). According to a 2009 Farmers Market Economic Impact Survey, the number of markets in the state has increased by more than 75 percent over the past 15 years. Iowa’s Buy Fresh, Buy Local (BFBL) Statewide Coordinator, Mallory Smith, attributes this success in part to organizations like BFBL. “Local food supporters, especially members of BFBL, are more focused, determined, and organized now than ever before.” From September 15-17, Buy Fresh, Buy Local chapters from across the nation convened at Virginia Beach for the FoodRoutes Network BFBL National Gathering. Smith made the trip out east as part of a 4,375-mile, two-week working road trip with stops in 15 states, making an eﬀort to participate in the local economy every step—or stop—of the way. “Sometimes it took a little more eﬀort to find local foods, but it was always worth it.” Smith reports. “We ate things we had never tried before and met wonderful shop owners, restaurateurs and cooks.” So what was Smith’s big takeaway from the conference? “e local food movement has changed since BFBL started in 2003,” she says. When BFBL started, supporters were primarily interested in sustainable agriculture, conservation issues, and maintaining the unique culture of family farming. ese days, people concerned with public health, environmental stewardship, economic development, and even tourism join them. “e talk is no longer about what should be done, but rather, what is being done and how to do it better.” is goes for local foods, but also extends to local banks, local commercial retailers, and other local service providers. Smith reported that this was apparent at the national conference, as there were stands for organizations like the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), a fast-growing network of socially responsible businesses with community networks in 30 states. “Now it’s local everything!”
Garlic-Parsnip Oven Fries
1-1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled cut into 1/4-inch x 1/4-inch x 3-inch batonettes 2 tablespoons Canola oil 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced paper thin Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped Preheat oven to 425. Toss the parsnips with the oil and garlic until thoroughly coated, and then toss again with salt and pepper. Lay out on a cookie sheet in a single layer (keep the bowl for later). Place sheet in the middle of the preheated oven and bake 15-20 minutes, turning with a spatula about every 5 minutes. en cook an additional 10 minutes or to desired crispiness. Remove from the oven and return parsnips to the bowl. Toss the fries with the cheese, rosemary and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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Winter 2010-2011 www.EdibleIowa.com 17
By Criss Roberts
I married into a family with a single culinary touchstone. All good meals must, by definition, trace back to Grandma Ethel. The best meal, the meal by which all others were judged, was Grandma Ethel’s beef and noodles. Only once did I taste the originals. My sister-in-law, who filled Grandma Ethel’s shoes as the family’s designated cook, never experienced them. But this will not be a story about those noodles. It tried to be that story - God knows, it tried. My sister-in-law has heard about the noodles and is committed to giving her husband a gift of that particular childhood memory. It had become a personal challenge to duplicate those noodles. “So what were they like?” Laurie asks. We are in the farmhouse kitchen. The men are out on the combine because there is still corn in the field. Our mother-in-law comes in with a basket of eggs and is handed a paring knife. Even she, Ethel’s daughter, has little solid information. Grandma Ethel had a great many firmly held beliefs, but passing down recipes was not one of them. “There was kind of a gravy,” we’re told. “And she rolled them out and cut them.” But they weren’t egg noodles. We learned that after the first attempt. And they certainly weren’t drop dumplings. “These kind of taste like paste,” I said. “Broth-flavored paste.” Those pasty blobs sparked a memory of my own. Forget the beef and noodles. I wanted my own grandmother’s chicken and dumplings, a bowl of richness and flavor. She called them galushka, a mash up of the Hungarian word for goulash, but the recipe had been simplified over the years and was as far from goulash as I was from my eastern European roots. It had been her grandmother’s recipe before I’d ever tasted it. Generations of grandmothers had cooked steaming pots of galushka over wood fires in their little village outside of Budapest. I longed to feel the heat steaming up from the pot of boiling dumplings. It was all I needed to feel warm in fall’s damp chill. Food memories are formed as much from a shared culture as they are a shared table. As much as I had once appreciated the legendary beef and noodles, they would never satisfy that childhood place in my heart. Tastes of home can be recreated, but its takes more to trigger the feeling of home. Taste is like a half-cooked cake, sweet but still wanting. Science would argue that it isn’t the taste that triggers memory at all, it’s the smell. Once an odor starts working through the brain’s limbic system, you might as well break out the scrapbooks because you’re on your way back home, baby. One nibble of those paste-like dumplings sent me reeling back decades, to my grandmother’s tiny kitchen. The big green bowl she used for her dumplings is now in my cupboard and I found an enameled pot like hers years ago. This journey to duplicate this particular memory began a while ago and for whatever reason, I’ve never taken the simple step of turning on the burner, fearful that I couldn’t create the food I treasured. But memory is flexible. Recipes are negotiable. I may have married into beef-and-noodles family, but I was born a chicken-and-dumplings kind of girl.
Chicken and Dumplings
For the Chicken: 1 4-pound broiler (or parts) 8 cups chicken broth 1 onion, halved 1 bay leaf 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tablespoons fresh parsley 2 stalks finely-chopped celery ½ to 1 cup finely chopped carrots (less if your kids are going to pick them out anyway.) salt and pepper to taste. Simmer chicken with onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf, garlic and parsley on low for up to 90 minutes or until chicken begins to fall from bone. Once done, remove chicken from broth to cool. DO NOT throw out broth. Keep it on simmer while making the dumplings. After the chicken is cool, take it off the bones and set it aside. For the Dumplings: 2 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ cup butter, cold and cut into pieces ½ cup buttermilk, cold Combine dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in chunks of butter until it is the size of small peas. Add buttermilk and pulse a few more times, but finish by kneading it, adding flour if the dough is too sticky. Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Bring the broth up to a rolling boil and drop in the dumplings. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove cooked dumplings with slotted spoon to serve. Place chicken in serving bowls and top with dumplings. (Add broth as desired.)
ere are plenty of sources in Iowa for farm fresh chicken, and one we know of for flour. Nearly all are listed on the very helpful web database called LocalHarvest.org. Check there to find one near you, or simply contact these two favorites:
Foxhollow Poultry Farm
12898 NE 56th Street Elkhart www.FoxHollowPoultryFarm.com 515.367.3402
2475-B 340th Street Laurel www.PaulsGrains.com 641.476.3373
Schera’s Cade & Harissa Research for our county-by-county exploration of Iowa series e 99 (see page 28) led us to enjoy a meal at Schera’s Restaurant and Bar on Main Street in Elkader, and we’re sure glad of it. ey source local ingredients whenver feasible (which is often in Northeast Iowa), and are rightfully proud of their selection of local beers. But what had us doing the Yummy Dance in our seats and getting the locals to look at us funny was the cade, a traditional Algerian chickpea custard (pictured here at right). It’s served with a spicy harissa, which is also an Algerian specialty, but this one is much better than the yellow tubes you’ll find in Mediterranean specialty shops. Redolent of toasted fennel and tamarind, with heat enough so you’ll surely feel it yet it won’t overpower your meal, it is highly addictive and we here at Notables would just like to take this opportunity to publicly insist that Schera’s pursue bottling this sauce commercially so that we can always have some on our shelves. It is a moral imperative. Schera’s 107 South Main, Elkader, 563.245.1992 Scheras.com
If you’re looking for another reliable source of local food, check out Local Harvest Supply’s “e Outlet.” A division of Hawkeye Foodservice, their main business is catering to restaurants. But the Outlet is open to the public and has a large selection of restaurant surplus alongside a growing supply of locally-sourced meat, eggs, dairy and produce in season. It’s a little tricky to find, tucked behind a warehouse at the eastern-most extreme of the Coralville strip, but their website can help guide you. Local Harvest Supply Outlet 3800 2nd Street, Coralville, 877.797.8881 LocalHarvestSupply.com Mushroom Mills grow Kits Most Edible readers are deeply involved in their food. Here is another easy way to become more active in your food system, and it's fun, simple and inexpensive! We are seeing more diverse and interesting foods at our farmers markets every year, and this is a great example. e Edible Iowa test kitchens have put these ‘shrooms through their paces, and have been delighted with the results. Mushroom Mills' began cultivating mushrooms in 2010, and has brought this simple and innovative method to Joe & JoAnn Consumer. Just spritz a couple times a day with water, and within two weeks you'll have an abundance of very tasty oyster mushrooms, about two to three pounds for a $10 kit (3 varieties available). A fantastic gift for anyone who loves mushrooms. Great for kids too! Available at the December 11th Iowa City Farmer's market, or contact email@example.com. ey have a great Facebook page also where you can ask questions and keep up to date on the next market availability.
Photos by Kurt Michael Friese
Local Harvest Supply Outlet
Tell’em edible Sent You
ARTISANS As the Crow Flies Home Grown and Handspun Yarn Joanne Nelson 319.512.8858 Julie's Fountain of Flowers JuliesFountainOfFlowers.com 319.629.5522 Pedretti’s Bakery 101 North Main Street, Elkader PedrettisBakery.com Yellow River Cheese Premium Farmstead Style Goat Cheeses YellowRiverDairy.com BEVERAGES Aroma's 105 N. Main Street, Charles City 641.228.4773 Buzz Coﬀee Shop 506 South River Park Drive Guttenberg Eagle's Landing Winery Featuring Marquette Maid Wines 563.873.2509 EaglesLandingWinery.com Grounds for Celebration e Best Fresh Roasted Coﬀee 3 Locations Des Moines GroundsForCelebration.com e Secret Cellar Fine Wine, Liquor, Beer, Gifts Schueyville, 319.841.2172 SecretCellarWines.com Toppling Goliath Brewing Big Beers Brewed in Small Batches 310 College Drive, Decorah 563.387.6700 TGBrews.com CVB/TOURISM Greater Des Moines CVB 400 Locust St. #265, Des Moines 515.286.4960 SeeDesMoines.com McGregor - Marquette Chamber of Commerce 800.896.0910 McGreg-Marq.org Quad Cities CVB 1601 River Dr., Suite 110 Moline-800.747.7800 VisitQuadCities.com Winneshiek County CVB e Good Life! DecorahArea.com FARMS Highland Vista Farm Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Eggs 3268 320th Street, Wellman 319.646.2989 Kissing Emu Farms Heart, Skin, & Earth Friendly kissingemu.com Muscatine Melons Darwin Paulsen 563.785.6334 Scattergood Friends School Scattergood.org HOME At Home Kitchen,Yarn and much more. 52 North Main Street, Fairfield AtHomeStoreOnline.com Design Ranch Where Fun Meets Function and Looks Good Doing It DesignRanch.com RSVP Cards-Journals-Jewelry-Soap-etc. 140 North Linn Street, Iowa City RSVP-ASAP.com Savvy Rest Organic Mattresses Purity. Comfort. Integrity. Value. 866.856.4044 SavvyRest.com HOTELS/INNS B&B on Broadway Where the Past Meets Modern Conveniences 305 West Broadway Street, Decorah BAndBOnBroadway.com Hotel Fort Des Moines 1000 Walnut Street, Des Moines HotelFortDesMoines.com Hotel Winneshiek 21st Century Comfort and 19th Century Charm 104 East. Water Street, Decorah 800.998.4164 HotelWinn.com MARKETS Campbell's Nutrition e Source for Local, Organic Food In Des Moines CampbellsNutrition.com Edgewood Locker 609 West Union, Edgewood EdgewoodLocker.com Everybody's Whole Foods 501 North 2nd Street, Fairfield EverybodysWholeFoods.com Greatest Grains 1600 Harrison Street, Davenport 563.323.7521 www.GreatestGrains.com Proof Inspired Mediterranean Cuisine 1301 Locust Street, Des Moines ProofRestaurant.com Ralph's Garden Café 5 S. Federal Avenue, Mason City 641.422.9902 Schera's Algerian American Elkader 563.245.1992 Scheras.com Trostel's Dish 12851 University Avenue, Clive dishtrostels.com SERVICES Green Angels Herbs & Healing Arts Cedar Rapids 319.247.1243 GreenAngelsHerbs.com
Larry A. Stone McGregor's Top Shelf Writer. Photographer. Lecturer Meat, Cheese, Wine, Spirits & More Elkader, 563.245.1517 221 Main Street, McGregor LarryStonesIowa.com McGregorsTopShelf.com Plant Peddler New City Market Retail, Wholesale, Young Plants e Highest-Quality Organic and Stone Creek Farms, Cresco Natural Foods 800.827.1654 48th and University, Des Moines PlantPeddler.com 515.255.7380 NewCityMarket.com RESTAURANTS Blue Mountain Culinary Emporium 814 Lincoln Place SE, Orange City BlueMountainEmporium.net Centro e Urban Eatery 1007 Locust, Des Moines CentroDesMoines.com Ge-Jo’s by the Lake 12 North 3rd Street, Clear Lake 641.357.8288 Her Soup Kitchen 625 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City HerSoupKitchen.com La Reyna 1937 Keokuk Street, Iowa City
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 at Kim@EdibleIowa.com
Marie Pilz, originator of the liver dumpling soup recipe, on the occasion of her engagement in 1918.
Four Generations of Liver Dumpling Soup
By Kurt Michael Friese
e year was 1957, and a blushing bride was nervously but dutifully helping in the kitchen at her first holiday feast with her new “big city” in-laws. e young groom’s aunt Dorothy, culinary matriarch of the family, had been working away at the meal for days (as she always did) and the banquet to be laid upon the enormous, antique dining table had to be just so. is was a family of immigrants and their children were the first generation to be born beside the Golden Door. Traditions were adhered to as gospel truth, and familial pride was paramount. ey had achieved some measure of success, the nation was in boom times, and there was plenty to be grateful for that anksgiving Day. All the bride could think about was not spilling the soup. e first course was a simple peasant soup recipe by Dorothy’s sister Marie who was the mother of the groom. It was one of broth and liver dumplings, served in shallow soup plates of delicate bone china. It took all the poise she’d been taught in school (yes, they still taught “poise” to young ladies in school then) for the new bride to bring the soup – unspilled – to the men at the table. Succeed she did, but when she would go on to have a family of her own, and serve the liver dumpling soup at her own gatherings, it would be ladled out at the table and carefully passed from her to my father, then my sister, and then to me. Spills would be our faults. Every family has a dish, or more than one, that speaks volumes of family history. e aroma brings back memories so powerfully that a single whiﬀ can bring a nostalgic tear to a grown man’s eye. I never knew my Grandmother, the originator of the recipe, who died when I was an infant. But I was lucky enough to spend my first few anksgiving meals in my Great Aunt Dorothy’s Chicago brownstone, amidst uncle Mumm’s music boxes, gazing up at the enormous table covered edge to edge with wondrous treats. My sister fondly remembers chocolate angel food cake on pink plates, and Shirley Temples in hollow-stemmed crystal wine goblets. I’m sure there was a turkey, and I’m sure it was delicious, but the truly memorable foods for me were the houska (Dorothy’s braided egg bread), the wild rice and the cranberries (also my late grandmother’s recipes), and the liver dumplings. We kids ate the dumplings and left the broth behind, unaware that children were not supposed to like liver. In fact I did not like liver, not the fried-with-onions variety anyway, but remained blissfully unaware that the dumplings actually did contain it until well into my teens when it first fell to me to make them. I had gained an interest in cooking through years living in a household where the main topic of conversation during lunch was what to serve for supper. e sound
of the onion, garlic, and liver passing through my mother’s Oster electric meat grinder is a vivid memory. Clearer still was the revelation that something that seemed so gross could be transformed into something so delicious. Today the liver dumpling soup is expected on our holiday table, though now it has become a Christmas tradition, there being already simply too many “must haves” on anksgiving. e aroma, each bite of the tender dumplings, each slurp of the broth (which I do now enjoy), brings on that rush of comfort, of belonging to a loving family, of gratitude and joy and the realization that the happiest moments of my life have been spent around a table with great food in front of me and the people I love all around. ese traditions are vanishing. People rarely cook anymore, let alone with their grandmother’s recipes. Perhaps we’d do well to look to some of these older traditions to find some of the joys of childhood and the love we share around a table. at, after all, is what the holiday rituals have always been about. Liver Dumpling Soup 1 pound cleaned beef liver 1 large onion 1 clove garlic 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 3 beaten eggs ½ pound dry breadcrumbs (about 2 cups, plus) 1 ½ teaspoons salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 1 gallon beef broth* 1 gallon chicken broth* Put the liver, onion and garlic through a meat grinder on a fine setting (a blender or food processor may be used, however it will puree the meat and make the dumplings rather heavy). Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. In separate pots, bring the beef and chicken broths to simmer. With wet hands, form the mixture into golf-ball-sized dumplings. Simmer them a dozen or so at a time (or whatever fits well without crowding) for about 20 minutes, gently stirring once or twice. Serve in shallow soup plates with the chicken broth, garnished with more chopped parsley. Yields about three dozen dumplings. *Canned is fine, but choose the low-sodium variety so that you can control the salt level.
Every Iowa County, One Season at a Time
The 99: What’s Cooking in Clayton County
In season the patio at Schera’s offers a beautiful view of the old bridge that spans the Turkey River and the historic courthouse beyond. Inside you’ll find delicious and unexpected treats with a North African flair. It’s all delicious food sourced locally whenever feasible, but the not-to-be-missed part (especially for “chileheads”) is their homemade hot sauce. It packs a pretty good punch but won’t blow your head off, and is redolent with fennel and tamarind in a base of the Algerian chile paste called harissa. If the heat turns out to be too much, cool it with the small-batch craft beers of Toppling Goliath Brewery from nearby Decorah (The 99 will visit them in Winneshiek County in the Summer, 2011 issue of Edible). The Turkey River, by the way, is a haven for flyfishers thanks to the 24 spring-fed raceways of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Big Spring Trout Hatchery just a few miles upriver from downtown Elkader. Across the street is the historic Pedretti’s Bakery, where you can enjoy tasty treats from simple breads, cookies and fresh doughnuts to the fanciest wedding cake. It’s just down the street from the also-historic Opera House, where you can take in a show after visiting Ellen Dirrs’ Elkader General Store and stocking up on local treats like Fassbinder’s honey and Ruff’s sorghum. As if that weren’t enough local goodness – don’t miss Willow Creek Wine & Garden, where two sisters combined their passions and created an interesting storefront gift shop with lots of local wines, food gifts and more. Before leaving town, take a tour of the Motor Mill, built in 1867 of stone quaried right nearby. They milled barley, wheat and corn until 1883, when it fell victim to a flood. The Klink family used it as a farm building from 1903-83, and today it’s being renovated and restored to become a museum. Of course Clayton County’s treats aren’t all relegated to the county seat of Elkader.
Photos by Kurt Michael Friese
From Buena Vista to Marquette, Clayton County is home to some of the prettiest stretches of riverbank on the Mississippi. And while the river defines it both geographically and figuratively, Clayton County offers much more to see and do, especially for the dedicated food tourist. The Old River Road connects north to south and offers some spectacular views, but state highway 13 cuts right through the heart of this historic area from Manchester to Marquette-McGregor, making for a splendid day trip to find old and new traditions alike. It also offers up some of the most interesting stories behind how the many small towns got their names. For example, according to Tom Savage’s fascinating 2007 book A Dictionary of Iowa Place Names (UI Press), Strawberry Point was originally called Franklin. But since there already was a US post office called Franklin in Iowa, the post office in Clayton County got named for the abundance of wild strawberries that grew around it. The name stuck to the town, and now the world’s largest strawberry sits atop its perch in the center of town. Strawberry Point is also the home of Kevin Powell, a farmer who raises the very rare Mulefoot Hog. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the breed’s status as critical, and says there are fewer than 200 left in the world. From there it’s just a 20-minute hop up highway 13 to Elkader, which according to Mr. Savage has perhaps the most unexpected namesake in the state – the 19thcentury Algerian emir Abd el Kader – a national hero there for his strong resistance to the French invasion. That fact played no small part in the choice made by Frederique Boudouani and Brian Bruening when they chose to open their restaurant, Schera’s, in the heart of town.
The Irish Shanti is home to “The Wonder of Gunder,” the Gunderburger – a full pound of ground beef with a variety of toppings to choose from (if you dare). Over in McGregor don’t miss McGregor’s Top Shelf, a gourmet shop and wine cellar with a lot of variety packed into a small space. Afterwards, stop by the Old Man River Brewery for a pint or two in their renovated home of “Diamond” Jo Reynolds, a 19th century riverboat baron for whom the casino in nearby Marquette is named. If you make that one-mile trek up the river from McGregor to Marquette, be sure to stop in at the Eagle’s Landing Winery for a taste and some shopping. Their wines run from very sweet to very dry, and they have a great selection of wine-related gifts to peruse while you enjoy the wines. Across the way in Monona is the home of Yellow River Goat Cheese, where the Lund family keeps a herd of 120 Saanens, Toggenburgs and Alpine dairy goats for their cheeses, which are among the best out there. They are regulars at the Decorah farmers market and they’re happy to send you some – just contact them through their website (see the sidebar). Downriver in Guttenberg, get a cup of coffee and pick up on the latest gossip around town with all the locals at Lori Wallace’s coffee shop. The Buzz. If meat is more your thing, swing back down to the southern edge of the county, just east of where we started in Manchester, to the small town of Edgewood. Since 1966 the Kerns family has shepherded the Edgewood Locker from a small two-person operation to a large facility of more than 50 employees can process nearly 3,500 deer in any given season. Of course they stock a full line of beef and pork products as well, and the largest variety of bratwursts you are likely to find anywhere. Take a day to wander through Clayton County, and tell’em Edible sent you.
When you Go...
e Buzz Lori Wallace, Proprietor 506 South River Park, Guttenberg 563.252.2522 Eagle’s Landing Winery 127 North Street , Marquette 563.873.2509 EaglesLandingWinery.com Edgewood Locker 609 West Union, Edgewood 563.928.6814 EdgewoodLocker.com e Elkader General Store 107 North Main, Elkader 563.245.1799 e Elkader Opera House 207 North Main, Elkader 563.245.2098 ElkaderOperaHouse.com e Irish Shanti 17455 Gunder road, Gunder 563.864.9289 eGunderBurger.com McGregor’s Top Shelf 221 Main Street, McGregor 563.873.1717 McGregorsTopShelf.com Motor Mill MotorMill.com e Mulefoot Pig Association Kevin Powell 563.933.2252 Pedretti’s Bakery 101 North Main, Elkader 563.245.1280 PedrettisBakery.com Schera’s 107 South Main, Elkader 563.245.1992 Scheras.com Willow Creek Wine & Garden 104 1st Street NW, Elkader Alpinecom.net/~WillowCreek Yellow River Goat Cheese YellowRiverDairy.com
Walking the Walk at Cleverley Farms
Story & Photo By Kim McWane Friese
Larry Cleverley knows good food. As a matter of fact he is surrounded by some of the best food in the world every day. Larry is a mainstay at the downtown Des Moines Farmers Market where he has been selling his gorgeous heirloom vegetables for 14 years. Larry is also the central Iowa distributor for Niman Ranch pork, beef and lamb. Restaurants all over central Iowa appreciate his personal service and wily sense of humor when he rolls in with the some of the highest quality meat products available in the United States. His farm in Mingo was settled by his grandparents in 1928, the children of English immigrants. Larry returned to the farm from a 23-year career in marketing in Chicago and New York. His experience in marketing really shines through his ability to create relationships with clients who know and trust the products he brings to the table. Sustainable farming doesn't work without sustaining personal relationships with eaters and chefs. Knowing all this, what would be hiding in his fridge? Would it represent his enduring and tireless advocacy of local, healthy and delicious? The kind of foods he peddles to the happy masses, or would we find anomalies and secret junk-food stashes? We now know that Larry is not, to be sure, a hypocrite. He had just returned from Terra Madre, an international convention, organized by Slow Food, of small food producers, artisans, chef's and local food systems managers from more than 120 countries. There cannot be a more culturally diverse city in the world than Turin, Italy every other October. Larry was once again a delegate to Terra Madre, his third time, and he is full of stories from his experiences there. He also came home with any and all great food from this event that would travel well. Front and center in the fridge is half of a jar of Peperoncino Picante from a small Italian family company called Artigiana Funghi. The label boasts an ingredients list of hot red chilis, olive oil and salt. There was other evidence of some spicy preferences with a few bottles of hot sauces, cajun and otherwise. One might assume that there would be Niman Ranch products, and there are. Niman Ranch sausages and bacon await the Sunday morning breakfasts that Larry and his wife Beth Jaeger enjoy in the best Midwest farming tradition. Larry looks forward to the ritual of the Sunday morning feast – a special meal – slow, delicious and relaxed. He and Beth are usually early risers, and the other morning meals consist of granola and fresh berries from The Berry Patch in Nevada, when available. No breakfast, let alone morning, will happen in this house without coffee. A bag of Kona coffee has a place of prominence in the fridge. The coffee maker sits right next to the refrigerator, so one can tell that ergonomics are important when it comes to the morning brew. Larry offers a hot cup as he picks up and refers to the worn but sturdy 27-year-old coffee grinder as an old friend. Household shopping starts just outside the door. Fresh greens are abundant for meals and nibbling. Greens and garlic are the mainstays of Larry’s farm operation, and the long warm autumn has kept that operation going well into November, which is a blessing because the long wet spring wrecked havoc on all farmers
in that area. Most of the spring planting simply rotted in the ground before it could even get a start. It was estimated that this area had 180 percent the normal rainfall. Nothing could withstand that kind of a beating. Whatever isn’t grown or warehoused on the premises, comes mostly from the Gateway Market in Des Moines. Gateway is also Larry’s best customer when it comes to Niman Ranch products, so returning the favor is simple. Porcetta, made in the Gateway Market with Niman Ranch Pork will settle very nicely on top of the mini ciabatta buns from South Union Bakery. This family bakery, owned by renowned Des Moines chef George Formaro, is now located within Gateway Market and continues to put forth the high quality Italian baked goods Formaro’s family had been known for since 1913. We also find LaQuercia products, most notably, a jar of “Iowa White Lardo.” This is an amazing product, one which can replace butter with only 40 percent of the saturated fat, all the flavor, and is completely natural. LaQuercia Prosciutto is a great story in and of itself, and has been featured in the pages of Edible more than once – including on the cover in 2009. The two percent and non-fat jugs of milk are from Picket Fence Creamery, an 80-acre farm with 80 Jersey cows tended by the Burkhart family, Jeff, Jill, Jenna and James. Their products are available in groceries in central Iowa, and also from their farm store. The Cleverley dairy section is rounded out with eggs from Sheeder farms in Guthrie Center. The freezer keeps Niman Ranch ground beef, and a meal from Conte di Savoia properly frozen until the time comes. Conte di Savoia is a favorite Italian market in Chicago, making spinach tortellini and puttanesca sauce on premise for the lucky eaters like Larry when he hits the windy city. The products look authentic and delicious, even in their frigid state. This raid was quite a lesson in eating local, and the only highly processed, big name items within the icebox walls were not the least bit edible, EverReady AA batteries and several jars of fingernail polish. Larry shrugged and said “I don’t know why she keeps them there, must be a reason though.”
A Few Quick References
Terra Madre - TerraMadre.info Niman Ranch Meats, ornton - NimanRanch.com e Berry Patch, Nevada - BerryPatchFarm.com Gateway Market, West Des Moines - GatewayMarket.com La Quercia Prosciutto, Norwalk - LaQuercia.us Picket Fence Creamery, Woodward - PicketFenceCreamery.net Sheeder Farms, Guthrie Center - 641.747.9956 Conte di Savoia, Chicago - ConteDiSavoia.com
One day, as I finished cooking lunch for the community of fifty hungry people at Deep Springs College, the wife of a faculty member asked me, “Tom, have you written down any of your recipes?” “No,” I said, “but I really need to start.” “Yes, you really need to start,” she said. And I did. That was twelve years ago. Stated very simply, Deep Springs is a college on a ranch: a very small, fully accredited, two-year college program for academically advanced young men (only twelve are admitted each year), situated on a real, working cattle ranch in an isolated valley in California’s Eastern Sierra region. In addition to rigorous academic coursework, the students put in about twenty hours of physical labor each week at a variety of jobs on the ranch. Though it’s not a vocational school, the young men who attend Deep Springs get a good taste of many vocations during their two years: rancher, gardener, farmer, mechanic, cowboy, butcher, cook. Meals are an important part of Deep Springs’ community life, bringing everyone together, marking the rhythm of the day. Deep Springs can be a wonderful place to cook. Fresh beef is always in abundant supply, and four cows are milked by student hands twice daily. There are pigs, lambs, goats, chickens, and geese. Apple, pear, peach, and plum trees
thrive in the orchard. In the warmer months, many crops emerge from the garden, including onions, garlic, lettuce, leeks, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, asparagus, and raspberries. I’ve been lucky enough to attend Deep Springs as a student, to work there as the chef, and to teach a cooking class there. In my student days, I performed a three-month tour of duty as Student Cook, and oversaw sumptuous Thanksgiving dinners for 60 people. After Deep Springs, I immediately began cooking professionally. I cooked for families, private clients, and restaurants, including an amazing year at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. A decade later, I returned to the valley for three years as Deep Springs’ chef. I did eventually start writing down my recipes…I compiled a small cookbook to give to the graduating students. Each year, with each graduation, the cookbook expanded. A few years later, I returned to Deep Springs once more, this time to teach a seven-week course in culinary arts. I used the old cookbook as a reference, and ultimately edited and expanded it into The Commonsense Kitchen.
Bosc Pear Pie
Makes one 10-inch, double-crust pie; serves 6 to 8 This is one of my favorite pies. Allow the pears to ripen on your kitchen table for several days, until their brown skin takes on a golden hue and a matte finish. A crust made with a small portion of wholewheat flour is especially good with pears. for the crust: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon sugar 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter 6 to 8 tablespoons cold orange juice for the filling/assembly: about 7 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch thick (for 7 to 8 cups sliced pears) grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/3 to 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar pinch of ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger pinch of salt 1 egg, separated 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces 1 tablespoon milk 1 tablespoon granulated sugar To make the piecrust: Combine both kinds of flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Slice the cold butter thinly into the dry mixture, tossing to coat the slices. Using your hands, rapidly work in the butter, breaking up large chunks of butter and smearing clumps of the mixture between your palms, until the visible chunks of butter are pea-sized. As the flour is moistened by the butter, it will darken slightly in color, turning from cream white to pale ivory. Sprinkle in the orange juice and, using a fork, lightly toss and combine just until the mixture coheres. If the mixture seems dry, sprinkle in a bit more orange juice, but do not add so much that the dough becomes sticky. Divide the dough into 2 balls of equal size. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and press each into a disc. Let the dough relax in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then unwrap and roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, flipping frequently so it doesn’t stick, to a large circle about 1/8 inch thick. When rolling, apply outward, not downward pressure. Rolling piecrust takes practice. Fold the circle gently in quarters, lay it in a 10-inch glass pie plate, and unfold. Gently press the crust into the plate so there are no air pockets. Patch any holes or tears with bits of excess dough, lightly moistened with water. Roll out the second crust a bit thinner than the first, and reserve it between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. To make the filling and assemble the pie: Heat the oven to 425ºF. As you slice the pears, toss them with the lemon juice in a large bowl to sharpen the flavor and prevent them from browning. Toss the pears with the lemon zest, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, grated ginger, and salt until thoroughly combined. Taste a pear, adding more sugar if they are very tart. Before filling the pie shell, lightly beat the egg white and brush the entire inside surface of the pie shell with it, making sure to apply a good coat around the rim. This will help keep the bottom crust from getting soggy and will also “glue” the top and bottom crusts together at the edge.
Dump the pears into the prepared pie shell, arranging them in an even layer, slightly mounding in the center. Dot the pears with the butter and gently drape the top crust over, pressing around the rim to fuse the top and bottom crusts. Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut away the excess crust around the rim, leaving about 1 inch of overhang. Fold the overhanging crust in toward the rim and crimp, pinching the folded edge of the crust in an attractive, even scallop pattern—the structure of this fluted edge helps keep the crust in place. Make an egg wash: thoroughly mix the egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl. Brush the top and rim of the pie with the egg wash, sprinkle the top with the sugar, and cut 3 vents in the center of the top crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 325ºF. Bake for 40 minutes longer, or until the pears are soft and thoroughly cooked. Test by inserting a small knife into a vent; the pears should offer no resistance when pierced. The bottom of the pie should be golden. Rotate the pie once or twice during baking. Let the pie cool on a rack for a couple of hours at least, until room temperature or barely warm—the juices will continue to thicken as it cools.
The Last Word
By Kurt Michael Friese
Glutton for Pleasure
If you’re not already familiar with Bob Blumer then you don’t watch the Food Network. He cooks salmon in a dishwasher. He makes snowmen out of mashed potatoes and birthday cake of meatloaf. He’ll serve you pound cake French fries, dog bone ginger snaps, and sliced Jell-o shooters in orange peels. Not weird enough? How ‘bout Cracker Jack soup? In his new book, Glutton for Pleasure: Signature Recipes, Epic Stories and Surreal Ettiquette, Bob Blumer helps you channel your inner child while creating fun and delicious food built on rock-solid culinary fundamentals. e author of three other books, creator of five seasons of the acclaimed Food Network series e Surreal Gourmet and current host of Glutton for Punishment, you can “like” him on Facebook and you can watch video clips on his website, and just in time for the holidays you can buy his new book just about everywhere. Bob was a recent guest on our podcast, e Blue Plate Special (available to stream or download free on iTunes or at EdibleRadio.com). In that show he explained the intracacies of opening a bottle of Champagne with a ten-inch Santoku kitchen knife, regaled us with the legend of his travels in the toaster-mobile, and gave listeners tips on how to streamline a kitchen into ergonomic perfection. All this before he even made mention of “maple-bacon-crunch ice cream” or “Ahi tuna snocones.” See, Bob Blumer is a diﬀerent sort of cook. He sees food as much more than sustenance and even more than mere art (though his whimsical food sculptures are legendary). Men’s Health editor-at-large Stephen Perrine said of Blumer, “If Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Salvador Dalí had a ménage à trois, this would be there love child.” Want to know how to make lamb cupcakes? Page 184. Ten pages later it’s time for “Meatloaf Surprise” (e surprise is: it’s that birthday
cake). e aforementioned pound cake fries are on page 212, and the Cracker Jack Soup is on page 100. It’s all fun, but it’s not a game for Blumer, who is as serious about the techniques behind his whimsy as he is passionate about the fun to be had in a kitchen. It needn’t be a fancy kitchen either; his own is small enough that he can touch both side without stretching out his arms. His attention to ergonomic detail make it a dream to work in though, with each and every thing he needs right where it needs to be, and nothing he doesn’t need anywhere. Blumer is unconventional to be sure, and these are not recipes for the everyday meal, but the techniques he employs are valuable to novice and expert alike, and the joy he brings to each and every page will simply leap out at you. Each recipe comes with a recommendation for “music to cook by,” such as rocking out to Los Lobos’ La Pistola y El Corazón while you mash Hass avocados into a “rock-a-molé.” Or, because “every bittersweet symphony should be followed by a grilled pizza,” listen to e Verve’s Urban Hymns while you whip up some blisterd corn and asparagus pizza. Glutton for Pleasure is not a beginners cookbook, but all beginners should have it to help encourage Blumers love of fun-with-food in everyone. Serious cooks too will take themselves a little less seriously once they’ve devoured a healthy dose of Mr. Blumer’s trademark zaniness. Don’t get it as a gift, get it for yourself and make your friends envious. Glutton for Pleasure: Signature Recipes, Epic Stories, and Surreal Etiquette - by Bob Blumer. Published by Whitecap Books, Vancouver, BC, Canada ©2010 Bob Blumer and Whitecap Books ISBN 978-1-77050-015-0
(And watch for the Des Moines Area Cheesemakers’ Dinner, coming this spring!)
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