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Member of Edible Communities

IOWA RIVER VALLEY ® Summer 2009 Celebrating the Abundance of Iowa’s Local Foods, Season by Season Number 12

Ancient White Park Cattle - Iowa’s Wine Trails Nordic Fest - Tortilleria el Norte - Home Ec



Summer 2009



All of us at Edible are proud to call these folks our Partners. ey understand the importance of supporting local farms, local food, and the local economy. To join the growing list of Edible Partners, please contact sales manager Rachel Morey @ 319.241.4442 or Be sure to visit the Edible Partners listed here, and thank them for supporting sustainable food and Edible Iowa River Valley Augusta—pg. 27 Blackhawk Hotel—pg. 14 Blend—pg. 23 Bread Garden—pg. 32 BrewNost—pg. 22 Cafe Dodici—pg. 12 Cafe del Sol Roasting—pg. 15 Cart by Cart—pg. 15 Design Ranch—pg. 28 Devotay—pg. 9 Edible Communities—pg. 31 Edible Communities Marketplace—pg. 25 e Englert eatre—pg. 5 Fireside Winery—pg. 23 Hills Bank—pg. 15 Iowa City Farmers Market—pg. 15 Iowa Wine Trail—pg. 23 Jasper Winery—pg. 28 John’s Grocery—pg. 20 La Reyna—pg. 14 Local Food Conference—pg. 22 MidWestOne Bank—pg. 27 Motley Cow—pg. 28 Muddy Creek Wine—pg. 14 New Pioneer Co-op—pg. 20 Oneota Community Co-op—pg. 28 Robinson Family Wellness—pg. 5 Scattergood—pg. 29 Shmuggle Knits—pg. 23 Sutliff Cider—pg. 14 Tassel Ridge Winery—pg. 2 UNI Museum—pg. 15 Wheatsfield Co-op—pg. 29


Grist for the Mill EIRV at ree Years Old


Notable Edibles Tasty tidbits to savor around Iowa


Edible Imbibables On the Trail of Great Iowa Wines—By Katie Roche


The 99 RAGBRAI’s Final Stop is Full of Flavors—By Anna Wilson and Criss Roberts


1,000 Words Chiles at the Market


Behind Closed Doors Starving Artist—By Rob Cline


Subscription Form Get Edible delivered right to your home


The Last Word Deborah Madison’s What We Eat When We Eat Alone— By Kurt Michael Friese

Features 7

A Festival of Flavors e 43rd Nordic Fest Keeps Tradition Alive in Decorah — By Renee Brincks


Flat-Out Fresh Tortilleria el Norte is a West Libery Original — By Mike Brownlee


Sewing Seeds of Community A Knitter’s Breakfast at Home Ec in Iowa City — By Brian Morelli


Reviving an Ancient Breed Seed Savers Exchange Protects Animal Diversity Too — By Kurt Michael Friese


Edible Communities Find Your Edibles Wherever You Go

On the cover: BB 372. Photo by Kurt Michael Friese

Summer 2009


grist for the mill

Dear Eater,

We will go just about anywhere, do just about anything, for the amazing flavors and savors of Iowa. We’ll even ride our bikes across the entire state for a bite of hardwood-grilled Iowa sweet corn, so a big shout-out to all our fellow RAGBRAI enthusiasts. You folks will be dipping your front tires in the Mississippi River in Burlington, so you’ll want to pay special attention to this issue’s edition of “e 99,” our county-by-county investigation of the great local foods of Iowa, in which Criss Roberts and Anna Wilson regail you riders (and everyone else!) with stories of all the good eats in Des Moines County.

Publishers Kurt & Kim Friese on RAGBRAI, 2008

ere’s much more in this issue as well. Our official refrigerator investigator Rob Cline commits his twelfth fridge raid on the immaculate yet nearly empty - icebox of Leslie Charipar, Artistic Director for eatre Cedar Rapids. Meanwhile we welcome two new writers into the fold, both with a lot to say about flat round breads. Mike Brownlee goes behind the scenes of Iowa’s first Tortilleria in West Liberty, while Renee Brincks has a lefse recipe and the scoop on the 43rd annual Nordic Fest in Decorah. While you’re in Decorah, don’t miss visiting the Ancient White Park Cattle at Seed Savers exchange - that’s one of them on the cover - they’ve just welcomed 50 new calves! Also that’s a good starting point for the Iowa Wine Trail, one of the five wine trails Katie Roche investigates in our regular column, “Edible Imbibables.” Back in Iowa City, a unique local business combines food and friends with fiber arts: Brian Morelli visits a Saturday morning “Knitter’s Breakfast,” at Home Ec, an old-fashioned knitting circle complete with homemade treats from a genuine Sugar-Lovin’ Mama. Now is the time when Iowa’s bounty can truly strut its stuff. e farmers markets are filling up with the world’s best sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and summer squashes. ere’s just no excuse for not eating locally in the summertime in Iowa. When these magnificent foods are in season, they’re usually cheaper than at the grocery store, removing that last old chestnut some cling to as an excuse. So get out there and get some of the good stuff, and let Edible be your guide. As we complete our 3rd year of publication, we offer our heartfelt thanks to our clients and our writers, who make this edible dream a reality by seeking out and supporting the best food and drink in the state. And a very special thanks to you, Dear Eater, for supporting Edible and all the great foods and businesses you see in our pages. Your support of the businesses you see here is what makes this publication possible. So be sure to visit them and thank them personally for supporting great local food and Edible Iowa River Valley

With Relish, Kim & Kurt


Summer 2009


IOWA RIVER VALLEY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & PUBLISHER Kurt Michael Friese MANAGING EDITOR Kim McWane Friese WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Renee Brincks Michael Brownlee Rob Cline Kurt Michael Friese Brian Morelli Criss Roberts Katie Roche Anna Wilson DESIGNED BY Kurt Michael Friese

ADVERTISING SALES To become an Edible Partner, please contact sales manager Rachel Morey @ 319.241.4442 or CONTACT US Edible Iowa River Valley 22 Riverview Drive, NE Iowa City, Iowa 52240-7973 Telephone: 319.321.7935 Fax: 888.704.1235 CUSTOMER SERVICE Edible Iowa River Valley takes pride in providing its subscribers with fast, friendly service. Subscribe • Give a Gift • Buy an Ad — Edible Iowa River Valley is published quarterly by River Valley Press, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscription rate is $28 annually. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. ©2009. 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.

Summer 2009



edibles Cochon 555 A big congratulations to Chef Matt Steigerwald of the Lincoln Café in Mt. Vernon. He was the first prize winner of the Iowa Edition of Cochon 555 - a cooking competition and fundraiser that pitted five of Iowa’s best chefs against each other using five different heritage breed pigs and accompanied by five different wines. All the food was fantastic, yet Chef Matt managed to beat out some of the state’s other heavy hitters. Andrew Meek of Sage, Jamie Monaghan of the Embassy Club, Tag Grandgeorge of Le Jardin and Bill Overdyke of Centro all laid out some amazing pork dishes - even cookies and ice cream made with pork fat. Chef Matt will compete in the National Championship against nine other chefs from all around the country - all to promote heritage breeds and to support the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society.

Nice Loins Although he made his bones down on the bayou at the famous New Orleans eatery Bayona, Chef Ben Haperin of Augusta in Oxford has shown he knows a thing or two about the fare upriver as well. e Iowa Pork Producers Association crowned his the “Best Pork Tenderloin in Iowa,” which is of course to say the best in the world, since Iowa is the undisputed home of the tenderloin and world heavyweight champion in this particular arena. You can sample this triumph for yourself (if you’re hungry enough), as well as some good cajun cooking, next time your near Oxford and looking for some good home cooking. Augusta - 101 South Augusta, Oxford -

Celebrating Beer “is is grain, which any fool can eat,” Friar Tuck said in the movie Robin Hood, Prince of ieves, “But for which the Lord intended a higher purpose.” Two excellent opportunities to celebrate that divine wisdom are coming up, so mark your calendars.

en on October 16th, experience the wider world of beer as the annual BrewNost (Czech for “Beer Night”) gets underway again in Cedar Rapids. It’s especially important to support the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Librabry this year in light of last year’s devastating floods, but what a fun way to do it! Details for both events are at their respective websites: and


Summer 2009

Photos by Kurt Michael Friese

On September 6th, Millstream Brewing will host 1200 of its closest friends at the Annual Festival of Iowa Beers in Amana, a celebration of all the great craft beers in the Hawkeye State, both professional and homebrewed.

A Festival of Flavors e 43rd Nordic Fest Keeps Tradition Alive in Decorah By Renee Brincks

“Occasionally we do have some new people come in, which is great. As traditional as Nordic Fest is, it’s nice to have something new to offer,” she says.

When Nordic Fest founders sat down in the late 1960s to plan their annual event, they pledged to celebrate Decorah’s community spirit as well as its Norwegian heritage. Since then, some 1.5 million visitors have attended, and more will travel into town for the 43rd Nordic Fest, this July 23-25.

According to Stockman, food booths often sell out on Sunday, the last day of the event, particularly when good weather inspires stronger-than-average attendance. Regardless of numbers, servers consistently run short on varme polse. Volunteers produce more of these lefse-wrapped sausages every year – and every year the dish is snapped up quickly.

Part street fair, part historical fête, the annual Scandinavian celebration boasts cultural displays, storytellers, street music and sporting events. Hundreds of runners and walkers wind along the Upper Iowa River for the 5- and 15-kilometer “Elvelopet” races. Participants heave hefty stones during the rock throw. And, visitors can’t help but dance during performances by the Foot-Notes, a local folk group, and the Nordic Dancers, a troupe featuring Decorah’s elementary and high school students.

Lefse itself is another big draw. “You wouldn’t believe how excited people get,” says Stockman. “They are almost literally licking their chops.”

Photo courstesy of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

Often, however, it’s the food at Nordic Fest that attracts the biggest crowds. There is, of course, the infamous lutefiskeating contest, where dozens of participants line up to slurp down bowls of gelatinous dried fish prepared with lye. The winners of each heat compete for the first-place prize: Nordic Fest merchandise Kransekake and a year of unmatched bragging rights. Guests can savor slightly less daring dishes at community dinners held throughout the weekend. Those menus typically showcase foods such as Norwegian meatballs, herring and ham, plus kringla (soft, doughy twists), mandel-vannbakkel (almond puffs), rosettes (delicate, crispy pastries) and other sweet treats. To find the true epicurean center of Nordic Fest, however, head to Decorah’s Water Street. Each year, 20 red and white wooden booths line several downtown blocks; from inside each, volunteers dish up flavorful Scandinavian fare. Community members volunteer hundreds of hours to roll out lefse, whisk milk and butter into rommegrot and sprinkle sugar over rosettes, and proceeds from every food booth fund local non-profits and school groups.

Karla Erdman has coordinated Nordic Fest lefse demonstrations for 12 years, organizing 70 volunteers who typically sell about 7,000 rounds over 3 days. Dressed in customary Norwegian attire, the demonstrators roll out potato-based dough and bake the traditional food as visitors look on. When its time to sample the thin potato pancakes, which look like tortillas, people head to the toppings table. “We have white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter, and the lefse comes out warm. That butter just melts, and people pour on all the sugar and cinnamon,” says Erdman. “It’s fun to see how they dress it up.” How people then eat lefse is a matter of personal taste, as well. Some fold their round into a triangle. Others roll it up before taking a bite. Erdman has even seen friends stage contests, each starting on either end of a lefse roll and chewing along to the middle. When fellow Nordic Fest volunteer Barbara Willis and her family eat lefse for the holidays, they top each round with sausage and soft-boiled eggs before rolling and dipping the bundle in maple syrup.

“What makes this work is the willingness of people to lend their time and talent,” says Maureen Stockman, who heads up the Nordic Fest food events. “It’s just amazing that this little town can put on this production every year.”

Willis, who first volunteered as a lefse demonstrator in the mid-1970s, says visitors often ask for the secret to perfect lefse. That, she replies, is simple: a good recipe and the right ingredients.

Preparations for the festival’s culinary line-up begin the previous fall. While many of the same groups host booths each year, new foods are introduced from time to time. Stockman lists the recent additions of kransekake, a cake made from ringed pastries, and lingonberry drinks.

“I’m sure they didn’t have Idaho potatoes back in Norway, but I always use Idaho russets,” she says. “I also buy potatoes in netted bags because they are a little drier than the ones in plastic bags. The drier the potato, the better it rolls.”

Summer 2009


When You Go...

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah

43rd Annual Nordic Fest: “Northern deLights” July 23–25, 2009 800.382.FEST Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum 523 W. Water St., Decorah 563.382.9681

That same sense of connection draws Decorah residents and visitors alike to Nordic Fest. Making lefse is second nature for Willis now. She whips ten pounds of potatoes into more than 50 rounds with each batch she bakes. However, her first few years behind the grill weren’t as successful. She says her earliest attempts “came out like wallpaper paste,” even though she’d grown up watching her grandmother in the kitchen. “She made lefse when we were little kids, and we thought nothing of it when she did it on a little gas stove in the basement. We ate it as fast as she made it,” Willis says. “But when I moved to Decorah, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a good place to learn to make lefse.’” Just as it provides a link to the past, the cultural cuisine connects Willis’ family today, as well. For the past four years, she and her immediate family have gathered with her brothers and sisters and their children for a post-Christmas lefse day.


“It’s part of our identity, a nod to the heritage, and a chance for different generations to get together. This is a reason to come home,” says Stockman. “It’s a good touchstone for everybody that’s had anything to do with Decorah – whether that’s growing up here, going to college here, or what have you.” And, just as families get together for birthdays, anniversaries and other annual celebrations, so do community members gather to dine during Nordic Fest. “You get excited because this is something you only get once a year. It reminds you of different points in your life when you were younger and things were simpler, so there’s that emotional thing,” Stockman says. “And, this food just tastes good. There’s something about it that just tastes better than fast food.”

Summer 2009

Photo courstesy of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

“We all practice making lefse, and the little ones do really, really well. It’s so much fun to watch them,” Willis says. It’s a tradition she hopes to continue. “It means a lot. Our parents have passed away and this just keeps the family together... Everybody makes a special effort to get there.”

Recipes From Nordic Fest Lefse 2 cups riced potatoes, packed (Russet or other starchy variety preferred) 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon cream 1 scant cup flour ½ tablespoon sugar 1 ½ tablespoon salt Boil peeled potatoes in salted water, drain, mash, then rice. Add butter and the cream. Mix and cool. Just before rolling, add flour, sugar, and salt. Mix by hand or with a hand mixer. Roll thin using a cloth covered pastry board and lefse rolling pin. Bake on a dry hot griddle, turning once. Will make about 8 lefse. Rommegrot

Five Foods to Try New to Nordic Fest? Don’t miss these five Scandinavian favorites: Sandbakkels. These crumbly, almond-infused cookies are baked in fluted tins and sometimes dished up with fresh fruit and cream. Kransekake. This traditional Norwegian cake, often served for weddings and special celebrations, consists of stacked, ring-shaped pastries that are crisp on the outside and chewy within. Each layer is drizzled with sweet icing. Lefse. Lines form early for these thin, flat, hand-rolled rounds made of riced potatoes, butter, cream and flour. Lefse is made with special rolling pins, turning sticks and grills. Varme Polse. Varme polse is a fitting festival food: The sausage wrapped in lefse makes a convenient grab-and-go lunch for guests bouncing between Nordic Fest events.

2 sticks butter 1 cup flour 5 cups milk ¾ cup sugar ¼ teaspoon salt

Rommegrot. Often sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, this thick, buttery cream dish resembles porridge in texture and frequently turns up on holiday menus.

Melt butter in heavy kettle. Add flour. Cook and stir until well blended. Add milk. Cook until thick. Add sugar and salt. To serve, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Summer 2009


Flat-Out Fresh Tortilleria el Norte is a West Libery Original By Mike Brownlee

West Liberty is a pint-sized town of 3,555 in eastern Iowa that is home to an ever-burgeoning Latino population. As the immigrants from long ago grow older and the new immigrants arrive, staying connected to Latino roots can be challenging, especially when it comes to food. Gilberto and Marisela Erives moved to West Liberty from Denver in October of 2004. They knew that despite the high number of Latino immigrants in the town – predominantly drawn here by West Liberty Foods, the local turkey-processing plant – there were no local tortilla makers. Nestled off of Columbus Street, the Tortilleria El Norte factory is a factory in name only. The pequeña building looks like a house from the outside, but inside the work being done is no less industrious than the work at West Liberty Foods. The “squeak, squeak, squeak” of gears and conveyor belts rings out, providing the bass-line of each day. Gobs of tortilla dough is compressed into small circles of Latino tradition, while Gilberto constantly darts around the room, interacting with his two employees, making sure the machines are operating properly and that the tortillas are bagged and stored. What the Erives strive for is a taste of home. In the villages and towns of Mexico and other countries of Latin America families make their tortillas from scratch, cooking up a pile for that night’s dinner. Fresh tortillas only keep a few days, if that, but taste so much better. The tortillas made at the factory are simple. For flour tortillas: flour, lard, a smidgen of salt, and a “secret ingredient” Marisela guards like a lady guards her age. Despite some prodding, it became clear that she wasn’t going to reveal the secret ingredient. Marisela admits that the tortillas have a modicum of preservatives – “We have to, otherwise the stores wouldn’t buy them because they’d go bad too quickly,” she says. Customers haven’t seemed to mind the faint amount of preservatives, however. As the saying goes, the proof is in the floury, doughy mush. Tortilleria El Norte’s tortillas are best sellers in West Liberty and elsewhere. “[Immigrants] want to eat like back home; they want fresh tortillas,” said 45-year-old Antonio Sosa, the owner of New York Dollar Store, a Mexican grocery in town. “People want a soft tortilla. The others dry up earlier.” Sosa says the Tortilleria El Norte tortillas are the most popular that he sells. The Erives’ factory has two tortilla-pressing machines, one for flour and one for corn. Tortilleria El Norte pumps out about 75 bags (about 50 pounds) of both flour and corn tortillas per day. When asked how many individual tortillas they produce for a day, Marisela balks.


“Oh my God, I don’t have any idea… Over 1,000 per day.” In addition to the tortilla factory, in August of 2008 the Erives opened up a restaurant – Gorditas La Pasadita – next door, serving up authentic Mexican dishes. The tortilla factory and restaurant are a family operation, Gilberto and two sons, work along with one other employee. They make tortillas from 6 a.m. until around 8 or 9 p.m., five days a week Marisela helps out in the morning, at night and periodically throughout the day, but most of her time is spent running the restaurant. Jazmine, their 10-year-old daughter, sometimes helps out Mom in the restaurant after school. Gilberto stands 5-foot-9, and is wearing a green T-shirt (dusty from the flour) and a sweat-and-dirt-worn Iowa Hawkeyes hat as he works on the day’s load of tortillas. He said he is passing a work ethic and tradition to his children that he learned as a young boy. He learned how to make tortillas when he was eight years old and said he has worked in some capacity ever since. “My parents told me I need to make everything,” the 38-year-old said. “If you want to make money, you have to learn how to make everything.” Tortillas, day-in and day-out. Do they ever get tired of them? “Yes,” Marisela said. “Even my dreams are sometimes about tortillas. I see tortillas everywhere.” Given the saturation of tortilla exposure, one might guess that for their meals at home, the family would just grab a few tortillas on their way out the factory door after work. Nope. Before leaving for the restaurant and factory each morning, Marisela usually makes a pile of tortillas from scratch, to be used for that night’s dinner. The Erives are both from Mexico. Gilberto hails from the northern city of Chihuahua, while Marisela grew up in Durango, in the middle of the country. From Durango, Marisela moved to Muscatine with her family, while Gilberto eventually ended up in Denver with his family. “I only planned to stay in U.S. 8 or 9 years,” Gilberto said. “But my family didn’t want to go back to Mexico.” Gilberto eventually moved to Muscatine to find work and met Marisela while there. They moved to Denver, where Gilberto laid carpet for 11 years. When asked how long the two have been married, Marisela paused, having apparently forgotten for a moment. She laughed and turned to her husband to ask him, in Spanish. Gilberto thought a moment before responding.

Summer 2009

“Diecisèis años,” he said. Sixteen years. It doesn’t take much to make a flour tortilla at home. Marisela said she uses the same ingredients as they do at the factory, including that secret ingredient (is it love?). Mix it all up in a bowl until it takes on a doughy consistency and let sit five minutes. The hard part is over. Next, form small chunks of the dough into balls, lay them out on your flat surface of choice and roll them into that circle you’re used to seeing. Heat on a skillet for about a minute or less on each side and enjoy. “I remember the first time, I burned my hands,” Marisela said. She learned how to make tortillas from her mother when she was 10 years old. Marisela was just a little taller than the grill her mother and she were making them on. “I was falling and I put my hands out to catch myself,” Marisela remembered, “right onto the grill.” Marisela said Tortilleria El Norte tries to give consumers a taste of what her family gets each day at home, minus any hand burning. “I try to do it like the original,” she said. “We want to be different.” In addition to the factory, Tortilleria El Norte tortillas are sold throughout Eastern Iowa, including grocery stores in Iowa City, Coralville, Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, Davenport and Columbus Junction, along with Moline, Ill. Roxana Ochoa of Iowa City says Tortilleria El Norte tortillas are all she buys – “Solo compro.” The Honduras native buys them at El Paso and La Reyna, two tiendas in Iowa City. She says they’re better than the other options in her grocer’s tortilla section. Jim Peterson, 56, of West Liberty goes directly to the source to buy his tortillas, pulling his work-worn white truck into the factory’s gravel parking lot. “They taste wonderful. Close to town, fresh,” Peterson said. “It’s important that they’re a local business.” For the college set, 20 minutes down the highway in Iowa City, the tortillas are superior to most rivals when it comes to a staple of the collegiate diet – a microwaved tortilla-with-cheese. While most tortillas harden and become about as easy to fold as origami, Tortilleria El Norte tortillas remain soft and flexible. Sitting in the restaurant – a quick respite before the lunch crowd – Marisela is wearing a floral-patterned blouse and tan pants, covered by an apron. Three packages of flour tortillas lay before her: Azteca, Mi Mama’s and her own, Tortelleria El Norte.

When You Go...

“The others have a lot of preservatives, you can see in the colors,” Marisela said. “Too white.”

Photos by Kurt Michael Friese

She explains that the preservatives make them last longer than her tortillas. But those preservatives also make the tortillas more chewy, stale and bland. “Those can stay out of the fridge for two-to-three weeks.” The more preservatives, the longer the tortillas stay good and the longer they’ll last outside of refrigeration. That’s why at the grocery store there are mounds of tortillas in non-refrigerated aisles, with just a few brands near the cheese and deli meat. The Tortilleria El Norte tortillas are browner, thinner, moister. Marisela examines her own, then looks at the competitors.

Tortilleria el Norte & Gorditas La Pasadita Gilberto & Marisela Erives, Owners 1100 North Columbus Street West Liberty 319.627.2617

“They look nice, but…”

Summer 2009


Sewing Seeds of Community A Knitter’s Breakfast at Home Ec in Iowa City By Brian Morelli Tucked in the north side of Iowa City's downtown is a shop offering something a little different. It's a little bit crafts. It's a little bit sweets. It's a little bit of a social scene; and, it's a lot of heart and soul. At its root, Home Ec Workshop is a boutique where people make things from scratch. Co-owner Alisa Weinstein can describe it best. "Home Ec is a natural fiber fabric, yarn and craft supply boutique with an espresso bar and Sugar Lovin' Mama's homemade baked goods. We feature a workshop space for sewing projects and it is a gathering spot for people interested in making things with their hands," she said. Stop in on Saturday mornings to feel the pulse of the business, Weinstein said. that is when Home Ec hosts its Knitters' Breakfast. Fifteen or so regulars and a mix of newcomers help ensure a vibrant scene week after week. ey mingle in the heart of the shop made cozy with a red couch encircled by wooden chairs and stools lining a service counter filled with quiche, blueberry coffee cake and cookies. Here, young and old gather to create. ey knit, inspire one another, chat, sip on coffee and nosh on goodies.

"A lot of people come in to knit and hangout and wind up getting something to eat," Heidi Anderson said. Anderson, who operates as a separate entity called Sugar Lovin' Mama's, has baked for Home Ec since it opened in 2008. e spread she prepares is not countless. Rather, Anderson prepares a few high quality items a day. Cookies are always on the menu, and a second item changes at her whim. She makes everything there, behind the counter, wafting friendly aromas through the store while knitters knit and seamstresses sew. e set up is pretty basic. She has a small red convection oven, a stand blender and a little bit of counter space to whip up her edibles. Her cupcakes every Friday seem to be gaining a following, she said. "e cup cakes are a big deal. People call and want to know what's the cup cake [of the day]." Anderson said. Most items she makes have fresh, local flavors. When available, Anderson sources the eggs for her quiche from an Amish family in Kalona. Her children picked a freezer full of blueberries that make appearances in cakes and muffins, and she put the kids to work last fall picking apples from Wilson's Orchard that became the filling for apple turnovers. Local produce is not always an option, but everything Anderson serves is made fresh, from scratch and by hand, she said. Oh, and the servability barometer; her three kids -- 8-year-old twins and a three year old -- often get the first crack at a new recipe. ey give the thumbs up or down. "I want it to be something your grandmother would make. Home-style baking" e home-style feel extends beyond the baked goods. Everything about Home Ec screams, "from scratch." "People do spend a lot of time here, and the food is a good way to recharge," Weinstein said. Skeins of yarn decorate displays with heather grays, cornflower blues and burgundies in one room. Rolls of catchy fabrics ranging from vintage to modern adorn another section of the store. Knit sweaters, shawls, scarves and aprons are draped on furniture and hung on walls throughout for inspiration. Advanced knitters and seamstresses often provide advice or suggestions for novices. Locally-made hand-spun yarns also supplement the stocks. "We carry the kinds of materials that inspire you to want to make something with them, and material that when you make it are worth your time," Weinstein said. On consignment, they sell products from Lone Tree Wools, Bluest Girl of Iowa City, Lamb Lane of Fort Madison, among others. An ice cream cone person made by Jody Stoffer 32, of Iowa City, sits on the local shelf. Stoffer knit that at Home Ec, and put in on display. She works at a downtown law office and stops in daily. Typically visiting on her lunch break, she also attends most of the Knitters' Breakfasts on Saturdays. Building crafts into her routine ensures she keeps at it, and being surrounded by other creative minds helps with troubleshooting and new ideas for projects.


Summer 2009

"It has become my hangout," Stoffer said. "I came to check it out and kept coming back because it has great product, great food and great classes."

Photos by Kurt Michael Friese

Some patrons simply drop in to pick up something; others come in and stay for a few hours. Either way is OK, Weinstein said. On most Sundays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., a group called the Knit Wits meets at Home Ec e group is open to anyone, Weinstein said.

Whenever you come, Weinstein said, you will find a positive, friendly environment filled with creative, artistic, do-it-yourselfers. "People always come in and say how inspired they feel when they walk into the store. I think it is positive and colorful. It is open and friendly to people of all ages. It has a really nice vibe," Weinstein smiled. "A lot of people make friends here."

Home Ec offers a variety of classes each month, ranging from sewing, quilting, and toy making to screen printing. ey cost on average $35, Weinstein said. In back is the workshop, lined with sewing machines and a large craft table. People pay by the hour to use that space, and Weinstein and coowner Codi Josephson provide advice on projects. Stoffer has taken a sewing class and one on cake decorating. She also offers a class with her husband on making sock dolls.

Summer 2009

When You Go... Home Ec Workshop 207 N. Linn St., Iowa City 319.337.4775

Hours: Mon-ur, 10am -7pm Friday, 10am – 6pm Saturday, 10am – 5pm Sunday 12pm - 5pm


edible iowa river valley

Opportunities are available for upcoming issues. Contact sales manager Rachel Morey @ 319.241.4442 or


Summer 2009

Summer 2009


Edible Imbibables By Katie Roche

On the Trail of Great Iowa Wines

Perhaps as important to this growth was the role of various supportive institutions, such as the Des Moines Area Community College, which has strategically positioned its programs to provide training and certification for everyone from growers to sommeliers. In Cedar Rapids, Kirkwood Community College now has a vineyard and a vineyard management program. Meanwhile the Iowa Wine Growers Association, which formed in 2000, brought Iowa State University, Community Colleges, the Iowa Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development and legislators on board to help grow this industry. With just over 40 grape varieties in the mix, Iowa has gone from vine to bottle in less than a decade and in bigger numbers than any of its neighbors. Iowa is rated 14th in number of wineries and 23rd


in wine production. Helping to make sure this industry sticks around is as easy as buying Iowa wine. Not only do you support it directly, but every time you buy Iowa wine the tax you pay helps to fund the agencies that support the wine industry. Since most wineries don’t turn much of a profit in their first decade, it’s just this sort of encouragement that these mostly family-run businesses need to help them handle the minimum $250,000 start-up costs. Iowa’s wine excise tax is the 3rd highest in the nation (at $1.75/gallon) to help guarantee that our grapes are here to stay. e Midwest has been producing so much wine that the 3-year-old Mid-American Wine Competition has expanded to include 16 states. With a combined 640 entries, the umbrella title of the “Midwest” is stretched outside of the usual boundaries to include states like Kentucky and Tennessee. Now that you have something to brag about, jump in your car, designate a driver who will sample grape jelly instead of grape drink and explore the wine trails of Iowa. You might be surprised by how the Iowa countryside can be even more gorgeous when groomed for growing grapes.

Summer 2009

Photo by Kurt Michael Friese

California produces 90 percent of the wine made in America, but you don't have to go all the way to Sonoma to taste good wines. A great variety is made right here in Iowa. With the development of cold tolerant wine grape hybrids created by the University of Minnesota and Cornell University in New York, Iowa was ready with plentiful soil and strong agricultural roots to lay a bedrock for a viable wine industry.

Amana Colonies Wine Trail If you’ve never been to the Amana Colonies, this idyllic community will charm your socks off. It's a great place to bring visitors to learn about the European settling of the Midwest. Little has changed in their food, architecture, wine and liqueur varieties. e Ackerman Winery is a 3rd generation facility with 54 years of fruit wine experience and 300 awards including 86 gold medals. Sampling here is tons of fun because of the sheer variety on hand. Close by is the Village Winery with 15 varieties of fruit and berry wines, including favorites like cranberry, apricot, blackberry and raspberry. Just a few minutes away is Little Amana Winery, which encourages the sampling of their fruit/dessert wines and six table wines. is trail is short and sweet and could take you just an afternoon, but I would hit one winery before lunch, grab a bite at one of the fabulous Amana farm kitchen restaurants, and finish out the afternoon with some lazy sampling. Heart of Iowa Wine Trail e “Heart of Iowa” wine trail covers approximately the central one third of the state from north to south. From the party room at the Eagle City Winery in Iowa Falls (between Webster City and Cedar Falls) to the live entertainment and beautiful grounds at the Southern Hills Winery in Osceola, the Heart of Iowa Wine Trail is expansive. With 15 wineries in all, you might need a long weekend to conquer this one. Try to go when one of the many wineries that offer entertainment are putting up a show. Imagine sipping wine surrounded by rolling hills of grapevines and listening to some great music. Not bad at all. Most of the wineries included in the Heart of Iowa Wine Trail have sampling rooms on location at the vineyards and some even have food on hand. It’s fun pairing food and wines with the people that know the wine best, but if you plan to spend an afternoon and food is not provided on location, most wineries will allow you to bring in a picnic. You might think to call in advance and get recommendations for food pairings, to get the most out of your picnic. Plan on taking a tour to learn more about the stewardship of the land involved in growing grapes. Visit the sterling facilities of Tassel Ridge near Oskaloosa and try their bubbly Osky Fizzante. Or, think about planning a party or reception at one of the vineyards, such as La Vida Loca in Indianola.

early morning and the rolling hills catch the vibrant sunset, especially in the fall. e landscape will make you feel like you have escaped to another part of the world. Bankston’s Park Farm Winery is a family run operation, which features an Italian style villa with long views of the valley from a vast terra cotta tiled sampling room. If you ever wanted to throw a really memorable party, this is the place to do it. e wine is excellent, with interesting labels making them great for gift giving. roughout the Iowa Wine Trail there are quite a few gems to behold. e oak fermented Sutliff Cider in Lisbon is a refreshing alternative to wine. Venturing from the wineries towards the Mississippi brings you into little river villages where you can pop a bottle and sample some local food. Ask for restaurant recommendations at the wineries. Western Iowa Wine Trail Mark your calendars for «Holiday Entertaining with the Western Iowa Wine Trail,» November 8th and 9th this year. Or get there while the weather's still warm and meander through the Loess Hills sampling the wares of the seven wineries on Iowa's newest wine trail. ey feature both traditional grape and assorted fruit varieties, all locally grown in the unusual soil of the region. Tastes are always free, and most offer wine by the glass in addition to bottles to take home. Some have tasty food as well. Scenic Rivers Wine Trail is is the biggest trail of them all with 13 vineyards and 15 wineries. It stretches into three states, and Iowa has almost half of the wineries. On this journey you'll find the Christian Herschler District Winery and Stagecoach Stop, (mentioned in the last issue of Edible), as well as the Lindon Winery (discussed in this issue on page 22). Each winery on the trail is small and family owned, and each winemaker is eager to share methods and discuss the mysteries of the grape. Like the others they plan numerous events both individually and as a group.

When You Go... For maps, lists of wineries and details on the on all of the Iowa Wine Trails go to:

Iowa Wine Trail ere is something about the upper Mississippi Valley wine region that reminds me of Tuscany. e low valleys tend to fill with fog in

Summer 2009


Reviving an Ancient Breed Seed Savers Exchange Protects Animal Diversity Too By Kurt Michael Friese

While I opened one gate (and hid behind it), Aaron Whealey, vice president and chief cowboy of Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, opened the other and encouraged the wayward mom to pass through both gates and rejoin the herd and her calf. With one last bellow at me as she passed, the family was reunited. The erstwhile orphan was one of 50 new calves expected this season from the Seed Savers Exchange herd of Ancient White Park Cattle. A tiny number in a state that regularly sees herds of thousands in their feedlots, but this is no ordinary herd, nor ordinary cow. The Ancient White Park, also sometimes called “White Forest,” “White Horned,” “Wild White,” or simply “Park,” has a recorded history that goes back more than 800 years. Their first literary mention comes from a 13th century Irish epic called Táin Bó Cúalnge or The Cattle Raid of Cooley: It was at that time that the Morrígan daughter of Ernmas from the fairy-mounds came to destroy Cú Chulainn, for she had vowed on the Foray of Regamain that she would come and destroy Cú Chulainn when he was fighting with a mighty warrior on the Foray of Cúailnge. So the Morrígan came there in the guise of a white, red-eared heifer accompanied by fifty heifers, each pair linked together with a chain of white bronze. The author’s name is lost to history, and this noble breed nearly was too. In fact even today the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the White Park as “critical,” a term that means that there are “Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000.” So the pair we had just helped reunite were important indeed. The 50 new calves at Seed Savers could be counted among the 500 expected at ranches in Virginia, Nebraska, and Montana. If they all get registered, they just might help the White Park move up a notch on the ALBC list of pa-


rameters from critical to the not-exactly-reassuring “threatened.” But nothing is sure when it comes to farming. These noble cattle, with their distinctive white coats, reddish ears and long, imposing horns first came to North America as a single breeding pair sent to the Toronto Zoo from England in 1939 to protect the breed due to fears of Nazi invasion. From there they went to the Bronx Zoo, and later to a ranch in Texas. The small herd, descended from that pair, was brought to Iowa in 1981 by the Moeckly Farm of Polk City. A couple of the heifer calves were then bought by Seed Savers just before the rest of the herd was bought by B Bar Ranch in Emigrant, Montana, where today 80 percent of this year’s calves are expected. Now I am a city boy born-and-bred and know precious little about how to care for these creatures before they reach my kitchen. With each heifer averaging three-quarters-of-a-ton it took some encouragement to get me to enter the pasture to snap a few photos. These are not the docile, de-horned creatures of Old MacDonald’s Farm, but rather a social herd of very protective mothers, some with horns longer than my arm. I cautiously entered, and the bellowing began again – “moo” does not describe it. This behavior is part of the reason some ranchers are starting to awaken to the benefits of the breed. They calve easily and on their own (Aaron says he’s never pulled a calf from a Park), are fiercely protective of their young, live and grow quite happily on pasture, and deliver exceptional quality meat. None of Seed Savers’ herd has ever seen a veterinarian. Happily the herd’s behavior was more wary than aggressive. They did not, as I had feared, smell my urban upbringing and thus realize that they had the upper hoof. Or maybe they just wanted to lull me into getting just a little too close and then hook the strap of my Nikon with what appeared to be needle-sharp horns. Whether I was reading too much into the situation or not, all this from what turned out to be the smaller of the two herds kept on Seed Savers’ rolling acreage. Whealey and his counterparts on the B Bar Ranch in Montana, in ad-

Summer 2009

Photos by Kurt Michael Friese

We could hear the bellowing long before we could see the bovine perpetrator, a new mother cow who had somehow managed to get on the wrong side of the barbed wire fence from the herd – and therefore her calf. She was not pleased.

Summer 2009


dition to Alec Bradford in Virginia and Lance Kuck in Nebraska, who each keep smaller herds, are keeping separate groups on their lands to strengthen the genetic variety within the breed. Scrupulous attention to which calf came from which heifer and which bull prevents inbreeding and thus reinforces the herd. This is important not only to the genetic code, but also to the marketability of the cattle. In this eat-it-to-save-it model, encouraging more ranchers to take on the breed is vital. A strong herd makes that more likely. Nature is not monolithic. It can only thrive with diversity, so protecting a wide variety of breeds strengthens each species. In order to encourage that to happen in the modern world, one effective method is to create markets for the product. Recent successes in this model have been seen with the American Bison, and with the four formerly endangered breeds of turkeys that Slow Food USA’s Ark project brought back from the brink – The American Bronze, the Bourbon Red, the Jersey Buff and the Narragansett. Now not only is Seed Savers helping to rescue the Ancient White Park, but it has begun working with several heritage breeds of poultry as well. As I gingerly approach a calf, it seems curious at first, but one stern warning from its nearby mother sends the youngster scurrying behind her for protection. I think I’m gaining ground, getting some decent images. Just then Whealey points out to me that while I’ve been focusing on what was in front of me, the herd was not retreating – it was surrounding. Best to retreat myself before they realized I’d be preparing one of their kin for dinner.

Thai Beef Salad 2 pounds beef flank steak (or substitute skirt) For the Marinade: 2 teaspoon soy sauce 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce 1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 lime, juiced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon ginger, minced 1/2 each red onion, minced 1/3 cup peanut oil 1/2 teaspoon tuong ot toi (a Vietnamese chili paste, available in most Asian markets) For the Dressing: 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon ginger 1 clove garlic 1 teaspoon tuong ot toi 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 1/2 cup peanut oil 1 sweet red bell pepper, julienned 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped Marinate the beef in the next 9 ingredients 1 hour to overnight. Remove the beef from the marinade, scrape off excess. Grill or broil on high heat just a couple minutes on each side, to medium rare. Slice the beef thin and on a bias, as if for fajitas, and toss with the remaining ingredients. Chill thoroughly before serving. Serves 4 as an entrée. 8 as a salad. Keeps refrigerated for 2-3 days.


Summer 2009

The 99 By Anna Wilson and Criss Roberts

RAGBRAI’s Final Stop is Full of Flavors

Back when Iowa was a twinkle in the eye of the United States, Burlington was a capital city. Before Iowa City, long before Des Moines, this town on the banks of the Mississippi River was where legislators from the Wisconsin Terroritory came to tame the wilderness. Des Moines County – and the city that now serves as Iowa’s capitol – are named after the river. Once the home of Sac and Fox tribes of Indians and a branch of the American Fur Company, this area where the Des Moines meets the Mississippi lost the legislature but grew as steamboats plied the waters and farmers tilled the land. Burlington, the county seat, welcomed German and Irish immigrants who built homes on the city’s North, South and West hills. In 1887 it became the birthplace of Aldo Leopold, the famous naturalist and author for whom the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University is named. Burlington is the hub of the local food movement with a thriving farmers market and several restaurants serving up something interesting (and more rumored to come.) at cultural past has melded together, coming full circle as several community restaurants pledge their support to the local, sustainable food movement. e only thing missing from La Tavola, a gem-like Italian eatery, are the checked tablecloths and candle-holding Chianti bottles. at, and empty tables, since La Tavola fills up fast and frequently. Reservations are highly recommended. is trattoria is a newcomer to the food scene – opening in November 2007. Sicilian Carlo Falcone came to Burlington, leaving his brothers to run the family’s three New Jersery pizzerias, at the suggestion of his sister-in-law. His wife Carla is a Kansas native, but her sister Cathy works at the local community college and saw opportunity. e Falcones have a tidy menu of southern Italian classics ranging from generous portions of chicken parmigiana to linguine in clam sauce. When area native Danielle Munson moved back to Burlington from Boca Raton, Florida, she missed some of the boutiques and the trendy restaurants. So she opened her own version in the Bazaar Boutique. Tucked in the back of the classy shop is the funky little wine bar, with a varying selection and weekly specials. Open since May 1, the Bazaar Bar is a work in progress with limited hours and a casual elegance. If you are more of a beer person, Mister Moto’s Café is a coffee shop and restaurant by day with fantastic coffee and breakfast fare, and a bar by night, with an extensive beer list and a vegetarian pizza menu. ursday features local musicians in a quasi open mike night. e pizzas – and let’s repeat: Vegetarian – are great. e baked goods are mouthwatering. Lunches center on paninis and salads. More ambitious lunch items are on hold until Nathalie Girod, who partners with designer Kevin Bangert, in the enterprise, returns from Paris. is bodes well. Mister Moto’s is worth a visit simply to view Bangert’s artistic efforts, from the tile skeletons on the floor to the funky restrooms in the former factory building. e Drake offers a fine, though limited, view of the Mighty Mississippi, and it maintains a deep commitment to local foods. e wide-ranging menu includes locally produced elk and duck and chef Mike Clem makes an effort to visit local farmers for produce. Situated in a refurbished hardware store and renovated with artifacts from Burlington’s past, owner Sam Jennison takes a personal interest in expanding the restaurant’s already fine wine collection. e outside courtyard regularly rocks with regional bands on weekends.

Summer 2009


Aussie Dr. Philip Eves moved to Burlington with wife Mary, a native, and opened Digger’s Rest Coffeehouse. His specialties are tasty little sandwiches (the bread’s from New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City), inhouse roasted coffee and Wednesday ai food lunches cooked by Nonia Workman, a former ailand tourism official who followed her husband, a local firefighter, to Iowa. e Burlington Farmers Market is held at the scenic and historic Port of Burlington, right below the towering Great River Bridge every ursday and Saturday throughout the season (though on September 17 it moves to the band shell in Crapo Park). is is rapidly becoming one of the best and best-attended markets in the state, featuring everything Iowans have come to expect in our fabulous markets, and more. You can even find soap made from local goats milk, made by Doreen Roy of the Wholesome Basket. For a little taste of wine, visit the Lindon Winery – only be careful, it’s easy to fly right by their hidden driveway and tiny little sign as you cruise up Highway 61. But if you do spot it, treat yourself to their magnificent Sherry – a fortified wine made with grapes grown literally right next to the winery. Lindon is a member of the Scenic Rivers Wine Trail, mentioned on page 17. With too many delicious finds to fit in these pages, you’re sure to have plenty to taste, smell and see on a visit to Des Moines County.

When You Go.... La Tavola Italian Restaurant & Pizza 316 N. Fourth St., Burlington 319.768.5600 Bazaar Bar 212 Jefferson St., Burlington 319.754.4800 Mister Moto’s Café 122 North 4th St., Burlington 319.754.1965 e Drake 106 Washington St., Burlington 319.754.1036 www.

Photo by Kurt Michael Friese

Digger’s Rest Coffeehouse 314 Jefferson St., Burlington 319.758.6067 Lindon Wines 12646 Highway 61, Burlington 319.753.1072 e Wholesome Basket 1719 South St., Burlington 319.754.7891 www.


Summer 2009

Summer 2009


1,000 Words

Photo by Kurt Michael Friese

Chiles at the Market


Summer 2009

Summer 2009


Behind Closed Doors By Rob Cline

Starving Artist The term “starving artist” is inescapable when Leslie Charipar opens her refrigerator. Of the many fridges I have intrepidly investigated, Leslie’s was easily the emptiest. Emptiest, but certainly not empty. We’ll get to its limited contents in just a moment. First, the lowdown on Leslie: She’s the artistic director for Theatre Cedar Rapids, a non-professional theatre company celebrating its 75th season. I’ve known Leslie since we served together on the board of the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance. She’s passionately committed to the area’s cultural scene in general and to TCR in particular. Every now and again, I have the opportunity to get crosswise of Leslie in my role as a theatre reviewer, but she is unfailingly gracious—despite being one of the sharpest wits one is likely to encounter. And truth to tell, TCR consistently offers audiences and critics much more to like than to dislike. As for Leslie’s fridge, however, its meager contents include both things she likes and, oddly enough, things she dislikes. Of cheese and coffee “This is my I’m-waiting-for-my-paycheck-to-buy-groceries fridge,” Leslie explained as we gazed over the sparsely populated icebox landscape. The first thing I noticed in the refrigerator was a meager collection of bottled beer, a beverage Leslie doesn’t imbibe. “I always have left over beers from parties because I don’t buy it, but this way I can offer someone a beer,” she said. The food-from-parties refrain was just beginning. But Leslie pointed out two other items as the fridge door swung open. “This is pretty indicative of me, really—cheese and coffee.” There was, indeed, cheese. Provolone for sandwiches, for example. But there was also an unopened package of Swiss cheese. This item had two things in common with the beer: it was leftover from a party and Leslie is unlikely to eat it. “I don’t have the heart to throw it away,” she said, “because it’s good food. But apparently nobody else at the party liked Swiss either because that’s all that was left.”

day morning coffee. That’s not just brew it and run to work.” Negative space The bottom shelf and produce drawers of Leslie’s fridge were completely devoid of content on the day I visited. “That whole lower shelf is reserved for Diet Coke,” said Leslie, pointing out that for the time being she had been reduced to purchasing a two-liter of her favorite beverage. (Permanently) Frozen foods Leslie’s freezer is full of foods that come with stories. Take, for example, her bag of VIP Quality Plus Soybeans. “This was something I was going to eat, but then I sprained my ankle and it became something to take the swelling down.” Indeed, the bag has been refrozen in such a way that one could imagine it curved around Leslie’s ankle.

“This is my I’m-waiting-for-mypaycheckto-buygroceries fridge,”

The Mr. Dell’s Original Potato Casserole lost out to a box of donuts during a blue afternoon shared with a friend. Trouble is, the friend brought over the casserole. “I can’t throw them away because at some point she’s going to say, ‘Hey, what about those potatoes?’” Prominently displayed in the freezer’s door, however, is the piece de résistance: A Deli Express Mega Muffaletta.

Returning from a conference in Aberdeen, Texas in 2005, Leslie and company stopped at a convenience store. Leslie assured her comrades that she didn’t need anything, but one of her peers was so moved by the combination of spicy ham, pepperoni, and provolone cheese on offer in the Mega Muffaletta that he purchased one for her. “I said I would keep it forever,” Leslie said. “This is sort of its exhibition spot.” Unlikely to be eaten

A large red container of Folgers coffee occupies a prominent spot on the top shelf. Like many people, Leslie has heard that keeping coffee in the refrigerator keeps it fresher, but that’s not the only reason it’s in there.

The Mega Muffaletta is not the only item in the icebox unlikely to be consumed. There is a bottle of squeeze grape jelly—another gift from a cast member—that has remained unopened though its original accompaniments of peanut butter and bread have long been consumed.

“Frankly, it’s just a good place to keep it.”

There’s the unopened bottle of sweet relish left over from a cookout: “I didn’t want them to go to waste so I put them in my fridge— where they’ll go to waste.”

This isn’t any old Folgers, by the way. “It’s Black Silk,” Leslie said wryly. “That’s their darkest blend. It’s ‘bold, yet smooth.’” A member of the cast of TCR’s recent production of Hair who works at Starbucks provided Leslie with some (expired) beans. “That’s a Sun-


There’s the frozen package of Alexia Oven Reds: “Those expired this year, but I’m never going to eat them.”

Summer 2009

Finally, the flour Leslie also had a couple of bags of flour on the top shelf of her fridge, for much the same reason the coffee is in there—because she’s been told that it keeps it fresh. She seems intent on testing that proposition, however.

Photos by Kurt Michael Friese

“I’m going to guess that flour has been in there for a good two or three years,” she said, taking it out to take a look at the dates which suggest that she’s quite right. “But honestly, how does flour go bad? See? I’m putting it back in.”

Summer 2009



Summer 2009

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The Last Word By Kurt Michael Friese

What We Eat When We Eat Alone

As a companion to the book, she’s put a video up on YouTube with a few vignettes. ere the examples truly run the gamut:

So much of our daily meal planning centers on how many people we are feeding. In most cases it’s two, or four, or more people for each meal. When holidays and other festivities roll around, it’s even more. We must consider the tastes and dietary restrictions of everyone at the table in order to provide a meal that is at once healthy, tasty, and interesting,

“A spelt tortilla, with olive oil, and gomasio, and wakame, and you could put anything rolled up in that” “My favorite vegetable is bacon” “I do things like open up a can of tuna and mix it with some cottage cheese. at’s about as creative as I can get”

But what happens when we eat alone? is is among the most private, personal, and intimate of acts. We are free to express our innermost cravings; secret desires that we dare not share with others for fear of judgment or ridicule.

“I like to do a pork tenderloin, and I do it slow over the grill, with jerk sauce.”

James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Deborah Madison set out to encourage people to reveal these intimate moments in her latest book, What We Eat When We Eat Alone. is slim yet quite entertaining volume contains both stories and a full 100 recipes from people of nearly every walk of life. From kids to senior citizens, farmers to city slickers, nearly everyone has something secret they love to eat. Many have funny or even heartwarming reasons why they eat it.

In one recipe, for a guacamole, Madison offers simple advice and invents my new favorite word, “salady.” “Given that this, along with some blue corn chips or a warm tortilla, might be your dinner, this guacamole has a bit more tomato than normal, making it a bit more salady.” Guacamole for One 1 tablespoon finely diced white onion

Take for example Madison’s friend, peach farmer and writer David Mas Masumoto, explaining why he almost always turns to leftovers when eating by himself:

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

“I immediately miss my wife, and leftovers are a way of reliving a meal. I have often wondered how someone eats after a spouse or partner dies. Reliving a meal can be both sad and yet memorable. Besides, leftovers are usually not that bad.”

¼ teaspoon salt

Madison’s husband Patrick McFarlin, an artist who illustrated not only this latest work but also Local Flavors, the one that garnered her that James Beard Award, tells in that same chapter of making a delicious - if somewhat messy - version of fried cornmeal mush by browning leftover polenta in a pan in his studio and topping it with fresh mozzarella.


1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño chile

1 avocado 1 tomato, seeded and diced 1 teaspoon lime juice, or to taste Chop the onion, cilantro, and the chile with ¼ teaspoon salt to make a rough paste. Peel and mash the avocado with a fork, keeping it chunky. Add the onion mixture and tomatoes, season with half the lime juice, then taste and add more, if needed.

Summer 2009

Illustration by Patrick McFarlin

e gourmet chef might treat himself to a can of Hormel chili his mother served when he was a child. A kid might eat sour cream sprinkled with brown sugar. e “NASCAR dad” may have a slice of quiche when his friends aren’t looking, aware as he is that it was invented not as a test of masculinity but rather to use up leftovers. As for me, more often than not it’s chips and salsa.

Not only does this book bring us the secret voyeuristic thrill of peeking into our neighbors’ private preferences, it supplies us with simple to execute yet incredibly delicious meals scaled especially for one person to enjoy on their own. Sure you could double the recipe for a guest, but that’s spoiling the secret.

Edible Iowa River Valley Issue #12, Summer 2009  
Edible Iowa River Valley Issue #12, Summer 2009  

Ancient White Park Cattle, Wine Trails, Nordic Fest, Tortilleria el Norte