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Seasonal Celebrations


9 Holiday Recipes


A Renaissance in Progress

Celebrate the Harvest!

Tassel Ridge 2013 Iowa Nouveau ®

the First Wine of the Season A light and fruity red wine made from the 2013 harvest of grapes grown in Mahaska County, Iowa.

Pair it with vegetable and beef soups and stews or traditional holiday meals. Serve lightly chilled.

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November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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contents NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2013

volume 62 | number 2

ON THE COVER: Boneless leg of lamb rolled with rosemary pesto — the main course of our Iowa exotic holiday meal, p. 36. THIS PAGE: Iowa-grown sea buckthorn, above, and Aronia Berry, right.

Features 24 Bobcats are Back!

by Terri Queck-Matzie Their return proves habitat restoration can work — and that farming, hunting, and predatory wildlife can coexist.

30 Come for the Amenities, Stay for the Culture

by Dan Weeks In Perry, and throughout Iowa, RIP stands for Renaissance In Progress.

36 An Iowa Exotic Holiday Meal

featuring recipes by Ruth Hampton 9 Recipes to help you cook up a sensation with Iowa-fresh ingredients.

44 How the Prairie was Lit

by Terri Queck-Matzie Iowa’s Rural Electric Cooperatives turned the lights on in rural Iowa — and still bring technological innovation.

Departments 4

from the editor Iowa — Great Place!

5 letters

Smash hit!

10 day trips

Things to see and do statewide

14 seasonal celebrations

Holiday events from river to river

54 made in Iowa

Tiny But Mighty Popcorn

56 portfolio

First Frost

64 escapades

Kicking up our heels in pre-WW II Harlan

from the editor

Iowa — Great Place!


Iowa is well into a statewide cultural, recreational, and quality-of-life renaissance. In fact, I believe

Publisher Polly Clark

Editor Dan Weeks

Creative Director Ann Donohoe

Associate Graphic Designer Megan Johansen

it’s happening so fast — and in so many ways

Image/Photo Specialist Jason Fort

and places — that it’s hard to take notice and advantage of all the wonderful new opportunities Iowa offers.

Editorial Associate Nate Brown

Copy Editor Gretchen Kauffman

The Iowan is here to help. In this issue: Learn how an Iowa chef uses the growing bounty and diversity of Iowa-raised ingredients to create a fresh twist on a holiday meal (page 36).

Advertising Account Executives Meghan Keller

Tom Smull Becca Wodrich Subscription Services Katrina Brocka

Celebrate the comeback of the bobcat to Iowa and what that animal’s return says about the state’s increasing environmental quality (page 24). And explore how Perry’s reinvigorated cultural revival is an example of a growing celebration of Iowa places — places that use the combination of a strong historic identity and an openness to new ideas to blend together and create an increasingly satisfying quality of life (page 30). Of course, The Iowan will continue to share fascinating stories from Iowa’s past. How the Prairie Was Lit (page 44) chronicles the sudden arrival of electricity that transformed life in rural Iowa from the perspective of those who experienced it — and how rural electric cooperatives continue to innovate benefits for their member-owners today. In every issue, Day Trips (page 10) and Seasonal Celebrations (page 14), remind you that you don’t have to go very far to have the time of your life visit any one of dozens of Iowa destinations, events, and attractions detailed in these pages. As always, please let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!

Dan Weeks, Editor

Jim Slife Twilla Glessner Accounting Manager Allison Volker CEO

Production Manager

The Iowan, ISSN (0021-0772), is published bi-monthly by Pioneer Communications, Inc., 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. This issue is dated November 1, 2013, Volume 62, No. 2. All content © 2013 The Iowan/Pioneer Communications, Inc., and may not be used, reproduced, or altered in any way without prior written permission. Periodicals Postage Paid in Des Moines, Iowa, and at additional mailing offices. We cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of unsolicited material. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: The Iowan, 300 Walnut St., STE 6, Des Moines, IA 50309. Prices: Subscriptions — Special rate when ordered direct or by mail: six issues per year for $24. International orders require additional postage. Please call for rates. Single copies — on newsstands: $4.95; current issue by mail: $4.95 plus $3.50 S+H. Please call for quantity discount pricing. Single past issues 2005 to present: $5.95 plus S+H, two for $9.95 plus S+H; prior to 2005: $14.95 plus S+H. New Subscriptions, Renewals, Gifts: > SUBSCRIBE 877-899-9977 x211 Change of Address:> CONTACT > Address Change 877-899-9977 x211 Past Issues: 877-899-9977 x211 Mail Orders: The Iowan Subscription Services P.O. Box 2516, Waterloo, IA 50704 Advertising Information: 515-246-0402 x202 or 877-899-9977 x202 2012_IRMA_member_emblem.jpg (JPEG Image, 1500 × 1466 pixels) - S...

10% PCW Paper Made in the USA



letters SMASH HIT!



The latest issue of The Iowan is so

I am new to Iowa, and your

I just received the September/

impressive! The nostalgia of one

September/October issue was

October issue of The Iowan with

of my most favorite movies!

outstanding. You will help me learn

the Last Issue notification stuck on

Remembering when The Music Man

about my new home state! My

the front. I am not happy with that

cast and Meredith Willson came to

Iowa highlights thus far include

method. I was slow and careful in

Mason City! Be still my heart! The

discovering Pella, Grinnell, the

trying to remove the notification so

whole magazine is a smash hit!

American Gothic House/Museum,

I could enjoy the magazine. Even

Thank you!

the Sheaffer Pen Museum (who

with that, I ripped it in one place,

knew?!) in Fort Madison, the Lewis

and worst of all, I have a very sticky

and Clark museum in Sioux City, all

strip down 80% of the front. I can’t


that is RAGBRAI, the amazing legacy

remove the sticky junk. Not nice!!!

The inclusion of the Villisca Ax

of the Storm Lake Times, baseball

I don’t want to waste any more of

with the Sioux City Explorers and

my time so will cover the sticky area

the Iowa Cubs, and the beauty and

with Scotch tape. This may be a

history of Wartburg Seminary in

very cheap way for you to notify

Dubuque. I think the best thing in

subscribers of their need to renew,

Sioux City is the Sioux City Public

but it is impractical for storage and

Museum — especially the surround

just plain icky when trying to read it.

sound/multivisual experience that

Please rethink this method.

— Reet Tidman, Hampton

Murder House to the Seasonal Celebrations section of the September/October 2013 issue is quite a puzzler to me. This is the scene of a horrible tragedy in which six people were brutally murdered. For your publication to attempt to treat this with some kind of ghoulish humor (“Don’t axe — don’t tell!”) seems to me to be beneath the usual quality of The Iowan. I wonder what the descendants of the victims would think of this house being used

is the introductory 18-minute movie

— Susan Spurgeon, Warsaw, Indiana

about the history of Sioux City. Thanks for your good work — we’ll

Thanks for letting us know! Actually,

keep reading!

glue-on faux covers are a fairly

— Rev. David Halaas, Sioux City

expensive renewal reminder for us, which is why we save them for the


last notification (of three) that we

Here’s something you can

your attention, but we’re sorry that

explore a little. On page 30 of the

the glue — which our supplier said


September/October issue you write:

would make the faux cover easy to

I was really pleased with your latest

. . . including the hit song “‘It’s

remove and would leave no residue

Beginning to Look a Lot Like

— didn’t perform as advertised.

Christmas.’” Everything I have here

We’ll look for a different glue.

has it “It’s Beginning to Look Like

Meanwhile, we’ve sent you a new

Christmas.” One Wikipedia author

copy of the September/October issue

calls that the “original” title, but

at no charge. There is one way to

that’s pretty thin gruel. Met

make sure you never get a glued-on

Meredith Willson once. Darn, I see

cover again, however: renew early!

as a tourist attraction. — Gene Ulses, Papillion, Nebraska

issue with the cover story on The Music Man. I did not know that Meredith Willson was so talented. The overall feature had great photos and info about this man and his work. It was a fine feature, among many others in your publication. — Al Holliday, publisher, Pennsylvania Magazine

send subscribers. We’re glad it got

now I should have asked about that.

— Ed.

— George Hamlin, Clarksville, Maryland

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN


letters Points of Interest in This Issue

MAP QUEST I really enjoy your informative

p. 11

p. 50

magazine. I have one small

p. 56

suggestion. It would be nice to

p. 24

p. 11

p. 14

see a map when you write about a special place in Iowa. In your article

p. 15

p. 16

about the Brenton Arboretum, I would have liked to see where Dallas

p. 12

p. 13

Center is. I’m from Chicago but have

p. 30

p. 64

lived in the Quad Cities for over 40

p. 10

years, so I don’t know much about the rest of Iowa. I’m a visual person

p. 11

p. 17

p. 17

p. 17

p. 13, 16, 45

p. 11

p. 11

p. 11 p. 11

p. 54 p. 14

p. 11 p. 13 p. 11

p. 11, 12, 15 p. 16

p. 11 p. 50

p. 50

p. 10

and that would help. — Anne Ney, Bettendorf Thanks for your suggestion, Anne. We actually do have such a map, and your letter gives us the chance to draw more attention to it. It’s called “Points of Interest in this Issue,” and it generally appears in or near the letters section. Starting with the September/October 2013 issue, where it appeared on page 6, we added page numbers, so you can

Statement of the ownership, management, and circulation as required by the act of Congress of August 24, 1912. As amended by the acts of March 3, 1934, and July 2, 1946 (Title 39. United States Code. Section 3685), of THE IOWAN (permit 269-620) for October 1, 2013. THE IOWAN is published bimonthly for $24 at 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa 50309-2239. Publisher, Polly Clark. Editor, Dan Weeks. Stockholders: Pioneer Communications, Inc., James Slife, 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6, Des Moines, Polk County, IA 50309. There are no known bondholders, mortgagees, or other security holders owning or holding one percent or more of the total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities.

easily connect the places marked on the map with the stories in which they’re mentioned.

— Ed.

WRITE TO US! The Iowan 300 Walnut Street, Suite 6 Des Moines, IA 50309 > Contact > The Iowan Magazine

THE IOWAN ONLINE Visit and read a digital edition of the magazine on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.


005-006 letters.indd 6

Extent and Nature of Circulation

Average No. Actual No. Copies per Issue Copies in Preceding 12 Mos. Sep/Oct 2013

a. Total Number of Copies (Net Press Run) 19,500 b. Paid Circulation (By Mail and Outside the Mail) (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 7,352 (2) Mailed In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 972 (3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mails including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS® 5,250 (4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS 100 c. Total Paid Distribution 13,674 d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (1) Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies included on PS Form 3541 819 (2) Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies included on PS Form 3541 16 (3) Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS 6 (4) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail 2,291 e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution 3,132 f. Total Distribution 16,806 g. Copies Not Distributed 2,694 h. Total 19,500 i. Percent Paid 81.4% James Slife, CEO/Owner — October 1, 2013


7,451 777

1,889 50 10,167

940 172 57 4,085 5,254 15,421 2,748 18,166 67%


10/9/13 3:19 PM

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN


Kavanaugh art gallery 131

fifth st, west des moines • historic valley junction 515-279-8682 • museum quality framing inquire about our 12 month interest free layaway

Richard Earl Thompson | Tis Autumn | 20 × 24 Oil on Canvas

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David Miller | A Simpler Time | 38 × 62 Giclee on Canvas

10/8/13 3:51 PM


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Enjoy Old World Italian Cuisine! Pasta, Pizza, Salads and all your favorites Des Moines’ most complete menu including Steak, Chicken and Seafood

Order a gift subscription @

One owner. One name. Family run since 1946.

GERMAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER Exhibits, Facility Rentals, Programs, Education, Events, Classes, Gift Shop Group Tours Welcome!

712 W. 2nd Davenport, IA • 563.322.8844

The Original Lacona Family Restaurant!

2400 Ingersoll • Des Moines

515.288.2246 Monday–Thursday 11 am–11 pm Friday & Saturday 11 am–Midnight Never on Sunday

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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day trips


THEY PUT THE “EVIL” IN MEDIEVAL Figge Art Museum Davenport Now–December 13 Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.,
 Thursdays 10 a.m.–9 p.m.,
 Sundays 12–5 p.m. 225 W. 2nd Street, Davenport 563-326-7804 Free–$7*

Danish Modern: Design for Living EXPLORE MIDCENTURY FURNITURE & HOUSEWARES Danish Immigrant Museum Elk Horn Now–January 5 Weekdays 9 a.m.–5 p.m.,
 Saturdays 10–5 p.m.,
 Sundays 12–5 p.m. 2212 Washington Street, Elk Horn 1-800-759-9192

Claws, horns, teeth, wings, and scales — monsters in the

Adults $5, kids $2, members free

European Middle Ages contrast sharply with holy figures in

Peacock chairs! Artichoke lamps! These and dozens more

this exhibit of illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, and

examples of Danish Modern furniture and housewares

other artifacts compiled from public and private collections.

are on display, along with the advertising campaigns

*Members and all active military and their families free,

that introduced Danish Modern style to Americans. Hear

children 3–12 $4, seniors and students with ID $6, adults $7.

contemporary Danish designers talk about how iconic

Free admission to non-members on Thursdays after 5 p.m.

designs from Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, and


Medieval Monsters

others still influence design today. The museum also features exhibits on Danish culture and the history of the Danish immigration to America.

VIEW THE ART THAT DEFINED DEPRESSION-ERA AMERICA Figge Art Museum Davenport Now–January 5 Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.,
 Thursdays 10 a.m.–9 p.m.,
 Sundays 12–5 p.m. 225 W. 2nd Street, Davenport • 563-326-7804 Free–$7* Art produced by the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) in 1934 portrays a country proud of its community


1934: A New Deal for Artists

and work ethic during the Great Depression. Eleanor Roosevelt said the artwork “liberated society by expressing what many people could find no words to describe.” See 55 PWAP works on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. *Members and all active military and their families free, children 3–12 $4, seniors and students with ID $6, adults $7. Free admission to nonmembers on Thursdays after 5 p.m.



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day trips

Bras for the Cause Gala HAVE FUN FIGHTING CANCER Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center Des Moines November 2, 6:30 p.m. 833 5th Avenue, Des Moines • 515-226-2388


$150 for individuals or $1,500 for a table of 10 Register to attend on the website

Around the World with Iowa Wines ENJOY WORLD FOODS & LOCAL WINES IN NE IOWA Various Wineries* Anamosa, Baldwin, Bankston, Clinton, Decorah, Fredericksburg, Lisbon, Marquette, West Branch November 2–3 Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.­–6 p.m. • 563-557-3727 Brick Arch Winery

Bra-inspired artwork

$30 in advance, $40 day of event**

highlights this dinner

International cuisine pairs with local

and auction; proceeds

wines in this tour of nine northeast Iowa wineries.

subsidize medical

Follow the Iowa Wine Trail through the upper Mississippi

screenings for Iowans

Valley’s alpine landscapes, cold-water streams, and scenic

and other related

byways. Wineries range from heritage farms to hilltop

projects. The first gala

chateaus to an Italian bistro. A variety of partnering

in 2007 was attended by

bed & breakfasts offer accommodations.

more than 500+ people

*Wineries on the tour include Brick Arch, Daly Creek,

and raised more than

Eagles Landing, Englebrecht Family, Park Farm, Tabor Home,


Wide River, and Winnesheik Wildberry. **Ticket covers both days. Free Designated Driver tickets available upon request.

1954: After the Korean War Photographs by Cliff Strovers SEE KOREA RECOVERING FROM THE WAR Grout Museum of History & Science Waterloo November 5–March 8 Tuesday–Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 503 South Street, Waterloo • 319-234-6357 Adults $10, kids $5, members free Grinnell resident Cliff Strovers was stationed in Busan, South Korea, following the Korean ceasefire in 1953. Off-duty, he roamed the city and countryside to capture color images of day-to-day life in Korea as it recovered from war. His revealing photos are one of many exhibits in the Grout Museum District. Plan to spend the day. PHOTO COURTESY CLIFF STROVERS

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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day trips


Jake Shimabukuro UNSURPASSED UKULELE Hoyt Sherman Place Des Moines November 14, 8 p.m.

Beer, Wine & Food Expo

1501 Woodland, Des Moines 515-244-0507 $33 and $55*


Shimabukuro has been

Iowa Events Center Des Moines

compared to Jimi Hendrix and

November 8–9 Friday 4–10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” has racked up 12 million-

730 3rd Street, Des Moines

Miles Davis, and his YouTube video of George Harrison’s plus views. His concerts have been called “an out-of-the-box

• 515-564-8000

blend of stunning virtuosity, deep musicality and a natural

$15–$50, ticket prices vary depending on tasting experience

entertainer’s flair.”

Iowa’s Premiere Beer, Wine and Food event features exhibits,

*Tickets are available though Hoyt Sherman Place Box Office

speakers, and of course, sampling. More than 100 exhibitors


sell wares while the region’s top chefs demonstrate their techniques. Take a break in the beer garden or indulge in a Gourmet Pairing Dinner — a multicourse meal served by one of Des Moines’ top chefs, complete with a select wine or beer for each course.

Jean Seberg International Film Festival EXPERIENCE THE LIFE AND CAREER OF THE CONTROVERSIAL FILM STAR Orpheum Theater Center Marshalltown 220 E. Main Street, Marshalltown • 641-752-4311 Three-Day Package $75, students $30* Tickets to individual events $10 Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg documents the life of the Marshalltown actress whose career ups and downs and controversial social and political views made her one of Iowa’s most fascinating stars. A red carpet affair and film premiere mark the start of the three-day event featuring films in three theaters, panel discussions, symposiums, and a legacy bus tour of 13 local sites of Seberg history. *Package does not include The Jean Seberg 75th Anniversary Pre-Premiere Party, an exclusive 100-ticket event on November 15 at 6 p.m. Those tickets


November 15–17 (See website for complete schedule)

are $75 and include a seat at the 8 p.m. premiere.



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day trips

HawkWatch Eagle Migration SEE MIGHTY BIRDS IN FLIGHT Hitchcock Nature Center Loess Hills November 17, 1–3 p.m.

MORE UKELELES! Stephens Auditorium Ames

27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek 712-545-3283


Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

$5 Watch Bald Eagles,

November 17, 7:30 p.m. Iowa State University Campus 400 Beach Avenue, Ames • 1-800-745-3000

hawks, and more than a dozen other species of migrating raptors

$24–35, students $20, kids $18

at one of the top five

“They spread a spirit of wit, playfulness, and camaraderie,”

HawkWatches in the

says the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s playbill. The

world at the Hitchcock Nature Center in the Loess Hills.

eight-person ensemble presents a program that includes

See rehabilitated birds released back into the wild, join

everything from “Flight of the Valkyries” to Spaghetti Western

HawkWatch volunteers in counting the birds, and/or take a

theme music, Tchaikovsky, and Nirvana. They’ve been called

guided hike through the Loess Hills. Kids get in free and can

“independent,” “anarchic,” “funny,” “thought-provoking,” and

participate in special children’s activities.

“mind-boggling.” You may never think about music the same way again. Bring your uke and join in the fun for the largest ukulele performance in Ames!


Jane Powell: Goddess of Soul

Iowa City West High School Iowa City December 7, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.


Iowa City West High School 2901 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City

Warren Cultural Center Greenfield

January 18, 7 p.m. 154 Public Square, Greenfield 641-343-7337

• 319-335-1160

$10–40* Fresh arrangements of holiday classics highlight this Big Band Holidays show from Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The internationally acclaimed


musician, composer, bandleader and educator was one of

“Goddess of Soul” Jane Powell has a

the first artists to cover the jazz spectrum; this year the

voice bursting with spiritual energy, sass and zeal. “She stole

band will be joined by

the night from a legend,” said The Washington Post after she

vocalist Cécile McLorin

opened for Ray Charles. Powell brings her music flexibility,


spicy humor, playful personality, and unique touch to R&B,

*Adults $35 and $40,

jazz standards, reggae grooves, and gospel anthems.

college students $10 and $36, youth $10 and $20.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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seasonal celebrations





Downtown Algona

Amana Arts Guild

November 25, 7–8:30 p.m.

December 7–8 Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sunday 4–8 p.m. • 515-295-7201 Free

1210 G Street, Amana • 800-579-2294

In days of old, store owners would hire models to pose in

$10, children under 12 free

display windows. You can see the same thing in Algona — and do your holiday shopping. POW NATIVITY SCENE Kossuth County Fairgrounds, Algona

Five homes in the Amana Colonies open their doors, allowing visitors to experience the historic villages in a whole new way; a “Weihnachtsmarkt” offers handmade arts and crafts. Hot cider and cookies are also part of the deal.

December 1–31 Monday–Saturday 2–8 p.m., Sunday & Christmas Day 12–8 p.m., New Year’s Eve 2–6 p.m.

CEDAR FALLS • 515-295-7201

Cedar Falls Museum District

Freewill offering

December 1, 2–5 p.m.

Eduard Kaib, an architect and a German POW at Camp Algona in 1944, left the town a half-life-size nativity scene

308 W 3rd Street, Cedar Falls • 319-266-5149

featuring 65 hand-painted figures masterfully rendered in


cast concrete and hand-carved plaster. It remains a potent

Stroll through the Victorian Home & Carriage House Museum

reminder of a wish for peace in time of war.

and the Cedar Falls Woman’s Club. Both celebrate the


holidays with seasonal exhibits, live music, refreshments, children’s crafts — even Santa.



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seasonal celebrations BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE



Iowa Events Center

December 19, 6–8 p.m.

November 27–December 3 Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Thursday 1–7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

206 Main Street, Suite B, Cedar Falls • 319-277-0213 Free Soak up the holiday cheer and watch sculptors turn blocks of crystalline ice into lifelike forms.

730 3rd Street, Des Moines 515-564-8000 $5 This winter wonderland full of bright lights and sparkling ornaments is a family-friendly holiday staple. Trees decorated by local designers and organizations are up for bid, with proceeds going to Blank Children’s Hospital; music and dance groups entertain; and a festival boutique offers unique gifts. Bidding on trees closes at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

DES MOINES DISNEY ON ICE Wells Fargo Arena November 27–December 1 See website for performance times 730 3rd Street, Des Moines • 515-564-8000 $17–$52 Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure — a


sightseeing tour of the imagination.

Water Works Park November 26–January 1, 5:30–10 p.m. 2201 George Flagg Pkwy., Des Moines • 800-797-9474 $10 per car, $20 per limo, $45 per bus Take the three and a half-mile drive through Water Works Park and drift past and through holiday light displays including holiday scenes, dinosaurs, princess castles, and undersea scenes. Visit Santa’s Wish Shop (Sunday – Thursday 5:30–9 pm., Friday-Saturday 5:30–10) for snacks and gifts. All proceeds go to the Make A Wish Foundation.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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seasonal celebrations THE BLENDERS Des Moines Civic Center December 17, 7:30 p.m. 211 Walnut Street, Des Moines • 515-246-2300 $39 at Civic Center box office or Ticketmaster The 15th Annual Holiday Soul Tour combines The Blenders’ onstage antics with soul-styled holiday classics and original pieces.

GREENFIELD TOUR OF TREES AND HOLIDAY GALA Warren Cultural Center December 7 154 Public Square, Greenfield 641-743-2123 Trees — $10, Gala — check website for details The 27th Annual Tour of Trees starts at the Warren Cultural Center and moves on to local homes and includes a bake sale and live entertainment. The evening gala offers fine dining and entertainment in Warren Cultural Center’s impeccably restored auditorium. Top off your trip with a night in the historic Hotel Greenfield.

SIOUX CITY CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE Orpheum Theatre December 5, 7:30 p.m. 528 Pierce Street, Sioux City • 712-279-4850 $35–$55 through Ticketmaster “So full of energy it could end our dependence on oil,” says the New York Daily News of this holiday-themed, Broadway-worthy spectacle. Gingerbread men flip in midair, penguins spin, puppets dance, and reindeer soar high above a holiday wonderland. SANTA’S WHISTLE STOP TOUR Milwaukee Railroad Shops December 7, 14, 21, 1–4 p.m.

KNOXVILLE NEW YEAR’S EVE MASQUERADE PARTY Nearwood Winery December 31–January 1 210 Robinson Street, Knoxville • 641-891-9330 See website for details

Historic District, 3400 Sioux River Rd., Sioux City • 712-233-6996 Free Santa will arrive at the roundhouse around 1:15 p.m. and leave at 3:45 p.m.; the conductor from The Polar Express will do special storybook readings in the caboose. Get your kids’ picture (or yours!) taken with Santa.

Wear your mask, raise your glass, and usher in the New Year at the Nearwood Winery.



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Linda Betsinger McCann’s


December 7, 4–8 p.m.

oSt in the lateSt inn ee thiS tory of the hiS xplore


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Until recently, bobcats were extinct in Iowa. Their return proves habitat restoration can work â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and that farming, hunting, and predatory wildlife can coexist. by TERRI QUECK-MATZIE



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Fifteen-year-old Derek Lonneman was walking a dry creek bed near Garner, checking his traps, when he saw it. “I thought it was a large tomcat,” he says. “Then I looked again.” To his astonishment, young Derek had snared a bobcat. Of that he was quite sure, and for three reasons. One, although only a sophomore in high school, he’d been trapping in this area for seven years, and this was clearly no raccoon. Two, he was unusually well educated when it comes to Iowa wildlife; his father, Ken Lonneman, is a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) law enforcement officer. Three, as Derek well knew, no one had ever seen a bobcat within 75 miles of this location in living memory, and if he was going to call it a bobcat and retain his reputation as an outdoorsman, it darn well better be a bobcat.


Dad, I caught a bobcat

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Lonneman phoned his father, who was waiting at the end of the trapline. “Dad,” he said, “I caught a bobcat.” The senior Lonneman knew for a fact that there were no bobcats in north central Iowa. The DNR had conducted a seven-year study from 2003 to 2010 and continued to monitor bobcat movements closely. He knew that the bobcat population had exploded in southern Iowa, but no such cat had ever been seen anywhere near where his son was now standing, 35 miles south of the Minnesota border, roughly midway between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. “He didn’t believe me,” Derek says. “He said it was just a feral cat with a funny tail.” Derek ended the call and studied the cat again. Spots? Check! Tufted ears? Check! Short tail? Check! Twice as big as a housecat? Check! Nor was it happy about the snare around its leg. “It started to howl, making that distinctive hissing sound. I called Dad back and told him I was sure it wasn’t a tomcat. He still didn’t believe me.” Ken Lonneman knows that people have a primitive response to animals they perceive as predators.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN


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As grasslands bordering wooded areas return to the state, so do Lynx rufus — bobcats. Wildlife biologists estimate 2,300–4,100 of the cats now live in Iowa after decades of near extinction here. About twice the size of the average housecat, the cats are marked by distinctive spots, tufted ears, and a short tail.

These animals trigger something in the adrenal system that can cause fireworks to go off in the brain. People start imagining things. They can mistake housecats for bobcats and bobcats for mountain lions. It happens all the time. But Ken also knew that Derek was a very observant, knowledgeable, and levelheaded kid. The senior Lonneman grabbed a catch pole — a device used to control trapped animals until they can be released. He summoned his colleague, DNR furbearer biologist Vince Evelsizer, who joined him in the field near Garner. Derek’s photos, opposite, tell the rest of the story: The three men, working carefully, gently restrained the certified genuine — and very ticked-off — bobcat with the catch pole, snipped the snare from its leg, and released it. “The last I saw it, it was running south very fast,” says Derek.


A phenomenal resurgence If Derek’s quarry had run far enough, it would have run into plenty of company. Bobcats, the most abundant wildcat in the United States, were once native to Iowa. They disappeared for decades. Now they have returned. Dr. William Clark, Iowa State University professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Iowa’s bobcat expert, says there are 2,300–4,100 bobcats in the state, mostly in the southern three tiers of counties and in the Loess Hills. Clark, along with DNR wildlife research biologist Todd Gosselink, conducted the multiyear bobcat study and continues to monitor cats’ movements throughout the state. The DNR calls the bobcat’s resurgence “phenomenal.” Bobcats are elusive, solitary predators — fierce hunters that can leap 10 feet or more to make a kill. Early white settlers saw them as a threat to people and livestock. The settlers shot them, trapped them for their pelts, and (perhaps inadvertently) destroyed their habitat when crops replaced woodlands and grasses.


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Row crops support the least wildlife “Iowa is one of the most changed landscapes in the U.S.,” says Vince Evelsizer, who helped the Lonnemans free Derek’s inadvertent catch. “Row crops support the least wildlife next to hard infrastructure such as pavement and buildings.” As a result, bobcats (and many other species) left the state. “By the mid-1900s they were essentially gone,” says Clark. “There are animals, such as white-tailed deer, Canada geese, and coyotes, that adapted very well to humans and agriculture,” says Evelsizer, “but the bobcat is definitely not one of them.” In 1977 the Iowa Legislature deemed the bobcat endangered. But as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) returned some farmland back into grasses and woodlands, bobcats — along with other threatened species such as the sandhill crane and the black bear — began drifting back into southern Iowa, enticed by reemerging pockets of the landscape they’d once left. “It wasn’t obvious,” says Clark. “You don’t notice the first two or four. But by the 1990s we began to see one killed on the road now and then.” Mother bobcats raise young in hollows in tangled masses of fallen limbs and underbrush next to pastures or grassy waterways. (A typical litter is one to six kittens that stay with the mother for nine months to a year before striking out on their own.) The brush provides cover, and the combination of woodlands and grasslands supplies an abundant diet of rabbits, mice, and squirrels. Southern Iowa has some ideal bobcat habitat; northern Iowa’s woodlands tend to have less undergrowth and more crop — not grass — borders, so bobcats remain rare there.

No downside Evelsizer says the return of the cats indicates a more healthy balance in the ecosystem and that there’s no real downside to the thriving bobcat population. Bobcats are often erroneously blamed for the recent decline in pheasants, but Evelsizer says research doesn’t back that up: “They will take a bird if the opportunity presents itself, but nearly 95 percent of stomach contents examined during a recent bobcat study was mammal.”

TOP: Derek Lonneman and his inadvertently trapped bobcat. BOTTOM: DNR agents Ken Lonneman and Vince Evelsizer work carefully to safely restrain the snared bobcat with a protective board and a catch pole. They snipped the snare and released the cat. It was mad, but unharmed.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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Top left: Historically, bobcats covered North America. Top right: By 1978, intensive row crop farming had driven bobcats from the central Midwest. Thanks to habitat restoration, bobcats have now been spotted in most Iowa counties and are fairly common in southern Iowa.

In 2001 the cats were downlisted to Threatened status; a further downlist to Protected status came in 2003. Since 2007 it has been legal to trap and hunt bobcats during the fur-bearing season, November 2 to January 31, with a limit of one bobcat per fur harvester. That year there was a 150-cat quota, which has increased every year since. In 2010 the 350-cat harvest quota was met in just three weeks, indicating a robust bobcat population, so this year the quota was lifted and the area expanded from 35 to 41 counties, though the one cat per trapper limit still exists. Bobcat pelts are worth a little over $100 each, making them attractive to trappers, although Clark says most Iowa trappers are more interested in a trophy pelt than cash. (Like many trappers out for other species, Derek was happy to release the cat he had caught.) Evelsizer says the bobcat population is healthy enough to support the change and continues to grow by 8 percent each year even with harvesting — for now. But he is concerned that the recent trend toward converting marginal lands to cropland could have a 24


detrimental effect on all wildlife, including bobcats. “We need to farm the best and leave the rest,” he says, noting that simple conservation measures, which are increasingly used, can be relatively inexpensive for landowners. Clark is similarly conservative about the hunting and trapping of bobcats. “We need to ensure the population continues to grow,” he says. Both men agree the important thing is that the cats have returned. “We have a landscape that is healthy and diverse enough to sustain and harvest bobcats,” says Clark. “We don’t want to lose that.”

Born and raised on the family farm in southwest Iowa, Terri Queck-Matzie covers Iowa from the inside out from her home in Fontanelle.

BOBCAT OR MOUNTAIN LION? Quite a few folks in Iowa swear they’ve seen mountain lions here, and one was shot and killed by law enforcement in a northeast Des Moines neighborhood in October 2012. Jeff Swearngin, South Central Iowa District Supervisor for the DNR, says he was on the scene a few blocks from two elementary schools. The mountain lion “was seen chasing a deer across Interstate 80 and likely chased it up a creek bed when he became disoriented and found himself in a populated area,” he says. The cat had taken shelter under ledges built for plants in the yard when he was discovered. Swearngin says officers had no choice but to shoot the animal. “Tranquilizing them isn’t like you see on television. It can take 25 minutes for that to take effect, and we couldn’t risk having him still on the move.” Another shooting near Marengo in 2009 was more controversial. The hunter involved took time to ask permission of the landowner and check the legality of killing the cat before firing. The rarely seen female was the first confirmed mountain lion sighting in five years. “We have no resident mountain lions in Iowa,” says Iowa State University’s William Clark. The key word is “resident.” Young males, he says, do pass through. “They’re big cats and they travel long distances. Researchers have tracked them from the Black Hills to Connecticut and from Canada to Texas.” The mountain lion is native to Iowa and left for similar reasons as the bobcats did. Until recently, the last known mountain lion kill was in Appanoose County in 1867. Ironically, they’re not protected by Iowa Code, though they are much less numerous than bobcats. That’s because “they were basically extirpated before the State Legislature was even formed,” says the DNR’s Evelsizer. “So they can be hunted any time of year without breaking any laws. But if they’re moving in and out of the state and not a safety risk to people or livestock, there’s no reason to shoot them.” Contrary to rumors, the DNR has not reintroduced the big cats to control the deer population. “Our hunters are doing that. Why would we hijack the hunters?” says Evelsizer. Every hunting license purchased in the state includes a $13 habitat fee

Bobcat tracks are often confused with dog and coyote tracks, but several clues distinguish them: Bobcat tracks, above left, rarely show claw marks, have an M-shape interdigital pad, and an overall track that appears round. (Mountain lion tracks are similar but about twice the size.) Dog and coyote tracks, above right, usually show claw marks, have an upside-down V-shape interdigital pad, and an overall track that appears diamond-shape.

that contributes to increasing game habitat. And Evelsizer says the DNR depends on hunters for valuable wildlife information via the annual Bowhunter Observation Survey. Nearly 9,000 hunters across the state report observations of wildlife of all kinds gleaned from spending a collective tens of thousands of hours in deer stands. Add to that reports of hundreds of other hunters, hikers, and trail cameras, and not much goes unnoticed. Evelsizer says it is not impossible people have seen female or kitten mountain lions. “It could happen, but so far none of the reports [other than the 2009 shooting] have been legitimate [verified by a carcass, photo or video of the animal, or photo of tracks], so we have no record yet,” he adds. “But we’re always glad to get reports. If they’re out there, we’d like to know so we can get them documented.”

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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Come for the


Stay for the

Culture In Perry, and throughout Iowa, RIP stands for Renaissance In Progress. by DAN WEEKS

Perry has been on a wild ride since the mid-1990s. That’s when California philanthropist Roberta Green Ahmanson invested some $20 million in her hometown, located 40 miles northwest of Des Moines. Most of the money went to transforming historic Hotel Pattee into a destination luxury hotel. The massive, multiyear effort won raves from the likes of The New York Times. It also spun off other projects — artful public spaces, building restorations, and an arts revival that attracted creative people and businesses to Perry and energized those already there.

Ups and downs The hard part, it turned out, was keeping the hotel open. Headlines tell the story: 1999: Former Resident Gives Iowa Town a Swank Hotel 2006: The Hotel Pattee Abruptly Closes; Historic Luxury Lodge Sparked a Cultural Renaissance in Perry, Iowa 2008: The Historic Hotel Pattee of Perry, Iowa, Will Reopen Aug 2013: Historic Hotel in Perry, Iowa, Abruptly Closes Sept 2013: St. Louis Couple to Buy Hotel Pattee

By now, there’s understandably a bit of news fatigue: The latest purchase ranked but a single paragraph on one day in The Des Moines Register. On September 21, 2013, the paper offered “a rose” to the new owners for recognizing the hotel’s potential. (No doubt there will be more coverage later.)

A local effort The real news, however, isn’t just another reopening. It is that Perry’s grand hotel and the cultural renaissance it inspired has shifted — surely, though not always smoothly — from a philanthropic effort dependent on a single person’s generosity to a local project sustained by broad community participation. Consider: Last time the Hotel Pattee closed, it was for about two years. This time, it may be shuttered for as little as two months. Last time, the new owner was an out-of-state corporation. This time, it’s Jay and Denise Hartz and family, who plan to relocate to Perry. Last time, the money for the purchase came mostly from outsiders. This time, 38 of the 43 investors partnering with the Hartzes are Perry residents. Collectively, they’ve put up a total of $500,000 to help the Hartzes reopen the hotel.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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Hotel Pattee’s monogram in mahogany exemplifies its renovation’s top-notch materials and period-style detailing.

Painter, stained-glass artist, and retired schoolteacher Mary Rose Nichols opened her gallery, Mary Rose Collection, in 2006 in a 1913 former telephone company building and is a guiding light in Perry’s renaissance.

A statewide rebirth

Generous places

But the real story is bigger even than that. It’s about Iowans all over the state simultaneously rediscovering and creating wonderful places to visit, live, work, and play. Typically these projects start, as Perry’s did, with a strong historic identity and a welcoming, open-minded community; with a commitment to a great quality of life; and with a genuine desire to share a town and its amenities with newcomers and visitors. Such places tend to treasure and develop their assets — natural, architectural, historical, cultural, social. As a result, these great Iowa places have a better chance of retaining their best and brightest of all ages. These places also nurture and celebrate Iowa’s tradition of welcoming visitors and newcomers — people who further enrich the place with their ideas, their participation, their hard work, their cultures, and their dollars. And they create a sustainable place to live that offers multiple amenities and has a diverse and sustainable economy.

Such thriving towns tend to have a genuinely generous character. They typically offer something for people of a wide variety of ages and interests, and many of their offerings are gratis: great public spaces such as restored downtowns and landmark buildings; a connection to the outdoors via parks, river walks, biking and/or hiking trails, public art, and a reverence for the local landscape; an invitation to join the locals in festivals, sporting events, and arts offerings. These are communities in which residents and visitors don’t have to pay to play, although almost all of us who take advantage of free amenities gladly spend — and often spend freely — in communities that offer such perks. In Perry, for instance, you can stroll through the town’s restored downtown with its variety of shops and gathering places, enjoy its public art, and ride the new Raccoon River Valley Trail 24/7/365 at no charge. Staying in the hotel, eating and shopping in Perry, and renting a bicycle there are optional complements to the excursion.


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Art on the Prairie During Perry’s 4th annual Art on the Prairie festival ( on November 9 and 10, your options for free entertainment explode. You can listen to over 70 hours of live music from more than 30 musicians; view (and purchase if you like) the work of many dozens of Iowa artists, including potters, painters, sculptors, jewelers, photographers, fiber artists, and more; and hear poetry readings on the hour and half hour by any of 15 Iowa poets. To give you an idea of the quality of the offerings, cartoonist and watercolorist Brian Duffy is the event’s guest artist. And Tom Milligan, producing director at the Old Creamery Theatre in the Amanas, will portray iconic Iowa regional artist Grant Wood in a 45-minute, one-man show. It is all free, and it all takes place in seven buildings within walking distance of one another in downtown Perry. Those buildings include an historic post office repurposed as an arts and cultural events center; a bank building that found new life as an art gallery; a Carnegie library that’s now a museum; the Perry Public Library, which will offer a variety of youth activities; and downtown merchants hosting holiday open houses with special discounts and treats at many locations. Of course, festival venues also include the spectacularly renovated (and re-reopened) Hotel Pattee, which drips with fine art and architectural detail. The whole downtown is a designated cultural and historic district and was recently named an Iowa Great Place by a program of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs — a program that encourages Iowans to be bold and creative in reimagining their places.

Better than ever The people of Perry have certainly done that. Roberta Green Ahmanson provided the spark and a big initial shot of resources; however, community leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, and investors have the ongoing vision, stewardship, creativity, and enthusiasm to make Perry a better place to live in and visit than it’s perhaps ever been. Transformations like Perry’s are happening all over Iowa — and don’t think folks don’t notice. Take a look

at page 5 of this issue, where David Halaas, a recent immigrant to Iowa (and recent subscriber to The Iowan) rattles off 11 of his favorite Iowa attractions. They range from the Sioux City Public Museum in his new hometown to the Sheaffer Pen Museum on Iowa’s opposite coast in Fort Madison — and he’s just starting to get to know the state! Perry was once a struggling small city. It was suffering a downtown downturn even before the railroad pulled out in the 1970s. Roberta Green Ahmanson helped spark a rebirth 15 or so years ago. But the story the city now tells is that the era of singlesource patronage — whether from a single industry, a single company, or a single philanthropist — is likely coming to an end. While those sources can and have been generous to Iowa in the past, they can also wither over time — or disappear overnight, without warning, leaving nothing more than a note on a locked door.

Renaissance in progress The story Perry tells is that a diverse, sustainable, self-determined, self-reliant revival is not only possible, it’s preferable. While patronage can often get more done faster, it can also have a boom-and-bust character that can leave a town reeling. Throughout Iowa, there’s a sustainable surge in balanced developments that are historically sensitive, public-spirited, environmentally and culturally aware, and built to last. Developments such as Des Moines’ East Village, Charles City’s WhiteWater at Riverfront Park, Sioux City’s revitalized downtown, and the Quad Cities’ RiverWay — to name just a few of hundreds of recent and ongoing projects and events around the state — are abundant evidence of an Iowa renaissance in progress. See you in Perry!

Dan Weeks, The Iowan’s editor, will be wearing his black IOWAN baseball cap when he attends Art on the Prairie on November 10. He looks forward to talking with The Iowan’s readers there.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN


Perry Antiques • Local Artisans • April Cornell Linens Antiques Artisans April Cornell Linens Antiques••Local Iowa Artisans •• April Cornell Linens Scandinavian Gifts • Stained Glass • Polish Pottery Scandinavian Glass •• Polish PolishPottery Pottery ScandinavianGifts Gifts •• Stained Stained Glass

Warford • Perry 12151215 Warford • Perry IowaIowa 515.465.4222 • 515.465.4222 • MaryRose_NDIowan_2013.indd 1

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Hotel Pattee Carnegie Library TownCraft Building Perry Public Library Security Bank Building WhiteSpaces La Poste



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10/1/13 11:00 AM

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Scheduled To Appear:


Tickets On Sale:






35th Anniversary celebration



featuring JIMMY GILMER

marvelous MARVIN SHORT

November 12, 2013 8am TICKET PRICE:


For Information, call (641) 357-6151

Honoring the Lives and Legacies of our Three Fallen Stars – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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An Iowa Exotic Holiday Meal 9 recipes to help you cook up a sensation with Iowa-fresh ingredients. The holidays are a great time to enjoy the flavors and textures of our state — including some you might not have experienced before. Chef Ruth Hampton grew up on an Iowa farm, traveled and explored food and cooking widely, and came back home to reacquaint herself and her patrons with just how spectacularly good — even exotic — Iowa can taste. We first savored Hampton’s cuisine at the Seed Saver’s Annual Campout and Convention in Decorah in July. Hundreds of folks attending that event raved about what Hampton was dishing up. Visitors from as close as down the road and as far away as Rome, Italy, were coming back for thirds and fourths, saying they’d never tasted anything like it. Neither had we. When we heard that every dish was a product of Hampton’s creative, taste-and-try cooking style and Iowa-grown ingredients, we asked her to create a holiday meal just for you, The Iowan’s readers. The result is the nine delicious recipes on the following pages. Each is a memorable part of a great holiday meal, and each takes advantage of the unique flavors, textures, and colors of an Iowa harvest. Be prepared for a fresh twist on tradition. Hampton calls her approach “a dash eclectic, a splash elegant, and a dollop rustic.” Her recipes are a mix of original and traditional recipe ideas made in her own Decorah kitchen, where she blends and combines ingredients and techniques like an artist mixing colors.

Hampton says that the easy availability of ingredients and flavors from around the world has broadened our tastes, which she counts as a good thing. But the freshest foods are always local. In the finest of all possible culinary worlds, creative use of native ingredients makes meals that are just as sophisticated as exotic cuisines — but with a freshness and authenticity that comes from working with what grows right here. “I love to experiment with our Iowa flavors and textures,” she says. “My biggest message is to let go of fears of doing it wrong. Try it! Taste it! These recipes are just part of the conversation of how to use and enjoy foods from this region.” Fortunately, Hampton adds, the slow food and locavore movements have really taken off in Iowa. Burgeoning farmer’s markets and specialty markets, consumer-supported agriculture (CSA), local-food offerings in grocery stores and restaurants, culinary tours, and many creative cooks, chefs, and producers “see Iowa as a workshop for feeding our palates and helping us enjoy what is around us,” she says. Her commentary accompanies each of the recipes that follow. This holiday menu celebrates Iowa’s harvest with traditional favorites — then adds a few tweaks just for fun. It uses many Iowa staples, pays tribute to regional vegetables and fruits, and features some of our state’s most amazing food products such as La Quercia pancetta, Prairie Breeze cheddar, Frisian Farms Gouda and aronia berries. Enjoy the bounty. Happy Holidays!

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Boneless Leg of Lamb Rolled with Rosemary Pesto Leg of lamb’s rich, earthy flavor merges well with the sweetness of the roasted garlic and dried fruit; fragrant rosemary adds pungent, complex flavor. Minneapolis Chef Lenny Russo introduced me to this method of rolling the leg with herbs and dried fruit and it has become one of my favorite dishes for special occasions.

1 leg of lamb, 2- to 3-pound, boneless 2 T. olive oil Salt and ground black pepper ½ c. roasted garlic (see page 42), mashed 1 T. rosemary pesto (see page 43) or 1 ½ T fresh rosemary, minced ⅓ c. dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, tart cherries, currants, blueberries, or plums Additional rosemary pesto (if desired) 1. Trim some but not all of the fat from the lamb.






Butterfly the roast to ½- to ¾-inch thickness so that it lies flat, cut side up. With a meat tenderizer or the dull side of a knife, pound cut side of the meat for a few minutes. If using a rubber mallet, cover the meat with plastic wrap before pounding. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl combine olive oil, roasted garlic, rosemary pesto, and dried fruit. Spread over cut side of lamb. Carefully roll the lamb lengthwise like a jelly roll. (It will be a bit sloppy!) Tie the roast with clean kitchen string every 1½ inches. (Or use the butcher’s tie method; find instructional videos online.) Roast immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb on all sides until nicely browned. Use tongs to flip and maneuver the lamb. Transfer the browned lamb to a roasting rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast 1½ to 2 hours or until internal temperature reads 120°F to 125°F (rare) or 130°F to 135°F (medium rare). Remove from oven; let rest for 30 minutes (temperature will rise during resting). Remove string; slice into ¾-inch pieces. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


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Polenta La Quercia pancetta, local pork, and all of the classic ingredients for dressing transform these “Italian grits” into a savory side similar to corn bread stuffing. Integrity Mills near Cresco produces organic polenta; Frisian Farms Gouda from the southeastern corner of our state is a tasty substitute for the usual Parmesan.

3¾ c. water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock 3 T. butter 1½ t. fresh garlic, minced ½ t. salt 1⅓ c. yellow cornmeal, coarse-ground ½ c. Frisian Farms Gouda cheese, grated ½ c. fresh or frozen corn kernels 1 T. fresh sage, finely chopped 1. Heat water, butter, garlic, and salt over high heat in

a 4-quart heavy saucepan. When the mixture begins to simmer, turn the heat to medium-low and slowly add the cornmeal while stirring constantly. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly. 2. Add cheese, corn, and sage to the cornmeal mixture. Stir until cheese melts. 3. Pour cornmeal mixture into an oiled baking dish. (Be careful when pouring; the mixture is the consistency of hot lava!) 4. Let stand, uncovered, for a few hours or cover and refrigerate for up to a day.

Polenta Pancetta Dressing ½ lb. pork, ground 4 oz. La Quercia pancetta, sliced into small pieces ½ c. onion, diced 1½ celery stalks, diced 2 T. fresh sage, finely chopped 1 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped ¼ t. nutmeg, ground Salt and ground black pepper to taste Polenta cubes ¾ c. fresh parsley, chopped ½ red sweet pepper, diced 1½ c. chicken stock or water 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet cook and

stir ground pork until pork is no longer pink. Remove from skillet. Set aside. 2. In the same skillet place pancetta pieces, onion, celery, sage, rosemary, nutmeg, and salt and black pepper. Cook and stir until onion is soft. 3. Slice cooled or chilled polenta into ¾-inch cubes. Place cubes on an oiled baking sheet. Roast the polenta cubes for 45 minutes. 4. In a large bowl stir together roasted polenta cubes, cooked pork, pancetta-vegetable mixture, diced sweet pepper, and chicken stock. 5. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with bacon fat or butter. Spoon dressing mixture into dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. (Or refrigerate up to 1 day. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Bake as directed.) Can be made up to 1 day in advance. Makes 6 to 8 cups. November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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Bacon Liver Pâté with Pickled Onions and Orange Zest

Roasted Vegetables and Cranberry Chutney

Iowa pâté packs a world of flavor, partly thanks to the great locally raised bacon. The sweet-sour onions and a hint of bitter in the zest balance the richness of this silky spread. It’s a perfect appetizer with a sparkling wine before dinner.

Bacon Liver Pâté

Sweet Potatoes

Potato Croquettes

Rice Pudding

1 lb. grass-fed beef liver 8 slices Iowa bacon ½ c. onion, finely diced 1 clove garlic, finely diced 1 apple, finely diced 3 T. red wine 2 T. heavy cream 2 T. butter 1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped, or 2 teaspoons rosemary pesto (see page 43) 2 T. fresh thyme, chopped ₁ ⁄₈ t. nutmeg, ground ¼ t. sea salt Pinch ground black pepper Pinch cayenne pepper 1. Rinse and pat beef liver dry and



4. 5.


slice into large pieces. Cover and set aside. Cook bacon in a large skillet. When crispy, remove from pan, reserving bacon fat in pan. Cool, then chop. Set aside. Add onion, garlic, and apple to hot bacon fat. Cook and stir until soft. Add red wine. Stir into mixture to deglaze the pan. Push mixture to side of pan. Add beef liver. Simmer a few minutes on each side until the center is no longer pink but before it gets tough. Remove from pan and let cool slightly.


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6. In a food processor puree cooled

liver, heavy cream, butter, rosemary or rosemary pesto, thyme, sea salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. 7. Stir chopped bacon into pureed mixture. 8. Taste. If desired, adjust seasonings. 9. Spoon mixture into a buttered 3½- to 4-cup mold or dish (or line mold or dish with plastic wrap). Cover and chill several hours or overnight. 10. Serve on toasted crostini and topped with Quick Pickled Onions, fresh thyme, and orange zest or use as a dip with crackers. Pâté may be made up to 2 days ahead. Makes 3 cups.

Quick Pickled Onions ½ c. cider vinegar ¼ c. water 1½ T. honey or sugar ¼ t. sea salt 1 star anise 3 whole cloves 5 black peppercorns 1 large red onion, thinly sliced into rings 1. Simmer vinegar, water, honey,

salt, star anise, as many cloves as you want, and peppercorns in a heavy nonreactive saucepan for a few minutes. 2. Add onion rings. Simmer for 1 minute. 3. Let cool. Transfer to a glass container. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a few days. Can be made a few weeks in advance. Makes about 3 cups.

Smoked Sweet Potato Puree 4 lb. orange sweet potatoes (American yams) ⅓ c. butter ⅓ c. maple syrup or brown sugar ⅓ c. orange juice ⅓ c. bourbon (Cody Road from Le Claire) Black walnut halves or walnut halves 1. Peel sweet potatoes. Cut into

cubes or slices. In a large saucepan cook, covered, in enough boiling salted water to cover for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. (Or bake whole sweet potatoes in a 425°F oven for 40 minutes.) 2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor place cooked sweet potatoes, butter, maple syrup or brown sugar, orange, juice, and bourbon. Cover and process until smooth. 3. Spread into 9 × 13-inch baking dish. If desired, sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Makes 7 cups.

SMOKE IT! If you can eat it, you can probably smoke it. I’ve successfully smoked meats, salt, vegetables, and fruits using nothing more than a charcoal or gas grill. Meats require more time and attention, but vegetables are easy and relatively fast. Try a twist on a holiday dish and lightly smoke your sweet potatoes after they’ve been cooked but before pureeing with the other ingredients.

For a charcoal grill: Soak 2 cups of small applewood chips in water for an hour and prep a small amount of coals for grilling. When hot, push the coals to the side of the grill so the sweet potatoes will not be directly over them. Transfer the pieces of cooked sweet potatoes into a vegetable grill basket or a cast-iron pan. Set a few pieces of drained wood on the coals, place the top grill back in place, then place the potatoes so they are not over the coals. Replace the lid and smoke for 30 to 40 minutes. For a smokier flavor, replenish the wood chips after 20 minutes. For a gas grill: Soak the wood chips for an hour, then drain and transfer them to a smoker box (a basket to hold the wood chips) or a small aluminum tray. When the grill is still cool, remove the grate and place the box on the heat source off to one side. Replace the grate; preheat to 225°F. Smoke the sweet potatoes for 30 to 40 minutes.

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Red and Green Potato Croquettes These are a fun alternative for a festive meal — and they make for a snackable leftover! Instead of Parmesan, I used Prairie Breeze cheddar from the Milton Creamery — an amazingly nutty, rich, dry cheddar fabulous for both cooking and nibbling.

2½ lb. Yukon gold potatoes ¾ c. Prairie Breeze cheddar cheese ⅓ c. green onions or chives, minced ⅓ c. red sweet pepper, diced 2 t. roasted garlic, right 4 eggs, lightly beaten 2½ c. bread crumbs Butter or oil 1. Cut potatoes into cubes. In a






large saucepan cook potatoes, covered, in lightly salted boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. (Or bake whole potatoes in a 425°F oven for 40 minutes.) Cool potatoes; peel. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash potatoes with an electric mixer or potato masher. (You should have 4 cups mashed potatoes.) In a large bowl combine mashed potatoes, cheese, 2 eggs, green onions, sweet pepper, and garlic. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Beat the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl. Place bread crumbs on a plate. Shape chilled potato mixture into 16 to 20 small patties or logs. Dip each into the beaten egg, then roll in the bread crumbs.

6. Heat butter or oil in a large

cast-iron or heavy skillet. Fry croquettes, in batches, in the hot butter until browned on both sides. If needed, add more butter or oil to fry each batch. 7. Transfer browned croquettes to a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. (Or chill browned croquettes, covered, until needed. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.)

Roasted Vegetables with Apple Cider Syrup To satisfy worldly palates with provincial ingredients, try making syrup out of Midwestern apple cider. The resulting sweet-tart nectar mixes well with the richness of roasted vegetables, and makes a lovely vinaigrette when mixed with apple cider vinegar and canola oil.

1 gal. apple cider 6 c. mixture of root vegetables such as beets, ruta bagas, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, and/or carrots, sliced into uniform pieces Oil Salt and black pepper 6 c. mixture of fruits and vegetables such as leeks, onions, plums, pears, apples, and/or mushrooms, sliced into uniform pieces

ROASTING GARLIC Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars in foods and deepens and intensifies their flavors. Garlic becomes sweet, mellow, and buttery when roasted. The creamy paste is a great addition to any potato recipe.

Oven method: Slice off the top of a bulb of garlic so the cloves are exposed, then place, cut side down, in a small baking pan or ramekin. Add ½ inch of oil and water, cover tightly with foil, and roast in a preheated 400°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until soft. Let cool, then squeeze out the soft garlic. Stove-top method: Peel cloves of garlic and simmer, covered, in a skillet with ½ inch of olive oil and water approximately 30 minutes. Mash cloves.

1. Simmer apple cider in a large





soup pot over low heat for a few hours until it is reduced to a syrup (about 2 cups). Be careful not to let the cider burn as it becomes thicker. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl toss root vegetables with oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet; place on middle oven rack. Roast for 30 minutes. In a large bowl toss fruit and vegetable mixture with additional oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet. Move root vegetable mixture to the bottom oven rack. Place fruit and vegetable mixture on the middle rack. Continue roasting for 30 minutes. Remove both baking sheets from oven. In a large serving


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dish or platter toss together contents of both sheets. Drizzle with reduced apple cider to taste. 6. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm in a 200°F oven until serving time. The syrup can be made a few months ahead. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. The root vegetables can be cut a day ahead and stored in water to cover in the refrigerator. Makes 6 to 8 cups.

Cranberry Chutney This twist on a holiday favorite is sweet-piquant like cooked cranberry relish, but with savory additions and regional fruits.

12 oz. fresh cranberries 1 apple, diced (use any Iowa variety) ½ c. crabapples or any tart fruit, such as aronia berries, rhubarb, or sea buckthorn berries, diced 2 T. cider vinegar ⅔ c. honey or sugar (or more to taste) ⅓ c. water 1 t. coriander, ground 1 t. cinnamon, ground 1 t. ginger, ground 1. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan

simmer cranberries, apple, crabapple, vinegar, honey, water, and spices over low heat until fruit is soft. 2. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature. May be made many days in advance. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Makes 3 cups.

Scandinavian Holiday Rice Pudding


Based on a favorite Scandinavian holiday treat, this recipe is exceptionally creamy but not cloyingly sweet. The berry sauce is a colorful contrast to the white “riskrem.” Scandinavian tradition hides a blanched almond in the pudding; the person who finds the almond gets a marzipan.

In the summer I churn rosemary, sage, thyme, cilantro, parsley, basil into pestos and pastes that I freeze for later use. Blending the leaves with an oil helps to preserve their volatile oils that contain those potent flavors we love. Rosemary pesto is especially handy when prepping a holiday turkey, roast, or leg of lamb.

4 c. 2 c. 1 c. ¾ t. 1 T. 4 T. ¼ t. 3 c. 1 t. ½ c.

milk water Arborio rice sea salt butter honey, maple syrup, or sugar (add more if desired) almond extract whipping cream sugar hazelnuts or almonds, blanched and finely chopped

1. In a heavy large saucepan

Chef Ruth Hampton of Trout River Catering ( in Decorah was introduced to the world of cooking at Scattergood Friends School near West Branch, then in the restaurants of Minneapolis. She also facilitates experimental, performance-art dinners called Edible Alien Theatre ( and blogs about food at

combine milk, water, rice, sea salt, and butter. Simmer, without stirring, for 1½ to 2 hours or until rice is tender. Turn off the heat. 2. Stir in honey and almond extract. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 2 days. 3. At serving time, whip the cream until firm with 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir whipped cream and blanched hazelnuts into the chilled pudding mixture. Chill before serving. 4. Serve in small bowls topped with simple strawberry or raspberry sauce (berries mixed with honey or sugar; can use frozen berries from summer picking). Makes 8 cups.

Paul Gates is a Des Moines-based photographer and for many years a regular contributor to The Iowan. Thanks to Dug Road Inn in Decorah ( for allowing us to photograph this dinner in the lovely B&B.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN






Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives turned the lights on in rural Iowa — and still bring technological innovation. by TERRI QUECK-MATZIE

“Maybe it taught you something, the days before electricity, but I’m glad that era’s gone. It was just hard, hard work,” says Shirley Tannatt. Shirley and her husband, Elvin, were born in the mid-1920s. The lights came on just as they were entering high school. They farmed north of Fontanelle for nearly 50 years after Elvin was discharged from the army after World War II. Electrification tops the National Academy of Engineering’s list of the 20 greatest engineering achievements of all time. It changed life on the farm more than any other innovation before or since. The internal combustion engine changed how people farmed. But electricity changed how they lived, and 75 years after many RECs were formed, they continue to bring life-changing technology to their members. American cities were electrified starting in 1882, but by 1930 or so, only 10 percent of American farms were. In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt — with support from Iowan and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace — established the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to improve rural life as a part of the New Deal. (See “A National Victory,” page 49.) The result was a revolution in farm productivity and quality of life. By the early 1940s there were nearly 800 rural electric cooperatives (RECs) in the United States, including 52 in Iowa.

1940s Greenfield’s Farmers Electric Cooperative was typical. Formed in November 1938 and on line by March 1940, it brought electricity generated by Greenfield Municipal Utilities (GMU) to 288 members its first year. A three-woman office staff did bookkeeping, billing, and service requests with pencil and paper; seven men installed service and handled repairs with a pickup and a panel truck, and a general manager oversaw the operation. It was a tiny crew that wrought huge change fast — partly because the co-op’s eager farmer-members often pitched in to help the service crews. Electrifying a home at first generally meant a single lightbulb dangling from the kitchen ceiling. Then came refrigerators, electric ranges, washing machines, lights in the barn and yard, and indoor plumbing made possible by electric water pumps. By the late 1940s 91 percent the Farmers Electric service area was connected. By 1947 the demand outgrew GMU’s generating capacity, and Farmers Electric joined five other small co-ops to create the Southwestern Federated Power Cooperative, Inc., which built a generating plant in Creston with five diesel generators.

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ELVIN: I remember the publicity about it [the REA]; it was one of Roosevelt’s programs. Orville Conley had just bought the place west of us, and when they decided to come down our road, I helped him dig the postholes by hand from our place to the corner so the line could come through faster. Most people really did go from shutting off the kerosene light to turning on the power. The first thing we got was an electric motor to put on the milk separator. And then we put lights in the barn. Can you imagine carrying a kerosene lantern around, and hanging it on a nail, with all the straw and the dust? We also used kerosene to soak corncobs to start the fire in the cookstove. We kept a jug right there next to the stove. Don’t know how it never blew up. SHIRLEY: I hated the privy. We didn’t have yard lights yet then, and it was pitch-black. One of the first things we did when we moved to the farm was put in a bathroom. That was the luxury, a bathroom in the house. ELVIN: From 1900 to World War II, farming really hadn’t changed, nor had housework. When I left for the Army, we were still farming with horses, with only a few tractors in the neighborhood. After guys started coming home, everything exploded. 46

SHIRLEY: It took a few years; it wasn’t all at once because you couldn’t afford that. We just did one thing at a time as we could. We didn’t have a lot of money in those early years, but when we did have some, we bought the next new thing. ELVIN: It’s like now. You have the iPhone 4 and then the iPhone 5 comes out. It happened that fast.

1950s In 1951 Farmers Electric built a new, state-of-the-art, air-conditioned administration building with a model kitchen filled with appliances provided by Greenfield appliance dealers. By 1958 life without electricity had become unimaginable, and purchase of grain driers, milking machines, conveyers, and mercury-vapor barnyard lights — and the electricity to run them — was booming. SHIRLEY: The yard lights were great. You could see what you were doing out there at night. ELVIN: We had a milking machine. And we started raising hogs in confinement, with a cable system to move wet corn from the silo to the hog houses. SHIRLEY: I raised pullets for Hy-Line, 800 chickens. We converted part of the barn to a chicken house with rollaway nests and a machine that counted eggs.


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ELVIN: Frost Patterson started the old locker plant in town. We’d take a hog in for them to butcher. Then every time you went to town, you picked up a few packages of meat. Once in a while their coolers would quit and the meat would spoil. Finally we got our own freezer.

1960s Farmers Electric began an appliance repair and installation service. By 1969 the larger Southwest Federated Power Cooperative joined with several other cooperatives to create the Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO). Rates decreased due to efficiencies of scale. CIPCO took over maintenance of the transmission lines from the power plant to the substation; the RECs maintained the distribution lines from the substation to the consumer.

1970s The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Financing Corporation (CFC), established by 981 rural electric cooperatives, was born. Farmers Electric started in-house computer billing. By 1979 Farmers Electric served nearly 300 square miles with 1,747 miles of line and 5,157 service sites.

ELVIN: First National Bank in town had an air-conditioner on the north side of the building that hung out into the alley. They got central air, and we bought that old air-conditioner and put it in the dining room window, and it really worked. That was in the ’70s. Then, in 1982 we remodeled the house and put in central air. That’s probably the one thing I wouldn’t want to live without now — air-conditioning.

1980s and ’90s In 1987 80 Iowa RECs formed the Iowa Area Development Group, which aids rural economic development. It helped spur a wave of value-added agricultural industries such as egg and hog facilities in the 1990s. And as REA’s founders had foreseen, industry followed electric power to rural America: Agricultural chemical manufacturer Green Valley Chemical is now singlehandedly responsible for 38 percent of Farmers Electric’s load. Rose Acres Farms’ two large egg-laying facilities each pull enough power to warrant their own substations.

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2000s and beyond As the new century turned, Farmers Cooperative sponsored School Net skycams in Winterset and Nodaway Valley schools to collect weather data and enhance the schools’ science programs. It also runs safety education programs at county fairs and in schools and contributes to local scholarship and economic development programs. By 2011 Farmers Electric provided 116,796,630 kilowatt-hours to 3,658 members over 1,812 miles of lines. But the big news, as the Tannatts will tell you, is wind. Retired and living in Fontanelle, Elvin and Shirley still own their farm, now home to five MidAmerican Energy windmills. ELVIN: It’s really just luck. We have high ground, on the [watershed] divide. SHIRLEY: I like to see them running. They’re fascinating. If we can get electricity from the wind we have, why not use it?


The Tannatts have also joined other local investors in funding other wind turbines that now produce 7.8 percent of Farmers Electric’s power. Farmers Electric general manager Clarence Moshier says, “It’s a win-winwin scenario. Co-op members win a long-term power supply, wind turbine investors win an additional source of revenue, and people in the county win a new source of tax dollars. In addition, wind power costs less than power from conventional sources, and costs should continue to decrease while the cost of power from conventional sources continues to rise.” SHIRLEY: It’s a good investment. There are tax incentives, and it’s a moneymaker. And we live in the community. It takes people who can look ahead, and put some money into it, to make it work. Did the Tannatts ever imagine, as they carried a kerosene lamp to the privy in the 1930s, that they’d one day be harvesting electricity on their farm? ELVIN: We really didn’t think about it. We just took things as they came. We couldn’t have possibly imagined today’s needs. We just made use of each new advancement as best we could.


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You can thank the REA for your standard of living.

For roughly the first half of the 20th century, there were two worlds in this country: urban — wired for light, heat, plumbing, refrigeration, and electronic media (at the time that meant radio) — and rural — the land of dark nights, cold walks to stinking 
outhouses, cooking over wood fires, pumping water by hand, and relative isolation. In the 1930s 90 percent 
 of city dwellers had electric power in their homes; only 10 percent of farmers did.. But until the Rural Electrification Administration was founded in 1935, the American electric-powergenerating industry was hobbled by its own shortsightedness. It wrote off rural power as too 
 expensive to distribute, an attitude that for decades prevented the industrial revolution — not to mention 20th-century living conditions — from fully reaching the farm. And it charged urban dwellers such high rates that even those customers used electricity sparingly, generally only for lighting — tapping only a fraction of the energy source’s potential. Meanwhile, industrial customers, who could set up their own power plants if need be, paid much lower rates. Power companies charged each farm customer, in advance, the total cost of building the power line from the nearest customer to the farm at the cost of up to thousands of dollars per mile of line — a price few farmers could afford. Nonetheless, power companies, which essentially enjoyed a local monopoly, were quite profitable and saw no need to change their policies. It took the Great Depression and federal intervention to bring power and light to the farm. In 1935 the federal government realized that the inequitable distribution of electric power had some serious economic, demographic, and social-justice consequences. “Here we have one of the factors responsible for the uneven progress of industry and agriculture,” wrote the REA’s first director, Morris L. Cooke. “Compared with the factory, the farm has suffered from antiquated machinery and outmoded techniques. A limited and

inferior standard of living has been the farmer’s reward for years of backbreaking toil. The promise of continued 
drudgery and the absence of modern comforts have helped drive from the farm to the city those who were most free to travel but who were at the same time most needed in rural communities — the young people. To correct, at least in part, the unbalance between rural and city life . . . all of us who studied the problem believed [in] a serious, well-ordered effort to extend to the farm the benefits [of] electricity.” Cooke and others realized that if the government offered loans to build rural power lines, the increase in demand and productivity would jump-start the economy and the power lines would pay for themselves many times over in more efficient and profitable farming and in increased demand for electrical power and its attendant manufactured goods. Farms, factories, and consumers would all benefit as economies of scale reduced the price of electricity and allowed urban dwellers to buy — and afford to run — vacuum cleaners and electric mixers and a thousand other labor-saving appliances. “Essentially the REA is a financing agency,” Cooke wrote, “for the construction of rural lines. These funds are not grants, but loans made to private companies, to public agencies, or to cooperatives. . . . To the utilities, REA has shown that there is a mine of hidden profit in rural electrification if they will operate on a comprehensive scale. . . . far more satisfactory to the consumers and in the long run to the companies.” Of all the grand New Deal visions, REA was perhaps the most radically transformative, decentralizing wealth, democratizing power distribution, and improving lives — literally with the flip of a switch. It also accomplished an astounding increase in agricultural productivity in just a few years.” Cooke wrote: “Electricity will add immeasurably to the comfort, convenience, and profit of farming. In so far as it contributes to the social and economic stability of our agriculture, the rural electrification movement in America may well claim a national victory.” — Dan Weeks

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN


THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES Solar: Farmers Electric members in Kalona can purchase modules in a Solar Garden — a field of solar panels maintained by the co-op — and receive credit on their power bills for participating in the program. Co-op manager Warren McKenna says, “It’s a way to lock down energy prices and buy power generated locally.” McKenna says the cost of solar power has declined about 50 percent in the past three years. Energy tracking and management: Members of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Estherville, can log into MYMETER to track power usage daily or monthly. They can set a marker when buying new, energy-efficient appliances so they can track savings. Iowa Lakes Electric also has a power management system that controls 3,500 water heaters to reduce peak loads. “When we improve efficiency, we save everybody’s money,” says Rick Olesen, Iowa Lakes Electric president and CEO. “The environmental benefit is significant, too.” Demonstration projects: Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative monitors the performance of its demonstration solar and wind projects at its DeWitt location and publishes the results so members can decide if they want to purchase a solar or wind generating system. Those who do get a credit when they put power back into the system. Cooperative CEO Kirk Trede says, “We have a responsibility to help members generate power with renewables.” Security: Thirteen co-ops in Iowa and Minnesota offer Heartland Security Service to their members. The alarm system protects against home invasion and fire and power outages and can provide a medical emergency pendant alarm and dispatch service. More than 7,000 members are now served by the system throughout northern Iowa and Minnesota.



Iowa’s RECs remain innovative

Linemen working for Farmers Electric Cooperative install new lines on the west edge of Greenfield in the early 1950s. The first lines were strung 10 years earlier, but booming electrical use required upgraded service.

Born and raised on the family farm in Southwest Iowa, Terri Queck-Matzie covers Iowa from the inside out from her home in Fontanelle.

This feature is illustrated in part with color posters created for the REA between 1937 and 1940 by American graphic designer Lester Beall. The Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited six of them in 1937, praising their vigorous design, modern style, and bold symbolism. They are now considered classics of American design.

Where were you when the lights came on? If you have a memory of your first experience with electricity thanks to an REC, we’d love to hear about it! Write us at


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November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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made in Iowa

tiny but mighty


Heirloom kernels from Shellsburg are popping up nationwide by DEB WILEY

Gene Mealhow begins a story he’s told thousands of times. It starts small, like the first pop in a batch of popcorn. But then the words erupt like fast-bursting kernels. You find out: POP! The Kelty family that settled in the young state of Iowa in the 1850s acquired this special popcorn — possibly from one of their Native American neighbors. POP! This ancient type of popcorn has a genome so unusual it can’t cross-pollinate with any other corn. POP! The heirloom popcorn strain was saved from the brink of extinction in the 1970s. POP! It’s treasured by foodies around the country for its tender and easy-to-digest tiny white kernels. And POP! Mealhow’s tale is going to make you want to cook up a batch of fragrant corn right now.

Relationship Popcorn Tiny But Mighty Popcorn was called K&K Specialty Popcorn in the mid-1980s, when the Kelty and Kramer families started selling heirloom corn near Urbana. The seeds had been in their families for generations but almost died out until Richard Kelty came home from the Army, found a jar of the corn, popped some, and planted the rest. Mealhow met the families in 1989 when working as a soil consultant. In 1999 he and his wife, Lynn, bought the business and moved it to their 33 acres near


Shellsburg. Now the popcorn resonates with a public that’s hungry for a good story as well as a good product. “People want a relationship with their food,” Mealhow says. “They want to know how it’s produced. When we went to a show in Chicago, we put up a sign: Non GMO [non-genetically modified]. People went crazy.” Mealhow likes relationships, too, and develops personal connections with customers, including Hy-Vee, Fareway, T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s — and recently, Whole Foods, which gave him a local producer loan to add more grain bins. The company has 13 employees and about $1 million in annual sales, due in large part to his enthusiasm for both the product and the story.

Special Corn His popcorn — a type of maize — reaches only 3 feet tall and grows like a bush, with multiple stalks. Mealhow grows it on his own farm and contracts with farmers in a 50-mile radius for more. Mealhow selects corn with the strongest stalks and the fullest ears (each only 3 inches long). The corn self-pollinates, so those traits pass to the next generation. The taste is tender, yet crunchy, with a sincere, unadulterated corn flavor. And the hulls are so small and light that they virtually disappear with popping, meaning no more hull shards caught in your teeth.


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made in Iowa

Tiny But Mighty corn comes as either unpopped kernals, or prepopped corn in flavors of sea salt and white cheddar.

A vintage grain cleaner does the initial cleaning and sorting of the tiny popcorn kernels. All the corn is grown and processed on or near the Mealhows’ farm.

Tiny But Mighty Popcorn is available throughout Iowa — and online via PayPal. Mealhow also takes phone orders, but not credit cards. He sends the product with a bill and waits for a check. “There’s usually a dead silence on the other end of the phone,” he says. “People say, ‘Boy, I can tell you’re from Iowa.’” One woman who failed to pay on time was in the hospital when the bill arrived. When she discovered that her payment of about $35 was overdue, she sent a check with an extra $10. “We sent it back to her,” Mealhow says. Every package has a photo of “Farmer Gene.” If you meet him, expect to find yourself popped full of good humor. “You may have APP [addictive popcorn personality],” he’ll tell you.

Popping with Iowa oil Mealhow gives explicit directions on each bag how to pop his corn. He’s dead set against microwave popcorn packets for health reasons. Air popping is okay, he says, if you hold an oven mitt over the air chamber to hold back flying kernels. He says the best results come in less than five minutes by popping on a stove top using high-quality oil. He recommends Iowa Natural brand soy oil (, which is cold-pressed in Humboldt from non-GMO soybeans

Deb Wiley, a freelance writer, editor, and photographer in Des Moines, prefers

developed at Iowa State University. They

her popcorn with sea salt and butter.

contain no trans fat, are low in saturated fat, and are traceable to the specific Iowa farms that grew them. You can buy the oil paired with Tiny But Mighty Popcorn at or 800-330-IOWA. Mealhow also recommends the Whirley Pop stove-top popper sold by an Indiana family:

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN





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FIRST FROST Northwestern Iowa in Late Fall by JAMES CALVIN SCHAPP

First frosts often melt with the dawn, but this one clings to the cornstalks for just long enough to have its picture taken.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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As the sun climbs, ground fog rises out of the Big Sioux River Valley.

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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A bit later in the season, the frost on the ground is joined by a skiff of snow.

James Calvin Schapp is a photographer from Sioux Center, Iowa. “A broad Iowa landscape,” he says, “is the most incredible canvas you can imagine.”

November/December 2013 | THE IOWAN

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Kicking Up Our Heels Running with the big dogs in pre-WWII Harlan By LOUREE CLEM | Illustration by DAVE TOHT

In the early 1940s my father was sheriff of Shelby County. This put quite a strain on his five offspring, who had difficulty being model examples in the little pond of Harlan. But I was home from college, where I had started to run with the big dogs, and I did not want to stay on the porch now. My high school sister and I had a double date with two Danish boys, strapping six-footers, brothers from a local farm. They were the best dancers in the county. We danced for three hours at Paup’s Auditorium. When the band stopped, I suggested we go to the Chicken Hut, a cozy little nightclub owned by Bernie, who could give Rhett Butler a run for his money. The Chicken Hut served alcohol — against the law in Harlan in those days — and everyone knew it, including the sheriff. Minors were absolutely forbidden in these places, but my sister and I strolled in that Friday night with our pageboy hairdos and our blond escorts. Soon the nickelodeon burst forth with “In the Mood,” and pushing our luck, we hit the dance floor, flipping our skirts and kicking up our heels. Then a booming voice shouted out above the music. “Well, if it isn’t the sheriff’s daughters!” The voice belonged to a well-known widower in our town who should have been cleaning up his own act rather than ours. Everyone knew that he and an attractive widow took long trips together out of town. We shriveled and quietly seated ourselves. Bernie wiped his hands carefully with a towel. He walked casually over to us, suave to the teeth. Smooth as oil, he bent down and said, “You girls certainly look pretty tonight, but you know that you shouldn’t be in here, don’t you?” 64


Naturally, I knew that. He graciously continued, “You can finish your drinks and then go home and tell your father. I will talk to him tomorrow.” He smiled, half-bowed, and left us feeling like picked chickens. My sister and I were waiting for our father when he came downstairs the next morning. “Dad, after the dance we went to the Chicken Hut with the Paulsen boys and had a drink,” I said. My father looked relieved that we’d done nothing more serious, but immediately wished he hadn’t: We had done something illegal. But the Chicken Hut itself was illegal, violating a law he was genially inclined not to enforce. How, I wondered, would he handle this? “Bernie was put on the spot, and I am embarrassed and disgusted that this happened. You know, in this life you don’t always put yourself first.” I’ve never believed that Dad was as embarrassed as he said because that talking-to was the extent of our punishment. But I remember his point to this day. Writer Louree Clem grew up in Harlan. Dave Toht is an illustrator, writer, book publisher, and blogger ( with a fondness for subjects having to do with growing up in the Midwest in the Mid-20th century. Do you have a story about your escapades in Iowa? Email it to and we’ll consider it for publication.

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In the early thirties, Isabel spent two summers in a Stone City Iowa art colony organized by American Master, Grant Wood, which provided her with great artistic inspiration. During a half century of her work as an artist, Isabel Bloom achieved status as one of the Iowa/Illinois Quad-Cities' true icons. The creation of original sculpture for the Isabel Bloom collection now rests in the talented hands of designer, Donna Young, Isabel’s long-time protégé who continues to preserve Isabel’s unique style and innovative process.


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The Iowan | November/December 2013 vol.62 | no.2