New World Cafe: Des Moines, IA

11 Feb
by Deanne

New World Cafe: Des Moines, IA

On the edge of funky East Village in downtown Des Moines, you will find this shining example of the good food movement. It is a small cafe open for lunch, some evenings, and since the first of the year, they are now open for brunch on Saturdays. The cafe is closed on Sundays.  

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 4

New World Cafe’s mission, stated on the first page of their website, is to support local organic farms. They have an all vegan menu and compost all food scraps.  Photo of Green Burger Windows at New World Cafe

Flavour: 5

Back in November, Luke had been visiting from California and we ate here. He ordered a burger and really liked it. On the first visit I ordered the Mexican Bowl. This time, I had this beautiful Green Burger. All the food choices were made with great ingredients, fresh and served fast.

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

I was to surprised to discover the clarity of the mission for this restaurant. They have at least one option a day for people to pay what they can afford. Another interesting factor in their concept is they use volunteers to cover shifts and preparation times. As a former restaurant owner, I have found that running a small independent restaurant, especially one that has a bit of an educational mission, is incredibly hard work.  The rewards are the stories people share about the food and what it means to them.  I am impressed with their goal to educate people about why eating vegan is a smart choice in many ways.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 4

The service was efficient and friendly. When my food arrived it was presented with pride; a beautifully crafted work of culinary art. The cafe is located in an older attractive building that has nice windows. I savored the warmth of the sun on a cold winter day.

Overall Rating: 13.5+

Brunch on a lazy Saturday morning is brewing on an upcoming weekend. Many people I have met since moving to town have an affinity for this place and I can see the appeal. Who won’t want to eat at a place where they really, really care about the food they serve?

Photo of Education Table

New World Café on Urbanspoon

What if ….more people noticed fake food?

5 Feb

When  my kids were young I often used the Jiffy muffin brand.  It’s an old fashioned looking, blue and white, small box.  Francine told me, “I remember thinking, wait how can these little blue things be blueberries?Jiffy Mixes: Blueberry Muffin Mix

I came across this article recently and it made me remember those crunchy fake blueberry bits. Every time I see those mixes in the store I feel slightly amused. Don’t worry, I am not one to beat myself up over the past.  Not too much anyway. I am more likely to laugh, since I can’t do anything about the past.  But I do notice how my views have changed the more I have learned over the years.

Young moms like Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, impress me.  She models how to feed her family on less processed food and has a following of over 1.2 million on Facebook. 

There does seem to be a mini trend in the works. More and more people are noticing fake food. Does it matter what we feed ourselves and our families?  If so, why do you think it matters and what will be the result of this new trend?

Ponder the possibilities of our consumer actions leading to good results for your body, your family, your community, and our world. That is what we will do right here once a week. ♥ We’ll explore
  • choices made in the home
  • choices made in our places of worship, schools, and other institutions
  • our everyday career, dining, and shopping choices

Send us ideas and comment on suggestions.

 

Chinese New Year Inspired Dumpling Soup

3 Feb

by Deanne

When I was seven, I experienced my first Chinese or Lunar New Year celebration.  I think it was coincidental as I observed the festivities from a distance. Our family lived near San Francisco and often went to my dad’s office in the city on weekends.  I remember hearing noise and arriving at the window in time to see a colorful dragon as it streamed below us on the street. 

I cherished this memory enough to take my own kids to see a very small Lunar New Year celebration in 1989. It was at a local Chinese restaurant near our home in Louisville, Kentucky.  The kids were too small to remember but perhaps Francine was influenced because she actually lived in China twice as an adult.  Luke had a chance to visit her and travel in China.Photo of Dumpling Soup

This last Friday evening Steve and I set about to make something in honor of the new year celebration.

Chinese New Year Inspired Dumpling Soup

Filling for Dumplings:  (Makes about 30)

1 carrot

2 celery stalks

1/4 head green cabbage

1 cup spinach

1 and 1/2 inch ginger-minced

3 green onions – diced  (reserve green tops for garnish)

5 oz. tofu cut in 1/4 inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons diced cilantro

1 egg

1 package won ton wrappers  (we used square wrappers)

Start by cutting the tofu in 1/4 inch cubes and fry in about 3/4 inch of  vegetable cooking oil in a frying pan until golden brown. While tofu cubes are cooking you can dice the carrot, celery, cabbage, spinach, and onion. 

In a saute pan sweat onions, carrots, and celery.  Add cabbage and cook until softened. Add spinach and ginger and cook until spinach is wilted. Pull off heat. Combine diced cilantro, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Mix together with 1 egg and the drained tofu.

Set each won ton wrapper on a flat surface and use a bowl of water to wet two edges of the wrapper with your finger. Use about a teaspoon of the filling placed in the center of the won ton. Fold in half diagonally and press edges together.  

Gently boil in vegetable broth for vegetarian or (chicken broth if you prefer) for about 3-4 minutes. Serve with broth and garnish with reserved diced green onions. We cooked about 3 to 4 dumplings at a time. 

Does your family celebrate Chinese or Lunar New Year?  San Francisco is one of the best places in the US to experience Chinese New Year. It is not too late to participate in the February 15th celebrations.


What if… Everyone Had Knife Skills?

29 Jan Photo of Knife Skill Teaching
by Deanne

The “What if” question for last week involved encouraging people to cook at home.  If we want to cook at home we can save ourselves a lot of time and money in the kitchen by developing our skills with a chef knife. 

For some reason I  never developed the practice of using a chef knife until we opened our restaurant in 2008.  Steve and Luke both taught me how to use one. In fact our home kitchen didn’t have one until my sister-in-law noticed and gave us one as a gift.  I don’t think I am alone based on the number of people I have talked to about cooking at home.

This video does a pretty good job of teaching the basics.  

I have also included a video from Luke’s cooking series on the chiffonade technique for cutting greens and making things look pretty.

If you want to select some other knives besides a chef knife, here is a good article that can help when picking out knives.   Let us know your thoughts on our what if…..real food Wednesday questions.

Just Right: Oatmeal Apple Pancakes

27 Jan

by Deanne

I have been working on this recipe for awhile.  I found a recipe online but it made the pancakes too rubbery.  I liked the recipe because there is no added sugar.  The sweetness comes from the apples. With a few adjustments I knew I was on the right track and then Sunday morning Steve and I tried them again. They were delicious! Photo of Oatmeal Apple Pancakes

You will find this to be a super easy wheat-free recipe that doesn’t have any special gluten-free flour or any of the gums usually added to gluten-free flour.   If you are sensitive to gluten, you know the drill by now, to purchase oats that were processed in a gluten-free facility. 

Oatmeal Apple Pancakes  (makes 5 medium to large pancakes)

2 apples, peeled, sliced and cored

1 1/2 cup oat flour*  (156 grams)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup milk  (we used coconut milk)

Start by cooking the apples in a pan over low heat.  The apples will  get soft and you can mash them and continue cooking.  If you use a low enough heat you will not need to add any water. 

Combine  oat flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon mixture in a bowl. 

To the dry mixture add the cooked apples, mix in eggs and milk.  Mix away!

If you’ve made wheat flour pancakes in the past you have been told to not over mix the batter. (Like in this recipe by Alton Brown) The reason for this caution is that the gluten in the flour will start to develop to the point of making the pancakes tough.  For this batter you can mix it as much as you like since there is no gluten to develop. So when making pancakes with kids this would be a good recipe to use.

Heat a dry non-stick skillet and spray with a pan release product before you cook your first pancake. 

*How to make Oat Flour

Making oat flour is as easy as taking old fashioned oats and pulsing them in the blender.  If you make extra you can use in other recipes like the Oatcake recipe we did in the past.   Thanks, Francine for teaching me that. :)

What if… Restaurants Promoted Cooking at Home?

23 Jan
by Deanne

It seems like a crazy idea for a restaurant to promote cooking at home.  But being concerned about the quality of prepared food that is normally served in restaurants, we instigated a promotion during the month of August and September called The FarmerChef Project. Photo of Pickle Recipe  We recruited two other restaurants to join our restaurant in offering recipes of dishes that we prepared using local ingredients.  Then offered recipes for customers to prepare the dish at home.  Even though the promotion is officially over, you can check out the recipes by clicking on our icon which will take you to the  pinterest page. Logo for FarmerChefs

As part of the promotion we worked with University of Minnesota Extension to help us survey restaurant customers about their preferences for local food and cooking. There is a myth that says people won’t pay for better quality ingredients. Our survey respondents reported that they were willing to pay from 5% to 25% more for a meal prepared with local ingredients?

Would you like to see more restaurants promote cooking at home with local products?  If they did, would it help to repair our broken food system?

What if… Your Neighbor Was an Organic Farmer ?

15 Jan Photo of Pinterest Board
by Deanne

What if… your neighbor was an organic farmer?  Photo of Pinterest Board

The lead article in yesterday’s Des Moines Register begins with this line:

A Des Moines-area developer is betting Iowans not only want to know the farmer who grows their food, they will also want to live next door to him.

I would change “him” to “him/her” because there is also another trend that says women farmers are on the rise.

The article doesn’t mention the location that the developers are considering.  There is a realization that housing developers have moved away from golf courses because they are expensive to maintain.  It is exciting to see this trend develop.  I actually know two farmers who are in the process of building an organic farm and teaching center on 10 acres near Ankeny.  In fact, we had dinner them last night and had a chance to see their plans.  As their story unfolds I look forward to sharing more. 

In the meantime we can all dream about these types of developments by looking at the ones that already exist.  Check out the pins on our FarmerChefs Pinterest account.