Whole Wheat Honey Biscuits

14 Jan
by Deanne

All the reading I did about Food Trends for 2014 got me hungry for biscuits.  So I followed Steve around the kitchen last night as he put together a batch of whole wheat honey biscuits.  He doesn’t follow recipes so I have to have a pen in hand if I want to re-create it later.Photo of biscuits

Lightly crisp on the outside and warm and steamy on the inside, was the experience I enjoyed when I sampled them.  Oh yes, they have a hint of sweetness from the honey.  The were even slightly FarmerChef-y. The honey was purchased last summer at the farmers market.  If you get a chance, do buy local wheat flour from a local farmer as we have done in the past.

Whole Wheat Honey Biscuits

(makes 9 biscuits)Photo of teapot and biscuit

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and use pastry cutter to mix in the small pieces of cold butter.  Combine until the mixture looks like gravel. Then add honey and milk and combine into a ball in the center of the bowl.  If needed add a little more flour to hold everything together. Place on a floured surface and shape into a square.  Use pastry cutter to cut into 9 or 12 biscuits depending on how big you’d like them to be. Put biscuits on a baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Snuggle up with a cup of tea and good book and enjoy!

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What if… Real Food was Convenient?

8 Jan
by Deanne

What if… real food was as convenient as picking it up at the end of a busy day? You know, kind of like a personal chef but a bit more affordable.

Good news!  There is an expansion going on in the good food movement.  As I wrote this post I got an email with a link to this article. To me, the article shows that there is a growing demand for better quality food that is convenient.

I’d like to introduce you to Brandy Lueders who owns The Grateful Chef in Des Moines.  She is the real deal in terms of a chef creating a business that supports her family doing what she loves.  Not to mention that she uses wholesome ingredients for those that want good food but don’t have the time in their day to make it.  I am kinda lucky because I live with a chef, but hey, even he needs a break.

thegratefulchefOn my way home from my volunteer work, I picked up two dishes that I ordered earlier in the week.  The way it works:  1. A person signs up to receive an email with the selections each week.  2.  Once you get the email, you decide if you want to order that week and place the order by Monday evening. 

Brandy uses the commercial kitchen at The Wallace House on 16th Street here in Des Moines.  She prepares the food to order and on Wednesday evenings her customers stop by the kitchen to pick up their food on their way home from work.  Today she also had farm fresh eggs available for sale from a local farmer.

Photo of orderI couldn’t wait till dinner, I just had to dig into the nutty quinoa apple salad.  Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it all, I saved some for Steve.  I also ordered a Moroccan Style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew.  Both of these dishes were vegan friendly for those that want to eat their #phytosfirst.   We are that new breed of eater who is not strictly vegan but like to order it whenever possible.  In our case we like to learn what you can do with veggies.

Please share with me any kind of service you find in your community that is similar, I would like to do a follow-up post and share ideas to support concept of eating real food.

Photo of Quinoa Salad

Midwestern Food: #1 Trend for 2014

5 Jan
by Deanne

Photo of The Midwestern Table Book CoverHappy New Year!  On this first cold Sunday in January, Steve and I stayed inside and read about all the food trends for 2014. Each publication we read seemed to have a slightly different spin on the trends.  But we liked the list that put Midwestern food, they don’t even call it a cuisine, on the top of the list. A new show on the Food Network called Heartland Table is introducing this part of the world to those who haven’t been here.  The host of the show is Amy Thielen who is the author of the book the Midwestern Table.

One trend spotter, Kathy Gunst, even went so far as to say that the Midwest will be a destination for foodies.

If this is true and you are packing your bags, we are happy to share some Midwestern gems we’ve reviewed:

Birchwood Cafe:  Minneapolis, MN  11+Photo: Walking to the Cafe
Fresh Market and Cafe:  West Des Moines, IA  13.5+
Kitchen Table:  Omaha, NE  14+
River Rock Coffee: St. Peter, MN  13+
Verdant Tea:  Minneapolis, MN  12.5+
Wise Acre Eatery:  Minneapolis, MN  12.5+
Wolf Peach: Milwaukee, WI 14+

We have our eyes on a few places in Des Moines and around Iowa worth a visit in the year ahead:  Salt Fork Kitchen, Alba Restaurant, The Des Moines Cheese Shop, and HOQ.  All of these restaurants are on our list because they source local food.

Fresh Cafe and Market: West Des Moines

31 Dec
by Deanne

Fresh Cafe and Market: West Des Moines, IA

After a few months of scouting out potential restaurants to review in the Des Moines metro area, I begin with a review of this gem tucked away in a professional building.  I first became aware of this place when I saw their booth at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market.  Photo of Wheatgrass A tray of fresh wheatgrass, sitting in the booth, caught my attention. 

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 4.5

What a story there is to be told about local food. According to a bio I found:

Kerri Rush, “the wheatgrass girl” is the owner, farmer and chef at Fresh Wheatgrass Farm in Carlisle, Iowa and Fresh Cafe & Market in West Des Moines, Iowa. She started growing wheatgrass in 1996 when her Mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon, liver and lymph node cancer. After researching “alternative” healthy ways to give her immune system a boost she found it in wheatgrass and juicing. (her mother is now cancer free!) Kerri became hooked on all of the benefits of wheatgrass and her business started growing!

According to the menu the rest of the food is organic, local, gmo and synthetic-free.  They proclaim that they change their menu often because they work with fresh, seasonal products.

FreshChorizoFlavour: 5

This vegan chorizo is loaded with flavor and you can see the presentation is attractive.  The “chorizo meat” is made with quinoa and roasted potatoes, poblano peppers, and corn.  I had a choice of whole wheat or gluten-free tortilla.  I selected the whole wheat.  The topping is cilantro-chile crema and fresh scallions and tomatoes.

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

Photo of Fresh signIt was a surprise to find such yummy food in an odd looking professional building.  At first I was excited because I saw a woman with five little girls come out and get in a van.  I thought maybe they were Girl Scouts working on their locavore badge.  Photo of Locavore BadgeYou know, touring the kitchen to learn about food.  Then I realized they had not been at the cafe, they had been dancing in the room next door.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 4

Three of the walls are each painted a different bright color and the fourth wall is glass which makes for a dramatic and vibrant cafe.  The tables are sturdy wood with substantial chairs.  You order at the counter and the food arrives quickly.

Overall Rating: 13.5+

I’d like to see Fresh Cafe and Market or other favorites like Desert Roots Kitchen, populate the malls, downtowns, and suburban intersections of every city in America.  Making food this good takes a huge amount of effort.  The commitment to quality is the reason we do not often see these types restaurants that offer truly fresh food at a lower this price point.    I leave you with this picture that proves you can get something fresh on an Iowa winter day.Photo of Green Juice

Fresh Cafe & Market on Urbanspoon

Iowa: Three Times a Charm

29 Dec
by Deanne

33_aplacetogrowIowa: A Place to Grow was the state motto when Steve and I moved here the first time.  Young and in love, we felt charmed to arrive in a state that had a goal that matched our desires at the start our life together. 

After Steve graduated from Iowa State University,  it was bye, bye Iowa as we returned to his native state, Idaho.  Yet, for some reason, we had a secret desire to raise our kids in Iowa and eventually had a job offer that brought us back.

A call from a headhunter lured us to the land of stone farmhouses and epic national history, Pennsylvania. It was a fun adventure and gave us time to mature professionally and personally.

After 12 years in the Philadelphia metro area and 6 years in rural Minnesota, we have magically appeared in the state again. I say magically because we didn’t seek out a plan to move here. We got a call from a former colleague and one thing led to another.  Voila, we are back.Photo of t-shirt from RAYGUN

If you haven’t been to Iowa you will be surprised to learn that Iowa is not the great fly over, that many east and west coast dwellers assume.  For one thing the state has a sense of humor.  We got a chuckle when we wandered into RAYGUN, a store in the East Village, that has a goal to make people laugh.  They sell  t-shirts that poke fun at what people think of Iowa.

Most people think of Iowa as being a state of mostly soybeans and corn.  This fact is true but Iowa makes up for the lack of diversity in crops with a diversity of ideas about food and food systems.  Just visit the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market to see a sampling of diversity. 

Since arriving, it has been incredibly easy to align our interests of yoga, food and personal growth with like-minded souls.  Here is a re-cap of just a few connections.

In September we were invited to a Yoga on the Farm event at PepperHarrow Farm. There, in addition to yoga, we toured the farm and ate awesome food.  Check out all the photos by photographer, Drew Maifeld.

YogaontheFarm

During the month of November I attended a conference from an organization called Women Food andPhoto of Sonia Kendrick Agriculture.  There I met a woman who was tired of hearing people brag about how Iowa feeds the world and started an organization called Feed Iowa First.  The founder is a veteran who recognized that even here, in the land of plenty, our current food system is not working and many go hungry.  

In early December, I had a chance to attend Tedx Des Moines Women. This re-cap by a fellow attendee will fill you in on that awesome event.  It wasn’t about food but I did meet people from Dress For Success Des Moines. I hope to us my coaching skills and volunteer as a mentor in 2014.

DFSDSM

The bottom line about Iowa is that somehow we haven’t gotten in right yet.  Iowa is calling us back to grow some more before she lets us sail away into the sunset. 

No Food in the House Soup

21 Dec
by Deanne

Have you ever come home from work and looked in the fridge to discover that there is no food in the house?  When I found myself in this situation, I challenged myself to respond like the chefs on CHOPPED.  Those inventive chefs compete against each other to come up with a meal based on oddball items in a market basket.

Potatoes, celery, onions, frozen green pepper, turnips (already boiled a week ago) and vegetable stock were the collection of ingredients I found in my “market basket.”

A cooking strategy I picked up from Luke and Steve is to start chopping and sweating onions and celery.  This buys me a bit of time time while the creative juices start flowing.  Eventually I put together a pretty decent tasting soup.  It must have been good because this is the only picture I was able to capture.

Photo of empty bowl

No Food in the House Soup

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 medium celery stalks, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup green peppers

4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2-3 turnips, boiled

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth

1/2 cup water

1.  Heat olive oil in a heavy pot.  Add onions, celery, and green peppers and sweat until soft.

2.  Place already cooked turnips and up to  1/2 cup water in a blender,

3.  Add celery, onions, turnips and green peppers and blend until smooth and creamy.

4.  Boil potatoes in another pan.

5.  Heat vegetable broth and mixture from the blender.  Add potatoes when cooked and mash slightly. 

6.  Heat and season soup with black pepper and rosemary.  Serve immediately or save for another meal.

Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

12 Dec

by Deanne

For the holiday season, I took a job that would challenge me to learn about cooking tools and trends.  On my first day working at the only Williams-Sonoma store in Iowa, I was kept on my toes by questions from many holiday shoppers.   

Several customers asked for hostess gift ideas.  I looked online and selected a few ideas from the under $25 gift category.  Check out my ideas and please, please…..offer any ideas you have found to use as good hostess gifts.

To personalize a gift, when you are not sure what the hostess interests are, you could select this cute monogram cheese board with a little spreader.

Photo of Monogram Cheese Board

 Does your hostess make a habit of entertaining?  A fine dipping oil would make a gift that will come in handy at this party or the next one coming soon.

Photo of Dipping Oils

Imagine the smell of a lovely Meyer lemon candle made with essential oils.  That would be a gift I would enjoy, so perhaps your hostess would like it too.

Photo of Candle

These little salt and pepper shakers are really fun because they stack.  If your hostess likes to camp in the summer this gift would keep on giving beyond the season. 

Photo of Salt and pepper shakers

A mini pie dish is something I own. I have two.  Two of them are just right for making our quiche recipe.  I have also made smaller apple pies, so I don’t end up over eating by having a whole pie sitting around.  It would be extra special if you put a recipe you like in the dish.

Photo of Mini Pie Dish

How about you?  When you go to a party do you take a hostess gift?  I’d love to hear some ideas from you!  Another great source for ideas is of course Pinterest!