Tag Archives: Iowa

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

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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.

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

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. 

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!