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Posts tagged ‘Iowa’

National Peanut Butter Day!

cropped portion of portrait of George Washingt...

Image via Wikipedia

To celebrate National Peanut Butter day (January 24), I decided to share some facts about peanuts that I gleaned from the National Peanut Board. I would also like to point out that renowned peanut researcher, George Washington Carver, spent a good amount of time right here in Iowa! Wikipedia tells us, “In 1890, Carver started studying art and piano at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa .His art teacher, Etta Budd, recognized Carver’s talent for painting flowers and plants; she encouraged him to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames.When he began in 1891, he was the first black student, and later taught as the first black faculty member.

When he completed his B.S., professors Joseph Budd and Louis Pammel convinced Carver to continue at Iowa State for his master’s degree. Carver did research at the Iowa Experiment Station under Pammel during the next two years. His work at the experiment station in plant pathology and mycology first gained him national recognition and respect as a botanist.”

George Washington Carver Facts

  • Dr. George Washington Carver researched and developed more than 300 uses for peanuts in the early 1900s.
  • In 1916, he published the research bulletin, “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption.”
  • Dr. Carver is considered “The Father of the Peanut Industry” because of his extensive research and selfless dedication to promoting peanut production and products.
  • Dr. Carver’s research gained him much worldwide acclaim. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were a few of his many fans.
  • For more George Washington Carver facts click here.

Peanut Nutrition Facts

  • The peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils.
  • Peanuts have more protein, niacin, folate and phytosterols than any nut.
  • Peanuts have a higher antioxidant capacity over grapes, Concord grape juice, green tea, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots and many more.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter contain over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients.
  • Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free.

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My Grandma’s Quilt – Quaker Town Crossing

Quaker Town Crossing - queen size

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

Madison County, Iowa (Image via Wikipedia)

I know this is veering off the subject of food a bit, but here’s the deal. I was doing a Google search for a quilt pattern called Quaker Town Crossing. My daughter is getting married in May! and I want to piece this quilt top and have it machine quilted for her. (At this point I’m hoping she doesn’t read my blog anymore). I found this photo on a website called Webshots by American Greetings… made by member Diandre5.

What’s the point, you ask? Why is it “Grandma’s Quilt?” Here’s the story. Many years ago, in 1996, I started up a little quilting group and asked Marianne Fons to come speak. I live in Earlham, in Madison County, Iowa and so does Marianne. In fact, they have a fantastic quilt shop in Winterset… not sure what it’s named, even though I go to Winterset pretty often. But, Marianne is half of the team Fons and Porter, so if you go to the southwest side of the square in Winterset and look for that name, you’ll probably find the shop!

But I digress. When we were cleaning out my foster mother/Grandmother, Alta Rorah’s home, we found several quilt tops. This was among them. I showed the quilt top to Marianne, who was very interested because she had never seen the pattern before. She did some research and couldn’t find the pattern anywhere. SO, she re-drafted the pattern, and featured it in her then-new quilting magazine, Sew Many Quilts (May, 1996 issue). My grandma, and her quilt, are immortalized. What better wedding gift to give my daughter?

If any readers have made this quilt, I would love to see their results!

The ‘Terrible 10’: The Worst Aspects Of America’s Food Scene

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, after ...

Image via Wikipedia

The ‘Terrible 10’: The Worst Aspects Of America’s Food Scene.

Interesting article. Although it might not be politically correct of me, I have to point out that Jack DeCoster’s egg farms are on this list. He has been a thorn in the side of Iowa for years.

Red Velvet Cupcake Art!

The amazing Lisa Orgler has done it again! As a part of her cupcakes poster project she called for submissions of … cupcakes! My Secret Red Velvet Cupcakes were among 16 chosen and will be included on the poster! Yay me!

Please go visit Lisa’s website and take a look at all of her beautiful food art.  Thanks for your continued support of Chef Herman’s Food, Lisa!

Zingaro 515

If you haven’t heard about Zingaro 515 yet, you need to! After hearing much buzz on Twitter and in the Des Moines Register about Zingaro opening in Sherman Hills, I decided that I needed to investigate, and inform my readers about this new dining experience.

Zingaro 515 opened on Dec. 2, and is located in the Scheuerman House in Sherman Hills, at 1605 Woodland Ave. Zingaro is self-described as, “A chef-driven restaurant in the heart of Sherman Hill. With an approach unseen with in the Des Moines culinary world.”

The sight of the house brought back an immediate childhood memory for me. I lived in the Sherman Hills district during most of my childhood. My family would go on walks, sometimes “downtown”  and we always walked right past the Scheuerman House, which is directly across the street to the west of Hoyt Sherman Place. Rumor has it that I was a stubborn child, and disliked walking anything but SLOW. About the point at which I would get tired and start to lag just happened to be right in the vicinity of the Scheuerman house! I can still remember it.

Anyway, after further research I discovered that Zingaro 515 is a “pop-up” restaurant. Local chef/blogger Sam Auen gives a superb explanation in his blog, Locally Grown.

“Pop-ups are popping up in larger cities (shocker) and play on a chef’s creativity.  It’s a way for those chefs without big money backing to expose the world to the product of their obsessive culinary nature.  The goal of these places is not to become a fixture, but to burn brightly then move on to something new.  Sometimes these ventures are a testing ground for the viability of a concept or to showcase an intended static restaurant concept to the public and especially to people who may want to invest in the particular chef’s future.  Did you catch that one?  This is awesome semi-guerilla dining at its rawest.”

I contacted York Taenzer, owner of the Schuerman House, to ask about featuring the house and Zingaro 515 on my blog. I was lucky enough to be invited to view the house and chat with both Taenzer and Chef Hal Jasa. Chef Jasa is well known in the Des Moines area. He was also a chef at 25th St. Cafe and Phat Chefs, and more recently did underground dinners with the Des Moines Social Club. Jasa also had the honor of being featured as “100 Tastes to Try in 2007” in Food & Wine magazine. He’s number 51 – “Clandestine Dinners” if you want to go take a look.

Chef Jasa chatted with me about his passion for food. His specialties are charcuterie, and sauces.  According to Wikipedia, charcuterie is “the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.[1] Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef‘s repertoire. Originally intended as a way to preserve meats before the advent of refrigeration, they are prepared today for their flavors derived from the preservation processes.[2]

Jasa also experiments with scents that he says opens up the palate. He recently featured orange creme brulee on the menu, which included “pine.” Jasa showed me how he used one dish to place a bed of rock salt, and an actual sprig of pine, then placed the creme brulee in a dish nestled in the rock salt. He is also using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream at the tables – something that excited one of my readers greatly when I shared that fact with her.

The Scheuerman House itself is a grand old Victorian home with ornate Golden oak woodwork, a fitting showcase for Chef Jasa’s culinary genius.

Authentic Victorian furnishings

A grand piano

and an elegant dining room

Zingaro will be open Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:30 to close. Diners can enjoy three courses for $30 in the dining room, or dine on five courses at the six-person chef’s table for $60. Zingaro is a BYOB restaurant, with a $5 stemware charge per table. For more information go to http://www.zingarocuisine.com. Reservations are recommended.

2010 Great Iowa Chili Cookoff!

First of all, congratulations to Melinda Strable of Ankeny, winner of the 2010 Great Iowa Chili Cookoff sponsored by Bolton & Hay restaurant suppliers , Tone’s Spices, Clear Channel Communications (including 100.3 The Bus, 1040 WHO radio, and 1460 KXnO) and Pepsi. The judges said they had a very hard time picking one chili from them all, as they were all different. But Melinda’s chili reigned supreme.

And yes, I… Chef Herman (Stephanie) participated in this chili cook off! When I found out I had been chosen, and that I had less than two days to prepare, I was a little nervous but it turned out to be a very fun experience!

The six finalists started arriving on Thursday, Sept. 9 before 11:00 a.m. Chili cooks participating were Robert Irlbeck, Melinda Strable, Michelle Koeff, Nancy Van Wyk, myself, and Anita Van Gundy.

Totes full of ingredients and cooking utensils were carried in and we were greeted with beautiful stockpots that Bolton & Hay supplied, for us to keep! (And I thank them for that generous gift… I really needed a bigger chili pot!)

The staff at Bolton & Hay, and all the other sponsors’ staff members were so welcoming and professional… that really helped put all the contestants at ease and made it a fun experience. Contestants started socializing, and we soon realized that we were all regular Iowa people who share a passion for cooking. Before we knew it, we were given the okay to begin. A flurry of chopping and preparation followed, and the Bolton & Hay came alive with heavenly smells… meats browning, freshly chopped vegetables, and traditional chili spices provided to each contestant by Tone’s.

Soon we heard someone said, “Lids on!” and it was simmer time. We had down-time of about 3 hours. That time went relatively quickly, with contestants talking with each other, sharing tips, exchanging email addresses and of course, checking on our chili and tweaking the seasonings.

Finally it was judging time. The judges talked and deliberated and after a difficult decision, chose Melinda’s chili as winner! We all went away feeling like winners, though. Bolton & Hay gave us yet another gift… one of their famous jelly roll pans and a 90th anniversary potholder. We had our stockpots, the chili spices gift bag from Tone’s and a $20 gift certificate for beef from the Iowa Beef Council. And still I feel like I’m forgetting something! Maybe just another huge thank-you to all the sponsors who made this such a memorable event for me!

So with all that lead-in, here is my chili recipe, declared by the judges to possess complex flavors, and medium heat and great taste.

2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. beef chorizo
2 green peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves finely minced garlic
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups V8 juice
2-15 oz. cans red beans, rinsed
1-15 oz. can pinto beans

3-4 T chili powder
1-2 T. dutch cocoa
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 T honey
dash of Sriracha hot chili sauce
drizzle olive oil

Brown ground beef and chorizo, add 1 T. chili powder. Take browned meat out of the pan, set aside. Saute onions, green pepper and celery with drizzle of olive oil (in the same pan). Add the beef, tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, spices and honey. Cook for minimum two hours on low heat, stirring often. Rinse beans, add during last 15 minutes of cooking.

Chili

The best thing I ever ate

In honor of the Food Network show by the same name, today’s blog is about the best thing I’ve ever eaten. It was totally by accident… I had stopped by a little Italian store called A Taste of Italy, (8421 University Boulevard, Clive, IA 50325-1036). The smell was divine so of course, being a devoted foodie, I asked what it was. It turned out to be the italian sausage cooking for sandwiches. I asked, “Fix me up with one!” The wait was a little long, but WELL worth it!

I took the sandwich out to my car, unwrapped it and bit into heaven! It was undoubtedly one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my life. Two thin round slices of medium heat italian sausage, marinara, grilled red peppers and onions and provolone cheese on a round italian bread bun. Somehow they toasted the entire sandwich in an oven (maybe toaster oven?) so the bread had a lovely crispness to it… OH MY GOD! I had to call my mom, who also loves any food Italian, and rave about it to her! She laughed and said, “I’ve never heard you get so excited about a sandwich before!”

If you’re ever in Des Moines (Clive is a suburb of Des Moines) don’t miss A Taste of Italy!

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