Midwest Living

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Jell-O "salads" and other gelatin creations have always had a place at my table. A lifelong North Dakotan, I grew up with Jell-O at potlucks, just like most Midwesterners. I still make Jell-O. Not because I have to, but because I want to. It's a nod to the cooks before me, a family tradition I'm honored to carry on. I make cherry coke Jell-O and almost always... More
Some invitations you just accept on the spot. Among those are ones like, “Want to ride a tour bus around Wisconsin, meeting top cheesemakers and sampling their work?” Knowing a sweet gig when I see it, I spent last week traveling with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board from Milwaukee to northwest of Green Bay seeking out some of the state’s (which is to say, “the world... More
So, I had a giant can of pumpkin. Really giant. At 29 ounces, it was large enough, the label helpfully explained, to make two pies. I'm sure that's the only reason this can exists—to make Thanksgiving baking more efficient. But I never make two pumpkin pies. I make a pumpkin and a pecan. Or a pumpkin and an apple. And I certainly don't need four loaves of pumpkin bread.... More
A few months ago, I read about a primo balsamic vinegar produced in Nebraska. Of course, I know you can find artisanal or craft anything being brewed, distilled, baked or canned just about anywhere, but this raised even my eyebrows. Good balsamic (heck, even cheap balsamic) is a product so strongly associated with Italy. So of course, I had to order a bottle to try for myself. George Paul... More
travail (verb): to toil or exert oneself It started with a line. The group of 50 people snaking outside the front door of Travail Kitchen and Amusements at 4:45 p.m. was the first sign this unassuming strip mall spot on the north side of Minneapolis is something special. At 5, the doors opened, chefs cheered and thumping African tribal music kicked ... More
I shamelessly admit that, despite being a man standing 6’4”, I was intimidated by the nice grandmothers waiting in the Elwell Family Food Center. The building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds houses, according to a sign outside, the largest food department of any state fair, with nearly 900 competitive classes. And in my mind, this was a kingdom that a gang of older ladies rules in... More
Finally, finally, this late-blooming summer has opened up and given us a couple lovely warm weeks to nudge the garden along. My marigolds have exploded, and peeking under the leaves, I can see that several green tomatoes have rosy cheeks. And the farmers market has become a riot of color and texture, too. Last week’s haul included a beautiful basket of green beans. Sweet, fresh-... More
Bacon. Funnel cakes. Deep fried. On a stick. Those four elements are a fairgoer's dream, and you can find at least one each in our picks for top 15 new fair foods. Here's a sampling of the mouth-watering highlights from seven of the Midwest's beloved state fairs. Don't forget the Tums. Indiana State Fair August 1-17 Photos courtesy of the... More
This month, my book club’s pick was The Fault in Our Stars, the staggeringly popular young adult novel (and now film) about a pair of teens with cancer by Indy resident John Green. In the book, snarky protagonist Hazel rants about how illogical it is that some foods are arbitrarily relegated to breakfast. “It is embarrassing,” she declares, “that we all just walk through... More
Two nights ago, Old Mother Hubbard here went to her cupboard to fetch not a bone, but something—anything—to make a dessert for book club. No dice. Not enough butter for a piecrust. No unsweetened chocolate for brownies. A crumpled bag with about 12 hazelnuts in it. Now, any normal person would have bailed and brought a bottle of wine, but I’m the sort of frugal cook who gets a... More