Midwest Living

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Forgive me, but I am going to boast for a minute: I have not purchased bread in more than a month. No, we haven’t gone gluten-free. I’ve been baking a loaf every week. Why? Well, like many consumers, I am concerned about my family’s intake of added sugar and preservatives. Plus, I’d like my daughter to have a basic understanding of how yeast works. However, I have been... More
My local bakery’s spring display of pastel, flower-decorated cakes inspired me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years ... learn from a pro how to decorate a cake. I signed up for the one-day Fill, Frost and Ice class at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionary, an 86-year-old private vocational school in Chicago’s southwest suburb of... More
On Sunday here in Des Moines, we woke to snow ... again. A few sunny days in the 50s and 60s last week tricked me into thinking spring had arrived, but in fact, the first official day is tomorrow, March 20. And as we Midwesterners know, even that calendar date means little.  There could be more white-dusted mornings before the daffodils bloom. But if there is one benefit to the... More
This morning I ate red pancakes for breakfast. Very red pancakes. My mixing bowls are red, my measuring cups are red, my utensils are red, and I’m pretty sure my tongue might be red too. This is what happens when you have a kid. You remember that Valentine’s Day exists—and against all odds, you enjoy it. You see, for many years I was a Valentine’s Day scrooge. The... More
We all know the perils of messing with a person’s chili recipe. Almost everyone has their personal take on the dish, and it’s best not to pry for the details nor get into a discussion of red vs. white or beans vs. no beans in mixed company (especially if you’re talking to a Texan). But sometimes a new idea rocks your chili world view enough that you’re willing to break... More
I’ve stepped out over my lunch hour to try an Italian cooking class—admittedly a nice interruption to office monotony—but for the moment, reheating leftover soup in the office kitchen seems more appealing. Snow crusts the road as I drive across downtown Des Moines to the East Village. Not fresh, damp postcard snow, but the dry kind that catches in sidewalk cracks—blown... More
This week, we’ve woken to frost outside, sparkling in the bright morning sun. On our car, it’s thick enough for my daughter to scratch away with a fingernail, etching her initials on the window before hopping in for the ride to school. Damp yellow leaves clump in the gutter, and the carved pumpkins on our steps have begun to look wizened. Fall arrived slowly this year, but now the... More
My husband and I sit across from one another at the Blue Nile in Kansas City, Missouri, staring down the coffee-making contraption on the table between us. I’ve made coffee in a French press, an Italian moka pot and of course a standard American auto-drip, but this traditional Ethiopian coffee service is something new. It looks like a jumble of gear from a high-school science lab, a flimsy... More
I heard a stat from the spice company McCormick recently that the average American pantry has about 40 herbs, spices and flavorings. (Our photo studio spice racks, pictured here, have 100!) That’s a lot of jars, tins and bottles stacked precariously and tumbling out every time you rummage for the cumin. I don’t have a solution for chronic cabinet cascade—but I have... More
Once or twice a year, I go to the trouble of making applesauce in the slow-cooker. It’s not hard, but peeling all those apples takes forever. (You can skip the peeling and coring if you have a food mill. Sadly, I do not.) So homemade applesauce is a treat at our house, not a standby. Until now. You see, last weekend, I ran into one of our recipe developers, the lovely Laura Marzen, at... More