Midwest Living

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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
As we sat in the backyard the other night, my next-door neighbor expressed surprise that I grow fresh herbs. I met her skepticism with incredulity of my own. “Are you kidding? They practically grow themselves.” “Don’t the squirrels eat them?” “Definitely not!” “But what do you do with them?” At that point she had me stumped... More
In our May/June 2014 issue (available on newsstands now), we share dozens of ways to use that humble grocery store standby, the deli-roasted rotisserie chicken. In producing the story, I ate every one of the 30 recipes at least twice—once when we tried them in our test kitchen and again when we took photos for the magazine and website. Here’s our food stylist Charlie primping a pile... More
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