Midwest Living July/August 2021 Issue

Bonus Content

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Summer Dreaming

The Leo Cottage

Home Sweet Home Away: 4 Dreamy Vacation Rentals

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Forget the mug. When it comes to souvenirs, how about taking home stylish decorating ideas? Each of these private rentals reflects a slice of Midwest culture and design—and yes, you really can book them!


Bouquets of Joy From U-Pick Flower Farms

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Snip, sniff, say aah—U-pick flower fields provide more than just fresh bouquets.

Taste of the Season

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Featured Video: Artist Sydney G. James

Sydney G. James and The Girl with the D Earring

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What's Cooking?

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  • Watermelon Poke Bowl

    This version of a Hawaiian poke bowl swaps marinated watermelon for the raw fish. It's an incredibly light and fresh summer dinner--and so pretty!
  • Syrian Hummus

    The secret to super-creamy hummus? Ice cubes and cold water, says Mawda Altayan of the St. Louis catering company Damascus Food.
  • Birchwood BLT

    Tracy Singleton, owner of the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis, combines summer's greatest hits--heirloom tomatoes, basil and sweet corn--in what she calls "a kitchen sink sandwich."
  • Grilled Squash in Cilantro, Lime and Fish Sauce

    Minneapolis chef Yia Vang draws on his Hmong heritage in this simple side, dressing charred zucchini and yellow squash in a sweet-tart dressing that has funky umami notes from fish sauce. (Use it again in winter on your roasted Brussels sprouts.)
  • Watermelon Ginger Granita

    Fresh lime and ginger take watermelon's flavor up a notch. Make this icy treat when you'll be home all day. It's super easy, but you need to scrape it a few times over the course of a few hours.
  • Coffee and Spice Grilled Ribeye

    In a collaboration with a local coffee roaster that's also informed by his Hmong heritage, Minneapolis chef Yia Vang developed this earthy, spicy steak rub. Resist the urge to trim your steaks, he says. Fat dripping into the fire triggers smoke, which ramps up flavor.
  • Jammy Blueberry Pie

    The extra steps of prebaking both berries and pastry pay off: The filling is potent, and the bottom crust cracker-crisp.
  • Grilled Watermelon and Arugula Salad

    Two things make this grilled watermelon amazing. High heat draws out moisture and intensifies watermelon's sweetness, and the rub creates additional caramelization for even deeper flavor notes.
  • Mojito Bars

    Jacob Van Patten pours a refreshing summer cocktail into his creative take on lemon bars, which took the overall blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair.
  • Curtido

    This crunchy oil-free slaw is like a quick-pickle and a must-serve with the Salvadoran pupusas that Maria and Juan Vasquez serve at 3 in 1 Restaurant in Indianapolis. (That recipe is on midwestliving.com as well.)
  • Red Salsa

    This is a mild Salvadoran-style salsa, where most of the flavor comes from tomatoes, so choose the ripest, reddest ones you can find. It is the traditional topper for pupusas, the specialty at 3 in 1 Restaurant in Indianapolis. (Find that recipe on midwestliving.com as well.)
  • Lemon Sugar Cookies

    The light lemon flavor gives these sparkling sugar cookies a little special twist. Judy Kiburz Harrison's recipe won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair.
  • West African Grilled Chicken in Tomato Sauce

    At Okra African Grill in Omaha, Togolese chef Nina Sodji serves this spicy anise-flavored chicken over rice. Her favorite sides:sauteed lightly seasoned bell peppers and Fried Plantains (recipe included). For extra kick, add the West African Green Pepper Sauce (recipe available on midwestliving.com).
  • Harvest Apple Bars

    Tammy Post's Iowa State Fair blue-ribbon recipe doesn't skimp on apples, which results in incredibly moist and indulgent bars.
  • Bean and Cheese Pupusas

    The standard-bearer of Salvadoran food, a pupusa is a flat, pan-fried pocket of corn dough traditionally stuffed with cheese, beans or meat, then served with mild salsa and curtido (a tangy cabbage slaw). Maria and Juan Vasquez serve them with and without meat at their 3 in 1 Restaurant in Indianapolis.
  • Pepparkakor

    Kim Van Patten says these Swedish spice cookies are popular at Christmas. Heart shapes are traditional to encourage kindness and sweetness. It certainly is nice that her Iowa State Fair blue-ribbon winners are mixed up in one saucepan!
  • Scandinavian Almond Bars

    Perennial Iowa State Fair ribbon-winner Robin Tarbell-Thomas' buttery best-in-class bars are loaded with almond flavor.
  • Tamarind Juice

    This refreshing, delicately floral drink features the tart tropical fruit tamarind, plus rose water. In St. Louis chef Mawda Altayan's native Syria, the drink is a household staple and sold by street vendors.
  • Blue Ribbon Ranger Cookies

    Ranger cookies are made with rolled oats and cereal. Judy Kiburz Harrison won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair for her version, which adds Beer Nuts for a peanutty twist.
  • Fried Plantains

    Fried sweet plantains are a staple across Latin America and Africa. This method comes from chef Nina Sodji, of Okra African Grill in Omaha. who serves them as a side dish to her West African Grilled Chicken in Tomato Sauce (recipe also available on midwestliving.com).
  • West African Green Pepper Sauce

    Be warned: Even with green bell peppers, this condiment, which Nina Sodji serves at her Okra African Grill in Omaha, has serious bite. It's delicious as a dipper for her Fried Plantains or topping for West African Grilled Chicken in Tomato Sauce (both recipes also on midwestliving.com).