Celebrating great Iowa eats

Off the Shelf

Savory green bean casserole topped with French fried onions. When I think about my family’s traditional Thanksgiving gathering, this classic dish (one of my favorites) always springs to mind and leaves my mouth watering. There are many things I love about my extended family’s Thanksgiving get-togethers: hanging out with my siblings and their kids, catching up with aunts, uncles and cousins I haven’t seen in ages, and getting to know recently added (whether by birth or marriage) members of the family, just to name a few. But I have to admit: imagining the giant spread of my family’s signature Thanksgiving dishes laid out on my aunt and uncle’s buffet bar is definitely high on my list of favorite things about our get-togethers. My story is not unique; we Midwesterners are known far and wide for our excellent, down-home cuisine. Having only lived in Iowa for two years, I have already eaten enough to be amazed at Iowa’s particular brand of culinary delights.

Have you ever wondered why Iowans cook – and eat – so well, and from where your signature recipes and food traditions originate? Iowa author and Lake City native, Darcy Maulsby, explores these and other food stories in her recently published book, Culinary History of Iowa. In it, she discusses everything from Maid-Rite classics to Iowan’s homemade cinnamon rolls (served with chili, of course). The Library is delighted to be hosting Maulsby at Kendall Young Library on Thursday, November 17 at 6:30pm for a presentation, book signing and cooking demonstration. Maulsby has been featured in the Iowa History Journal, Our Iowa magazine, Iowa Public Radio, and more. During Maulsby’s fun, interactive program, she will serve up fascinating tidbits related to more than 150 years of Iowa cuisine from all corners of the state.  Attend this free event and discover how Iowa’s delectable cuisine is quintessentially Midwestern, grounded in its rich farming heritage and spiced with diverse ethnic influences.

On the Shelf

If all this talk of food has left you hungry, here are some titles that can help get some great, local Iowa eats cooking in your kitchen:  The following cookbooks were recently added to the Library’s Genealogy Reference collection.  While we do not allow these unique cookbooks to be checked out, you are welcome to browse them and make copies of any recipes that catch your eye.

The Famous Old Webster City Cook Book

Curated by The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Congregational Church in 1916, this cookbook boasts only “tried and tested” local recipes, including everything from waffles and pancakes, to salads and corn breads. A fun addition: the past page of this cookbook includes “Discoveries and Household Hints,” a delightful list of tips and tricks from some early 1900s kitchen experts.

4-H & Friends Cookbook

Assembled in honor of the Hamilton County 4-H program’s 70th anniversary in 1987, this nearly 400-page volume is painstakingly indexed, and boasts over 13 sections of recipes. Explore and discover some delightful gems; experiment with recipe choices ranging from “Shoo-Fly Cake” to “Gramma’s Hamburger Soup”.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Anniversary Cookbook

Compiled by the ALCW of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Williams, Iowa in 1987 to commemorate their 75th anniversary, this volume boasts more than 250 pages of hardy, time-tested eats that will satisfy your hunger and delight your taste buds. Try your hand at everything from “Buttermilk Cinnamon Bars,” to “Zucchini Date Pecan Loaf,” to “Highbrow Haddock.”

Try out these locally celebrated recipes for some delicious mealtime fun, and don’t forget to join us at the Library with Darcy Maulsby on Thursday, November 17 at 6:30pm for an unforgettable (not to mention delicious) journey into Iowa’s culinary past.

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