Friday, November 21, 2014

Jellied Cranberries—from UP A COUNTRY LANE COOKBOOK, by Evelyn Birkby

Thinking of your Thanksgiving dinner plans? This year, try a cranberry sauce that doesn't come in the shape of a tin can from Up a Country Lane Cookbook, by Evelyn Birkby.

Jellied Cranberries

2 cups cold water
4 cups berries
2 cups sugar

Combine berries and water in saucepan and cook until the berries pop. Put through food mill or food processor. Combine pulp and sugar. Boil exactly 5 minutes. Pour into jars. Refrigerate for a short time, or freeze if you wish to store for longer period.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Scrambling to decide what will be on the menu this Thanksgiving? Let us help with this classic dinner roll recipe from Up a Country Lane Cookbook, by Evelyn Birkby.

Favorite Rolls

1 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 1/2 cups flour

Scald milk. Remove from fire and add shortening, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt, stir to dissolve, then cool to lukewarm. While this is cooling, combine yeast, lukewarm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let dissolve and bubble for 5 minutes. Add dissolved yeast to cooled milk mixture. Gradually beat in egg and enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on floured breadboard. Work in only as much flour as needed, no more; the less flour used, the lighter the rolls. Knead lightly for 3 to 4 minutes. It becomes smooth and elastic (dough has a springy feel). Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to coat all sides. Cover with clean tea towel and let rise in a draft-free place until double (about 2 hours). Punch down and knead on lightly floured board for about 5 minutes. Shape into rolls and place on greased cookie sheet or baking pan. Cover with tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free location until double. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Turn out on wire cooling rack. If you like a crusty roll, leave as is. If you want a soft crust, brush rolls with butter or margarine when removed from the oven. This is a fine yeast bread for beginners, but it is equally good for experienced cooks. Makes 2 dozen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Today in Iowa Nature: November 17

Away from city lights, scan the eastern horizon for the annual Leonid meteor shower, bits of cosmic debris streaking through the night sky.

—from The Iowa Nature Calendar by Jean Prior and James Sandrock

Friday, November 14, 2014


"To discourage the use of your plants, including houseplants, as a cat litter box, cut a slit and a hole in the middle of a pie tin and place it around the base of the plant."—Kathleen Moench, Business Women's Garden Club, Des Moines

Gardening in Iowa and Surrounding Areasby Veronica Lorson Fowler with the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Photo from A YEAR OF IOWA NATURE, by Carl Kurtz

Monarch butterflies migrate in spring and spread across over one billion acres by the end of their migration cycle. See more photos like this one in Carl Kurtz's book, A Year of Iowa Nature: Discovering Where We Live.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thottathil reading and signing in Cedar Rapids

Sapna E. Thottathil, author of India's Organic Farming Revolution: What It Means for Our Global Food System, will be reading from her book at the Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble on Thursday. Be sure to stop by! For more information or to RSVP, visit our Facebook event.

Where: Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble
When: Thursday, November 13, at 7:00 P.M.

Praise for India's Organic Farming Revolution

"A breath of fresh air in the organic/local food production discussion, this very engaging book provides a significant example of the structural conditions for the scaling up of organic agriculture."—Eric Holt-Giménez, executive director, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

"This book will make an important contribution to the field of organic literature as well as to the field of such food and agriculture transitions. I am not aware of many efforts to provide the reader with such a comprehensive treatment of such transitions in the context of a specific community."—Frederick Kirschenmann, author, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher

Monday, November 10, 2014

Excerpt from THE BOOK OF FAMOUS IOWANS, by Douglas Bauer

In The Book of Famous Iowans, Douglas Bauer explores the life of Will Vaughn, a man of late middle age living in Chicago with his second wife, remembering the month of June 1957 in his hometown,  the rural village of New Holland, Iowa. More precisely, Will remembers just a few days of that month and the quick sequence of astonishing events that have colored, ever since, the logic of his heart and the moods of his mind. He tells of his stunningly beautiful young mother, Leanne, who liked to recall the years of the Second World War, during which she sang with a dance band in a lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He tells too of his father, Lewis, a soldier in the war who one night saw the "resplendently sequined" Leanne step onstage and began at that instant to plot his courtship of her.


I learned about my mother's search for work not from her or my father, but from my grandmother one evening as the two of us sat in her upstairs kitchen. I remember that the heat in her apartment that night was a stunning, sodden thing. I remember we had, my grandmother and I, tried and failed to eat our supper, so she'd made us ice cream floats to fill our stomachs.

Before she told me my mother's secret, she'd recalled my parents' arriving from Cheyenne and how, with a determined buoyancy, she and my mother had spent several days complimenting and deferring to one another while at the same time each was taking the other's measure. She said, "The first thing you noticed, of course, was her looks. I said to your father, 'How did you manage this? You're a handsome boy, honey, but the two of you together, it looks like the princess hasn't got around to kissing the frog!'"

But, she said, while my mother's beauty was something to admire, what there was to like was her intelligence; that she was smart enough to know she should be scared to death and strong enough to do all she could to hide her fear. Still, my grandmother said, when she looked back, she wished my mother had been able to say she was frightened; perhaps then she wouldn't have felt "she had to have her dukes up all the time."