What’s Cookin’ – Holiday Traditions

With the changing of the seasons to colder weather, thoughts often turn to the upcoming holidays. This year, holidays may be a little different for all of us due to COVID but that doesn’t mean we can’t partake in some of our favorite traditions.

Growing up in north central Iowa, one of my favorite traditions was making Norwegian Lefse with my grandmother. My paternal grandfather passed away when I was in fourth grade but my grandmother did a wonderful job of keeping his memory and Norwegian heritage alive with us grandkids. The family story goes that my grandfather was among the first generation born in the United States so we are relative newcomers on that side for coming to America from Norway. In Norway, we came from a family of farmers but land was scarce and expensive, so our family migrated to the U.S. in search of more land, much like other Norwegian immigrants at the time.

Norwegians began arriving in Iowa during the 1830s and by the 1850s the number increased dramatically. Many of these immigrants settled in northeastern Iowa around Decorah which is why you see such a strong Norwegian heritage in that community today. In 1880, more than 82 percent of the Norwegians living in Iowa were farmers. (Source: Iowa PBS)

While farming didn’t end up being the future for our family, Norwegian traditions still played a part in our upbringing – and one of those was lefse.

What is Lefse?

Image Source: Cheap Recipe Blog: Norwegian Lefse

Lefse is a traditional, soft Norwegian flatbread. Some lefse is made with potatoes but true Norwegians (LOL) know the better version is made with flour. In fact, the original lefse made in Norway was actually made from flour – not potatoes. It wasn’t until potatoes were introduced in Norway more than 200 years ago that people started adding them to lefse. Batches of flour lefse could last a household through the long winter months as it was more of a flat bread or like a tortilla when it dried. The lefse was stored in wooden boxes and dipped in water to soften it when it was needed for use. My family puts butter and sugar on the lefse and then rolls it up for eating. But, other Norwegians have been known to use the lefse like a tortilla and wrap beef, mashed potatoes and peas in it like a burrito, or some put butter and jam on it.

Ingredients
Before we dive into the making of the lefse, let’s take a look at where the ingredients for lefse come from. There are many different types of lefse but the particular one that my grandmother made is quite simple. To make our family’s Norwegian lefsa you’ll need flour, sugar, salt, water, and lard.

Flour is a powder made by grinding different types of grains. Wheat is most commonly used to make flour. Mills use high protein or hard wheat species to make bread flour and lower protein or soft wheat to produce cake and pastry flour. All-purpose flour is made of medium protein. Watch how wheat is grown, harvested, and used in baking products.

Sugar is a type of sucrose derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. Most cane sugar comes from countries with warm climates due to the plant’s intolerance to cold. Sugar beets grow in cooler temperatures but do not tolerate hot climates. In the northern hemisphere, most of our sugar comes from sugar beets. The beet root is composed of 17 percent sucrose. In the spring, farmers plant the seeds and then the sugar beets are harvested in the fall. In the United States, sugar beets are most commonly grown in three regions: Upper Midwest (Michigan, Minnesota, and North Dakota), Great Plains (Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming), and the Far West (California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Statista’s Sugar Beet Production Report notes that approximately 28.6 million tons of sugar beets were produced in the United States in 2019.

Salt isn’t thought of as an agriculture product but it is an important component to many recipes. Salt is one of the most widely used and oldest forms of food seasoning. It is processed in several ways – from salt mines, evaporation of seawater, and through mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools.

Lard is a semi-solid white fat product made by rendering the fatty tissue of a pig. While some might think it’s the same thing as Crisco, it’s actually not as Crisco is made of vegetable oils. In the 19th century, lard was used in replacement of butter in North America. But, lard lost its favor in the late 20th century due to its less healthy reputation vs vegetable oils.

Preparation
All the ingredients are mixed in a large bowl. You’ll need a long wooden turning stick, a pastry board, a special rolling pin with deep grooves and a large, flat griddle. (Pictures courtesy of lefsetime.com)

Lefse Recipe
6 cups flour
½ cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups of boiling water
3-6 tablespoons of soft lard

Directions
1. Mix with spoon first since the water is boiling hot then mix with your hands
2. Roll out the lefse as thin as possible
3. Cook on dry skillet until it bubbles
4. Place lefse in between thin towels to cool (each lefse separated by a towel or they’ll stick together). Once cool, the lefse can be wrapped in aluminum foil, placed in a freezer bag and be pulled out later for use.
5. To make it soft again, drip warm water on the lefse and place them separated by towels until ready to eat.

Food is often at the heart of family, holiday traditions. As we sit around our tables this holiday season, maybe we can all take a moment to thank those who make our family traditions possible – farmers. Without farmers, we wouldn’t have the food to enjoy on our holiday tables.

What are some of your family’s holiday traditions?

~Melissa

Additional Learning

Iowa Pathways: Norwegians
Lefse History
Exploring our Fluid Earth: Weird Science – Salt is Essential to Life
Cane Sugar: How It’s Made
Beet Sugar: How It’s Made
All About Sugar and Baking
How It’s Made: Flour
Wheat Harvest
U.S. Sugar Industry
Make Your Own Lefse – Lefse Equipment

What’s Cookin’? Hearty Breakfast Quiche

I’m sure most people would agree the year 2020 has sure been a doozy! Normally leading up to August, our staff gets excited for all the fun agricultural events we get to host at the Iowa State Fair. We love nothing more than getting people excited to learn how agriculture impacts our every day life. This year, all of that changed since we couldn’t meet Iowans in person to talk about agriculture. Instead, our staff came up with several virtual ideas that we could use on social media to engage with Iowans about our favorite topic – agriculture!

One of our annual events at the Iowa State Fair is a cooking contest where we invite participants to enter their favorite recipes using Iowa’s four largest agriculture commodities. This year, we decided to expand the contest to include several Iowa commodities or by-products: corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, beef, and/or turkey. We launched the Great Agriculture Cook-Off, timed when the Iowa State Fair would normally be held. Iowa commodity experts and Agriculture in the Classroom volunteers judged the best dish. Since we were doing this virtually this year, the judges cooked, tasted, and rated the recipes all individually.

Holly Houg (Urbandale, Iowa) won first place with her Hearty Breakfast Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust. Before I share the winning recipe, here’s the agriculture story behind the ingredients.

Butter

Butter is a dairy product made from the fat and protein components of milk or cream. It is most frequently made from cow’s milk, but it can also be made from animals like sheep and goat. Butter has a rich history. It can be traced clear back to the ancient Romans who used it as a beauty cream and to treat burns. Back then, people made butter by shaking milk in bags of animal skin. Today, we use modern technology to make our butter. After milk is gathered from dairy farms, large tanker trucks of raw milk deliver the milk to a processor. The milk is pumped into a separator to remove the fat from the liquid. Fat is called buttercream and the rest is skim milk. Buttercream is put into a tank where mixers stir it. After pasteurizing for 24 hours, workers put it into a churner. The churner spins as fast as a clothes dryer. After a period of churning and a few other steps, the result is butter. Watch our video on how you can make your own butter at home.

Eggs

Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country. Nearly 55 million laying hens produce 16 billion eggs a year in Iowa. In the United States, there are roughly 340 million laying birds, and each produces an average of 294 eggs per year. You can learn more about eggs in our previous blog post: Ag 101: Eggs.

Cheese

Most cheese is made in factories but it all starts in one of several places – a type of animal that produces milk such as dairy cows, goats or sheep. In some parts of the world, even buffalo, camel, and donkeys are milked for cheese production. There are many different types of cheese – bleu cheese, cheddar, swiss, and Gruyere, among others. Milk first goes through a filter where more fat or cream might be added to ensure consistency. After that it is pasteurized, and good bacteria are added to the milk. The milk then begins to ferment the lactose, milk’s natural sugar, into lactic acid. This process will help determine the cheese’s flavor and texture. A few more ingredients are added such as rennet. Once it starts to gel, the cheesemakers cut it, which allows the whey to come out. It goes through several more processes until it becomes the cheese that you see in the store! Learn more about how cheese is made from the U.S. Dairy Association.   

Bacon

Bacon comes from the side and belly of the pig. Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the U.S., and the top state for pork exports. According to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa. At any one time, there are approximately 22 million pigs being raised in Iowa.

Beef

Cattle are raised on grass for much of their life and then fed with corn, soybeans, silage, and other feed components to finish them out. More than 97 percent of beef cattle farms and ranches are classified as family farms. Ground beef, used in the recipe below, comes from the less tender and less popular cuts of beef.

Hearty Breakfast Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust

For the Hash Brown Crust:
24 oz. pkg. shredded hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
4 Tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

For the Quiche:
1 T. olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 10 oz. pkg. baby spinach
5 slices bacon
1/2 lb. ground beef, cooked and crumbled
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

For the Hash Brown Crust:
1. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with 2 T. melted butter. Line the sides and bottom of the pan with strips of parchment paper, brush paper with butter too. Be generous on the bottom of the pan so the potatoes don’t stick.

2. Squeeze as much excess moisture from hash browns as you can. The hash browns should be as dry as possible so the crust will get crispy.

3. Combine the hash browns, 2 T. melted butter, egg and spices in a bowl. Put them in the pan pushing them up the sides.

4. Cook in a preheated oven at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until the hash browns start to crisp up.

For the Quiche:
1. In a large pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Keep the bacon drippings in the pan.

2. Over low/medium heat, sauté the onions, pepper and garlic in the bacon drippings for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the spinach and cook another few minutes over low heat until wilted. Set aside to cool.

3. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, cheeses, red pepper flakes, crumbled bacon & ground beef.

4. Add the cooled veggies and stir to combine. Pour into the hash brown crust.

5. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 45 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing the collar and base.

Second and Third Place Winners

Marcia Kreutner (Center Point, Iowa) placed second with her Turkey Cashew Casserole, and Holly Houg also placed third as well with her Spicy Sausage Wraps recipe. Holly’s Hearty Quiche also won Fan Favorite in our Facebook competition. This year we added a twist requiring each participant to include an agriculture fact for each agriculture ingredient.

Do you want to participate in the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Contest next year at the Iowa State Fair? Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for details next June.

~Melissa

What’s Cookin’?: State Fair Savory Edition

With the holiday season fast approaching, are you looking for a new recipe to try out on your family? We have several that are certain to have your guests begging for more! These recipes were submitted as part of our Iowa State Fair – Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Contest. It’s an annual contest we hold that honors Iowa’s agriculture industry and its biggest commodities – corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs.

Our competition includes both a sweet and savory category. The entries are judged by a panel of experts representing each of the commodity organizations that are responsible for helping farmers (Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council).

Before we dive into the recipes, here are a few details about Iowa’s agriculture industry.

Did You Know? A Closer Look at Iowa Agriculture

  • Iowa is ranked the second largest agricultural producing state, bringing in $29 billion in 2017. You can read more about Iowa’s ag statistics in our previous blog post.
  • Iowa leads the nation in egg production, producing more than the second and third largest states combined. The egg industry in Iowa employs an estimated 3,900 hatchery, production, and processing workers in 2014 and generates more than $175 million in direct payroll. Source: Economic Importance of the Iowa Egg Industry Report
  • Iowa is ranked first nationally in corn production. In 2018, Iowa farmers harvested 12.8 million acres of corn or 2.5 billion bushels. Source: Agriculture in the Classroom State Profile
  • There are 23.5 million hogs, or 31 percent of the nation’s hogs in Iowa. That’s more than seven hogs per person in the state. Source: Agriculture in the Classroom State Profile
  • Iowa produces more than 14 percent of the nation’s annual soybean crop. Iowa harvested 9.91 million acres of soybeans, or 565 million bushels, in 2018. Source: Iowa Soybean Association

Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Competition 2019 Winner
Pork, eggs, and corn were in high demand for our Savory category winners. This year’s winning recipe in the savory category was Onion Pie with Pork Sausage and Corn submitted by Diane Rauh of Des Moines. The recipe uses eggs, pork, corn, and soy milk. 

Iowa’s Big 4 – Onion Pie with Pork Sausage and Corn

4 Yellow Onions – Thinly Sliced
16 oz Pork Sausage
Corn from 2 ears of prepared Sweet Corn
2 Eggs
1 Cup Soy Milk
2 T Flour Onion Pie - 1st place cropped
1 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
4 oz. Grated Swiss Cheese
1-2 T Parsley Flakes
1 9-inch Pie Crust (Pre-Baked)

Crumble and sauté sausage and set aside. Sauté onions over low heat (in a little butter and oil) until translucent and golden brown and set aside. Beat eggs, add soy milk, flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add onion mixture, sausage, and half of the cheese. Pour into pre-baked crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Use a pie ring to protect the crust. Garnish with parsley flakes. Makes 8 servings.

Pie Crust
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 Cup Cold Butter
1 T. Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Cold Milk

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle with vinegar. Gradually add milk, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and let refrigerate for 20 minutes or until easy to handle.

Roll to fit a 9-inch pie pan, and place dough in pan. Crimp edges. Prick holes in the crust with a fork.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes until browned. Remove from oven to cool completely. 

Second and Third Place Winners

Olivia Caron Smith of Winterset placed second with her Autumn in Iowa Pork Meatballs, and Brooklyn Sedlock of Indianola placed third with her Bacony Scalloped Corn.

Do you want to participate in Iowa’s Big Four Cooking Contest next year at the Iowa State Fair? Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for details next June.

P.S. To see which dish won our sweet category, you can look back at a previous blog post.

 ~Melissa

 

What’s Cookin’? – Corn Custard brûlée

The second of our annual cooking demonstrations in the Elwell Family Food building at the Iowa State Fair featured an unusual dish. This recipe was adapted from a recipe that was originally submitted as part of the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking competition at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. The original recipe was submitted by Sharon Gates of Des Moines and won 2nd prize in the sweet division of that contest. We’ve made some slight modifications from the original. But first, where do all of the ingredients come from? Here is the farm-to-fork story.

Bacon:  This tasty pork product comes from the side and belly of the pig. Pork bellies are cured in a salt brine and flavorings to provide the rich taste. The curing process evolved before refrigeration as a way of preserving the meat. Iowa is the number one producer of pork in the U.S. Companies like Farmland Foods and JBS Swift have meat packing plants in Iowa and employ hundreds of Iowans.

Sugar: Granulated sugar can be refined from either sugar cane grown in tropical climates or from sugar beets. Many sugar beets are grown in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. After the beets are harvested, they are sliced and soaked in water which extracts the sugar. The beets are pressed to remove additional sugar. The syrup is filtered and then boiled to reduce to sugar crystals. The crystals are then packaged as sugar.

Corn syrup: Corn syrup comes from field corn. Field corn is harvested after it is dried in the field. The corn kernels can then be ground up and the starches removed. Using enzymes, the starches can be converted into a mix of fructose and sucrose sugars – or corn syrup. Field corn can be used for a variety of human foods (everything from corn meal in tortilla chips to the corn syrup in ketchup), but it can also be used to feed livestock or turned into ethanol as fuel for vehicles

Sweet Corn: Although Iowa farmers do raise some of the best-tasting sweet corn in the country, less than 1% of the corn in our state is sweet corn. Although one is considered a vegetable and the other a grain, sweet corn and field corn are close relatives. Sweet corn is a naturally occurring genetic mutation of field corn. The sweet corn plant is shorter, matures faster, and its kernels have a higher sugar content.

Milk:  Milk or heavy cream is a great source of protein and vitamin D in our diets. Most dairy cows in the U.S. are Holstein (the black and white ones) which are prized for their ability to produce up to 8 gallons of milk per day. Once milk is collected from the cow it is trucked to a processing plant where it is homogenized and pasteurized before bottling. Once bottled it is sent off to grocery stores or other consumer outlets. The whole process takes less than 48 hours and the milk is never touched by human hands.

Eggs: Iowa is the number one producer of eggs in the U.S. There are three different categories of chickens raised with many different species in each category. Chickens are broilers (raised for meat), ornamentals (raised for feathers), and layers (raised for eggs). Chickens typically produce one egg approximately every 27 hours (roughly one per day).  The color of the egg shell has no bearing on the nutritional value of the egg or the flavor. The color of the shell is the same as the chicken’s ear lobe. White skinned chickens produce white eggs. Brown skinned chickens produce brown eggs. Eggs can even come in shades of blue and green. The quality of egg is largely determined by the chicken’s diet. A protein rich diet with various vitamins and minerals will usually yield a richly yellowed yolk. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein in the human diet. Eggs are cleaned and checked for impurities before being packaged and sold to consumers.

Pepper:  Black pepper comes from the fruit of a pepper plant species which grows in hot and humid tropical climates. The unripe dried fruit, called peppercorns, are ground into the spice we call pepper. Pepper was one of the spices that early explores traded because of its high value. It came from the spice islands of southeast Asia which also were known for nutmeg, mace and cloves.

Salt: Salt isn’t exactly an agricultural product. But, is an important component because it is the only rock that humans seek out and regularly consume. Salt can be harvested from salt pans (dried lakes) or mined from underground

Chipotle powder: Chipotle powder is the dried and crushed Chipotle pepper fruit.

IMG_4440.JPGIngredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Bacon Chopped
  • 2T Brown Sugar
  • 1T Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Cup Fresh Sweet Corn
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 6T White Sugar
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 T Salt
  • 1/4 T Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 T Chipotle Chile Morita Powder

IMG_0190.JPGDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together bacon, brown sugar and corn syrup. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine ¾ cup sweet corn, whole milk, 3T white sugar, egg yolks, egg, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder sugar into blender and liquify all. Add heavy cream pulse blender to incorporate.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh strainer. Mix in ¼ cup of sweet corn. Pour liquid mixture into ramekins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  5. Place ramekin in a baking dish on the middle rack of oven.
  6. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish to halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake 30-45 minutes or until the center of the custard registers an internal temperature of 170°F. Cooking time will vary based on the size of the ramekins used. Remove from oven and let cool.
  7. Just before serving, sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of each custard and brûlée with a torch. Garnish with candied bacon.

Enjoy!

-Will

What’s Cookin’?: State Fair Sweet Edition

Mmmm… who doesn’t love the smell of freshly-baked caramel rolls, cupcakes, and yummy eclairs. These were just some of the delicious treats our expert judges sampled this year during the ‘Iowa’s Big Four’ cooking competition at the Iowa State Fair.

Each year, the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation hosts this cooking competition in honor of Iowa’s agriculture industry and its biggest commodities – corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs. Iowa is a major producer of many agricultural commodities. In fact, one in five Iowa jobs is tied to the agriculture industry! The following statistics will give you a glimpse of why agriculture is a significant contributor to the Iowa economy.

Iowa Big Four Facts

  • Iowa’s egg farmers lead the nation in egg production, caring for nearly 55 million laying hens producing nearly 16 billion eggs per year. That’s almost one out of every six eggs produced in the United States. Source: Iowa Egg Council
  • 99 percent of corn grown in Iowa is field corn, not the sweet corn that we enjoy on the cob. Corn is in more than 4,000 grocery store items such as shampoo, toothpaste, chewing gum, marshmallows, crayons, and paper. A small portion of field corn is processed for human uses such as corn cereal and corn oil, however, most of the corn harvested is used for livestock feed, ethanol production, and manufactured goods. Source: Iowa Corn
  • Nearly one-third of the nation’s pigs are raised in Iowa. Iowa producers market approximately 50 million pigs a year. Exports of pork from Iowa totaled more than $1.1 billion in 2017, with Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea as the leading customers for Iowa pork. Source: Iowa Pork Producers
  • Iowa ranks second nationally in soybean production, accounting for around 14.5 percent of all soybeans grown. In 2018, Iowa harvested 9.91 million acres of soybeans, which valued at $4.8 billion. Source: Iowa Soybean Association

With these impressive stats, you can see why we honor Iowa’s agriculture community with a food competition. At our food competition, aspiring chefs from across Iowa prepare a sweet and/or savory dish using at least one of the big four Iowa commodity ingredients or by-products of corn, soybeans, pork or eggs.

This year’s winning recipe in the sweet category was Iowa Éclair submitted by Kathleen Tinley of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The recipe uses eggs, corn, and soynuts.

Iowa Eclair - 1st place c

Iowa Eclair – 1st Place, Sweet Category

Iowa Éclair

Ingredients

Pate a Choux
1/2 C Whole Milk
1/2 C Water
1/2 C Unsalted Butter
1 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt
1 C Flour
4 Eggs, Room Temperature

Craquelin
4 T Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Flour
2 T Soy Nuts, Finely Grounded
Pinch Salt
1/2 t Vanilla
Green Food Color Gel
Yellow Food Color Gel

Sweet Corn Diplomat Cream
5 Cobs Sweet Corn, Cleaned
2 C Whole Milk
6 Egg Yolks
1/2 C Sugar
1/3 C Cornstarch
3 T Unsalted Butter, Cubed
1 C Heavy Cream

Blueberry Sauce
3/4 lb. Blueberries
1/3 C Sugar
3 T Lemon Juice
1 T Water
1/2 T Cornstarch
1 T Unsalted Butter

Craquelin

  1. Beat together butter, sugar, and salt. Beat flour and soy nuts into butter. Mix in vanilla.
  2. Divide dough in half. Dye one half pale yellow and the other half light green.
  3. Roll doughs out between two sheets of wax paper until 1/16-inch thick. Place both sheets of dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Sweet Corn Diplomat Cream

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add corn to the boiling water, cover with a lid, and turn off the heat. After five minutes, remove corn from water and allow to cool.
  2. Cut corn off cobs. Squeeze excess liquid off cobs. Add corn and liquid to a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Add milk to corn and place over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the milk comes to a boil, remove the pan from heat.
  3. Strain 1 1/2 cup milk from corn mixture. Blend remaining milk and corn with a stick blender. Strain corn puree, discarding solids. Set puree aside.
  4. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until thickened and pale yellow. Transfer strained milk and puree back to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  5. Slowly whisk 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Add resulting mixture to milk remaining in the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring custard to a boil and simmer for two minutes.
  6. Strain custard into a clean bowl and let cool 10 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cover the surface of custard with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.
  7. Whip cream to just before stiff peaks. Fold into custard.

Blueberry Sauce

  1. Combine blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat allowing berries to break open.
  2. Whisk together cornstarch and water. Add slurry to blueberries and cook until thickened, about one minute. Stir in butter. Cool.

Pate a Choux

  1. Preheat oven to 400 Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine milk, water, and butter in large saucepan and heat over medium to melt butter. Bring mixture to a boil. Add flour and beat in quickly until fully combined. Remove from heat.
  3. Allow dough to cool a few minutes before beating in eggs one at a time.
  4. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a ¾-inch piping tip. Pipe 12, 5-inch eclairs on prepared baking sheets.
  5. Cut out corn husk-shaped pieces from green craquelin and corn cob-shaped pieces from yellow craquelin. Place on top of strips of dough.
  6. Bake eclairs for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake an additional 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Transfer eclairs to a cooling rack. Pierce bottom of each éclair in three places to allow steam to escape.

Assembly

  1. Transfer sweet corn diplomat cream and blueberry sauce to pastry bags fitted with plain piping tips.
  2. Fill eclairs about 1/3 full with diplomat cream through steam holes in the bottom. Add a small amount of blueberry sauce through each steam hole. Fill eclairs completely with remaining diplomat cream.

Second and Third Place


Jennifer Goellner submitted the second-place recipe (2nd Place – Maple Bacon Cupcakes Recipe). Maria Monahan submitted the third-place recipe (3rd Place – Grandmas Caramel Rolls). Both ladies are from West Des Moines.

Keep an eye on this blog for the next What’s Cookin’ series as it will feature the winning recipes in the savory category!

~Melissa

What’s Cookin’? – Summer Succotash Saute

20190814_114739a.jpgWe annually do cooking demonstrations in the Elwell Family Food building at the Iowa State Fair. This recipe was adapted from a recipe that was originally submitted as part of the Iowa’s Big Four Cooking competition at the 2018 Iowa State Fair. The original recipe was submitted by Kris Davis of Altoona and won 3rd prize in the savory division of that contest. We’ve made some slight modifications from the original. But first, where do all of the ingredients come from? Here is the farm-to-fork story.

Turkey bacon:  Most bacon is made from pork. But turkey bacon offers a unique alternative. Iowa raises a approximately 8.54 million turkeys each year.

Beef:  Beef is any cut of meat from cattle. Cattle are raised on grass for much of their life and then fed out with corn, soybeans, silage, and other feed components. This high energy feed ration promotes marbling in the muscle of the animal and increases the quality of the meat. Jerky is cured with salt – a preservation method that has been used for thousands of years.

Vegetable Oil: Most vegetable oil is made from soybeans. Iowa and Illinois are the two biggest soybean growers in the U.S. After the soybeans are harvested in the fall they are crushed to extract the oil.

Peppers: Red bell peppers and Jalapeno peppers members of the same family. Bell peppers can be green, red and orange in color. The ripest ones are sweeter, while the less ripe will be a bit tangier. Jalapenos are a chili pepper pod that is round, firm, about 4-6 inches long, and shiny green in color. It will be much hotter (spicier) than the bell pepper.

Onion:  The biggest onion producing states are Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California. Onions are a root crop that grow for 5-6 months before being either mechanically or hand harvested from the soil.

Edamame: Edamame is a green soybean harvested before it has dried. Iowa and Illinois are the two biggest soybean growers in the U.S. But, most of those soybeans are harvested dried and processed into other products like vegetable oil, soymeal, tofu, and more.

Cumin: Cumin is the ground aromatic seed from a plant in the parsley family.

Paprika: Paprika is the dried and crushed red bell pepper fruit.

20190814_113950a.jpgSweet Corn: Although Iowa farmers do raise some of the best-tasting sweet corn in the country, less than 1% of the corn in our state is sweet corn. Although one is considered a vegetable and the other a grain, sweet corn and field corn are close relatives. Sweet corn is a naturally occurring genetic mutation of field corn. The sweet corn plant is shorter, matures faster, and its kernels have a higher sugar content.

Cream Cheese: Cheese is typically made from cows’ milk but can also be made from sheep, goat, and other animal milk. The flavor or cheese comes from the type of milk, the butterfat content, and also the type of bacteria and/or mold used in the aging process. Cheese might have a slight natural yellow color, but the dark yellow color of cheeses like cheddar come from the addition of food coloring.

Salt: Salt isn’t exactly an agricultural product. But, is an important component because it is the only rock that humans seek out and regularly consume. Salt can be harvested from salt pans (dried lakes) or mined from underground.

Entry7.jpg

Ingredients:       

  • 3 slices turkey bacon
  • 3 oz beef, thinly sliced
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato, seeded/chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 1t salt
  • 2t ground smoked paprika
  • 8 oz pkg shelled edamame, frozen
  • 14 oz pkg roasted sweet corn, frozen
  • 2 oz cream cheese

Directions:

  1. Cut turkey bacon into ¼ inch pieces. Add bacon and thinly sliced beef to a frying pan with the vegetable oil. Cook until browned. Drain, set aside.
  2. Discard all but 2T bacon drippings. In the drippings, saute the red pepper and onion until softened over medium-high heat.
  3. Add Jalapeño slices and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  4. Next add the corn and edamame.
  5. Add in the ground cumin, salt, and paprika. Mix well.
  6. Continue to sauté 8-10 minutes, stirring often.
  7. While sautéing, seed and chop the tomato.
  8. Add tomatoes and cream cheese, melting and mixing well.
  9. Stir in bacon pieces, saving some for garnish.

20190814_113638a.jpgServes six.

Enjoy!

-Will

What’s Cookin’?: State Fair Sweet Edition

The average American consumes approximately 222 pounds of meat per year – more than 46 pounds of which is pork. Pork is something Iowans know a lot about. We raise 22.8 million pigs each year. If each of those pigs was raised to a market weight of 300 pounds, we could expect approximately 144 pounds of meat from each pig. That means each pig could provide meat for three people over the course of a year. There are only 3.1 million people in Iowa so to feed Iowans we only need to raise one million pigs. What do we do with the other 21.8 million pigs? They get sold to other states and other countries around the world. Iowa truly does have a role in feeding the world!

This is why we celebrate the productivity of the state. Iowa is a major producer of several agricultural commodities. Corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs are what I call the ‘big four’. Each year we host a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair. Aspiring chefs and cooks can enter dishes – sweet and savory. Each dish has to include one or more of the big four ingredients in the recipe. Kudos to those cooks who are able to include all four! The entries are judged by a panel of experts representing each of the commodity organizations that are responsible for helping farmers (Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council).

This year’s winning recipe in the sweet category was Butterscotch Cream Pie submitted by Jamie Buelt from Polk City, Iowa. This recipe uses lard from pork and four eggs as well as Iowa cream.

Entry15.jpgCrust
1 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Cake Flour
1/3 Cup Lard
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Baker’s Sugar
3 Tablespoons Very Cold Water

Filling
1/4 Cup Real Butter
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
4 Tablespoons Wondra Flour
1/2 Cup Milk
11/2 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Large Egg Yolks, separate eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch Salt
3 Drops of Butterscotch Oil

Whipped Cream
1 Cup AE Whipping Cream
1/4 plus 1 Tablespoon Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients and then cut butter until mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. Then cut the cold lard and butter into pea-sized pieces and cut in with pastry cutter. Move mixture to one side of the bowl and using a fork, rake about one-sixth of the dry-butter lard mixture into the other half. Add one tablespoon of cold water and combine. Repeat with each tablespoon of cold water. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is brown.

Stir brown sugar and butter in a saucepan until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cook 2-3 minutes longer on low-medium heat, and then remove from fire. Beat egg yolks. In separate large bowl, mix flour with 1/2 of milk, until smooth. Then add beaten egg yolks and salt and mix well. Blend remaining milk with this mixture. Add milk-flour mixture to saucepan with sugar/butter mixture and cook on low/medium heat until thickened (anywhere from 30-45 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and blend in vanilla extract and butterscotch oil. Stir constantly until well-blended and slightly warm and then pour into a prepared piecrust and chill.

With a mixer, cream with sugar. When cream has thickened, add vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Top chilled butterscotch filling with whipped cream. A flourish is nice.

2nd and 3rd

Second place was submitted by Sharon Gates of Des Moines, Iowa and was a Corn Custard Brulee with Candied Bacon Crumbles.

IMG_4413.JPG1/2 Cup Bacon Crumbles
2 T Brown Sugar
1 T Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Fresh Sweet Corn (removed from cob)
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Whole Milk
3 T White Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
1 Egg
1/2 T Salt
1/4 T Freshly Ground (fine) Black Pepper
1/8 T (scant) Chipotle Chile Morita Powder
Sugar for Bruleeing

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together bacon, brown sugar and corn syrup. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Set aside to cool. Put remaining ingredients except heavy cream and brulee sugar into blender and liquefy all. Add heavy cream pulse blender to incorporate. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a ramekin sprayed with non-stick spray. Place ramekin in a baking dish on the middle rack of oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish to halfway up the outside of ramekin. Bake 45 minutes or until the center of the custard registers an internal temperature of 170°F. Remove from oven and let cool. Just before serving sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of each custard and brulee with a torch. Serve candied bacon on the side.

Third place was also a Corn Creme Brulee submitted by Diane Rauh of Des Moines, Iowa. Considering these two winners – clearly these are recipes we should try.

IMG_4441.JPG1 Can (15 oz) Whole Kernel Corn, drained
4 Teaspoons Butter
3 Cups Whipping Cream
1 Cup 2% Milk
8 Large Egg Yolks
1¼  Cups Sugar plus 4 Tablespoons for topping
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Bean Paste

Preparation
Heat oven to 325°F. In large saucepan, cook corn and butter over medium-high heat until all liquid is evaporated. Spoon out and set aside 1/4 cup of the corn. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in cream and milk; cook until bubbles form around sides of pan. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Pour in blender container. Cover and blend at high speed until smooth. Strain through wire mesh strainer and discard corn pulp. Return cream mixture to pan. In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1¼ cups sugar with wire whisk until blended. Whisk in a small amount of the hot cream mixture. Return egg mixture to pan, whisking constantly. Stir in vanilla. Sprinkle reserved corn in bottom of 8 (6-8 oz) ramekins or custard cups. Place in baking pan. Add 1 inch of hot water around the ramekins. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes or until centers are set but still jiggle slightly. Remove from water bath. Cool 10 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or until well chilled. Sprinkle 1.5 teaspoons sugar over each ramekin. Using brulee torch, caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.

Enjoy the recipes!

-Will

IMG_4442.JPG

What’s Cookin’?: State Fair Savory Edition

The average American consumes just under two bushels of corn per year (including corn used to make other products). Americans eat approximately 222 lbs. of meat per year and those animals were largely feed with corn and soybeans. Let’s assume that it takes six lbs of feed to produce each pound of meat. This is an over estimate because beef, pork, and chicken all require different amounts – beef is the highest at 6.7. So let’s assume the 222 pounds of meat consumed required 1,300 pounds (or 23 bushels) of corn to be produced. Again this is an over estimation because it doesn’t account for the soybeans, forage, or other additives mixed into the feed ration. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume each person uses 25 bushels of corn every year. Approximately 2.6 billion bushels of corn is produced in Iowa each year. There are only 3.1 million people in Iowa.

Iowa is a major producer of several agricultural commodities. Corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs are what I call the ‘big four’. The 3.1 million people living in Iowa eat/use roughly 77.5 million bushels of corn. Where do the other 2.5 billion bushels of corn go? It is sold to other states and other countries. Iowans truly do help feed the world. Iowa raises more pork, more eggs, and more soybeans than the people living here could ever use. So it is all sold and traded domestically and internationally.

That’s why we celebrate the productivity of the state. Each year we host a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair. Aspiring chefs and cooks can enter dishes – sweet and savory. Each dish has to include one or more of the big four ingredients in the recipe. Kudos to those cooks who are able to include all four! The entries are judged by a panel of experts representing each of the the commodity organizations that are responsible for helping farmers (Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Soyfoods Council, and the Iowa Egg Council).

The winning recipe in the savory category – Bacon and Corn Custard – was submitted by Diane Rauh of Des Moines, Iowa.

Entry8.jpg1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
6-8 strips of smoked bacon (fried and then diced)
4 teaspoons butter
3 cups whipping cream
1 cup 2% milk
8 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Preparation:
Heat oven to 325°F. In large saucepan, cook corn and butter over medium-high heat until all liquid is evaporated. Spoon out and set aside 1/4 cup of the corn. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in cream and milk; cook until bubbles form around sides of pan. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Pour in blender container. Cover and blend at high speed until smooth. Strain through wire mesh strainer and discard corn pulp. Return cream mixture to pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar with wire whisk until blended. Whisk in a small amount of the hot cream mixture. Return egg mixture to pan, whisking constantly.

Sprinkle reserved corn in bottom of 8 (6-8 oz) ramekins or custard cups, then top with diced bacon. Place in baking pan. Add 1 inch of hot water around the ramekins. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes or until centers are set but still jiggle slightly. Remove from water bath. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

2nd and 3rd

Second place was a Celebrate Iowa Summer Salad recipe submitted by Marta Burkgren of Ames, Iowa. All of Iowa’s big four commodities were represented in this refreshing summer salad. Fresh sweet corn and corn chips (corn), edamame (soybeans), hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise (soybeans, cornstarch and egg yolks), and bacon (pork).

Entry9.jpg2 cups cooked Iowa sweet corn kernels (you can substitute one can of yellow kernel corn, drained or frozen corn)
1 cup edamame, (fresh frozen)
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 ounces corn craps

Preparation
Mix all ingredients except the chips. Arrange the eggs on top. Add the chips just before serving so they do not get soggy. Serves 6 to 8.

And third place was awarded to Kris Johnson of Altoona, Iowa with a Summer Succotash Saute.

Entry7.jpg3 Slices Bacon
1 Cup Sweet Red Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Onion, chopped
1 Cup Tomato, seeded/chopped
1-2 Jalapeno Peppers, sliced into rings, seeds optional
1T Ground Cumin
1t Salt
2t Ground Smoked Paprika
8 oz pkg Shelled Edamame, frozen
14 oz pkg Roasted Sweet Corn, Frozen
2 oz Cream Cheese

Preparation
Cut bacon into ¼ inch pieces, cook until brown. Drain, set aside. Discard all but 2T bacon drippings. In the drippings, saute the red pepper and onion until softened over medium-high heat. Add Jalepeno slices and cook 1-2 minutes more. Next add corn and edamame. Mix well. Continue to saute 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes and cream cheese, melting and mixing well. Stir in bacon pieces, saving some for garnish. Serves six.

Hope you enjoy these recipes!

-Will

IMG_4480.JPG

What’s Cookin’? Chilean Beef Stew

Iowa State Fair is upon us and the Elwell Family Food building is buzzing with activity. Food and cooking for us is very closely linked to how it was grown and produced. Each year we offer cooking demonstrations and tell the story of where each of the ingredients comes from. This year’s demo features a unique recipe that utilizes some of Iowa’s top products including beef, corn, soybeans, and chickens. Here is the farm to fork story of each of those ingredients.

onion.jpgBeef jerky:  Beef jerky is dried and cured from cattle meat. Beef cattle are raised on grass for much of their life and then fed out with corn, soybeans, silage, and other feed components. This high energy feed ration promotes marbling (intra-muscular fat) in the muscle of the animal and increases the quality of the meat. Jerky is cured with salt – a preservation method that has been corn.jpgused for thousands of years.

Onion:  The biggest onion producing states are Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California. Onions are a root crop that grow for 5-6 months before being either mechanically or hand harvested from the soil.

Corn: Although Iowa farmers do raise some of the best-tasting sweet corn in the country, less than 1% of the corn in our state is sweet corn. Although one is considered a vegetable and the other a grain, sweet corn and field corn are close relatives. Sweet corn is a naturally occurring genetic mutation of field corn. The sweet corn plant is shorter, matures faster, and its kernels have a higher sugar content.

Chicken stock: Iowa raises a lot of chickens. There are three different categories of chickens raised with many different species in each category. Chickens are broilers (raised for meat), ornamentals (raised for feathers), and layers (raised for eggs). Most of Iowa’s chickens are layers. Chicken broth is made from boiling the meat and bones. The juice from this cooking process is chicken broth and can be used for soups or flavorings.

squash1.jpgVegetable Oil: Most vegetable oil is made from soybeans. Iowa and Illinois are the two biggest soybean growers in the U.S. After the soybeans are harvested in the fall they are crushed to extract the oil.

Squash: Squashes are native to North America and were planted alongside beans and maize, collectively known as the Three Sisters. They grow on long vines. Winter squash varieties include butternut, acorn, buttercup, spaghetti, ambercup, sweet dumpling, and, of course, pumpkin.

Potatoes:  Potatoes are from the nightshade family of poisonous plants. But over hundreds of years of cultivation in the Andes mountains they became the nonpoisonous food staple that we are now familiar with. These tubers are grown underground as a part of the plant’s root structure. They are a good source of starch and nutrients in the diet.

Peas:  Peas are legumes and very similar to beans. They are versatile and can be used in dishes fresh, frozen, canned, and dried.

Carrot:  Carrots are roots, or more specifically taproots. Carrot plants are biennial, meaning they flower and produce seeds during their second year of growth. However, the plants are generally harvested 2-3 months after planting, much before flowers appear. At this stage the top of the carrot is about 1-2 inches in diameter and still sweet and tender.

Garlic:  California is the major garlic producing state, followed by Nevada and Oregon. The majority of garlic is dehydrated and used in a wide variety of processed foods.

Pepper:  Black pepper comes from the fruit of a pepper plant species which grows in hot and humid tropical climates. The unripe dried fruit, called peppercorns, are ground into the spice we call pepper. Pepper was one of the spices that early explorers traded because of its high value. It came from the spice islands of southeast Asia which also were known for nutmeg, mace and cloves.

Salt: Salt isn’t exactly an agricultural product. But, is an important component because it is the only rock that humans seek out and regularly consume. Salt can be harvested from salt pans (dried lakes) or mined from underground.

Oregano, Paprika, Cumin:  The oregano is dried leaf of the oregano plant. Paprika is the dried and crushed red bell pepper fruit. Cumin is the ground aromatic seed from a plant in the parsley family.

squash.jpgSlow Cooker Chilean Beef Stew  

1 medium squash, (butternut, acorn, or other)
6 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup corn
1 cup peas
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
15 oz. chicken or beef broth
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ lb. beef jerky, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tsp. cumin

Directions:

  1. Chop onions, garlic, and beef jerky. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onions over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and beef jerky and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  2. Peel and cube squash into bite sized pieces.
  3. Add all ingredients to slow cooker including onion and meat mixture.
  4. Fill cooker with water until just slightly below the top of the mixture.
  5. Cook on a low temperature stirring occasionally. Cook for 4-5 hours or until squash and potatoes are fork tender.

Serve in a bowl with bread or crackers on the side. Enjoy!

-Will

What’s Cookin’: Blue Ribbon Brownies

There’s not much better than a soft, warm chocolate brownie.  The recipe I am sharing today is my favorite because it is easy to make, delicious, and also brings back great memories.  It was the first recipe I remember baking as a kid, without the help of my mom.  It became my signature item as a young cook.  I always jumped at the opportunity to make a batch to take to a church pot luck or deliver to a neighbor, just because.  When I became old enough to enroll in 4-H, of course it was on the list of projects I wanted to take first to the county fair.  I remember anxiously waiting for the judge’s reaction after taking a bite and being so proud when she said they were delicious and handed me a blue ribbon.

Before I share the recipe, here’s the agricultural story behind each ingredient.

cocoa beansCocoa Powder is made from beans of the cacao tree grown in tropical climates. After harvesting the beans are fermented, dried, and roasted.  The beans are then ground into a paste to separate the cocoa solids from the fat, or cocoa butter. Once the butter is removed the cocoa solids are ground into a fine powder.  The bitter powder can be packaged and sold for as unsweetened coca powder for baking cooking, or mixed with cocoa butter, milk and sugar to create the chocolate bars and chips.

Sugar for home cooking and baking can come from two agricultural crops, sugar cane and sugar beets. Sugar beets are a root crop grown in the upper Midwest.  Sugar cane is a tall perennial grass grown in more tropical environments like Florida, Latin America, and South America.  Although the plants are very different, the process of turning juice from sugar beets and sugar cane into granulated sugar is very similar.  After the juice is extracted, it is purified, and the crystals form as the water is removed through several stages of evaporation.

eggs1Eggs– Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country! Eggs are an essential baking ingredient. They add structure, leavening, richness, color, and flavor to your delicious treats.

Butter – Fresh whole milk from dairy farms is collected and brought to the creamery. The cream is separated from the milk and rapidly heated to a high temperature. Pasteurization removes any disease causing bacteria and helps the butter stay fresh longer. The cream is then churned by shaking or beating it vigorously until it thickens. The remaining liquid, appropriately called buttermilk, is removed. The clumps of butter are then washed and formed into sticks or blocks. Check out this video to see exactly how butter is made today.

vanilla beansVanilla extract is made from the seed pod, or bean, of the flat leaved vanilla orchid.  They are picked unripe, submerged into hot water and then laid out to dry.  Vanilla extract is made by macerating the vanilla beans and mixing them with water and alcohol.

Wheat PortraitFlour:  All-purpose flower is made from a blend of both hard and soft wheat grains. The bran and the germ have been removed leaving only the starchy endosperm for the flour.  The United States ranks 3rd in the production of wheat and is the #1 wheat exporting country. The top wheat-producing states are Kansas, North Dakota and Montana.

Pecans – The pecan tree is a species of hickory native to Mexico and the southern United States. Today they are grown on orchards across the southern United States, from California to North Carolina. Check out this video to see how pecans are harvested commercially. Once harvested, they are transported to a shelling plant where they are cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally, shelled.

Blue Ribbon Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:
¾ cup cocoa powder
½ cup baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda;
  3. Mix in 1/3 cup melted butter.
  4. Add boiling water and stir until well blended.
  5. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla and remaining butter.
  6. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined.
  7. Fold in pecans.
  8. Pour into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

-Cindy