Stories about food, family and friends. Favorite foods, memorable meals, food mayhem, recipes and more.
TDS 59 What Comes From Peru, Alexandra Borzo and David Olano
Until recently, the only thing I knew of Peru was that Paddington the Curious Bear (with tattered hat, old suitcase and all) came from there. The beloved character of children’s books was made famous by British author Michael Bond, describing the bear that lived in “darkest Peru” before becoming a stowaway deposited at a railway station in London.
My knowledge of the South American country all changed a few years ago when my daughter Alexandra moved there after falling in love with Lima, thereafter, making her home in Lima the South American city by the sea. She met a wonderful guy and launched her business there as well. In this episode of #thedeliciousstory, you’ll have a chance to meet Alex and David and learn fascinating details about their cosmopolitan adventures—all while enjoying a virtual sampling of signature dishes of Lima!
THE SILVER LINING OF A PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN
The Peruvian government was an early responder in addressing the spread of COVID-19. Even before the U.S. went into lockdown, the country mandated serious restrictions on their population, including a strict quarantine lasting over 100 days.
It does this mother’s heart good to know that her baby lives somewhere where lives and public safety are so important. I wondered, though, how she, David, and their little Shih Tzu dog named Charlotte managed to remain sane for almost four months of confinement in their fifteenth story apartment!
For months, the three weren’t permitted to go anywhere except to make grocery store runs (and only one person at a time), which became a treat. Restaurants, bars, and everything else was closed.
Alex and David share the experience of their daily life holed up in a city that went nearly silent. They were fortunate in many ways, and provide some interesting insights into how the normally-noisy and crowded city changed after the start of quarantine.
SIGHTSEEING SPOTS OF LIMA
Alex and David describe details of a few more prominent amenities, and you can sense their joy in it, because they love to give friends and family a more intimate understanding of their city. You can glean ideas of the variety of attractions in Lima, a city made up of districts (each with its particular “flavor”).
The parks and green spaces are an oasis for Lima dwellers to connect with nature. For Alex and David, their favorite is the Roosevelt Park (interestingly named after the U.S. President), which is near their apartment and became a mental health lifeline during the pandemic.
Another treasured and particularly beautiful park they discussed is the Bosque del Olivar. The main feature of this large area of land is the forest grove of olive trees established by Spaniard Antonio de Rivera, who brought more than one hundred olive saplings from Spain in the 1500s. It is a wonderful place to walk and think about the history these trees have seen of the city, including when Peru gained their independence in 1821.
A CITY OF EXCEPTIONAL DINING
Although Lima isn’t so much a tourist destination (but, instead, a brief stop to other parts of Peru such as Cusco), it is as stunning as it is a notable dining mecca. Alex and David delve into a few of the signature dishes there, including ceviche, or fish “cooked” in citrus, and anticuchos, which are grilled kebobs of beef heart.
One dish I can report is always worth eating is lomo saltado. Anywhere I’ve ordered this during my visits to Lima I always find it tasty.
Alex provides an overview of the influences of the foods of Lima, too. Think roasted and wok-cooked meats, a variety of seasonings with an emphasis on sauces, and you’ll get some idea. And I bet you’ll be surprised to learn of Peru’s role in the history of spuds, which today are a mainstay all over the world!
Like any city, Lima is a place shaped by hundreds of years of cultural diversity....
TDS 58 TODD WHITE DRY FARM WINES
If you enjoy good food, particularly when it’s accompanied with good wine, then this episode of #thedeliciousstory is for you. This week I talk with Todd White of Dry Farm Wines about the benefits of natural wine, his journey in creating a business that sources the organically-grown varietals, and how nourishing your body with intention can be good for your wellbeing, too.
At our house, wine goes hand-in-hand with the evening meal. We’ve spent years selecting, tasting and amassing a wine library of knowledge and preferences. And so, because I have an interest in wine, I was drawn to Dry Farm Wines when I discovered the world of sugar free, natural wines.
I’d not thought about sugar in wine before that, nor considered that there were organic versions of wine. I’d assumed, and perhaps you have too, that the production of wine is a natural process, so what could make “organic” or “not?”
In the interview, Todd walks through the difference with a good dose of science and explains how the wine industry operates today. He then describes his personal voyage and the accident that lead to his interest in natural wine, and how he has turned curating these wines into a successful business venture.
At the heart of Dry Farm for Todd and his team are integral values that balance what they do. This is the core on which they build relationships with the growers who cultivate specifically for the organic wine market. And from there is the wine, where each selection must meet a rigorous criterion to be certified as a part of their catalog.
SUGAR AND ALCOHOL
The subject of alcohol and wine is an interesting one, particularly as it relates to health. I like to think of wine as “healthful,” but it does contain alcohol, which is not particularly healthful. Scientists periodically dispense studies which seem to suggest moderate drinking is acceptable and perhaps even “healthy,” but I like to hold onto that notion.
However, per an article over at the Mayo Clinic, the distinction of moderate consumption is based solely on underlying health. A person with certain conditions, for example, can’t imbibe “moderately” when compared to a healthy one. Some conditions do not permit alcohol consumption at all.
So, alcohol is always a consideration when drinking wine, but it was the sugar content I’d not thought about that captured my attention. Todd delves into the role of sugar found in most of the commercial wines on the market, how it becomes part of the wine, and why it’s an issue for those trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
Todd provides a robust explanation of how the sugar and higher alcohol content make the wine we drink generally more dangerous when consumed over time. I could almost hear my pancreas screaming, given I have more than thirty years of hearty commercial wine consumption under my belt.
Todd described his personal choices of diet, meditation, and conscious consumption in a way that seemed both daunting and admirable, but with a rational that anyone who takes a long view of their life would want. For those like me, I’m all about baby steps after what feels like a lifetime of impossible reversals. As I listened to Todd, and maybe you’ll think this also, I wondered, could the simple action of drinking a healthier wine be the cornerstone to other healthy choices?
THE DISTINCTION OF YEAST
You may feel a need to put goggles on and pull out a Bunsen burner when Todd explains the science of yeast in Dry Farm Wines. You can listen and let him do the heavy lifting of walking you through the natural yeast found on the grape versus the cultured yeast pumped into nearly all the commercial wine we drink. And it is that yeast that plays such an important role in the sugar and alcohol content as well.
Clearly, Todd loves talking about how a Dry Farm wine differs, and sees it as a pure and healthy.
TDS 57 Does That Feel Like Food To You Karen Viste-Sparkman Wildlife Biologist Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
Food, particularly plant-based produce, is anything cultivated for the purpose of consumption.
Or perhaps the real definition is broader.
For instance, what about foragable plants that grow randomly in nature?
Today on #thedeliciousstory, we chat with wildlife biologist Karen Viste-Sparkman about this more ancient path to food.
As a city dweller, I count on obtaining food from the grocery store and mostly think of what I eat as coming from an agrarian model. However, long before the agricultural system developed, and well before the Europeans landed on the continent, Native Americans tended to the land, grew crops, and often foraged from the earth for their sustenance. In Iowa, the land was mostly covered with tallgrass prairie.
In this interview, Karen takes us on an audio tour of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. There, we walk through prairie and oak savannah brought back much as it was hundreds of years ago. We also explore some of the plant life available for the picking, literally, to use for a dish at the table or for a hot drink.
NEAL SMITH REFUGE AND THE FOUNDER
Karen explains how the refuge began with 300 acres and grew to the 6,000 it encompasses today. In 1990, their goal was an ambitious one: to return the land to the condition it was before the settlers came and turned it into farms and towns.
Remarkably, it all began with a change of opinion about nuclear energy, which thankfully left Iowa with one less power plant and the opportunity to enjoy an oasis instead. Located in Jasper County, near Prairie City, the park offers walking trails, an educational center, and a scenic drive through the refuge to see bison roaming the land.
This was the vision of Neal Smith, a former American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for the Democratic Party for Iowa from 1959 until 1995. Prior to his service in the House, Smith was a WWII bomber pilot, an attorney, and lifelong advocate for the environment and projects that permit Iowans to connect with nature.
Per an article in the Des Moines Register from March of 2020, Smith celebrated his 100th birthday this year and was supposed to be honored publicly for the positive legacy he has had on our state, but COVID-19 derailed the plan. Celebrations aside, we have Smith to thank for features such as the refuge that bring Iowans and visitors from outside the state to beautiful attractions.
Smith is associated with several other venues as well. In addition to the refuge, there is the Neal Smith Trail, which starts in Des Moines and winds through the Saylorville Lake and Big Creek areas. There is a federal building in downtown Des Moines with his name, too, and he and his wife are behind the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center where they both earned degrees in law decades earlier.
A LITTLE NATURE ON YOUR PLATE
For anyone who hunts or fishes, the idea of eating from the wild isn’t strange at all. But somehow, at least to me, foraging for the unplanned bits of nuts, berries and other edibles seems more of a stretch. Other than morel mushrooms, I was less certain about the viability of this practice, although I’ve interviewed octogenarians through Storied Gifts who have mentioned dining on dandelion leaves for salads, and who also enjoy the sweetness of wild strawberries and rhubarb.
It turns out that foraging is a practice many embrace, but as Karen points out, you MUST know what you are doing before you start grazing from the wild. A few resources that can help you explore the subject beyond this interview include:
•Midwest Wild Edibles & Foragers Society
•Edible Wild Plants
•A Beginners Guide to Wild Edible Plants in the Grinnell Area
Karen detailed several plants that you might find worth eating, including sericea lespedeza, stinging nettles, and wild...
TDS 56 When Living In the Past Is Good For You Howard Dorre Plodding Through the Presidents
If you’ve been inclined to feel a bit jaded about the world (or is just me?) then this episode of #thedeliciousstory will revive your hope in humanity. And how will you get to that happy state of mind? With a little help from the past, of course.
For this interview, we visit with history blogger Howard Dorre, an unapologetic history enthusiast who is “plodding” his way through research into the presidents of the United States. As you listen, you’ll discover how he migrated from trudging along with a small audience to flying high and capturing the attention of thousands of thrilled followers.
Plodding Through The Presidents began in 2013 with Howard’s simple self-improvement goal to read biographies and learn. And from there, “the rest is history” as it goes, because soon he became so enthralled that he began to dig deeper into the scandals, myths, and mysteries of our country’s presidents and found he liked sharing what he learned.
And as he excavated further, that’s when things got really interesting. Mixed with Howard’s excellent writing and keen observations, he takes the audience of Plodding on an ongoing history romp. With titles including, “Facts, Firebolts, and a Founding Fetus: An Update,” see if you don’t want to go ahead and read about George Washington’s gestation story!
Howard’s irreverence is such fun I found myself guffawing immediately, egged on by scintillating titles such as “Andrew Jackson’s Slut-Shaming Evolution,” and “How to Teach Your Baby About Slavery.” Once you dive in, you too can get a belly-laugh learning about the very underbelly of our past.
PASSION AS THE GUIDE
I was lucky to “find” Howard, not only because there is so much to learn by way of plodding with him, but also because he is creating this information out of love for the subject. Howard is a project manager by day, a spouse and dad fulltime, and then a roving history warrior in between those roles.
You’ll hear how Howard balances it all with the support of his wife, Jessica, who is his co-host for the podcast they’ve launched as well. During their episodes, the couple shares a lovely banter that makes subjects such as John and Abigail and smallpox a delight. Who says a plague can’t be fun?
But honestly, I’m a sucker for anyone who does something worthwhile for the pure joy of doing it. People rising to learn and create is a story I never tire of hearing. See if you don’t feel inspired by Howard’s journey and the pleasure he has for producing his work.
THE ADAMS FAMILY
I’m the first to admit that my grasp of history can be spotty, so here I mention the two Adams discussed during the podcast as a favor in case you suffer from Adams confusion as well.
John Adams: John Adams was the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Since everything I actually “know” about history I learned from movies and musicals, just to place Adams, he was the VP for George Washington before becoming president. He is NOT actually featured in “Hamilton,” the musical, although he was one of Alexander’s best buddies and fellow federalists. On the other hand, Adams is one of my favorite characters in the musical “1776.” I’m thinking of the song “Sit Down John” as a great example.
John Quincy Adams: John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829. He was John and Abigail Adam’s second child and first son. This meant he received all the pressure associated with being the firstborn boy. Howard explains how this played out for John Quincy, and you can decide for yourself whether the force of helicopter parents was a good or bad thing in his case.
THE FOUNDING PRESIDENTS AND FOOD
Several of our Founding Fathers observed food preferences that they swore by for health. Howard teases out a few examples during the interview,
TDS 55 Why Feed Hunger? Michelle Book of The Food Bank of Iowa
There is almost nothing more essential to our existence than food, and nothing as deeply personal for humans in particular. Think about it: we communicate through food, express culture via food, and forge connection when we eat together. Food binds us to the earth and reminds us that we are equals in our need for nutrition to survive.
This week on the #thedeliciousstory, we visit with Michelle Book of The Food Bank of Iowa who explains the status of food insecurity in Iowa. In doing so, she also lays out the toll of human suffering due to hunger and explains some surprising ways in which we can benefit with more inclusive access to food.
SHARED SUFFERING IN HUNGER
I was surprised, and perhaps you will be too, by how long The Food Bank of Iowa has been around. Michelle details the history of the organization, their relationship to Feeding America, and their role in assisting food pantries in 55 counties around the state.
Perhaps what is most startling for a local listener is the level of hunger Michelle points to in Iowa BEFORE the latest pandemic crisis. She breaks down the numbers during the interview and also reveals the exponential growth of the issue we are facing right now.
We all deal with fear at some point. It’s unavoidable. Even if you’re not personally facing hunger, you can appreciate on some level what fear of your own survival feels like. For those who are at greatest risk and don’t know where their next meal will come from, the suffering is tenfold.
Maybe you have faced that fear in the past, or have neighbors and friends who are facing it themselves. I once heard someone refer to the monthly bill-paying ritual as “keeping the wolves at bay.” I’ve never lost that imagery over the years, especially in the context of those who have the least.
And oh, how the wolves do howl. From month to month, they circle and encroach. Without resources, some are faced with an insurmountable hurdle—one they face day-to-day. What has to get paid first? Most likely, rent. Then, the car if there’s a job that requires it. By the time they cross off essentials, there may be little, or nothing, left for food. These are the people who come to the food pantries. And these days, the people in the lines at the pantry include so many who never imagined they would face this need.
As Michelle explains, food insecurity is nothing new for Iowans. Michelle details where we were in terms of hunger post the 2008 recession. The recovery has not been equal or fully realized by many who often work fulltime earning and unlivable wage. As of data reported in 2019, 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 7 children are struggling with hunger. The pandemic has exponentially impacted Iowans increasing the roster of those who are suffering.
It’s understandable to feel paralyzed by the numbers and to wonder if hunger is an issue that that can quickly and practically be addressed. One piece of the answer that many people don’t realize is that we all benefit when everyone has access to good nutrition.
Per the Center for American Progress 2010 data, each of us pays more than $500 per year for hunger-related problems in the U.S. due to lost economic productivity and increased health care costs. Simply by assuring adequate nutrition, we address future problems before they arise.
KICK FEAR AND DO SOMETHIHNG
I asked Michelle about the issue of food waste as one way to help solve food insecurity. Pre-pandemic, the issue was daunting. Per the UDSA, in the United States food waste was estimated at 30-40 percent of the food supply, meaning approximately 133 billion pounds (and $161 billion worth of money that would have gone into the economy) lost in 2010. Certainly, food waste is an important issue, but you’ll be stunned by the situation as it has unfolded recently, and how these new developments are impacting the donation...
TDS 54 How to Preserve What Matters, Interview with Courtney Work and Teri Ernst
The mention of stuff—from the clutter in the basement and the garage to the pictures and items we treasure but have so many of—can, for many of us, elicit stress as well as guilt. We have baggage about what we cart around in life. Teri Ernst and Courtney Work of Preserved LLC understand that burden well, and work with their clients to gently free them of it while keeping the best of what matters. In this episode of #thedeliciousstory, the two of them talk about the process of decluttering and how you, too, can feel pleasure in the space where you live and the things that surround you!
HOW THEY MET AND HOW THEY WORK
As the interview begins, you’ll note what a marvelously joyful collaboration there is between Courtney and Teri. The real surprise is how they joined forces to create Preserved and how their differences and similarities have worked so very well together. The two of them began their venture in business in 2018, and since then have enjoyed rapid growth, precisely because of their approach and personalities.
There are many organizing and minimizing gurus to tap into from books, videos, and websites, but for many of us we need a greater push to get things done for real. At no other time can this be more overwhelming than when you need to make some changes in order to age in place or right-size your home.
Our things are all placeholders that mark where we’ve lived and what we’ve seen. And, as we move along in life, we accumulate more evidence, which we find hard to part with later. Those things are all the vessels of the chapters behind us.
When you understand that connection to stuff, is it any wonder we have problems getting rid of things? Courtney and Teri get this, and that’s why they work diligently with clients to keep the treasured part of the stuff—the memories and evidence that are real and valuable, and not truly locked in the general “things” we possess.
Preserved is about helping clients find the balance between the things they and the relevance to their lives right now. Courtney and Teri help their clients flip the thinking from the classic downsize dialogue—it’s not so much about releasing from your past, but bringing the best it with you into your today.
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” Albert Einstein
THE TRUE VALUE OF THINGS
I can’t tell you the number of estate sales I’ve seen with tables upon tables of collectable items—antique glasses, bobbles and porcelain figurines, all on display for passersby. At some point, all the possessions around us could become the fodder of such a sale, because the younger generations seem not to be too interested in taking this stuff off our hands!
Hiring pros like Courtney and Teri helps people have the conversation objects with monetary value, and more importantly those with emotional value. It’s interesting how much of the time the two don’t coincide. I think you’ll find Courtney’s story about this issue sums up the point nicely.
BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY TRIVIA
As you listen to this interview, I guarantee you’ll start to feel a lightness about the notion of organizing your things. And from there, we segue to food, and the chatter takes a yummy turn. First off, I find it hard to believe that the movie Bridges of Madison is 25 years old. Where has time gone?
I remember guiltily reading the book while my husband jibed me for reading a romance story, but literature opinions aside, the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, was a good film. Eastwood knows how to focus on the character development and storytelling in a way that helps a movie unfold.
Merle Streep provided one of her stellar performances in Bridges, too, and the scenery of rural Iowa was beautiful. But until this interview, I hadn’t given the food scenes much thought.
Although, I remember that Francesca, a farm wife, was in action in several sce
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