Thursday, October 28, 2010

Simple Lives Thursday #16

Mornin' everybody!
I'm overwhelmed and so happy at the support I've received from you all about Rosie's Best.  Thank you for your interest, and I can't wait to share more with you soon.  Stay tuned for updates soon, and please email any suggestions or comments to me at culinarybliss at gmail.
Today is Simple Lives Thursday, so link up your posts and check out what we're all doing to keep it simple.

  •  A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

  • Sustainable Eats


  • Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    A Big Day and a Big Annoucement

    Today, October 27th, I turn 27 years old.
    I had a family dinner on Monday, where we celebrated a new baby that's coming (hopefully today so I can have a birthday buddy!)
    DSC08852.JPGThe nephew tried to coax the baby out with sweet talk.
    In 2007, I turned 24.  Between then and now, I've managed to reach some major milestones.
    I got married.
    I graduated with my master's degree.
    I bought a home.
    I adopted the best dog ever.
    Today, I'd like to add another item to that big list.  See, for my birthday, I also got a little bling.
    Today, I'm starting a business.

    I'm Alicia Rose, owner and head baker at Rosie's Best, a fully licensed and insured home bakery.

    More information about me:
    I'm a home baker and take passion in finding and developing recipes that meet my high nutrition and taste standards. I've baked with my mother since I could stand, and the women in my family gather each winter to bake together and learn from each other.  I want to share my food with all of you, and they are the ones who have given me the confidence and know how to do so.
    About the ingredients:
    I'm picky.  In our products, you'll never find
    • bleached white flour
    • refined sugars, including high fructose corn syrup
    • hydrogenated oils
    • artificial flavors or colors
    • artificial preservatives
    Basically, you will only find ingredients you can understand and pronounce.
    You can count on
    • locally sourced flours and whole grains from Paul's Grains in Laurel, Iowa
    • locally raised butter and lard from ethically raised animals
    • local honey
    • superfoods like chia and pumpkin seeds
    • organics when available
    About the products:
    At Rosie's Best, we offer a range of baked goods from everyday crackers and granola to indulgent cookies, breads, and cakes.
    • Vegan and low-sugar alternatives.
    • A standard menu available all year, customizable to your needs and preferences
    • Seasonal specials to celebrate abundant ingredients at the peak of their quality.
    Essentially, I bake the way you would if you had the time, interest, and resources to do so.  I will only sell you things that I would eat myself and feed to my family.
    So, where can you find Rosie's Best?
    Today, you can find me here on Etsy.  You can also find me at, which will soon become

    If you want to meet me and sample some Rosie's Best products, including my gorgeous braided cranberry walnut loaf, I'd like to invite you to the New Pioneer's Taste of Home Sample Fair on Sunday, November 7th at the Coralville location from 11-3 p.m.  I would love to meet you and let you try some of my products.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Simple Lives Thursday #15

    Hey everybody!
    I'm so happy with the response I've received to the post I wrote about the Iowa Corn Tour.  Thank you for listening and caring enough to comment, and please continue to do so if you haven't already!
    Today is the 15th week that these bloggers and I have come together and asked you to share what you do to consume less and produce more.

  •  A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

  • Sustainable Eats


  • So tell us, are you homesteading?  Urban gardening?  Advocating?  Or just taking things slower?  I'd love to hear from you.  This week, some of the bloggers are writing about 'a day in the simple life'.  Check out what one day in our lives look like and share what your routine is.  Annette at Sustainable Eats is a great example if you'd like one to follow.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    My Version of the Iowa Corn Tour

    Hello there!
    I hope your week is off to a great start.  I'm writing a post today (words only!) because I think this is a post that needs to be written and nobody else is going to do it.
    In my last post I briefly mentioned the Iowa Corn Tour fiasco that had taken over twitter for a day.  Essentially, a few bloggers were flown, put up in a hotel, fed, and given gift bags by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.  The bloggers tweeted often and enthusiastically throughout the trip about how excited they were to learn about the non-risks of high fructose corn syrup and the sham of organic farming. 
    This caused a major uproar among a few bloggers, in part because of the blatant lack of transparency about the tour itself.  This outrage was nicely summarized by Milehi Mama in this post, in which she expresses her distaste at the content of the tweets and the lack of openness by the sponsors.  My favorite quotes from her post:

    "Many of the tweets weren’t about the benefits of corn, but were about why organic farms are a scam and why we just shouldn’t care if our food is processed.  Sadly, good information like the benefits of frozen vegetables were hidden in the misleading mudslinging. 
    I don’t have a problem with bloggers taking tours of industry, or trying out products, or liking high fructose corn syrup and eating Cheetos.
    What do I have a problem with? Bloggers blindly accept any information given, and use the corporate platform to spread misinformation in the name of promoting a product, especially without transparency."

    She ended her post with a perfectly appropriate send-off, asking all of us to 'blog with integrity'.  
    I completely agree with her points, but I think the following has been missing from this conversation:
    There are people in this state making huge changes in the way Iowans feed themselves and the world by growing sustainably and educating people.  
    It makes me incredibly angry to see my state depicted as being dedicated only to big agriculture.  The Iowa that you see in tours like this and the one Shauna participated in allow corporate sponsors to tell the story of our state.
    I'm not denying that factory farming is a big part of Iowa.  Fly over this state and you'll see a patchwork of corn and soybeans that are used to make all kinds of non-food products, packaged and shipped around the world.  Drive our highways and you will see (and smell) rendering plants and contained animal feeding operations like the one Shauna was paid to tell you are perfectly fine.  This is the picture of Iowa that emerges if you listen only to those who speak loudly with deep pockets.
    But there's a side of Iowa that's missing from this story:
    • Mrs. Pavelka, my lamb farmer, who treats her animals with such care that you can stop by her farm any time and pet your future meal, no white disease protection suit needed.
    • The inspirational Danelle Stamps of Stamps Family Farm, whom I consider my friend as well as my pig farmer.  Through the internet, I've watched her raise the Birkshire pig that I purchased and will soon eat.  
    • Susan Jultz, my vegetable farmer from ZJ Farms in Solon.  ZJ provides high quality produce through the model of community supported agriculture.  (You can see some of my posts about the shares we got here)
    • Scott Koepke from my cooperative grocery store, where he sources locally grown produce for a fair price, teaches backyard gardening, and advocates at the local and state levels for small young farmers who are just starting out.  His work has made a huge difference in how people in my city eat.
    • Restaurants like Devotay, Motley Cow, and Lincoln Cafe, who have made an art of the farm-to-table concept and live it every day, and the people who make a point of eating at these restaurants and asking the chefs about where the food comes from.
    • Local non-profit organizations who are feeding our hungry directly from the fields of small farmers, like Johnson County Local Foods Alliance and Local Foods Connection

    These people are my local heroes, and they make me proud to live here.
    My point is this: For every tweet and blog post that big agriculture buys to sell you their version of food, there is an important person or organization that goes unnoticed.  I don't want to allow corporations to control the world's perception of Iowa, and perhaps the best recourse I have is to write about it here.  We have the power to inform ourselves, educate others, and reject advertising as information.
    Finally, I'd like to share this video with you.  It's from Francis Thicke, who is running for secretary of Agriculture in Iowa.  To elect him would send a clear message that Iowans want to make food policy a priority.  (You can read about Michael Pollan's opinion that this is 'the most important election of the year' here)

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Simple Lives Thursday #14

    Hey internet!
    How are you?
    It's THURSDAY.  I'm double excited this week because tonight is my Master Gardener class about VEGETABLES!  I'll readily admit that this is my main reason for doing the program, though I've managed to learn a lot and meet tons of great people along the way.
    Also very exciting is the fact that I'll be taking a full day this weekend in Ames to visit the campus of Iowa State University and take extra hands-on courses! 
    *If you're a reader in Ames, feel free to send me an email! I'd love to meet you!*
    Finally, if you're on twitter (I'm @culinarybliss) you might have noticed a hashtag for the Iowa Corn Tour.  This tour is sponsored by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.
    You might get the warm fuzzies when you think about corn in Iowa, but the truth is that the vast majority of the corn grown here is NOT used for food but for livestock feed and corn-based products.
    A few "Mom Bloggers" were flown to Iowa to look at the fields and share their experiences.  Their tweets are what the board paid for, and they have caused major outrage on twitter and beyond.  Just a few examples:

    • People dont want to point the finger at themselves for obesity. Its just easier to blame HFCS than themselves. Moderation. Truth
    • can't pronounce food ingred.? don't worry.Food is naturally made of things u can't pronounce
    • My opinion & what I've seen: Organic more a marketing & money making scheme than anything. I TRUST our farmers.

    I do not want to get into the politics or facts behind these tweets or the claims they make right now, but this is what I want to make clear:
    You are responsible for feeding yourself.
    You spend huge amounts of money each month on food.
    You should inform yourself about what you choose to feed yourself and your family.
    When you inform yourself, you have a responsibility to know where the information comes from.

    The Iowa Corn Promotion Board paid for this information campaign in the same way they would pay for an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper, and you should take the information in the same way.
    If you'd like information about sugar in general and hfcs in particular, this video is very informative.  If you want to learn more about the corn industry and how it has changed our state and country, I recommend this movie, King Corn.

    Lastly I'd like to remind you that today is the 14th installment of Simple Lives Thursday!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Master Gardener Training, and a Little Bit for Everyone

    Greetings everybody! I hope you're doing well this week.  I have been too busy with life to blog, but I'll explain more about that verry soon.  Today, I'd like share with you the highlights from my first class for the Master Gardener program.
    But first, I'd like to be sure all of my readers find something good in this post.
    If you read my blog for the cute photos of my dog, here's a recent one of Razi wearing a cape the bff got him.  It needs to be hemmed and his beefy neck doesn't quite fit the top, but I think it suits him none the less, don't you?
    If you read my blog for the food and aren't particularly interested in the details of gardening, I have this small offering: baked apples.  Not a recipe, but a basic guide. Slice out the stem and core your apple with a melon baller.  Stuff the cavity with peanut butter, honey, or both leaving 1/2-1 inch of space at the top.  Stuff the rest with a combination of salt, flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, and cold butter.  If you don't already know how to make a crumble topping you can try this one, but honestly I throw mine together by feel, adjusting the flour to oatmeal ratio and sugar content on the fly.  Bake at 350 until a knife slides in easily and the topping is golden brown.  These are delicious, even cold, but there's nothing like a hot apple and crumble topping for fall.  A little ice cream or whipped cream wouldn't hurt a bit.
    I've also got some photos for those of you who like looking at gardens, but maybe don't like actually doing anything.
    Iowa City got very close to freezing earlier this week, but luckily things have warmed back up again and it even got into the 80s today.  Cool nights and warm days are the best for plants.  We have continued to harvest a few tomatoes, lots of beans, and we are hoping to be able to get a few tomatillos.  For some reason, the bumble bees love the tolmatillo flowers.  There were at least three of them swirling around when I took this photo.
    We've got spiders out there, too.
    We harvested some kale yesterday.  We still have one of these HUGE plants left and a couple more small ones.
    The grass is beautiful right now.  This makes me want to plant more native prairie plants.
    Finally, if you're interested in learning a little about the specifics of gardening, you can read the rest of this post.  I'm going to summarize the most important parts about the first Master Gardener class I took.  It's helpful for me to write them because it lets me review what I learned, but it's also in the spirit of the program, which uses Master Gardeners to spread gardening through communities. The program is run by the Iowa State University Extension. Most classes are webcast across the state but some are done at the county level.  The limitations of the presentations can be a challenge to the speakers, most of whom are professors at ISU, but each lecture has been interesting and packed full of valuable information.  I'm going to list the course followed by the name of the instructor's name and homepage if one exists.  Then I'll quickly summarize the most important information I got from each evening.  If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments.  That's the idea behind the program!  I'll have attended 14 classes and a full field day by the time I become a trainee and I plan to write about each session here for my own review.  After I complete the training I must complete 40 hours of community service before I become a full Master Gardener.  (Tracy, if you're reading this, feel free to correct me or add to the conversation!)
    Today I'm going to tell you about soils.
    Soils- Lee Burras
    I found this presentation incredibly engaging, in part because of the content and largely due to the presenter.  His personal website opens to this E.B. White quote, which solidifies my impression of him as a passionate steward of the earth.
    "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day."
    Here's a taste of what Lee taught us:
    • Soil is composed of three things: sand, silt, and clay.  Each soil is defined by its ratio of the three and the level of compaction.  Soil color can tell us something about soil composition, but not everything.
    • Each soil can be placed somewhere in this triangle depending on its composition.  Soils vary greatly, inch to inch in all directions and are highly variable depending on the environmental conditions.  Gardeners need to pinpoint on this triangle where their soil currently is and where they want their soil to be well before they do any soil amending. soil_classification_chart.gif
    • Lee reminded us that plants do the vast majority of their work in the soil, not in the air.  He encouraged us to think about underground as the house for the plant.  Thus, aeration is very important.  Good soil should be loose and well-worked.  If the soil is the house, the open spaces between soil particles are the rooms, where the roots live.
    • Plants use the surface of the roots to absorb important things from the organic matter in soil, so they'll spread as far as they can out and down.  If you see a problem in the leaves, look to the soil first.
    • A soil test is inexpensive and tells you your soil's pH and its nutrient levels.  Deficiencies in both can be corrected by treating the soil.
    • Iowans are incredibly lucky to have access to a huge supply of some of the highest quality soil in the entire world.
    At the end of the day, we're all dirt farmers.

    That's all for today!  I'll be back soon with some exciting news, and the next Master Gardener class I'll tell you about is botany!  Until then, enjoy the fall while it's still here, and tell me how your gardening is wrapping up.

    Simple Lives Thursday #13

    Wowza, here we are at Simple Lives Thursday again. I will have a gardening-related post up this afternoon, but I've also got a pretty exciting announcement I've been sitting on coming up tomorrow, so head back then, too. Until then, please link up your posts about what you're doing to consume less and produce more. We're finally at the end of preservation season, and soon it will be time to sit back and enjoy. Have you stopped putting up food? Or are you still going strong?

    Your linked up post will appear on these three blogs

  •  A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

  • Sustainable Eats


  • LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs