Monthly Archives: December 2013

Give The Gift of Local

Maytag Dairy Farms is just one of many BFBL members offering gift packages filled with locally grown goodies.

Maytag Dairy Farms is just one of many BFBL members offering gift packages filled with locally grown goodies.

By Kelsey Johnson

If you’ve looked out the window recently, or had the privilege of getting up an hour early in order to clean the ice and snow off your car before work, you are well aware that winter has arrived. Thankfully, the approaching holidays bring with them the prospect of family, friends, and a compelling reason to put off your diet until after the New Year, so all that snow feels a little cozier… at least for now. As you watch friends and relatives flock to Blockbusters and Targets, take a second to see what BFBL members have to offer, and throw in a local touch to your holiday arrangements.

When it comes to pre-packaged gift baskets guaranteed to impress, look no further than some of our favorites: allspice,  The Cheese Shop, and Maytag Dairy Farms. Looking to find the perfect gift for the culinary powerhouse in your life, but don’t know where to begin? Well, allspice has packages ranging from $12 – $45, perfect for anyone interested in spicing up their holidays. The Cheese Shop has baskets starting at $40 that feature different cheeses, meats, wines, and chocolates; much of which is produced right here in Iowa. Plus, there’s a good chance you’ll find some BFBL members included. (See: Frisian Farms and La Quercia.) Maytag Dairy Farms is known across North America as a premier, direct order cheese company and we’re lucky to have them right in our backyard in Newton. Find their famous Maytag Blue Cheese on the shelves of local grocery stores, order a gift basket online, or make it an outing and visit their farm and creamery in Newton.

If you’re looking for a meatier gift package (literally) there are other BFBL members determined to please the carnivores in your life. Such gift arrangements include Harvest Barn Marketplace’s Boxes of “Goodness,” “Yum” and “Best sellers” all of which include their individual beef sticks. Timber Ridge also has baskets that feature their jerky, beef jerky, and summer sausage, and there’s still time to reserve yours before Christmas!

The Homestead is your go-to place for poinsettias and hand-made wreaths that can be ordered on their website, the perfect way to display your Iowa holiday pride. Looking for a quick thank you gift to bring to your favorite holiday party? Picket Fence Creamery has an “All-Iowa” package of cheese, popcorn, caramel puffs, beef sticks and more! They can be reserved by emailing and are only $15. Or you can simply pick up a bottle of prime Iowa wine from Grape Escape, Jasper Winery, Rosey Acres, or Two Saints Winery and call it a day.

In addition to the vast array of packages and gift baskets available to order online, there is still one last chance to peruse the trinkets, knick-knacks, and delicious confections at the Downtown Winter Market, this weekend. The market is open Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m at Kaleidoscope Mall at 555 Walnut Street and Capital Square at 400 Locust, both connected by skywalk.

If your shopping for a gift with more staying power than something edible, check out the selection of kitchen wares, and accessaries available at Kitchen Collage of Des Moines.  At Campbell’s Nutrition, you can find BFBL t-shirts and shopping bags as well as books on eating for a healthy lifestyle.

For those of us still pining over the summer farmers market season in all its glory, there is still a way to share the bounty of Iowa farms with a local CSA membership. Thomas Burkhead from Grade A Gardens wants to encourage people to “give the gift of local food” this season. He understands that it in some cases it may be a “somewhat expensive” present, but if you sign up before January first (message them for details) Grade A Gardens will take 10% off the ticket price! A great opportunity considering “CSA memberships make great gifts,” said Burkhead. Remember, the holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family, friends, and your community, and buying local can bring you one step closer to that embodiment of the holiday spirit. Plus, everyone knows the true way to a person’s heart is through delicious, locally grown food.

What’s Fresh: December

By Kelsey Johnson

While no one is currently harvesting carrots out of the frozen ground, there are plenty still available considering they can be stored for months at a time. In fact, they often taste even better, as carrots become sweeter with age. While they are great raw, carrots can also be jazzed up in a few simple steps. Thanks to Iowa Food Coop for this awesome tip:

Curried Carrots


  • 12 carrots
  • 6 Tbs Butter
  • 2 Tbs Curry powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Black pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs Brown sugar

Place carrots in a sauce pan and add cold water to cover. Cook over medium heat until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and return carrots to pan. Mix butter, curry, salt and pepper and add to carrots in pan.  Add lemon and brown sugar. Heat through. Serve.


While the snow puts a damper on the growing season, there are still ways to fill your table with local Iowa goodness thanks to what else: meats and cheeses!

This month we encourage you to assemble a meat and cheese platter, sure to impress as a party appetizer, or as a quick, delicious gift for anyone on your list! Stop by Campbell’s Nutrition, Gateway Market, or The Cheese Shop to pick up ingredients for your own personalized all-Iowa sampler plate!

Here’s an example of a great BFBL sample tray:

But don’t be afraid to check out our 2013 Food Guide and contact any BFBL members to see what meats, cheese, produce, or specialty products they might have available to help your sampler stand out among the pack!


What’s Happening: December 11

Madhouse Brewing Release Party (Jasper Winery), December 12, 6-9pm Join to celebrate a free, open to the public, beer, wine, and food tasting experience. Jasper Winery will be releasing their 2012 Iowa varietal dry reds wines, and samples from Maytag Dairy Farms. More on the event here.


All things Nepal (Gramercy Tap), December 14, 4pm – 8pm 

Enjoy traditional music, artwork, appetizers and much more!


Splashdance (Splash Seafood), December 15
Watch as Des Moines’ hippest, freshest seafood restaurant turns into Des Moines’ hottest & freshest dance club, known as “Splashdance”. There will also be FREE champagne, for you shy party go-ers.


Sample Sunday (Picket Fence), December 15, 12pm – 5 pm
Come for free samples and killer deals! Details here.


Osteria Centro, January 24, February 21, March 14, 6:30 pm Centro will be hosting some special dinners in the South Union Bread Café space at night, with a special four course meal. Tickets are $30/person and reservations required. See more info and the menu here.


Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association annual conference, January 23-24 in Ankeny, IA The conference will be held at the FFA Enrichment Center on the DMACC Campus, and for more information on keynote speakers and registration visit the conference website.


New Years Dinner with Peacetree (Sbrocco), December 30, 6:30 pm

Four courses each paired with a different brew. $75/person or $140 per couple listed here.


Homemade Happy Hour Cooking Demonstration, Every Other Monday 3pm – 5pm These demonstrations will happen bi-weekly on Monday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the kitchen of Kitchen Collage. The event is free and there are many samples to be had! December 16 & 30


Food for Thought Dinners, Thursdays 5:30pm – 8pm The Wallace House invites you to a new program, “Food for Thought,” that combines locally-sourced dining with conversation about food. Diners will order from a changing menu of appetizers, entrees, and desserts created from local ingredients, including fruits and vegetables grown at the Country Life Center. Entrees range from $15-$20, appetizers $6-$8, and desserts $5. Bring your own wine. Reservations are encouraged, as seating is limited. Call 515-243-7063 or email carlahicklin@wa​ December 12: Celebrate the Holidays (end of 2013 program)