“Is this Heaven?”
I always loved that quote from Field of Dreams because I have always thought of Iowa as a little piece of Heaven. Every summer and sometimes in between, I spent many happy times in rural Iowa to visit my great-aunt Margery, who I wrote about in my last blog about her wonderful Devil’s Food Cake recipe. I loved playing in the cornfields, jumping in the corn silo, awakening to the haunting yet pleasant sound of the mourning doves outside the window, then smelling whatever Aunt Margery was making for breakfast. I still smile every time I think of those times.
Many of my pioneer ancestors traveled across the country in covered wagons and decided to settle in Iowa, in the rural towns of Olin, Anamosa, and Wyoming, where my Aunt Margery lived. Anamosa is where one of my favorite artists, Grant Wood was born. Wood’s most famous work is considered to be American Gothic, but my favorites are his landscapes.
My daughter Kara found another new favorite, a Grant Wood cookbook! This American Gothic Cookbook has recipes from Grant Wood himself, his sister, friends, and fans of his work.
Do you know who were the models for this painting? Grant Wood’s sister and his dentist!
Grant Wood was known to love picnics, so what better recipe to try than his own favorite potato salad. The potatoes must still be warm to start this salad and then chilled until cold. It’s really good!
For such a small cookbook, there are lots of recipes. Some other ones that sound good include Poppy Seed Rolls, Duckling with a honey sauce, Picnic Bean Casserole, Nan Wood’s Stuffed Cabbage, American Gothic Cheese Loaf, Pumpernickel French Bread (Wood studied in France), Corn-on-the-Cob Iowa Style, Hot Green Pepper Jelly, Corn Relish, Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam, Sour Cream Drop Cookies, Grant Wood’s Strawberry Shortcake, Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, Granny Pie, and Grandmother’s Kuchen.
- 6 potatoes, cooked in skins, peeled while hot
- 1 large clove garlic, halved
- ½ cup salad oil or canola oil
- 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, grated or thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons minced parsley
- ½ cup diced celery
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped pickle
- Mayonnaise, enough to bind salad
- Hard-cooked eggs for garnish
- Cook, peel, and dice potatoes while still warm, as directed in ingredient list.
- , Rub a salad bowl well with the cut garlic. Add the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and parsley to the bowl; blend well.
- Add the diced or sliced warm potatoes to the dressing in bowl and carefully toss. Gently stir in the celery and pickle.
- Cover and immediately refrigerate for at least several hours. Stir in enough mayonnaise to bind salad together; mix well and either serve immediately or refrigerate again until serving time, Before serving, garnish with sliced hard-boiled eggs, as many as you like.
- “All the really good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.” — Grant Wood. …
I so enjoy your blog, Debbie! Thanks for your narratives, recipes, and cookbook discussions.
Iowa is near and dear to my heart as well as that’s where I was born and raised. I think it’s full of beauty!
Your description of waking up at your Aunt Margery’s house takes me right to my own memories and experiences atvisiting my relatives’ farms in SD. The food sure tasted better when it was part of the fun and hard work of being on the farm!
I’m sure it takes a lot of energy and commitmnt to host a blog, and to do it well. Just want you to know how much I appreciate it! Thank you!
Denise, you are the kindest, and made my day. Thank you. It makes me so happy that you not only enjoy the blog, but it takes you to your own good memories. Where were you born in Iowa? Have you heard of Olin, Anamosa, and Wyoming? Anamosa usually shows up on maps, but I have seen some that don’t even show Olin or Wyoming, especially Wyoming because it is such a tiny town! I love that tiny towns have big memories. Thank you again for writing.
Well said! Tiny towns (and farms) sure can hold larger than life memories. It’s all about relationship and experiences.
I was born in Council Bluffs but didn’t live there long. We moved from Des Moines to Ottumwa when I was in kindergarten. No, I had never heard of Olin or Wyoming before you mentioned them in your blog. But the way you write about your mom, Aunter Margery and others makes them very relateable.
By the way, following your June 28th post, I found a copy of “Peace Meals” on eBay and have been enjoying it (although I haven’t had it long enough to try any of the recipes). Next I’m on the hunt for one of Ann Serene’s books. In that regard, your posts are a bit dangerous for me! I’ve purchased several cookbooks based on your reviews/comments.
I hope you’ll consider continuing your posts both with and without recipes included. I enjoy both! I love seeing what you’ve prepared, and I very much enjoy seeing your dishes and other kitchen props. But I’m sure you can post more often if you don’t prepare and photograph a recipe from each book. Guess I’m a little greedy! Ha!
Denise, I am so glad you mentioned about sometimes posting without recipes for each book, which means I would post more often, as preparing the dish, photographing, and editing takes a lot of time. When I first started my blog almost 10 years ago, all I did was post about the books because I didn’t even have a camera back then! I wrote daily posts and would just scan the book covers instead of taking photos. What’s funny is, I was thinking about doing exactly what you suggested! My mom used to say that she loved waking up each morning to a new book to read about while having her morning coffee. Mom was one of the reasons I did that, because she lived so far away from me that I loved having that connection with her every day. In addition, having that daily post is how so many people found my blog initially, and also mentioned looking forward to a new book each day. All of those wonderful souls have kept up with me all these years. What’s also funny is that many said the same as you, about reading the daily blog became dangerous because they wanted to buy the books!
My mom has now passed away, and I must say it is hard to write blogs at times, but I must think how it would be honoring her if I wrote the way she loved it. Thank you, Denise, for making this suggestion. It’s now a done deal, starting soon. I’ll go down to my library of books, pick out a week’s worth at a time, and get started. Thank you, my dear sweet reader!
I was excited to read this, Debbie and have been enjoying each post! I can imagine the gift it was to your mom to be able to connect with you through your blog each morning. You must miss her so much.
Hi Denise- My mom and I had such a special bond through my blog. I miss her more than I can say. Thanks for writing and keeping up with me.
Yikes! You’d have to open wide for Grant Wood’s Dentist’s tool in his hand if he brought that into the office! Thank you for sharing the history of that famous picture. As a Dental Hygienist, I never knew that ‘farmer photo’ could be an appropriate picture for the dental office.:-) I will definitely try his potato salad recipe. Sounds yummy. Bit challenging not to mush the warm potatoes though.
Kim, it is challenging about the potatoes. The recipe said diced, but I sliced rather large pieces so they wouldn’t get quite as mushy.