Kurt Michael Friese

Kurt Michael Friese is chef/owner of Devotay in Iowa City, serves on the Slow Food USA Board of Directors, and is editor-in-chief of the magazine Edible Iowa River Valley. He is the author of two books, including A Cook's Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland and Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots on the Chile Trail (which he co-authored with Gary Nabhan and Kraig Kraft). He lives with his wife Kim in rural Johnson County.

Terror in the grass

Locavores are ruining food and free range pork will kill us

Get thee to a CAFO!Photo: pubwvjIn a recent op-ed, in The New York Times gravely informed its readers that free-range pork is deadly stuff. Despite evidence that incidence of trichinosis is very rare in the US–about 40 cases a year, and mostly caused by eating wild game (usually bear)-James E. McWilliams says that pork laced with the deadly parasite is just one example of how locavores are “endangering the future of food.”  Mr. McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University also wrote in the Times 2 years back that measuring food miles was bunk and that they were not …

Ramp it up

Stalking the wild leeks of spring

On-ramp to flavorPhoto: dano272Early-spring walks in the woods are rewarding on their own. But while you  enjoy those first few sunny days after a nourishing spring rain, why not look for things that can feed your belly as well as your soul?  The woodlands here in the upper Midwest are teeming with gourmet goodies in the spring, and this abundance is there for the taking–if you just know where to look. Gathering wild foods is probably the most sustainable, and certainly the most ancient way to provide delicious and nourishing local food for your family.  It dates back to before …

For some families, the holidays are all about the grub

  This is the holiday season in just about every culture. I was born and raised a Unitarian Universalist, thus of the Judeo-Christian background, so in my house it’s Christmastime. For some folks, Christmas is about peace and good tidings. For others it is a joyous celebration of the birth of their savior. In my family it was, and still is, all about the food. It’s about presence rather than presents. There are many items that must be on the table, or else it simply is not Christmas. Among these are the clam dip, the wild-rice dressing, grandma’s cranberries, and …

Reclaiming the beauty of Thanksgiving

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. – Cicero   In a couple of days, we’ll celebrate our best, most important holiday. While celebrations of the harvest have existed for as long as civilization (for indeed it was agriculture that necessitated both), this particular holiday is uniquely American. Or at least it was until other former British colonies started having a festival called Thanksgiving too. There are those who enjoy pointing out the tragic irony of the American Thanksgiving: that it was originally a celebration of the bountiful harvest provided by the …

To make the Thanksgiving centerpiece a sure triumph, go heritage — and reach for the deep-fryer

Fry ya later, alligator. In the 11 years between the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution, arguments raged over the future of the nascent nation. One involved the naming of a National Bird. Writing to his daughter on the subject of his choice for the symbol in 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Eagles have been found in all Countries, but the Turkey is peculiar to ours.” I’ve often wondered what effect there would have been on our national character had Mr. Franklin prevailed. Nonetheless, thanks to America’s best holiday, the turkey has earned an honored place in our …

How I beat KFC’s ‘family meal’ challenge

    Recently, the American public was issued a challenge by the folks at KFC (formerly “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” but “fried” just didn’t sound healthy). The fast-food joint argues in its latest commercial that you cannot “create a family meal for less than $10.” Their example is the “seven-piece meal deal,” which includes seven pieces of fried chicken, four biscuits, and a side dish — in this case, mashed potatoes with gravy. This is meant to serve a family of four. I’m not really a competitive soul, but this was one challenge I could not resist. When it comes to …

From Iowa’s apple orchards, a delicious heirloom and a recipe for stuffing

This column is an excerpt from Friese’s new book A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland.   Truly scrumptious: the “red delicious” apple’s heirloom antecedent.     Photo: Kurt Michael Friese   One cool spring morning about 1880, a farmer in Madison County, Iowa, named Jesse Hiatt was walking the rows of his young orchard when he noticed a chance seedling growing between the rows. An orderly man, he preferred that his trees grow in an organized fashion, and he chopped the seedling down. The seedling grew back the following year, and so he chopped it down again. When …

Salt savvy?

Try skipping the Pringles

Looking for political information on CNN.com, a headline caught my eye: “How to be sodium savvy.” Since I recently developed some concerns in that area I clicked the link. The story was written by a chef named David Hagedorn for Cooking Light Magazine, a part of the CNN/Time/Warner empire. What I found at the outset was some fairly basic but useful information about why too much salt is bad, how much salt is acceptable, and that the less salt we consume the less we crave. It then told me that most of the salt Americans consume is from processed food …

How to turn black walnuts into a delicious dish

When I was growing up in central Ohio, school began right after Labor Day. This was advantageous compared to today’s August start, and not just because of the longer summer break. The extra time also allowed the black walnuts to ripen just in time to give us something to hurl at each other as we walked to school that first morning. Front-yard bounty. They littered the ground all through the streets on my route to elementary school. It was customary to announce your approach behind fellow students by pelting them with the large green orbs. The nuts seemed to have …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×