I should have written about this a while ago. I’ve set down countless times to start writing about my recent trip to Iowa and something’s always happened that caused me to have to put it on hold. Well not today! After this week, I’m not putting it off for another moment. 🙂
Now what happened during CornQuest 2014?
I’m so glad that you asked!
It consisted of 3 days of non-stop fun! We toured farms, raced around the Iowa Speedway, had dinner at Meredith Corporation and even got to tour the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens!
To start our trip, we were all flown into Des Moines, Iowa and after a brief moment to breath and change clothes, we were whisked away in a limo bus to Meredith Corporation for dinner with some of the Iowa Common Ground Bloggers!
I never thought I’d ever see the inside of the Better Homes and Garden‘s test kitchens, much less have an Iowa Pork inspired dinner there! Look at all of those Better Homes and Garden cookbooks! I just wish that I could flip through all of those pages!
The next day we started bright and early and headed out to the Kenney Farm!
Mark and Julie showed us around the farm and spent quite a bit of time talking to us and answering all types of questions! It was amazing to see the type of love and passion they had for their farm. They talked about the technology that goes into the corn and how the success of their corn/crops is based on huge amounts of hard work and the traits/technology that goes into those corn seeds.
Down here on the Virginia/North Carolina line our major crop is tobacco. I mean if someone has lots and lots of farm land here, they mainly grow tobacco. We have corn fields, but they are normally small and on personal farms. So it was so neat to visit an area where the major crop was corn! Rows and rows and rows of corn stretched out as far as you could see, corn that is sold in huge, huge quantities.
It was also really great to be able to listen to Mark and Julie because they love their farm. Farming isn’t just a job for them, it’s their way of life. It’s what their parents did and they hope it’s what their children will do. It’s everything for them. Mark said, “We’re always farming and when we’re not farming, we’re thinking about farming.” They care about their crops and land. These farmers truly care about they’re crop is grown and how it’s handled.
Mark said that their farm is split – GMO corn and non-GMO corn and almost all of the corn, except for maybe 5 or 6 rows for personal use, that Mark and Julie grown is field corn. Now I am going to just go ahead and tell you, I didn’t really know that there was a difference in corn. I thought corn was corn. I remember growing up and seeing the corn on display around Thanksgiving and the corn in my dad’s squirrel feeders and thinking “How the heck did they get that corn to dry out and get hard.”
*Face Palm* I now know that it’s grown like that! I feel like I should have already known that but hey, what can I say.
Sweet Corn (the kind we are use to eating) is pretty much only used for canned corn and corn on the cob. That’s the corn I’m use to thinking about. If someone says corn, my mind goes straight to corn on the cob. But it turns out that corn is in almost everything! I never really thought about that before, but our diets consist of A LOT of corn.
Here are some things that have corn in them that you may not have thought of:
- Peanut Butter
- and Chewing Gum.
Not only is it in food but it’s used to make a lot of things too.
Corn is used to make things like:
- and fireworks
The Kenney’s take pride in their farm and even though farm land is expensive (with some acres selling for around $10,000), the Kenney’s have returned almost 30 acres back to natural grasses. By doing that, these acres on their farm will replenish the soil, provide a good habitat for animals and these natural acres will provide a buffer strip for the farms and helps with erosion.
They don’t have to do that. They don’t have to give up that much farmland, but they choose to do so and I love that!
|Soybeans on the Kenney Farm|
For lunch we headed over to Bill Couser’s farm. Our lunch spot was inside of a beautiful barn on his farm that was build totally from items/buildings reclaimed from his farm.
We had a fantastic lunch and during lunch we got to sit down with Ruth MacDonald, PhD, RD who is a professor and the Chair of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at Iowa State University.
She provided a ton of information and answered questions about GMOs. If you’d like to check out some information and get some answers to a few GMO questions, here is a link to a Q&A session with Ruth MacDonald. I learned a tons, but I’ll admit that I’m still just as confused on GMOs as I was when I got there (maybe even a little bit more now that I’ve learned even more information) haha.
After lunch we were totally just racing round…literally. haha. We jetted off to the Iowa Speedway and spent a little bit of time on the track in some ethanol-fueled race cars (ok, ok, they were pace-cars but they were still awesome). What did the speedway have to do with the corn tour? You know… ethanol comes from corn! haha It was too awesome!
My husband and my brother were total jealous! We flew around that race track and while I don’t know exactly how fast we went, I know it was a bit above 100mph, because we were hitting 80 mph as we were coming off of pit road and we went even faster once we were on the track. haha.
For Dinner we went over tho the Raccoon River Nature Lodge (yes, I did see a Raccoon, but he was stuffed and hanging out on a pole….but he was wearing a bow-tie. hee hee ;).
We enjoyed a lovely dinner sponsored by Iowa Beef and met with Nancy Degner as we learned a bit about the Iowa Beef Industry Council and talked about beef in general! A conversation that my BigBear would have loved, he could live off of beef haha.
On our last day in Iowa, we headed back over to Meredith Corporation for a special tour! We went behind the scenes and walked through the Better Homes and Garden’s test kitchens (where they were actually cooking and testing some recipes), took a sneak peak at the Better Homes and Garden’s prop rooms and photography studios. I could live in their prop room!
We ended our Iowa CornQuest with a huge “corny” lunch made by all of the bloggers in attendance! It was so neat and I absolutely loved that Iowa Corn put in all of these special touches into our trip.
They had printed a little cookbook for us and it had a corn themed recipe from each of our blogs in it! A corn recipe that were were now going to be making for lunch! 10 Super Talented Food Bloggers in a kitchen, making lunch… I’m so sorry that you were not there because it was amazing.
My creamy corn chowder was my contribution to lunch. It’s one of my favorites and I heard some great things from the other bloggers while they were tasting it.
That right there put a ton of a panic into my heart haha. Having a group of amazing cooks tasting your recipe (and liking it) was a little nerve wracking. haha. I won’t lie, I was ridiculously nervous. But it turned out fabulous (as it always does) and my fears were put to rest.
So what all did we have?
Southwest Farro Salad with Corn & Tomatoes made by The Law Student’s Wife
Salad with Black Beans & Edamame made by Lemons for LuLu
Grilled Corn, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad made by Garnish with Lemon
Fresh Corn Cakes with Cherry Salsa made by The Vintage Mixer
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Farro Bake made by The Lemon Bowl
Blue Cheese Buckwheat Cornbread Muffins from Girl Versus Dough
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Cupcakes from Life, Love and Sugar
Deep Fried Cookie Dough from Beyond Frosting
Creamy Corn Chowder from Big Bear’s Wife (ME!)
Thank you so much to everyone that put together our trip! I loved it all!
This trip was paid for by Iowa Corn but all opinions are 100% mine. 🙂