Celebrating Farm Fresh Foods with Local Flavor

Farm to Table” is a concept every farmer understands. After all, those of us from rural America were raised on the foods that were either produced on our farms or grown by family members and neighbors. We know firsthand that farm fresh is best!

Now more consumers than ever share our opinion. Sixty-two percent of restaurants reported featuring locally-sourced produce in 2013. The farm-to-table trend has accelerated in 2014, according to Restaurant.com, because diners desire the wholesome simplicity of homestyle cooking and minimally-processed foods. Renowned chefs are serving up dishes that more closely resemble those that graced grandma’s kitchen table.

Using the freshest ingredients in creative ways brings communities together through agri-tourism. Last week Latham Hi-Tech Seeds’ graphic designer Amy Hild wrote about her Farm to Table dining experience. Last night John and I enjoyed attending a similar meal with friends in Sheffield. From appetizer to dessert, the main ingredients were sourced from Franklin County Iowa.

The evening started with the most unique appetizer, featuring bison raised by Emily Pfaltzgraff and her family. Chef Todd Merfeld nestled a bison meatball inside a won ton and infused a little spice into locally grown strawberries, creating a masterful sweet & sour sauce. I’m not sure how to recreate this at home, but I would love to try!


The next course featured greens and candied hazelnuts from Koenigs Acres topped with apples from Enchanted Acres. The featured soup was Potato and Leek Soup with ingredients grown by Koenigs Acres.


Fitting for fall, the entrée was Neiman Ranch pork loin with a side of squash risotto.


The fifth and final course of the evening was homemade pumpkin pie… What an encore it was! Cathy Carlson of Carlson Tree Farm grew the wheat, which she harvested and then milled. She used homegrown wheat flour to make a flakey crust. Yours truly made pumpkin puree from the fruit we grew at Enchanted Acres. The combination was divine, if I do say so myself.


Last night’s Farm to Fork Dinner was so delicious that I’m inspired to try recreating it at home – with a few modifications to accommodate the way I cook. (Everything I make must be relatively simple.) Below is the menu with links to the recipes I’m planning to try:

Since I don’t have a gift for making a light and flakey crust, I’m intrigued by the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Pumpkin Cream Pie. The graham cracker crust won’t take much time at all to make, and it will be a great use of the many graham crackers leftover from campfires held at our pumpkin patch. I plan to puree one of my remaining pie pumpkins for the cream pie, and then roast the seeds. My kids absolutely love roasted pumpkin seeds!

Plus, I’m looking forward to trying the following recipe for Caramelized Pork Tenderloin. The beautiful centerpieces gracing the tables last night – made from specialty pumpkins grown at Enchanted Acres – have inspired me to create a beautiful centerpiece of my own. After all, a beautiful meal deserves a beautiful table!


Caramelized Pork Slices



  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or pancake syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper



  1. Cut pork in half-inch slices. Spray non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high flame.
  2. Cook pork and garlic in skillet for 6 to 8 minutes, turning meat occasionally until pork is slightly pink in center. Drain, if necessary.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook about 2 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and coats pork.


by Missy Bice, Iowa Pork Producer from Woodward