Discover 300 Years of Iowa Ag Stories at Living History Farms

By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby


Town of Walnut Hill.
Photo Credit: LHF

When Living History Farms (LHF) reached out to me last summer about donating a “dinner on the farm” event at my family’s Century Farm near Lake City for an upcoming LHF fundraiser, I didn’t think twice. Yes!

Yes, because I believe in the mission of Living History Farms in Urbandale, which welcomes between 100,000 and 110,000 each year. This interactive, 500-acre outdoor museum that tells the amazing 300+ year story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world.

I love how LHF encourages people of all ages to explore Iowa’s rural heritage, including the 1700 Ioway village, the 1850 pioneer farm, the 1875 town of Walnut Hill and the 1900 horse-powered farm.

I also said yes because I spent the summer between my junior and senior years at Iowa State working as an intern at LHF. I was a historical interpreter who helped guests learn about life on the 1900 farm, the 1870s Flynn mansion in the town of Walnut Hill and the veterinary clinic in Walnut Hill. I dressed in the period clothing (yes, long dresses, sunbonnets and all), and learned how to live off the grid. I can milk a cow by hand, make homemade butter, sew an apron on a treadle sewing machine and whip up a batch of cookies in a wood-fired cookstove.

So when Jim Dietz-Kilen, vice president of development reached out to me about donating to LHF’s annual Farmstasia, which it describes as a “casually elegant fundraising dinner and auction,” I was honored. I was especially intrigued when I learned that Farmstasia is also where LHF celebrate their Teacher of the Year — someone who brings history alive for his or her students.

2017 Teacher of the Year, Sr. Donna Demmer, visiting Living History Farms with her class.

2017 Teacher of the Year, Sr. Donna Demmer, visiting Living History Farms with her class. Photo Credit: LHF 

Proceeds from Farmstasia support Living History Farms’ extensive education and outreach programs, which serve nearly 23,000 students annually. Jim asked if I’d be willing not only to donate a signed copy of my Culinary History of Iowa book, but host the auction winner and his or her guests at my family’s farm during harvest and treat them to a home-cooked meal and maybe even a combine ride or two.

I readily agreed, and here was my offering:

Savor a Taste of Iowa Farm Life

Want to see harvest in action and enjoy a home-cooked, home-grown Iowa meal on a working Century Farm? Join Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, Iowa’s Storyteller, on her family’s corn and soybean farm near Lake City for a day you’ll never forget. See what farm life is like at harvest, ride along in a combine, and explore small-town Iowa. If you work up an appetite, that’s good! Darcy, who is the author of the non-fiction Iowa history books “A Culinary History of Iowa,” “Calhoun County,” and “Dallas County,” will prepare a delicious, homemade, family-style meal for you and three guests, complete with an Iowa-inspired menu of homegrown ingredients. You’ll also receive an autographed copy of Darcy’s fascinating Culinary History of Iowa book, which includes stories from Living History Farms. Win this unique package, and you’ll be talking about this unforgettable experience for months to come.

Chunky Apple Cake with Butterscotch Sauce


1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 cups chopped peeled tart apples


1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined.

Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Serve with cake.