Rural Life is Worth Reviving
By Guest Blogger, Jennifer Carrico
Harvest is upon us and with harvest comes many meals in the field, on the go or late at night. Prior to the beginning of harvest, the family comes together to have a meal and enjoy conversation. This is exactly what happened in my little town of Redfield on Sunday night.
The main street going through the town of 800 was shut down and made into a spot for a Sunday authentic Iowa Farm Dinner.
Katie Harvey-Martinez, along with three other farmer’s daughters—Danna Larson, Katie Meeks and Amy Lucht—hosted the Iowa Farm Dinner focusing on using products, foods and drinks from local farms and companies. It’s a way to revitalize small-town America and bring people together who believe in the rural lifestyle.
Twelve years ago, I returned to my hometown. When growing up, I, like a lot of kids, wanted to go out and take on the world. But then life showed me my way back to our family farm, and I knew that was where I belonged.
Danna Larson said she started Rural Revival because of Harvey-Martinez’s story of coming back to rural Iowa to fulfill her dream of being a restaurant owner.
Harvey-Martinez is from Redfield originally and headed to New York City after graduation to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Rick, her husband, is from New York City and worked in television and film post-production, so small-town Iowa is a lot slower pace than his previous work.
The couple purchased the Dexfield Diner after it was closed following a 17-year span in our town. Reopened as Harvey’s Diner & Pub in June 2016, they provide some great comfort food and my favorite protein—beef—with a burger of the week, smoked brisket, and prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights. Live music can be enjoyed on the patio on Saturday nights during the summer months.
“This was truly my dream, but we couldn’t do it in New York,” Katie said. “I couldn’t do what I wanted to do under those constraints. There are so many possibilities here.”
Rural Revival believes the country life is the best life and wants to showcase the hardworking people who live in rural communities all across America.
“We believe this generation is hungry to return to their roots. This is a way for our small-town communities to grow again,” said Larson. “Bringing back people to farming and agriculture and restaurants, like Harvey’s, and small businesses. This is a great life and we want everyone to know that.”
The Iowa Farm Dinner was a five course, mostly family-style meal prepared by Harvey’s executive chef, Justin Ahlberg and special events chef, Amber Rowley. Biscuits, rolls and bread with locally made honey, apple butter, peach butter and cherry amaretto preserves were part of the first course, which also included pickled beets, pickled cucumbers, dilly beans, local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, white balsamic glaze and pecan basil presto. The first drink, honey bourbon lemonade, was my favorite.
The second course included cider-braised root vegetable salad of carrots, golden beets, parsnips, purple potatoes and red onion. The smashing pumpkin drink came with this course, which was Iowa Distilling Company Steel Drum Rum, lemon pumpkin soda, all-spice liquor and soda.
My favorite of the entire meal was the Iowa sweet corn chowder with house-cured, smoked bacon, was the feature of the third course. I could seriously eat this at every meal. I’m told it is a family recipe of Rowley’s. She is also the pastry chef for Harvey’s and provides some amazing desserts available at the restaurant. Cakes, crisps, pies, cookies and cheesecakes—they all are good. This course was paired with an aged bourbon barrel cider from Winterset Cidery.
The fourth course was what really filled the plate. It featured roasted spiced organic chicken from the Raccoon Forks Farm, north of Redfield. Stuffed Iowa pork loin, wilted greens, cauliflower, sweet potato casserole and red berry jello salad were also available. Local wines finished off this course.
A couple from Winterset who moved back to the family farm, were the feature of the fifth course—dessert. Matt and Naomi Hupton relocated to Madison County from Minneapolis, to Matt’s family farm and brought their coffee business with them. The course included coffee and cream pavlova and Pammel Park Coffee Company’s Farmer’s Blend coffee.
The night of celebrating farmers, agriculture, and a locally-grown meal was amazing. It’s so great to meet people who have the same kind of passions as you do about rural living and who see raising a family where the crops and livestock grow and the houses aren’t 10 feet from each other. Rural life is worth reviving.
Harvey’s Diner and Pub – https://www.facebook.com/harveysdinerandpub/
Rural Revival – https://www.ruralrevival.co/home
Corn & Cheese Chowder
From The Pioneer Woman
▪ 4 Tablespoons 1/2 Stick Butter
▪ 1 whole Onion, Chopped
▪ 3 slices Bacon, Cut Into Pieces
▪ 3 whole Bell Peppers, Finely Diced (red, Yellow, Orange)
▪ 5 ears Corn, Kernels Sliced Off
▪ 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
▪ 3 cups Chicken Stock Or Broth
▪ 2 cups Half-and-half
▪ 1 cup (heaping) Grated Monterey Jack
▪ 1 cup (heaping) Pepper Jack
▪ 1/3 cup Sliced Green Onions
▪ Bread Bowls
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions for a couple of minutes. Add bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add diced bell peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add corn and cook for a minute.
Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine. Pour in broth and stir well. Allow this to thicken for 3 or 4 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in half-and-half, then cover and allow to simmer/thicken for 15 minutes or so.
Stir in cheeses and green onions. When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, check seasonings. Add salt and pepper as needed.