Why are foodways important?

Foodways is the study of what people eat and why. Why we procure, prepare and serve the food we do has cultural, sociological, geographical, financial and political influences.



Why is recognition of diverse foodways valuable?

Preserving our past and present for the future by research, documentation and oral histories. It is culinary anthropology on the hoof, paw, root and leaf.



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Iowa State Fair Winners, 2012

Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance



Contestants entered their best scratch family heirloom recipe suitable for a family or community dinner.  Recipe should originate before 1950. 


Contestants brought a prepared dish along with a brief story of who passed the recipe down to them, ethnicity, if relevant, number of years the recipe has been in their family and any interesting information about their recipe.



Taste: 50%

History: 40%

Appearance: 10%


Premiums sponsored in partnership with Feedstuffs FoodLink.com





1st place - $150.,  2nd place - $100.,  3rd place - $50 




The Pampered Chef logo


Pampered Chef is sponsoring additional prizes for our winners:


First place: Reversible Bamboo Carving Board (Value = $72)
Second place: Cool & Serve Square Tray, Outdoor Mini Spoons & Tongs Set (Value = $49)
Third place: Food Chopper (Value = $31)


Competition was conducted on August 12th, these are the results:


First prize pickles (Image Peter Engler)

Voigt's Deutsche Tag Essiggurke (Voigt's German Day Pickles) (Image by Peter Engler)



First Prize


Voigt's Deutsche Tag Essiggurke (Voigt's German Day Pickles)
Kenzie Piper, Waukee, Iowa



Every holiday meal that I can remember included pickles made from heirloom seeds brought to the US decades ago by my great-great grandparents. My grandma always joked that our family loved pickled things because we came from a long line of Krauts; a term she always found funny.

Americans weren't particularly fond of German immigrants during the early part of the last century so many tried to hide the fact that they were German. In our family a love of pickles and sauerkraut has always been a giveaway as to which land our ancestors hailed from.


Great-Great Grandpa and Grandma Voigt came to the United States as a young married couple. They travelled to San Francisco and settled down opening a grocery store. My Great-Grandpa, Karl Wilhelm Voigt; was born in California as a first generation American. The family moved when he and his sister were quite young to South Dakota where they bought a farm and opened another grocery store which my great grandfather later ran.


Something unique about this dish is that it is made from cucumbers grown and saved each year from the original Delikatesse cucumber seeds brought over by my Great-Great Grandpa and Grandma Voigt from Heide a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The cucumbers are zingy and perfect for this recipe though any breed of cucumbers yields a pretty good batch of pickles.

My great-great grandma taught her son how to make these pickles. He in turn taught his children the recipe and later my grandma (Oma) taught me the very same recipe. Our family has always called them Voigt's German.Dav Pickles; named so because they taste even better if you give them a day to sit.
My Great Grandpa was proud to be of German descent and he wanted his children and all future generations to be as well. German was still frequently spoken at home when my Grandma was a girl and many German recipes were cooked in their little Kitchen. While this dish is fairly simple, it creates a taste that for me is unlike any pickle I've ever had. It makes me smile that my family could love their homeland and pickles enough to keep this recipe alive over a century later.


Voigt's Deutsche Tag Essiggurke (Voigt's German Day Pickles)
Kenzie Piper, Waukee, Iowa



Zutaten (Ingredients):


7 thinly sliced cucumbers (I prefer to use a salad shooter or a food processor to get them really thin, though my family has traditionally chopped the ingredients by hand.)


1 cup of thinly sliced white onions


1 thinly sliced bell pepper


1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar to taste (We always add 1 cup in the beginning and keep adding sugar until they are sweet enough at the end of mixing everything together.)


2 cups of white vinegar


2 tablespoons celery seed


1 tablespoon of salt



Combine the onions, peppers and cucumbers in a large bowl. Pour one cup of sugar into the mix and add vinegar, celery seed, and salt. Stir and taste, add another 1/2 a cup of sugar or a full cup of sugar depending on how sweet you prefer the pickles. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit in a refrigerator for at least a day. The pickles get tastier the longer they sit.


Mahlzeit (Enjoy)!


How to save heirloom cucumber seeds:


In order to save cucumber seeds you must let them thoroughly ripen on the vine. When the cucumbers are large and turn yellow on the vine they are close to ready. The cucumbers should stay on the vines until the vines are dead. Bring the cucumbers indoors and let them ripen a day further in a cool place. When the cucumbers begin to get soft scoop out the seeds and put them into a bowl of water. Let the seeds sit for four days. Separate the seeds from the cucumber goo. Rinse the seeds and dry them on a screen or a paper towel for three or four weeks. Store the seeds in dry airtight containers, baggies or tight fitting glass jars work well for this. Store the seeds in a cool dark place that isn't humid and the seeds will last for years and years.  I actually keep my seeds in the fridge and haven't had a problem. Repeat as more seeds are needed.  I do this every season and work backward with my oldest seeds first when planting in the spring.





Black raspberry pie (Image by Peter Engler) 

Back 80 Black Raspberry Pie (Image by Peter Engler)



Second Prize


Back 80 Black Raspberry Pie

Joyce Larson, New Market, Iowa


I use my Grandmother’s Pie Pan. My Grandmother gave it to my Mother when she was first married in the early 1950’s.  My Mom said she always liked it when she was a girl so Grandma gave it to her.

When I got married in the 1970’s.  My Mom passed it on to me and I have been using it for almost 35 years.  Now my Grandson wants it!



Back 80 Black Raspberry Pie

Joyce Larson, New Market, Iowa


6 to 7 c. River Bottom black raspberry
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 to 2 cups sugar
6 to 7 T cornstarch


Pick your black raspberries.  (see story).  Wash and cap berries.

Mix ingredients together.  Place in a pie pan.  Cut vents or make a lattice brush with cream and dust with sugar.  Bake 350 degrees for 40 mins.


Pie Crust

2 2/3 c. flour
2/3 c. lard
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vinegar
7 T ice water


Mix dry ingredients until crumbly.  Add wet ingredients.  (Chill) or (freeze).


Make 4 – 9” pie crusts



Rolls (Image by Peter Engler)

White Buttermilk Potluck Rolls (Image by Peter Engler)



Third Prize


 White Buttermilk Potluck Rolls
Cristen Clark, Runnells, Iowa


My Great Great Grandmother Jennie French passed many recipes down from her family to my Grandmother. They lived in Prairie City Iowa, having immigrated from Europe in the late 1800's. She was a talented baker and it was apparent, for she left limited directions with her recipes because "a good baker or cook should know how to do this". I've filled in the gaps for the recipe of these rolls. The addition of fresh herbs is something my grandmother did in the '50's she said. These rolls do not show up in our family cook book, however, they are a gift recipe given to me by my Grandma who was a home economics teacher and home baker for years. I've always enjoyed baking with her and my favorite things to make were Cream Puffs, but that recipe hasn't been in our family long. Active Dry Yeast did not come to be used in our family until the WW2 era. I use it because I don't particularly like having my own fresh yeast laying around the house. (I have young children and if they found a bowl of fermenting dough, it would mean playtime.)



*The addition of herbs is not for flavor as much as color.



*Fresh Yeast Starter
1/4 C water (warm)
2/3 C flour
Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Day 2 add the same rations and stir. Sit 24 hours. Use on Day 3 as yeast starter.




White Buttermilk Potluck Rolls
Cristen Clark, Runnells, Iowa

2 packages of active dry yeast, or 2 oz fresh yeast (*recipe below)
1/4 C warm water
1 C warm buttermilk:
1/2 C butter
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
5 C flour
1 T chopped fresh rosemary and thyme

Melted butter with roasted garlic for topping


Combine yeast and warm water. Proof for 5 minutes. Add buttermilk, sugar, eggs, salt, flour and herbs. Stir to make a smooth dough. Hand knead for 10 minutes. Put in oiled bowl, flip once. Cover and let rise until double. Roll out into rope 16" long. Cut 2 inch pieces, roll between palms. Put in greased round baking dishes. Rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.