Trip Down Memory Lane


Happy Memorial Day – hope you’ve had a nice long weekend!

These past few days have felt extra looooong, for whatever reason, but hey – I am not complaining. ;)

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My Mom and I kicked the weekend off with a trip to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, natch, but made the rookie mistake of sleeping in an extra 30 minutes and suffered by having to navigate through curb-to-curb crowds when we finally got there. It was madness, I tell you!

We killed two birds with one stone though, and sought safe haven in the pupusa line off a less crowded side street. Room to breathe, AND our favorite farmers’ market treat. :)


I saved up my appetite on Friday night so I would be extra hungry for this puppy Saturday morning. It served me well, ’cause the outsides of the hand-pressed corn tortillas stuffed with fresh spinach and cheese were extra crispy, and extra satisfying. I am seriously drooling at the memory of it all!


Note to self: Get your @$$ out of bed next week! ;)


Ben and I sought a more serene Sunday so, after sleeping in, we hopped in the car and headed to the country.

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Destination: Ledges State Park


Ledges is about 40 minutes north of where we live, and is named for the sandstone “ledges” that line the stream bed that runs through the entire park. My family and I used to come every fall to hike and take in the gorgeous foliage, but I bet it’s been at least 15 years since we were last here. I was happy to take a trip down memory lane!


In addition to the cool stream, fed from the nearby Des Moines River, there is over 13 miles of hiking trails spread throughout the park.

Ben and I parked the car, picked a trail, and started climbing!


I love how quiet the forest is, save for the rustling leaves, and chirping birds. It’s so peaceful.

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The first trail we picked popped us out at a scenic viewing spot called The Crows Nest. You could see all the way to the Des Moines River on the far end of the park.


Which is where our trail unloaded us about 20 minutes later!

The river feeds the stream I mentioned, so we channeled our inner 3rd graders, and creek walked our way back to the car.


It’s fun to play. :)

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Hooray for summer!

Later that evening, Ben and I walked over to my parent’s house for an epic BBQ. My Mom had been baking baby back ribs all day, which she served with grilled veggies, fresh watermelon, and barley-corn salad.


Dessert was out of control though – ice cream sandwiches layered with cool whip, toffee bits and caramel sauce. BAHAHAHAHAHA!


It was the perfect, delicious way to end our fun day. :)

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Now, if yesterday was good, today was GREAT– according to Ben, anyways. That’s ’cause he spent the entire day smoking meat. His favorite extra curricular activity! :D


You could not wipe the perma-grin off that man’s face if you tried!


The meat in question is a 9lb – NINE POUND – pork butt. Did you know the pork butt is actually the bone-in shoulder cut of a pig?


I recently found this out after Ben gave all the body parts I usually want rubbed – feet, calves, back, and shoulders – corresponding meat cut names – hooves, veal chop, spare ribs, and, of course, pork butt. WE ARE SO WEIRD.


Anyways, after seasoning his 9lbs of pork with a homemade seasoning blend, he fired up the smoker and tossed in a combo of hickory and cherry wood chips.


This is what gives the meat its incredible flavah (and makes our entire neighborhood reek of smoke!)

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Totally focused. ;)


While the pork smoked, we hung out in the beautiful sunshine.


A cold brewskie in hand for him…


and iced green tea for her.


Yeah, I am newly obsessed with green tea. It is so good, and so good for you!


I picked up a box of organic green tea at Trader Joe’s, and have been enjoying it lightly sweetened with powdered stevia, and poured over ice.


This afternoon I even put a big mason jar of tea bags and water out in the sun to make green sun tea. My Mom always had a big sun tea jar going in the summer!


ANYWAYS – back to the pig. :) After three hours in the smoker, the pork butt had a glorious, orange-hued crust on the outside. Ben was practically galloping through the neighborhood with joy.


We invited my parents over to help make a dent in the thing, so he finished cooking it in the oven with a few pats of butter, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a couple inches of apple juice in the bottom of a sheet pan, to provide even more yummy flavor.

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After a few more hours, and a final quick broil, zee pork butt was ready!


The bark on this stuff was spectacular, and it was soooo tender!


After the pork rested for about 10 minutes, we chopped it up and piled it onto soft & squishy fresh buns.


A couple other dishes helped round out the meal.


Grandpa’s Pasta Salad (made with rings instead of fettuccine, and sans pepperoni,)


and Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans jazzed up with some crushed pineapple and ketchup.


Holy buckets, I could not be more stuffed, or satisfied, right now! :)


And with that, I’m off to go enjoy the last remaining hours of this long weekend. Hope you and yours had a good one! :)

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  1. Your pics of the berries are gorgeous! The hike looks so fun.

  2. Glyn 05.28.2012

    I like this ENTIRE post. Farmer’s Market/berries/pupusas, your Mom’s food, and Ben’s butt. I mean, the smoked pork butt. ;)Are there recipes for any of these dishes? That ice cream number looked off the hook!

  3. Allie 05.28.2012

    I love Ledges! My fiancé and I went camping there last summer and spent the day hiking all over the place. It was recently flooded so not all the trails were accessible, but you have inspired me to go back this summer! I wouldn’t recommend camping there, as there are TONS of raccoons and they are NOT afraid to approach you. :) Looks like an awesome weekend to me!

  4. Melanie 05.28.2012

    I loved seeing the pictures of Ledges! My husband and I got engaged there – such a fun place to spend an afternoon! I miss it!

  5. CarrieOB 05.28.2012

    I grew up in Ames and we always went to the Ledges throughout my childhood. I will never forget driving our car OVER the little brook that crosses the path–I thought it was amazing! I need to get back there when I get home. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Cheryl 05.28.2012

    Okay – I give! I WILL get to the farmer’s market early and try the pupusas! I agree with the green tea comments and I am completely addicted to Trader Joes Jasmine Green Tea.

  7. Kristen 05.28.2012

    Just want to make that everyone appreciates their extra long weekend, but be sure to remember all of those who have died serving and protecting our country. That is what today is all about.

    On another note, do you have any of your own papusas recipes? :-)

  8. Addi 05.28.2012

    awesome “food” filled weekend.

    ….couldn’t help but laugh at Ben’s sunglasses…lol

    As a family member of a wounded warrior sad to see meaningful mention of the meaning of this holiday! merrrrp.

  9. Addi 05.28.2012

    typo…”no mention of the meaning”….double merp

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.28.2012

      Thanks for commenting, Addi. Just because I don’t mention the meaning of Memorial Day publicly on my blog, doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate it, or take the meaning of the holiday to heart.

  10. That farmers’s market is seriously insane! I can’t wait for them to kick up around here in WI.

  11. jenn 05.28.2012

    what a great way to spend the weekend. our farmer’s market gets crowded too! i love seeing so many people out there but prefer to get there early too ;)

  12. Heather Chambers 05.28.2012

    “Iowa girl” I love your blog and I follow you daily. Keep the awesome recipes coming!!! Your beer cocktails definitely made a lasting impression!

  13. Lori 05.28.2012

    I so wish I could try one of those pupsas! They look delicious! Do you know if I can get them anywhere in the Twins Cities?

  14. Kim 05.28.2012

    definitely need pupsas recipes and that barely corn salad looked awesome as did the dessert! I love green tea so much I gave up coffee! You have such a sweet family. I love the happy faces on your Mom and Dad’s faces after the meal she made! And who wouldn’t be smiling after a meal and dessert like that! The pork butt looked AMAZING Ben! You both rock!

  15. Doll 05.29.2012

    Another amazing post!

    I am hooked on green tea, too, and have been reading about it lately.

    Just one hint–once green tea starts turning brown from age or warm temps, it loses the antioxidant benefits. As well, the catechins break down after brewing.

    For optimal benefits, green tea should be consumed one hour after brewing.

    Green tea just isn’t the best as sun tea.

    But brewing your own is best–I keep freshly brewed green tea in the fridge with a ton of ice and add ice as it melts. Keeps for a full day this way.

    PS Did you know bottled green tea is only green due to the added artificial food coloring? Yuck! LOL

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.29.2012

      It actually turned out wonderful! I only left it in the sun for a couple hours, since green tea can get bitter if steeped for too long. I definitely recommend!

  16. Culinarystorm 05.29.2012

    aaahh me want me a pupusa so badly!

  17. Maggie 05.29.2012

    Made your Orzo Corn Salad this weekend…it was amazing! Really great, so thanks!!

  18. Tasha 05.29.2012

    Ok, leave it to me to read that entire post and be focused on shoes. Your black tennis shoes in the creek pic – SO cute! What kind are those?? :)

  19. Kaelin 05.29.2012

    I moved to SE Iowa about 3 years ago when my husband took a job with John Deere. I look forward to the Des Moines Farmers Market all winter! I usually have to drag my husband with me since we don’t have any family in the area, but when we do have company its a must-do. I have been once this year and it seemed busier than ever!

    We also visited Ledges Park last Fall and loved it so much!! We are definitely outdoorsy people and wished it was closer to us, so we could hike the trails more often. Its a solid 2.5 hour drive for us.

  20. Kari 05.29.2012

    I love how the piece of pasta wedged itself in the black olive! Too cute. :)

  21. Megan 05.29.2012

    I love your blog! I always get so many good meal ideas to try! :) I was wondering how you make the tea in the sun? Do you simply put tea bag in a mason jar filled with water and leave in the sun for a few hours?


  22. little bit 05.29.2012

    I’m drooling over here.

  23. Emily 05.29.2012

    Yum! Looks like your man had a lot of fun smokin’ that bad boy. That salad looks so good too! What a glorious weekend you all had, we did too. Too bad it’s over :( lol

  24. What a foodie lover’s dream of a weekend! Everything looks amazing! We are having a little bbq this weekend and I can’t wait!

  25. Mindy 05.29.2012

    I look forward to reading your blog every day! I am going to try to get my Man to smoke a Butt! Thanks for the general directions. Your moms food plate looks delish too. What kind of seasoning did she put on her vege/barley salad? Recipe would be appreciated but not necessary.

  26. Teri 05.29.2012

    Growing up in Des Moines, a trip to the Ledges as a child was always a real treat. I live in North Carolina now, and have made several trips back there to hike and to take the train trip in Boone, IA. It seems like every time I go though, the park has been recently flooded and you have to park at the top and walk your way down to get to the trails, picnic areas and the places where the water crosses the road – or in my case has flooded the road! Hopefully when I go back this year for the State Fair, it won’t be flooded and I can get a nice hike in! Thank you so much for your posts and your wonderful memories you give me of my home State!

  27. Lauren T 05.29.2012

    What would you say is the best time to get to the farmer’s market? I’ve just moved to Des Moines and would love to check it out sometime soon, but I would definitely want to avoid that crazy crowd if possible! What are some of your other favorite booths there?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.30.2012

      It’s usually less crowded between 7 and 8am. I really like the west end – they have some great family farm tents!

  28. karenc 05.29.2012

    I am anxious to know if you brew just plain green tea or have some flavor in yours? I tried plain green tea bags once and thought it tasted like “brewed” fresh cut green grass! Is that how it usually tastes? Do you have any good suggestions for a more likeable taste – or were my teabags “defective”???lol!!! Help!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.30.2012

      Green tea does have an “earthy” taste to it all by itself, but it’s amazing what a little sweetener can do to the flavor. It is SO good with just a small bit of simple syrup or powdered stevia!

      • karenc 05.30.2012

        Thanks for the suggestion Kristin – I will certainly try that – I don’t sweeten my regular tea but maybe green tea will appeal to me with the addition of sweetness! I know they have green teas sold with flavors, but I felt they may not have the good benefits that the straight green tea has. Just love your blog and its my favorite of alllllLL the multitudes of blogs out there!!! :-)

  29. Nena 05.29.2012

    I love green tea with jasmine. Now in my country, on my clock is 21:35 and I sat down at my computer to work on my site. I made a cup of coffee too. Then I saw your article, spilled coffee and made ​​myself a cup of green tea with jasmine. By the way your photos are wonderful, and your recipes too.

  30. Wow it looks like you had the perfect weekend! Way to live it up! I worked at the Farmer’s Market all day Saturday but would have MUCH rather come early, done some shopping, and left before it got up to 90 degrees and I was pouring sweat making drinks for thirsty customers. :-)

    Smoking meat is definitely a dude thing…the BF’s roomie LOVES smoking meat! And the guys LOVE talking all about the proper smoking technique…lol

  31. What an awesome weekend! That dessert looks divine!

  32. Sandy A 05.29.2012

    I lived in Boone, IA when I was a kid. Went to Bryant Elementary School until we moved to West Des Moines. We used to ride our bikes to the Ledges. I love that place. I have a picture of my feet in one of the streams when I was back there three years ago. Lot of good memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

  33. […] indulging in a 6-layer ice cream sandwich dessert (layer ice cream sandwiches with cool whip then toffee bits, and repeat!) on Saturday, gobbling […]

  34. Jamie 05.29.2012

    My husband is questioning me for more details on how Ben did his pork butt… Is there an Iowa Boy Eats pork butt recipe post coming any time soon?? :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.30.2012

      The last time he smoked pork he made a HUGE batch of seasoning using literally everything we had in the cupboard, which is what he used this time too. He’s got enough left for about one more round of smoking, but next time he makes a batch, I’ll have him measure the ingredients and post it up here! :)

  35. Ashley 05.30.2012

    Can I get your Mom’s receipe for the barley corn salad? It looks SO tasty! Thanks.

  36. Julie 05.30.2012

    We were just at Ledges the weekend before last. Love it!

  37. […] a truly epic homemade pupusa recipe fail today (I’m officially leaving that one to the experts!) I decided to scrap a dinner post […]

  38. Kelsi 05.30.2012

    So jealous! I was at Ledges last week and we just missed the road re-opening! Not that I minded, but you could not get anywhere without hiking. The hike is always worth it, and we ended up creek walking from the Lower ledges back to the main road and running back to our cars. If you are craving an intense run, run the ledges! Loved the pictures because it is one of my favorite snapshots of Iowa (and is free entertainment for us college girls!)! Keep up the good work and continue representing our beautiful state.

  39. […] on my leg. Last month, when Ben and I were hiking at the Ledges, I got what I thought was some sort of poison oak/ivy, but since it never spread from two bumps and […]

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