May/June issue, Cinco de Mayo, Meals at home
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A basic suburban backyard is transformed! Formerly a ho-hum deck, this family now has a large covered deck with a vaulted ceiling. Lower level features a cozy gathering space by the outdoor fireplace.
"Edwina," a character created by Julie Severson and photographed by Ben Easter, relaxes in Greenwood Park as she undoubtedly practices social distancing.


We, along with host Exec 1 Aviation, were thrilled to welcome you to our virtual unveiling for the May/June issue last Tuesday. As part of the event, we heard from photographer Ben Easter and producer and stylist Julie Severson on how they created our oddly prescient cover (pictured above); it turns out the admittedly somewhat strange image is a perfect fit for the strange time we all find ourselves in. Read more about the project here.

When we completed the stories, photos and design for this issue, there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Iowa (and very few in the entire country), social distancing wasn't in most people's lexicon, and Greater Des Moines was humming along as it typically does. But by the time we went out the door to the printer, everything had dramatically changed. So while our coverage for this issue doesn't address the pandemic, we hope you can find respite and inspiration within its pages, from beautiful home design to the stirring life journeys of this year's LGBTQ Legacy Leaders to Mayor Frank Cownie's perspectives on leadership to emerging artist Hannah Sung, who says that through her art, she seeks to "embrace my weirdness"--something the coronavirus has surely made the rest of us do, too! Read the full issue of the magazine here, and I'll look forward to seeing you--and celebrating with you--again soon.
--Christine Riccelli, Editor-In-Chief

Here's a short post on the new green trend and some inspiration images. Bring spring into your room year round.
... Read more »
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with tacos from El Barco, one of the options for carryout.


By Karla Walsh

Many of us are searching for an extra reason (or maybe an excuse) to celebrate something. Cinco de Mayo just so happens to fall on Taco Tuesday this year, so why not celebrate in festive fashion by ordering curbside carryout—and perhaps a to-go margarita or two—from one of these locally owned spots?

El Barco: This Urbandale restaurant has a massive menu of chimichangas, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos and more. If that weren't enough, they’re now offering quart-sized take-home margaritas with fresh-squeezed juices ($8 per quart), and you can tack on a bottle of Jose Cuervo for $14.95. Open
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Order online; the El Barco website has a handy tool that will give you an estimate of time until pickup if you order now. (8801 Hickman Rd., Urbandale;

El Guapo’s Tequila & Tacos: The new kid on the block on the Waukee side of West Des Moines, this tequila lounge is planning a one-night-only al fresco fiesta in honor of Cinco de Mayo. From 5 to 7 p.m. today, they’ll offer a curbside drive-by grill-out menu complete with carne asada tacos, shrimp skewers, elote (Mexican street corn), plus craft tequila cocktails, margaritas and beer. Supplies are limited and they aren’t accepting pre-orders, so we suggest arriving closer to 5 p.m. (8950 University Ave.,
Suite 105, West Des Moines;

El Fogon: According to their website’s tagline, this West Des Moines cantina is "where a new tortilla is born every day." Their tortilla presses are still fired up and ready to go—just not in the dining room.
El Fogon accepts takeout orders from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. To complement the "
provisional menu," they now have to-go Micheladas and margaritas. (1250 8th St., West Des Moines;

Or consider these alternate options that are also open today:
       La Feria (4450 E University Ave., Pleasant Hill;
       Gilberto’s #9 (400 34th Ave. SW, Ste. 104, Altoona;
       Viva Mexian Restaurant (6101 Grand Ave.;
       Malo (900 Mulberry St.;
       Cancun Grill and Cantina (3855 121st St., Urbandale, and 2785 N. Ankeny Blvd, Suites11 and 12, Ankeny;
       Hidalgo (2675 100th St., Urbandale;
       Antojitos Mexicanos (4100 S.W. 9th St., find menu and hours on Facebook)
       Tacos La Familia (1610 6th Ave.; find menu and hours on Facebook)
       Tacos Degollado Truck (1817 University Ave., find menu and hours on Facebook)
Wild Alaskan Company offers monthly boxes of wild-caught flash-frozen filets of salmon and white fish.


By Wini Moranville

Here are a few more resources to help keep cooking and mealtimes fresh and gratifying:

Family Pantry Items from Table 128: Since the beginning of the crisis, chef Lynn Pritchard has been dealing with it in creative ways that keep his lights on and his customers well fed. While you can continue to order selected items from his à la carte menu, just last week he started offering weekly Family Pantry Kits. The week’s package brought one pint each of Bolognese Sauce and Alfredo Sauce, with fresh pasta, a salad kit and a baguette, all to serve six to eight diners.

A little like meal kits from Hello Fresh or Blue Apron (except much more local!), these bundles require some simple assembly at home. "It’s a fun, family activity, but you won’t tear your hair out in the kitchen for eight hours,"  Pritchard says. On the menu for the current week: A crawfish boil. Possible kits for upcoming weeks: stir-fry and ramen kits. Find the week’s menu on

Meat from Wallace Farms: Here’s how to turn recent news reports of possible meat shortages into a lifestyle change for the better: Commit to sourcing sustainably raised meats from grass-fed animals. Wallace Farms makes it so easy that there’s no excuse not to at least give it a try. Their website is a one-stop shop for just about every kind of animal protein: pork, poultry, seafood and beef, in all kinds of cuts – from chicken breasts, pork chops and roasts to offbeat items, like chicken backs and beef marrow bones. They  sell pet food, too.  Orders can be picked up in either Johnston or West Des Moines. See the Wallace Farms website for details.

Great Fish from the Wild Alaskan Company: I recently signed up to receive monthly boxes of wild-caught, sustainably raised, flash-frozen fish from this company, and I’m hooked! A box of 12 individually wrapped frozen filets arrives every month. You can choose from all salmon (a mix of Coho and Sockeye), a combo pack (salmon and white fish) or all white fish. It’s not cheap ($11 per 6-ounce filet), but it’s a top-quality product, and I’ve been very pleased with every cut so far. Find out more on the Wild Alaskan Company website.

Mary Jane Cobb says educators are working hard to plan for students when they return to school. In the meantime, she says, "hug your kid a little more, worry about algebra a little less."


Last Friday, dsm debuted the first webinar in a six-part virtual series called "dsm Lifting the Veil: Life Interrupted by COVID-19," featuring expert panels discussing critical mental health issues in the community. The first week focused on youths and how the coronavirus has affected their lives. You can watch a full replay here. In the meantime, here are a few points we found especially notable:

Stress on the rise: Dr. Sasha Khosravi, a pediatric psychiatrist at MercyOne, noted that children's anxiety is being intensified through fears of falling into poverty, of getting behind in school and of family members becoming sick. He also cited research that suggests 30% of children will develop post-traumatic stress disorder because of the lockdown.

Hug more:
Yes, parents are worried their children are falling behind in school. But Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, said districts are working on plans to catch students up when school returns in the fall. Her recommendation: "Hug your kid a little more, worry about algebra a little less."

Finding safe spaces:
Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, said it's been a challenge for LGBTQ students to find safe spaces, who are away from their normal support systems in schools. He has also noticed an uptick in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric during social isolation.

It takes a village:
Renee Hardman, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters, harkened back to her childhood when she was taught that it takes a village to raise a child. She noted parents need to feel they aren't alone and that it takes everyone in the community — parents, educators, organizations and more to create a healthy environment in which children can be raised. Resiliency is built around encouragement, compassion and strength, she said.

Even with the challenges brought on by the coronavirus, experts noted some positives have emerged.  Dr. Kelli Hill, director of clinical services at the Des Moines Pastoral Center and a child and adolescent psychologist, said children on the autism spectrum or those dealing with social anxiety are more at ease without having to go to school every day. Khosravi noted that because the pandemic has placed mental health issues in the limelight, some of the stigma associated with mental illness may be lessened.

The next topic in the series is  "College Interrupted," which will focus on the mental health of college-aged adults. The discussion starts at noon Friday. Find more details and register here:
The annual Yankee Doodle Pops concert has been postponed until Sept. 7 due to COVID-19.


Greater Des Moines arts, cultural and philanthropic organizations have postponed, canceled or altered upcoming events and schedules because of COVID-19. Here are a few:

Des Moines Symphony: The annual Yankee Doodle Pops concert and the second summer season of Water Works Pops have been postponed. Originally scheduled for July 2 at the Iowa State Capitol, Yankee Doodle Pops is now planned for Sept. 7 at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park. The Water Works Pops series, originally July 24-26, will take place Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden: The 2020 Spring Garden Festival, which is going on now, is virtual. You can now buy plants online and pick them up May 8-10. The sale features a curated collection of new, unusual or hard-to-find plants, with an emphasis on natives and perennials that support pollinators and other wildlife.

Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa: The annual Great Futures Golf Tournament, originally scheduled for June 15, has been postponed to July 13. The event will take place with social distancing protocols, if necessary.

Chrysalis Foundation: The Chrysalis Foundation's Chrysalis Conversations events are being live-streamed online. The next discussion on May 20 features Rachel Caufield and Kesho Scott on the topic of "Hashtag Activism, People Power, and Generational Change: Women Moving Forward."
Lisa and Michael LaValle showed us how to make scaloppini of Iowa wild turkey with garlic mustard chimichurri.


Looking for ways to pass the time, learn a recipe from local chefs and glean some information from local arts and culture organizations? The past week of dsm CultureCasts has had all that and more. Here's our roundup:

Recipe: In the newest edition of "What's Cooking with Iowa Restaurants" presented by Hy-Vee, Michael and Lisa LaValle walked us through how to make scaloppini of Iowa wild turkey with garlic mustard chimichurri at Purveyor, a European-style market in the East Village. The end result is the perfect "springtime meal," as Michael puts it.

Bittersweet news:  Des Moines Metro Opera canceled its 2020 in-person festival due to COVID-19. But that announcement came with some good news: Through a partnership with Iowa PBS, DMMO will broadcast past performances, hold live-streamed events and more. We talked with Michael Egel, general and artistic director, about the details and what you can look forward to in the coming months.

Subscribe to find more interviews like this at Apple Podcast, Google Play Music, Spotify and other platforms.
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