dsmWeekly: August 17, 2021
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August 17, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Holly Evans specializes in macarons, sugar cookies, hand pies and more at her business, Prairie Rose Desserts.


Writer: Karla Walsh

After almost 20 years in professional kitchens around Des Moines, Holly Evans was "very nearly burnt out." She wanted to make her own baked goods and set her own hours to spend more time with family. That's how she created Prairie Rose Desserts in July 2020, focusing on homemade creations like macarons, custom sugar cookies, hand pies and laminated doughs like croissants.

Throughout those two decades, Evans honed her craft at some of the best around the city, including 801 Chophouse, Sweet Binney’s, Proof and Crème Cupcake and Dessert. She discovered that she felt most passionate about “freshly baked, homemade elegant desserts perfect for everyday,” Evans says. Rather than gourmet chefs, cookbooks or magazines, her best inspiration comes from right outside her back door--from what’s fresh and best in the garden.

“There will always be fan favorites that I make year-round, like carrot cake, or almond-raspberry macarons," Evans says. "But I definitely lean heavy on fruits when they are in season, like strawberries and rhubarb in June and peaches in July. In the winter it's more apple, spice, coffee and chocolate flavors."

She also enjoys putting her own twist on a classic combo. Her lemon-blueberry macarons, for example, feature fresh thyme-infused blueberry jam. And her homemade marshmallows for s’mores showcase a swirl of dried strawberries.

So where can we score all of this goodness? Evans has pop-ups around town, which I’ve learned about by subscribing to her email newsletter. I’ve also devoured goodies from her stand at the weekly Wednesday Waukee Farmers Market. (Note: She’s taking a vacation this week and will be back for the Aug. 25 market.) Follow @prairierosedesserts on Instagram and keep up with Evans’ latest oven adventures at
Take a look at this great Organic-Modern style project. Natural materials, warm colors and vibrant details create a wonderful home we'd love to spend time in.
Blanco Brown mixes country and hip-hop and will perform at the Susan Knapp Amphitheater at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Photo: Iowa State Fair


We love the Iowa State Fair's live performances from local and national musicians on free stages around the grounds. Here are a few shows we look forward to checking out this upcoming week.

Hailey Whitters (8 p.m. Wednesday, Susan Knapp Amphitheater): Since writing and releasing her breakout ballad of perseverance, “Ten Year Town,” in 2019, Iowa native Whitters has emerged as one of Nashville’s most heralded talents and visible success stories.

Blanco Brown (8 p.m. Thursday, Susan Knapp Amphitheater):
Brown mixes country and hip-hop sounds to make what he calls "trailer trap." Organizers describe his music as "
a vivid, vibrant sound—one that shines a light on Blanco's loving personality, challenging upbringing, and boundless creativity."

Jake Hoot (7 p.m. Saturday, Anne and Bill Riley Stage): Winner of season 17 of NBC's "The Voice," Hoot is known for his strong country sound and will sing tracks from his recent "Love Out of Time" five-song collection.

"I Am, He Said" (8 p.m. Sunday, MidAmerican Energy Stage): The Killer Vees, made up of cousins Matt, Jeff and Tommy Vee, will pay tribute to Neil Diamond with hit songs like "Cracklin' Rosie," “America" and "Sweet Caroline."

See the full list of free shows here.
Dim sum dishes frequently feature dumplings. Wong's Chopsticks in Johnston offers a dim sum menu on weekends.  


Writer: Linh Ta

The dim sum menu at Wong’s Chopsticks started as a way to draw in weekend customers to the Johnston business, located at 5500 Merle Hay Road.

There were plenty of business people dropping by on weekdays. But Kevin Wong, the restaurant manager, says his dad wanted to see if they could also become a weekend destination by offering a special dim sum menu on Saturdays and Sundays.

And for the last decade, it’s worked. “It was a struggle at first,” Wong says. “Now, Saturday and Sunday are actually the two busiest days of the week.”

The entire Wong family is in the restaurant business. Wong says it stems back to his family’s roots in Los Angeles, where his father and six brothers all worked as chefs. But in 2001, his dad, Li Ti, took a leap and decided to move to Iowa to help a friend open a restaurant. Eventually, he took it over.

Now, 20 years later, Wong says the restaurant has become a family effort as he, his father and his mother, Oykwon, all work the weekends to keep up with the demand. The menu selection includes 22 different dishes stemming from traditional Chinese cuisine, including such staples like chicken feet, sticky rice, shrimp har gow and pork su mai.

At its essence, dim sum is a social event—it’s about gathering together and enjoying warm baos or offering a friend the last fried dumpling. What makes dim sum special is its family style, Wong says. In Western-style dining, customers typically order their own entree to eat. But sharing entrees and small plates is customary in Asian cuisines—making the occasion a communal treat.

“You have to order several different dishes that are shared among people,” Wong says. “In fact, dim sum works best when you have three or four people at least.”
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Dozens of flags represent the many cultures and immigrant populations throughout Iowa. Photo: Iowa International Center


The Iowa International Center will recognize its 2021 Passport to Prosperity honorees with a week full of events from Sept. 6 to 11, including a webinar about the multiplier effect on immigrants and refugees (Sept. 7), an honoree meet and greet (Sept. 9), and a virtual celebration on Sept. 11.

Passport to Prosperity is an annual event meant to honor those who have made a difference for immigrants in the state. This year's honorees include:

  • Shaimaa Aly, commissioner at the West Des Moines Human Rights Commission and social capital chair for Capital Crossroads.
  • Harka Biswa, partner and advocate for the Bhutanese community.
  • Ivania Gabriella Guerra Ceron, founder of the Iowa Queer Communities of Color Coalition.
  • Maria Corona, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • Luisita Thompson, founder of the Filipino American Society of Iowa.

Find more information online.  
Justin Lansing (left) and Joe Mailander (right), who make up the Okee Dokee Brothers, will collaborate with Sonia De Los Santos for a bilingual music performance in late September. Photo: Des Moines Performing Arts


If you're looking for some happenings to check out this fall and winter, here are a few that piqued our interest over the past few weeks.

Squonk (Sept. 3-5): This show hosted by Des Moines Performing Arts at Cowles Commons mixes music, a multi-tiered stage and giant hands moving in sync with the sound. There will be multiple performances throughout the first weekend of September.  

Somos Amigos (Sept. 23-24): The Okee Dokee Brothers and Sonia De Los Santos combine American folk and Mexican sounds in this bilingual music collaboration. There will be two free outdoor performances, one at the Ankeny Bandshell at Wagner Park on Sept. 23 and one at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park on Sept. 24.

David Sedaris (Dec. 4): Bestselling author and NPR contributor David Sedaris will be at Hoyt Sherman Place for two shows on Dec. 4. After the night performance quickly sold out, organizers added a second show at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $50.50.
Podcaster and activist Tony Khuth at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s Ruan Reflection Garden.


Writer: Luke Manderfeld

Last year, at the height of the pandemic, Tony Khuth witnessed hate crimes rising against Asian Americans. Because of Khuth’s own experiences with marginalization—Khuth identifies as nonbinary, using the pronouns they and them, and was born to Cambodian refugees—Khuth was moved to stand up.

To Khuth, that meant creating a podcast. Called “de facto with Tony Khuth,” the show touches on culture, politics and identity.

“This podcast allows me to speak with my own voice,” says Khuth (rhymes with put).

The idea for “de facto” didn’t come overnight but was a culmination of Khuth’s experiences. Khuth was born in Rochester, Minnesota, to parents who escaped Cambodia after being the targets of the Khmer Rouge. The totalitarian regime ruled the country from 1975 to 1979, killing an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people, about 25% of Cambodia’s population.

In Rochester, Khuth’s family lived in a segregated neighborhood that local residents called “Asian Avenue.” When Khuth moved to Des Moines at age 19, the youth experienced culture shock.

“I had never experienced whiteness to this degree,” the now-33-year-old Khuth says. “I also realized these communities [I lived in] struggled to comprehend other cultures. So I started this journey of discussing inclusion-related topics.”

Read the rest of the story from our July/Aug. issue.
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