Nevada Grown: A Year in Local Food


By Megg Mueller

Office environments can be dens of food iniquity; from Girl Scout cookies to leftover holiday candies, baking experiments to potlucks, there always seems to be something to eat around our desks. But on a late January day, the food surrounding us was a veritable buffet of beautiful smells, delightful sights, and most importantly, sublime tastes.

After receiving a copy of “Nevada Grown: A Year in Local Food”—a gorgeous cookbook—each member of the Nevada Magazine staff set about to make one recipe and share our culinary endeavors. More on our tasty discoveries in a moment…


President of NevadaGrown Ann Louhela and Reno Gazette-Journal Food and Drink Editor Johnathan Wright created the cookbook, which taps into the growing passion for living a fully flavored, locally sourced life. But it does more than just reconnect people with the joy of cooking.

“We wanted to show the diversity of the crops we grow here, and we want to get people back in the kitchen,” Ann says.

Ann is also project director for the Specialty Crop Institute of Western Nevada College, and says the cookbook began life as a tool for consumer education. It morphed into a bimonthly feature—Home Means Delicious—in Johnathan’s weekly newspaper column, featuring recipes with locally sourced ingredients. Ann hoped to have the book out a couple years ago, but says jokingly Johnathan is part of the reason it was not published until December 2015.

Spiced Carrot Muffins, Honey Applesauce Cake, Caramelized Onion Breakfast Bake, Smoky Chili Corn on the Cob, Waikiki Meatballs, Korean-Style Bently Ranch Short Ribs, and Dr. Deetken’s Spinach Casserole.

“I was ready to do a quick spiral-bound book, but he’s the one who made me test all the recipes,” Ann says laughingly. “It was a good thing; there were a few mistakes.”

Ann then approached Sundance Book Store owner Christine Kelly for advice about pricing the book. Christine loved the concept and jumped in eagerly as a partner through her Baobob Press. A gorgeous hardbound book with tons of delectable photos is the result.

The recipes come from Nevada chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, home cooks—a few from out of state— and they all contain at least one ingredient grown in Nevada. The cookbook can be found online at NevadaGrown’s website, but true to form, Ann wants people will buy it elsewhere.

“We hope people will go into the local retail places…really extend the idea of buying locally,” she says.

Spiced Carrot Muffins

When “Nevada Grown: A Year in Local Food” appeared on my desk, Publisher Janet Geary decided we should get cooking. Eight tasty dishes were chosen: Waikiki Meatballs, Caramelized Onion Breakfast Bake, Spiced Carrot Muffins, Dr. Deetken’s Spinach Casserole, Smoky Chili Corn on the Cob, Honey Applesauce Cake, Korean-Style Bently Ranch Short Ribs, and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. We’re a diverse group, to say the least.

There are healthy recipes, decadent ones, vegetarian, carnivorously oriented…and everything in between. Choosing a favorite wasn’t hard from the many options, but after tasting these dishes—some simple, some more skilled—each was determined a winner, and we all enjoyed the experience of cooking them.

Farmers markets are open all over southern Nevada, and up north, there are community sustained agriculture (CSA) programs, co-ops, and even some local produce in chain grocery stores. It’s not that hard to find Nevada-grown items and when incorporated into the entire meal-planning event, it can make mealtime that much more rewarding.

But be warned: dive into this cookbook, and you may have trouble choosing a favorite.

“I have so many. My favorite is probably the Chocolate Zucchini Cake; it’s my reward for eating all my vegetables,” Ann says. “But the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is dynamite. And the Onion Pie is so wonderful. It’s savory, kind of like a quiche, and it’s just a wonderful flavor.”

With more than 150 recipes, “Nevada Grown: A Year in Local Food” beckons anyone who loves to eat to accept the invitation to taste a different side of Nevada.


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