Our Bookshelf of previously published materials.
What's New in 2005
Simone reports that the 2005 weekend dinners were attended by great crowds. Just a few table d’hôtes materialized but were well attended. A special event in July was “Pizza for Kids,” a fundraiser for the extension of educational programs at ZJ Farms. It was an afternoon of fun with about 40 kids and 35 parents attending. Kids learned about many facets of Simone’s farm, looked at a world map to see how far some food travels, and painted their favorite farm item on quilt squares. The kids had a great time making their own individual pizzas with fresh vegetables from the gardens, and learned how to bake the pizzas in the brick oven. Soon parents were in line to do the same. Three families pitched tents at the top of the prairie and stayed for the night. It was quickly decided that it was a great start for more structured educational programs at ZJ Farms and that Pizza for Kids should be an annual event.
News from the Farm:
Sad news in the fall of 2005 for all who knew Simone’s dear dog companion of many years: her little Blanchette died tragically in September. Grisou, a smart cat who is a good rabbit hunter, is now the favorite of all visitors. The other cat, the cute white and fluffy Poupée, is the charmer and always around. As for travels, Simone visited New Mexico and France in the winter of 2005-2006.
What's New in 2006
A Great Gift Idea
Growing a Fruitful Garden
Archived Table d'Hôte:
No specific menu for this buffet but all hot and cold dishes on the table will be labeled. Simone is going to prepare food from France, Morocco and Iceland. Andy will present Asian food treasures. Both will tell stories about the food related to their travel in those countries.
Please email Simone to make sure there is still room at the table.
Be aware a Table d’Hôte will be cancelled if less then eight guests have registered three days before scheduled.
Confirm your reservation with payment of the full price of this dinner now via the secured shopping basket or mail a check directly to Simone with the information found on the Contact page.
From the wet markets of East Asia through the bazaars of the former Soviet Union to a remote mud hut village in Zambia, Andy sampled some of the world's most amazing foods, made without electronic gadgets, microwaves or big box supermarkets.
Andy is a filmmaker, social entrepreneur and an occasional chef originally from Iowa City, Iowa. Andy has taught cooking classes at The New Pioneer Coop and The Prairie Table; worked in a gourmet cup cake factory in Hong Kong; served as executive chef at a luxury cattle ranch in the Australian Outback, cooked apple pie on Armenian national television and spent four months as the morning cook and night-time bartender for the overland truck drivers in Balladonia, Western Australia with a population of ten thanks to his presence in that little remote town.
Andy will be joining Simone for this International Mezze and will share some of the best stories, recipes and foods he discovered on the open road.
You can read more about Andy's travels at
What's New in 2004
Spring 2004 Many new things are underway at 'Plain and Simple. Simone will be updating this section regularly to let you know about some of the activities and events happening throughout the year.
A Prairie Takes Root Last November, Simone planted five acres of her land with prairie seed. She included only grasses and forbes (flowers) that are native to the Iowa tall grass prairie. Since prairie plants take a long time to become established, there probably won't be many showy blooms or grasses this year. However, Simone invites you to stroll down the hill to view the progress and let your imagination be stirred by the
From Yellowstone Wolves to Alpine Snow
Simone reports that she had a great winter break. In January, she spent a week in Yellowstone National Park, where she enjoyed the pristine landscape and developed a good understanding of the park's ecosystem. One of the highlights was the sight and sound of wolves in the park. Simone spent most of February in France with her family, with visits to Normandy, Paris, and the French Alps. She was thrilled to be back in the mountains, one of her favorite places. There was plenty of snow, snowshoeing, beautiful views, and great weather. She enjoyed spending time with her three grandchildren, and can't wait to see them again when they visit Iowa this summer. Simone returned to the U.S. in early March with, she says, "the good feeling of knowing where my home is." Her return coincided with the arrival of spring, perfect timing to confirm her sense of place.
Spring marks the beginning of Simone's busy gardening and cooking season. She starts her own transplants of vegetables, flowers, and some annual herbs to ensure the greatest choice of varieties. For two months, her upstairs guest room is home to seedlings grown under lamps. The greenhouse (hoop house) outdoors is used to get a jump-start on the growing season, especially for lettuces and other salad greens. Simone says that her calendar is already filling up for weekend dinners, and that she always comes back from France with a refreshed palate and culinary inspirations to test in her own kitchen.
Pull Up a Chair at the Table d’Hôte
This year Simone is again offering another type of dinner, the table d’Hôte (literally, the guest's table), in which several guests are seated at a communal table to enjoy a dinner with a set menu and price. This style of dining has a long tradition in France, and allows guests to meet new people and come away with new connections. Read more about the table d’Hôte by clicking here.
Fine Food Sets the Scene for Fine Art
Simone is pleased to have the opportunity to display several paintings by local artist Stan Fellows. The paintings, currently hanging in the dining room, depict several landscapes and views captured by Stan while visiting Plain and Simple. Other examples of his work can be viewed at his website: www.stanfellows.com.
The paintings now hanging at Plain and Simple will later be shipped to galleries in other states. At those galleries the commission is the usual breathtaking 50%. The paintings can be purchased for half the listed price by contacting Simone (whose commission is more neighborly).