Is it me, or has Des Moines changed? It’s funny how our perception of the ideal place to live evolves in time. I couldn’t wait to get out as a teen, and I’ve tolerated many ribbings about it over the years (city folk can be such snobs), but you know what? I’m extremely proud of my hometown, and all it has to offer.

Not quite sure...

Not quite sure…

I’m still not sure I’m ready to move back, but it is looking more appealing by the day. Yes, I love the sophistication of London, Paris, and New York – or the glamour of Tinseltown, but I’m so over the traffic. Day to day living in a city the size of Des Moines (population 250,000) is so much easier to navigate.

Driving into downtown Des Moines

Driving into downtown Des Moines

Okay, so the stores could certainly do with a crash course in fashion (most of the shopping is still pretty drab), but I can’t think of a city with more culture per capita anywhere. One of the many benefits here, is a sense of community and civic pride. The streets are so beautifully landscaped, and the parks are well maintained.

Des Moines has grown since then

Des Moines has grown since then

Enormous amounts of equity from the thriving insurance, financial, and communications industries have been filtered back into the renovation and growth of the city, and there is no shortage of entertainment.

Des Moines

Des Moines

While I was back just a couple weeks ago, I saw Mathew Bourne’s lavish production of Sleeping Beauty, and was so impressed to learn that new director of the Performing Arts Center has managed to bring this caliber of first run shows in from New York by convincing the board to invest in new productions there.

Des Moines Art Center

Des Moines Art Center

The city also boasts a fabulous Science Center, the Des Moines Symphony, a Botanical Garden, Playhouse, Ballet, Baseball Stadium, Indoor Racket Clubs, a multitude of golf courses, and the world class Des Moines Art Center and Sculpture Park. Then there’s the Iowa State Fair, Bluegrass Musical Festival, art fairs, car shows, and many concerts that come to town to enjoy as well.

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

I like to take a trip down memory lane with each visit – driving by the houses I grew up in, the schools I attended, and the fabulous art deco home where I took ballet lessons as a child. My ballet teacher, Miss Adeline Ogilvy, held the glamorous distinction of having been a New York Rockett, and the striking modern sculptures of my junior high school art teacher, Mr. Morasco still grace the front of the school. Just south of Grand Avenue is the old Victorian Governor’s Mansion where I enjoyed slumber parties, and the stables where I took riding lessons – oh how the happy memories come flooding back.

Memories of growing up in Des Moines

Memory lane

All of that, plus the amount of house you can have for your dollar, and a great public educational system is precisely why Des Moines ranks sixth on the list of  ‘top ten best new cities’ to live in now. I have to admit, it is tempting! While I ponder a move, why not munch on the quiche I made for my parents below…

Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, & Feta Quiche

Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, & Feta Quiche.JPG

Remember it is really easy to have a few kid friendlier ingredients on hand too – just fill half the quiche shell with those, and half with the grown-up version. Then fill with the egg mixture and bake all at once, so you’re not making separate meals for everyone.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes


Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, & Feta Quiche

  • 9 inch pie crust homemade or store bought
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 red onion chopped
  • 8 ounces Feta
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed and well drained
  • 1 large red bell pepper roasted, seeded, and chopped (see note)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper or to taste


Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, & Feta Quiche

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Prick holes in he base and sides of the piecrust using the tines of a fork at regular intervals. Bake piecrust 10 - 15 minutes, or until partially baked and beginning to brown. Remove from oven.
  2. While crust is partially baking, sauté the onions in 2 teaspoons olive oil until softened. Mix well with thawed and drained spinach.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, extra yolks, milk, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper; set aside.
  4. Spread 1/2 of the cheese on the bottom of the warm piecrust, then spinach, and then roasted red pepper slices. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the pie until it reaches 1/2 inch from the top. Bake until the egg mixture is set around edges. A knife inserted 1 inch from edge should come out clean, about 35 - 40 minutes. Top should be golden brown, but it may still be slightly gelatinous in the center when you wiggle the quiche.
  6. Cool thoroughly on wire rack. When totally cool, wrap in foil, then in freezer bag.

Serving Suggestions

This is easily lunch on it’s own, but of you prefer more - serve with a mixed green salad tossed in vinaigrette.

Heat To Eat

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the quiche on a sheet pan for stability, and heat in the preheated oven until just heated through, about 8-10 minutes; or eat cold or at room temperature.


Use whatever variations of combinations of vegetables and cooked meats that you like.


To roast the red pepper: Preheat your broiler. Brush the pepper with olive oil, place on a broiler pan, and broil or grill until blackened on all sides. Remove from oven and place in a baggie (the steam will help loosen the skin), and let cool long enough to handle. Then slice, remove seeds, and chop. You can also buy red peppers already roasted and preserved in olive oil in jars, if you are pressed for time.

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  • October 8, 2013
    12:47 pm

    I adored reading this…. It is certainly interesting to see how as we grow older our appreciation for certain things alters as well. Loved reading JA!

    • October 9, 2013
      9:01 am

      The first sign of aging – wanting the comfortable SUV over the sexy sports car, now it’s the smaller community over the gigantic metropolis?

  • October 8, 2013
    2:54 pm

    I guess you can go home! It sounds like you are enjoying your trip very much!

    • October 9, 2013
      9:02 am

      I do keep hitting fantastic weather when I go – I need to do a trip in the dead of winter before making any decisions to move. I’m so spoiled with SoCal weather!

  • October 12, 2013
    3:42 am

    Such a lovely and comforting blog Jewels. Loved it!
    Des Moines seems like a lovely place indeed. Very neat and well presented city.
    I love the sculpture park. I could definitely spend some considerable time there.
    The quiche looks so good. Love it! I made one last weekend with caramalised onion and mushrooms. Very tasty!