Our Dinnertime in America series features snapshots of families across the country and what they put on their tables. Offered in partnership with The Six O’Clock Scramble’s Family Dinner Challenge, stories will run Wednesdays and Fridays through September. Twitter #DinnertimeInAmerica, Pinterest: Dinnertime in America
On the famous Las Vegas strip, celebrity chefs revel in foams and emulsions. But 15 minutes southeast in Henderson, Nev., families focus on local farmers and fresh, simple food.
Kristen and Joey Holzhause love to shop the farmers market and belong to a co-op that delivers fresh strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, onions, greens such as arugula and bok choi, and even bananas and mangos right to their door. Not what you’d expect from the desert? Henderson lies at the southeast end of the Las Vegas Valley where farms and ranches flourish.
“Everything comes from Henderson,” says 29-year-old Kristen, who teaches eighth grade. “It’s all just fresh and it’s nice to know you’re helping out farmers.”
Kristen and her husband Joey, 32, have been married just two years. And even though it’s only the two of them, they insist on eating dinner together.
“We tend to almost lose who we are in the bustle of the day and lose who we are as a couple,” Kristen says. “Dinner is our time to reconnect. Being apart for 10 hours, you work more than you see your family. It’s just to make sure we know each other and understand what each other goes through on a daily basis.”
The couple takes turns cooking, and uses The Six O’Clock Scramble to do planning and shopping every week. But Joey, a financial planner, sometimes goes rogue. Trained as a chef, he’ll scavenge in the kitchen, Kristen says, throwing together something like chicken with a chutney made from mangoes in the co-op basket.
When Kristen cooks, it’s likely to be a family recipe. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wis., on hearty fare such as stews and casseroles. Her mom’s German-style roll mops – a small onion or potato wrapped in flank steak and secured with bacon – are a favorite. Ditto for her mom’s lasagna.
“I get a lot of recipes from my mom and from Facebook,” she says. “When I moved out of my parents’ house, I put together a cookbook of my mom’s recipes. When it comes to dessert, it’s from his family. They’re big sweet tooths.”
Joey grew up in Ohio, Kristen says, and together they tend to eat a lot of “stews and pastas and home-style things.”
They’re right at home in Henderson, where most people come from someplace else, Kristen says. Since 2000, Henderson has swelled with newcomers, according to the city’s website, growing nearly 50 percent to 258,000 residents, a number that is expected to double by 2035. And of course, those newcomers brought food.
“We don’t have ‘typical Vegas food’ or ‘typical Henderson food,’” Kristen says.
“You can think of any kind of food you want and there’s a restaurant within driving distance.”
Some of their favorites include Thai food, she says, and a Mediterranean restaurant that offers homemade baklava and riffs on chicken. The Holzhauses go out once or twice a week, Kristen says, and also enjoy “dive bars,” such as Johnny Mac’s a small, family-owned place that does wings and calzones and salad with homemade croutons.
“All of this is 10 minutes from our home,” she says.
Wednesday, Dinnertime in America visits the Bogard family in Franklin, Tenn. Twitter: #DinnertimeInAmerica. Pinterest: Dinnertime In America.
This is the lasagna recipe Kristen Holzhause's mother and grandmother use. "This is a dish my mom loved to make on Sunday because then we had dinner on Monday already," she says. "This lasagna is so big it always feed us happily for two days. I make this dish for my husband now." One of the signatures of the recipe, she says, is that you don't pre-cook the noodles. "The noodles cook themselves with the sauce," she says. "It comes out very soft, but it stays together."
- 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups tomato juice
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ounces lasagna noodles
- 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large sauce pan, brown meat, onions and garlic. Pour out fat. Stir in tomato juice, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, parsley and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a 9-by-13-inch pan, layer half of the uncooked noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat layering. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and continue to bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before cutting.