TDS 9 Deb Brown: The Real Dish About Small Towns

Deb Brown Speaking about small town development

Deb Brown Speaking about small town development

In this episode of The Delicious Story, I visit with Deb Brown of about the big things happening in small towns today.

Right off, Deb provided compelling information about the state of small-town U.S.A. that dispelled misconceptions I had about what is worthwhile and possible in small communities. Deb’s news is that things are actually exciting in small towns, there are viable opportunities for development, and we should all care about supporting small towns—as residents and visitors alike.  

Deb grew up on a farm outside of Geneva, Iowa, population 141, where her first entrepreneurial venture was raising a hog. She developed her business chops through a rich background of business experiences both in small towns and big cities. Her passion for small towns never waned however, which led to her become co-founder of

 Today, Deb travels all over, speaking and working with communities to help them brainstorm ideas into practical action. Deb is knowledgeable about small-town life and savvy when it comes to working the approach, coined “the idea friendly method.” The key elements of her method include:

·         Gather your crowd

·         Build connections

·         Take small steps

 Deb is a natural storyteller and speaker, so she migrated from one interesting story to another providing thrilling examples of how this method has worked in small towns. And for those interested in marketing a business anywhere, the stories and messages of Deb’s anecdotes will engage you like a warm piece of bread with butter!


 Deb shares one particular story of a South Dakota small town that includes teenagers, garden sheds and Christmas. I’d tell you the details, but they are more fun as told by Deb. See if you can glean the lesson of the story!

 Of course, at The Delicious Story we want to capture a memorable meal, and Deb shares an enchanting one involving travel, the magic of impromptu events all wrapped up in Lisbon, Portugal.  


As I write this post, we are experiencing record-setting frozen temperatures in the Midwest and are surrounded by an unimaginable arctic tundra. And so, anything warm that can stick to the bones and rest in the belly for a while sounds marvelous. Deb shares a dish called Speck ‘n Dicken, a German-inspired term harkening to “Year-Old Pancake.”

 The recipe here is from SparkPeople. Deb mentions the small town of Akley, Iowa with strong German heritage where you can eat these pancakes in January; a tradition meant to bring you good luck.

 Speck ‘n Dicken


2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour

½ cup brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

¾ cup Karo (dark corn) syrup


2 cups milk

½ tsp anise seed (optional)


Mix ingredients together (excluding the sausage) and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours). Then fry like a pancake, placing 2-3 sliced ring bologna pieces on one side before flipping. Makes 24 medium sized "pancakes". 

*Tastes wonderful served with homemade applesauce. 


If you’re eager to learn more about small-town development you can reach out to Deb at to ask questions and subscribe to their newsletter.

 She also recommended reading the work of rural sociologist Ben Winchester, based in Minnesota.


Sherry is the founder of Storied Gifts, a personal publisher that works with families and companies to curate and craft their stories into history books. When not writing and recording, Sherry spends loads of time with her grandchildren and is based in Des Moines, Iowa.


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