Food / Cooking

Sweet Springs, Missouri

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Smiles   Horses thudding along the old Pony Express from Socorro.  Northward I roll to happy honking horns and wide Kansas smiles.  Inching my velocity up to the speed limit, a Man Of Purpose, intent on beating dusk.  To the joy of traffic backed up behind me.  But there was so much to see!  Miles and miles of prairie, cattle, wheat, everything!

Monarch Highway   Motoring southward, I recall grasslands preserved for butterflies and the generous Kansas rest stop welcome, “Camping Permitted”.  This would be a rare planned stop amid our freewheeling northward meander in search of “what was”.  Road & wind are our only influences.  Stretching out for sleep fits in there as well.

The horizon has yanked itself up above the sun but the birds don’t know it yet. With plenty of light, we roll to a far spot, change into night duds (jeans, fleece top, bandana), and off to a soft spot under the trees.  Only a couple of rough blankets and a cushion, but it is heaven!  Dozing off to darkening skies, birds chirping … fading … fading … And wake up at first light, a solid unbroken eight hours of sleep!  Far better than any motel room, and 100% cheaper!  Where’s the tip jar?  We owe nature a fat one for lulling us with her perfect Kansas breezes!

The sun rises faster   Barely an hour into our morning I notice the Missouri sun seems awfully high in the sky.  Time zones aside, surrounded by farmland, I can see why a farmer gets up so early.  It is work from sun-up until sun-down; gotta leverage every minute.

The sun also reminds me of another issue:  hunger and thirst.  Sweet Springs is the first exit after I think of caffeine, so we take it.  Eschewing service station coffee, we delve southward and find Downtown.  Wow!  Jackpot!  Sweet Springs, platted in 1838.  We park by the Old City Hall c.1891 and smell food.  Right up the block, a business for all occasions.  The de facto City Hall, maybe?  🙂

Sausage, milk, flour, butter   Sausage gravy on biscuits made from scratch every day is a favorite, Parrish tells me.  A perfect start.  Last Chance Saloon is regular stop from here on out!

Individual Time   Grudgingly we re-enter the Interstate.  Missouri rolls by.  Windows down, crops and soil smell familiar.  Long walks amid barns and fields as a kid.  Driving Down The Highway.  Without radio, plenty of time to think.  New ideas.  Hmmmmm  Individual time:  I decide when I want it to be 5am, Noon, 9pm, whatever.  My clock is my own and computers figure out how to mesh my life with the world.  New songs.  New plans for new trips.  Missouri farmland smells like childhood.  Innocence.  Imagination.

 

Lancaster County Produce

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In the steel town of my parents’ childhood, life moved at a different pace.  Many people lacked a telephone.  Television was a new and rather worthless invention.  Texting?  The closest was telegraph and maybe a stock market ticker.  No “code words”?  LOL   🙂  Code words and phrases abounded, as old as the hills.  Maybe written by Moses herself.

Newlyweds jokingly said they ate a lot of apples,  referring to the Garden of Eden, Eve & Adam, and their newfound lust for apples.  But my dentist also promotes this perfect fruit, and he’s atheist.  Something about working the teeth, exercising the gum line?

Turning to his simple health advice decades ago, I’ve too decided the apple is a perfect fruit.  Portable, properly packaged, pennies a pound.  Maybe a bit more silver these days, but still a value.

Honeycrisps, newly picked, waft their scent from my fridge.  Pink Lady, Gala, Jonagold, all delectable.  Pick your favorite farmers market, find a grower, and select a few beauties of smooth unbruised skin.  Prepare for deliciousness.  Bonus:  Your sweetheart will find your close presence even tastier.  Maybe the serpent was on to something.  I’ll bet a good theologian can find reference to morning groping in the Bible, right after breakfast kisses.

Lancaster County has been shipping produce to Philadelphia since the mid-1700s.  Hands On The Earth Orchard from Lititz PA continues this tradition, weekly attending a Saturday farmers market along Walnut Street at Rittenhouse Square.

Native Americans, in what would become Pennsylvania, practiced agriculture for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. By the eleventh century, they had developed a high-yield system of slash and burn farming. Creating fields by clearing brush, and girdling and burning trees to let the sun reach the soil, they then planted beans, corn, and squash together – a method of planting that was advantageous to the crops and the people. Beans climbed up the cornstalks and fixed nitrogen in the soil that fertilized the corn and squash. The resulting network of roots and tendrils inhibited weed growth and helped to retain moisture in the soil. Beans, corn, and squash – better known to the Indians as the Three Sisters – provided a very nutritious diet that was high in amino acids, fiber, protein, and vitamins. http://explorepahistory.com

McCormick Extracts

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Just a teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down ~ ~ Sometimes it is just a pinch of this or a dash of that which makes all the difference.  My world-famous griddlecakes?  A single drop of almond extract per batter batch.  A pot of hot chocolate?  A drop of vanilla.

That is nearly the limit and extent of my extracts knowledge.  There was a third box of Schilling extract up in the cabinet corner, saved from great-grandmothers’ kitchen.  Never opened, never used.  The box dated 1976, our Bicentennial.

Of no use?  Hardly.  When a friend developed a bit of seasonal lip infection, she reminded me of the extract and asked to use it.  What for?  Sippin’?  There’s plenty of snake-bite juice in the cupboard.

I learn extract of peppermint is preferred by many professionals to resolve topical skin issues, especially near and in the mouth!  Even better, it is not a homeopathic cure, but real world medicine.  A quick web search reveals an exhausting list of ailments and issues helped by mint oils.  I find mint tea the perfect digestif after gastronomic overindulgence.  Especially following a triple helping of my galaxy-famous gluten-and-egg-free griddlecakes!

A. Schilling & Company was an American foodstuffs company founded in San Francisco, California, in 1881 by August Schilling and George F. Volkmann, a pair 27 year-old Bremen, Germany emigres.  It dealt in coffee, tea, baking powder, extracts, and spices and was acquired by McCormick & Company in 1946 and merged into its business as its Western Division.  McCormick continued to use the Schilling name until the 1990s, with the last product containers marked as Schilling produced in 2002.wiki

Nalgene N-Gen

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Sticking with the current theme of cooling off, hydration is the topic.  As natural as a glass of clean iced water on a hot summer day.  “You can’t take it with you” does not apply.

Everywhere I go, my Nalgene is in tow.  Fast rotation in the ‘fridge, or tepid tap, either does what the body cannot:  add water to the machine.  With current mid-summer weather, it is more important than ever to replenish this life-giving juice and basis of all chemical reaction in the body, water.

30OZ N-GEN  With three bottles in use, I’m usually well fixed.  But summer gift-giving approaches.   What to present a 14-year-old man-boy on his birthday?  Something cool and electronic?  An airplane model?  Swatch watch?  My call goes into the void, and echoes back, “An American-made water bottle”.  Nalgene, naturally.

Like potato chips, batting practice, or lýtkový řízek, I cannot stop at one.  I buy five.  Still free deliver on any order over $10.  For these gifts, a thin stack  of currency is traded.

At unwrapping, I learn my nephew recently acquired a new water bottle, but six is better!  With five from which to choose, he favors a match to his Swatch  (Accessorizing already?  No wonder the chicks dig him.  Smart lad.)  With plenty to share, his sister and cousins are ecstatic.  The cost of teaching generosity?  Priceless.

Nalgene.  Made in the USA, stylish, sleek, and affordable.

THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC

Woodside Farm Creamery

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A FAMOUS WRITER ONCE told me, “You always want to have a couple of stories in your back pocket.  You don’t want to be out with your buddies, everyone savoring their own delicious tale, and come up empty”.  Same goes true for money.  This weekend, however, I came up blank.  Pocket lint.  88˚ and triple-digit humidity boils the brain.  Creative juices squeezed out, my skull resembles an original Denis Papin steam digester,  c. 1679.

When it is time to cool off, to bring about brain freeze,  most iced drinks can satisfy.  Though isn’t life about enhancements.  Ice cream, please.  If we are going to consume sugar calories, why not make it the best ice cream this side of the Monongahela River!  To the source we travel.  With carriage and four-in-hand, back in time we clatter, through Delaware’s Arc to the 1700s farm of the Mitchell family.

With milk-fat levels approaching my cholesterol numbers, this is real ice cream.  It sits upon the tongue, infusing smiles and euphoria.  Where kids can be kids, clocks slow, and the bluegrass circle plays on. Under the big oak tree, mature even in colonial times.  We eat our treasure, cows looking on.  Children’s laughter sets the beat, as faithful renditions of Doc Watson’s honest clarity measure time.

Farm fresh ice cream  ~  Worth the trip!

Más Taco

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I’ll be back – With hopeful yet prophetic words I grudgingly exit the best taco joint west of the Mississippi almost three years ago.  But back I am!  Coming off weeks of backcountry camping in Yellowstone National Park, this gem was the stuff of daily cravings.  Homeward bound, Más Taco is my first destination over Beartooth Pass within tiny Red Lodge, Montana.  The restaurant is just as I left it.

Famous for having the finest chow outside Yellowstone Northeast Entrance miles away, Mike has not let fortune go to his head.  His passion is still fly fishing.  Off-river, Más Taco gets his full attention.  Many of the same people help Mike turn out plate after plate of 100% fresh ingredients blended into a perfect meal.  Always an artful presentation.  And chaos?  Seven people working full bore in a galley kitchen.  It was like my recent trip under polar ice aboard Nautilus (upcoming article, of course).  Except for plenty of fresh air and sunshine.  On a plate.  Nature at its finest.

Trader Joe’s Navel Oranges

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Weekly shopping would not be complete without a stop at our local Trader Joe’s.  Once a novelty, this grocery store chain has become a must-visit for specifics.  Why?  As with our Coffee Filter article, Price, quality, and consistency … When something works, why look for anything better?

Joe’s navel oranges.  Consistent size, fresh and juicy, and a good price.  The four-pound bag is $4 on the East Coast but $3 in Phoenix … guess they are coming from California this time of year.

The serving size is misleading, though.  One orange?  Really?

Free Offer:  When Trader Joe’s drops the $3.99 and prices bagged oranges on the even dollar, we’ll give them a banner ad for a year!