Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Evening In the Country

Situated some 40 miles from KC is the tiny town of Rayville, MO, population 204. Gorgeous rolling countryside, pretty farms with horses, cows and mules watching the cars go by and home to Van Till Farm & Winery, this little burg was our destination for Friday evening.

A pair of beautiful matched mules, along with a sleek black horse, welcomed us from across the road.
Inside the winery we tasted a few wines. Grapes grown and wine made on the premises, delicious! Next we placed our order for pizza that would be cooked in this wonderful brick wood-fired oven.
Again--delicious!!! We ate our pizza paired with a semi-dry red wine and listened to mellow guitar music on the covered patio. It was a good way to wind down the week!

We had our "Wine Passport" stamped and purchased a bottle of Missouri Chambourcin to bring home.

The most amazing sunset ever--mauvey lavenders, rosy pinks, slatey grays and harvest golds--lit our way out past the vineyards.

Small family-owned wineries have been popping up all across Missouri. At first I wondered how grapes could be grown on a large scale here, given our harsh winters. Turns out there are several hardy varieties that flourish quite well. In fact, we even have a state grape--the Norton! Who knew? Also, prior to Prohibition, Missouri produced over two million gallons of wine a year, second in the nation in wine production. Missouri has over 90 wineries across the state--and growing! The Missouri Wine and Grape Board has provided a booklet for finding them all--and a passport to get stamped upon visiting. So many stamps in the passport=a small prize!!! So glad red wine is heart-healthy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Funny

Can't resist a cute cat photo!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Had Me At Caramelized Onions

I so love caramelized onions. One of our favorite little restaurants is a 50s style diner that lets you order caramelized onions--on the side--for a quarter!!! Love to pile them on a burger. Making them at home is so easy and they can be used in so many ways--as well as scarfing them down with a spoon! Use them in French onion soup, on the side of a meat entree, in sandwiches--no end to their uses.

Caramelized Onions

1 large sweet yellow onion

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

House season (Kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper, garlic powder, onion


1/4 low-sodium cup beef broth

Heat butter, olive oil and worcestershire sauce in a medium skillet

over medium heat. Cut the onion in half, then thinly slice each half.

Add onion slices, separating the layers, into the skillet. Season with

House season and stir well.

Continue cooking the onion over medium heat, stirring every 2-3

minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown and soften. If the slices

begin to stick to the pan or burn, add splashes of beef broth to

moisten. Continue cooking until onions are deep brown and soft, about

30 minutes. WATCH CAREFULLY. If the onions burn, toss out and

start over!!!! Experience speaking here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remembering Mom

October 26th would have been my mom's 95th birthday. She passed away at age 81 and I still miss her everyday. Times were hard for her growing up. Her mother died when Mom was only 2 from the flu pandemic of 1918. This is the only picture I have of her with her mother. I treasure it. I often look at it closely to try to see if I can find a bit of myself in either of them.

This was Mom at age 7. Love the "do"! By this time she was being raised by her grandmother. Her dad had remarried and the new wife didn't want to be saddled with a child. It's amazing she still had that cute little smile...

Her high school senior picture, lookin' pretty stylish!

And a family classic, ta da! Mom with my older sister and me. This photo hung in every house we ever lived in!

I think she had a rough childhood. She rose above it and raised three daughters with love and care and concern. She never worked outside the home and never got a drivers license. She was the typical housewife of that era. A hot meal was on the table every night. Sunday morning breakfasts included homemade biscuits. (I still can't make them as well as she did!) Though she did not go to college, she had a thirst for knowledge. She especially loved astronomy and was so excited when we landed a man on the moon. She sewed her own "housedresses" as she called them. She was very shy and was happiest at home, though she did get out and walk to stores and movies. She loved soap operas--first on the radio, then on TV. I have vivid memories of her standing at the ironing board listening to Our Gal Sal and Hilltop House.

I don't have a lot of photos of Mom. Oh, sure, a few candid snapshots here and there. But we weren't a family of photographers, unfortunately. I think it is so neat that nowadays kids have their photos taken frequently by professionals.

Happy Birthday, Mom...


What a fun fun day yesterday was! DH and I got together with a couple we've been friends with since college days (whew! long time!) and headed out for a little town about 30 minutes away. We did a little geocaching. The friends are quite good at this while DH and I are still novices. Geocaching is done with a handheld device, a GPS.
You must first go to a website,, to get information about caches in a given area. You then download from the website into the GPS the coordinates. You can also print off information about the cache from the website. Now, these caches are not valuable money-wise. After all, they are left unguarded! However, the thrill of finding one is great. Okay, armed with your GPS and your paperwork, you set off in search of the cache. The GPS provides direction. Once you've located it, you sign the tiny log with your username. Back home, you can register your find at the website to keep track of your "wins"! A good incentive to get outdoors and walk, geocaching also provides opportunities to see areas you might not visit otherwise. Even in our own home town, we have discovered lots of new sights through geocaching. And the cleverness with which some of the hiders place their caches is amazing! It is fairly inexpensive entertainment; you need the GPS, a computer and some good walking shoes. And the benefits are many: exercise, being outdoors, exploring new areas--and FUN!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gittin' All Cultured Up

Yesterday was one of those amazing fall days in Kansas City--mild temperatures, blue skies and gentle breezes. Perfect for getting together with an old friend for a day of laughing. We've been friends for about 45 years and though we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like, we seem to pick up right where we left off! Gotta treasure a friend like that. She asked would I like to go see the Rodin exhibit at the wonderful Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Sure! It was very educational. I was amazed to learn that any bronze sculpture made from one of Rodin's castings is considered authentic. So while what we saw were not personally made by Auguste Rodin, the art was sculpted from his own castings. The pieces we saw were primarily from his Gates of Hell production, based on the Dante's writings.

Always a controversial "lawn ornament", the Nelson has several of these shuttlecocks on display. Why, I don't know!

As a kid growing up in Kansas City, annual school field trips always included a visit to the Nelson. And we were always greeted by this Rodin sculpture, The Thinker--probably his most famous work. And as kids will do, we giggled and blushed to see this naked man right there in front of us as we approached the magnificent building.

Well, that was enough culture for the day! So we then headed out to the Brookside area, a delightful old KC neighborhood. First stop was lunch at Julian's. The chef and owner there is Celina Tio. If you are a fan of Iron Chef on Food Network, you might remember that she competed last year and came in third!!! Pretty awesome. While we were eating our delicious lunch and enjoying a glass of HobNob red wine, Celina came by our table--twice! Always fun to have a celebrity-sighting. She is very personable. Then it was time to stroll the streets and visit the shops--and work off lunch! My friend was interested in finding a new houseplant and there were two shops with plenty to choose from. Brookside is a wonderful area and I often wonder why I don't go there more often!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Favorite Butternut Squash Soup

This is my very favorite butternut squash soup! Prep: chop l large sweet

yellow onion. Peel, seed and cube a butternut squash (about 3 pounds).

Peel and chop 2 medium carrots. Peel, core and chop 2 apples. Peel and

chop 1 Yukon Gold potato.

In large Dutch oven melt 1/2 stick unsalted butter over medium heat and

saute the onion till soft. Add the squash, carrots, apple and potato.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with unsalted organic chicken

stock (or water) so that liquid is at least 1 inch above the veggies. Bring to

a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer about 45 minutes or till veggies are

fall-apart tender. Blend with immersion blender till smooth. In a small bowl

temper 1 cup cream in some of the hot soup. Add the tempered cream

into the soup pot. Cook a few minutes more. Check for seasoning and

adjust if necessary.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Good Juju

My sister has a knack for finding out about neat little shops! She had learned about Good Juju--an old building converted to a vintage-finds store in the West Bottoms of KC. So we decided to go check it out ourselves. The place is only open one weekend a month and apparently people wait with baited breath! The parking was horrendous, with threats of being towed away. We finally claimed a spot after several around-the-block drives. It was worth the search! So fun. The shop owners find old things and rework them, fix 'em up, paint them and put them up for sale.

While I didn't find any must-haves, Sis scored a vintage bread box, a LuRay sugar bowl and a couple of pieces of green depressionware. And, of course, while we were out and about, we had to hit some other antique malls, grab lunch and enjoy the required late afternoon ice-cream cone. The weather cooperated...well, except for the gusty winds.

Sisters Day's just good juju!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

We Finally Got a W!

My KC Chiefs have really been struggling! We had not won a game yet this season. It's been tough to be a fan. But we've stuck with our boys in red and today we actually won a game. Mostly earned by the 5 field goals Ryan Succop made, we'll take it!! Dwayne Bowe's touchdown was sweet too. Here's our quarterback, Matt Cassel. And what gorgeous weather for football. Sunny and 70ish, teensiest of breezes. Woohoo.