Returning to my hometown to attend another funeral can certainly be a depressing time to visit. While I was there primarily to pay my respects to Aunt Bonnie, another death close to our family had actually occurred on the same day. Dwight Poole had also passed away on that same Friday and he was my Dad's best friend. He was a lifelong neighbor and a frequent visitor to my Dad's garage, where so many gatherings and conversations would take place. The last time I had seen him was when his family brought him to my Dad's funeral. During Bonnie's service, Pastor Kelly remarked that she and her lifelong neighbor and friend Judy were probably already spending the day cooking up homemade chili. I take solace in imagining that scenario and picturing Dad and Dwight being in line with their empty bowls, waiting to taste some of the hearty goodness those ladies were cooking up.
Lord knows that comfort food and brilliant flavor can take the sting out of painful reality sometimes. Lucky me, then, that I get to weather those realities with my friends Kaki and J.B. at Abicht's Landing in St. Marys. J.B. is always grilling up something new and as I've mentioned in previous posts, it doesn't hurt to have a bit of marketing tossed in with the hospitality. Their beloved hometown business, The Greenhouse, sells not only a plethora of marvelous gourmet food products, but also they are also sell Weber Grills and Weber accessories. Nearly everything they whip up includes something from one of their food lines as ingredients and is often created on a Weber Grill. Their meals are always mouth-watering and they work like a charm-I usually end up leaving for KC with an armload of products.
Marketing may play a part but its only a part...in times like these, Kak's friendship is always a tonic for the soul. As my dear friend, she is always comforting in difficult times. Grief is also something The Greenhouse knows all too well- they were first and foremost and have continued to be a florist these thirty-plus years. As flowers often serve (as does food) as a sort of universal language spoken during times of grieving, The Greenhouse has been in the comforting business for as long as they have been in the floral business. Sure enough, there I was all these years later, trying to stumble my way through ordering florals for both funerals and man, during those times I am ever so glad to have Kak and The Greenhouse Gang....they ease you through that process like no other.
Now that The Greenhouse is in the food buisness as well, the store and Abicht's Landing itself has become not only a refuge from harsh reality but a retreat for the senses as well . The night of Bonnie's viewing I returned to find Barbecue Madness in full bloom at the house. The aromas from the kitchen and the grills on the deck were near maddening, they smelled so amazing. J.B. and Pat smoked a pork shoulder in a lip-smackin' new Roasted Peach Whiskey sauce from Stonewall Kitchen. Kak made a tasty and wicked-looking potato roast as well as some flavorful cole slaw and oh, those Smokelahoma beans...smoked, barbecued beans that blew your scalp off with their flavor. Pat brought his kids to this hoedown and they are truly some awesome kids...clearly that's their Mom's influence. All kidding aside, Pat does sport some serious musical taste. He had us listening to some smooth bluesy tunes all evening that I totally dug. It was another one of those nights with 25 or so people running around and food flying from every corner...the barely controlled chaos that has become a staple of my life from here to KC.
This night was bookended with another night when J.B. drew a stream of raves from us with his rolling hor deouvres from the grill. Grilled teriyaki tuna, marinated cheese that features Stonewall Kitchen Greek Dressing, grilled cauliflower with fresh lemon and Dr. Pete's Chili Pepper Dressing and the kicker...delicious grilled salmon marinated in Robert Rothchild's Lemon Dill and Caper Sauce and topped with capers. Kak, JB and I were joined by my sister Shirley and her longtime friend Marilyn, Kak's mother Barb and Connie and Fritz. I was also grateful that Kristy, who was mourning an aunt of her own, was able to spend time with us despite the stress of another funeral and a new job.
Kak and the Gang are always sampling their wares at The Greenhouse. Most days you can also catch J.B. firing up one of the Webers and offering delectable little morsels that he's cooked up. They just recently got in their macdaddy Weber Ranch Kettles and truly, the mind reels to think of what they would create on one of those bad boys.
I'm indeed lucky to count these fine folks as friends. Lucky for all of us that they run a welcoming business called The Greenhouse that welcomes everyone that walks in the door as friends. Go visit the Greenhouse...you'll be glad you did!