The ongoing demands of my new job, particularly on my mental state, continue to make it difficult to keep up with the continuously Confounded Cook. We've had little to no time for cooking, let alone writing, but we did eke out a bit of a vacation recently. It was a long, strange trip indeed and it was that for various reasons.
We went full-out road warrior for this journey, as we find ourselves doing more and more as flying is becoming too arduous a means of transportation. We were going to kick the trip off with a shorter-than-usual hang with the hometown crowd and check in on my mama and sister. The plan was to depart from the hotel late afternoon on Friday and head to our first overnight stay at Hannibal, MO., the childhood home of Mark Twain. The first leg of our trip was snagged by our inability to unravel from our jobs on time and when we finally clawed our way out of town, we found we couldn't get....out of town. There we were, stuck behind molasses-slow farm equipment chugging its way down the road; belching putrid smoke, with no way around it. The dialogue between us during this time was typical:
Keith: "Now Greg, it is what it is, we've left work and we're on vacation....everything will be fine."
departed Excelsior Springs and I was anything but chill.
By the next day however, my beloved hometown had woven its spell and my stressed-out soul was starting to heal. Mom, indeed, was fired up when I got to her but after wheeling her outside to soak up the warm autumnal sun and collect some fiery-colored leaves, we found ourselves cozily adrift in the perfectly crisp, fall day. That evening, I would gather again with friends to continue to celebrate our dear Mrs. Reckard's 80th birthday (girlfriend has had about 10 parties now) as well as toast Kaki and JB's recent nuptials. My high school teacher Bud came bearing cheesecake and his famous lasagna and we were also joined by my sister Shirley and bestie Kristy. I also reunited with my childhood friend Bobby and met his partner Tim. We all reveled in this great lakeside evening of raucous laughter and fabulous food. And the food was indeed that...Kak and JB always do it up right, but this night was rife with mouth-watering fare. I'm not a prime-rib fan by nature, but that smoky, spicy slab of red meat was something else for sure. Accompanied by grilled lettuce with capers, fabulous grilled vegetables (the cabbage was amazing), garlic mashed, hashed potatoes and some Challah bread that I brought from the Elms bakery that JB grilled, it was a meal to remember. JB and Kak own my favorite store the Greenhouse of course, and each of the dishes served that evening featured some of the specialty food items that they sell: the prime rib was seasoned with Dizzy Pig's Raising The Steaks rub and cracked pepper; the grilled lettuce was adorned with Urban Accent's Fisherman's Wharf spice blend and the grilled veggies were marinated in Robert Rothchild Farm's Asian Ginger Teriyaki Sauce. Yum city! What a seriously delightful evening.
This brief sojourn into my hometown included some other highlights like hearty power-walks through my colorful city park, getting my traditional "prom picture" taken with our dear friend Dotte after she's been recovering from surgery and a night of beers and vintage music with Kristy, JB and Kak. It was truly good for this cynical soul to get a taste of my West Virginia hometown. Thank you, St. Marys.
Next up: the journey continues...