A little over a month I’ve been “home”, hugging my man-son, sharing too many bottles of wine and endless laughs with friends and rediscovering all the wonderful-ness that can be found in this often over looked state of Missouri.
Returning in the autumn was my idea time, when the Ozark foothills become spectacular displays of color and the sunny days see temps in the 70s and bonfire worthy evenings in the 40s. The crisp air hints at winters coming, the animals become restless in the woods, and the people just seem to be in better spirits with Midwestern congeniality oozing from very nook and cranny. Everything was just as foreign as it was familiar: back roads, faces in the crowd, daily life in rural Missouri. My fear of becoming bored quickly was soon diminished. I hit the ground running and despite holding out two weeks before submitting to the social requirement of acquiring a cell phone. My ipads’s calendar App has never seen so much use: Weekend road trips to the wineries (Blumenhof Winery in Dutzow Missouri is hard to beat!) Invites to fabulous eateries opening
while I was away (Brasso) and revisiting St Louis classics like Hodak’s fried chicken and Ted Drews frozen custard. Nutty brown, sweet ales from the amazing regional craft breweries (especially The Civil Life Brewing in St. Louis !) Fresh venison from the neighboring huntsmen. Last effort garden pickings of late summer tomatoes, kale, acorn and butternut squash. REAL Missouri BBQ! Hikes through the hillsides and ravines searching out the elusive pawpaw trees or attempting to beat the deer to the sweet, post-frost persimmons fallen all around. Foods just taste more rich and comforting in the fall. The last bites of summer sun as we begin to prepare for winters chill.
My theory that food and community are synonymous have never been more proven than in this past month in my home village of Labadie. Both of which are so essential to a fulfilling existence.
Every other day it seems I’m blessed with endless and wonderful invites for home cooked dinners by friends who know how to delight others with their culinary skills. And nothing is more enjoyable to me than sharing the kitchen and the creating with loved ones.
Weekend social calendars are full of art shows, book signings, nights out boot-scootin, charity food and wine tastings…. All with delicious-ness being served up and so many old friends seen and new friends made.
The privilege of reviving and hosting our community secret supper club where in a beautiful and remote ridge top historic building, on a rainy Halloween night, we welcomed friends and neighbors to a candle lit table of fresh venison cooked with pork belly, squash tangine, and apple cobbler flambé .
Helping a dear friend with her food stall at an annual art show, reminding me how much work is involved with catering and more importantly how much pleasure and satisfaction comes from making others smile because what you have created in the kitchen.
Catching up with girlfriends over a cup of coffee, hosting cocktails while watching our beloved St. Louis Cardinals give their all during the World Series, or just sitting out on the porch and enjoying the most lovely view with a St. Louis original Gooey Butter Cake from the Missouri Baking Company…. Food and community are found to rekindle the old memories and make new ones.
In a months time I’ve put on 15 lbs, my exercise regime is near non-existent, and I find myself coming and going with most no chance of sleep….but coming home for a recharge of family and friends with all the love, deliciousness and community to be found, is more than worth it!
(UPDATE: November I put myself back on healthy living wagon….we’ll see if I can make I through the holidays losing a pants size rather than gaining another! )
If you would like to own a bit of Missouri’s beauty I highly recommend the recently released book of art by Missouri artist Bryan Haynes who’s work is reminiscent of early American masters Grant Wood, Stuart Curry & Thomas Hart Benton (but I believe much more beautiful), titled “New Regionalism” chocked full of his gorgeous historical Missouri landscapes. Click HERE for the Amazon link.