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Kansas Cuisine?


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KS is not an easy place to live.  I didn't realize how hard I worked while growing up on a farm.  That is what everybody does where I am from, WORK.

My mother (1929-1987; born Omaha, Neb.; raised in Horton, Kan.; KU BSN '54, MSN '70) had her own explanation for why Kansas is what it is:

"Back when everyone headed for the West, you never heard anyone saying, 'Let's go to Kansas to make our fortune!' No--they were headed for Oregon, or California.

"Kansas was where their wagons broke down en route."

Given the state's motto (Ad Astra per Aspera--"To the Stars Through Difficulties"), I wonder whether there wasn't more than a little truth to her tale.

Certainly the climate in much of the state is not conducive to growing a wide variety of foods; Northeast Kansas is the notable exception. And I don't believe that even the Kansa knew any ways to prepare prairie grass.

But with bison catching on as a leaner alternative to beef, the opportunity arises for Kansans to get creative with what was once and may once again be a food source indigenous to the state.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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KS is not an easy place to live.  I didn't realize how hard I worked while growing up on a farm.  That is what everybody does where I am from, WORK.

My mother (1929-1987; born Omaha, Neb.; raised in Horton, Kan.; KU BSN '54, MSN '70) had her own explanation for why Kansas is what it is:

"Back when everyone headed for the West, you never heard anyone saying, 'Let's go to Kansas to make our fortune!' No--they were headed for Oregon, or California.

"Kansas was where their wagons broke down en route."

Sandy, that's funny - my old college roommate espoused the theory that our state (and, in fact, much of the midwest) was populated by the quitters. That we all hail from stock that headed west and 'just couldn't make it any farther'. Not terribly flattering but not entirely inaccurate either. I gave up being embarrassed or apologetic about Kansas a long time ago (well, in the agrarian sense - our board of education and the Rev. Fred Phelps have given birth to a whole new reason but that's another story for another forum). Kent's right - we have a lot going for us and if you don't believe us, just ask all of the SoCal and Denver refugees who are pouring into Johnson County daily. No small coincidence that it's starting to resemble Orange County of 10-15 years ago. :sad:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I used to live in Kansas, and I'm not sure there was nothing there but 'quitters.'

After all, that's where the great cattle trails ended. And there were folks passing through on their way west that needed goods and supplies. So enterprising souls would have arrived to service that market, much like today one might build a gas station, convenience store and restaurant out on the interstate.

And if you were heading west to you-didn't-know-what, and suddenly you found yourself passing mile after mile of what looked like pretty fertile grasslands, you might think that the wiser thing to do was to go with the bird in the hand.

As far as the food, what I remember from my days at good ol' Derby High, proud member of the Chisolm Trail League, was the excellent chicken fried steak, terrific hamburgers and onion rings, delicious steaks, and the afore-mentioned pies and other baked goods.

And plenty of beer at The Flame.

And canned corn. Something I still don't understand.

I do 'wander the Kansas roadways' from time to time, most recently a few months back. And took some recomendations from Roadfood. Couldn't understand why, after driving for countless miles past fields of ripe corn, in the restaurants there was nothing but canned.

I like Kansas. And nobody that thinks they understand this country, but hasn't been to Kansas, really knows who we are.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I like Kansas.  And nobody that thinks they understand this country, but hasn't been to Kansas, really knows who we are.

This native Missourian gotta back you up on this, though, being a Missourian--and despite my mom's Jayhawk bona fides--the emotions are a little more mixed, though in my case they rarely go beyond annoyance whenever clueless Easterners make the wrong assumption about which Kansas City I grew up in. I have a very arch reply in such situations, with apologies to moosnsqrl and anyone else from Wyandotte County in advance: "If I were from Kansas City, Kansas, I would have said so." It does, however, have the saving grace of conforming to actual usage in the area.

But the state has a rich and colorful history and played a key role in our nation's defining crisis. And the folks on the coasts, who know about it more from pictures of the Rev. Phelps than from the writings of William Least Heat-Moon, get a totally distorted picture of the place.

--Sandy, who purchased but has yet to make it all the way through Jane Smiley's The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I like Kansas.  And nobody that thinks they understand this country, but hasn't been to Kansas, really knows who we are.
This native Missourian gotta back you up on this, though...

I should have added, "And nobody....that hasn't been to Kansas, and stood facing west in the ruts of the wagon wheels, watching the sun go down on the far horizon, imagining them themselves heading into it day after interminable day..."

And without sunglasses, too.

:cool:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I used to live in Kansas, and I'm not sure there was nothing there but 'quitters.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And canned corn.  Something I still don't understand.

I do 'wander the Kansas roadways' from time to time, most recently a few months back.  And took some recomendations from Roadfood.  Couldn't understand why, after driving for countless miles past fields of ripe corn, in the restaurants there was nothing but canned.

I like Kansas.  And nobody that thinks they understand this country, but hasn't been to Kansas, really knows who we are.

That is sort of what I meant about the people growing the food connecting to the food they're growing.

It's a proud thing in Oregon to serve locally grown products. It's cool to dig in the dirt.

This story is from a couple of years ago.

http://www.herskansas.com/stories/062004/n...overstory.shtml

I had friends who loved her hot dogs. I wonder how she's doin'.

MarketStreetE,

I know what you mean. I have ancestors buried at Arrow Rock, and yet my Grandparents were born in Lecompton and Montecello Township.... and my wife's from Omaha.

The story We learned in (Ks)schools about KS. and KC, and the Opening of the West, is that the Merchants dropped off at the trailhead, making rapacious sums off the dreamers headed West,

hence the great Wealth and Culture of KC,The Metropolis of the Plains, and eastern Ks.

~~~~~~~~~~

Add: I had forgotten that on these boards Oklahoma is Southeast, Nebraska, Colorado and the Dakotas are

Western, and Kansas is linked to Missouri in the Heartland.

The real region is Canada to Mexico, The Rockies to the Mississippi, in my mind.

A plains state thing.

Edited by bbqboy (log)
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Add: I had forgotten that on these boards Oklahoma is Southeast, Nebraska, Colorado and the Dakotas are

Western, and Kansas is linked to Missouri in the Heartland.

The real region is Canada to Mexico, The Rockies to the Mississippi, in my mind.

A plains state thing.

I think the geography around here was dictated by someone from New York City who had no idea of anything beyond the Hudson River. lol.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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This story is from a couple of years ago.

  http://www.herskansas.com/stories/062004/n...overstory.shtml

I had friends who loved her hot dogs. I wonder how she's doin'.

She's doing great! I just posted a link to this on the Food&Media board, in the context of Ruhlman's article in August Gourmet about hot dogs. Ms. Vogelsberg's Bossie's Best are my favorites!

  MarketStreetE,

I know what you mean. I have ancestors buried at Arrow Rock, and yet my Grandparents were born in Lecompton and Montecello Township.... and my wife's from Omaha.

  The story We learned in (Ks)schools about KS. and KC, and the Opening of the West, is that the Merchants dropped off at the trailhead, making rapacious sums off the dreamers headed West,

hence the great Wealth and Culture of KC,The Metropolis of the Plains, and eastern Ks.

~~~~~~~~~~

Add: I had forgotten that on these boards Oklahoma is Southeast, Nebraska, Colorado and the Dakotas are

Western, and Kansas is linked to Missouri in the Heartland.

The real region is Canada to Mexico, The Rockies to the Mississippi, in my mind.

A plains state thing.

And I agree about the merchant/support services role KC played in the westward movement. I wasn't espousing the "quitter" theory myself - although, as I said, there is some degree of truth. I just wanted to echo someone else's comment and point out that it's unfortunately a somewhat commonly held theroy.

And, yes, there have been other threads where I've wished at least OK were in the same region we are - although joiei is the most active poster and I know he monitors both, so he'll keep us honest :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I am not sure on the "quitter" thing. Yes there may have been a lot of people that did stop in KS and did not travel futher. Although I would say that those people that did quit probably didn't stay. It is not an easy place to live, especially back in the homestead days. Most of the people that are from North Central KS, where I grew up, came there in the late 1860's through the 1880's for the land. My fathers family came from PA and settled in the 1870's about 8 miles from my home town. The people that came and STAYED, were by no means quitters. They were survivers.

It is easier to change a menu than a growing season.

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I am not sure on the "quitter" thing.  Yes there may have been a lot of people that did stop in KS and did not travel futher.  Although I would say that those people that did quit probably didn't stay.  It is not an easy place to live, especially back in the homestead days.  Most of the people that are from North Central KS, where I grew up, came there in the late 1860's through the 1880's  for the land.  My fathers family came from PA and settled in the 1870's about 8 miles from my home town.  The people that came and STAYED, were by no means quitters.  They were survivers.

Man, I'm sorry I even brought it up! As I said, it was an old college roommate's theory and, again:

I wasn't espousing the "quitter" theory myself

The end result of those long-ago discussions was to wonder what would WE have done if, say, our wagon was so broken up we couldn't go on. Needless to say, none of the options was easy - proceeding on afoot with what you could carry; staying on or trying to return to wherever you came from, again either afoot or potentially via river/rail (depending on the time/availability). They're all survivors in my book. If I un-muted my TV right now I would hear about 10 minutes of whining about the heat - and yet somehow they managed without air conditioning, swimming pools, etc, etc. Hat's off to them.

Never bite (nor insult) the hand that feeds you :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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As far as the food, what I remember from my days at good ol' Derby High, proud member of the Chisolm Trail League, was the excellent chicken fried steak, terrific hamburgers and onion rings, delicious steaks, and the afore-mentioned pies and other baked goods.

And plenty of beer at The Flame.

And canned corn.  Something I still don't understand.

I do 'wander the Kansas roadways' from time to time, most recently a few months back.  And took some recomendations from Roadfood.  Couldn't understand why, after driving for countless miles past fields of ripe corn, in the restaurants there was nothing but canned.

Wow, small world -- I'm a CTL Mulvane Wildcat.

You're right about the canned corn -- I NEVER choose corn in a restaurant around here, unless I see it coming out of the kitchen on a cob, or I know the cook. I just double up on the potatoes.

And I'd hate to think that Kansas was for quitters -- my ancestors came here willingly, for the inexpensive farm land and clean living. We're not farmers anymore, but there was really no reason to move on. We like it here.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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We're not railin' against you, Judy. Jayhawkers are just passionate.

Didn't I see that somewhere?

I can take it - just didn't want anyone thinking that I really believe that - especially anyone who will be feeding me in the not-too-distant future :shock:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I'm an El Dorado Wildcat!!! And I'm right there with you on the canned corn issue.

Kansas cuisine to me is farm food. Lots of fresh or home-preserved vegetables, beef and pork, and a lot of chicken. That's what my folks were raised on and that's what they fed me. And that's what I fed my kids.

Even though we moved 700 miles south when our daughter was 5, she never lost that love for Kansas. She returned for law school, married a Kansas boy and is raising her family in western Kansas. It's a great place.

Stop Family Violence

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After my trips up to KC, I never realized that the favored strain of corn in that region was Del Monte. (sorry, i couldn't help myself). I used to work with a pastry chef who was from Kansas and he would wax nostalgic talking about running the corn from the field to the pot that was bubbling on his mom's stove. The object was to have the corn cooked as soon as possible after picking. I have never had this experience, but it does sound like a whole different thing from what I know. I would be willing to try it to see how different the corn tastes when done this way.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Mulvane and El Dorado, eh? Boo on y'all. :raz:

And Joiei...I also used to live on a farm in Nebraska, and that's what we did. Mom would get the pot boiling and only then send the kids running out to pick the corn and race it back.

It was so good and fresh.

Dad preferred to roast it, though, so same deal when Dad was holding court at the BBQ grill. After the coals got hot, he'd send the kids off to the cornfield.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I think I need to clarify a mistaken impression some folks carried away from my recounting of my mother's take on how Kansas came to be Kansas.

Actually, it's more like what Big Country said about his family. They weren't quitters, they were survivors.

To invoke Mom's metaphor, the quitter would be the person who, when the wagon broke down en route, decided to turn back for the relative comforts of Independence or the Town of Kansas.

The survivor is the one who, when presented with the same calamity, decides, "Well, here we are, so we may as well try to make a living."

And we mustn't forget the emigres from Russia and Eastern Europe, and the freed slaves, both of whom came later, and for both of whom Kansas was the Promised Land. Those freed slaves had to overcome all sorts of obstacles--not least among them being that the land they were told was promised them wasn't--to make a new life in Kansas.

Ad astra per aspera. Few state mottoes fit their states so well.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I think I need to clarify a mistaken impression some folks carried away from my recounting of my mother's take on how Kansas came to be Kansas.

Yeah, thanks, Sandy - and I fell into your trap by quoting my old roommate. I guess the lesson is that rural Kansans are proud and passionate.

A friend's father from Barton County was fond of telling this joke:

Did you hear about the farmer who was arrested for child abuse?

No, what did he do?

He left the farm to his kids! (rim shot)

BTW, to all of you waxing sentimental about corn, it's darn good this year - although I can't have the water boiling while I go pick it: it's across the road, I forgot to have kids, and the girl scout in me won't go that far with the stove on. :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I've just returned from the garden and I have (for today, at least) the definitive answer: tomatoes are the food of Kansas. I'm enjoying a green zebra, a couple of garden peaches and an Anna Russian and I would happily give up chicken-fried steak for them any day. Mmmm.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I've just returned from the garden and I have (for today, at least) the definitive answer:  tomatoes are the food of Kansas.  I'm enjoying a green zebra, a couple of garden peaches and an Anna Russian and I would happily give up chicken-fried steak for them any day.  Mmmm.

You're right. Sliced tomaotes on the table are certainly one of my fondest memories of Kansas. My nephew just moved to Salina, so I guess I'll be heading back up that way sometime again soon.

I also used to live in Manhattan, but those were college days, so my fondest memories of food there run to pizza and fishbowls of beer. I suspect that's a fairly universal memory, though, and not specific to Kansas.

:rolleyes:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I've just returned from the garden and I have (for today, at least) the definitive answer:  tomatoes are the food of Kansas.  I'm enjoying a green zebra, a couple of garden peaches and an Anna Russian and I would happily give up chicken-fried steak for them any day.  Mmmm.

I have a couple of Brandywines sitting on the counter ready for lunch today, could be breakfast. I picked them last night because I didn't want the rain last night to water them down.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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BTW, to all of you waxing sentimental about corn, it's darn good this year - although I can't have the water boiling while I go pick it: it's across the road, I forgot to have kids, and the girl scout in me won't go that far with the stove on. :wink:

Judy: That's what men are for. You stay with the pot of boiling water and have the SO do the running and picking. :laugh:

As for the quitter/survivor question, I definitely weigh in on the survivor side. In the late 80's the Wichita Eagle reprinted sections of the diary of a settler named Leon Fouquet. Although I don't remember his motivations for settling here, other than perhaps being given some land as a homesteader, I do remember that the conditions under which he lived were incredibly harsh. Perhaps the early settlers were unsure of the stories of what they'd find when they reached the west coast, and decided to settle for a sure bet here. In any event, they have my respect and admiration. Myself... I never would have had the courage to do it.

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Judy:  That's what men are for.  You stay with the pot of boiling water and have the SO do the running and picking. 

I'd have better luck training a Labrador, but thanks for the suggestion nonetheless. :wink:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Judy:  That's what men are for.  You stay with the pot of boiling water and have the SO do the running and picking.  

I'd have better luck training a Labrador, but thanks for the suggestion nonetheless. :wink:

Oh, thanks. Now I have Diet Rite dripping out of my nose and all over my keyboard. :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Edit: I'd offer Fred's services, but he'd eat all the corn before he got there. And the vet says that if we're going to let him eat anymore corncobs (as if we actually allowed him to have the last ones), we need to boil them to mush FIRST. The last ones he got were pretty rough on his gut... :blink:

Edited by jgm (log)
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