Midwest Ar Roundup - The Results Are In... - Just a few thoughts... Blog at Allrecipes.com - 205561

Just a few thoughts...

Midwest AR Roundup - The Results Are In... 
Nov. 15, 2010 9:43 am 
Updated: Nov. 22, 2010 5:52 am
Where should I begin? Oh yeah, at the beginning... This adventure began when I became very interested in the Ohio meet-up and then from all of the "buzz" from the Southern Cal get together. Cat Hill mentioned on one of the SoCal blogs about interest in a Midwest meet. That sounded great, so I put it out there asking for opinions as to when, where and perhaps someone who could host, while I would be happy to help coordinate. We had strong interest in a fall meet in the Kansas City area, soon to be known as the Midwest AR Round-Up and Cat had graciously offered the hospitality of her home. The plans began. Blogs and emails later, the date was set for Saturday, November 13th.

Friday, November 12th... Excitement set in. My bags were packed and I was ready to go. Starting my trek from central Illinois, I caught I-80 and took it all the way to Des Moines, then turned south towards Kansas City. Right before Des Moines, the weather turned and I had a lot of rain and some fog. A few hours later, I was driving in the dark. Oh happy day... Finally arrived at my destination and was welcomed with open arms (literally...) by Cat. It was wonderful to finally meet her and her family, particularly her husband Jeff who was known affectionately through her emails as "husband in doghouse". I heard that phrase so often I was envisioning someone with more "mastiff-like" facial features. Not the case, by the way. Their son, Ryan, is a fine young man.

When I entered the kitchen, my senses were assaulted by the sight and smell of the smoked pork butt (whimper...) If this was any sign of tomorrow, I was going to be one happy camper. Speaking of campers, I had deluxe accommodations in their gigantic travel trailer. Very comfy and I had a good night’s sleep.

Saturday, November 13th... Today is the day. Weather was good, no rain. When I entered the house, Cat had been up extra early and already had cinnamon rolls out of the oven and was ready to pop in the apple muffins. Yumm... As she finished prepping her meats, marinades and other miscellaneous items, I tried to help out where needed. Oh yeah, in between everything she was decorating her windows and doorways with fresh cut greenery, grasses, berries and flowers. I can hardly arrange a flower vase.

Brenda (bhawk), the first guest to arrive, rolled up her sleeves and immediately pitched in to help, fixing the cole slaw (Cat’s recipe and adding a few of her own little touches). The meats were ready for the grill & smoker and Jeff was head grill master. More guests arrived and we had ourselves a party.

The food was great and the company even better. Terrie and DJ, neighbors of Cat’s who appreciate good food, came with Terrie’s folks from Maine, Carol and Gordon. I had never met anyone from that part of the country and hearing their accent was delightful. Also in attendance was Alan (mighty deer hunter friend of Jeff & Cat’s). Brenda from Leavenworth, KS area is a wonderful woman that came directly from an overnight youth group outing. Sheila from Topeka, KS (MiBeingMi) arrived with delicious slow-cooked baked beans (that were a hit with everybody) and a cheesy potato/hash brown casserole. Lisa is from Kansas City area (caluv52) and arrived with her two boys and a truckload of desserts. She brought an entire dessert buffet, for which we were very grateful. I had brought a dried beef dip with crackers and a chocolate applesauce cake. Cat provided smoked pork butt, barbequed ribs & chicken, and Guy Fieri’s Mean Green Turkey Machine. The flavors and the smokiness of the meats were awesome. Also featured - coleslaw, homemade herb dip with homemade crackers, and smoked almonds. Cat also made Mike Harvey’s recipe for pickled pumpkin, which no one had ever tried, and we were very pleasantly surprised. Cat also roasted the pumpkin seeds for a crunchy treat. She also made a fantastic hot mulled cider. What’s For Dinner Mom’s hamburger rolls had also been made, along with sourdough bread, and were the perfect accompaniment with Cat’s homemade butter.

Back to Lisa’s dessert buffet, where should I start? Pistachio Fluff, Oreo Fluff, Caramel Cake, Pistachio Bundt Cake, and Almond Grahams (also known as Crack because once you start on them, you can’t stop). We found that this is true, particularly of Terrie, who made multiple trips to the dessert table for the "Crack".

Trust me, no one was counting calories, carbs, or fat grams.

Well, I’ve described the food, now let me describe the people. Cat is a wonder, a master gardener, specializing in organic growing, herbs, and healthy eating, and obviously a very experienced, accomplished cook. Brenda works for a health department certifying daycare centers, and is passionate about working with teenagers. Sheila and I share a common work background. She has worked for several years with general contractors and I have worked for an engineering firm for the last 24 years. Lisa has the most beautiful smile and has a quick, subtle wit. When you least expected it, all of a sudden out popped a quiet little zinger. She’s also a terrific Mom, because when she left everyone commented on how well-behaved her boys were. Thumbs up, Mom!

We had a great afternoon, with lots of laughter and stories. We had door prizes, and also had a game of "identify the herb." Cat has a beautiful sunroom that is scattered with pots of herbs, flowers and other plants brought in to protect from the cold. You could tell that most of us had just the very basic, limited knowledge of herbs, as she had us stumped for most of them. Whenever someone guessed an herb, she walked over to her shelf, grabbed something from outside, or pointed to a pot and said "no, this is ...". Quite frankly, we were hopeless and she had to drop a lot of hints. I believe she said she had over 60 varieties of herbs.

A big shout out to Carla (Lady Sparkle) who very kindly sent crocheted dish cloths for everyone as well as vintage cookbooklets (not exactly a word, but I think you get the idea). Best we could tell, they were from the 50's and 60's. Who could forget Sheila reading ironing tips from the back of one of them. The helpful hint of putting your items through the wringer of your washer? Lisa couldn’t get over the coupons in the back with no expiration date and no bar codes. Wonder if they’re still good? Big thanks also to What’s For Dinner Mom who sent everyone absolutely beautiful handmade aprons, all in fun, funky colors and patterns. Lisa brought gift bags for everyone with scented candle items, hand creams, and nail polish. (I believe this means I need to treat myself to a manicure.) Cat provided bags of wood pieces for smoking. I can hardly wait to try using their wood and Jeff’s smoking tips.

While Lisa and Sheila had to head for home, Brenda and I helped Cat pack everything away and then relaxed with a few adult beverages, since we were spending the night. A lot more conversation and laughs. We also toured the man cave area with the guys to see Ryan’s truck rebuild project, Jeff’s Ford convertible kit build in progress, a restored Allis-Chalmers tractor, and Jeff’s Harley. Then we checked out the Weber and I grilled Jeff (yes, pun intended) about different grilling/smoking techniques.

November 14th... Beautiful Sunday morning. Cat had again been busy and had made fresh sourdough English muffins, along with fluffy farm fresh scrambled eggs, and bacon for something akin to a Cat McMuffin. Wonderful...

Time to head home... I had an absolutely wonderful time. Seriously... (a favorite word of Cat’s). I took a different route home and headed toward Hannibal, Missouri / Quincy, Illinois. (Sheila, I went through your boyfriend’s family area and went through Astoria.) Nice weather, and best news, I got a call from my son from basic training. I hadn’t had a phone call in over a month. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have done a happy dance. Great 10 minute conversation, can’t wait to see him for graduation.

Arrived at home to be greeted by my boys (my 2 cats). As they rushed forward to show their affection, they stopped abruptly, and started sniffing suspiciously. ‘You’ve been fraternizing with someone of the feline persuasion’ they seemed to say. Well, yes, I did have a good time with the 5 cats there. Soon all was forgiven and I was once again supreme ruler of the cat food bowl.

OMG, I’ve gone on and on, but I wanted everyone to know how an exciting an event like this can be and you can’t possibly go into every detail, but you sure want to share everything that happened. There was a lot of interest in this get together, but with work or family issues/events, some were not able to come. We missed you! Hindsight is 20/20 and no one gave it a thought that we should have made sure we held the event when it was still Daylight Savings Time. I can hardly blame anyone for not wanting to travel unfamiliar country roads at night at the height of deer season. It takes nerves of steel. Even though I did it, I think my nerves were more like strong aluminum.

Hopefully, an Iowa Round-Up in the spring can get planned. I’ve got a lot of email addresses from interested parties.

Just to be clear, I am an average cook, so I pay attention when I get around folks that have better skills or different experiences than myself. I never was made to feel inadequate, but I am certainly inspired to try some new things.

If you have the opportunity to attend a round-up or would like to plan your own, all I can say is "Just do it!" You won’t be sorry. I traveled nearly 1,000 miles round trip and it was well worth it. Thanks to everyone that attended, and particularly Cat, who stepped up to the challenge and spent a lot of time and effort making this a successful meet. Cat and I discovered that we had an uncommon amount of parallels in our life, whether it was interests, opinions, or family structure/dynamics. (Cue the theme from The Twilight Zone.)

I am having technical difficulties with my camera (go figure...), so I will try to add pics in later, but I want to get this blog out there. I will have to check out Cat’s blog to see if she had better luck with her photos. Now do you know why I compliment everybody on their professional-looking photos? Because mine are not!

Special thank you to my hubby, who hardly blinked when I said I was going to drive over 8 hours one way to go spend a couple of nights at a stranger’s house, just so I could cook and have lunch with other strangers. He just said "drive carefully, and have a good time, I trust your judgment.’
As I close, hugs to all of my new friends, it was a pleasure to meet you all.

Lora (Magnolia Blossom)
Nov. 15, 2010 10:04 am
tap tap tap (sound of my foot tapping) waiting for pics! What a wonderful time you all had! So glad you all did the get together. Congrats on your perseverance!
Nov. 15, 2010 10:11 am
I thought that tapping noise was you wondering when you would finish reading or if you needed a bookmark. We had a great time!
Nov. 15, 2010 11:16 am
Ha Ha Ha as in the words of PW tap tap tap is this thing on? It was a pleasure to read. You had a lot of ground to cover!
Nov. 15, 2010 11:24 am
It was so great to meet you! Thanks for putting this together, it wouldn't have happened without you :) Glad to hear you made it home safely & btw, when will you be back out this way? LOL
Nov. 15, 2010 11:28 am
Wonderful blog MB! Thank you for the thoughtful and in depth retelling of your visit! Cat sounds like the perfect hostess to me! Getting up to make home made English Muffins and Cinnamon Buns! Very sweet. I thought of you guys all day and couldn't wait to hear how you all were. I am glad you liked the aprons! : )
Nov. 15, 2010 1:47 pm
EXCELLENT JOB!!!!!!! I was so hoping you would retell our story and fill in everything I missed!!!! If I hadn't been there your telling of the day through your eyes would have made me wish I had been! Did you tell your DH about a possible race and visitors from MO coming next year? At least we bring our own home LOLOLOL Thanks again for your efforts. It was a weekend to remember! Cat
Nov. 15, 2010 1:55 pm
That is really beautifully written. Wow I would love to have a home like that...nice work Cat.
Nov. 15, 2010 2:07 pm
Great blog MB! Thank you for sharing. I'm so glad to hear the MidWest Round Up was a success. :)
Nov. 15, 2010 2:53 pm
Oh wow!! It sounds wonderful, I SO wish I could have made it!! Thanks for letting us know how it went!!!
Nov. 15, 2010 3:05 pm
I did let the DH know. I will check out area events next summer/fall so you aren't limited to having to come a particular weekend if the NASCAR race weekend isn't good for you.
Nov. 15, 2010 3:55 pm
That sounds wonderful! So glad you were able to pull this off! Thanks for sharing!
Nov. 15, 2010 5:03 pm
WFDM, we loved the aprons. I've got one of the brown & blue prints. I have blue in my kitchen. I wanted to make your Orange Dreamsicle Cookies as a tribute since you send the aprons, but I couldn't find orange cake mix. By the time I had gone to 3 different stores, it was just too late to try and doctor up a regular cake mix. I didn't want to experiment and screw something up without giving it a trial run first. Thanks for thinking of us. Lady Sparkle, I've got your cinnamon roll cheesecake recipe, but again I didn't have a chance to make a trial run and didn't want to goof it up. I'm going to try and make it for our company Thanksgiving dinner. Then I can report back my results. Thank you for dish rags and cookbooks. We had a good time with them.
Nov. 15, 2010 6:35 pm
Hmmm. September 18, 2011 - NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway. Guys can do their car thing, gals can go shopping or socializing?
Nov. 15, 2010 8:54 pm
Hey MB! Thanks for the great recap of your adventure! LOVE your sense of humor. I so wish I could have stayed for the adult beverages. I would have loved to spent more time getting to know each and every one of you! It seemed like the afternoon just flew by!! Thanks for helping make this wonderful adventure a reality. Please keep in touch. (Glad to hear you didn't hit any deer taking Hwy 36 back) :)
Nov. 15, 2010 9:54 pm
Magnolia Blossom, You have so wonderfully shared in story-like detail the great time you all had at the Midwest Round Up! A great read.... I (sorta) feel like I was there. It sounds like everyone enjoyed getting acquainted with each other and forming life long bonds. Kudos to you all for making it happen!
Nov. 15, 2010 10:05 pm
Wow MB, that was such and interesting and entertaining read. I really felt like I was looking in on you all. So glad you had such a good time with everyone and Cat does sound like a very gracious and wonderful hostess. Loved your husbands laid back way. He sounds like he doesn't rattle easily.
Nov. 16, 2010 5:26 am
sounds like a great time - i'm jealous
Nov. 16, 2010 5:32 am
How GREAT!!! Very enjoyable read MB :). It sounds like soooo much fun!! Deluxe accomodations ♥!! I love this site, yeah the food is good, but the PEOPLE make it!! Thanks for sharing this :)
Nov. 16, 2010 5:42 am
Wow MB...you really went the extra mile.. 1000 of them! I am so glad that you had a great trip and have formed a lasting friendship. I hope some of you can make it to Las Vegas for some good times and good people on May 14, 2011. Thanks so much for sharing.
Nov. 16, 2010 6:09 am
Just read Cat's blog, thought I'd come over here and read yours too. Soo glad you ladies could get together, it's so much fun!
Nov. 16, 2010 6:11 am
Oh, you lucky gals! So glad everyone had such a great time....and I can just "see" it all happening thanks to your great blog, can't wait to see more photos. Kudos to Lady Sparkle and WFDM?....such generous souls! You are inspiring me to consider a Virginia/DC/Maryland Round Up. I believe there are quite a few of us here!
Nov. 16, 2010 8:55 am
what a great job! i wish i could have been there! the food sounds terrific!! so glad you and all had a blast. we gotta see pictures!
Nov. 16, 2010 9:56 am
Sept 18th penciling it in now! Last weekend in July (my BD) is out for us. The BBQ Dude is looking forward to having someone else interested in going to the races with him! And guess what you ask nice he would be happy to BBQ at your house :)
Nov. 16, 2010 9:59 am
I have to say this for all those reading MB's blog, she truly is a kind, considerate and caring person. It was lovely to meet her and without her Sat. morning things would not have gone as smoothly as they did. But then again it was the people who shared the food that made the day!
Nov. 16, 2010 1:56 pm
Nice Blog Magnolia Blossom! Very well done, enjoyed it and will look forward to seeing your photos. - I already posted a note on your good friend Cat Hill's Blog about your special day, and will just 'copy and paste' it again here, as I would write basically the same: ---> "Awww. Now THAT is how meeting delightful fellow AR Buzzer(s) should be! ---> Warm, wonderful; definitely not one-sided!! I am from the Midwest myself, and wish that I could have been THERE with you! And, I can tell you all formed true, SINCERE friendships, like the other recent AR “Round-Ups”!! Nice photos also. ~ So glad you had this experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!" ______ =]
Nov. 16, 2010 6:37 pm
Thanks everybody for their kind comments. I realize that I practically wrote a novel, but I wanted people to get a feel for how everything went and to make them a part of the story too. Hopefully, I succeeded. Cat couldn't have been a better host and I look forward to meeting up with gals again (and hopefully add more AR peeps!).
Nov. 16, 2010 6:41 pm
One funny story about returning home, I was going through very rural west central Illinois and went past a business called Bastert's Farm Implements. Now I make and answer a lot of phone calls at work and I know that t's and d's are very often not heard correctly. Can you imagine calling the business and hearing "Bastert's" ? Just struck my funny bone. Of course, after that much driving, I was feeling a little loopy by that point.
Nov. 17, 2010 9:50 am
Bastert's Love it :)
Nov. 18, 2010 6:35 pm
I SO wish I would have been able to make it. Thank you for sharing your special day. I was a little sad knowing I was supposed to be there but I was happy for all of you. Glad to hear you had a great time and made it home safely!
Nov. 19, 2010 4:47 am
Thanks for the kind words MB! Wonder if that flavor cake mix is more seasonal and that is why you couldn't find it...? Thanks for thinking of it - you are sweet!
Nov. 19, 2010 7:00 pm
I'm going to chime in(unasked) for my roundup co-host since I know what she is doing or going to do here in the next few days. She gets to go see her son graduate from boot camp. So if she doesn't get right back I know she is on her way to South Carolina, I believe. I do know she is a proud mom who can't wait to see her son! Safe trip,MB!
Nov. 21, 2010 11:04 am
Well,isn't neat. I love how everyone has such warm feelings for the friendship and fun. I hope that those of us in the north east are so inspired.
Nov. 21, 2010 3:20 pm
Nic - Sorry you couldn't make it. I was looking forward to meeting you. Maybe next time!
Nov. 21, 2010 3:21 pm
WFDM - Any ideas what to do for a substitute for the orange cake mix? I really wanted to make those cookies. I'll have to wear my spiffy new apron when I do.
Nov. 21, 2010 3:22 pm
Mike, loved those pumpkin pickles. Who knew they would taste so good?
Nov. 21, 2010 3:23 pm
Maureen, you'll have a great time and make a lot of new friends with whomever you meet up with.
Nov. 21, 2010 3:25 pm
Lastly, Cat thinks for popping in for me. Sitting in a hotel in the Atlanta, GA area right now. Going to see DH's aunt tomorrow. Tuesday we'll go to Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah and then on to Columbia/Fort Jackson, SC. DS graduates from basic on Wednesday. Yippee!! Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. If anyone's traveling, have a safe trip!
Nov. 21, 2010 3:25 pm
Duh, not thinks, I mean "thanks" !
Nov. 21, 2010 3:26 pm
Will post round-up photos when I get back, plus a couple of the kid.
Nov. 22, 2010 5:52 am
Hey, been thinking of you and hoping your trip is going well. It'll be so great seeing the kid!!!!
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Magnolia Blossom

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About Me
Married for over 30 years living in a very small central Illinois community. Proud mother of 1 son in the Army. Admin Assistant for an engineering firm. Allrecipes Ambassador. Love meeting AR peeps. They're the very best!
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