Grit Blogs > Waking up in Kansas

Tempted by Local Food and Friendship

By K.C. Compton


Tags: local food, neighbors,

Our neighborhood has an unlikely temptress in its midst and I have fallen prey to her charms.

A few nights ago, just as I was unloading my bag of accoutrements from work and settling in to feed the livestock, a loud knock came on my front door. Out here, that kind of urgent knocking can mean anything – "Your dog’s in the middle of the road again," or "Twister headed this way," or "Have you seen a horse meander through here?"

On this night, blessedly, what it meant was my neighbor Kathy sticking her head in the door saying, "I’ve made me a big ol’ pot of goulash. You better come up and have some."

I tried to demur, saying I had just gotten home, I needed to clean up my house, and anyway, I’ve just started this diet – I mean eating plan.

She peered at me with that take-no-excuses look and said, "Every bite of it came out of my garden, except the noodles."

Well, of course I was a goner. I fed the critters, schlepped up the hill and let Kathy feed me. It was, predictably, absolutely delicious, although she forgot to mention the ground beef and the little pieces of bacon – not from her garden, but from another farm a couple of miles away. You couldn’t find more local food: canned tomatoes, frozen corn, onions and garlic from Kathy’s garden; fresh herbs snipped from the containers she’s dragged inside for the winter. It’s almost as if the calories don’t count when the food’s that nourishing and just downright good.

On Saturday night, I was just settling down for a nosh of my own when the phone rang. It was Kathy again.

"I have some ribs cooking right now. Janet and Richard (two other neighbors) are here with me on the patio – in FEBRUARY! You better get yourself up here and help us with this food."

By now, I’m developing a low resistance to Kathy’s "you better’s" and I quickly surrendered, grabbed a bottle of wine and headed up the hill. What was I going to do anyway? Sit and talk to the dogs while I ate a cheese sandwich?

So we sat and we ate and had a couple of glasses of red. And they talked about the neighborhood – the time another neighbor’s holsteins got out and ate every single plant in Janet’s new landscaping; how the snapping turtles keep eating the ducklings; the boys down the road who drive their trucks like NASCAR competitors every time they leave the house.

Once again I’m struck by how much my social life has picked up since I’ve moved out here in the boonies. I like getting to know my neighbors, even though I don’t know how many of Kathy’s "you better’s" my waistline can take.

nebraska dave
2/9/2009 6:13:34 PM

K.C. we are so together on the scrabble game. I am not one that thinks at a fast pace so games of any kind are a real challenge for me. I, like you, play only so others will have someone to beat. It's a good thing that I don't have that traditional male competitive nature. When the games come out I rarely win, but by the end of the game it's usually lets all get Dave. I just love to be the spoiler. It kind of gets me in trouble sometimes, but in my gray haired wisdom, I have learned when to ease up and play nice. I expect it would be a dangerous thing for us to be in the same conversation. I really like to take words and morph them to together, use them in unusal ways, and even make up words that seem to fit the occasion. The best is to make up names for situations or problems. Some of the stuff can only be understood if a broad knowledge of other things has been downloaded into their cranium previously. I guess that's why I like the Disney movies so much like Shrek and Cars. So much of the humour in the movie is based on knowing things from past eras.


kc
2/9/2009 2:06:33 PM

HA! Thanks, Dave. My polyglot probably comes from years of trailing around pursuing a journalism career before coming to light here in eastern Kansas. I also grew up in a language-loving family, Scrabble Samurais every one, and as early as I can remember was surrounded by an affection for words. I have, however, never won a Scrabble game against anyone in my family. Every year, I go back for some holiday or other and every year, out comes the Scrabble board. I only participate now as a kind of communion, toasting my sisters and our mutual love of words, not the dopey idea that I might actually win. However, there's a new crop of nieces and nephews coming up. They're still young and inexperienced. Maybe this time ... I completely love the picture you painted of your neighborhood and the Sacred Order of the Grill. Only a couple of months ...


nebraska dave
2/9/2009 1:46:12 PM

Accoutrements, noshing, schlepping? Goulash, ribs, garden produce? Be still my heart. You indeed are living the good life. Lori inspired me to brew up a big pot of chicken soup with her article about rabbit casserole. Not quite the same but it will do for a Winter supper. Now, I must be off to the store to acquire accoutrements for goulash so I can nosh before the TV instead of schelpping around in the fridge to find something to eat. I just love your use of words. K.C. I'm not making fun of your writing in any way. I just love hearing a good story which this is definitely one and I love to play with new words that I've learned not to try to impress anyone but just to have fun. Here in Nebraska the grills are covered silently awaiting the warm days of Spring when fire becomes the main source of cooking from the backyards all across the neighborhood. There's just something about cooking over the primitive open fire. Aromatic smells waft through the air every evening, as neighbors spontaneously gather in little groups up and down the street around their grills. Kids scatter hither and yon playing from one yard to the next. Aaaaah, Spring at last has arrived. Sounds of adults laughing in the distance as shrill giggles of glee from the children drifting through the air are all background noises that maintain that all is well with the neighborhood. I yearn for those days to become reality in just a short month or two. In the mean time keep my sanity in tact, K.C., with more country neighbor stores.