Friday, December 4, 2009

Kansas Travel - Circle S Ranch & Country Inn

It has been more than a decade since my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in this room at Circle S Ranch & Country Inn, outside of Lawrence, Kan. After we drove down a long country road to reach the inn, the exterior that resembled an old Kansas barn was nothing like the casual luxury we found inside.The Blue and White Room still has the same claw foot tub and soothing blue walls that I remember from that special weekend.

The two story 'living room' hasn't changed much either. Double fireplaces still warm visitors during cold weather as they sink into deep leather couches and oversized chairs, chat and relax. The massive hot tub built in the modern silo looks very similar too.

Visitors can still fish on the property, hike throughout the farm's undisturbed acreage, watch the sunset from a rocker on the front porch, or read away the hours beside a roaring fire. They still enjoy enormous, country-style buffet breakfasts after each night's stay and can purchase a multi-course dinner in the casual dining room with Western decor.

But Jack and Mary, the owners of this family farm and highly successful inn don't rest on their laurels. In recent years, they've added a bar, an entry courtyard and patio, and a conference and media center. There's also a party barn where weddings and private parties of up to 200 people frequently take place.

Since none of the 12 rooms at Circle S are the same, visitors can choose a different environment each time they make a reservation, such as this one, called the Cowboy Room. There's also the Celestial Room, with moons and stars in the headboard and a private fireplace, or the Claret Room. Often called the honeymoon suite, it has a double-sided fireplace, a two-person whirlpool tub and a loveseat.

For a luxury getaway amidst calming natural beauty, Circle S delivers - time after time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fried Potato Salad with Mustard Glaze - Thanks Richard!

I recently raved about the Fried Potato Salad with mustard glaze that I enjoyed during my meal at Cafe on the Route, in Baxter Springs, Kan. After I also talked about this lovely stuff during Jasper Mirabile's most recent Saturday show on 710 KCMO Radio, Kansas City, I decided I absolutely had to make a stab at creating this dish myself.

My potato chunks weren't as well 'blackened' as Chef Richard Sanell's were, and his glaze was creamier/less grainy, but Mark and I were quite pleased with the results - given that it had been more than a month since I sampled his delicious spuds. So, with thanks for Richard's inspiration, I give you my version of Fried Potato Salad with Mustard Glaze.

Fried Potato Salad with Mustard Glaze
Makes 4-5 large servings

1/2 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
             plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
6 small Yukon gold potatos, cut in bite size chunks with skin on
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 cup dijon mustard
          (VOE - Country Style is more grainy than traditional, which I'd use next time)
 3 teaspoons honey

Heat skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and then add potatoes. Fry, covered, but stirring frequently, about 25-30 minutes until skin is dark brown.

Remove potato/onion mixture from heat and pour into a large bowl. Add salt and pepper and coat potato chunks evenly. Stir together mustard and honey and then add to bowl, coating evenly. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Trains at Union Station - Kansas City

Each year, since 2004, up to 25 members of the Union Station Model Railroad Volunteer Society have created a wondrous world full of model trains and miniature villages in the lobby at Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station. By the Friday after Thanksgiving this 3,000-hour project opens to the public.

Measuring 60 feet by 64 feet, with thousands of miles of track, the display changes every year. During this holiday season there are 50 trains operating simultaneously, including the largest and most famous G-scale (1/22nd actual size). Train buffs will also recognize:
                -L-scale/Lego trains (1/38th actual size)
                -O-scale trains (1/48th actual size)
                -S-scale trains (1/64th actual)
                -HO-scale (1/87th actual)
                and N-scale (1/148th actual)

Visitors may see a delicate Ferris wheel turning beside a curvy roller coaster, Santa and his team resting atop a snow-capped roof, or antique cars traveling through an Art Deco streetscape.
Snow sparkles between the tracks, holiday lights decorate tiny rooflines, and a brightly lit theater marquee announces the current show. In fact, well over 100 individual lights accentuate buildings, signs and signals throughout the display.
Children of all ages will appreciate the breathtaking and painstaking detail of this holiday masterpiece, through January 3, 2010. And there’s no charge for a trip to this lovely fantasyland, although donations are gratefully accepted. (Please note: these photos are taken from the 2008-2009 holiday display)