Have you ever tasted something so utterly delicious that you wonder why on earth you haven't eaten more of it during the course of your life? Or, another thought that just occurred to me, maybe, just maybe, your tastebuds have been in training for that particular dish or meal. Would it be as good if you had access to it anytime anywhere? I dare say it would not. Would this special treat become a lovely gustatory memory if you could have it any time your little heart desired? Would the second time be as unforgettable as the first? All good questions and worth pondering, n'est-ce pas?
This summer, I took a trip out to the mid-west with the World's Best In-Laws. Sister-in-Law and Parents-in-Law and I flew from RDU to Minneapolis (I had no idea an airport could be so spread out) then on to Rapid City, South Dakota. We rented a car and then drove south to Crawford, Nebraska. The Ex-Ex and his family are from Nebraska. Cattle ranchers. They moved to North Carolina when the Ex-Ex was going into 7th grade. I was the trip's chauffeur. The In-Laws hadn't been back to Nebraska in a few years. It was Father-in-Law's 60th high school reunion and Sioux County fair weekend. I am always up for an adventure and I hadn't been back in over 10 years.
For lunch one day, Aunt Linda wanted to go out and about and she suggested lunch at the High Plains Homestead's Drifter Cookshack. It is out in the middle of nowhere but a lovely nowhere. I am a mountain girl but the prairies out in the northwest corner of Nebraska are breathtakingly beautiful to me.
Could this have to do with all the westerns I watched as a little girl with Daddy Tommy? John Wayne? Clint Eastwood? Well, maybe. It is unchanged country where ranchers still try to make a decent living under the hot summer sun and snow covered winters, completely at the mercy of the whims of the weather. Father-in-Law was so happy to see bales and bales and bales of hay and fields of clover. He spotted them from the air as we were getting ready to land in Rapid City. He sat up front with me in the rented Jeep and I was so glad to be with him.
Back to lunch. There weren't many choices on the menu. Not that there needed to be. The Cookshack is small, decorated with lots of cool stuff, and was slowly starting to fill up with hungry eaters when we arrived. Aunt Linda is a pie lover and asked about the day's selection.
She was told that there were only a couple of pieces left so we all agreed that they should be brought to our table immediately. I ordered an Indian Fry Bread Taco Salad. Freshly made fry bread. It was very good.
I polished it off. I could have ordered the infamous Coffee Burger and shared it with the entire table, but good sense prevailed and I decided against it.
(Unfortunately I think it is really hard to read. Sorry.) Suffice it to say that it is a legend out around Harrison and Crawford, Nebraska, having been the speciality of Sioux Sundries, now closed, for years.
Even though the pie was sitting in front of me, just waiting for my fork to cut into it, I resisted until I finished my salad. And here is the pie that dreams are made of...
I enjoyed it while Mr. Buffalo watched from on high. I ate my fair share of buffalo while out there but not that day. He seemed okay with me eating salad.
I shared the pie with whomever wanted a bite. I really did. There was also a slice of strawberry cheesecake-like pie, but it just didn't hold a candle to the coconut cream.
This was the best meal of the trip and watching the In-Laws share a meal with family they rarely get to see did my heart so much good. I just wish that the Ex-Ex, Son 1 and Son 2, Brothers-in-Law and Nephew could have been there, too. Like in the old days during our family vacations out there.
Here's the lunch gang--
After lunch, I wandered around to take photos.
The Pie Lady is also an artist. I met her and bought some of her notecards.
This photo I took just for you, Uncle Rod.
The infamous jackalope. You sure had fun in 1984 with the Appalachian Mountain girl who married into the family and made her first trip west of east Tennessee to visit. We missed you at lunch!
It was so much fun to spend time with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Dick and the first, second, and third (does that even exist?) cousins from North Dakota. Sabrina and her babies. Granddad Alan.
Brother-in-Law and Nephew did come join us for part of the stay. It was fun joining in on their photographic adventures.
Brother-in-Law is working on a photo montage of me... I look
Last, but certainly not least, since the whole clan wouldn't exist without them, I dedicate this blog post to Grandma and Granddad. We miss you. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Stay tuned for a recipe and Part Deux of Coconut Cream Dreams.
Bon appétit, Nebraska and all the In-Laws! Thanks for a wonderful trip.