Enjoying a steakhouse dinner and dinner theater in Kansas City.
How on earth did such a fitting song literally start playing as I pulled into the hotel parking lot? Electric Light Orchestra couldn’t have been more timely, with lyrics to a song I’d never heard but conveyed my thoughts exactly.
A little too dramatic, perhaps, but not either. I hate driving, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m a real wimp when it comes to anything but country roads. I’m not a bad driver — the only time I’ve been pulled over was when the license plate sticker wasn’t updated in a timely manner — but I don’t like it, especially in the circulation. I don’t have much experience driving around town, and at this rate, I never plan on having any.
The longest distance I ever drove was from Ohio to Kansas, because I had to get my car here somehow when we got married and moved. Since then, I’ve been to Kansas City once and back, and that’s the extent of my experience: until last weekend, when I made that trip again.
I know, it’s so long, more than three hours. Like I said, I’m a wimp. I so rarely need to go anywhere without Brian; he likes to drive and I’m too bored or too anxious, so I happily stay in the passenger seat.
But this time we were heading to KC for Brian’s co-op board meeting/retreat. We couldn’t take all the kids, so I put the girls up in daycare while Brian went for an early ride with a friend. Benson and I made it all the way to the hotel with minimal work, so my theme song may have been unnecessary, but there’s rarely a bad time to celebrate being alive.
I’ve never been so excited to hang out in a hotel room. I usually think if we’re going somewhere we should go out and do things, but this time it was different. It’s been almost three months since the girls came to live with us, and while of course we love them and enjoy being with them, it can feel like a lot sometimes. Benson isn’t weaned yet, so he has to come, but having only one baby (even as mischievous as he is) felt like a glorious reprieve.
This may have seemed more relaxing than it actually was, since Benson wasn’t as interested as I was in putting his feet up, sipping coffee, and doing the crossword puzzle (although he loves coffee, I blame Brian). However, between getting out of the trash and off the couch, we checked out the pool and the mall, and I really appreciated the lack of dishes, laundry, and cooking.
Although I didn’t cook, I certainly ate a little. One of my most-watched movies has the phrase “I’m just here for the food,” and that’s not an inaccurate representation of my priorities for travel. The only activities planned for the wives were to join the men for supper, something Brian and I were looking forward to. Benson had to come to the steakhouse — and even got his own ice cream order — but we dropped him off at a friend’s house the next night while we were going to a dinner theater.
A dinner and a show always sounded so delicious to me and I was not disappointed. Listening to “Johnny Cash” while enjoying my second plate of sesame chicken and polenta? Yes please. Without children? Yes please! The music, setting, food and company were all delightful.
So while I didn’t necessarily enjoy my drive to Kansas City, we made it come alive, and the quick vacation was definitely worth it.
Our normalcy is fine too: where every night with these three kids is dinner and a show.
Mushroom red-eye sauce
Apparently most people order steak at a steakhouse, but I ignored the general consensus and opted for a plate of succulent-sounding shrimp and grits (I’m from the South, after all). The creamy parmesan grits with blackened jumbo prawns and chorizo would have been fabulous on its own, then it was drizzled with that savory and sweet red-eye mushroom sauce. I didn’t know I’d need the coffee part, because Benson reminded me all night that he prefers his crib at home. I obviously don’t know the restaurant’s recipe, but here’s an educated guess at something similar.
PREPARATION TIPS: Legend has it that the addition of red eye (coffee) came from an industrious cook splashing the last pot of the morning into the pan; you can do the same, although of course you want to steer clear of a flavored brew that day….
2 thick slices of bacon, diced
½ cup ham, diced small
1 small sweet onion, diced
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup flour
1 cup chicken broth (or ham)
1 cup strong coffee, plus more as needed
salt, pepper, brown sugar
Brown the bacon and ham in a sauté pan until golden brown. Remove the meat from the skillet and set aside. Sauté onion and mushrooms in bacon fat, adding butter if needed. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute before slowly incorporating the broth and coffee. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened. Return bacon and ham to sauce; season to taste and add more coffee if you want a thinner consistency. Serve over oatmeal, of course, or cookies, ham steaks or mashed potatoes.
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