Tag Archives: Lawrence

Potlucks are the BEST.

I’m not sure I love anything more than eating really great home-cooked food.

Which means, of course, that potlucks are the best thing EVER.

One of my favorite springtime events during the past two years has been a soup potluck at the East Lawrence home of William S. Burroughs, the beat poet, troubled marksman and, at the end of his life, Kansan. (I’m claiming him. I think it counts.)

The Burroughs house in East Lawrence.

The Burroughs house in East Lawrence.

The setup involves a crowded stovetop and a host of crock pots bearing the most fantastic soups: some old family recipes, some new favorites, all homemade and all delicious. Salads, bread and dessert round out the meal — for the lucky ones who have room left in their bowls.

A few of the soup offerings, in the sunny kitchen window.

A few of the soup offerings, in the sunny kitchen window.

It’s tough to pick a favorite when everything is AMAZING, but here are some worth noting:

  • A simply gorgeous beans and greens soup with gigantic Christmas lima beans and kale. A dish so earthy and complex that I said “mmmm!” with every bite.
  • A pork posole, with a bright red broth, tender pork and soft hominy. All texture, all the time. The soup went under a pile of fresh radishes and jalapeños that added an additional layer of crunchy goodness. (We snuck back over for another bowl of this for lunch the next day. I can truthfully report that this got even more amazing over 24 hours.)
  • A creamy golden corn chowder, the color of late-afternoon sunbeams, with roasted red peppery sweetness and a hint of spice.
  • An Italian wedding soup with dainty meatballs and thick-cut homemade noodles.
  • A Greek avogolemono, a soup that almost defies logic: the broth is neither thin nor thick, but an opaque white and oh-so-lemony. There’s orzo, too, and some other chewy goodness involved.
  • A wonderful warm borscht with tender beets and a deep dill flavor.

And then there was the gingerbread. With fresh whipped cream. DELIGHTFUL.

Extra bonus points were awarded to this particular potluck because we got to hang out with some awesome if not a bit distant cousins who were also in attendance, including Mazlo, the next generation of Schneweis descendants to rule the Earth.

This is my cousin Mazlo and his awesome mom Laurel. I think Mazlo and I are like 61st cousins, or something like that. His great-grandpa was a first cousin of my great-grandma. So, you know, we're tight.

This is my cousin Mazlo and his awesome mom Laurel. I think Mazlo and I are like 61st cousins, or something like that. His great-grandpa was a first cousin of my great-grandma. So, you know, we’re tight. Cute kid, right?

Family, friends and food? Kind of like Christmas. In April.

Five Good Things About Topeka: Northeast Kansas attractions

Even though Chris and I lived relatively close to Topeka during our college years — he in Baldwin City, me in Lawrence — neither of us had spent much time hanging out in the Capital City.

So when we moved, we started asking the standard newbie questions. Can you recommend a dentist? Who cuts your hair? Where do you like to eat?

The overwhelming answer: Lawrence. Go to Lawrence for all those things.


They’re all looking for dentists, too. Photo from kuathletics.com

I’ve already written about how Lawrence is generally considered to be much cooler than Topeka. And over time, we gradually figured out where to go and what to do, where to shop for groceries, and so on. But there was one habit we could never break in the next city over, just 30 minutes to the East.

Free State Brewery.

It was already special to both Chris and me before we started dating. We ate there the night we got engaged. We’ve been there for birthday parties, baby showers, graduation dinners, late Sunday lunches and for Monday night cheap beers. We’ve made Major Life Decisions over onion rings and pints of beer. (And DIY beer floats.) The two-story dining room is great for people-watching — if you can weave your way through the standing-room only crowd to get to your seat.

They also have a most excellent patio.

They also have a most excellent patio.

The food is always outstanding. I usually get whatever’s on the special board, but my go-to menu item is the smoked turkey sandwich, grilled, with Free State’s awesome whole-grain house mustard instead of mayo. With fries on the side (dipped in more mustard) and grapes. This dish gets even better during the annual “March Mustard Madness,” where you’re handed a list of mustard categories from which to choose selections to go with your meal. I inevitably pick from the spicy and garlic categories.

But the beer… is out of this world. My favorite Free State beer is Lemongrass Rye, a seasonal brew which typically comes out around Memorial Day weekend. It has just a hint of lemongrass, which doesn’t make the beer fruity, but crisp and enjoyable on a warm afternoon. A few years ago, they made an Eutiner Lager, a light Helles-style lager that was a  collaboration between Free State brewers and the brewers in Lawrence’s sister city in Eutin, Germany. We’d just returned from Germany and decided that it was like we’d never left.

The best news is that they’ve added a bottling line in the last few years, so it won’t be far away. I’m already looking forward to visiting when we head back up to this corner of the state.

DIY beer floats

Free State Brewing Co. has some of the very best vanilla bean ice cream I’ve ever had — although this is a very recent discovery.

Tonight we ordered a tiny scoop of the ice cream and a small sample of the Cow Tippin’ Stout and made a miniature beer float at our table.

I highly recommend that you do the same. Oatmeal Stout will also work wonderfully. The beer has the slightest bitter note, offset by the sweetness of the ice cream. Each is delicious by themselves, but the combination of the two is nothing short of amazing.