In the 1900s children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” penned by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy is able to leave the magical world of Oz and return to Kansas by clicking her heels and saying, “There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home.”
How right bright, young Dorothy was. There truly is no place like home.
In 2007, I built what was, at the time, my dream home in Jackson County just outside of La Salle. It was quite the undertaking – if you have ever lived through a build, you know what I mean.
Because I was busy at the time with other endeavors, things construction-wise were pushed to the back burner until they just could not wait any longer. Because the house was to be featured on the Victoria Builders Association Parade of Homes, there was a finite finish date looming. When I finally really got serious about the project, there were only five months and nine days – yes, you read that right – left to have the project completed, the house fully furnished and tour-ready.
It was a whirlwind from start to finish, and I often joke that if it had taken five months and 10 days, I probably would not have survived. In the end, I am glad things worked out the way they did. Once the Parade of Homes was finally over, my family settled in at home.
I have a love-hate relationship with living in the country. I hate that everything is so far away and that I don’t have neighbors who can pop in for a glass of wine in the evenings, but I love looking out as I soak in the tub and seeing my cows in the pasture.
I hate it when rattlesnakes and skunks find their way to my back patio, but I love watching the sunset from my game room balcony.
When I say “hate,” it is tongue-in-cheek, and at the end of the day, I truly love my home and all the memories I have made there.
When I was making final selections both for building and decorating my home, I made a concerted effort to invite the outside in. I wanted stone that blended with nature, almost all the interior paint was selected to complement the tones of the pasture around me and I picked big windows to let the sunshine in.
I gave up a lot of upper cabinet space in the kitchen to accommodate a window, and I am very glad I did. I love watching the sun set (and occasionally rise) while I cook.
When I was staging our home for the Parade of Homes, I decided at the last second I wanted something large and green to fill a big vase on the kitchen island, but because there is no home decor store in La Salle I looked the only place I could – the pasture.
Big, full mesquite branches fit the bill perfectly. They were beautiful and exactly what the space needed.
Over the years, I have decorated many times with flora and fauna scavenged from the pasture, but rarely – except in the case of dewberries – have I cooked with it, until now.
I was perusing a digital copy of Garden and Gun magazine – one of my favorites – and happened upon an article titled “The Culinary Magic of Mesquite Beans.” I have grilled meat over mesquite coals many times, but until that moment, I had no idea mesquite beans could be eaten. Turns out, they can be.
Their flavor was described in the magazine as having hints of chocolate, coconut, caramel and even graham cracker.
I was so intrigued that I ordered some mesquite flour from Amazon. Two days later, when it arrived on my doorstep, I set to work. I settled on a chocolate cake because I thought it would make the most of the natural flavors of the flour. Boy, did it ever.
I was invited to a little dinner party recently and took this cake to share. It was a hit. The beans on my trees are not quite ready for harvest, but when they are, you can bet I will make my own batch of flour. Enjoy.