The moment your car pulls off the gravel road and into Hoot Owl Hill you sense that you are in for special, some say even magical moments.
Hoot Owl Hill, located in Paola, Kan., is just a short skip and a hop from Kansas City. If you are looking for a respite it is an easy getaway that resembles camping —well ok, let’s be frank, this is called glamping.
What is glamping? Glamping is a modern way to camp for non-campers. No need to purchase camping equipment, tents or special cooking equipment. Show up and in an outdoor sort of way prepare to be pampered or would that be called “glampered?” Meals are provided so there is no fuss around the fire. Soft beds laden with quilts and decorated in a Laura Ashley style instantly make you feel safe and warm.
Whatever you call it, I highly recommend this glamping experience. One beautiful October Friday afternoon, four of my girlfriends and I descended on Hoot Owl Hill. In less than 24 hours we relaxed, sipped wine, watched a sunset like none other, enjoyed a scrumptious meal, told stories by the campfire, listened to trains, coyotes, dogs and country music, experienced a new form of shut eye and awakened to a beautiful new day. Breakfast was served along with piping hot coffee and before we knew it we were loading up to head back to our reality. The most important discussion on the way home was when could we return?
Steve and Brenda Wrischnik, owners of Hoot Owl Hill, have a wonderful love story. They are in love with each other, they are in love with the land, gardening, decorating, cooking and all things glamping and it shows. They both exude a type of energy that is highly contagious. Beware, for after a visit with Steve and Brenda you will begin to fantasize about life in the country and well let’s face it, you will covet their lifestyle.
But alas, reality slaps you upside the face and you just want to share this lovely oasis with others. The food, gardens, decor and artistic flair will be more than worth the cost of this experience. Glampers are welcome from April to October, but you better plan ahead as their reservations fill up fast. If your tribe includes some who just will not sleep outdoors, there are two guest rooms available inside their beautiful log cabin home.
We were served a scrumptious meal outside on the wrap around porch. We enjoyed a crisp, perfect salad, made with greens and vegetables from the gardens. Dinner was baked chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables roasted to perfection. The dessert was an experience all on its own--homemade apple pie with Calvados whipped cream. While we finished our coffee and pie, Steve built a bonfire that warmed us into the wee hours of the morning. Of course we used our time around the fire to enjoy the constellations that danced above us and we solved most of the world’s problems. We brought along all the fixings for s’more’s but after the meal we could not enjoy another bite. The conversation and girlfriend time made the night complete.
On this one particular October evening, good friends enjoyed lots of magical outdoor moments and a meal that pulled out all the stops. The memories of our glamping adventure will linger for years to come. Here is Brenda’s recipe for the baked chicken that she served
Baked Chicken ‘n’ Butter and Cream
Makes 4 servings
Water for dipping chicken
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cut up chicken
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups hot water
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine flour, salt, paprika and pepper in a shallow dish such as a pie plate. Dip chicken pieces into water, then coat with flour mixture. Place skin side up into prepared pan. Dot with butter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove from the oven. Combine dry milk with hot water and pour around chicken. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.
This recipe is adapted from Stephenson’s Restaurants Old Family Secret Recipes booklet, copyright 1967.
Roxanne Wyss is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is “Slow Cooker Desserts, Oh So Easy, Oh So Delicious!” “The Newlywed Cookbook: Cooking Happily Ever After” was introduced earlier this year. She develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She blogs at pluggedintocooking.com