Chow Town

Stephenson’s Apple Farm story evokes hundreds of memories, plus Green Rice recipe

Stephenson’s Old Apple Farm Restaurant was located at the southeast corner of U.S. 40 and Lee’s Summit Road.
Stephenson’s Old Apple Farm Restaurant was located at the southeast corner of U.S. 40 and Lee’s Summit Road. File

Earlier this week, Chow Town blogger Jasper Mirabile Jr. wrote about his memories of Stephenson’s Old Apple Farm Restaurant in Independence and it struck a nostalgic nerve.

The story has been shared more than 1,300 times from The Star’s Facebook page and garnered more than 1,500 likes and other reactions. The story itself has had nearly 26,000 views.

Dozens and dozens of comments were reflections similar to Mirabile’s, whose descriptions of the cold apple cider, warm apple fritters and fresh apple butter were drool-inducing. Many said they celebrated anniversaries and birthdays there.

Here’s a sampling of fans’ memories:

Patty Lomax-Hurt: “Worked weekdays up in the cannery making the apple butter, fresh everyday, in a large copper kettle. While the apple butter cooked we would fill the hours making either corn relish or jellies. All of which was served and sold at the restaurant. … Great place... great food...great memories.”

Anne OBrien: “Stephenson’s was always my first choice for my birthday dinner out. Loved drinking their fresh cider while waiting to be seated, the fritters that came before dinner, great food, taking home baskets of peaches and apples, oh boy do I miss that place!”

Cynthia Zach Morse: “Many moons ago, my parents used to travel with us from Omaha to KC (long journey with 3 munchkins in a VW bug!), and Stephenson’s, the Royals, and Worlds of Fun were always on the itinerary. What great memories!”

Kay Ninour: “Gosh, we celebrated so many events (including my parent’s 50th anniversary)... special place and special memories.

“I live in AL now, and have lived other spots. Always went back until I saw the sale of the property with Sharon & Steve in front of the historical sign. Could not go there now. God’s blessings on the wonderful family who created such warmth and loving memories.”

Herman Kirkpatrick: “I worked there my last two years of college as an ‘Apple Farm Boy,’ waiting tables in the evenings. All the waiters back then were students, some from UMKC, the School of Osteopathy, and like myself CMSU at Warrensburg. It was a lot of camaraderie and fun, and very good money too. I have a menu from back then and a nice thick cut KC Strip went for $3.25 or so. That was in 1967-68. … That job helped me get through college, and I will be forever grateful for the money, and even more for practicing people skills that helped me later in life. People on vacation from other parts of the country would divert, just to have a dinner there. The meals were really the best in the Midwest at that time.”

Angie Myers Braun: “My dad was the chef at Stephenson’s for 35+ years. Lobster Charles was named after my dad, Charlie Myers. For my sister and I, growing up at the ‘Farm’ was a great experience holding lots of fond memories. Miss the restaurant but, most importantly, miss my dad!”

Finally, while Mirabile shared the recipe for Stephenson’s Baked Chicken ’n’ Butter, many readers asked for the recipe for Green Rice Casserole.

Reader Amy Burnett came through, copying it straight from the restaurant’s cookbook. “Happy green rice tasting!” she wrote. Thanks Amy!

Green Rice Casserole

3 cups cooked rice

1 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

14 1/2-ounces of evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each of seasoned salt, and pepper

1/4 teaspoon Accent seasoning

Juice and grated rind of one lemon

Dash of paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix rice, parsley, cheese, onion, green pepper and garlic in greased 2-quart casserole. Blend rest of ingredients. Mix into the rice mixture. Sprinkle top with paprika if desired. Bake about 45 minutes, or until like a soft custard.

The Golden Ox Restaurant closed its doors after 65 years at 1600 Genessee in the West Bottoms area of Kansas City. Longtime and curious customers flocked to have one last meal. (Dec. 19, 2014)

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