Nov 8, 2010

Visiting Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri

I always thought that succotash was cream corn with lima beans added by mothers to get their family to eat lima beans. It was never my favorite veggie. Then I went to Branson, Missouri and found an awesome version of succotash.

When I heard the Silver Dollar City was a theme park it did not make my heart beat faster because theme parks are not high on my to-do list. But, John and I loved Silver Dollar City. We didn’t go on any rides. In fact the rides are on the perimeter of the park and we didn’t even realize that there were rides. There is truly something for everyone of every age to do at the park.

The park grew around the entrance to Marvel Cave, which has drawn tourists since 1980. Touring the cave is not for the faint hearted. The 60-minute tour includes climbing over 600 steps. In 1960 the owners created the 1880s Ozark Mountain Village around the entrance to the cave based on the foundation of a genuine 1800s mining town of Marmaros. There is a flag raising ceremony every morning when the park opens for the day.

Many of the craftsmen are demonstrating in vintage buildings. There are an amazing number of people plying their crafts. It wasn’t possible to pass by the cinnamon buns the baker was just pulling out of the oven or the peanut brittle that has just cooled to the cracking stage. We bought lye soap from Martha Sudweeks who explained, “Lye soap was made from wood ash in the old day and got a bum rap because it was so harsh. The soap I make is milder but still retains its beneficial properties.” There were knife makers, glass blowers, candle makers, and the ever popular blacksmith.

There are over 40 live shows every day. John went to Silver Dollar City’s Opera House to see their original musical production “Headin’ West.” It was a tale of moving West in the 1860s including the perils along the way – buffalo stampedes, whitewater rapids, and other adventures. The show was free.

I went to the Culinary & Craft School where I learned how to make succotash the yummy way. Actually, it is a whole meal and as, Debbie Dance Uhrigh, a Master Craftsman of Culinary Arts explained, “This succotash can include whatever vegetables or meats that are available.”

Silver Dollar City’s Succotash
1 lb. lightly breaded okra
8 ounces frozen whole kernel corn
8 ounces yellow summer squash
8 ounces slice red potatoes – precook in an oven at 350 for 30 minutes
8 ounces diced pre-cooked chicken (or leftovers)
4 ounces sliced green peppers
4 ounces sliced onions
1 tsp. garlic power
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
Butter-flavored vegetable oil as needed

Sauté onions and peppers in oil. Remove from skillet. Sauté chicken in same skillet with the oil. Remove after heating thoroughly. Sauté corn, squash, and potatoes in same skillet. Remove. Fry okra until golden brown. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add all the other ingredients to the skillet and heat to desired temperature. Serves four as a main dish.

John and I met up after the cooking lesson. John said, “Too bad you didn’t go to the show. You would have loved it!” But, I loved the cooking class. Can’t do everything. Branson and Silver Dollar City are definitely on our To-do List.