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Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 10:19 pm

It HAS been a good day.

My friends, Sandra and Kirk, came to visit this morning (and I hope they come back tomorrow).  They live in IL so I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I would like.

Something between two of my toes has felt strange for a long time.  When I’ve asked someone to check it out, they haven’t seen anything. I don’t bend that way to check it myself.  Whatever it was has been there a long time and when I’ve asked nurses to check it, they haven’t seen anything.  Finally, I remembered to tell my doctor about it last week.  He found it and didn’t want to touch it, and rightly suspected it might be  another melanoma and sent me forthwith to see my podiatrist.  If those things are malignant, especially where mine was located by the pinky toe, they remove the toe. Standard procedure. That was a rather worrisome thought to ponder over Christmas.

Much to my surprise…and amusement…the nurse who looked at it before Dr. Bill arrived, pulled it right out,  It wasn’t attached to anything. It looked a little like a round  toenail clipping that had been there for a long time.  Daily showers didn’t dislodge it and I couldn’t stand on my head to see it.  Ally’s comment was:  you better start flossing between your toes.  It was good to be able to laugh about it.

That was on top of a biopsy last week on my nose.  Not a problem there either, except I look like I got snagged  on a fish hook.

Ally and I went back to Wood Fashion Cafe today for lunch.  I had the last serving of squash chili and found it a wonderful meal full of exciting flavors. William served it with homemade wheat bread slathered with butter.  Ally had pork quesadillas and black beans.  William is going to be closed for 10 days or more to completely refurbish his kitchen.  He’ll also have an entirely new menu.  He requested more of Ally’s mustard sauce and is hooked on it too.  He had some with his lunch, he said.

Tomorrow I’m fixing another big kettle of veggie/beef/barley soup.  It’s going to be the staple for the weekend…and for anyone who shows up to watch the K-State game tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to meeting one of my longtime blog readers from Austin.  We’ve shared some nice letters back and forth so it will be fun for us to finally meet.  He’s a dentist, his wife has relatives here and they have a young son I’ve heard a great deal about.  Holidays are great for bringing people together.

The forecast is for a beautiful day tomorrow…sunny and 55…with the bottom dropping out on Friday.  The weekend won’t be a good night to travel.  New Year’s Eve will be a good time to stay home, away from bad roadways and those who imbibe too much and then get behind the wheel.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 6:01 pm

A  retirement party will be held tomorrow from 11:00 until 1:00 in the administration building meeting room honoring Dr. Dennis Kepka, a family practice physician.  Dr. Kepka has been practicing medicine for 36 years and will be retiring Friday from his practice at clinics in Ellsworth, Wilson and Lucas and at ECMC.   The public is welcomed.

Dr. Kepka graduated from high school in Wilson and went on to Fort Hays State University where he continued his studies. After that he attended medical school from 1967 to 1977 at the Bologna School of Medicine and Surgery. He then served his residency in Family Practice.

Dr. Kepka loves the great outdoors. He enjoys up-land hunting, skeet shooting, collecting shotguns and fishing. Dr. Kepka also likes giving his time to his community. Every year he makes his famous spaghetti sauce for the annual Auxiliary Spaghetti Supper to help raise money to buy equipment for the hospital.

Some of Dr. Kepka’s accomplishments include his work for the Kansas Department of Corrections. Recently in Topeka, he received a citation for 15 years as a prison physician. He was also president of the Reno County Medical Society when he worked in Hutchinson.

For more on Ellsworth physicians, click here.


Filed under: prairie musings, family — Peg Britton @ 5:33 pm


Succulent stone crab claws arrived here last night, a gift from one of our favorite friends, Dave Guilfoyle.  What a treat they were; ready to eat and served cold with a special mustard sauce for dipping.  I had them for breakfast and dinner  today and now they are gone.  Timing is everything in this household.


We left separating the meat from the shell to David, the expert.  He came prepared with mallet and board for cracking the shells.


Only good things happen when you get two professional chefs in the kitchen together.


Drew should be in Colorado by now so the celebrating is over.  He left later than planned because we had a gathering at the Antique Mall for lunch…Drew, Todd, Karen, Ally, Samantha, Matt, Dawnae and I, then he was off with all the leftovers from the weekend in the same car with his ravenous dog, Sarge.  The dog will soon weigh as much as Drew. Drew kept my fireplace roaring and the hearth stacked with firewood while he was home.  He spoils us all.

Thanks for tuning in…


Filed under: political musings, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 10:38 am

TOPEKA | Kansas drivers should resist the urge to text while driving starting Saturday.

After six months of issuing warnings, law enforcement officers will begin handing out tickets Jan. 1 to anyone they catch texting while driving. The tickets will cost $60 plus any local court fines. The law also bans sending instant messages and e-mail while driving.

Lt. Robert Baker of the Kansas Highway Patrol said officers can easily tell the difference between texting and making phone calls. He told The Lawrence Journal-World that someone making a call looks at the phone for only a few seconds, while texting requires looking at the phone much longer.

The law includes exceptions for reading emergency-, traffic- and weather-related alerts and to report crimes.

Read it here…



Filed under: prairie musings, family — Peg Britton @ 12:25 pm


Our Eagle Scout firebuilder, Drew,  arrived from Boulder to get our house warmed and ready for Christmas cheer.  I love the way he builds fires…neat, tidy and smoke-free.  He hasn’t lost his touch.  The Santa in the background is over  100 years old and has attended everyone of my 82 Christmases.


Drew, career banker who lives and works in Boulder, with his Aunt Ally.


My kind of tree.


What’s for dinner?  Todd’s famous spaghetti, haricot beans, tossed salad with Balsamic/bleu cheese dressing, French bread and a spot of wine.  Cheese cake topped with fresh blueberries followed.


Karen is always giving someone a helping hand with laundry…even on Christmas day.


Todd, the spaghetti champ, helps with cleanup too.


We missed those in our family who weren’t with us this year.  Kenz was spending Christmas in Denver with her mother enjoying the arts…taking in museums, King Tut, the Nutcracker, etc.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:36 am



Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 8:45 am

For the first time, our U.S. military service men and women can serve openly as the people they are.  They don’t have to pretend to be something other than who they are.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is over and no one will have to sacrifice their integrity to serve our country ever again. It’s a glorious step forward toward full citizenship for gays.  The signing is a significantly poignant event for the  11,500 military personnel who have been discharged for being gay as they will be welcomed back.  It is predicted by military leaders that the implementation of this change will be a non-event.



Filed under: prairie musings, Artists — Peg Britton @ 8:47 pm



Filed under: prairie musings, Artists, Ellsworth Art Gallery — Peg Britton @ 6:54 pm

Here are three upcoming events in Ellsworth:

The Smoky Hill Pickers will meet on Sunday January 2, at 6 p.m. at the Ellsworth Area Art Gallery.  Everyone is welcome.  As always, the first Sunday of every month marks the time when the group convenes.

At the Ellsworth Area Art Gallery, the  Ellsworth High School Art students will have their art on exhibit until January 3rd.  The work is under the leadership of art teacher Brian Hutchinson.  They have a wide variety of art on display.  Please stop by and check out the art work of our Ellsworth High School students.  Support the arts and our art students.

Coming in January:  The 150th birthday of Kansas will be celebrated with displays of various artisans and artifacts.  It will include Kansas history, art reflection of Kansas wildflowers, nature, animals, birds, and other ways to celebrate the birthday of our state.  Plan to stop in and view this wonderful exhibit.

The Ellsworth Area Art Gallery is located at 223 Douglas, in downtown Ellsworth,  and is open Monday thru Friday, 12:30 to 4:30.

For further information about these events, contact Sharon Haverkamp at 785.472.5682


Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 5:11 pm

The eclipse drew me to it like a magnet last night; however, the prison lights were overpowering and stole my view away.  I gave up after awhile as I wasn’t about to go driving out in the country to find a place where I could see it better.  At 2:30, I closed it down and went back to bed.  I saw the moon and that’s about all.  I could have gone to Ally’s for a good view.  She was outside during the whole eclipse lying in a lawn lounge. One needed to lie down to see it.

Hot dang chili time.  The largest kettle I have is full of good, lean ground beef from the packing plant, an abundance of chopped fresh garlic and onions, chopped tomatoes, Williams chili seasoning, lots of rinsed dark red kidney beans, hands full of Rich Connally’s assorted pungent pods of hot chile peppers, beer, water and salt.  It’s enough to make a grown up cry in anticipation as it simmers away.  There is nothing worse than bland chili so I avoid that at all cost. Drew will have some to take home with him after the holidays.

A suspicious looking thing on my nose drew my doctor’s attention so he biopsied it today. It doesn’t look too bad except for the suture threads that are sticking out like long black whiskers on Ringo’s nose.  They’ll come out soon. Next week I get to see the podiatrist to have a suspicious looking thing between two toes removed.  I haven’t been able to look between my toes for about 10 years.  Old people gather suspicious looking things on their skin, especially in places one can’t see,  and it’s hard to keep up with them.  I need a full time skin inspector person.

The best baklava comes from Ellsworth, in my opinion.  What is available here is an elegant Greek dessert.  Baklava is a dessert with an imprecise origin and something hard to put your finger on because every ethnic group whose ancestry goes back to the Middle East has a claim of their own on this scrumptious pastry.  They all make it differently, but it has similar ingredients: phyllo dough, chopped nuts, honey, butter, sugar, etc.  The trick is in the assembly.  Here’s a recipe, but be sure to read all the reader comments below the recipe for additional advice.  It’s a labor of love to make it.  Over the years,  I have had Lebanese baklava, Syrian baklava, and almost every other kind imaginable.   Most are too sweet and dripping with honey to suit my taste.  If you are lucky enough to taste Chris Zouzas’s baklava or that made by her daughter Diana and her husband, Steve Steinhaus, you’ve had the best.  Theirs is perfect, not overly sweet, and very delicious.

You might want to watch Conan tomorrow night.   Erika Nelson from Lucas is scheduled to appear.  She’s a great representative of Lucas and will do them proud. She’s will be talking about the World’s Largest Collection of The World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things that she carries around with her in a bus.  If you haven’t been to Lucas, you need to devote a day to exploring their grassroots art collection and other assorted oddities.

Thanks for tuning in…


Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 11:06 am

Everyone in my generation grew up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  We were all taught that if you had a peanut butter sandwich, a banana and a glass of milk you got a bonus of nutrients in that meal to last all day.  However,  my penchant for peanut butter and sliced sweet onion sandwiches had to have a beginning somewhere, but I can’t remember where.  It has bugged me for years since they’ve been part of my diet seemingly forever.   It wasn’t a family thing as my brother and sister never heard of them and certainly my kids never thought they were worth trying.  I just have not been able to remember where I was introduced to them.  I felt sure I didn’t invent them.  Someone had to almost put it in my hands, but I have not been able to remember who or where.

Yesterday, the mystery of it all unfolded in a phone conversation with an old friend and K.U. sorority sister. She said one of her daughters who lives in Denver had been busy baking goodies for care packages for the girls in the Pi Beta Phi Sorority at Colorado University. It was something special to help them through final week.

My friend, Betty, who was on the other end of the phone said…”Can you imagine that?  Can’t you just imagine our Pi Phi alums preparing mounds of goodies for us during final week? ”

“No”, I replied.  Final week is a blur to me.  I remember nothing.

She went on…”When we were at K.U. we didn’t get any cookies and treats from alums.”

“I don’t remember getting anything  from alums, but my mom sent banana nut bread and all kinds of good things.”

“Everyone remembers your mother’s banana nut bread. No, we didn’t get anything from alums.  But, we did have that rare occasion during finals when we had kitchen privileges and we could fix ourselves a peanut butter and onion sandwich if we wanted.  At least we all smelled alike.”

Voilla!  That’s where I got started on peanut butter and onion sandwiches, at the Pi Phi house at K. U.  Now, I know why I’m the only one in my family who continues to consume this weird combination on bread. The kitchen privileges stopped by the time my sister was a Pi Phi. I forgot to ask Betty if she still eats them, but I bet not.  The mystery is finally solved.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, family, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 9:29 am

If you can stay up long enough tonight and the sky is free of clouds, you’ll be in for a great thrill viewing the lunar eclipse looming overhead.  The Earth’s shadow cast across the moon will begin at 12:32 a.m. and end at 4.01.  According to NASA, the last total lunar eclipse that happened on the winter solstice was Dec. 21, 1638. The next one will occur Dec. 21, 2094. This will be the last opportunity for many to view it.

Tonight the moon will turn dark copper red because the light from the sun is being refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere.  It is the longest night of the year.  After tomorrow the days start getting longer and that is something to which we all  look forward.  I have a feeling I won’t be crawling out of bed to see this spectacular sight, so maybe those who do will comment on it tomorrow.

This afternoon, between 5:00 and 6:00,  is pick-up time at my house for those who ordered Ally’s Prairie Mustard Sauce.  My house is easier to find than hers.  She had over 100 orders so I may need an arm-waving traffic officer in my driveway.


It’s hard for me to believe Christmas is almost upon us. I guess part of that is attributable to the fact I do very little to prepare for the holiday.  The tree has been up and decorated since before Thanksgiving, thanks to Todd.  The stockings were hung and other festive decorations were assembled by Ally before Thanksgiving.  I don’t shop so I’ve not been subjected to pushing and shoving crowds, annoying music and parking issues that those who love the season are exposed to.


Todd is fixing his famous spaghetti sauce for our Christmas dinner.  It’s very special and takes an entire day for him to assemble.  It was something we all requested and it should come as no surprise that we  shied away from turkey after the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner Ally prepared.   We just had a lot of turkey.

Drew will be home from Boulder late Friday night.  Tyler, Mackenzie, Rod and Genn either have to work or have other plans.  We’ll miss them, but will look forward to the next time they can come to visit.  It looks like it will be a good weekend for travel, at least in Kansas.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 3:16 pm

The repeal of DADT passed the Senate at 3:30 today with a vote of 65 to 31 without objection.

Ultimately, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, George Voinovich of Ohio, and Mark Kirk of Illinois voted for repeal.

Republicans John Ensign of Nevada and Richard Burr of North Carolina sided with the majority in the final vote.  Add all these Senators to Santa’s “nice” GOP list.

A week ago this bill was all but dead.

Over the years, nearly 11,000 military personnel have been dismissed from our military because of their sexual orientation.  Most took hundreds of thousands of dollars each to train and they served our country with distinction.  They should all be reinstated.

What a glorious day for the thousands of gay and lesbians who remain under cover and serve in our military forces. No longer will they be forced to lie about who they are.  From what I can tell, their sexual orientation really isn’t all that much of a secret to those with whom they live and serve.  Despite “don’t ask don’t tell”,  gay service in the military is a way of military life. And those who currently serve are aware it’s not nearly as big a deal as the politicians and the anti-gay homophobes have made it out to be.

We hope the President and military leadership quickly certify the end of DADT, so they will ensure an orderly transition with minimal disruption.

A curious thing:  it is a puzzlement why so many of our fine young men and women who are gay would join the military to defend a country  that has summarily rejected them in the work place, in lodging, in equal rights, in civil rights,  in marriage rights all because of an incident of birth over which they had no control…  their sexual orientation.


Filed under: prairie musings, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 11:54 am

From the Kansas Explorers Club: The Lucas Theater will be hooked up to watch Conan live on Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. You’re all invited. Why? Erika Nelson, Lucas’ own originator of the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Version of the World’s Largest Things will be on Conan that night. If you’re having a watch party elsewhere, let us know here! Go WLT!



Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 6:29 pm

In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, Tulsa University announced that Bubba Cunningham would remain its athletic director.

Multiple news outlets, including, had reported that Cunningham’s move to KU was an all-but-done-deal.

For more, check here.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:17 am



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:29 pm

Twenty-five other counties the the First District also didn’t re-organize and Democrats lost 3 out of 5 Kansas House seats.  The  State Democratic Party is in shambles.  Where is the Reform Party?



Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton, tea — Peg Britton @ 10:14 am

Ally has given me a beautiful collection of organic teas from Arbor Teas for Christmas. Arbor Teas is an official licensee of TransFairUSA, offering one of the largest selections of Fair Trade Certified loose leaf teas on the internet.  They are all organic teas…no chemicals.  And, yes.  I opened them right away so “they wouldn’t get old”.

My favorite, so far, is organic special grade Pu-erh tea, but I’m a long way from trying them all.  I’ve loved the flavor of each one I’ve tried.   I’ve never had tea I’ve enjoyed so much.  The pu-erh  hails from the Jing Mai Mangjing region of China’s southwestern Yunnan province, and is harvested from the 1300-year-old tea trees found there - some of the world’s oldest living tea trees. The medium-sized, tightly-rolled leaves render a rich, dark brown infusion, with mellow earthiness and good body.  This will warm my winter.

There are about 30 different varieties of special teas stored in my tea hideaway.  I ordered all the black tea canisters on line.  They seal tightly and were inexpensive.  They join some other jars I already had for storing tea. I like them for their convenience and all are labeled with the various teas contained therein. The large white jars are full of Japanese green tea a friend sent to me.  Yea.  Organization.  If you stop by for a spot of tea, you have many varieties from which to choose.


There are too many too mention, but Ally gave me several samplers, like the oolong sampler, rooibos sampler, green tea sampler, etc.  I will spend the winter sampling and drinking tea.


This tea infuser is the best I’ve ever had.  It will last forever…not only during my limited lifetime, but for whomever inherits this treasure.


Few people know the fascinating history of tea growing and making. There is an intriguing documentary called “All in This Tea” that aims to change that by following renowned tea importer David Lee Hoffman as he scours the far-flung corners of China to find the richest teas on earth. Tea making is an art and tradition that goes back generations in the East, and Hoffman makes it his goal to bring to the rest of the world the exquisite teas produced by struggling small farmers.

I think you all remember me fondly talking about my Japanese “son”, Izo, who lived with us for a long time and with whom we are still closely connected.  His wife, Yoriko, has spent her life studying the fine art of making and serving tea.  In the Orient, tea-making is a fine art to be appreciated like any other fine work of art.

“All in This Tea” is available on Netflix and I really did enjoy it.  It got me all excited about drinking some high quality organic teas.  Throw “free trade” in with “organic”, and you have a winner.   Most of my previous tea drinking experiences have been limited to the run of the mill store variety, except for some very special teas Mackenzie and Luke brought to me for Christmas a couple of years ago that initially peaked my interest in really good tea.  They made several selections from The Republic of Tea of white tea, plum tea and other rare specialties that I fully enjoyed.

All this reminds me of very dear family friends from Ellsworth, George and Gal Fairchild.  Colonel George served in China during World War 1, and after the war, he brought home to his wife “yards of precious silk and precious tea”. He said the tea would last forever and the silk was for her dresses to last her lifetime.

I have a source for an endless cup of perfect tea at my side.  What a nice Christmas gift.  Thank you, Ally.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 10:06 am

Ally is taking orders for her famous mustard sauce, now commonly referred to as Ally’s Prairie Mustard Sauce.  For decades it was Peg’s Mustard Sauce, but it has now passed into more capable hands.  This is her “soft opening” for a product she hopes will blossom.

Many of you have been on the receiving end of this at Christmas time since the mid-50s, about the time Ally was born, so you know she hasn’t been responsible for it all these years; however, I can see that perfection comes in the second generation of production.

I worked on the recipe for “decades”, taking the original small batch recipe to a much larger one.  You can’t just multiply the amount of ingredients and have it turn out right so, over time, I tested, measured and altered ingredients until I had the right taste and texture. I knew I had it right when friends told me they stood over the  kitchen sink and ate it with a spoon right out of the jar.

Now, Ally has taken production a step farther and measured ingredients by weight as she wants uniformity for commercial production and state wide distribution.  She’s been working on the details for a couple of years and your purchases will help make her dream come true.  She hopes there will be other “Ally’s Prairie” products in her future.

The mustard sauce, which must be kept refrigerated, can’t be surpassed when used on hamburgers, on sliced ham and turkey, spread on sandwiches of almost any kind, used in egg and potato salad and deviled eggs. Rare is the time when I’ve run out of mustard sauce as there has always been some in the wings for our family. Running out and facing their ire was never something to look forward to. The mustard sauce will keep a long time, but it requires refrigeration, positively.  I’ve never had any of it go “bad” on me….ever.  There are two styles:  smooth and whole seed.  The taste is essentially the same in both…the texture is different.

Right now, Ally’s cut-off date for Christmas delivery is Friday the 17th.  Orders continue to be welcomed.

Half-pints are $6.00. Tax included.
Pints are $12.00. Tax included.

She’s working with K-State advisers and other resources.

She will be notifying everyone next week for delivery and pick up times. Don’t hesitate to call her if you have any special requests or questions at 785.472.7065 or

And, thank you all for supporting Ally’s new enterprise whether it be by purchasing the product or passing on information about it to others. She is not in full production yet so this is for local deliveries only…plus Salina and Abilene.



Filed under: prairie musings, Eat — Peg Britton @ 8:48 pm

Owner, manager, chef William Justice took a break between orders and visited with Ally and me.  He posed for a picture for Ally in front of his message board that credits the various area farms that contribute fresh, organic foods for his cafe.  William uses local and natural ingredients whenever possible.  His menu changes seasonally, or whenever the notion strikes.  Substitutions and suggestions are welcome.  And…tax is included in all his prices.


This is what I had for lunch…”Horn of Plenty” Quesadilla.  It was made from many and various veggies, mushrooms, chevre, and pesto.  I had a choice of salad or beans and rice.  The salad greens were exceptional…maybe the best I’ve ever had.  They were light and “lacy”, very delicate and topped with almonds, shredded carrots and blackberry vinaigrette. The meal was $6.50.

There were three quesadillas other than the one I chose:  Cheese ($5.00), Spicy Chicken ($7.50) and Autumn Squash ($6.50).  The Autumn Squash Quesadilla was made from squash, cheddar or chevre and salsa. Add chicken or pork for $1.50.


Ally ordered a Classic Hot Dog that had been highly recommended. It was $4.00.  They are all natural pork hot dogs and the buns are homemade at one of the supplying farms.  In addition to this hot dog, there were others:  Ginger Dog, Radish Dog, Classic Dog and Spicy Dog.  The Spicy Dog is served with sriracha sauce, onions, hot peppers and weibe cheddar cheese.

In addition, there was a variety of rice bowls:  Thai, Spicy Chicken, Grilled Salmon, Rosemary Garlic Chicken, Portabella and Pesto, and Steak and Sweet potato. Rice bowls are $8.50 and they looked delicious.

The special today was a barbecued beef sandwich.  They also had Autumn Squash Chili made from beef, chicken, red beans, hominy, veggies and spices and served with bread and butter.

William’s breakfasts look equally as interesting and delicious.  His use of spices and herbs is very, very interesting and delectable.

For reader comments about the cafe and words from William, click here for his FaceBook page.   And read this!

Thanks for tuning in…

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