Coco-Cola Cowboy - {REDUX}

“Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?!”  These were the tormented cries from my sister and I during the long, breezy road trips our family took every spring and summer to trout rivers, amusement parks, and family gatherings across the Low Midwest of the United States.  Indeed, Crystal Bridges’ 2017 photography exhibition, The Open Road, has elicited an important, nostalgic glimpse into my own childhood experiences through 100 plus images captured from 19 photographers from the 19502 to today.  The show has served as a time machine, transporting me back to the smells, the sights, and the tastes of what ultimately helped form the culinary me of today.

One of the biggest fights my younger sister and I ever had was in the back seat of my parents’ blue, panel-sided station wagon, over the last tiny scoop of French onion dip with a thick, wavy Ruffles potato chip.  You remember:  the salty, crispy morsel that yielded a delicious greasy residue, best mitigated with a quick wipe on the thigh of your blue jeans…

Caramelized Onion Dip


2 lbs sweet onion, diced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1   1/2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
 juice from 1/2 lemon        


  1.    Heat a large skillet on medium; add the onions and oil; once the onions begin to     caramelize, add the garlic to the pan.
  2.    As soon as the onions are caramelized, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3.    Mix onions and remaining ingredients together and chill.
  4.    Dip can be made and stored in an airtight container for up to three days.

We devoured everything in our path, from road-side burger stands, to iconic chicken shacks in Southeast Kansas yielding thick, dark, garlicky drumsticks and fried livers and gizzards…and not to mention the sacks and bags of pre-fabricated snacks like pork rinds, corn nuts, beef jerky, and Cracker Jacks.  All washed down with my all-time favorite childhood drink…fizzy, belch-yielding Coke floats.  There’s something transcendent about the co-mingling of Coca-Cola and vanilla ice cream…especially while donning a cowboy hat in the middle of summer at Silver Dollar City in 1979.

Rest assured, once you’ve entered the Open Road exhibition at Crystal Bridges, you’ll not only be reminded of your own important childhood road trips, but that you’ve finally arrived

Jack and Chocolate Coke Float


2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 oz. chocolate syrup
1.5 ounces Jack Daniels whiskey
1 bottle of Coke


1. In the bottom of a glass, drop the scoops of ice cream.
2. Top ice cream with chocolate sauce
3. Pour Jack Daniels whiskey over ice cream
4. Pour Coke over whiskey and ice cream.  Enjoy!