As I mentioned in my hasty post this morning, I just returned from a lovely week in Oklahoma visiting family. My in-laws live there and that has been a wonderful opportunity to explore a part of the country I never knew much about.

My fourth of July could not have been more picturesque or more “classic American”. There we all were – about 12 of us – gathered around a huge table outside the log cabin, overlooking the lake, ready to dig into a delicious dinner together. There was tender, slow-roasted brisket drizzled in barbecue sauce. We had fresh corn, Greek salad, baked beans. And then the dessert: homemade peach cobbler with peaches fresh from the Porter Peach market. Oh, and homemade ice cream. Vanilla. And peach. So good… I had seconds of everything.

We spent most of the week relaxing at the cabin along Lake Eufaula. We spent mornings with endless cups of coffee, wiping sleep from our eyes on the porch swings overlooking the water. A couple times a day we took the boat out for water-skiing and swimming, to work off those hefty meals. I spent lazy afternoons rocking in the hammock, reading on the rocks along the shore, drifting in and out of naps in the hot sun.

In the evenings we ate fabulous Midwestern and Southern treats. I experienced the joys of corn fritters for the first time, eating so many it hurt to think about later that night. And we laughed together at old movies that get watched every year. They have become etched in our memories, with lines evolving into inside jokes that get recited year after year.

In the small town of Eufaula, a local chef, displaced by Hurricane Katrina, opened a New Orleans-style restaurant a couple years back. I chose to forgo the stale buffet and tried the most interesting thing on the menu. My order of crawfish, complete with dirty rice and fried okra, arrived just spilling over the heaping plate. Those poor little crawdaddies were no match for my appetite after a long day of water skiing. I became a pro at de-gutting the little critters and now fancy myself an expert crawfish-eater.

When we weren’t at the lake house, we were enjoying the small college town Jay grew up in. It was “ladies night” at their local watering hole, where they gave me six tickets for free drinks. A little scary… With the beer content only 3.2% though, there wasn’t much damage to be done. Well, I take that back because of the $2 whiskey special, but that’s another post for another blog.

I also had the pleasure of eating at the Rib Crib, where I got to experience both baby back and St Louis-style ribs at the same time. So many meaty delights and so little time.

Always sad to say goodbye to family, but we are also happy to be home again in our own beds. Now begins my tradition of detoxing my diet to make up for the meat binge I’ve had over the last week. Lucky for us there is a produce bonanza to come home to in our very own backyard.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson