Saturday, March 19, 2011

On Route 66

Above: Ikey, a very sweet Sheltie, calls Funks Grove home.

When dad was flying back to Chicago from Palm Beach not only did he save all the chicken on his salad for Rufus, he also read about a place called Funks Grove in the American Way magazine:

Like a fine wine, maple syrup delights.

U.S. tapping seasons typically peak in March — making it a perfect time for visiting any of the country’s many sugarhouses, where sap collected from maple trees is transformed into utterly sweet (and always unique) maple syrup. For a pure taste of pleasure, try these:

Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup; Shirley, Ill. The Funks’ family-owned syrup-making enterprise dates back to the late 19th century. Today, their sugarhouse and store are a favorite stop among Route 66 buffs. Specialties include jugs of pure maple syrup, chocolate-covered maple truffles and rich maple cream.

So, sure enough, with the article in hand dad was soon getting his kicks on Route 66. You see, he learned that Funks Grove is one of the designated roadside attractions that dot Route 66, one of the original U.S. highways. Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 -- with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles

In the 1950s, Route 66 became the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles. The road passed through the Painted Desert and near the Grand Canyon. Meteor Crater in Arizona was another popular stop. This sharp increase in tourism in turn gave rise to a burgeoning trade in all manner of roadside attractions, including teepee-shaped motels, frozen custard stands, Indian curio shops, and reptile farms. And, of course, the popularity of Funks Grove in Shirley, Illinois which was established long before the highway.

At Funks Grove dad met Ikey, a very affable Sheltie, and Kiko, a slightly deranged looking, but very sweet, Shih Tzu. Before leaving with two very large bottles of Maple Sirup (yes, that's how they spell it), dad learned from the owners of the small, very busy, very delicious smelling shop that many visitors on a nostalgic trip across America visit the Grove. They said that more often than not the cross -country travelers that stop in are visitors from Europe who are traveling the entire route.

As soon as he got home, dad was in the kitchen whipping up a batch of simple, but delicious pancakes. Mere vectors for maple syrup boiled down only hours before. You see it's maple syrup season. At Funk's Grove they collected the last sap for their "sirup" just the day before dad's visit.

BTW, we learned that actor Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, was just recently introduced to the charms of Maple Syrup.

“You will see me probably drink an obscene amount of maple syrup. I’ve never had maple syrup before about three weeks ago, and now I could freebase it. Pints of it.” - Daniel Radcliffe

Simply Delicious Suddie Cakes (serve with Funks Grove Maple Sirup)

1 cup flour
2 tblsp sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs beaten slightly
1.25 cups milk
3 tblsp melted butter

Mix ingredients together and cook cakes on a piping hot cast-iron skillet or griddle

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