Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Oh, how awesome is October with its gorgeous autumnal hues, crisp apples, Halloween fun, and . . . ghost talk.

Last week I enjoyed my semi-annual trip to Missouri to see family.  My brother, sister-in-law, and sister decided that during my stay I should experience a local winery . . . a haunted one.
The gorgeous Belvoir Winery, housed in a circa-1900 Jacobethan Revival structure  in Liberty, Missouri, is no stranger to ghosts, or paranormal investigators.  The SyFY television show "Ghost Hunters" aired a show on the winery last summer.  They . . . found things.

The building complex, that now includes the winery, was run for over a century by  one of the oldest and largest charitable fraternal organizations in this country—the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
The symbolic links of I.O.O.F. represent Friendship, Love, and Truth
The three remaining buildings once functioned as an orphanage, that later became an administration building, a hospital, and a home for the elderly.   In the early 1990's, the current owners renovated the first two floors of the Orphanage/Administration building.  Poignant reminders of bygone children were discovered in the walls—including 40 paper airplanes fashioned from old homework assignments.  A small museum in the winery displays some of these artifacts.

Oh, and I must be sure to mention "George."

According to the Belvoir Winery, “George is a member of the Smithville [MO] Odd Fellows Lodge and passed away in the 1880’s.  Upon his death, he donated his body to science . . . Once the doctors completed their work, his bones were bleached and he was pinned together . . . He was returned to the Odd Fellows Lodge per his request and was used as a prop in their rituals . . . based on Old and New Testament teachings that would present the newly initiated with a clear example of their own mortality.  ‘George’ is a term of endearment to name their skeleton.  Most of the skeletons found currently in lodges are made of paper mache.  Only the older lodges have actual human skeletons.”

There have been numerous reports of ghostly happenings.  Like the little boy in a red shirt, blue knickers, and brown boots, spotted this year by an employee cleaning the winery's women's bathroom.  Mysterious footsteps, or the piano playing when no one is there, are manifestations you might experience while you enjoy your vino.
My brother (clutching his newly purchased wine)  "comforted" by my sister in front of  THE PIANO.
The Belvoir Winery is delightful. If there are "ghosts," I think they are benevolent energies, reflecting the good works the Odd Fellows performed over the years.  Tip:  Belvoir's semi-sweet white Plumeria wine is sensational if you fancy something that tastes like a sip of spring!

And, speaking of taste, to celebrate fall, here's my recipe for Ozark Mountain Cake.  Growing up in Missouri, I remember my mom made something similar to this.  It's not a pretty cake, but is simple and delicious, especially with ice cream or whipped cream.  Happy October!

Ozark Mountain Apple Cake

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup (I stick) softened butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups peeled and diced apples
1/2 cup chopped nuts (preferably black walnuts)

Beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating mixture for about 2 minutes. Then blend in dry ingredients.  Fold in apples and nuts.  Bake 350 degrees in buttered 9 x9 inch pan for about 35 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched.  Serve warm or cold.   It’s a culinary sin not to add whipped cream!

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