I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, a true melting pot, blending European cultures with good old Midwest simplicity. As a young child, I was exposed to the cuisines of many countries as well as their traditions. I have to admit, however, it was our very own foods and traditions that I loved. Good old American food, farm cooking, locally grown foods, that is where my memories come from! Wyandotte County, Kansas gave me a major love of food and some great memories.
One memory I have from the 60s is of a restaurant called The Grinter Place.
Moses Grinter, the first permanent white settler in Wyandotte County, was sent in 1831 by the United States Govemment to establish a ferry across the Kanza (Kaw) River. This ferry crossing was to serve as a military link between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott. The first ferry on the Kaw was called the Military Ferry The name was changed to Delaware Crossing and Secondine Landing, and finally was named Grinter's Ferry. Travelers crossing on the ferry paid $.50 per person and $2.00 per wagon to cross. Grinter settled near the ferry, married Anna Marshall, a Delaware Indian, and raised a family of ten children. The Grinter family first lived in a log house, but in 1857 Moses Grinter began building the stately brick house, located at K-32 Highway and South 78th Street, which is recorded in the Library of Congress as the oldest house in Wyandotte County.
From 1855 to 1860 Moses Grinter operated a trading post, a business that sold about one hundred sixty types of goods (clothing, powder and bullets, perfume, sugar, and scissors, among other things) to the Delawares in exchange for cash and furs. The Grinters also farmed, raised poultry and livestock, and planted an apple orchard on their farmstead. During the Civil War one of their sons served in the Fifteenth Kansas Calvary.
Moses Grinter died in 1878, and upon the death of Annie in 1905 their son-in-law and daughter, Reverend Henry C. and Martha V. Grinter Kirby, moved into the residence. Henry and Martha's daughter sold the residence and land in 1950 to a family who owned and operated a chicken-dinner restaurant on the site until the mid-1960s. Through the assistance of the Junior League of Kansas City, Kansas and the Grinter Place Friends, the State of Kansas acquired the site in 1971 and now administers the former Grinter residence as a state historic site.
Having graduated from Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas in 1959, I remember the fried chicken restaurant so well. It was set up in the old barn, used lots of red and white checked tablecloths, served drinks in Mason Jars. The fried chicken was wonderful, served family style. But what I remember the most was the cornmeal pancakes with apple jelly! They kept bringing them to the table as long as you were still eating.
Annie Grinter probably never made cornmeal pancakes and the restaurant is long gone, but the memory of the pancakes lives on. Here is my version. Try them next time you serve fried chicken or pork chops. A great combination! Just imagine, hot, crispy on the outside, brushed with melted butter and served with homemade apple jelly!
2 cups boiling water
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
Pour boiling water over cornmeal. Add sugar and salt. Let cool. Stir in beaten eggs and oil. In separate bowl mix flour and baking powder. Add to cornmeal alternately with the milk. Beat until smooth. Cook on hot griddle. Serve with apple jelly or maple syrup.