The welcome scent greeting you just inside the door of Midwest Living’s new Culinary and Craft School might be hard to pin down, so let us help: It’s nostalgia. The aromas of herb-rubbed roasted chicken, pumpkin-spice fudge and buttery apple bars trigger a flood of warm memories among wood-paneled walls, hand-hammered copper tiles and a sparkling blown-glass chandelier.
When Midwest Living® was ready to bring its recipes to life with a cooking school, we found a perfect partner in the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri. The park has long charmed visitors with its mix of art, history and entertainment. In a single day, you can visit a blacksmith’s forge, nosh on succotash or hop on a roller coaster. That pride in regional traditions caught our imagination.
“So many of our personal stories are connected to the foods we eat and the recipes we pass down,” says Midwest Living Editor-in-Chief Greg Philby. “A place devoted to our region’s heritage is a natural partner for showcasing the foods our readers love. We knew Silver Dollar City was a great fit.”
Before a rapt audience of girlfriends and couples, instructor Debbie Dance Uhrig shows how to make the flaky crust in Midwest Living’s legendary Danish Pastry Apple Bars. Debbie’s no-nonsense practicality was born in her grandma’s farmhouse kitchen. “I always add eggs one at a time so I can check the quality of each one before I use it,” she says.
During the hour-long classes, conversation flows as students watch Debbie prepare each dish. Debbie answers questions, tells stories and shares samples of the foods she has cooked. After the hour is up, she often has to nudge participants to leave the kitchen. But like the very best hostesses, she just moves the party to comfy couches and encourages everyone to linger as long as they like.
Take a class! Our cooking school at Silver Dollar City features our favorite recipes from past and present issues, as well as new favorites, like fruit-studded Swedish Tea Ring  and sweet-salty Ham Sliders . Classes cost $12 (on top of general admission). Participants get tastes of the recipe, a copy of Midwest Living and a one-year subscription. (800) 831-4386; sdcculinarycraftschool.com 
Holly-jolly fun Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas fest runs November 3–December 30, 2012. Take in the lights and shows, shop for crafts—and slip away for a cooking class.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® November/December 2012.)