MEET SANTA CLAUS IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE IN A MAGICAL, FESTIVE HOLIDAY PROGRAM

OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

Finland-based New Off the Road Travel Program is Holiday Perfect Offering Dog Sledding, Reindeer Farm, Snowmobiling and More

Launching in November, a new seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary transports visitors to the Arctic Circle to meet Santa Claus in his home, deep in the Lapland forest.  The program includes accommodations, activities and some meals as detailed below.

The festive journey starts in Helsinki before heading to Lapland with a personalized, handwritten letter and photobook from Santa Claus, highlighting all the ways guests have been “nice” this year and requesting the traveler’s presence at a one-on-one meeting at Santa’s home in Lapland.

Designed to enthrall all ages, the Ultimate Christmas Invitation from specialist travel company Off the Map Travel, creates a personalized experience for each member of the traveling party. Perfect for pre-Christmas shopping and celebrating throughout the festive season, the program is offered from November to January and begins with an overnight in Helsinki in the art deco boutique hotel Lilla Roberts where guests receive a “golden ticket” for the “Polar Express” overnight night train from Finland’s capital city to Rovaniemi, above the Arctic Circle.

“The itinerary builds suspense and anticipation up to the moment of meeting Santa in person. With no queues and a location in the most festive place on earth, the trip is a dream for those who love Christmas and Santa Claus,” noted Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel.

Guests can also stargaze and search for the Northern Lights through huge skylight windows in exclusive Aurora loft rooms at Rovaniemi’s contemporary Arctic Light Hotel. The magical city, just above the Arctic Circle is perfect for an immersion into Christmas and for numerous shopping opportunities.

To complete the experience, the tour continues to Inari, a center of winter activities, the birthplace of Finnish Sami, and the home of Santa. There, with winter clothing provided, guests can choose from outdoor programs including dogsledding, a reindeer farm meet-up and sleigh ride, and snowmobiling through the brilliant Lappish landscape.

In Inari, at Santa’s workshop, participants will have a personal meeting with Kris Kringle himself with plenty of time to chat about Santa’s feelings about this year’s holiday, his elves and, of course, you.  As no Christmas holiday is complete without a gift, visitors will receive something very special before embarking on a sleigh ride to the Wilderness Hotel Inari, an unusual “round” log cabin resort with comfortable beds, a personal sauna in each cabin, and views over Lake Inari or River Nukkumajoki. In the evening, the cabin’s open fire is invites you to cozy up and search for the Northern Lights in the clear skies.

The seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary is priced from $3806 USD  per person, (at the time of this writing) including all activities, transfers, one night’s accommodations in Helsinki , one night’s accommodations in Rovaniemi, three nights’ full board accommodation in Inari, and the overnight train to Rovaniemi from Helsinki. Flights are additional. As with any itinerary from Off the Map Travel, this program can be tailor-made to fit the wishes and requirements of the guest.

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1

Arrive in Helsinki and take your private transfer to your hotel and check into your connecting rooms at Lilla Roberts. On arrival to your room, you will be greeted with a personal invitation to head north to the beautiful wilderness of Finnish Lapland for a magical Christmas adventure! Tonight, explore the Christmas markets and the festive spirit to get you in the mood.

Day 2

Enjoy Helsinki today before you head to the train station to board your overnight train to Rovaniemi. Watch the amazing scenery as you head north and perhaps get a glimpse of the Northern Lights as the skies darken.

Day 3

Arrive at Rovaniemi late morning and take your private transfer to the city center and to your hotel; the Arctic Light Hotel where you will check in to your Aurora Loft room. Evening at leisure to explore the city and enjoy dinner in the city. 

Day 4

After breakfast, take you private transfer to Inari. On arrival at the Wilderness Hotel Inari, you will check in, receive your program for the next few days, and pick up winter clothing especially for the planned outdoor activities. Afterwards it’s time for a delicious dinner in the restaurant.

Later, head out to try to spot the Northern Lights outdoors in the snowy wilderness or simply cozy up in your Aurora cabin looking towards the night skies.

Day 5

After breakfast it’s time for an n exciting dog sledding adventure. You will be taught how to handle the sled before you set out on the husky safari, where the huskies will pull your sled through the beautiful winter scenery.

The dogs’ enthusiasm is infectious and as the animals fall silent on the trail, you will realize that this is one of the best ways to experience the wintry beauty of Lapland.

This afternoon you’ll travel by car to a reindeer farm to meet one of this area’s most famous residents. You will meet the reindeer herders and learn about the importance of reindeer in Lapland. You will also learn how to lasso a reindeer and have a short ride in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Day 6

Today the winter adventure continues with a snowmobile tour, no previous experience required. First you will get familiar with the snowmobile, have full safety instructions and a driving lesson. After everyone feels comfortable, you will journey into the nearby surroundings through the beautiful Lappish scenery.

This afternoon is the highlight of the trip you’ve all been waiting for — meeting Santa himself! Meet Santa, enjoy a chat with him and receive a special gift.

Tonight, you will end your stay in Finnish Lapland with a beautiful trip to the Aurora Camp. This activity takes in the amazing surroundings of Inari. You will be comfortably seated in a sledge that is pulled by the guide’s snowmobile. At the hut there is a hut with an open fire to warm you, and your guide will also serve warm drinks to keep you cozy.

Day 7

Check out this morning and take your transfer to Ivalo Airport ready for your departure flight. 


OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in Soft Adventure OTMT creates tailor-made holiday itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel itineraries visit www.offthemap.travel; call 1-646-701-0041; email info@offthemap.travel  or visit FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube or Pinterest..

Beef It Up! 50 Mouthwatering Recipes for Ground Beef, Steaks, Stews, Roasts, Ribs, and More

Beef It Up (Storey Publishing) is a focused collection of recipes by popular food blogger Jessica Formicola offers 50 tasty ways to serve up protein-rich beef meals without a lot of fuss. Flavorful beef suppers (Cheeseburger Soup, Shepard’s Pie Mac & Cheese) are featured along with new classics (Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas, 20-Minute Mongolian-style Beef ), salads (Southwest Steak Salad w/ Chipotle Ranch and Steakhouse Salad w/ Blue Cheese), quick hits (Empanada Hand Pies and Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce), and the tried-and-true burgers, steaks, and chili. Juicy photos provide the inspiration and confidence cooks of all levels need to deliver on the promise of a great meal every time.

Jessica Formicola

The creator of Savory Experiments, Formicola is a trusted food and lifestyle blog. She appears regularly on national networks providing cooking demonstrations and entertaining ideas. She has contributed to Parade, The Daily Meal, Mashed, and Better Homes & Gardens, and has partnered with over 100 national food brands on product releases and cooking tutorials. Formicola lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and children.

Chapters Include

Crockpot, freezer and make-ahead friendly mealsShredded Beef 5 Ways, Tips on cooking ground beef, Uses top sirloin, one of our less expensive cuts, How to Properly Brown Beef, 4 Inexpensive Cuts of Beef & How to Make Them Taste Fantastic! Myths About Cooking Beef, What to Look For When Buying Beef.

Red Wine Beef Stew

There’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of beef stew on a chilly winter night. It’s like your food is giving you a giant hug.

What makes this recipe extra special is that instead of requiring a long simmering time to tenderize the meat, it calls for a New York strip steak, because that’s what I had on hand when I first created this stew. That was years ago, but I still prefer the same cut because it results in the tastiest, melt-in-your mouth beef stew you’ve ever eaten while also reducing the cook time to under an hour. Red wine and hearty root vegetables add sophistication to the cooked-all-day flavor. What’s not to warm your heart?

PREP TIME | 25 minutes COOK TIME | 50 minutes SERVES | 6

  • 3tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  pounds New York strip 1/2 (2 large steaks), trimmed, 6 cut into 1-inch pieces, and
    patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 6 ounces rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 3/4 cup
  • ¾ cup julienned carrots
  • 3/4 cup julienned parsnips
  • 1/2 pound small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • Fresh oregano leaves and grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • Loaf of crusty bread, for serving
  • Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside
    2 tablespoons of the mixture to thicken the stew at the end. Toss the beef with the remaining flour mix- ture, shaking off the excess flour.
  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium- high heat. Working in batches, sear the beef, turning the cubes every so often to brown the outside. The meat does not have to be fully cooked. Cook each batch for 4 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
  • Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping the bottom to incorporate all those little brown bits that will dissolve and add flavor. Stir in the broth, thyme, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium and bring the liquid to a low simmer before returning the cooked beef to the pan.
  • Add the onion, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, and bring back to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork.
  • Ladle 1/4 cup of the broth into a small bowl and whisk in the reserved 2 tablespoons flour mixture until smooth. Add this paste to the stew. Cook for 5 minutes longer. The cooking liquid should coat the back of a spoon, but not be thick like gravy. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and season to taste with additional pepper.
  • Ladle into bowls, top with fresh oregano and Parmesan, and serve with slices of a crusty bread to soak up every drop.

Freezer Friendly: Freeze an extra batch or single servings in air- tight containers for up to 3 months. Thin with water or beef broth if it’s too thick when thawed. 

Easier Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy, or Boeuf Bourguignon, the rich French dish made famous by Julia Child, is not an everyday meal, but it is well worth the time and effort to make it. The first time I tried it, I had to read the confusing directions several times and the dish still didn’t turn out as planned. Eventually I figured out ways to cut corners without losing any flavor.

The main cooking techniques are (1) browning the meat to add to the richness of the sauce and (2) braising it for hours over low heat to achieve a meltingly tender texture. The lengthy cooking time allows layers of flavor to develop and mellow, so that each bite has dimension.

PREP TIME | 45 minutes

COOK TIME | 4 hours

SERVES | 8

  • 1 1/2 pounds tender chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive
    oil
  • 7 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh pearl onions, peeled
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth, plus more as needed
  • 10-12 sprigs fresh herbs, tied into a bouquet garni
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups halved or quartered white mushrooms
  • Pasta, mashed potatoes, or rice, for serving
  1. Arrange an oven rack in the lower-third position and preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C).
  2. In a large bowl, toss the beef with the cornstarch to coat. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, cooking until browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel–lined plate. Set aside.
  4.  In the same pot, add the beef, working in two batches. Brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes total, then transfer to a clean bowl. Repeat with the next batch, ands et aside.
  5. In the same pot, without wiping it out, add the onions, carrots, and garlic, tossing to coat in the rendered bacon grease and browned bits. Cook until lightly browned and starting to soften, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
  1. Reduce the heat to low. At this point there should be little to no oil or grease pooling if you tip the pot to one side, but if there is, spoon it out. Pour the wine into the pot and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom. Keeping the pot on low heat, whisk in the tomato paste, then the broth.
  2. Return the beef, bacon, and cooked vegetables to the pot and add the bouquet garni and bay leaves. There should be enough liquid to fully cover the meat and vegetables. If not, add just enough additional broth to do so.
  3. Cover the pot and bake for3to4hours, or until the beef falls apart when spilt with a fork. If there is any fat on top, skim it off with a spoon before stirring. Remove and discard the bouquet garni and bay leaves. Cover the pot.
  4. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they reduce in size by a third. Stir the mushrooms into the beef mixture.
  5. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or rice.

Chopped Beef Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This salad came about when I was wondering what to do with leftover beef skewers and satay sauce. Tender meat perfectly seasoned along with a slightly spicy peanut sauce sounded delightful in a salad.

Satay refers to the peanut sauce, not the skewers themselves. Most satay sauces are blended with dry roasted peanuts, but to save time and not require a heavy-duty blender, I used creamy peanut butter. I like the added crunch of more peanuts, while my husband opts for fried Chinese noodles. Pick your favorite or use both, but don’t skip the crunchies!

PREP TIME | 20 minutes active; 3–4 hours to marinate

COOK TIME | 10 minutes SERVES | 4 as entree

FOR THE BEEF

  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound Milanese-style beef, cut lengthwise into 1-inchwide strips (see Cook’s Notes)

Make the beef: Whisk together the onion, soy sauce, lemongrass, sugar, garlic, oil, fish sauce, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne in a large bowl until a paste forms. Slather this marinade on the beef and place it in either an airtight plastic bag or a shallow dish. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours.

To cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the beef from marinade, gently shaking off the excess. Working in batches, add the beef to the hot skillet. Cook for only 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned, then flip the meat and cook on the other side. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.

Assemble the salad: Equally divide the red and green cabbages, bell pepper, carrots, and scallions among four large salad bowls or plates. Top each serving with some chopped beef, cilantro, peanuts, and a liberal amount of sauce.

FOR THE SALAD

  • 4 cups thinly sliced or chopped red cabbage
  • 4 cups thinly sliced or chopped green cabbage
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts or fried Chinese noodles
  • Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

Cook’s Notes | Adjust the spiciness of the sauce by adding 1 to 2 more teaspoons of Thai chile garlic sauce, red pepper flakes, Sriracha, or even chopped fresh jalapeno.

If you can find thinly sliced Milanese-style beef at the grocery store, save yourself time and trouble and buy it! If not, partially freeze a top round roast. Beef is easier to thinly slice when a little hard. Using a very sharp knife, cut it into

1/8-inch-thick slices. You might need to cut them in half again vertically to get them 2 inches wide.

Fresh ginger is also easier to grate when slightly froze

Spicy Peanut Sauce

Makes 11/2 cups

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1–3 teaspoons Thai chile garlic sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • Juice from 1 lime (1–2 tablespoons)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated

Whisk the peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, water, chile garlic sauce, lime zest, and lime juice in a small bowl or blend in a small food processor until well combined.

Serve at room temperature or chill until ready to serve. If the sauce thickens, add additional coconut milk or water to thin. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Recipes are excerpted from Beef It Up! © by Jessica Formicola. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

 Photography © Dominic Perri.

The Kentucky Trinity: Burgoo, Barbecue and Bourbon

Burgoo, barbecue and bourbon, historically acknowledged as the trinity of good taste in Kentucky, have traditional roots going back to the days of Daniel Boone. W.A. Schmid, a chef and food historian, delves deep into the cultural heritage of these foods in his book, Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity (University Press of Kentucky 2021).

Known as “the gumbo of the Bluegrass,” burgoo is a meat stew consisting of a variety of meats that were often smoked as that’s one of the ways they preserved food back then. The list of ingredients included at least one “bird of the air” and at least one “beast of the field.” The latter could include squirrel, ground hog, lamb, pork jowl, and rabbit. Added to that were whatever vegetables (think corn, tomatoes, turnips, potatoes, carrots, onions, okra, and lima beans) were either in season or still stored and edible in the larder. Sometimes oysters, oatmeal and/or pearl barley were thrown in as well. Schmid also includes, among his many burgoo recipes, one that feeds 10,000 which calls for a ton and a half of beef (I’m not including it but if you’re expecting a huge crowd over email me and I’ll send it) and another that makes 1200 gallons.

“Often you’ll find this dish paired with one of the Commonwealth’s other favorite exports, bourbon, and the state’s distinctive barbecue,” writes Schmid, who immersed himself in archives of early cookbooks.

He takes us back to the days of Daniel Boone, uncovering forgotten recipes of regional dishes and such lost recipes as Mush Biscuits and Half Moon Fried Pies. There are numerous recipes for burgoo starting from early pioneer days, each unique depending on the region, food tastes, and what ingredients were easily sourced. Burgoo was an early community dish with people coming together to prepare it in vast amounts for celebrations.

Women would gather for peeling parties which meant endlessly peeling and dicing vegetables while men would stir the ingredients as they simmered in the huge pots throughout the night, most likely with sips of bourbon to keep them enthused about the task. Whether women got to sip bourbon too, we can only hope so. But in an age where water wasn’t safe to drink and even children were given wine, cider, small beer, and the dregs of their parents sweetened spirits to drink, I’m guessing so.

As for the name burgoo, well, no one, not even Schmid is sure where it comes from.

“It may have described an oatmeal porridge that was served to English sailors in the mid-1700s, or it may have come from the small town of Bergoo, West Virginia,” Schmid hypothesized. The word might also be a slur of bird stew or perhaps bulger; it could also be a mispronunciation of barbecue, ragout, or an amalgam of the lot. If the oatmeal story is true, burgoo continued as a military staple as it became a hearty stew for soldiers who could travel light and hunt and gather ingredients ‘from wild things in the woods’ once they stopped moving for the day—so they did not have to move the supplies from one location to another.”

Of course, a hearty burgoo demands a great bourbon drink and Schmid offers quite a few of those as well. One name I’m particularly taken with is called Kentucky Fog, presumably because over-consumption left one in a fog. Other great names for bourbon drinks mentioned in the book are Moon Glow, Bourbaree, and the Hot Tom and Jerry.

The following recipes are from Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon.

Kentucky Fog

12 servings

  • 1 quart Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 quart strong coffee
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream

Combine the ingredients in a punch bowl and serve.

Moon Glow

  • Crushed ice
  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice

Pack a tall glass with crushed ice. Add the cranberry juice and the orange juice. Add the maraschino cherry juice. Then add the bourbon. Stir well with a bar spoon and garnish with 2 maraschino cherries and a straw.

Burgoo

This recipe is used at Keeneland, the famous racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky and dates back to 1939.

  • Oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 12-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 16-ounce cans mixed vegetables
  • 7-ounce can tomato purée
  • 2 pounds fresh okra, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon beef base
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the stew meat with the herbs and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cornstarch, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 3 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste and thicken with cornstarch.

Spoonbread with Bourbon

  • 6 servings
  • 2 cups water, boiling
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Boil the water; add the lard and butter; to this mixture add

the cornmeal, egg yolks, and baking soda. Stir in the buttermilk and stiffly beaten egg whites. Add the bourbon and pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes.

Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake

15–20 servings

  • 5 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ pound butter
  • 6 eggs, separated and beaten
  • 1 pint Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 pound candied cherries, cut in pieces
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound shelled pecans
  • ½ pound golden raisins, halved, or ½ pound dates, chopped

Soak cherries and raisins in bourbon overnight.

Preheat oven to 250–275 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg yolks

and beat well. To the butter and egg mixture, add the soaked fruit and the remaining liquid alternately with the flour. Reserve a small amount of flour for the nuts. Add the nutmeg and baking powder. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Add the lightly floured pecans last. Bake in a large, greased tube pan that has been lined with 3 layers of greased brown paper. Bake for 3–4 hours. Watch baking time carefully.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Richard Hougen was the manager of the Boone Tavern Hotel of Berea College and the author of several cookbooks, including Look No Further: A Cookbook of Favorite Recipes from Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea College, Kentucky, Hougen includes the recipe for Boone Tavern Cornsticks. He notes at the bottom of the recipe, adapted here, how important it is to “heat well-greased cornstick pan to smoking hot on top of the stove before pouring in your batter.

Boone Tavern Hotel Cornsticks

  • 2 cups white cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons lard, melted

Preheat oven to 450–500 degrees F.

Sift the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder together.

Mix the baking soda with the buttermilk, and then add to the dry ingredients; beat well. Add the eggs and beat. Add the lard. Mix well. Pour the batter into very hot well-greased cornstick pans on

top of stove, filling the pans to level.

Place pans on the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Move the pans to the upper shelf and bake for an additional 5–10 minutes.

The Top Five Favorite Cuisines in America

From foodfirefriends.com.

A new study has revealed that Chinese food is the US most Googled cuisine, according to Google search data.  

The research, conducted by BBQ experts foodfirefriends.com, analysed Google search data related to the 40 most popular cuisines in the world in different US states, to find out what cuisines Americans search for (and eat) the most.  

1. Chinese food 

Known all over the world, Chinese food is certainly one of everyone’s most loved cuisines. With an average of over 3.35 million searches per month in the US only, Chinese is Americans’ absolute favourite food.  

2. Mexican food 

With an average of 1.22 million Google searches in the USA, Mexican is Americans’ second most favourite food. Known for its spices and hot sauces, this cuisine is sought-after and appreciated globally.  

3. Thai food 

Thai food is third in the ranking. With over 823,000 monthly Google searches in the USA, Thai remains one of Americans’ first choices when it comes to foreign cuisines.  

4. Indian food 

Registering an average of 673,000 Google searches, Indian food is the fourth most Googled food in America.  

 5. Korean food

Another Asian cuisine features in fifth. Showing an average of 246,000 Google searches in the US, Korean food is the fifth most popular cuisine in the States, followed by Japanese (with an average of 201,000 Google searches per month in the US), and soul food (201,000).  

Greek, Italian and Hawaiian food follow in the ranking with an average of 165,000, 165,000 and 90,500 searches in the US.  

A spokesperson for foodfirefriends.com comments on the findings: 

“It is fascinating to see food from four different Asian countries feature in the top five of the ranking. Each of the cuisines offers a wide array of delicious dishes, and they have clearly become must-have meals for Americans, whether they are cooking at home, ordering take-out or dining at a restaurant.” 

The study was conducted by foodfirefriends.com, which is dedicated to helping users grill and BBQ better, by offering practical guides, recipes, and advice on all aspects of outdoor cooking. 

-END- 

Top 20 most popular cuisines in the US: 

Food Average monthly searches 
Chinese food 3350000 
Mexican food 1220000 
Thai food 823000 
Indian food 673000 
Korean food 246000 
Japanese food 201000 
Soul Food 201000 
Greek food 165000 
Italian food 165000 
Hawaiian food 90500 
Peruvian food 90500 
Spanish food 90500 
Cuban food 74000 
German food 74000 
American food 60500 
French food 60500 
Haitian food 49500 
Russian food 49500 
Brazilian food 40500 

Road Trips & Recipes: Hidden Surprises in Horse Cave, KY

Guest Road Tripper Kathy Witt takes us to underground Kentucky in her latest travel piece. Always glad to have you, Kathy!

Mammoth Cave National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve located in southcentral Kentucky, recently made headlines for adding six miles to what is already, at 426 explored miles, the world’s largest cave system.

A 25-minute drive away in tiny Horse Cave, KY, another cave is newsworthy in its own right as one of the world’s few caves located directly beneath a town. Hidden River Cave (www.hiddenrivercave.com) is not only Kentucky’s largest, privately operated cave, it stretches out beneath Horse Cave’s downtown, a National Historic District, with an entrance located directly off Main Street.

Play: Hidden River Cave is also home to the world’s longest underground suspension bridge, swinging far above the river rushing below. Completion of the bridge in 2020 made it possible for guided tours to reach Sunset Dome, inaccessible to the public for 76 years. At 150 feet wide, 200 feet long and 100 feet high, give or take, it is one of the largest free-standing cave domes in the United States –a sight to behold in glowing shades of red, yellow and orange.

The main entrance to Hidden River Cave is off Main Street in downtown Horse Cave, KY.
Photo: Kathy Witt

Before hiking down the 200-plus steps into the cavern (and yes, you’ll have to climb back up them on your way out), visitors can read about the history of the cave at the free-admission American Cave Museum. Home of the American Cave Conservation Association, the museum offers self-guided tours of exhibits on karst geology, a landscape characterized by sinkholes, sinking streams, caves and springs, as well as the archaeology of caves. Photo: Kathy Witt

Local Amish craftspeople custom-built the tepee accommodations at Horse Cave KOA Holiday. Photo: Kathy Witt

Stay: For a small town (population: 2,400), Horse Cave has an unexpectedly delightful array of accommodations, including country cottage vacation rentals, waterside campsites and glamping options. At Horse Cave KOA Holiday (www.kygetaway.com/horse-cave-koa-holiday), climb into the treetops for cozy overnights in a treehouse. Crawl into a Conestoga wagon or slip into a custom-built tepee, each one beautifully furnished and fully equipped – from Keurig coffeemaker and refrigerator to private patio and firepit.

A pioneer adventure awaits at the Conestoga wagon accommodations at Horse Cave KOA Holiday.
Photo: Kathy Witt

Clean, comfortable and scenically situated overlooking gently rolling hills and pastures, the campground also offers cabins and pull-thru RV sites, beautiful new bathhouse, fishing pond, jump pillow, playground and seasonal swimming pool.

Tuck in amidst the treetops in a Horse Cave KOA Holiday treehouse. Photo: Kathy Witt

Eat: Besides its cave and Conestoga wagons, Horse Cave surprises with horse-drawn buggies seen hitched downtown and clip-clopping along the rural roads. The town has a large Amish population and thriving Amish business landscape. In fact, Amish craftspeople constructed the treehouses and tepees at Horse Cave KOA Holiday and one of Horse Cave’s most appealing restaurants, Farmwald’s Restaurant and Bakery (www.farmwalds.com), is Amish owned.

The gift shop at Farmwald Restaurant and Bakery is cozied up with Amish-made items arrayed among a seating area with fireplace. Photo: Kathy Witt

This rambling building with country-store setting is destination dining at its best, with freshly baked donuts, breads and melt-in-your-mouth fried pies and made-to-order deli lunches like grilled ribeye and build-your-own cold-cut sandwiches, chicken baskets and fish dinners.

Hidden River Cave is home of the largest subterranean suspension bridge in the world. Photo: Kathy Witt

A gift shop spreads over half of the building, offering everything from local honey and jarred condiments to wooden toys and woven baskets to home décor and accessories spilling from shelves and adding charm to a seating area near the fireplace. Most of the items are handcrafted by the local Amish community.

A kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo shows its enthusiasm for feeding time.
Photo: Courtney Thompson

Treat: Horse Cave has two different animal encounter experiences that pair perfectly for a family-fun outing. At Dutch Country Safari Park (www.kygetaway.com/dutch-country-safari-park), drive through or board the hay wagon and bump along a dirt road through the wilds of Kentucky backcountry to see Watusi, water buffalo, camels, llamas, wildebeests, ostriches and other animals. Feeding the animals is part of the fun, and these well-trained beasts will nose into the wagon to eat from extended hands or directly from the bowl.

American Cave Museum is next door to Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, KY. Photo: Kathy Witt

Visitors to Horse Cave’s Australian Outback at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo (www.kentuckydownunder.com) discover they are at one of the few places in the country where it is okay to feed and pet the kangaroos, take selfies and even nap with them.

Farmwald Restaurant and Bakery’s chicken basket with toast and a side of gravy is comfort-food delicious.
Photo: Kathy Witt

“We are the only place in Kentucky where you can get close to Bigfoot (kangaroos are macropods, meaning they have big feet),” said park spokesman Brian Dale, “And we almost always have a batch of new joeys in and out of the pouch in the Outback.”

Interactivity: A Great Way to Learn

Visitors to Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo are often surprised at how soft and friendly the kangaroos are. Photo: Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

Interactive experiences are the big draw here: feeding parrots and lorikeets; mining for fossils and gemstones at the sluice; exploring scenic Mammoth Onyx Cave; and watching animal shows that feature a dingo, porcupine, serval kitten, woma python or another one of the zoo’s most beloved and intriguing residents. Explore the Outback by foot or on wheels, with a rental of a four- or six-passenger golf cart.

Read: Visit www.kygetaway.com to plan your adventure to Horse Cave, KY.

RECIPE

Farm Beans with Amish Relish and Hoecakes     

Farm bean ingredients

  • 2 C of dried pinto beans
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic from the garden
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 C of water

Rinse beans in colander. Put freshly rinsed dried beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let soak overnight in fridge. Drain soaking water and rinse beans. Place in large cooking pot. Add water, garlic, bay leaves and salt to beans. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cook until the beans are tender, 2 to 3 hours. Stir frequently and add water as needed to get desires soup texture, i.e., beans thoroughly cooked down with a bean-rich broth.

Serve in bowls with a topping of Amish corn relish and a freshly fried hoe cake (see recipe below).

Hoe cake ingredients

  • 1 C self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 farm fresh egg
  • 3/4 C buttermilk (more or less based on preferred consistency)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Mix all ingredients, except oil, to create batter. Add vegetable oil to skillet and place on the stovetop at medium high heat. Place spoonfuls of batter into the skillet to create desired size cake. Fry hoecakes until bubbles appear on the tops and their edges are cooked. Flip each of the cakes and cook the other side until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter. As each cake is removed from the skillet, place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Writer/Author

About Kathy Witt

Writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild

She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait

NEWCincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures arriving October 2022.

NEWPerfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler arriving Fall 2023.

www.KathyWitt.comwww.facebook.com/SecretCincinnatiNKY

www.LinkedIn.com/in/KathyWittwww.Instagram.com/Kathy.Witt

The top 10 reasons to city-break in Cork this autumn

With its warrens of narrow streets, vibrant spirit and warm welcome, Cork is the perfect city break destination for when the nights are drawing in.

Here are 10 reasons why you should be in this historic city as the seasons switch.

1. Food worth travelling for

Thanks to an abundance of high-quality local producers and a profusion of creative and passionate chefs, Cork has a deserving reputation as Ireland’s food capital. Whether you’re browsing the overflowing stalls at the famous and centuries-old English Market or sampling dishes at the city’s amazing restaurants, pubs and cafés, great food will always be on the menu.

2. And all that jazz

Having hosted jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Mel Tormé throughout its long history, the lively Cork Jazz Festival pulls in thousands of music fans every October. Sponsored by Guinness and with events taking place in pubs and venues all across Cork, the city will be buzzing once again this autumn with groundbreaking music, fun and charm from 27 – 30 October.

3. Titanic tales

One of the most popular day trips from Cork city is to the town of Cobh, a beautiful Irish seaport with a bittersweet history. Once the main point of emigration from Ireland, Cobh was the Titanic’s last port of call before she sailed onwards to her fate. The story is told magnificently at the Titanic Experience located in the old White Star Line offices on the seafront.

4. Epic Cork City Gaol

Cork City Gaol ( museum), Cork, Ireland

Experience life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century at Cork City Gaol, a museum that offers a unique insight into the city’s history, both inside and outside of the prison walls. Take a trip back in time and wander through the wings of the gaol, accompanied by the shuffling feet of inmates and the jingle of the warders’ keys.

5. City sight-seeing

You can easily explore Cork on foot, but it’s worth checking out one of the excellent, locally led tours to find out what really makes Ireland’s second city tick. Cork City Walks are full of history and folklore, or you can jump on an open-top double-decker bus and see the sights with Cork City Tours.

6. Art galleries galore

Crawford Art Gallery

As a former European Capital of Culture, Cork is packed with museums, galleries, theatres, music and dance academies and more. You will find everything from opera to street art within the thriving art and culture scene, with the Crawford Art Gallery, the Glucksman Gallery and the Lavit Gallery among the best visual art spaces to make a beeline for.

Cobh, County Cork

 

7. The Wild Atlantic Way

One of the best sections of the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way route starts – or ends – in Kinsale, just half an hour away from Cork city. This makes the city the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the breath-taking scenery and remote peninsulas of West Cork.

8. Ring the Shandon Bells

A visit to Cork isn’t complete without climbing to the belfry of the eighteenth-century St Anne’s Church to ring the world-famous Shandon Bells. There are 135 steps to reach the viewing balcony, but the reward is fantastic panoramic views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Old_Cork_Waterworks_Experience_Entrance

9. Fitzgerald Park

For a gorgeous feel of autumn foliage in Cork, head down to Fitzgerald Park on the banks of the River Lee. Home to Cork Public Museum, the Sky Garden, a series of sculptures, cafés, walks and more, the park offers a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

10. You can kiss the Blarney Stone

The world-famous Blarney Castle, home of the iconic Blarney Stone, is one of Ireland’s top attractions and is located just ten minutes from Cork city. Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone will give you the ‘gift of the gab’ – as in great eloquence or persuasiveness. A great reason to go!
 
www.ireland.com

THREE COUNTRIES FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL SELECTED FOR THE BOCUSE D’OR AND THE PASTRY WORLD CUP

MOROCCO, MAURITIUS AND TUNISIA STAND OUT FOR THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL SELECTIONS FOR THE BOCUSE D’OR AND THE PASTRY WORLD CUP.

The podium of the 2022 African Pastry Cup

BOCUSE D’OR AFRICA 2022 MARKED BY THE FIRST WINNING PARTICIPATION OF MAURITIUS

 The African selections of the prestigious gastronomy competition, Bocuse d’Or and the Pastry World Cup, were held respectively on September 9th and 10th in Dakhla, Morocco, and qualified the best teams for the Grand Finales that will take place from January 20th to 23rd, 2023 during Sirha Lyon.

  • 1st: MAURITIUS – Kritesh Halkory
  • 2nd: MOROCCO – Faical Zahraoui
  • 3rd: TUNISIA – Marwen Younssi

Best commis award: MAURITIUS – Brady Ng Fuk Chong

Team spirit award: BURKINA FASO – Adama Ernest Dakoure (candidate) / Najem Pierre Najem (commis) / Armand Kinda (coach) / Cathy Nassar (president)

Last step of the continental selections, the Bocuse d’Or Africa reveals the last chefs qualified for the Grand Finale after 5 hours and 35 minutes of competition to create two themes: a plate based on sea bream and a platter highlighting the lamb saddle..

For its first participation, Mauritius, represented by chef Kritesh Halkory and his commis Brady Ng Fuk Chong, won the first place. The team was able to make the difference for the theme on platter by using among the different dishesthe mouroum brede, a typical plant of the Mauritian cuisine. The Moroccan team, led by chef Faical Zahraoui and his commis Achraf Retbi, finished on the second step of the podium and thus took the final qualifying place.

After this competition in Dakhla, Morocco, the continental selections of the Bocuse d’Or are coming to an end and we now know all the candidates for the Grand Finale. This last one will be held on January 22nd and 23rd, 2023 during the Sirha Lyon in France, and will gather 24 chefs from all over the world from the 4 continental selections of 2022 (Bocuse d’Or Europe, Bocuse d’Or Americas, Bocuse d’Or Africa & Bocuse d’Or Asia-Pacific).

MOROCCO, HOST COUNTRY AND WINNER OF THE 2022 AFRICAN PASTRY CUP

  • 1st: MOROCCO – Abdelkader Ejjatioui / Ali Gousaid
  • 2nd: MAURITIUS – Lasbastide Stephane / Pravesh Gookhoola
  • 3rd: TUNISIA – Al Moez Krid / Hamed Bechir

Team Spirit Award: GHANA – Isaac Danso / Fred Brown

On Saturday, September 10th, after 5 hours of intense competition, Morocco, Mauritius and Tunisia qualified for the Grand Finale of the Pastry World Cup, which will take place on January 20th and 21st, 2023 during Sirha Lyon.

As the host country of these African selections, Morocco has established itself as the reference country of pastry on the African continent by taking the first place of the African Pastry Cup podium. Led by Abdelkader Ejjatioui and Ali Gousaid, the Moroccan team seduced the jury with its creations and working techniques.

The next stage of these 2022 continental selections is the Asian Pastry Cup on October 25th and 26th (Singapore) during which the last teams will qualify to participate in the Grand Finale.

The final event is in January 2023 at Sirha Lyon,  a prominent professional summit gathering leading culinary professionals, food experts and everyone involved in the Food Sector.

Credit photo: Rahal Event

September Named “Michigan Craft Spirits Month”

The Michigan Craft Distillers Association (MCDA) is proud to announce September has once again been proclaimed “Michigan Craft Spirits Month” by Governor Whitmer. Michigan currently ranks #7 in the national for the number of licensed craft distilleries (with nearly 90) as noted by the annual “Craft Spirits Data Project” released by the American Craft Spirits Association.

 Earlier this summer, Governor Whitmer signed House Bill 4842 which cuts costs for small Michigan distilleries and supports Michigan grain farmers by lowering mark up costs associated with the purchase of Michigan grain, increasing the number of bottles distilleries and produce while saving them and their customers money. It is the latest legislative change she’s made in recent years to assist small business distilleries in competing with other Michigan craft beverage producers as well as their distilling counterparts across the country.

 Michigan’s craft spirit distillers are a key component of the state’s agricultural and processing industries, contributing more than $1 billion dollars in total economic impact and collectively utilizing more than two million pounds of Michigan grown grain and fruits in their products each year.

 As part of the state’s thriving craft beverage sector, Michigan distilleries are also a vital component of community placemaking efforts and the state’s tourism industry.

 Throughout the month, Michigan distillers join with Michigan consumers in support of the “craft spirits in moderation” concept and encourage adult residents and tourists in Michigan to visit the distilleries of our great state and enjoy Pure Michigan-made craft spirits and cocktails.

 The Michigan Craft Distillers Associationwas formed in October 2014 as a non-profit organization charged with marketing the individual member businesses, their products and events, but also help bring a voice for the industry when it comes to legislative issues that affect the overall beverage industry.

MCDA currently represents nearly 40 craft distilleries with over 50 unique tasting room locations around the state, as well as a handful of distillery in-planning members and nearly 20 Allied members, providing goods and services to the distilling industry.

With special thanks to Dianna Stampfler.

Three Ways to Celebrate California Wine Month in September

Harvesting during night and the early morning hours helps the fruit arrive at the winery with cool temperatures assuring high quality fruit, reduced energy costs and cooler working conditions for workers. Photo credit: Wine Institute of California.

Enjoy Immersive Harvest Experiences and Festivals, Pair Iconic California Recipes and Fresh Produce with California Wines and Support Local Wineries



September is California Wine Month, a time to celebrate the annual harvest season and raise a glass to the state’s vibrant wine community. As California vintners and growers harvest more than 110 different grape varieties for the 2022 vintage, wine lovers around the country can join the month-long festivities. These range from immersive harvest experiences to special wine tastings to wine festivals, along with exciting ways to celebrate California Wine Month at home.

Golden Eye pinot noir harvest, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California

“California is the top U.S. wine producer, driven mostly by multi-generational family businesses,” said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “California Wine Month celebrates the hard work of hundreds of thousands of employees in our wine community, the tremendous pace of innovation and the exceptional wines coming out of the state.”

California’s wine industry has played a vital role in the state’s culture and economy for more than 250 years. California makes up 81% of wine production in the United States and 95% of exports. Within the state’s 147 distinct winegrowing regions are 621,000 acres of vineyards, 4,800 bonded wineries and nearly 6,000 winegrowers.

“California’s diverse and expansive wine country is one of its top tourism draws,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California president and CEO. “From high-end pairings and legendary wineries to sustainable vineyards and neighborly barn tastings, there’s an experience — and a wine — for everyone to enjoy.”

California is also a leader in sustainability, with the state’s winegrowers and vintners making significant investments of time and dollars in innovation and new processes to preserve the land and environment for future generations. More than 2,400 vineyards have earned certification under the California Sustainable Winegrowing program, and more than 80% of California wine is produced in a Certified California Sustainable Winery.

Madrona Vineyards, El Dorado County

Ways to Celebrate California Wine Month

 Participate in Events and Experiences at California Wineries

More than 24 million people from around the globe visit the state’s winegrowing regions every year, and California Wine Month is one of the most exciting times to do it. And for those in California, wine country is just a short trip away. Join wineries across the state for more than 40 harvest-themed events, activities and experiences — and more will continue to be added throughout September. These include behind-the-scenes vineyard and crush pad tours, grape-stomping competitions, wine and food festivals, hands-on harvest experiences, charity wine auctions and more. For the latest details on offerings, visit the Discover California Wines website.

Pair Iconic California Recipes with California Wine

Los Carneros wine tasting. Cuvaison

It’s no coincidence that California wine pairs perfectly with the state’s farm-fresh produce and trend-setting cuisine. To help consumers experience this delicious culinary connection at home, Discover California Wines has partnered with California Grown and Visit California to create the free “Iconic California Dishes to Celebrate California Wine Month” e-book. The book features recipes for dishes that evoke the state’s sunny and relaxed vibe — all paired with California wine and creative, wine-based cocktails. Bring harvest home with recipes including Avocado Salad with Hidden Valley Ranch-Style Dressing, Wine Country Chicken Salad and the California 75, a classic wine-based lemon cocktail with a literal and figurative twist.

“We say what grows together goes together,” said Cher Watte Angulo, executive director of California Grown. “Since California provides over 50% of the nation’s produce and over 80% of the wine, it makes sense that people celebrate with both a sip and a bite of the Golden State.”

Discover and Enjoy California Wine

Whether visiting wineries in person or online, there’s no better time than California Wine Month to pick up a few bottles of wine to share with friends and family. It’s also easy to find a great selection of California wine at your local grocery store or wine shop. 

California Wine Month Partners

South Coast Winery Grape Stomp

Ask about special activities and offers from California Wine Month restaurant, retail, association and organization partners. They include: Albertsons, California Grown, California Restaurant Foundation, The Calistoga Depot, The CIA at Copia, Epic Steak, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, Ironwood Laguna Hills, Oakville Grocery, Olea Newport Beach, Pavillions, Safeway, Sapphire Laguna Beach, Vine Restaurant & Bar San Clemente, Visit California and Vons.

About Wine Institute Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and by showcasing California’s wine regions as ideal destinations for food and wine travelers to the state. To learn more about California wines, visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

Photos courtesy of California Wines.

Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage

“Bourbon is a legacy of blue grass, water and Kentucky limestone,” Carol Peachee tells me when I ask what makes Kentucky bourbon so prized.

Limestone? Water? Bluegrass? What’s that have to do with fine bourbon?

Turns out it’s quite simple. According to Peachee, the limestone filters the iron out of the water as it flows through the rock, producing a sweet-tasting mineral water perfect for making the greatest tasting liquor. Limestone, with its heavy calcium deposits, also is credited with the lush blue grass the state’s prize-winning horses gaze upon — making their bones strong.

It’s been a long time since I took geology in college, but I do like the taste of good bourbon and the sight of stately horses grazing in beautiful pastures and the more I can learn about it all, the better. Which is why I love Peachee’s entrancing photographs.

Carol Peachee

I first met Peachee, an award-winning professional photographer, when she was autographing copies of her latest book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage (Indiana University Press 2017; $28). Creating beauty as well as a sense of yearning, her books, including The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries, take us on a wanderlust journey of lost distilleries and those now re-emerging from the wreckage of Prohibition. At one time, Kentucky had over two hundred commercial distilleries, but only sixty-one reopened after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now, as Kentucky bourbon becomes a driving force throughout the world, once barely remembered and long closed distilleries are being restored and revamped and are opening again for business.

Using a photographic technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging ― a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light ― Peachee hauntingly showcases the vibrancy still lingering in artifacts such as antique tools, worn cypress fermenting tubs, ornate copper stills some turning slightly green with oxidation and age, gears and levers —things we would never typically think of as lovely and compelling.

Traveling with the Book

Keeping copies of her books in my car when I travel to Kentucky, I love visiting some of the places and sites she’s photographed.

Her passion for bourbon may also have come about, in part, because she lives in Lexington, Kentucky which is rich in the history of bourbon making (and, we should say, sipping).

To get a taste of how bourbon connects to the land, when in Lexington, Peachee suggests a stop at the Barrel House Distilling Co. including the Elkhorn Tavern located in the old James B. Pepper barrel plant. It’s part of Lexington’s happening Distillery District. But fine bourbon doesn’t just stop in Lexington.

“There are so many bourbon distilleries now,” she says, noting that the heritage of good bourbon making is more than the equipment and the water.

“The cultural heritage of distilling also lays in the human culture,” she writes in the Acknowledgements section of her latest book, “the people who learned the crafts of milling, copper welding and design, barrel making and warehouse construction and then passed them on through the generations down to today’s workers and owners.”

And now Peachee has passed them down to us so we can fully appreciate the art of distilling

Town Branch Bourbon Bramble

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Fresh squeeze lemons
  • 3/4oz Simple syrup
  • 5 Fresh blackberries muddled

Shake with ice, strain and pour over fresh ice in rock glass with blackberry garnish.

Town Branch Bourbon Mint Julep

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1/4oz simple syrup
  • Dash of bitters

Muddle ingredients.

Add crushed ice with mint garnish and straw.

The above recipes are courtesy of the Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company.