Up for a unique challenge? There’s a new Amazonian tourism offering in Peru that takes adventure lovers to remote parts of the Amazon by traditional canoe and it’s called the toughest South American adventure challenge.
Take the Challenge and Help the Amazon
Race across 250 km or just over 155 miles through the Amazon Rainforest by paddling the traditional canoes known as pitotsi. Made of wood, they’re heavy, hard to handle, and slow but have the advantage of being the best way to explore this remote region. At night set camp alongside Asháninka communities on the river’s edge, and learn about the hidden treasures of this region under threat.
The goal of the Amazon Canoe Challenge or ACC team is to not only encourage increased regulation to help protect the Amazon environmentally but also encourage sustainable community tourism projects that benefits the local population.
Amazon Canoe Challenge takes travelers on pre-planned and custom trips through the little explored and rugged parts of the Peruvian Amazon.
“We are extremely proud to be working with the Asháninka communities to make the Amazon Canoe Challenge a reality,” explained ACC Director Carlos Heine. “Their stories and courage have been an inspiration to us to keep pushing to make the race happen.”
Trip Options Include:
- Ene-Tambo Expedition: Explore the River Ene and Tambo by traditional Pitotsi canoes over 6 days. This expedition takes guests through an area of Peru rarely visited, where they will find some of the most authentic experiences in Peru. They take travelers into the heart of Ashaninka territory in Junin, where they stay with Ashaninka communities and learn about their culture and traditions. Share stories over a bowl of Masato and stay in the heart of the Amazon Highlands. Over the next 5 days, travelers will explore the Ene river as they travel downstream toward the jungle town of Atalaya. Every day is different and each evening they will stay with a different community along the river. The area is remote so they will be setting up camp at each stop. Expect between 4 – 6 hours of paddling each day with a stop for lunch. Included is food and non alcoholic beverage, canoe, basic accommodations, local permits, camping equipment, safety equipment, experienced guide.
- Custom bespoke itineraries through the most remove areas of Peru by canoe can also be created with the team.
- Amazon Canoe Challenge Race, a race over 250 km through the Amazon Rainforest by traditional canoe. The Amazon Canoe Challenge is a competition-style expedition that takes you through areas of the Amazon usually inaccessible to visitors, filled with a staggering diversity of wildlife. Competitors will learn about the culture of the Asháninka as they set camp each night with native communities along the riverside.
Due to the remoteness of the areas they visit, facilities are limited on this trip. This is real adventure – you won’t find electricity, mobile reception or internet access on this expedition.
Safety is a primary focus and participants are provided detailed stage maps, satellite trackers, safety equipment, and support vessels throughout the entire challenge.
The Amazon Canoe Challenge works directly with the local communities in the Peruvian Amazon. They locally source supplies, equipment and services as much as possible, ensuring that the benefits go directly to the areas they visit.
ACC’s mission is to work directly with local community organizations to help create positive impact in the areas we operate. They locally source supplies, equipment and services as much as possible, ensuring that the benefits go directly to the areas they visit.
With each expedition, ACC make a donation to both the community organizations who support us, as well as the local communities that host their teams throughout the race.
Spring in the Smokies: Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival 2023
A perennial winner (excuse our pun), Dollywood regularly earns amusement industry accolades for both its natural beauty – it’s built right into the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee – as well as its incredible culinary creations that go way beyond standard park fare.
Each spring since 2020, the theme park has taken springtime experiences to an incredible new level by serving up both a breathtaking display of Mother Nature’s finest handiwork and some of the most impressive menu items during its 4th Annual Flower & Food Festival. Starting April 21 and running through June 11, visitors can expect to be awed by over one million blooms and incredible floral installations all coming together to create an amazing display of color and wonder.
Mosaicultures International, a Montreal-based company that specializes in crafting living sculptures from thousands of plants, has been busy creating and tending to a full lineup of iconic floral symbols that will be on display at Dollywood during the next several weeks. Their team of landscape architects, engineers, horticultural mosaic artists and sculptor-welders, fashion plants and flowers into the unique and magnificent living works known as mosaiculture. Think playful bears, toddering turtle, chatty mallard ducks, rascally raccoons, and other woodland creatures that can be found in the Smokies.
But perhaps the most popular sculpture of all depicts the person who once called these mountains “home”: Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee, stitching the famed Coat of Many Colors.
Another popular “human” figure made from plants is the beekeeper sculpture located in the park’s Craftsman’s Valley section. New this year, a real keeper will display beehives, showcase beekeeping techniques and educate park guests about the importance of nature’s noble pollinator, the honey bee.
And that talk of honey is the perfect tie-in to the culinary side of this annual festival. The Flower & Food Festival menu was inspired by fresh spring flavors, then given some Smoky Mountain flair. This year’s menu includes a Cuban sandwich with mojo sauce, street tacos, pretzel crab melt, grilled shrimp mac & cheese, beef bulgogi nachos, street corn salad, quinoa salad, berry and honey funnel cakes, and hand-decorated cookies and cupcakes with a flower theme.
For those who can’t choose among all the delicacies, Dollywood offers a “tasting pass” that lets guests partake in a variety of food items. The pass, which can be purchased in the park or online, costs $36.99 plus tax and allows guests to sample five food offerings at special locations.
The fun – and food – doesn’t stop at the park. Plenty of festival elements carry over to Dollywood’s DreramMore Resort and Spa, where guests are greeted by colorful décor and stunning floral accents. Complimentary beverages like lavender lemonade and rosemary blueberry smash will be served in the main lobby from 4 to 6 p.m. each day, and a variety of seasonal cocktails and mocktails will be available for purchase in The Lounge. Camp DW, which offers daily activities for kids, will get into the spirit by helping young guests create flowerpots, garden gnomes and birdhouses. At the spa, guests can indulge in a Dreamy Sunflower Facial, Magic Melon Manicure or other seasonal treatments.
Each resort guest gets priority access to Dollywood; a complimentary TimeSaver pass, which can be used to access select rides and daily show reservations; complimentary trolley transportation to the park; complimentary package delivery, so all those purchases made from the park’s crafters and other shops don’t need to be lugged around all day; and early admission on Saturday mornings.
And as if all this wasn’t exciting enough, in May – right in the midst of the Flower & Food Festival – Dollywood will debut Big Bear Mountain, the longest roller coaster in the park’s history. The ride pays homage to the Smokies’ favorite critter, the ubiquitous black bear, and serves as another reminder of the natural wonders of the region.
For more information about Dollywood or to begin planning your visit, please see Dollywood.com.
The Dollywood Company consists of the 165-acre Dollywood theme park; the 35-acre Dollywood’s Splash Country; and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. Currently under construction, the 302-room Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is scheduled for completion later this year. As unique as its namesake and owner Dolly Parton, Dollywood is the 2010 Applause Award winner, the theme park industry’s highest accolade; winner of 48 Golden Ticket Awards; and recipient of 28 Brass Ring Awards for Live Entertainment.
The park is located in Pigeon Forge near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and was named in 2022 by Tripadvisor as the #1 theme park in the country based on actual guest reviews. It also has been recognized as a top-three U.S. theme park by USA Today on multiple occasions.
Dollywood is open mid-March through early January and offers rides and attractions, shows, and crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region. Dollywood’s Splash Country, recognized by the Travel Channel and Tripadvisor as one of the country’s most beautiful water parks, operates from mid-May to Labor Day. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, a favorite of USA Today voters and Tripadvisor reviewers, provides guests with spectacular mountain views and family-friendly amenities next door to Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country. For more information, visit Dollywood.com. Operating days and hours vary.
Try One or All of These 11 Great Cakes in Honor of Duncan Hines
My friends at Mindy Bianca Public Relations tell me they love representing Bowling Green, Kentucky for many reasons, but at the top of their list is the fact it’s the hometown of Duncan Hines. Most of us know his name from boxed cake mixes sitting on the grocery shelves, but that’s just part of his story as Mindy would say. Here’s a big wedge of American pop culture for you … perhaps best served with a tall glass of milk.
Duncan Hines was a traveling salesman who didn’t know much about cooking but knew a lot about good food and he kept notes during his travels and made recommendations for fellow travelers. His notes became books and his books became best sellers with names like “Adventures in Good Eating” and Adventures In Good Cooking And The Art Of Carving In The Home Tested Recipes Of Unusual Dishes From America’s Favorite Eating Places. Mindy and her team selected these cakes in homage to Hines who was born on March 26, 1880. And these aren’ts any old cakes, they’re confectionary marvels that will make you want to hit the road!
Bundt Cake from The Cake Shop at Boyce’s General Store, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Let’s start close to where Duncan Hines himself did … right near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Boyce’s General Store is a foodie heaven, serving as the kitchen and retail shop for two phenomenal dessert bakers, The Pie Queen and The Cake Shop. Though the dynamic duo who bake the cakes create all sorts of flavors – the display case simply makes your mouth water – we’re most intrigued by the bundt cakes. No matter which flavor you get, you can expect a cake that’s moist and rich and covered in a cream cheese glaze. If you don’t need to serve 10 to 12 of your closest friends, go for the mini sampler, which features one each of chocolate, apple spice, snickerdoodle and red velvet.
7-Layer Caramel Cake from Caroline’s Cakes, Spartanburg, South Carolina
For years, Caroline’s Cakes has been sending its delicacies out through their successful mail-order service. Last year, though, the bakers finally opened a storefront along Beaumont Avenue in Spartanburg, meaning that visitors to this town along the northern border of South Carolina can finally walk into a shop for an immediate taste of one of the city’s most delicious exports. The 7-Layer Caramel Cake features – surprise! – seven layers of moist yellow cake crowned by melt-in-your-mouth caramel icing. It’s a Southern classic that has achieved ultimate success: making it to Oprah’s list of favorite things! (It’s on our list of favorite things, too, but we know that doesn’t carry nearly as much prestige as Oprah’s.)
Hummingbird Cake from Lola
Historic downtown Covington, Louisiana Northshore
When Hurricane Katrina blew through Louisiana in 2005, Keith and Nealy Frentz, who were both sous chefs at the world-famous Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans, found themselves out of work. They evacuated to Keith’s hometown of Covington and opened their own restaurant just a year later. It’s hard to decide on the very best meal at Lola – we can confirm that everything on the menu is delicious – but one thing is certain: You must end that meal with a piece of hummingbird cake. Nealy uses her grandma’s recipe to craft this moist banana cake that’s filled with chunks of juicy pineapple and a dash of cinnamon. It’s all topped off with a decadent cream cheese icing, ensuring that both the fruit and dairy food groups are beautifully represented. Hooray for Nealy’s take on the food pyramid!
Lane Cake from The Hummingbird Way Oyster Bar
Lane Cake was invented by Emma Rylander Lane more than 100 years ago as an entry in Alabama’s state fair, with its recipe being officially published in a cookbook in 1898. It entered popular culture through multiple mentions in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and it ultimately bumped hummingbird cake (sorry, Nealy!) out of the way to become Alabama’s official state dessert. The cake gets its incredible flavor from its rich icing, which is made with chopped pecans, golden raisins, coconut and Alabama whiskey and then spread between layers and layers of moist cake. Chef Jim Smith, proprietor of The Hummingbird Way Oyster Bar, one of Mobile’s favorite restaurants, is the former executive chef for the State of Alabama … so we can confirm he knows his way around the state’s favorite dessert.
Italian Cream Cake from Cajun Pecan House
Cut Off, Louisiana, part of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou
The MBPR team is proud to represent an array of Southern destinations, and you’ll see a running theme among them when it comes to their baked goods: moist cake, some sort of fruit or nut, cream cheese icing. Our favorite selection in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, aka “Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou,” is the Italian Cream Cake from the charming Cajun Pecan House. The place lives up to its name and tosses pecans on and in pretty much everything. Lots of folks come here looking for a pecan pie or a praline – both of which are delicious – but the bakers also put plenty of their namesake nut into a yellow cake batter that’s made extra-moist by the addition of coconut. Then they slather it in a rich cream cheese icing that’s topped with additional coconut and – you guessed it – more pecans! It feels more Southern than Italian to us, but we are NOT complaining!
Caramel Cake from Deep South Cake Company
Your sweet tooth will get quite a workout at the Deep South Cake Company, which is home to a dazzling array of cakes and cupcakes. But the winner by a landslide – the bakery sells at least 1,400 of them between Thanksgiving and Christmas alone – is the legendary caramel cake. Shannon Rumley and her team put a lot of time and energy into this cake, which features a burnt sugar icing that Shannon’s mother and grandmother taught her how to make when she was just a kid. Achieving the proper consistency for the icing requires constant stirring, so this cake truly is a labor of love. If you’re not into caramel – or if you’re loyal to Caroline’s Cakes (see above) and feel guilty eating a caramel cake from anywhere else – don’t fear: Shannon’s second-best seller is a strawberry cake that cuts the sweet with a little zip from the berries.
Pink Champagne Cake from Spark’d Creative Pastry
The bake shop at the historic HOTEL DU PONT in Wilmington, Delaware
Speaking of strawberries, how about that classic romantic combo of berries and champagne? There’s a lot to love about a stay in the historic HOTEL DU PONT in downtown Wilmington, but we think that being just a few paces away from the offerings at Spark’d, the hotel’s bake shop, is one of the strongest motivators for booking a room here. The Pink Champagne Cake is the delightful merger of strawberry cake, strawberry jam and Champagne buttercream icing. With a little advance notice, the hotel’s pastry team is also happy to create a custom design to ensure that the cake you order is perfectly suited to its recipient.
Gingerbread Cake from Mrs. Johnnie’s Gingerbread House
A Louisiana bakery that proves that so-called seasonal cakes are amazing all year round is Mrs. Johnnie’s Gingerbread House. Locals know – and visitors are finally discovering – that gingerbread is appropriate for every season, not just Christmastime. This low-key shop, which is easily mistaken for a neighborhood home, is hidden in plain sight. But those in the know (many of whom learned about the Gingerbread House thanks to a viral TikTok video last year) can tell you that this popular establishment offers a special cake that throws one heck of a Christmas party in your mouth. Leona Guillory Johnnie, the original owner of the bakery, spent 40 years perfecting the recipe. Today her son, Kevin Ames, continues her legacy, also serving traditional tea cakes and an array of pies.
Pinch Me Round from Jamaica
Mrs. Johnnie’s Gingerbread House
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Look for the “Cake Man” on the beaches of Negril during a stay at Sunset at the Palms
It’s not gingerbread, but some people swear that ginger is the magic ingredient in a dessert that our client resort in Jamaica turned us on to. It’s called “gizzada,” but it also goes by the nickname “Pinch Me Round.” Though it’s technically more of a tart than a cake, the fact that a guy called the “Cake Man” sells gizzadas during his rounds on the beaches of Negril convinced us that the dessert warrants a spot on our list. Each islander has their own spin on this classic Jamaican dessert, which features a pinched pastry shell filled with plenty of sweet, grated coconut. Some bakers like to add a touch of ginger to give it a little kick. The dessert is said to have originated among Portuguese Jews who came to Jamaica to escape persecution, but over the years the Jamaicans have made the dessert truly their own. In fact, they say that the shape of the treat will remind you of the shining sun you’ll see on your trip to the island.
Tricia’s Jamaican Rum Cake from Market Wego
Westwego, Louisiana, in Jefferson Parish
If you can’t get to Jamaica right now, you may be able to live vicariously with a visit to Market Wego, a proper Cajun market in southeastern Louisiana. Its owner, River Shay, says her grandmother, Tricia, simply loved visiting Jamaica. On each of her trips, Tricia liked to sample the island’s rum cakes. Over the years, she took what she loved about each variation to create her very own recipe. Her cake truly pays homage to Duncan Hines, because Tricia swore by using only a Duncan Hines cake mix as the base … and then adding an extra splash of rum at the end. Her recipe is still used to this day, and patrons order the cake at all hours – breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Flower Cupcakes from Dollywood
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dolly Parton’s theme park is known for its delicious meal offerings – around here, “park food” means way more than hot dogs and funnel cakes – but during Dollywood’s annual Flower & Food Festival (this year held April 21 through June 11), the culinary team really steps up its game to make foods that are as attractive as they are tasty. One of our favorites is the collection of “flower cupcakes” available at Spotlight Bakery near the park’s entrance. Each flower cupcake is a beautiful work of art that celebrates the natural beauty of the park, which is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. And to bring it full circle, Parton recently collaborated with Duncan Hines’ namesake company, resulting in her very own line of cake, muffin and biscuit mixes.
Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient
I still remember the lard we used during my high school cooking class — big cases of off-white clumpy fat that looked and smelled unappetizing but turned our pie dough and biscuits into luscious tasting triumphs. So I couldn’t resist a cookbook with lard in the first word of its title. And it didn’t disappoint.
“Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient” (Andrew McMeel) offers 150 sweet and savory recipes, beautiful photos and fond anecdotes from cooks nationwide about an ingredient once frowned upon and now (doesn’t this always happen) purported as healthy in some ways as it contains only 54 percent of the saturated fat found in butter and is free of trans fats when rendered with care.
And, of course, as I found out long ago in junior year cooking class, lard is the secret to turning out such marvels as southern fried chicken, green tomato pie and intriguingly the much more sophisticated Beef Wellington.
The recipes were culled from the archives of Grit, a bi-monthly magazine that’s a paean to rural traditional and values featuring articles like “Modern Day Barn Raising” and “Beyond Iceberg: Heirloom Lettuce Varieties.”
Founded 130 years ago, the names of the recipes found in the cookbook — Sand Hill Plum Dumplings, corn pone, World War II Cake with Basic Buttercream Frosting and Hot Cross Buns — read like a time capsule. And though lard figures into everyone, it often plays a small part, maybe just a tablespoon like that used in Old Fashioned Green Beans.
“Lard makes awesome fried chicken,” says Hank Will, Grit’s editor-in-chief who holds a doctorate in lipid chemistry and molecular biology from the University of Chicago and was a college professor for 16 years before quitting to farm full time. “If you look at lard, it’s very similar to butter. What we did is vilify it.”
Will, who still farms part time, renders his own lard from the pigs he raises. He doesn’t spread it on a piece of bread for lunch like his grandfather did back in North Dakota, but he and his wife use it for baking and cooking.
He blames lard’s demise on the industrial food industry. And indeed, reading about the development of Crisco, the first hydrogenated — the process of turning liquids into solids — shortening shows how advertising and testimonials helped convince a nation that hydrogenated shortening was good and lard was bad. Common wisdom became that unsaturated fats or trans fats of hydrogenated vegetable oils were better than saturated fats found in butter and lard.
Though scientific studies indicated even back in the late 1950s that trans fats weren’t all that good and might be the reason for an increase in coronary heart disease, it took 30 more years for it to finally be established.
And so by returning to lard, Will believes we’re not only returning to a traditional “real food” that improves the taste of what we eat but also is better for us.
But even a lardophile like Will doesn’t recommend gobbling up a lot of lard. It is a fat after all, but like butter healthier than trans-fat.
“Butter and lard are both animal fats — lard from pigs and butter is mostly from cows,” says Corinne Powell, former extension educator Consumer and Family Sciences at the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service Lake County. “If you read the labels you’ll see a lot of hydrogenated fats in baked goods because it lengthens their shelf life.”
According to Powell, many companies put labels on the front of their products saying no trans fats but that doesn’t mean there’s no fat in it and therefore, it’s important to read the list of ingredients.
“Fat is a good source of energy and it provides satiety,” she says, “which is that feeling of being full.”
Alas, we can’t just run out and buy a container of lard at the local grocery store.
“Most lard at the grocery store is hydrogenated,” says Will. “But artisan meat producers and farmers markets should have lard that hasn’t been hydrogenated.”
And though Powell notes that all fats, including lard, have a lot of calories she has tasted its goodness too.
“Lard is usually considered to be the best to use for pie crusts — it has a good flavor and makes flaky pie crusts,” she says. “I’ve judged pie crusts at fairs and the best usually have lard.”
Old-Fashioned Green Beans
- 1 tablespoon lard
- 12 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet, melt the lard over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Add the sugar and water; stir and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beans and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, until the beans are soft and all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve immediately.
- 1 (6.5-ounce) can crabmeat, drained
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion (white and green parts)
- Salt and black pepper
- Lard, for frying
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, place the crabmeat, bread crumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and onion. Season with salt and pepper; mix well. Shape into 4 equal-sized patties. (If more moisture is needed to form patties, add a dash of melted lard.) In a large skillet, heat the lard over medium-high heat. Fry the patties 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Strawberry Soda Pop Cake
- 3/4 cup lard, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
- 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (7-ounce) bottle strawberry soda pop
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 5 egg whites, stiffly beaten
- 2 tablespoons lard, softened
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle or can strawberry soda pop
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with lard; dust lightly with flour and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the lard and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on low speed. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add the flour mixture and the strawberry pop to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the nuts; fold in the egg whites. Distribute the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. To prepare the frosting, combine the lard, salt, confectioners’ sugar, and just enough strawberry pop to moisten the mixture; blend well until smooth and creamy. To frost the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand and frost, using an offset spatula. Position the second layer atop the first and repeat.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
- 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-¼ cups lard, cold and coarsely chopped
- 1 egg
- 5-½ tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture is very fine. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, water, and vinegar. Make a small well in the flour mixture and add the liquid; mix just until the dough comes together in a ball. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and flatten into disks; wrap individually in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. To make a double-crust pie with a solid top crust, roll out 2 disks of dough about 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Fit one crust into the bottom of the pie plate. Fill the pie with the desired filling; slightly moisten the edge of the bottom crust. Take the second crust, fold it in half, gently place it over the pie filling, and unfold, centering it on the pie plate; press the edges into the bottom crust to seal. Trim the excess dough to leave and overhang of about ¾ inch. Crimp or flute the edges with your fingers. To allow steam to escape, gently prick the top crust with a fork several times or slash vents with a sharp knife.
Makes 4 single or 2 (9-inch) double crusts.
Grandma’s Homemade Biscuits
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon lard, cold and coarsely chopped, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2-½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with lard and set aside. Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and the salt in a large mixing bowl; whisk together. Using a pastry blender, work the lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and stir. On a sheet of wax paper, sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of flour. Turn the dough mixture onto the wax paper and knead for 5 minutes. Roll out the dough to a 1-inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter; alternatively, drop the dough using a large spoon and pat down onto the prepared baking sheet spaced 1 inch apart. For color, brush the biscuits with melted butter, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Makes 1 dozen.
Henrietta’s Spicy Fried Chicken
- 1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 (2-½ to 3-½ pound) frying chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
- ¼ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2-¼ teaspoons garlic salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- Lard, for frying
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine the black pepper, poultry seasoning, paprika, cayenne, and dry mustard. Dredge the chicken pieces in the spices. In a paper or plastic bag, combine the flour, garlic salt, salt, and celery salt; shake to mix. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Heat the lard to 340 degrees and 2 inches deep in an electric skillet or on medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the chicken pieces and fry for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Increase the heat to 355ºF for an electric skillet or medium-high for a regular skillet. Fry for an additional 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink at the bone. Remove the chicken from the fat and drain on paper towels.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
SOURCE: “Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient”
“Ladies of the Lights” Showcases Female Lighthouse Keepers
“Ladies of the Lights” Presentation by Michigan Maritime Expert Dianna Stampfler Showcases Female Keepers of Michigan’s Historic Beacons
“Ladies of the Lights” Presentation Showcases Female Keepers of Michigan’s Historic Beacons
Michigan lighthouse historian and author Dianna Stampfler has announced a series of presentations of her popular “Ladies of the Lights” in honor of Women’s History Month. This program, which includes readings from newspapers and autobiographies, as well as countless historic photos, sheds light on the dedicated women who served at lights around the state dating back as early as the 1830s.
These were women before their time, taking on the romantic yet dangerous and physically demanding job of tending to the lighthouses that protected the Great Lakes shoreline. Given this was also a government job, their involvement was even more unique. In all, nearly 50 women have been identified who excelled in this profession over the years.
One of the most notable was Elizabeth (Whitney) VanRiper Williams who took over the St. James Harbor Light on Beaver Island after her husband, Clement, died while attempting to rescue the crew of a ship sinking in the harbor. She later became the first keeper of the Little Traverse Lighthouse in Harbor Springs, retiring after a combined 44 years of service.
There is also Julia (Tobey) Braun Way who outlived two husband keepers at the Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse in Bay City, and some say who still haunts the place today. Anastasia Truckey served as the interim keeper at the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse in the 1860s while her husband, Nelson, was off serving in the Civil War. Mary Terry served 18 years before she died in a fire at the Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba in 1886 – her death still shrouded in mystery 137 years later.
Stampfler has been researching Great Lakes lighthouses for more than 25 years and is the author of Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses (2019) and Death and Lighthouses on the Great Lakes (2022) both from The History Press. She has penned countless articles and been interviewed extensively about the lighthouses and their keepers. She is also the president of Promote Michigan.
The March 2023 program schedule includes:
- Tuesday, March 14 (6-7:30pm)
Chesterfield Township Library
- Wednesday, March 15 (10am-Noon)
Saginaw Valley State University, University Center
OLLI Class (Registration required: $20 members/$40 non-members)
- Wednesday, March 15 (5-6:30pm)
Harbor Beach District Library
- Tuesday, March 21 (6-7:30pm)
Livonia Public Library ZOOM
- Wednesday, March 22 (6-7:30pm)
St. Clair County Library, Port Huron
- Thursday, March 23 (7-8:30pm)
Novi Public Library Zoom
Stampfler will be selling/signing copies of her books following each presentation.
Free Cake for Phoenix Residents on Monday, March 6
On Monday, March 6, Nothing Bundt Cakes is giving away one free OREO Cookies & Cream Bundtlet (mini bundt cakes) to the first 111 guests at each/the bakery in Phoenix at 1:11pm local time in celebration of OREO’s 111th birthday.
This newest flavor is the result of the Nothing Bundt Cakes® and OREO® brands joining together to create their new LTO Cookies & Cream flavor, available in all signature sizes.
OREO Cookies & Cream features Nothing Bundt Cakes’ classic white cake baked with OREO cookie pieces and crowned with Nothing Bundt Cakes’ signature cream cheese frosting.
“We couldn’t think of a sweeter partnership than bringing together our recipe with the iconic OREO cookie,” said Nothing Bundt Cakes Chief Marketing Officer Angie Eckelkamp. “We know our guests will enjoy two favorite treats in one as they celebrate their special moments or those ‘just because’ times with our exciting new featured flavor.”
In honor of the new partnership, guests will have a chance to win one of 10 gift cards in a giveaway on the Nothing Bundt Cakes Instagram page on Feb. 6, the day the flavor launches. That day, followers who comment and tag a friend on a specific Instagram post will be entered to win a $100 Nothing Bundt Cakes gift card plus a variety of OREO and Nothing Bundt Cakes merchandise.
Nothing Bundt Cakes will also help celebrate OREO’s 111th birthday with a cake giveaway at all locations across North America. On Monday, March 6, at 1:11 p.m. local time, the first 111 guests at each bakery will receive a free OREO Cookies & Cream Bundtlet, the brand’s individually packaged miniature Bundt Cake.
Nothing Bundt Cakes offers bite-sized Bundtinis®, miniature Bundtlets, Bundtlet Towers, 8- and 10-inch Bundt Cakes and Tiered Bundt Cakes in nine flavors in addition to rotating Featured Flavors and a gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor, available at select bakeries. Guests can add festive and unique decorations and toppers to their cakes for a variety of occasions, and bakeries also offer retail items, including party supplies, décor and gifts.
To find the nearest bakery and to order online for pickup or delivery, visit www.nothingbundtcakes.com.
About Nothing Bundt Cakes®
Dallas-based Nothing Bundt Cakes was founded in Las Vegas in 1997 by Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz. It has grown to become the nation’s largest specialty cake company, with nearly 500 franchised and corporate bakeries in 40-plus states and Canada. Bakeries offer handcrafted Bundt Cakes in a variety of flavors and sizes, such as bite-sized Bundtinis®, miniature Bundtlets and 8- and 10-inch Bundt Cakes, plus decorations and gift options for many occasions. Nothing Bundt Cakes is committed to building a team of bakery owners and employees who embody the joy-filled brand, resulting in industry accolades including Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List, Inc. 5000’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Franchise Business Review’s Franchise Hall of Fame and, for eight years running, Franchise Times’ “Fast and Serious.” For more information about Nothing Bundt Cakes, visit nothingbundtcakes.com/. To learn more about franchising opportunities, visit https://www.nothingbundtcakes.com/franchise-opportunities/.
OREO® is the world’s favorite cookie, available in more than 100 countries around the globe. Over 60 billion OREO® cookies are sold each year with more than 20 billion of those cookies sold in the U.S. annually. An estimated 500 billion OREO® cookies have been sold since the first OREO® biscuit was developed in 1912. For more information, follow OREO® on Facebook/OREOUnitedStates, Twitter @OREO or on Instagram @OREO.
Find a bakery nearest you by clicking here.
Celebrating the Survivors of America’s Last Slave Ship
Facility That Sharing the Stories of the Survivors of the Last Slave Ship To Arrive in the United States Will Open This Summer
At a February 3 event honoring the 110 survivors of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in the United States, the page was turned for the next chapter of a story that’s been being told for more than 150 years … in secret for decades but now shared on a global stage.
This past weekend marked the “Spirit of Our Ancestors” festival in the Africatown community of Mobile, Alabama. As part of the annual tribute, which is coordinated by the Clotilda Descendants Association, the community came together at the site of the new Africatown Heritage House to witness the unveiling of a signature piece of artwork and to hear the news that the facility is set to open on July 8, the 163rd anniversary of the date the community’s founders arrived in the United States … in shackles.
To understand the magnitude of this announcement, it helps to know some history:
Under the cover of night in the summer of 1860, a ship carrying 110 Africans slipped into Mobile Bay. The Clotilda, the last known U.S. slave ship, made its illegal voyage 52 years after the international slave trade had been outlawed. (Though it was illegal to bring enslaved people into the United States, domestic slavery itself remained legal until 1865.)
Upon arrival in Alabama, the captives were offloaded into the marshes along the Mobile River. In an attempt to conceal the crime, Timothy Meaher, the man who arranged the transfer, ordered the boat burned and sunk. Some captives remained in Mobile, enslaved by the Meaher family, and others were sold to Alabama plantations north of Mobile.
When slavery was abolished in 1865, the survivors dreamed of returning to Africa, but they didn’t have the financial means to make that happen. Instead, many of them pooled their limited resources to purchase land from the Meahers and turned it into the independent community known as “Africatown.” There they maintained their African identities, continued to speak their own languages, established their own set of laws and – in the early years – even had a chief. They built churches, schools and businesses based on what they knew from their homeland, and they effectively created their own world on the northern end of Mobile.
In 2019, it was verified that the shipwreck of the Clotilda rested at the bottom of the Mobile River, providing a tangible link to the names and stories that have been passed down through generations of descendants.
Africatown Heritage House
Africatown Heritage House is a community building that will house “Clotilda: The Exhibition,” to share this long-untold story. The facility was built by the Mobile County Commission but is a collaborative project that involves several entities working in partnership with the community. This includes the Alabama Historical Commission, which is leading the scientific efforts surrounding the search for, authentication and protection of the ship Clotilda and related artifacts, and the History Museum of Mobile, which curated, constructed and funded “Clotilda: The Exhibition” with generous support from other local organizations. The museum will operate Africatown Heritage House when it opens this summer.
The exhibition is especially focused on the people – their individuality, their perseverance and the extraordinary community they established. It will introduce the world to 110 remarkable men, women and children, from their beginnings in West Africa, to their enslavement, to their building the community of Africatown. Their stories will be shared through a combination of interpretive text panels, documents and artifacts, including some pieces of the sunken ship scientifically verified to be the Clotilda.
Africatown Heritage House and “Clotilda: The Exhibition” will open to the public on Saturday, July 8. Called “The Landing” by the descendants of the Clotilda’s survivors, this date marks 163 years since their ancestors arrived on American soil, forced against their will. Events and activities in acknowledgment of the date’s significance are being planned by the Clotilda Descendants Association and other local entities.
Africatown Heritage House will be open from Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition will have limited capacity, so tickets should be purchased in advance. Tickets will likely become available online in early summer.
For more information about the facility and the exhibition, please visit Clotilda.com, which is operated by the History Museum of Mobile. The latest details will be shared as they become available.
Telling the Story of the Slave Ship Clotilda and Celebrating Black History in Mobile, Alabama
Proudly embracing its history and culture, Mobile, Alabama remembers and honors all the people who have shaped its story. And you can learn about some of these stories at the Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail which highlights notable people of color throughout Mobile’s history and offers the chance for visitors to learn about parts of the past that must never be forgotten.
Included in this history is the story of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States in 1860 – decades after international slave trade was outlawed – and which was recently verified to be resting at the bottom of the Mobile River near 12 Mile Island and just a ways north of the Mobile Bay delta.
After the Civil War, Clotilda survivors formed their own community, naming it Africatown, and this year their descendants and the entire Mobile community are celebrating the long-anticipated opening of Clotilda: The Exhibition at the Africatown Heritage House. The exhibition shares the stories of the Clotilda, her survivors and those who came after them, and also serves as a place of reflection for the many African Americans who have been unable to trace their stories in the same way.
There will also be water tours that take visitors down the Mobile River to hear stories of captives on the schooner, Clotilda, a two-masted wooden ship. According to the Smithsonian, the ship was owned by steamboat captain and shipbuilder Timothy Meaher who bet another wealthy White man that he could bring a cargo of enslaved Africans aboard a ship into Mobile despite the 1807 Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves.And so in the autumn of 1860 Captain William Foster sailed for West Africa, capturing and successfully smuggled 110 enslaved Africans from Dahomey into Mobile. One captive did not survive the wretched conditions aboard, and perished during the Middle Passage.
The story of last shipment of enslaved people who landed on American soil, showcases not only the avariciousness and immorality of slave traders and those who profited off of the slaves but also the survival and heroism of the enslaved. It is ultimately a tale of resiliency and the ability to overcome adversity. After the Civil War, these enslaved people founded the Africatown community which still exists today.
24 Great Places to Grab a Beer When Hiking in California’s Gold Country
Pull on your hiking boots, get out the trail maps, and pick out the perfect place for a beer. Afterall, our mantra is that the tastiest beer every is the one you quaff after a hike. And what better place to do so than in California’s gorgeous and historic Gold Country.
Known for its rolling hills dotted with forests and scenic vistas as well aits many artisan breweries, Placer County is an outdoor adventurer’s – and a beer lover’s – dream. With 30 miles of trails,
Hidden Falls Regional Park is a great stop for a leisurely hike before checking out the local breweries such as Hillenbrand, Goathouse and Dueling Dogs. Near the Auburn State Recreation Area, the 10.8-mile Quarry Trail will take you along the American River, surrounded by sheer limestone.
Then head to Moonraker Brewing for renowned lagers, IPAs, sours and hard seltzers. Also popular trail is the 4.5-mile Lake Clementine Trail, which passes under the highest bridge in California. Post hike, stop by Crooked Lane Brewing for their fruit infused beer such as their Fruited Sour with Raspberry, Tangerine, and Pineapple as well as Mandarin Pale Ale.
While you’re at the Auburn State Rec Area, take the easy Olmstead Loop Trail that parallels historic Highway 49 near the town of Cool on one side and the American River Canyon on the other. The trail passes through rolling oak woodlands and includes canyon descents, climbs and water crossings, with elevations ranging from 1,350’ to 1,500’.
Three minutes away, Cool Beerwerks offers cold beer in warm environs with occasional live music. The Monte Vista Trail, located in El Dorado Hills near Folsom Lake, is a scenic three-mile loop that boasts various views, including the South Fork of the American River as it curves toward Folsom Lake. You may see wildflowers, green meadows, and birds depending on the time of year. Off Salmon Falls Road, the trailhead also accesses the Brown’s Ravine trail and New York Creek for a longer hike. Either way, a cold beer awaits just seven minutes away at Mraz Brewery.
Closer to Sacramento, many trails including the American River Parkway, Lake Natoma Trail and Hidden Falls Regional Park offers trails for all levels of hiking experiences.After visiting these awesome trails, head on over to the Rancho Cordova Barrel District and experience six breweries (as well as local distilleries), including Burning Barrel Brewing Co., Claimstake Brewing Company, Fort Rock Brewing, LogOff Brewing, Movement Brewing Company and hard kombucha brewer Shorebirds Brewing Company.
In Calaveras County, after exploring the Arnold Rim Trail, go for a cold brew at the Watering Hole and or the Pour House in Murphys for an eclectic list of rotating local, regional and international craft brews
Finish your Gold Country Hike & Beer tour around Yosemite National Park. In the park, you can cap off a hike on virtually any trail with a cold one Mariposa’s own 1850 Restaurant and Brewery which has taps at The Mountain Room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Outside of the park, 1850’s tap house in downtown Mariposa is a great spot to grab a burger and brew after a day at the park or a hike at Stockton Creek Preserve, which is just a three-minute drive away. The Lewis Creek National Scenic Trail is a popular trailhead in the Oakhurst area and South Gate Brewing is a perfect place to grab a cold one after this four mile trek.
If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants
Now one of the most popular retirement area for Americans and Canadians, the Lake Chapala Region, nestled in a valley almost a mile high in Mexico’s Volcanic Axis, has long been a draw for ex-pats and vacationers, lured by its almost perfect climate and beauty.
In his book If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants about Mexico‘s earliest international tourist destination (also available in Spanish), award-winning author Tony Burton shares his knowledge and interest in a region where he has spent more than two decades. Burton, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society who was born and educated in the United Kingdom, first visited Mexico in 1977. That visit was obviously a big success as he returned and for almost 18 years lived and worked full-time in Mexico as a writer, educator and ecotourism specialist.
He met his wife, Gwen Chan Burton who was a teacher of the deaf and then director at the Lakeside School for the Deaf in Jocotepec, one of the three main towns lining the shores of Lake Chapala. Though they now reside on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the Burtons continue to revisit Mexico regularly and he is currently editor-in-chief of MexConnect, Mexico’s top English-language online magazine. The other two towns, each with its own distinctive vibe, are Ajijic and Chapala, native villages resettled by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. “This book looks at how Chapala, a small nondescript fishing village in Jalisco, suddenly shot to international prominence at the end of the nineteenth century as one of North America’s earliest tourist resorts,” writes Burton. “Within twenty years, Chapala, tucked up against the hills embracing the northern shore of Mexico’s largest natural lake, was attracting the cream of Mexican and foreign society. Thus began Lake Chapala’s astonishing transformation into the vibrant international community it is now, so beloved of authors, artists and retirees.”
The book, organized as a walking tour, covers not only existing buildings but also pinpoints the spots where significant early buildings no longer stand but their histories still weave a story of the town. It’s only a partial guide, explains Burton, noting that an inventory prepared by the National Institute of Anthropology and History identified more than eighty such buildings in Chapala including many not easily visible from the road but hidden behind high walls and better viewed from the lake.
Among the famous people who lived in Chapala at some point in their careers was author D.H. Lawrence, probably best remembered for his risqué (at the time) novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
In 1923, Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, rented Casa de las Cuentas (House of Rosary Beads), a house that dates back to the 1800s. At the time, a one-story abode with a half-moon entrance and heavy wooden gates, it was located at 307 Calle Zaragoza, a street formerly known as Calle de la Pesquería (“Fishing street”) so named as it was where the local fishermen repaired their nets and hung them out to dry. It was while living on Calle Zaragoza that Lawrence wrote the first draft of The Plumed Serpent, published in 1926. The novel is described as “the story of a European woman’s self-annihilating plunge into the intrigues, passions, and pagan rituals of Mexico.”
Over the decades, after the Lawrences moved out, subsequent changes were made to Casa de las Cuentas including the addition of a swimming pool in the mid-1950s when artist Roy MacNicol and his wife, Mary, owned the home.
While Lawrence’s writings were considered by some as scandalous, MacNicol’s life had its scandals as well. Burton describes him as “colorful” in that he was married multiple times and was involved in many escapades as well as lawsuits.
Mary, embracing the local culinary traditions including the use of flowers in cooking, authored Flower Cookery: The Art of Cooking With Flowers.
It wasn’t the work of a dilettante as reviews of her book such as this one on Amazon shows.
“Flower Cookery is recipes, but far more than recipes,” writes one reviewer. “The book is organized by the popular name of the flower in question. Each section is introduced with quotations from literature, philosophy, and poetry that feature the blossom. This is followed by the recipes, interwoven with mythology, stories, and aphorisms about the flower, the plant from which it grows, its symbolism, and the culture or society in which humans discovered the value of the plant or blossom. The recipes include original favorites as well as recipes collected from historical sources and contemporary sources around the world. Here is just the tiniest sampling of the riches in the book.”
Burton shares her Christmas Cheer recipe from when she lived at Casa de las Cuentas.
10-12 squash blossoms with stems removed
2 eggs, beaten
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Flour, enough to thicken mixture about one tablespoon
Salt and pepper
1 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed, canola, or safflower
Wash and dry squash blossoms on paper towels, making sure to remove all the water. Mix remaining ingredients except oil to make a smooth batter. Place oil in a large, heavy skillet to 350-375°F. Dip blossoms in batter and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.
As for the house, it was renovated again in the early 1980s and is now Quinta Quetzalcoatl, a lovely boutique hotel.
If Walls Could Talk is one of four books that Burton has written on the Lake Chapala region. The other three are Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: decades of change in a Mexican Village; Lake Chapala Through the Ages: an anthology of travelers’ tales (2008), and the recent Lake Chapala: A Postcard history. All are available as print and ebooks on Amazon.
The above maps, both copyrighted, show Chapala 1915 [lower map] and 1951 [upper map].
In all, he’s planning on adding several more to what he currently calls the Lake Chapala Quartet, these focusing on the writers and artists associated with the area. I asked him to describe the region so readers who have never been there can get an idea of what it is like, but it turns out the Burton is NOT a traveler who meticulously plots every moment of a trip before he arrives. Instead, he tells me that part of the fun when traveling is to not know in advance what places are like and instead to see and experience them for yourself.
“That said,” he continues, “the various villages and towns on the shores of Lake Chapala are all quite different in character. The town of Chapala, specifically, is a pretty large and bustling town. It is growing quite rapidly and has added several small high end boutique hotels in recent years, as well as some fine dining options to complement the more traditional shoreline ‘fish’ restaurants. The many old–100 years plus–buildings in Chapala give the town a historic ‘air’ where it is relatively easy to conjure up images of what it was like decades ago. By comparison, Ajijic, now the center of the foreign community on Lake Chapala, has virtually no old buildings and more of a village and artsy feel to it, though it also has very high quality accommodations and more fine restaurants than you can count.”
Other structures still standing include the Villa Tlalocan, completed in 1896 and described by a contemporary journalist as “the largest, costliest and most complete in Chapala… a happy minglement of the Swiss chalet, the Southern verandahed house of a prosperous planter and withal having an Italian suggestion. It is tastefully planned and is set amid grounds cultivated and adorned with flowers so easily grown in this paradisiacal climate where Frost touches not with his withering finger…”
Also still part of the landscape is Villa Niza. One of many buildings designed by Guillermo de Alba, the house, according to Burton, was built in 1919 and looks more American than European in style. Located at Hidalgo 250, it takes advantage of its setting on Lake Chapala and has a mirador (look out) atop the central tower of the structure, which affords sweeping panoramic views over the gardens and lake. De Alba’s strong geometric design boasts only minimal exterior ornamentation.
Burton, who specializes in non-fiction about Mexico, related to geography, history, travel, economics, ecology and natural history, has written several fascinating books about the history of the Lake Chapala region.
In If Walls Could Talk, Burton invites you to walk with him through time as you explore the city.