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I’ve Been Everywhere

10 Nov

To me, learning new things is the best part of travel. I usually plan a trip down to the most minute detail… but this time, for the first time, I left room for lots of other things to happen, and great things did!

71BB1856-40BA-467F-906F-29C0B90230C0I couldn’t find an RV “resort” in Jackson, MS, but there was a state park on the route and the price was good, or should I say, cheap? As we drove deep into the park along swampy ponds, we both got a little nervous. Things were getting closer, smaller, more jungle-like… were we going to be able to fit? As we slowly, slowly snaked our way in, we began to wonder why we even wanted to.

“If I hear banjos, we’re outta here,” my sweetie mumbled.

Having already unhooked the truck, we decided to see the Capital and the State Supreme Court buildings. Then we drove to the Fondren Neighborhood where parts of the movie “The Help” was filmed. Being sure to return before dark, I got to see my first alligator. The realization that there were alligators in that lake made me almost faint!  I couldn’t wait to leave in the morning.

A572B947-758C-4CEC-929E-5E85B9FE0150We headed to Florence, AL, hoping to have work done on our coach. Since there was a five-week wait at the Tiffin factory, that didn’t happen, but we did get to tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, which was very close to our RV park (above) on the banks of the spectacular Tennessee River. We’ve always wanted to see one. I loved it, he didn’t like the small rooms. But the exterior, wow!

8764E0B5-7F97-4470-9C24-1C568BA02A96From there we went to Nashville, TN, and what a revelation! While Austin, where we live, is supposed to be the “coolest” city around, I disagree. Nashville is everything Austin could have grown-up to be, if we’d had leadership with that kind of vision. There are so many ways to get around Nashville that traffic isn’t the horrific experience we are used to at home… everything moved easily here. 218F7482-7209-4203-9E39-C5963F01AD3C

Staying at a spectacular park SE of town on Percy Priest Lake, we had our first taste of autumn, and the pleasant surprise of running into friends we’d made back in Natchez! We were excited to sit in their sleek Airstream and visit with them again. EC1206ED-32F3-4378-80CA-9B6DB404C9F2

We’d planned to visit with our dear friend Juliet, also a motorcycle rider. She came out to the lake to see our “casa,” one afternoon, and then we met her in East Nashville, where she lives, for a fabulous Sunday brunch at Marche. Having also eaten at Biscuit Love, I contend that we had our two best meals of the trip in Nashville!

From Nashville, we originally planned to go to Chattanooga… but headed to Memphis instead. Everyone told us to see The Ducks at The Peabody Hotel, which we thought was kind of corny… but we planned a whole day around it: lunch at a bbq joint, then explore the town, planning to be at the hotel by 4:00 to have a cocktail and see the ducks perform.

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Lunch was good, more so for the people-watching than the old rooster I’d been served. Afterwards, my sweetie suggested going to “the museum” across the street to see why tour buses were bringing people there. We saw a sign… The Lorraine Motel. It rang a bell, but it wasn’t until we got closer that I realized why:

We were facing the balcony where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had stood and shared his dream. Where he had died. I felt my heart break all over again, and I stood and wept.

B0B5FBF1-9692-4E50-B668-96106BCB49B1The next day, we ate at Beauty Shop Lunch, in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. An actual beauty salon with dryers, booths, and sinks that is now a chic cafe, how could I NOT go there? Priscilla Presley used to get her hair done here!

Getting to see the ducks at the beautiful old Peabody Hotel, the riverfront along the Mississippi, with its trolleys, and the MLK Memorial Park I’m so glad we visited Memphis. And to think, we had originally planned to skip it!

Our final stop was Little Rock, AR, and the RV park is right downtown, on the beautiful Arkansas River. It’s nestled between two pedestrian bridges, and blocks from their trolley system. The closest bridge leads to The Clinton Presidential Library. 2AFDC78F-3D8B-4B9F-B80C-C84A984093B0

The riverfront is beautiful. The city is small, elegant, and there seemed to be lots of cultural things to do other than just bars and music. However, the very best thing, in our opinion, is the fact that the Clinton Pedestrian Bridge lights up each night! We saw LED lights on it during our walk, but were disappointed when it never lit-up before we went to bed. 50221EEA-36C3-422A-B39A-19571DC1D900

One sleepless night, I peeked out of our living-room shade and to my amazement, there was a light-show on the bridge! Even though it was 2:30 a.m. I woke my better-half up… we were both as excited as kids at Christmas. What a great finale for a wonderful trip!

XO Donna

 

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Gumbo; it’s what’s for dinner

23 Mar

I am flattered that quite a few of you asked for the recipe… so I made another pot to be sure of everything, and here it is. It is truly a meditation. I do all of my prep work first, then everything comes together as easy as one – two – three, in under an hour!  Continue reading

Puzzled

3 Mar

Just like a jigsaw puzzle, our plans hinge on putting all of the pieces together, and creating a finished product – which in this case is a big trip to Florida this month!  Continue reading

The Cherry on Top

22 Dec

I’m certain you are trying to get everything ready for the holidays. Don’t panic, but add a stop at the liquor store to your list… because I have a present for you!

Nobody would ever call me old-fashioned, but I have developed a crush on Old Fashioneds, and have learned to make them and share them. Now my friends are as excited about them as I am.

img_0394This drink has been around since 1880, and has been credited to a bartender who brought the recipe to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar from a private social club in Louisville, Kentucky. I want to share my version with you.  If you like bourbon, and want to indulge yourself and your friends, the Luxardo cherries I use elevate the cocktail to new heights!
I balked when I saw their cost for the first time, but like diamonds and caviar, they cost what they cost – and there is no substitute.

I love to serve them in my sweetie’s leaded crystal rocks glasses, inherited from his Dad. The weight of the glass, their design, the caramel color of the bourbon, and the almost-black Luxardo Cherries, which taste of almonds,  make it a sensory delight. Perfect for celebrating any special occasion!

For each, into a cocktail shaker:
2 oz. smooth bourbon (our fave is a local one, Treaty Oak’s Red Handed)
1/2 oz. fresh simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
2 splashes Angostura Bitters,  2 splashes Orange Flower Water (optional).
Shake two or three times, gently, then pour over ice in a rocks glass. Add a slice of orange to the rim.
Retrieve a Luxardo cherry from the jar (allowing some syrup to come along with it, so it may settle onto the drink with it’s cherry)  then decorate your cocktail.

img_0397Hand this beauty to your holiday guests and be prepared for lots of compliments. I wonder how I ever lived without the luxury of these Luxardo cherries? They are heavenly.

Happiest of Holidays to you all!
XO Donna

 

My Tangerine Cake

5 Jun

imageI have been promising this forever, and I have finally typed it out for you!

 

Almond Flour & Whole Tangerine Cake

When I began looking for something to do with a 6 lb. bag of tangerines I impulsively bought at the grocers this winter, nothing appealed to me until I saw a stunning cake on a blog called The View from Great Island.  And it was wheat-free!

I faithfully copied hers the first time, but felt I could change a few things and make it taste better to me. At cake number four I knew I had gotten it just the way I love it.

I’ve made them as gifts for friends, I trust this recipe that much. You can even do the fruit one day, and put the cake together the next.

Note: You must have a food processor and a 9” springform pan to make this cake.

 4 medium tangerines

3 eggs at room temperature

3 C almond meal or almond flour

1 tsp of baking powder

¼ tsp of sea salt

½ tsp of vanilla extract

¼ tsp of almond extract

¾ C of sugar

Powdered sugar for decoration

  • Prep the tangerines by washing them and placing them whole in cold water, bringing them to a boil, then simmering for 15 minutes. Drain, cover them with cold water again, and repeat process. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool.
  • When you can handle them, cut them up, discard any seeds and place in food processor bowl fitted with steel blade. (I did this on a plate so I didn’t lose any of the juice.) Clean the sides of bowl once or twice as you puree.

  • Measure out the one cup of tangerine puree you’ll need.

  • In one large bowl, I beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla and almond extract and tangerine puree. Then I add the almond flour and scrape it all into a greased or buttered spring-form pan to which I have added a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom.

  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 50-60 minutes. It will be a gorgeous golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the cake will come out clean.

  • Cool the cake in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around sides, and remove them. cool cake on a wire rack, still on bottom of pan.

  • When cool, I invert onto a plate, leaving it bottom-up. Dust with confectioners sugar and garnish with a twist of peel or two from another tangerine.

  • It’s very rich and can serve from 8-12 people.  I’ve also served it with a dollop of mascarpone or unsweetened whipped cream.

image

 

I hope you love it as much as I do. Please let me know what you think after you’ve made one!

XO Donna