Ben Watkins, Master Chef Junior

This December I received a notice on my Google calendar that Leila Edwards’ birthday was coming up. It was a painful reminder because Leila, who was a friend, had died in September when her husband shot and killed her and then himself. Anyone who knew Michael Watkins, her husband, couldn’t imagine him doing that, but…

Bourbon & Southern Cooking at the Historic Beaumont Inn

When I arrive in the new bourbon tasting room at the historic Beaumont Inn, there are already set-ups of four bottles of bourbon with empty glasses in front of each. Dixon Dedman, who with his parents own the inn which has been in their family since 1917, is famed for his bourbon tastings as well…

Cooking with the Faeries

To me, fairies have always been about the holiday season—think the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker Suite ballet and Tinkerbell, the blonde-haired imp who wore a green outfit with matching translucent green wings in the 1904 play Peter Pan and knew how to handle a wand and pixie dust—both a job requirement. Imagine then my…

A Train Ride Out West

Not long ago I traveled with friends to Williams, Arizona, a tiny rodeo-type town on Route 66 which bills itself as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. On our arrival we parked at the historic Williams Depot, got our tickets for the Grand Canyon Railway, in existence since 1901, and then headed down the tracks…

International Fare in Puerto Vallarta

I was invited to attend the International Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Food Festival, where chefs from around the world including the U.S., India, Sweden, Australia, South America and Europe,  join the executive chefs of the many sophisticated city restaurants, developing recipes and menus during the weeklong annual event.  It’s a great time and way too much food…

Claudia Sanders Dinner House

My first stop in Kentucky last week was at Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, a large Southern Colonial style building with a long front porch, tall white columns and a row of rocking chairs. It’s the type of place Scarlet O’Hara would have been comfortable hanging around. If the last name Sanders sounds familiar,…

Hauntings of the Underground Railroad: Ghosts of the Midwest

Before the Civil War, a network of secret routes and safe houses crisscrossed theMidwest to help African Americans travel north to escape slavery. Although many slaves were able to escape to the safety of Canada, others met untimely deaths on the treacherous journey―and some of these unfortunates still linger, unable to rest in peace. InHauntings…

Fare Fit for a Founding Father

When George Washington ate a farewell dinner with his officers after the end of the Revolutionary War back when New York City was the temporary capital of the newly formed United States, the fare at the Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl St. in New York City included chicken pot pie, roasted corn chowder, pan-roasted cod,…