Wednesday, June 23, 2021

6 Must-See Wichita Attractions

 

Have you ever visited a city only to wish you had more time to see everything? For me, Wichita, Kansas, was one of those places. Though I’ve spent time there on many occasions seeing family or working, I never took in the sites like a proper tourist. 

Photo credit: Visit Wichita


That’s why when Visit Wichita recently offered to set up a stay so I could check out some of the places on their Attractions Tour 2021, I jumped at the chance! My just-turned-80 mom came along too.



Our home base for our three-day visit was Sonesta Simply Suites on the Northeast side of town. Mom and I had adjoining rooms. 



Both were furnished with a queen-sized bed, recliner, huge desk...







...plus a kitchen equipped with a coffee pot, toaster, stovetop, microwave, refrigerator, and dishwasher—plus plates and utensils. The free wi-fi was reasonably fast, and there were plenty of channels on the TV. 



While there was no complimentary breakfast, the hotel did have free coffee and snacks available, as well as a small grocery area to pick up a thing for two. The bed was comfortable, and I got a great night’s sleep while I was there. This hotel would be a great place to say for families trying to save money on meals or in need of a kitchen for specialty diets. Mom and I loved having our cold beverages and favorite snacks at the ready.


Thirteen area attractions are participating in this year’s tour. All you have to do is pick up a passport at your first stop, get it stamped by at least six of the thirteen places, and then mail it into Visit Wichita before September 6th. Then you’re in the drawing to win a 2022 annual pass for you and your family to ALL 12 ATTRACTIONS and a home Wind Surge ballgame for up to six people. 

Here are the six places I picked visit and highly recommend, in no particular order:


1. Tanganyika Wildlife Park is located just outside of Wichita in Goddard, Kansas. Both Mom and I are big fans of zoo television shows on Nat Geo Wild and Animal Planet, so this was a must-see for us. They had scooters available to rent, so we got one for Mom, which made her visit even more enjoyable on a steamy, hot summer day. 

Photo Credit: Tanganyika


The best part about this place was the numerous opportunities to interact with animals. I got to feed a ring-tailed lemur, an Indian rhino, and my favorite animal, a giraffe. We had Unlimited Encounter Passes, so there were many animal-feeding opportunities open to us—pygmy hippo, lorikeet, bunny, tortoise, and guinea pig, plus the ones I already mentioned. Plus, I got to pet a couple of kangaroos. Check out their website to see all of the animal encounters available.  


2. Kansas Aviation Museum I love flying and spent much of my childhood dreaming of being a flight attendant so that I could zoom around the world. Since Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World due to the multiple airplane manufacturers in the city, I had to visit the Kansas Aviation Museum. 


Located in the original Wichita Municipal Airport Terminal, built in the 1930s, I explored exhibits on Cessna and Beechcraft, complete with full-sized airplanes. I was especially intrigued by the WWII exhibit and how Wichita was key to the U.S. war effort. And I adored the view from the air traffic control tower.  


3. The Kansas African American Museum was one of the more enlightening stops on my Wichita trip. I’d never heard of this place before, which is why I picked it. Located in the former Calvary Baptist Church in what once was a vibrant black community in Wichita, the museum tells the story of African Americans both from the city and state in a meaningful way to everyone. 

Currently, there is an outstanding exhibit called A Portrait of a Man. The displays highlight influential African American men in Kansas, both past and present, to illustrate the complex characteristics of this group, who are often seen as one-dimensional. As a KU Jayhawk basketball fan, I was fascinated by the display about John McLendon, Jr. He learned the game from James Naismith while attending the university but couldn’t play on the then-segregated team. Eventually, he became the first black basketball coach at a predominantly white university (Cleveland State) and coached in the pros. 




Being a former preschool teacher, I also fell in love with a lithograph titled “Boys” by Elizabeth Catlett. Give yourself plenty of time to explore and learn when you visit TKAAM. It will expand your knowledge and touch your heart. 



4. Old Cowtown Museum takes you back to the Wichita of 1865-1880. Mom and I got a golf-cart tour led by Anthony Horsch, director of education and interpretation. 



I felt like I’d stepped onto the set of an old Western movie. Of course, my favorite spots were food-related, such as the cheese counter in the Meat Market, as well as the General Store. 









My traveler’s heart also was drawn to the train depot. Be sure to spend most of the day at Cowtown. There is a lot to explore!  



5. Mid-America All-Indian Museum was another of my “I’ve-never-heard-of-it” picks. Not only did I discover some new-to-me facts on the Native American experience (they were not automatically U.S. citizens even though they were here first!), but I also enjoyed an excellent display on the work and life of artist Blackbear Bosin. He designed the iconic Keeper of the Plains statue located on the Arkansas River outside of the museum. 




Bosin also painted some beautiful pieces, such as one titled Prairie Fire, which was in National Geographic magazine. 









I also liked his humorous cartoon drawings. This museum isn’t large, so it doesn’t take long to make your way through the exhibits. 





Photo credit: Jessica Sawatski

6. Wichita Wind Surge ballgame was the only attraction on my schedule that I didn’t experience, thanks to the weather. No, the game wasn’t a rain-out—just the opposite. The temperature was more than 100 degrees! Not ideal for a visit to the ballpark. However, I did see the beautiful Riverfront Stadium. This is the first season in the city for the Wind Surge, a Minor League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. While I was disappointed to miss the game, I will try again soon. 



For information on all 13 Attractions Tour locations and lodging and dining info, check out the Visit Wichita website. I’m already dreaming about my next trip to this friendly, fun city.


Disclaimer: While Visit Wichita covered the cost of my hotel, food, and attractions, all of the opinions expressed are my own. All photos are mine except where noted. 


Monday, June 7, 2021

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake

 


Since first hearing about a lemon drizzle cake on The Great British Baking Show, I’ve wanted to try making one. I love lemon confections with the perfect combination of tart and sweet. While lemon bars are also a favorite, cakes are so much simpler to make. 

Or so I thought. 

It took me three tries to get this recipe right. I was inspired by one I saw on Instagram made by Irish cookbook author Clodagh McKenna and a traybake version (made as a rectangular cake pan instead of round) by the iconic Mary Berry. Both recipes used the same ingredients and amounts for the actual cake. It was the method of mixing and the drizzle that differed. 

For my first attempt, I baked it in the 8-inch cake pan McKenna’s recipe recommended. (Actually, her instructions called for a 20-22 cm round cake tin, which is right around 8 inches.) 

Well, I had a disaster on my hands. The sides of my cake pan weren’t high enough, and the batter spilled over into the bottom of the oven. My smoke detectors blared as the lovely lemon batter turned black as I tried to clean it out. What was left in the pan continued to bake, but it sunk in the middle. However, it tasted great!


For the second attempt, I used a 9-inch cake pan. It worked well, except the cake again sunk in the middle. I mean, it sank—to about half the size of the edges. 







It looked terrible even though it tasted delicious.





I researched why cakes sink in the middle and came up with two possibilities: One, I opened the oven door too early before the cake could firm up. Though I never looked inside until the timer went off, both cakes seemed to take a long time to firm up in the middle—way past the time noted in the recipes. 


The other possibility was too much leavening in the recipe. I wondered if the extra baking powder was too much when using self-rising flour, which also contains baking powder. Maybe the British “self-raising” flour was different than that found in the U.S.? It turns out our self-rising flour actually has less baking powder, plus salt. So, too much leavening probably wasn’t the issue.



Then I saw a couple of recommendations online for using a Bundt pan instead of a cake pan. This type would allow the center of the cake to bake at the same rate as the outside edge. 

As you can see, that did the trick! 

Lemon juice drizzled over the still-hot cake makes it moist and tart, while the glaze gives it an additional lemon flavor kick.  

This cake makes a tasty summer dessert easy to both create and serve at an outdoor gathering. I also plan to enjoy it in the winter, when a lemony treat would brighten a cold, dreary day. 

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake

Yield: 10 to 12
Author: Linda Ditch

Ingredients

  • 225 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 225 grams granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 275 grams self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • For the glaze:
  • 175 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Lemon zest for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, add all of the cake ingredients except for the lemon juice. Beat until well mixed and smooth, starting the mixer slowly so the flour doesn’t fly out everywhere. Spoon the batter into the Bundt pan and gently level the top with a spatula.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the cake out of the pan onto the cooling rack with a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper placed under the rack to catch any drips. Using a toothpick or skewer, poke holes all over the top of the still-warm cake. Then slowly spoon the lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time, over the top of the cake, so it absorbs into the cake. You will see it soak in. Go slowly, or the juice will just run off the top. A few drips are okay as long as most of the liquid soaks into the cake. Leave the cake to finish cooling on the rack.
  5. Once the cake is cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth and slowly pour over the top of the cake. You want the glaze thin enough to ooze down the sides of the cake but also thick enough to stay mainly on the cake.
  6. Allow the glaze to firm up slightly, and then move the cake to a serving plate. Garnish with lemon zest.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Krista Davis Comes Through Again with Diva No. 14

 


Falling in love with a cozy mystery series can be the proverbial double-edged sword. On the one hand, I get all excited when I get the latest edition. It’s like catching up with old friends you haven’t seen in a long while. 

However, there is always the risk of the newest installment not living up to the previous books. We cozy mystery fans have all experienced the decline in a well-loved series. It starts when we come to the end of a book and think, “Hum, that wasn’t as enjoyable as I’d hoped.” 

Thank goodness that hasn’t happened with Krista Davis’s Domestic Diva series! 


I just finished reading The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit, number 14 in the series, and I loved it! In this edition, event organizer and domestic advice expert Sophie Winston is in the middle of Old Town Alexandria’s Home Decorating Festival. Still, she has time to pick up her best friend, Nina, at the airport after she returns from a trip to Portugal. However, when Sophie finds one of Nina’s traveling companions dead the following morning, she wonders just what went on during that trip. Perhaps the clue scratched into the soil by the victim before dying will hold the answer. 

While the story takes place in the well-known Washington D.C. suburb, it has some international intrigue and a possible smuggling operation woven into the plot. When another traveler turns up dead, Sophie worries her friend is next on the list. 

The book was enthralling from the first paragraph to the last. There was a surprise at the end, which made me both laugh out loud and cheer. Plus, it was lovely to catch up on all the goings-on with Sophie, Nina, Mars, Bernie, Humphrey, and of course, Natasha, the other domestic diva in the book who antagonizes everyone. 

Natasha doesn’t have as prominent a role in this book as the previous ones, which I found to be a relief. She is pretty annoying, though Davis is good at giving her some redeeming qualities to keep us from wondering why Sophie remains her friend. Still, it was nice to only have her pop in from time to time as part of an entertaining subplot to the main story. 

Of course, the book also ends with some tasty recipes. I can’t wait to try the Mango Peach Salsa, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes, and Pear Upside-Down Skillet Cake. 


Since it’s the start of berry season, I made the Berry Pecan Coffee Cake. Buttery and full of blueberries, it’s the perfect partner to my morning cup of coffee. 


To learn more about Davis, visit her website here. She also has a Paws and Claws series that is perfect for animal lovers, and a Pen and Ink series for the artist in all of us. 

You don’t have to read the Domestic Diva series in order, but if that’s your style, the first one is The Diva Runs Out of Thyme.

Other recipes from Krista Davis's mysteries I have posted about in the past include:



Garden Veggie White Pizza from The Diva Digs Up the Dirt









Sunset Boulevard Cocktail, also from The Diva Digs Up the Dirt








Cinnamon-Pumpkin Muffins from Murder, She Barked





Yield: 9
Author: Linda Ditch
Berry Pecan Coffee Cake

Berry Pecan Coffee Cake

Adapted from a recipe found in The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit by Krista Davis, who gave permission for me to share this recipe. It is easy to make and perfect for breakfast or an afternoon tea break. Make sure to take the butter and eggs out of the fridge ahead of time to allow them to reach room temperature.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • For topping:
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 6 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch-square pan and line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit but with the sides long enough to lift the finished cake out of the pan.
  3. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Mix with a whisk or a fork to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars with a mixer. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Then alternate adding the flour mixture with the applesauce, beating between each addition, until smooth. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  5. To make the topping, chop the pecans and combine them with the butter and brown sugar until combined. Sprinkle in lumps over the top of the cake batter. (The topping will melt and sink while baking.)
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is set and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove it to a wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes or so. Serve the cake warm.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Summer Fun in Wichita


Photo credit: Visit Wichita

It seems a lot of us are anxious to hit the road this summer. I don't know about you, but I want to spend time exploring any place that is not my house! LOL! Best of all, you don't have to plan a big, expensive vacation when the fun is right down the road. In my case, it's just a couple of hours down the Kansas Turnpike to Wichita.

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Visit Wichita will launch two tours that not only allow visitors to explore the city's many sites but also some of its best brews. 

The all-new Wichita Attractions Tour allows visitors to discover the many world-class attractions and museums in the city and get entered into a drawing to win a 2022 family season pass or membership to all 12 participating attractions, as well as one Wichita Wind Surge home baseball game of your choosing. The participating attractions include Botanica Wichita, Exploration Place, Field Station: Dinosaurs, Kansas Aviation Museum, Mid-America All-Indian Museum, Museum of World Treasures, Old Cowtown Museum, Sedgwick County Zoo, Tanganyika Wildlife Park, The Kansas African American Museum, Wichita Art Museum, and Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum.

Old Cowtown Museum
Photo Credit: Visit Wichita

To participate, you can pick up a passport at Visit Wichita's visitor's center or any of the participating attractions and museums and begin exploring from May 28 to Labor Day, September 6. Once you visit at least six participating locations, turn in your passport to Visit Wichita (in person or by mail, 515 S. Main St., Ste. 115) by September 13 to be entered into the drawing. A winner will be drawn on September 17, 2021. You can find complete details and contest rules a www.visitwichita.com/attractions-tour

For us beer and coffee lovers, the other tour is the return of the Wicked Brew Tour, featuring some of the city's top breweries and coffee shops. This tour started in 2016 but had to skip last year due to…well, you know why. We all know why!

You pick up a passport at any participating coffee shop or brewery and then collect at least ten stamps to complete the challenge and win a t-shirt (available on a first-come, first-served basis). 

Photo credit: Visit Wichita

Participating breweries include Augustino Brewing Company, Central Standard Brewing, Hopping Gnome Brewing Company, Nortons Brewing Co., PourHouse by Walnut River Brewing, River City Brewing Co., Sweet Allie B's Limestone Beer Co., Third Place Brewing, and Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria (West & East).

The participating coffee shops are Churn & Burn (Northeast & Southeast), Cocoa Dolce Chocolates (East, West & Downtown), Fairmount Coffee Co., Il Primo Espresso (East & Downtown), Kookaburra Coffee, Leslie Coffee Co., Placeholder Coffee, Reverie Coffee Roasters, Sunflower Espresso & Food Truck, and The Donut Whole.



You turn in the completed passport and pick up a t-shirt at the Visit Wichita visitor's center Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can't make it there before you head home, just mail your completed passport and contact information to the visitor's center to have a shirt sent to you. 

The complete details and contest rules can be found at www.visitwichita.com/restaurants/local-flavor/wicked-brew-tour



Photo credit: Visit Wichita
Growing up, I visited my great-aunt and great-uncle in Wichita a few times. I remember their red-brick bungalow house with its big front porch, complete with a swing, and the cherry trees in the backyard. However, we never did any of the tourist-type activities.

I'm looking forward to exploring the city and sharing what I find with you. 

Stay tuned!


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Morning Starts with The Roasterie

Does this sound familiar: The alarm goes off way too early in the morning. As you remain snuggled in your cozy bed thinking of all the excuses you have for not getting up, one thing emits its siren song to lure you into starting the day—that first cup of coffee. Knowing its rich, delicious, comforting goodness awaits in that first sip convinces you to get going with hope for the morning.

Okay, I know, it’s just a cup of coffee. But those of us who love it tend to wax poetically about the magical powers the perfect grind can provide. I didn’t start out as a coffee lover. Tea was my beverage of choice until my late 30s when flavored creamers became popular. Those creamers also helped mask the flavor of the, well, let’s just say, less-costly brands of coffee I was familiar with in those early days.

Today, I stir a little sugar and milk into coffees offered by area roasters. The ones made by The Roasterie in Kansas City are my favorites. I buy bags of the American Restaurant for making big pots and K-cups of the Breakfast Blend for when I’m in a hurry for that first cup and don’t want to wait for the entire pot to brew, or if I only have time for one cup in the morning. 

The company describes my two favorites as follows:


American Restaurant (which is number one on my list of all their blends): 

“In the mid-1990s, we were fortunate to collaborate with Kansas City’s famous American Restaurant on a custom blend to be sold at their restaurant. Several years later, the restaurant’s management thought it might be time to update the blend. They assembled some of their favorite customers for lunch and a coffee blending session with the goal to outdo their current coffee offering. After sampling many coffees in many different combinations, the group realized that the existing blend was perfect and so loved by their customers. Notes of stone fruit and apple, balanced with a medium body, rich and smoky in the finish.”





Breakfast Blend (a close second): “Our Breakfast Blend is bright, clean, energizing and easy to drink. So up and at ’em! Start your day with a cup or two of this eye-opening blend. Notes of ripe berry and citrus, round and balanced, crisp, clean finish, light roast.”




The company offers subscriptions, which they call putting your favorite order on autopilot. I get my coffees delivered every month via UPS, with free shipping. When you place your order, the coffee is air-roasted and packaged within 24 hours, ensuring freshness upon delivery. (Trust me when I say the aroma when you open the box is heavenly!)

My order usually arrives with a cute, hand-written note, which is a nice touch. 


When I want something different, I’ll order Betty’s Recipe blend, which has flavors of hazelnut and cinnamon—my two favorite coffee flavors in one cup! I also like the KC Chiefs-inspired blends, but that may just be because I’m a huge fan of the team.


FYI: The Roasterie is not paying me to write this post. I just enjoy their coffee so much I wanted to share it with you, especially since it can be shipped around the U.S. Once they open back up after Covid restrictions are lifted, I plan to take a factory tour and try out a barista class. 

If coffee is your passion, look at The Roasterie website to check out their many coffee blends and learn more about the company.