Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Lavender Lemonade


Do you ever get tired of the same ol’ beverage?

That happened to me a week ago when the first heatwave of the summer hit, with temperatures topping out in the low 100s. Usually, I drink a lot of water during the day to keep hydrated. Sometimes I grab a can of Spindrift Sparkling Water or Zevia Peach-flavored Black Tea for a change. My go-to restaurant drink is unsweetened iced tea. Occasionally, I crave a Diet Coke fountain drink. It tastes better than from a can or bottle.

When Mom and I had lunch at The Kitchen in Wichita on a steamy weekday, I was intrigued by the lavender lemonade on the menu. It tasted terrific, with tart lemon, just enough sweetness, and a hint of lavender. 

Of course, I had to try making the lavender lemonade at home. Since I didn’t want to make an entire pitcher, I went with this concentrate made with lemon juice and a lavender-infused simple syrup. That way, I can make it by the glass since Mom isn’t a fan of lavender recipes. I can even freeze some of it for future enjoyment. 

I like the versatility of this simple recipe. Instead of plain water, I use unflavored sparkling water in my lavender lemonade because I think drinks are more fun with bubbles. This beverage is tart, so add more sugar or less lemon juice to fit your taste.

I’ve always enjoyed culinary lavender in recipes—cold fruit soups, shortbread cookies, and the Apricot and Lavender Mini Almond Cakes I blogged about last year. The key is not to use too much. Otherwise, your recipe will taste like perfume. 

Culinary lavender is available in spice shops and online. I bought this container a couple of years ago from Sweet Streams Lavender Company here in Kansas, and it is still as fragrant as when I first brought it home.  (FYI: I also love their lavender linen spray!)

Now I have the perfect beverage to cool my spirit and soothe my soul this summer. 

Yield: 12 servings
Author: Linda Ditch
Lavender Lemonade

Lavender Lemonade

An elegant twist to a summer classic. The concentrate allows you to make this beverage either by the glass or by the pitcher.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon culinary lavender
  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • Still or sparkling water


  1. Put the sugar, lavender, lemon zest, and 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture just starts to boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let the mixture stand for 1 hour.
  2. Strain the syrup mixture into a jar or other non-reactive container, discarding the lavender and lemon peel. Add the fresh lemon juice and stir to combine. Refrigerate the concentrated until needed.
  3. To prepare: Place some ice cubes into a 16-ounce glass. Add 1/4 cup of the concentrate (or more, depending on how strong you want the taste), and then top off the glass with either still or sparkling water. Enjoy!
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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


  • 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


  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.
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