A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: Mastering the art, science of mom’s signature dessert an adventure for this non-baker

Last weekend, I helped my mom make one of her signature desserts — a decadently rich and wonderful triple-layer chocolate cake. A cake so good that several family members fight for ownership, claiming that Nan (my mom) created it especially for them. My kids are among those fighting for dibs. And because of that, Mom off-handedly remarked that perhaps I should learn to make this celebration cake,...

Beth Underwood: Ever had an eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach moment? There’s a food hack for that

I recently saw an article that said most Americans waste about $40 worth of food — the equivalent of more than 30 pounds — every month? The whole notion of food waste reminds me of lunch at the Blue Boar Cafeteria when I was a kid. From the massive filets of fried fish and seemingly endless side dish options to the cakes, pies, and chocolate pudding cups — all topped with a dollop...

Beth Underwood: Royal wedding was proof that ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t always mean perfect

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, you probably know that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot last Saturday. For the most part, I was disinterested. And I certainly didn’t set my alarm for 4 a.m. in an effort to catch every moment of the celebration. But as I drank my coffee and scrolled through social media that morning, I noticed a number of my friends had done just that....

Beth Underwood: Seasonal swap is great for clearing the closet, but maybe not of that cute little floral shirt

Have you made the cold-to-warm-weather clothes switch yet? I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, it can easily turn into a weekend project. It’s never a simple matter of replacing one season of clothing with another. First, I get tangled up in matters of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Take that cute little floral shirt that’s been cycling in and out of the storage totes...

Beth Underwood: The old memory isn’t what it used to be… Has anyone seen my grocery list? Or my pen?

As you may be aware, I tend to be a brain-over-paper girl. Why write it down if I’ve got it all up there (tapping finger on the side of my head). Even as a child, I’d learned to memorize just about everything — mathematical times tables, Bible verses, historical points in time: “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” So is it any surprise that I’ve been known to hit the grocery store...

Beth Underwood: Typical start to summer, nothing works to do the lawn — except my neighbor

I have a confession to make. My elderly neighbor mowed my yard a couple weeks ago. That’s right. I said it. And suffice it to say when someone 30 years your senior does your yard work — she’s in her mid-80s — it’s nothing to brag about. But it had been one of those weeks, as they say. One of those ‘when-it-rains-it-pours’ kind. Not the kind where one might need rain napper,...

Beth Underwood: There’s something to be said for reliving those old-fashioned childhood traditions

I’m such a sap when it comes to certain childhood memories and traditions. Take our yearly trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for example. To this day, my list of favorite things to do hasn’t changed much. For starters, give me a visit to the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, a footlong corndog from Fannie Farkles, a few rounds of putt-putt at Hillbilly Golf and I’m a happy camper. Topping them all, though,...

Beth Underwood: Have a good Kentucky bourbon story you’d like to share? I’d like to hear from you

Have I told you about my family tree? We’ve got one or two real hum-dingers swinging from the branches, that’s for sure. The life and times of one cousin, in particular, has piqued the interest of us all. When his name comes up in conversation, everyone leans in a little closer, keen on catching every word. Kinda like when E.F. Hutton talks. People listen. I’m talking about none other than Bad...

Beth Underwood: Housebreaking Stryker the dog was a breeze, until Frost the cat got in on the act

If you’re a pet owner, you probably know housebreaking a dog is much like potty training a child. Just as some dogs are easier to housebreak than others, some children are easier to potty train. Regardless, it’s a necessary evil along the path of childhood and puppy-dom. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com Housebreaking Stryker was a breeze. Although I have no proof, I suspect one of the things that...

Beth Underwood: If you’re going to sign your name incorrectly, might as well do it with a nice pen

My affinity for writing instruments can be traced back to that first box of Crayolas. It was a box of eight chubby crayons, manufactured specifically for the beginning colorer. Those eight colors created magic, whether on the pages of a coloring book or a blank sheet of paper. From there I moved on to the chubby graphite pencil in first grade — or maybe it was kindergarten. Regardless, the pencil...

Beth Underwood: PAAS egg coloring kits, chocolate bunnies an Peter Cottontail, Easter traditions abound

A PAAS Easter egg coloring kit caught my eye as I browsed the holiday aisle at the grocery the other day. If ever there was a surer sign that Peter Cottontail was only days away, I’d be hard-pressed to name it. Isn’t it funny how a small cardboard box filled with five dye pellets, a crayon, and a few stickers can prompt a trip down memory lane? I was born in the early 60s when Easter Sunday...

Beth Underwood: Falling back isn’t so bad, but this springing forward has me a little worn out

I love getting up early. There’s something magical about operating before the rest of the world is stirring. My creativity is high, my stress is low, and the coffee pot is my best friend. Except lately I’ve been out of sorts, thanks to the biannual time change. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t mind the Fall back, or the extra hour of sleep it so graciously gives us. But when we spring forward...

Beth Underwood: Take it from Fluffy Sugar Cakes, there are worse things than an airbrushed nose

If you spend any amount of time on social media — especially in the world of Facebook — you’re probably familiar with all the quizzes that float around. Whether they measure your intelligence, pick your perfect color, or assess your ideal career, these tests answer the questions that have stumped the world’s greatest scholars. Or at least it’s entertaining to pretend they do. One...

Beth Underwood: Life is short, let’s be less ‘crotchety old lady’ and more ‘cute little umbrellas poolside’

Do you ever find yourself searching the internet for something only to wind up going in a totally different direction, forgetting what you were looking for in the first place? That’s exactly what happened to me the other day. One minute I’m looking for an appetizer recipe and the next minute I’m reading an article about aging. Talk about your downward spirals. The article opined that you may...

Beth Underwood: Homemade or store-bought, the smell of fresh-baked cookies is really what counts

It’s easy to overlook life’s everyday conveniences, isn’t it? We can illuminate a room with the flip of a switch, take a shower with the turn of a knob, and have face-to-face conversations with people around the world. We can also break-and-bake our way to cookies that taste just like homemade — 11 to 13 minutes in a preheated oven — and no one needs to be the wiser. No...

Beth Underwood: Spare your podsnappery and embrace the modern vocabulary, it’s butter up bacon

I’d like to think my vocabulary has always been on the cutting edge — that I’ve been among the cool crowd when it comes to staying current on all things slang. Some days, though, I wonder if I’m slipping, because many of today’s terms fly right over my head. Before I can play it cool, I often find myself consulting the kids for definitions. Take ‘hundo-p’, for example....

Beth Underwood: A salute to man’s best friend, ‘superpowers’ and all, during the Year of the Dog

Through my years as a writer, people often ask how my family feels about being thrust into the limelight as the subject of my stories. My daughter’s response sums things up nicely: “We’re used to it.” I can only hope the pets feel the same way, because tomorrow is the Chinese New Year, and 2018 is Year of the Dog. In our case, Stryker the dog. We got Stryker from a childhood friend of mine...

Beth Underwood: Dear diary, the cutest boy in class wasn’t worth the time we spent apart

When I was growing up, I never kept a diary. Yes, that’s right. Never. I know you’re probably shocked and dismayed, so let me explain. Surely I’m not the only one who balked at the idea of writing down my innermost secrets of childhood. Am I? Certainly, I’m not the only one who kept that first crush on the cutest boy in the class in my head. Tell me I’m not the only one who stewed and fretted...

Beth Underwood: An ongoing battle with public sinks and puffs of air — throwing in the proverbial towel

I had a run-in with the bathroom sinks in a superstore the other day. It wasn’t pretty. It also wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. In fact, I’d guesstimate this was run-in number 17,483. I reached my tipping point this time, though. Enough is enough, which brings me to today’s (semi) rhetorical questions. Am I the only one who’s pining for the days of old where public...

Beth Underwood: Life happens: Messy perfectionist today settles for just a couple of days of clean

I like a clean house. Everything in its place, and a place for everything. Spotlessly shiny floors, dust-free blinds, clutter-free counters, and maybe a little orange peel and rosemary simmering on the stove. This can only mean one thing: I need a housekeeper. One who’ll show up at least twice a week. Because what I like and what I live with are two entirely different things. My reality finds that...