A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: From Red-eye gravy to shoo-fly pie, a tasty tour of some southern culinary oddities

As a child of the south, I long ago learned the role of a good white half-runner in southern cuisine. From cook-outs and potlucks to Sunday dinners, this summer staple is as much a part of meals as the fried chicken and cornbread. Almost as important as white half-runners themselves is the art of stringing and snapping them. And if I close my eyes, I can still see Granny sitting on the porch snapping...

Beth Underwood: We will never forget — sharing one of many stories from a tragic 9-11 that remind us

Writer’s Note: As this week marks the 17th anniversary of 9/11, I’d like to share the story of Rick Rescorla. Chances are you know who he is — several documentaries feature his story as a 9/11 hero. He was also in the battle of Ia Drang. Remember the book and movie, We Were Soldiers Once… and Young? That’s him on the cover of that book jacket. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I came...

Beth Underwood: It may just seem like a lot of hot air, but there’s something to be said for full-service

At the risk of dating myself, remember the days when real service stations, i.e. gas stations with attendants, existed? The attendants scurried out to greet customers as soon as their car tires tripped the bell. They checked the oil, cleaned the windshield and pumped the gas, while the customer sat in the comfort of his or her car. Back then, it was the bane of my existence, or so I thought. Who had...

Beth Underwood: Nothing beats wrapping up in a ‘warm hug,’ but it may cost you some cold hard cash

I have a new obsession: weighted blankets. And I know what you must be thinking: What on earth are weighted blankets and why would anyone need one? Hang onto your horses, and let me answer the second part of that question first. I don’t like being cold. That’s why. Some nights (and days, for that matter) are worse than others, and I just can’t seem to get warm. I’ve reasoned that it’s because...

Beth Underwood: As school supply lists grow each year, the magic of the basics is still undeniable

A recent trip to a superstore found me lamenting the outlandish school supply lists that students are given at the beginning of a new year. The shortlist is typically a 24-pack of Ticonderoga pencils (that’s right, Ticonderoga, please), 12 washable markers, 2 jumbo bottles of hand sanitizer, a 12-count pack of colored pencils, six packs of wide-ruled paper, several three-inch three-ring binders,...

Beth Underwood: When technology fails, it’s good to know there are still decent people to point the way

Last week I brought you the tale of our first road trip to my daughter and son-in-law’s home in Tall Timbers, Maryland. As you’ll recall, we made the trip old school, relying on paper maps to lead the way. Off we went, through the backroads of Virginia and Maryland, the hills and valleys and horse farms and civil war battlefields. In other words, we took the long way. The really long way. The “I...

Beth Underwood: Ditching SIRI for a good old-fashioned map may not be the best way to go

After my daughter Hannah and son-in-law Adam moved to Maryland a couple of years ago, Colton and I added their house to our summer travel list. For the most part, they’re a straight shot to the east. In fact, once on I-64, we don’t make a turn for about a half dozen hours. Because of the mostly direct route, I had a bright idea: instead of relying on the GPS, I thought it might be fun to use a...

Beth Underwood: Letting kids be kids isn’t always easy, but it’s okay to let them test their limits

Colton is the daredevil of the family. I’m not sure where he gets it — certainly not from me — but I’m convinced daredevilism (is that a real word?) must be a part of one’s DNA. Once you have it, it’s hard to shake. As is the memory of one of Colton’s most memorable stunts. From where I stood that day, Colton was 100 feet off the ground if he was 10, climbing among the branches...

Beth Underwood: Things rarely go as planned in the kitchen, but at least there’s always more cheese

I use to have pipe dreams of growing a big garden every year. In this pipe dream, I’d plant tomatoes and cucumbers and onions and carrots. I’d wear a cute little sundress and coordinating hat as I toiled in the soil. I’d write books like, The Thoughtful Gardener or You say tomato, I say how many would you like? Suffice it to say reality and the pipe dream existed on opposite ends of the spectrum....

Beth Underwood: Return to the classroom evokes childhood memories for this ‘test-taker’s’ test taker

Every now and then, we all experience something that reminds us of childhood. Maybe it’s the smell of a long forgotten scent or the sound of a favorite song on the radio. For me, it’s the angst that comes with having to take a test. And it was the latter that filled my being earlier this week when I attended Moonshine University. Yes, that’s right. I went to Moonshine University. Where else...

Beth Underwood: Trouble achieving inner peace? A large plastic pod full of ‘Jello’ might just do the trick

When was the last time you freed your mind? I mean really let your thoughts go to the point you didn’t have a care in the world? For me, it was last week. After procrastinating for a year and a half, I finally made it to the float tank for an hour of rest and relaxation. The things I’m willing to go through to keep you informed. I’m just saying. If you aren’t familiar, a float tank is a large...

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...