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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

How to use 7 ancient flours for chocolate chip cookies

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Way before the sun is up and most of Los Angeles has opened its eyes, Roxanna Jullapat flips on the lights and turns on the ovens of Friends & Family, the restaurant and bakery she owns with her husband in East Hollywood. By the time the doors open at 8 a.m., the pastry case is glowing with baked goods featuring vibrant colors and textures of whole grains. 

A longtime advocate of the modern grain movement, Jullapat compiled recipes, some of which you’ll recognize behind that glass, into a long-awaited cookbook  called “Mother Grains.” Jullapat spoke with KCRW about creating the cookbook and the pilgrimages she made to discover barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat.  

KCRW: You were an early advocate of the local grain movement. Did you have an “Aha!” moment that really plugged you into it?

Roxanna Jullapat: “I feel like probably the most clear revelation for me was gaining an understanding that grains are also seasonal. …My husband and I, and the school of cooks from which I stemmed, are firm believers in seasonality. We’re in California, we cannot escape it, it’s all around us. So it was just a matter of connecting that missing dot.”

You took some time to travel and visit farms. And you went up to the Washington State University Breadlab, which is a famed place of pilgrimage for bakers who want to use grains from their local food sheds. Can you share what those experiences were like for you, to push you in this direction?

“It’s interesting, the approach to grains that we have here in America, versus the approach to grains that other cultures and other countries have to grain. Here, it’s kind of like something we discovered or rediscovered. Like it just occurred to us that maybe we should reconsider this whole commodity flour model and study all these ancient grains and varieties, and bring them to modern times and help them acclimate to new microclimates and an ever-changing world and how to best utilize them in a modern context. 

But then, the most interesting travel I did was right before we opened Friends & Family. I had the opportunity to go back home to Costa Rica, where I had grown up. And then also I spent some time in Turkey. I went to Bhutan. Eventually, I ended up in Scandinavia. But what was really enriching to me was to not look at grains as something to be rescued, or something that was necessarily new, but something that is already part of us and the fabric of who we are. And we just have to reconnect with it. 

Growing up as a Latin American kid, I was thoroughly exposed to corn. And I always had access to vocabulary that explained to me that there were more grains than just this wheat that we use for everything that is highly refined and grown at a very industrial scale. So it was really, really cool for me to see the ease with which other people, cultures, countries, cooks and bakers just treated grain without sort of like having to write a treaty about it.”

In your book, “Mother Grains,” you concentrate on eight grains: barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rye, rice, sorghum, and wheat. Why these particular grains?

“First, they are all what we call ancient grains. We know this because we can trace them genetically and trace how old they actually are. But we also know that they have played a vital role in domestic agriculture. They’re of tremendous historical importance for their contributions as economical, cultural, and even political catalysts in different regions of the country, and also through different time periods in the country.”

In your recipes in the book, do you use any white flour or what we would think of as “all-purpose flour?”

“Indeed I do. And let me just start by saying that I dream of a day when we can all bake with 100% whole grain flours. However, I think of refined flours as a tool and use them as such. But for flavor and texture, the whole grain flour has to be central. So the only reason why white flour, and minimal amounts, is in the book is to fill in wherever the whole grain flour might come short. Depending on the grain, it can be things like lack of gluten, a grated texture, sometimes you can have a bitter flavor or a starchy aftertaste. So that’s the role of the refined all-purpose flour, or even refined bread flour. It just comes in as a building block. While the whole grain flour is there to be the assertive and identifying note of the baked good.”

Your buckwheat pancake — every time I’ve eaten it, or your variation made with corn, I always thought it was genius. Truly a cake made in a pan.

That’s exactly right. That was the intention. I have a very warm spot in my heart for buckwheat. Buckwheat always makes me want to create things that are super comfort foody. So what is more comfort food than a pancake, right? What I like about doing just a big, badass pancake is that you can actually just make one, as opposed to a huge stack. 

And the secret to make this pancake work is that you start in a cast iron pan, and you pour the batter on the stove. So you start by making this nice, crispy edge, and then you finish it in a hot oven. And that just allows the pancake to actually become cake, so to speak. So it’s going to have that oven spring that we aspire to when we’re making a cake. So you get the best of both worlds. That crispy edge and then cakey dreaminess inside.”

Seven of the eight mother grains can be used in your chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can you riff on the properties that each of the flours impart to the cookie? And then what your preference is?

“As I was writing the cookbook, I knew I was going to have to tell people. Because people were going to ask me, and they still do, ‘How can you substitute one flour for another? And how do you know which flour is appropriate for which use?’ And I always have this saying that you can use whichever flour you want, wherever you want, as long as you know what the flour is capable of. Because if you know that, for example, buckwheat has no wheat, you’ll know that you’ll have to match it up with a flour that is glutinous. 

But that is really easy for me to say and understand because I bake every day. So I knew I was going to have to do a recipe in which you could use a great variety of flours, and that they were going to yield results that were very similar, or that you would have a delicious result no matter what the flour was, even if the resulting cookies were each unique and special in their own way. So don’t ask me to choose a favorite one, because it’s like choosing a favorite child. And it’s interesting. This is the effect across the board. When we were testing these recipes, each one of the bakers has a favorite one. And no two bakers pick the same one. 

So let’s start with barley. Barley is a very special flour. It’s very, very low in gluten. And to me, categorically, it represents fall flavors — spice, warm notes, 100%. So the cookie that it produces is quite a bit butterscotch, very, very brown sugary. It also has a really nice texture, because that’s what barley flour is. It’s a very tender flour. 

I really, really liked the buckwheat chocolate chip cookie. There’s definitely an incredible affinity between the darker grains, such as rye and buckwheat, and chocolate. So I find this cookie to be a little bit sober, a little bit more adult, and absolutely delicious. It’s also terrific with just a black cup of coffee. 

The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is super playful. It will taste a little bit lighter, but it also has that chew that oats will impart in a recipe. It makes a terrific ice cream sandwich. 

The rice chocolate chip cookies are very interesting, because rice is very neutral. So the way it reacts when we put it in a recipe is that it adds a little bit of sweetness, but it’s not sugar. It’s a sweetness with a little bit more depth, but it also adds tremendous crunch to a recipe. So I like to bake them just until they’re crispy on the outside, but it’s still a little bit softer in the center. And that crispy edge with rice flour is like buttery magic, crunchy deliciousness in your mouth. 

The rye chocolate chip cookie, like I said, there’s a great affinity between rye and chocolate. It is the one version that we make here at the bakery. And it is all of those things, like very elegant, and also the rye flour tends to have a little tartness to it, so it balances the sweetness of the chocolate. And it’s terrific with just a few flakes of sea salt on top. 

Then the Sonora wheat chocolate chip cookie is really great. Sonora is a really awesome flour that we produce tons of here in California and the West Coast. It’s very sustainable and super climate friendly. So this is a winner cookie, like nobody will object to this cookie. … And it’s also very kid friendly. So for those of us who bake for children, often this is an excellent way to introduce them to whole grains and talk about flour and flour that grows close to them. 

And, of course, spelt chocolate chip cookies work great. Spelt is a great flour because it’s pretty user-friendly. You could almost utilize it as an all purpose flour one to one.”

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients 

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed (112 g) dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (100 g) sorghum flour
  • ¾ cup (105 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (175 g) bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Coarse sea salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel (optional)

Whenever someone new to ancient grains asks where to start, I recommend making a familiar staple, like chocolate chip cookies. I’ve made these using every grain in the book, including all heirloom wheat varieties I came across while developing these recipes. I know these cookies so well, I use them as my measuring stick.

Each flour may behave a bit differently, but I can confidently say that, with the exception of corn, the cookies work beautifully with all mother grains. Every version taught me something new and distinctive about its featured flour: what the flour tastes like, how it responds to fat, if it browns quickly or slowly, and if it creates a chewy or crispy texture. It was pretty hard to decide which chapter these cookies belong in, but I finally settled on placing them here, in the sorghum chapter, to underline how an unusual flour can be used in traditional recipes. I’ve also included on page 253 a list of seven variations showing how to make them with other grains.

Because it’s gluten-free and therefore less structured, I blend sorghum flour with all-purpose flour in a one-to-one ratio. The same ratio applies if trying the recipe with other gluten-free grains, such as buckwheat or rice. These cookies are sublime with rye, and their texture is remarkable with spelt. But when made with sorghum flour, this recipe yields beautiful golden rounds, with crispy edges and tender centers. Sorghum’s complex, sweet notes will have you making this cookie time and time again.

Instructions 

-In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium- high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
-Add the baking soda and kosher salt and mix for another minute.
-Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
-Add the flours and mix on low speed until a uniform dough forms.
-Add the chocolate chips and mix until well distributed in the dough. The dough will be very soft at this point.
-Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap.
-Flatten it into a disk, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 2 days)—chilled dough will be much easier to work with.
-Place two oven racks in the middle positions and preheat the oven to 350ºF.
-Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
-Divide the chilled dough into sixteen equal portions, about 1½ ounces (45 g) each.
-Working quickly so that the dough doesn’t warm up, round each portion with your hands. You can freeze the cookie dough balls for up to 2 weeks in a freezer bag to be baked from frozen at a later time. Keep in mind that frozen cookies may take longer baking time.
-Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart to prevent the cookies from touching as they spread when they bake. If desired, top each cookie with a few flakes of coarse sea salt. Exercise restraint—it’s still salt.
-Bake for 8 minutes. Then rotate the sheets, switch their positions in the oven, and bake for another 8 minutes, until the cookie edges are brown but the centers are still a little gooey. Rotating and switching the sheets halfway through the baking process will ensure that the cookies bake evenly.
-Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets or enjoy while still warm. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Variations

Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies
Soft-textured cookies that look very appealing. Hints of vanilla come through. Very kid friendly.
Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) barley flour
-½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 g) all-purpose flour

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sober version of this cookie. Really highlights the affinity between chocolate and buckwheat. The earthy flavor of buckwheat comes through. For the more adventurous baker.
Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (95 g) buckwheat flour
-½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 g) all-purpose flour

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Lacy texture with a toasted-grain flavor. Tastes great with milk and makes delicious ice cream sandwiches. Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-½ cup (105 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
-½ cup (70 g) oat flour
-½ cup (70 g) all-purpose flour

Rice Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slightly sweeter than other versions with a nice, almost snappy crunch. Texture-rich with a pleasant grit from the finely ground rice.
Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 g) brown rice flour
-½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 g) all-purpose flour

Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies
Elegant, more adult version of this cookie with a slightly sour-bitter flavor from the rye. This is the version we offer at Friends & Family.
Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-1¼ cups (160 g) dark rye flour

Sonora Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pretty and tasty cookie with crispy edges and chewy center. Very close to the classic version of this American staple with a hint of toasted wheat bran flavor.
Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-1¼ cups (160 g) Sonora wheat flour

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies
A great cookie for grain novices to make and eat. Uniform in flavor and texture with a delicious
crunch.
Replace the sorghum and all-purpose flours with:
-1¼ cups (165 g) spelt flour

Bittersweet Chocolate
Use your preferred brand of bittersweet chocolate chips in this recipe; just make sure the label indicates it contains 60 to 70 percent of cacao solids. A great grocery store brand is Guittard. Specialty stores offer a vast variety of high-​quality chocolate brands too, top among them Valrhona, El Rey, and Callebaut, but they don’t always offer chips. If that’s the case, you can chop larger bars into smaller pieces with a chef’s knife. To further highlight the chocolate flavor, garnish the cookies with a few flakes of crunchy salt such as Maldon salt or fleur de sel (see page 32).

Los Angeles baker Roxana Jullapat explores eight ancient grains in her long-awaited cookbook. Photo courtesy of Norton.

Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Guiding the way to thrive

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Jan Juc naturopath Rebecca Winkler has always found joy in the practice of cooking nourishing meals for others.

That pastime spilled over into developing recipes and it was during lockdown that her culinary passion led her to become a qualified plant-based chef and a raw dessert chef.

Now the mum-of-two has expertly thrown all of her skills into the mix to achieve a long-held goal of producing a book.

Released as an eBook, with a print version to hopefully follow, 14 Day Whole Food Feast is a comprehensive two-week meal plan designed to nourish the body and delight the tastebuds.

Within its pages are recipes for whole food snacks, lunch and dinner meals, lunchbox ideas, and time-saving tips.

14 Day Whole Food Feast by Rebecca Winkler is available now as an eBook.

“My motivation was both personal and professional,” Rebecca says.

“On a professional note, I found so many patients were having difficulty finding family-friendly, whole food recipes to help them navigate various dietary needs.

“The recipes are easy to follow, a shopping list is provided and time frames are taken into account so slower cooked meals or more time-consuming recipes are saved for weekends.”

Rebecca says the eBook can function purely as a recipe resource or be followed meticulously for a 14-day reset.

“Food prep guidance is given at the start of each week in order to get ahead and be organized as possible.

The eBook includes lunch, dinner and snack ideas, as well as shopping lists and naturopathic advice.

“Dinners are often incorporated into leftovers for lunch the next day and naturopathic guidance is provided around ways to maximize your time by incorporating regular exercise and practicing self-care.”

The idea for the book began to brew in 2019 during a solo trip Rebecca took with colleagues which gave her the space to establish a clear vision for the content she wanted to share.

“I began developing and refining recipe, enlisting a beautiful photographer and graphics team to allow my dream to be realised.

“The long-term plan is to release a number of other eBooks and, eventually, print a hard copy, real-life book to be loved and to splash your chocolate and bolognaise sauce on. The kind of recipe book that you find yourself grabbing time and time again.”

The eBook is filled with nutritious recipes and much more.

So, what are some of Rebecca’s personal favorites featured in her carefully curated eBook?

“Ooh, that’s like trying to choose a favorite child,” she laughs.

“I know it might seem boring, but the slow-cooked bolognaise with hand-made gluten-free fettucine is an absolute favourite.
“We make it weekly in my house and every time my kids exclaim ‘this is the best bolognaise ever’.”

The slow cooked beef pie, kafir lime chicken balls and whole food cranberry bliss balls are also hard to pass up, she says.

Rebecca avoids listing ideal ingredients for people to incorporate into their diet, instead saying the most beneficial ingredients are those that make you feel at your best.

“Not everyone tolerates grains, some don’t tolerate fruit, others have difficulty digesting meat and protein.

“My advice is to listen and take note of how your body feels when you eat.

“Are you bloated, do you have pain in your gut, loose stools, headaches or fatigue?

Rebecca is a qualified naturopath, as well as being a plant-based chef and raw dessert chef.

“I am more inclined to advise people to source good quality ingredients, grow what they can, and cook from scratch as much as time and money allows.

“Eat three meals a day and snack only if you are hungry, growing, pregnant or exercising.

“Try to consume 30-35ml of water per kg of body weight. Add plenty of vegetables, fresh herbs, variety and colour.

“Our gut flora thrives on variety, so mix up your veggies, fruits, grain, legumes and proteins. Eat the rainbow.”

To get the most out of the eBook, the author suggests reading it from cover-to-cover and choosing a 14-day period where you are at home and have minimal social engagements.

Rebecca is passionate about naturopathy which she describes as a holistic, comprehensive view of the body in its entirety and “a wonderful adjunct to Western Medicine for patients as it ensures medical due diligence is exercised, adequate diagnostic testing where appropriate and an individualized approach to restoring health”.

Rebecca’s advice is to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to healthy food choices.

She says many of her clients are seeking ways to regain optimal health following extended periods of lockdown during the pandemic.

“There is no doubt that most of us found ourselves allowing more in alcohol and comfort foods over lockdown, which is nothing to feel ashamed about.

“In such a difficult, confining and overwhelming time, we sought comfort where ever it may lie for us.

“This is not a failure, it was merely a way for so many to cope. I never judge anyone’s choices, I merely try to support, understand and listen.

“Often we already know what we need to do to rebuild or move forward, simply sharing and being heard without shame or judgment is therapeutic.

“I cannot describe to you the genuine joy that seeing people thrive provides.”

14 Day Whole Food Feast retails for $19.95 and on the Rebecca Winkler website. Discover more and contact Rebecca via her Facebook page, Instagram @rebeccawinklernaturopath or email [email protected]

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Get to know farro and other superfood whole grains

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By Casey Barber, CNN

Quinoa has reached a level of superfood status not seen since the great kale takeover of the aughts. Equally embraced and mocked in pop culture, it’s become the symbol of the grain bowl generation. It’s not the only whole grain that’s worth bringing to the table, however.

The world of whole grains is wide, and if quinoa and brown rice have been the only grains on your plate, it’s time to expand your palate. Here’s an introduction to whole grains, along with tips for cooking and enjoying them.

What’s a whole grain?

The term “whole grains” encompasses all grains and seeds that are, well, whole. They retain all their edible parts: the fiber-rich outer bran layer; the carbohydrate-rich endosperm center, which makes up the bulk of the grain itself; and the inner core, or germ, which is packed with vitamins, protein and healthy fats.

On the other hand, refined grains such as white rice and all-purpose flour have been milled to remove the bran and germ, stripping away much of the fiber, protein and vitamins, and leaving only the starchy endosperm.

“A lot of people don’t realize that whole grains contain several grams of protein in addition to vitamins and antioxidants,” said Nikita Kapur, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City. With every serving of whole grains, “you get a ton of minerals, B vitamins and fiber, which is especially important for good health.”

So-called “ancient grains” fall under the umbrella of whole grains, though the phrase is more of a marketing term than a marker of a more nutritious option. Ancient grains refer to whole grains like millet, amaranth, kamut and, yes, quinoa that have been the staple foods of cultures for several hundred years. They are not hybridized or selectively bred varieties of grains, like most modern wheat, rice and corn.

And though quinoa has gotten all the press as a whole grain superfood, there’s good reason to try others. Trying a variety of whole grains isn’t just a way to mix up your same-old side dish routine. It’s also a chance to get a wider portfolio of minerals and more into your diet.

“Suffice to say, we need to have a more diverse plant-based diet” to get the full complement of recommended nutrients in our meals, Kapur said, “and we can’t get it from the same 10 or 20 foods.

“One grain might have more manganese, another more zinc or magnesium, and another more protein,” she added. “Try one as a pasta, one as a porridge — you do you, as long as there’s a variety.”

Familiar foods like oats, corn, brown and other colors of rice, as well as wild rice (which is an aquatic grass), are all considered whole grains, but there are many others you’ll want to add to your regular repertoire.

Some whole grains to get to know

amaranth is a tiny gluten-free grain that can be simmered until soft for a creamy polenta-like dish, but it also makes a deliciously crunchy addition to homemade energy bars or yogurt bowls when it’s been toasted. To toast amaranth seeds, cook over medium heat in a dry pan, shaking frequently until they begin to pop like minuscule popcorn kernels.

Buckwheat is gluten-free and botanically related to rhubarb, but these polygonal seeds (also called groats) don’t taste anything like fruit. You might already be familiar with buckwheat flour, used in pancakes and soba noodles, or Eastern European kasha, which is simply toasted buckwheat.

Faro is the overarching Italian name for three forms of ancient wheat: farro piccolo, or einkorn; farro medio, or emmer; and farro grande, or spelled. The farro you typically find at the store is the emmer variety, and it’s a rustic, pumped-up wheat berry that’s ideal as a grain bowl base. Or make an Italian-inspired creamy Parmesan farro risotto.

Freekeh is a wheat variety that’s harvested when unripe, then roasted for a surprisingly smoky, nutty flavor and chewy texture. Freekeh’s taste is distinctive enough that it steals the spotlight in your meals, so use it in ways that highlight its flavor. It’s fantastic in a vegetarian burrito bowl paired with spicy salsa, or in a warming chicken stew.

kamut is actually the trademarked brand name for an ancient type of wheat called Khorasan, which features large grains, a mild taste and tender texture. It’s a good, neutral substitute for brown rice in a pilaf or as a side dish. Or try this high-protein grain in a salad with bold flavors like arugula, blood orange and walnut.

millet is a gluten-free seed with a cooked texture similar to couscous. Teff is a small variety of millet that’s most frequently used as the flour base for Ethiopian injera flatbread. Try raw millet mixed into batters and doughs for a bit of crunch, like in this millet skillet cornbread recipe, or use either teff or millet cooked in a breakfast porridge.

How to cook any whole grain

While cooking times vary for each grain, there’s one way to cook any whole grain, whether it’s a tiny seed or a large, chewy kernel: Boil the grains like pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a handful of kosher salt. Add the grains and cook, tasting as you go, until tender. Small grains like amaranth and quinoa can cook fully in five to 15 minutes, while larger grains like farro and wild rice can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour — so keep an eye on your pot and check it frequently.

Drain well in a mesh strainer (to catch all those small grains) and either use immediately or allow to cool slightly, then refrigerate for later meals. Cooked whole grains can also be portioned, frozen and stored in airtight bags for up to six months.

If you want to cook your whole grains in an Instant Pot or other multicooker, this chart offers grain-to-water ratios for many of the grains mentioned here.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. foods Stories.

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Travel: A quaint county seat with Mayberry charm | Lifestyles – Travel

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I finally ventured out for my first road trip of 2022 earlier this month. It’s been way too long since I took a little trip and it was long overdue. My last little getaway was in Chicago the week of Christmas. The day I returned I wasn’t feeling very well and an at-home test confirmed that I had COVID — again.

The first time was in November 2020 and it was a severe case that landed me in the hospital with pneumonia and difficulty breathing and then many months of recovery. Luckily this time around it just lasted a couple of weeks. At the same time I was pushing through COVID we were in the process of moving. And my Dad, who had tested positive for COVID not long before me, passed away. So, it’s been a heck of a start to 2022. A getaway was much needed.

It was a brief 24 hours in the Indianapolis area, but as always I packed a bit in and had a lot of good food. On our way down we stopped off in Rensselaer for lunch at Fenwick Farms Brewing Co. and took a little walk to check out the murals that are part of the Ren Art Walk. That evening I attended a media opening of the newly reopened Dinosphere exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

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It’s a place I adore and still enjoy visiting even though my kids are teenagers and young adults now. I love being greeted by the huge Bumblebee character on the way in from what is probably my favorite action move, “The Transformers.” The largest children’s museum in the world has so much to see and I’ve loved having the chance to explore it both with and without my kids.

After the event it was a quick overnight at Staybridge Suites in Plainfield, and in the morning we headed to Danville. Danville is the county seat of Hendricks County. I adore county seats with downtown squares and this is one of my favorites. On an earlier visit there we were in town for the Mayberry in the Midwest festival, which had lots of activities related to the classic TV show “The Andy Griffith Show” that was set in the fictional town of Mayberry.

Danville definitely has that charming, inviting, friendly small town vibe that feels like it could be a sitcom setting. We ate at the Mayberry Cafe where old episodes play on television screens and the menu is full of down-home, made-with-love comfort foods, with a specialty being “Aunt Bee’s Famous Fried Chicken.” I tried it and it was very tasty. The whole place made me smile like Opie after a fishing outing with his dad.

This time our dining destination was The Bread Basket. I had tried their desserts at a few events, but it was my first time dining in. It’s located in a house that was built for the president of Central Normal College in 1914 and is cute and cozy. It’s a breakfast and lunch spot, so plan to go early and be prepared for a wait during peak times (but it’s well worth it).

My Dilly Turkey Sandwich on fresh wheat nut bread with an Orchard Salad was delicious. I loved that they had a combo option where you could pick a half sandwich and half salad or cup of soup. But the desserts are the real star here. I stared at that dessert case for several minutes — and I wasn’t the only one.

I was seated next to it, and watched intently each time they removed a pie or cake from the case to cut a slice. I tried the Hummingbird Cake, which was a perfect treat without being too rich, and then noticed another that was so unique I had to get a slice to take home — the Blackberry Wine Chocolate Cake. If you go there and are overwhelmed with choices, go with this. You won’t regret it.

After lunch, we made our way over to the Hendricks County Historical Museum & Old County Jail, which is just off the square. For someone like me who loves history, this was a wonderful stop to incorporate into our day. It was built in 1866 and used as a jail all the way up until 1974. You can go into the old jail cells (two on the female side and four on the male side) and tour the sheriff’s home.

An exhibit has information and artifacts from when Central Normal College existed (later Canterbury College). There’s also a temporary chronological exhibit about music and musicians, featuring many Hoosier hitmakers.

After the visit, I took a breezy little walk around the square, where I was reminded that there is a nostalgic old movie theater. The historic Danville Royal Theater dates back to the early 1900s and shows current movies for just $5 a ticket.

It was then getting close to dinner time, so we decided to eat before we headed back home. A place in the nearby town of North Salem had been recommend to me and I am so glad we took time to visit. I chatted for a few minutes with Damiano Perillo, owner of Perillo’s Pizzeria. He’s a native of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. The food is authentic and almost all of it is made fresh daily, including their garlic rolls, marinara and alfredo sauces. The New York-style pizzas are perfection.

They even have a nearby garden where they grow many of the fresh vegetables and herbs used in their dishes. They have gluten free pastas, too, and the lady at the next table had some and was raving about it. We also tried the homemade Sicilian cannoli and the limoncello flute, and trust me when I say to definitely not skip dessert.

There was one last food stop. Although we had just eaten, I realized we’d be driving right by Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brewhouse in Lizton and just couldn’t pass it up. I made my husband pull in and pick up some food to go. We got the brisket and their house made pimento cheese, chorizo ​​and kielbasa and took it home. I was introduced to it last fall and there is a reason they have been voted Best BBQ in the Indy area four years in a row. I loved hearing about how this eatery located next to a railroad literally stops trains in their tracks to get food from this award-winning BBQ joint.

All three of these places — The Bread Basket, Perillo’s Pizzeria and Rusted Silo are ones that you should absolutely include in your itinerary if you happen to be in the Indianapolis area.

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