Overview of CodyAnyone trying to lasso the spirit of the old Wild West should head to Cody, Wyoming. Founded in the 1890s by pony express rider, army scout and flamboyant Wild West showman William Frederick Cody (a.k.a Buffalo Bill—a name he earned shooting a staggering number of bison), Cody remains western to the core.
The town sits in the scenic wonder of northwest Wyoming and packs in all of a cowboy’s natural paraphernalia: wide-open spaces, canyons, rivers and mountains.
With a frontier reputation and population of 10,000, Cody might seem to be just the hop-along point to Yellowstone National Park (which it is). But don’t be bamboozled. Cody is anything but a one horse town. Visitors who linger a while find much action and a cowboy brand of fun that’s hard to buck.
So what should visitors do in Cody and nearby Buffalo Bill country?

BUNK AT BUFFALO BILL’S IRMA HOTEL and rustle up dinner in the dining room.
Built by Buffalo Bill in 1902 and named for his daughter, Irma, the hotel sits in the center of town and serves as the focal point of Cody activity.

The Irma Hotel in Cody
The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and retains all the charm of a bygone era. Although old-fashioned in ambiance and decor, both standard and famed historic rooms sport such updates as modern bathrooms, air-conditioning, T.V.s, and Wi-Fi.

Irma Hotel Rooms
Be sure to watch the free staged gunfight often featuring Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Calamity Jane that takes place in the street outside of the hotel each evening of summer and then belly up to the dining room buffet for some of the best prime rib in cowboy country.

Prime Rib at the Irma


RIDE THE CODY TROLLEY for a 60-minute tour that covers the whole kit and caboodle of Cody’s old and new attractions. 

Cody Trolley


MOSEY THROUGH OLD TRAIL TOWN AND MUSEUM OF THE OLD WEST to see a collection of historic buildings, furnishing and artifacts from the early fur-trading time to the end of the 19th century. The collection includes a cabin used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a saloon frequented by Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and the grave of mountain man John “Jeremiah Liver-Eating” Johnston.

Old Trail Town

Old Trail Town Saloon and Grave


WRANGLE A SEAT AT DAN MILLER’S COWBOY MUSIC REVUE and watch Dan Miller and other top-notch performers delight the audience with an array of songs, jokes, poetry and stories.

Cody Theatre


ROPE TICKETS TO THE CODY NITE RODEO to understand why bull and bronc riding, barrel racing, bull fighting and clowning around keeps Cody’s rodeo the longest running nightly rodeo in the country. 

Cody Rodeo


STEER YOUR WAY TO THE BUFFALO BILL CENTER OF THE WEST,  a beautifully contemporary facility incorporating five museums (Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum and the Plains Indian Museum) as well as a restaurant, coffee bar and research library. Plan on spending hours—if not days. 

Buffleo Bill Center of the West

Inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Delights at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West


SHOOT OVER TO THE CODY DUG UP GUN MUSEUM where displays feature “dug up” and “found” guns, weapons and artifacts from many time periods including America’s War of Independence, the Civil War, and World War I and II.

Dug Up Gun Museum


HEAD OUT YONDER to tour the BUFFALO BILL DAM AND VISITOR CENTER, considered the tallest concrete dam in the world back in 1910 when it was constructed.

Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center


and the HEART MOUNTAIN WWII INTERPRETIVE CENTER, a relocation camp where 14,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. 

Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center


WHEN YOU GET A HANKERING FOR GRUB, click HERE for local foodie Ruffin Prevost’s list of the best Cody Restaurants. 

Cody Food, Yum!


And WET YOUR WHISTLE at bars throughout the city. Our favorite Cody cocktail comes from  8th Street at the Ivy. It’s perfect for dudes who can’t decide between a mojito or margarita. Mixing the two creates a drink better than the sum of it’s parts. Yippie-yi-yo-ka-yay fabulous!


Yield: 1 fabulous drink.Tequila Mojito Margarita
5 mint leaves
2 ounces Suerte Reposado tequila
Sweet and sour mix to taste (recipe follows)
Splash orange juice
3 thin slices jalapeño
Thin wedge of lime, for garnish

Put mint leaves the bottom of a old Fashioned glass and muddle lightly with a wooden spoon. Fill glass with ice. Add tequila, sweet and sour mix, orange juice and jalapeño. Stir gently. Put lime wedge on rim of glass.

Yield: About 2-3/4 cup.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until all sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Raise heat and, without stirring, bring mixture to a boil. Remove syrup from heat and set aside to cool.
When cool mix syrup with juices. Put mix in a covered container and refridgerate.



Cody and Wide Open Spaces






Kansas City is said to have over 100 restaurants, joints, shacks, stands, trucks and other outlets that specialize in barbecue. And most of the places serve barbecue that’s smokin, making it it the pits for tourists fired up to find the hottest to decide where to go. That’s when supergal Bethanie Schemel comes to the rescue.



We call Bethanie “supergal” because she not only moms two kids (a new baby and a toddler), but also runs a popular business with her firefighter husband, Karl. 

The Schemel’s excellent KC Barbecue Tours, takes tourists and locals alike, by motor coach, to Kansas City’s top barbecue places. During each tour, Bethanie offers smart dialogue covering everything from the history of the city and of its barbecue, to what to order in each place and how to avoid barbecue overdose. (One tip is “pace yourself,” advice generally ignored as KC Barbecue Tours go whole hog providing samples at each stop.)

Timing allows the tours to stop at four restaurants plus the fascinating Original Juan Speciality Foods—a company that bottles BBQ sauces, rubs and seasonings for a large number of KC BBQ outlets.

Entrance at Original Juan Speciality Foods

Because the tours offer visitors an in-depth, insider introduction to KC’s barbecue scene and are not only super informative, but also throughly enjoyable, we say they are a must, but just in case visitors want more, we grilled Bethanie about where they should go.
Supergal fired us the following list of personal favorite places, some of which are on the tour, and some not:

Kansas City has been serving up smoked meats for well over 100 years and pit masters around the city have spent that time perfecting their craft. Once known as the “poor man’s food” only being served out as a way to keep families fed during the late 1800’s, Kansas City barbecue has grown to the point where a barbecue restaurant can be found every few miles. With over 100 barbecue restaurants dotted throughout the Kansas City area, Kansas City has earned the title of “The Barbecue Capital of the World”.
With this title in hand, each restaurant has remained true to their own history and methods on how they prep, smoke and serve their meats. The question of whose smoked meats to try is a long-standing question that will vary depending on who you ask. Below are a few restaurants I recommend hitting while in Kansas City:

LC’s Bar-B-Q

Ribs at LC'sTake a step inside LC’s and you will find an old fashioned barbecue joint, where the smoker sits right behind the small counter and every order is called out to be made on the spot. Their hickory smoked meats and sweet sauce have Kansas City locals lining up on a daily basis. The secret to LC’s is to know what you want before you step to the counter. My recommendation is the brisket, ribs or burnt ends with either fries or beans to go on the side.

Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue

Arthur Bryant Barbecue SignArthur Bryant’s is, perhaps, the city’s most historic, iconic and well-respected barbecue restaurant. Holding true to traditional Kansas City smoking methods of oak and hickory wood, Arthur Bryant’s is not only a popular spot for locals, but for celebrities, presidents and politicians. If you are going to walk through their historic doors, make sure to grab a slab of ribs or brisket sandwich with a side of beans, cole slaw or fries. Make sure to try some of their Original sauce to bring on a little extra flavorful history.

Gates Bar B.Q.

Gates Bar B Q in Kansas CityDon’t let the loud “Hi, May I Help You” greeting as you walk in the door startle you as you look for which savory and traditional Kansas City oak and hickory smoked meats to try on their menu. Gates and Son’s is another historic, iconic and well-respected barbecue must-try in Kansas City. The atmosphere can be loud and classy at the same time, and the menu will give you many options. If you have a hard time choosing, you can’t wrong with one of their platters which serves out ribs, brisket and turkey slathered in their Classic barbecue sauce.

Woodyard Bar-B-Q

Woodyard Bar-B-Q by Susan Manin KatzmanSet off the beaten path, Woodyard is a true hidden gem in Kansas City! It’s not just the down to earth atmosphere that will make you want to hang out on their patio, watch the Pit Master work his magic and enjoy a Boulevard brew, but their delicious meats smoked over pecan wood will make you want to hang out for just a little bit longer. If you get there early enough, order Woodyard’s chicken wings. You can never go wrong with their baby back ribs, Frankenwurst (smoked sausage), or Carolina sandwich. Sides are an absolute must at Woodyard! Their cheesy corn, potato salad and coleslaw are made in house and are my top picks.

BB’s Lawnside BBQ

It was the Father of Kansas City barbecue, Henry Perry, who once posted a sign stating “I’m here to serve you, not entertain you.” While this holds true in many Kansas City barbecue restaurants, BB’s is happy to serve and entertain you with live blues music six nights a week and hickory smoked meats fresh from a smoker. BB’s has ties to Kansas City’s famous Jazz district, so sit back, listen to the tunes, pop the top on a cold one and enjoy some amazing ribs, burnt ends along with battered fries.

BB's Lawnside BBQ collage by Susan Manlin Katzman


RibsZarda Bar-B-Q

A taste of hickory smoked meats and flavorful sauces, along with their down-home country atmosphere makes Zarda BBQ a Kansas City favorite. Sure, you may have seen their sauces, beans or smoked meats on store shelves, but nothing beats getting these BBQ Sign

smoked meats in person. The burnt ends and thin sliced sausage with beans on the side (that can only be described as a taste adventure) are my top picks.

Plowboys BBQ

If you want a taste of Assorted Smoked Foods and Potato Saladaward-winning
competition style barbecue, a stop in at Plowboys BBQ is a must. Plowboys won the title of Grand Champion from the 2009 American Royal Barbecue Competition, and you can get a taste of victory in any of their oak wood smoked meats (although ribs, burnt ends, brisket and their BBQ Nachos are the top four that please my palate).


BBQ Sauces from Original JuansGet to SLAP’s early if you are wanting to try their nationally recognized barbecue. Coming in second place (only because of a coin toss) on the show Barbecue Pitmasters, this restaurant will make you want to keep going back for their ribs and cheesy potatoes.

KC Barbecue Tours Bus by Susan Manlin Katzman





Blues City DeliDoesn’t matter when you show up for lunch, even minutes after the doors open at 11 a.m. you’re apt to find long lines.

Blues City Deli, located in St. Louis’s Benton Park neighborhood is a popular place. It’s also casual, comfortable, and party friendly—no doubt reflecting the casual, comfortable and party-fun personality of its food-and blues-loving owner, Vince “Vinnie” Valenza.

Vince "Vinnie" Valenza by Susan Manlin Katzman

Vince “Vinnie” Valenza

Lines move quickly through the first floor of the old brick building to the counter of the sandwich shop where one places orders.

Counter at Blues City Deli

Vinyl flooring, wooden tables with assorted black chairs and banquette seating add to the aged urban decor, further enhanced by a spirited vibe radiating from old posters, record jackets, news clippings, paintings, photos and a mishmash of miscellaneous music memorabilia covering walls.

Art Walls at Blue's City Deli
Delivering SandwichesAfter ordering one tries to find a table—or maybe even just a spare chair at a shared table and waits while staff, in a backroom kitchen, constructs sandwiches. Wrapped in butcher paper, tuck into plastic bags, the sandwiches find their way to you by way of playful servers. 

A PA system sends background blues through the cafe, that is unless it is Thursday evening or Saturday afternoon when blues musicians show up to play live—sometimes inside, sometimes outside—always free of charge.

Blues City Deli keeps short hours, opening at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and closing every day at 4:00 p.m., except on Thursdays when blues bands sends soulful sounds into the cafe until 7:45 p.m.

Some say that the deli reminds them of a Greenwich Village hangout. Others claim it’s totally New Orleans. All are partially right and somewhat wrong. Blues City Deli is a St. Louis original and has been for the last decade.

Vinnie says that he scored the menu to pay tribute to many of the blues music cities on the “Blues Highway.” And indeed, the menu’s play list includes such sandwiches as the Memphis Stax, Delta Bayou, and St. Louis Primo. Po’ boys, New York-Style pastrami sandwiches, classic clubs, veggies, and a variety of good tastin’ dogs make the scene, as do local beverages and simple sides in the form of a few salads, cole slaw, chili and bagged chips.

Local Drinks at Blues City Deli Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman
Items change from time to time, but the Muffuletta stays put on the menu, as it strikes a particularly popular cord with the Blues City population.

Muffuletta Photo by Maya Gann-Bociek

Muffuletta Photo by Maya Gann-Bociek

As Muffuletta fans know, olive salad is the keynote condiment adding flavor to the New Orleans speciality, but Vinnie spreads the joy and uses olive salad to jazz up other sandwiches as well.
He didn’t miss a beat in sharing his recipe. And after testing and tasting, we can only say: Bravo, you make our heart sing!


Yield: about 4-1/2 cups.

2 cups pitted Sicilian olivesOlive Salad
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cup giardiniera (Italian-style pickled vegetables)
1 rib celery
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Ground black pepper to taste
Additional seasonings to taste, optional (See NOTE)

Coarsely chop olives, giardiniera, and celery. Put chopped ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add olive oil, oregano and pepper.
Stir to mix well. Taste. Correct seasoning if desired.
Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.
Serve with roasted meats, sandwiches, or just as a snack on crackers.

NOTE: Much of the olive salad’s flavor depends on the giardiniera used. Add additional seasoning to the salad if you like.




Glory be. InveIrlochy Castle Hotel just won the 2015 Scottish Hotel Award for Hotel of the Year. The property double dipped the prizes by also claiming Restaurant of the Year.
Let me tell you why.

Inverlochy Castle Hotel by Susan Manlin Katzman
Built in 1863 as a private home named for the nearby 13th century Inverlochy Castle, the baronial mansion has been polishing, perfecting and practicing the art of public hospitality since becoming a hotel in 1969.
Everything about Inverlochy Castle Hotel charms.
First is the setting.

Inverlochy Setting College
The hotel sits on 50 acres in a green glen at the foot of Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain range), near Fort Williams, in the heart of Scotland’s western Highlands. The setting couldn’t be more enchanting. The mountains glow in each day’s ever- changing light. The lock glimmers. Grazing sheep on the grassy green continually rearrange their groupings into a million picture postcard images of countryside beauty and serenity.

Sheep at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

 Queen Victoria, a guest at Inverlochy in 1873, said of the site, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.” Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, a guest in 1869, wrote ”The scenery about here is the grandest of all the sublime spectacles I have met in Scotland.” 

The hotel’s interior matches its rich surroundings. Registration takes place in an entry hall outfitted with oriental rug and antique furnishings.

Entry Hall at Inverlohy Castle Hotel

The Great Hall’s impressive high ceiling frescos and crystal chandeliers, overlook intimate seating arrangements defined by groupings of upholstered easy chairs and couches. A whisky cabinet, antique French piano, and stack of boxed games add congenial homey touches as well as entertainment elements.

Frescos and chandeliers

The Great Hall at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Games & Whisky

The next-door Drawing Room is just as hospitable and welcoming although lighter and brighter due to sparkling rococo mirrors and sunshine-colored walls and drapes gracing almost floor to ceiling windows.

The Drawing Room at Inverlochy Castle Hotel
The Great Hall and Drawing Room provide relaxed and lovely locations for afternoon tea, pre-dinner Champagne and/or just reading in a quiet corner—then again, so does the terrace.

Terrace at Inverlochy Castle Hotel
Inverlochy boasts three dining rooms if one counts the Library (practically hidden and outfitted for private parties). Decorated with furniture and table dressing reflecting the upscale style of bygone elegance, the dining rooms serve as tasteful frames for the castle’s famed modern British cuisine.

Table setting at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Scottish breakfast in the dining room

Scottish breakfast in the dining room

(Incidentally gentlemen…well all males, are required to wear coat and tie at dinner. The hotel provides a stash for those unprepared.)

Coats and ties are required at dinner at Inverlochy Castle Hotel
The 17 bedrooms in the main house vary in style and configuration. Some wear period Victorian wallpaper and floral-patterned fabrics on headboards and upholstery. Others sport four poster beds, with dark-colored striped and plaid spreads and drapes. All contain a treasure trove of antique furnishing and appointments. And all have ultra-modern flatscreen TVs, good views and dynamite bathrooms.

Bed in the King's Suite at Inverlochy Castle Hotel
I stayed in the Mary Shaw room, which was named after the property’s first cook. Although I am sure the other rooms, especially the King’s and Queen’s suites, are just as nice, I can’t believe the cook’s room was not the jewel in the crown as it was so incredibly comfortable and well appointed. I especially loved the huge bathroom with a green velvet chair, shower big enough for four, bathtub big enough for two, and luscious toiletries that lent fragrance to all.

The Mary Shaw room at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Bathroom in the Mary Shaw room at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

Toiletries at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

As to what to do at Inverlochy? Once one can pull themselves out of the deeply comfortable bed, and leave the beautiful room, the environment and surrounding countryside offer many activities. Skiing, biking, hiking, stalking in the mountains. Fishing in the lochs and river. And a variety of country-gentlemen sports such as clay pigeon shooting, falconry, tennis, tomahawk throwing, and snooker on the property itself.
For a hotel that racks up the accolades—including Best Hotel in Europe (Travel and Leisure magazine 2006), and a property that has hosted many of the world’s elite, Inverlochy remains unpretentious and informally grand—no doubt due to the friendly staff and the property’s attention to details that make every aspect of a stay enjoyable. Morning coffee as served at Inverlochy Castle Hotel
Services run the gamut from chauffeuring guests from any Scottish airport to the hotel in a Rolls Royce Phantom (the property also has it’s own Helicopter landing site) to the simple amenity of bringing coffee to the room as a wake-up call.
Granted most luxury hotels have room service deliver coffee, but Inverlochy enhances their coffee delivery with plate of buttery, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread cookies—providing an extra sweet start to the day and stay.


(Adapted from a recipe provided by Inverlochy Castle Hotel.)
Yield: 15 three-inch in diameter cookies.Shortbread
17 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (see NOTE)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
A little granulated sugar to sprinkle on top of cookies before baking
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in flour and cornstarch to form a dough. Either put dough in piping bag and pipe cookies into 3-inch circles or roll dough 1/4 inch thick between sheets of plastic wrap and cut into circles with a cookie cutter.
Put dough circles on parchment paper, leaving space between the rounds. Sprinkle tops of circles lightly with granulated sugar.
Bake until cookies are set and just barely beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

NOTE: If you can’t find superfine sugar (also called caster sugar), blend granulated sugar in a blender or food processor for a few seconds until it is in fine particles.


Key to Happiness





Travelers love Scotland for many reasons, among them the welcoming fun-loving residents, serene scenery, world-class golf, and delightful places to stay. But there is one Scottish lure that makes all of the others shine brighter. We’re talking whisky here. (Notice the spelling differs from Irish whiskey. According to one Irish drinker, “the Scots are just too thrifty to add the e.” )
Bars and pubs do their bit to train visitors to the pleasures of whisky, but those wanting to jump to the chase of understanding, should make their way to Glengoyne Distillery

Glengoyne Distillery
Located in Dumgoyne, near Glasgow, Glengoyne’s property straddles the border road dividing the Scottish Lowlands (where the warehouses sit) from the Highlands (holding the distilling facilities).

Noted as the southern most of the Highland whiskies, Glengoyne (pronounced glen GOIN) receives accolades on many levels. First and foremost comes praise for Glengoyne’s single malt Scotch, known around the world, beloved by many. In addition, tourists applaud Glengoyne’s postcard-pretty setting, in a countryside green-glen at the foot of the Campsie Fells range of verdant hills.

At Glengoyne Distillery

Visitors also rave about the distillery’s outstanding tours.Glengoyne Tours

Disclaimer and confession: I don’t drink whisky. I loved my Glengoyne tour.

Glengoyne sells a variety of tours, among them the basic Wee Tasting tour; the No. 1 Warehouse Session (described as “Wield your dug. Dip two casks. Drink the drams. Bottle your favorite”); a Whisky and Chocolate Matching; and a five-hour, in-depth Masterclass.
David Dick  Offering WhiskyMost tours start in the visitor’s center where a guide offers each person a dram, shows a short film on the distilling process and talks a bit about whisky making and labels. 
Next comes a guided walk through the facilities.
As we head out the Visitor Center’s door, our guide, the smiling, super savvy David Dick, points to a picturesque waterfall from Campsie Fells pooling in a pond at the back of the property and tells us that the water is used, along with barley and yeast, to make Glengoyne whisky.

Campsie Fells by Susan Manlin Katzman
David continues to describe the processes of malting, milling and mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation as we stroll through various buildings.


He tells us that Glengoyne first made whisky in 1833 and has followed pretty much the same techniques to this day; that the components contributing to Glengoyne’s unique smooth flavor include a very slow distillation process, barley dried by warm air (not peat), and maturing in fine sherry-soaked oak casks.

Scotch Warehouse

We learn that “Angel’s Share” refers to the evaporation from casks as the whisky ages, and that the favorite whisky toast to good health, the Scottish Gaelic Slàinte mhath, rolls right off the tongue after downing a few sample drinks.

Angel Share
I am on the Malt Master Tour, so after the basics, my group settles into the Sample Room, which is set with bottles of different Glengoyne whiskies, small glasses, and all of the paraphernalia necessary to sample and then create a take-home bottle of our own blend.

Ready to Blend Whisky
All tours end at the shop, which sells not only Glengoyne whisky, but also a variety of fine whisky merchandise. Glengoyne Label
Before saying goodbye, David imparts a tidbit of wisdom concerning mixing whisky and water. 
A Scottish proverb says, “There are two things a Highlander likes naked, and one of them is whisky.”  Winston Churchill said, “The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it.” 
And David Dick says, “The only thing one should add to good whisky is, perhaps, a drop of water to release the subtle flavors, and, of course, more whisky.”

For more about whiskey, click HERE






Unknown-1I trace my love of houseboating to the 1958 film Houseboat. In the film Cary Grant lives on a houseboat with his motherless kids and Sophia Loren, a symphony-conductor’s runaway daughter masquerading as a housekeeper. So romantic. So fun. Made me (and every woman and man in 1958 America) want to trade lifestyle—and spouse—for the houseboat experience.

As charming a picture as the movie paints, it can’t capture the pleasure of the real thing. My two houseboat trips exceeded all movie expectations. But then, how could they miss. In both cases I traveled through some of the most remarkable scenery in all of the United States—on totally luxurious vessels—with 12 dearly beloveds (one of them a dog).

Family Houseboat Trip


My family chose to houseboat on Lake Powell and Lake Mead for several reasons. Dramatically spectacular scenery topped the list.

Lake Mead

slot canyon, Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA

Cove at Lake Mead

As you know, Lake Powell, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, and Lake Mead, situated in Nevada and Arizona, are both reservoirs of different, but equally astonishing natural beauty—the full wonder appreciated only by water travel. These million-plus acre, man- and nature-made playgrounds of crystal water, desert, cliffs, twisting canyons and gnarled rock formations offer not only magical landscapes, but also land and water activities (boating, fishing, swimming, sun bathing, hiking, relaxing). 

Maggie on Water Slide

Charlie fishing


In addition, Lake Powell’s 1900 miles of shoreline and Lake Mead’s 759 are packed with secluded sandy coves surrounded by isolated rocky landscapes. We could moor the boat in pockets of primeval-like privacy, and hike in surroundings as if we had been first and only to explore and enjoy.

Houseboat in Secluded Cove

Houseboat Docked at Lake Mead

We rented houseboats for both trips from Forever Resorts. The company offers a variety of boats, ranging in size and amenities, at 12 marina properties around the country.

Some of the houseboats were too small for my family. Some were too big. But we found just the right ones, sleeping 12 and having a fully equipped kitchen, gas grill, air conditioning, sundeck and all of the comforts of home. (Well, even more comforts as our home lacks windows facing constantly changing natural vistas, water slides, and sundecks for sunbathing and star gazing under skies unencumbered by pollution and/or city lights.)

We also rented powerboats that we tethered to the houseboats and used for water sports and easy exploring, leaving the houseboats docked in their secluded coves for several nights in a row.

Family in Powerboat
Well in advance of our first trip, Forever Resorts sent instructions on operating the houseboat, which we ignored, enabling us to show up at the marina totally clueless. But no problem, before staff hands over the keys, they require us to designate “captains” and “co-captains” to take a personalized-on-site course in operating both houseboats and powerboats.

I can’t say it didn’t take work at the git go. On the first trip, my family ranged in age from 4 to 87, and, on both trips—four years apart—each family member assumed a job.The youngest helped set the table. The next youngest and oldest fished for dinner and helped with dishes. I cooked. Everyone else took turns helping maneuver the boat through the twists and turns of the lakes and docking the boat at night (a procedure requiring strength and energy).

Steering a Houseboat on Lake Mead
After a day learning the ropes, we could slip our water home in and out of secluded coves with the greatest of ease.
Operational mechanics in hand, we spent the days and nights of both trips enjoying sequestered family time. We ate, slept, played, hiked, and relaxed together, gaining new appreciation for each other. We loved and appreciated the natural beauty that encased us, paying special tribute to the desert flora and fauna—the sunrises, sunsets and skies full of bright-burning stars.

Lake Mead Flora Collage by Susan Manlin Katzman

Sunset on Lake Mead by Susan Manlin Katzman
As to food, we took enough supplies onboard for all meals and our houseboat had all of the equipment needed for preparing, cooking and serving the food.

Dinner on a Houseboat

On the last morning, before disembarking and reluctantly relinquishing our water home, we gathered for one last breakfast, agreeing that the houseboat adventure was the best multi-generational family vacation possible.

We also agreed that we liked the breakfast, which was an egg strata. The casserole was perfect for several reasons: it is assembled the night before baking, utilizes leftovers, and like houseboating, greatly pleases both kids and adults.


Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Spinach Strata

Spinach Strata

About 1/4 cup butter
1 large loaf French or Italian baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (a little stale works fine)
Shredded cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey Jack or other or mixture)
Additions, optional (cooked sausage, bacon, ham, mushrooms, and/or onions; well-drained cooked spinach or other vegetables; and/or chopped fresh herbs.)
12 eggs
About 3 cups half and half or milk
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste.
Dash Dijion mustard
Dash Tabasco

Butter a large baking dish.
Line the bottom of dish with bread cubes.
Sprinkle a generous portion of cheese over top of cubes.
Dot with additions of choice.
Break eggs into a bowl, Beat in half and half or milk and season with salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and Tabasco. Pour egg mixture over ingredients in baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight.
Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350°F oven until well puffed and golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve immediately.





Elizabeth MInchilliAmerica’s favorite guru of luscious Italy, Elizabeth Minchilli, is at it again. April 7 marks the debut of her seventh book, EATING ROME.
To say that Elizabeth has great taste and knows all of the great food places in Rome is to understate. She also knows the in and outs of Italian culture, style, art, architecture, interior design, ceramics, gardens, and travel.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Elizabeth first moved to Rome with her parents and sisters when she was 12 year old. She studied in Italy and settled happily ever after in Rome after marrying Roman architect Domenico Minchilli.
By all accounts Elizabeth lives the dream life. She has an adoring husband, two beautiful deating rome-pbkmech.inddaughters, and two homes: one, a rooftop apartment in Rome, and the other, a country cottage complete with olive groves and roses in Umbria. There is probably no one more qualified to write a book on Roman food and subtitle it “Living the Good Life in the Eternal City” than Elizabeth. 
To say that she generosity shares her experiences and expertise through her writing, only skims the cream of her productivity. In addition to authoring books, designing apps and writing numerous articles for prestigious publications, she leads food tours, blogs (Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome); supplies Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with copious material, and guests post on Sweet Leisure. (See Elizabeth Minchilli Picks: Ten Best Restaurants in Rome.)
You can tell that we are crazy about Elizabeth and her many endeavors—as are a slew of star-studded food-centric celebrities, including Ina Garten, David Lebovitz and Frank Bruni who join ranks to praise EATING ROME.
To say EATING ROME is useful to food lovers traveling to the city doesn’t cover the range of the book’s information and appeal.
Any traveler to Rome—even the armchair variety, and anyone interested in Italian food and cooking will gain from Elizabeth’s insights.
She filled EATING ROME’s 256 pages with photos and information, telling readers about not only her favorite restaurants, trattorias, and pizzerias, but also the way to order coffee at an Italian coffee bar,

Italian Coffee


the difference between ice cream and gelato,

Gelato by Susan Manlin Katzman

and how to shop in a Roman market. She telescopes on topics as diverse as cured pork products,

Oggi Porchetta


mama cooking, artichokes and grappa. And last but never least, she loads EATING ROME with easy to follow, authentic Italian recipes—some from restaurants and others from the Minchilli family’s treasure trove, as is this meatball recipe from Elizabeth’s mother-in-law, Rosa Minchilli.



Yield: 4 to 5 main course servings.Minchilli Meatballs

7 ounces ground pork
7 ounces ground beef
7 ounces ground veal or turkey
1/2 cup grated onion
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to season
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 can (18-ounces) pelati (peeled whole San Marzano) tomatoes
In a large bowl, gently combine the pork, beef, veal, onion, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, and the 1/4 cup olive oil. Form the mixture into about 30 small meatballs, 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the skillet, about 10 at a time, so as not to overcrowd. Cook, using a spoon to turn the meatballs, until they are well browned all over. Remove from the pan, set aside, and repeat the procedure to cook the rest.
Add the tomatoes to the oil in the skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping up the bits of browned meat, and season with salt. Return the meatballs, and any juices that have formed on the plate, to the skillet. Bring back to a low simmer, cover, and cook until done, about 30 minutes.

“EATING ROME, Living the Good Life in the Eternal City,” by Elizabeth Minchilli is published by St. Martin’s Griffin in both paperback and eBook. Click HERE for more information.

Back of Eating Rome





It’s sunny and bright, hip and happening, and loaded with celebrities. We could be describing Southern California and Los Angeles in general, but instead are telescoping in on Farmshop, an artisan market and restaurant that perfectly reflects the cool vibe of Farmshop in the Brentwood Country Martboth the region and the city.
Actually, there are two Farmshop restaurants—one in L.A. and one in Marin County. The restaurants are brainchildren of Chef-Owner Jeff Cerciello of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group fame. Although both share similar DNA, like all siblings, each property claims it’s own personality.
As the L.A. Farmshop came first (in 2010), serves as flagship, and has a speciality food market attached, we’ll focus on it.
The L.A. Farmshop sits on the Westside of Los Angeles in the Brentwood Country Mart.
The Mart, itself, claims historic significance. When built in 1948, it was considered innovative, consolidating shops and useful services in one location. Compared with the mega-malls of today, the Mart feels positively intimate and super select—the perfect home for Farmshop.
Market and restaurant share the same space and are divided by function, rather than partition, into two areas that flow together.

Farmshop L.A.

The market offers a cornucopia of artisan-produced, local and regional products including cheeses, chocolates, charcuterie, coffees and wines. Talented bakers, butchers, farmers and chefs add speciality departments to the abundance. And a choice of housewares and gifts complete the bounty which is rich enough to fill a discriminating cook’s pampered pantry and a food-lover’s luxury larder.

Cheese Counter at Farmshop

Bakery at Farmshop

Take Out at Farmshop

The restaurant space feels casual and comfortable in a super chic, Southern California kind of a way.
Design elements include white-tile walls, a busy see-into kitchen, abundant windows for natural lighting and a large farm-scene photo mural covering the back wall. 

Farmshop Restaurant Los Angeles

Table at Farmshop

 Counter service and some long tables for communal dining reinforce the laid-back atmosphere as does the informal bar and friendly knowledgeable staff.

Bar at Farmshop

In the kitchen, talented staff.

In the kitchen, talented staff.

 But design and fellowship take one so far—-it’s the food, served with fabulous flair, that brings the most accolades and repeat guests. 

Soup to Nuts at Farmshop

Soup to nuts—dishes delight.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (when the lighting changes and becomes more mellow and romantic), Farmshop produces menus that change according to not only the meal and time of day, but also the day of week and the season.

Table Setting. Notice the linen napkins. They are for sale, four for $112.

Table Setting. Notice the linen napkins. They are for sale, four for $112.

Chef Brian Reimer

Chef Brian Reimer

Many dishes on assorted menus receive raves, but non are more popular than the Avocado Hummus with Pistachio Salsa Verde & Nigella Seeds. No ordinary hummus, the dish enjoys iconic status, and guess what. We scored the recipe for you! (Thank you Chef Brian Reimer.)

Farmshop serves the hummus with an assortment of colorful vegetables, but it is also luscious scooped onto crackers, a spoon or even a finger.


Yield: About 3-1/2 cups. Avocado Hummus with Pistachio Salsa Verde & Nigella Seeds
1 pound (about 3 cups) cooked chickpeas (see NOTE)
A little crushed ice
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled and seeded
1 recipe Pistachio Salsa Verde (Recipe follows)
Nigella seeds
Assorted cut vegetables
Pulse the cooked chickpeas with a little bit of crushed ice in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed. (The ice will facilitate the blending and produce a smooth texture.) Add tahini and pulse until smooth, then add the lemon juice. Continue pulsing, adding olive oil until texture is very smooth.
Peel and seed the avocados, then add to the processor, continuing to pulse to a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
Put hummus in a serving bowl. Distribute Pistachio Salsa Verde over top. Sprinkle with Nigella seeds. Serve with assorted vegetables.

PISTACHIO SALSA VERDE Avocado Hummus Farmshop
About 1/3 cup pistachios
1 lemon (zest only)
3 tablespoons sliced chives
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Fleur de sel to taste
Olive oil
Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet and put them in a preheated 325°F oven until very lightly toasted. Remove pistachios from the oven and while they are still warm, put them on a cutting board and lightly chop.
Use a micro plane (very fine hole grater) to zest the lemon and add to the warm pistachios along with the chives and parsley. Mix well and season to taste with salt. Add just enough olive oil to make pistachios glisten. Toss well.

NOTE–TO COOK CHICKPEAS: Put good-quality, small dried chickpeas in a large strainer and wash under cold running water, removing any foreign matter or damaged chickpeas. Transfer chickpeas to a large bowl or pot, cover well with cold water, add a pinch of baking soda and let soak overnight.
Drain chickpeas from soaking liquid and, again, wash well under cold running water.
Put chickpeas in a large pot and generously cover with water. Add another pinch of baking soda. Set pot over moderate heat and bring water to a low boil. Skim any foam and/or skins from top of water. Boil until chickpeas are very soft and can be easily smashed when pressed between two fingers, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Drain chickpeas and use as desired.
One pound dried chickpeas will yield about 2 pounds 4 ounces cooked.





Ellen Sack: The Barge Lady

Ellen Sack: The Barge Lady

As a native of landlocked Chicago, Ellen Sack developed wanderlust early in life. She started traveling to Europe at 19 and has been at it happily every after, developing a love for Europe, particularly Europe by barge.
She took her first barge cruise in 1984, and shortly thereafter decided she wanted to help others discover the pleasures of barge travel, opening her travel agency, Barge Lady Cruises in 1985. 
Ellen’s reputation makes her a leading expert in European canal barge cruises.

Stephanie Sack

Stephanie Sack

Today she represents over 50 different barges, and employees a small staff that include her daughters Caroline Sack Klein and Stephanie Sack. Between Ellen and her entourage, Barge Lady Cruises visits each and every one of the barges she represents before she recommends them.

To help understand why barge cruising  captivates Ellen (and countless others), daughter Stephanie describes  some of the pleasures for Sweet Leisure:


Welcome Aboard! Barge Cruising in Europe

By Stephanie Sack

A vast network of preserved waterways wind through the heartland of Europe, navigated by a fabulous fleet of floating house parties, ranging from the leisurely low-key to the over-the-top opulent. Welcome to the world of barge cruising, where happy travelers aboard these marvelous vessels enjoy a prime perch for ogling old-world wonders, visiting vineyard-strewn valleys in the unspoiled countryside, and attending bustling markets in charming villages.

While often confused with river cruises, which typically traverse several hundred miles on Europe’s major rivers on large ships carrying over 125 passengers, barges are handsome vessels converted from reclaimed cargo boats into luxurious floating hotels, carrying four to 22 passengers which cruise through European canals, primarily in France. Barge cruising’s intimate ambiance and leisurely pace appeals to a sophisticated traveler with culinary and cultural leanings. 



Barge on a French Canal


While a dedicated crew cooks, cleans, pilots the barge, and gives chauffeured tours of local attractions, guests go on daily excursions, bicycle along the towpath, enjoy the scenery, mingle with other guests, and read and relax on the deck. And, best of all,  barges surround all activities with fabulous food and wine. Gastronomes, food tourists, and bon vivants thrill to barging’s focus on chef-prepared, gourmet meals served with the region’s best wines. (See NOTE below.)

Dining Table

Choosing a barge cruise perfect for a dream European vacation depends on your group, your travel preferences, and your budget.  Although there is no official rating system for barge travel, The Barge Lady created her own system, classifying barge cruises into four categories: Boutique, First Class, Deluxe, and Ultra Deluxe.

Barge Dock in Burgundy These classes are determined by a handful of factors, primarily the size of the cabins, on-board amenities such as decor, deck space, and number of crew members. Ratings are affected by the number of guests; for example, an eight-passenger boat can earn a higher rating than a 22-passenger boat. All barges at all ratings are available for chartered groups. 

The Barge Lady especially likes to recommend Boutique Class vessels for smaller parties more interested in authentic experiences than in on-barge amenities. This curated collection of barges are operated with two in crew and offers the opportunity to take some meals onshore at local restaurants and auberges, all organized and selected by the captain. From $3,500 per person, they are the perfect barge cruise for those who wish to spare the expense, not the experience!

Barge cruising is all about the pleasures of food, travel, and the good life—the perfect vacation for indulging in “sweet leisure.”


Cruising Through Serenity

 The barge cruise season runs from mid-April through the end of October, taking advantage of Europe’s mild spring, summer sunshine, and temperate autumn. Although barges fill quickly, dates are still available for some vessels in 2015 and 2016 already beckons, so call The Barge Lady (800-880-0071) and we’ll help you the perfect barge cruise to meet your needs.

Salade Reine Pedauque


NOTE: For a peek at the wonderful food served on barge cruises, have  a look at the Pear and Roquefort Quiche recipe from the Horizon II barge and the beautiful Salade Reine Pedauque served on the Reine Pedauque. 





There is a spirit that hovers over the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. It’s the spirit of Taos itself, of the mountains and air and light and magic that inspired Native Americans as well as artists, writers, poets and rich socialites from near and far to settle and thrive.

Taos Landscape by Susan Manin Katzman

Mabel Dodge Luhan

Mabel Dodge Luhan

Mabel Dodge Luhan—or more precisely the multi-married Mabel Gans0n Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan falls into the socialite, art-patroness category, a pigeonhole she never fully escaped despite her considerable gifts for writing and her stack of published columns and memoirs.

Mabel made it to Taos at age 37. She had just married her third husband, the artist Maurice Sterne, and sent him, without her, to honeymoon in Santa Fe. Upon joining the honeymoon, Mabel so disliked Santa Fe that she refused to stay and moved to Taos where she fell in love not only with the remote village but also with

Tony Luhan

Tony Luhan

Tony Lujan, a married Native American from the Taos Pueblo.  

With Tony’s help, Mabel purchased 12 acres of meadow adjacent to Taos Pueblo land and built a sprawling Pueblo Revival style home.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House

She also divorced Sterne, married Tony, and invited the cream of the cultural crop of intellectuals, artists, writers, dancers—or in Mabel’s own words, the “great souls” of the creative world to visit Taos and stay with her. Famous houseguests included Georgia O’Keeffe, Willa Cather, Aldous Huxley, Ansel Adams and Martha Graham, but none were as important to Mabel as as D.H. Lawrence, who arrived in 1922 with his wife Freida.

A legacy from the first Lawrence visit remains in, of all places, Mabel’s bathroom. D. H. painted the bathroom windows. 

D.H. Lawrence Painted Windows in the Mabel Dodge Luhan House

Sign in Mabel Dodge Luhan HouseDespite the fact that D.H. wrote about Mabel and Mabel wrote about D. H. and others wrote about both personalities, no one knows the reasons for the painted windows. Speculation suggests that the renowned writer, who broke sexual barriers and was even labeled a pornographer by some, could not bare (in truest sense of the word) using the bathroom without curtains to protect him from bystanders (of course the bathroom overlooked wilderness; so the eyes were only those of lizards and the like).

Then it could have been that he painted the windows to protect him from Mabel, who in a rather intense but fruitless effort to seduce him, would shed her clothes and stretch out on the balcony outside the windows to sunbathe.

Sunbathing Ledge

Sunbathing Ledge

Mabel Dodge Luhan GravestoneMabel died in1962. Her home was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991.

Although the property has gone through several owners, including movie star Dennis Hopper, it still functions as a guesthouse.

Today, the B & B-type historic inn features nine rooms in Mabel’s original house, eight rooms in the Juniper House, a Southwestern-style lodge, built in 1980 as a conference center and workshop facility, and two rooms each in two separate cottages.

Bedrooms in Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Present day visitors can easily recall ghosts of the guests past as much remains the same as when Mabel reigned.
The property’s setting, bordered on three sides by sagebrush filled desert with the sacred Taos Mountain in the background, maintains the peaceful, retreat-like ambiance.

Window at Mabel Dodge Luhan House by Susan Manlin Katzman

And just as in Mabel’s day, the rooms lack TVs and Wifi, guests enjoy meals in the communal dining room, and the D. H. Lawrence painted bathroom windows protect inhabitants from prying eyes.

The major change is that today the inn is open to the public. Guests come for the history, for the workshops, for the tranquility and/or for the bountiful buffet breakfasts.Breakfast at Mabel Dodge Luthan House

Mabel Dodge Luhan House is reputed to serve one of the best B & B breakfasts in all of New Mexico.

Part of the credit goes to Pamela Martinez, from the Taos Pueblo, one of the cooks who has made breakfast for guests on and off for the past 17 years. She say’s this is her favorite breakfast muffin recipe:


Yield: 12 muffins.

Shortening to grease muffin cupsStrawberry and Cream Muffins by Susan Manlin Katzman
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh blueberries or diced fresh strawberries (or other berries)
6 to 8 ounces cream cheese, divided into 12 pieces
Grease 12 muffin cups and set pan aside. Heat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-size mixing bowl. Put buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar in another bowl and beat just until well blended.Combine flour mixture with buttermilk mixture and beat until blended. Slowly stir in fruit.
Spoon equal amounts of batter into each muffin cup. Gently press a piece of cream cheese into the center of batter in each cup, smoothing batter back over top of cheese.
Place muffin pan in the center of a preheated 350°F oven and bake until muffins are pale golden brown and cooked through,15 to 20 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

For more about Taos, click HERE.






Albuquerque, New Mexico


Ann Arbor, Michigan


Bangkok, Thailand


 Berlin, Germany

Belin sign


Cody, Wyoming

Cody It's Fun by Susan Manlin Katzman 


Denver, Colorado


Dijon, France


Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale at Night 


Little Rock, Arkansas



Los Angeles, California


Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Nashville, Tennessee


New Orleans, Louisiana

New-Orleans by CHRIS GRANGER.


Rome, Italy


Seattle, Washington

Stuttgart, Germany


Tel Aviv, Israel


Tucson, Arizona






Paris at Sunset by Susan Manlin Katzman 



 Albuquerque, New Mexico


Apalachicola, Florida


Canal de Bourgogne, France


Door County, Wisconsin




Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Florida Beach by Susan Manlin Katzman


Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park by Susan Manlin Katzman


Moss Landing, California

Moss Landing Harbor by Susan Manlin Katzman


Seattle, Washington


Taos, New Mexico


Tel Aviv, Israel


Turks and Caicos



Adler Thermae Spa Resort, Tuscany, Italy

Adler Thermae Spa Resort


Arlington Resort Hotel,  Hot Springs, Arkansas

The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa by Susan Manlin Katzman


Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Ashford Castle


Atlantic Hotel & Spa, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Exterior of The Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale


Capital Hotel, Little Rock, Arkansas

Exterior of The Capital Hotel by Susan Manlin Katzman


Captain’s Inn, Moss Landing, California

The Captain's Inn in Moss Landing California


Château De Cîteaux La Cueillette, Meursault, France

Château De Cîteaux La Cueillette


Coombs House Inn, Apalachicola, Florida

Coombs House Inn


Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico

Grand Velas


Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Facade of Lake Yellowstone Hotel by Susan Manlin Katzman


Mandarin Oriential Paris, France



Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Serving Beach Drinks at Little Dix Bay


Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

Saxon Hotel


Tongabezi, Zambia, Africa



Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichruhe, Germany

Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe




Rail Europe

RailEurope Train by Susan Manlin Katzman


La Fresh Travel Products



St. Louis Walking Tour

STL Lost & Found




Copyright 2009-2013 by Susan Manlin Katzman. Author retains all electronic and publishing rights, except where express given permission has been granted. For information about utilizing any material from please contact Susan Manlin Katzman through the contact page listed above.