Unforgettable Summer Cornbread

The poolside barbecues, beach trips, and vacation dinners of the summer season are often seen as the ideal time of the year to share your best dishes with others, but as seen with this delicious cornbread recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a side dish has the potential to take center stage, if it’s prepared correctly.

Titled, “Perfect, Forever Cornbread,” this recipe is an intricate process that’s been achieved through decades of tweaking and balancing ingredients. What has resulted after 39 batches is an entree compliment that is perfect to pair with your summer salads, grilled meats, and other dishes.

This standout cornbread recipe has you cook your side dish loaf in a cast iron pan so that the edges of the resulting pieces are crunchy and the base of the dish rises evenly. The following recipe uses an 8-inch skillet, but a 9-inch skillet or 9-inch round cake pan can be used instead. Just be aware that the resulting bakes will be slightly thinner, so you should keep an active watch over the cornbread in the oven, particularly at the 25-minute mark.

Ingredients for Summer Cornbread:

½ cup of cold, unsalted butter (approximately 4 oz)

1 cup of fresh or frozen corn kernels

3 tablespoons of light brown or granulated sugar (40 grams)

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

1 cup of cold, well-shaken buttermilk

2 large eggs

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of cornmeal


  1. Begin the summer cornbread cooking process by preheating your oven to 400°F. While heating, you will cut your butter into chunks the size of half-dollars and place them in an 8-inch cast iron skillet. If not using a cast-iron, you can use another oven-proof skillet. Once the oven is properly heated, place your skillet into the oven just until the butter melts. Remove the pan afterward, leave the oven on, and set the butter aside.
  2. Using a blender or food processor, blend together your sugar, salt, and corn until the combination is well-chopped. While the machine is running, pour in your cup of cold, well-shaken buttermilk.
  3. Roll your cornbread mixture against the sides and bottom of the skillet to fully coat it in butter, though don’t let the cornbread mixture absorb all of the butter, as you’ll need to reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons for later. After reserving those couple of tablespoons of butter and setting it aside,  add your eggs to the blender or food processor and blend to combine.
  4. Add your baking powder and baking soda, and similarly blend well. Afterward, scrape down the sides and add your cornmeal and flour. Blend it all together just so that it’s combined, but not fully liquified.
  5. As your 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter are spread evenly on the bottom of the cast-iron skillet, pour your batter onto the buttered surface and use a spoon or similar cooking utensil to spread it flat. Any extra butter will simply roll over the top.
  6. As your oven is properly heated, place your skillet onto the middle rack and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. You will be able to tell that it’s finished cooking when you can insert a toothpick into the center of the cornbread and have it emerge completely clean without any breadlike residue.
  7. Serve your cornbread by dividing the skillet’s contents into wedges or squares. For added flavor, you can spread a fine layer of melted or salted butter atop the pieces or drizzle honey for sweeter flavor notes.

One of the best aspects of cooking cornbread is its second life as leftovers as the remaining squares can keep fresh for two days at room temperature. If keeping longer than a couple of days, place your cornbread into the refrigerator, especially in the summertime. Reheat the cornbread by placing your piece(s) in the microwave for a brief rotation period or wrap them in aluminum foil and place it in a 350°F oven for the best texture.

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Louisiana Tech Summer Camp Teaches About Science through Visual Arts

For the second year in a row, students gathered at Louisiana Tech University and took part in a summer camp that allowed them to blend the academic disciplines of art and science in interesting ways, according to a press release from the school.

The Visual Integration of Science Through Art (VISTA) summer camp was held June 21-25, and it allowed participants to learn about abstract scientific concepts through visual art. The directors of the camp, Nicholas Bustamante, a professor in LA Tech’s School of Design, and Dr. Jaimie Newman, the College of Engineering and Science’s associate dean for research and graduate studies, hosted the event on LA Tech’s campus for over a dozen high schoolers from across the state.

Similar to last year, the VISTA summer camp at Louisiana Tech was funded through the overarching arm of Louisiana Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). GEAR UP is Louisiana’s premiere college education access and preparation initiative that’s administered by the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), a program organized by the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Over the past decade, Louisiana GEAR UP has partnered with 37 schools in 15 school districts across the state to bridge the gap between public education and the post-secondary educational landscape. One of the ultimate goals of the program is to support students from low-income families so that they are ready to enter and succeed on a post-secondary campus.

Dr. Tireka Cobb spoke about the beneficial aspects of this year’s VISTA camp experience, saying, “these programs allow students to explore college programs and careers in a fun, educational and interactive way that allows the building and expansion of learning that has happened during the academic year. Camps held during the summer help our students see the relevance of what they are working on in school from August to May, and how it all ties into them striving to be successful in life after high school. Understanding that connection prompts students to be more driven, engaged, and successful in the secondary, and eventually postsecondary arena.” Dr. Cobb is the director of LOSFA’s Field Outreach Services and Louisiana GEAR UP program.

When speaking with Louisiana Tech’s press, Bustamante expressed his delight in seeing how the visual communication aspects of the camp were able to give students more confidence in both expressing their ideas and asking lingering questions as the week progressed. The unique combination of both visual art and biological sciences is not only seen as a valuable method through which to communicate more complex topics, but the partnership of the two academic disciplines also served to advertise the various career opportunities that could be found in the arts.

Last year’s VISTA camp was conducted over Zoom as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but the overarching subject was titled: “Keep Calm and Camp on with Louisiana Tech: What’s COVID-19 Got to Do With You?” The focus of the first annual VISTA camp allowed participating students to take a particularly active role in learning about COVID-19 through the use of illustrations.

The experience found at this year’s VISTA camp is just one of the many educational opportunities offered by Louisiana GEAR UP in the summer, allowing students to stay mentally active despite not being on break. These summer learning camps aim to provide access to a college and career-orientated environment and promote STEM learning experiences.

LA Tech’s Associate Dean of Research, Outreach, and Innovation, Dr. Lindsey Vincent, said of the experience, “the interdisciplinary VISTA initiative led by Dr. Newman and Professor Bustamante exposes our [Louisiana] GEAR UP students to a world of learning and work connecting fascinating aspects of both science and art. Such multidisciplinary approaches are now necessary to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.”

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East Baton Rouge Parish to Purchase Land to Prevent Flooding

In an ongoing effort to prevent flooding, East Baton Rouge is considering purchasing several hundred acres of land as a method of holding rain runoff, according to The Advocate.

Though the project is still in its early stages and doesn’t yet involve landowners, East Baton Rouge Parish has collected nearly $45 million to preserve 540 acres of floodplain areas across the city-parish. The funds were allocated from both federal hazard mitigation and the Louisiana Watershed Initiative, a 2016 recovery grant.

The aim of the city-parish to purchase the vast acres, including the 200 acres of low-lying swamp along Bayou Duplantier,  is partially to block the lands from being developed. If the goal of the purchases is to ultimately limit the flooding in the area, then new developments bringing the installation of new asphalt and concrete would undercut those efforts as these materials cause rain to run off and not be absorbed by the ground. Outside of merely sitting on these lands, another central aim is to create retention ponds on these acres, potentially easing ongoing flood problems.

Local area flooding has continued to be a hot topic for the state ever since more than 1,200 homes in East Baton Rouge Parish alone were inundated by the storms of mid-May. City-parish Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford told reporters that weather patterns tend to indicate that severe rains are happening more and more frequently, and local leaders need to adapt as a result.

Raiford believes that these future detention and floodplain conservation areas can also help to reduce the risk of the downstream impacts that other proposed drainage improvements could have on surrounding parishes. To emphasize this point, he provided the example of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ $250 million project to clear and “de-snag” Bayou Fountain, Ward Creek, Jones Creek, and two other waterways in EBR Parish. Despite the scope of the project, the Corps attests that the plan will ultimately speed up the flow of these waterways and not cause negative effects on the parishes located downstream, namely Ascension and Iberville Parish.

In speaking of the impact of the recent storms, Raiford said, “some of these storms, you talk about 50-year storms or 100-year storms, well, they’re happening two times, three times a year, and that ain’t good. You’ve got to look at some ways to reduce the flood risk.”

Fact Sheet estimates indicate that conserving the land around Bayou Duplantier near Lee Drive would cost the city-parish $8.5 million and the Ward Creek conservation project, which would purchase 140 acres of floodplain southwest of Airline Highway and the adjacent sides of Highland Road, would cost $5.7 million.

Both purchases will be funded through Governor John Bel Edwards’ signature $1.2 billion Louisiana Watershed Initiative that was implemented as a result of the detrimental 2016 floods. Previously, the initiative used $5 million to dredge and ultimately improve the stormwater storage capacity of the University Lakes near Louisiana State University’s campus. The effort also improved the ecology of the area in addition to decreasing the likelihood of flooding.

Presently, the University Lakes empty the waters accumulated by rainfall over a dam into Bayou Duplantier and end up draining through the 200-acres conservation area that is currently being surveyed by the city-parish. Current plans exist to clear two miles of the bayou’s drainage channel.

Often required by development rules, these detention and retention ponds are vital to the conservation of local areas that are prone to flooding, and as a result, they have become regular fixtures of newer neighborhoods and commercial developments in not just Baton Rouge but across the state.

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Colorado Towns to Visit in Summer 2021

Over the past several decades, tourism in the state of Colorado has increased staggeringly with each passing year, and it’s estimated that 2021 will be no different, especially in the summer months. That being said, if you’re looking to make the most out of a summer trip to the Centennial State this season, then follow the lead of Travel + Leisure and check out these unforgettable Colorado towns that make for a perfect summer vacation destination.

Grand Lake, CO

The charming lakeside Colorado town of Grand Lake is known as the “Western Gateway” to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) as it serves as the western entrance to the famed park, thus making it perfect for anyone looking for outdoor adventure. If you plan on visiting the national park, then take advantage of the town’s quaint collection of cabins and summer homes that line the shores of the state’s largest natural lake. Summer is the perfect time to visit Grand Lake, as residents and tourists alike are often seen hiking, biking, and riding ATVs across the picturesque terrain.

If you’re in need of a knowledgeable guide to the National Park and its encompassing 415 square miles, then you should look no further than Kaiyote Tours, a company that specializes in leading travelers on both hiking and overnight backpacking trips in the summertime. These trips teach participants about the overall history of Rocky Mountain National Park with a particular focus on birding and wildlife. Also, you can rest assured that you’re in expert, knowledgeable hands as the company was founded by Kaiyote Snow, a self-taught naturalist, and award-winning photographer, and  the artist and former instructor for the Rocky Mountain Conservatory.

Outside of the park, the town proper is equally as fulfilling with its historic boardwalk and its assembly of over 60 restaurants, shops, and galleries. Consider taking in a show at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre for memorable surveying of the arts. With excitement to be found all over the town of Grand Lake and with the RMNP in close, accessible proximity, this is one of the state’s best options for summer fun and relaxation.

Fort Collins, CO

Often overlooked by residents who ignore the Colorado town for the mass appeal of Denver, the town of Fort Collins stands out as one of the “best-kept secrets” in the state. Home to Colorado State University, this college town carries with it an alluring atmosphere of outdoor recreation, a vibrant music scene, and eclectic design.

In fact, the historic downtown area of Fort Collins was the literal inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street USA, making it an understandably magical location. The downtown area is called “Old Town” by the local residents, and it stands as the absolute nexus of nightlife with its attractive art scene, dining experiences, and unique storefronts and boutiques. Take for example the Colorado Shoe School where one can design and create their own custom shoes from repurposed leather that was once destined to be thrown in a landfill. The soles of the leather shoes are made up of recycled materials from discarded tennis balls and bike tires. Leave with a practical souvenir that embodies the adage, “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Classic Colorado town attractions in Fort Collins include the hiking and mountain biking trails to be found at Horsetooth Reservoir, the federally-designated Wild & Scenic River, and the Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area. The entire town is connected through and through by over 285 miles of bike trails and lanes, which has resulted in a vibrant, friendly community of residents who tend to populate the area with post-work mountain bike rides throughout the summer. So, if you’re in search of a biking oasis of scenic views, fresh air, and clean spirits, then look no further than Fort Collins, or as the locals call it: “FoCo.”

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Guide to Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Thousands of Americans flock to Yellowstone National Park each year to experience adventure, nature, and wildlife, and after surveying Planetware’s suggested list of attractions, tips, and tours, you’ll be joining them!

Yellowstone is the oldest national park still operating in the United States today, as it was originally established in 1872 in the northwest corner of Wyoming by President Ulysses S. Grant. The park spans an area of nearly 3,500 square miles across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and it comprises lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain rangeswithin that landmass. The park is famous for its abundance of wildlife and its numerous geothermal features such as the Old Faithful geyser or the Yellowstone Caldera, which is the largest supervolcano on the North American continent.

When you arrive at the park’s gates and pay the $35 admittance fee, you’re free to enter and leave the park as many or as few times as you’d like over a seven-day period. With that being said, it might greatly benefit you and your traveling party to book a stay at a resort, campground, or spa within the park grounds so that not a moment can be missed. Accommodations range from rustic campgrounds to hotel-quality resorts, so you’ll be able to stay as comfortably authentic as you’d prefer!

Some of the most exciting and more memorable features of a weekend or week spent at Yellowstone National Parkare those unplanned sights seen from your car while traversing the park. Many visitors take part in a self-drive tour by filling up their gas tank and setting forth on The Grand Loop, a 142-mile road that curves around several of the park’s natural sights in the shape of a figure-eight. Driving the loop typically gives park visitors a “greatest hits” look at some of the more awe-inspiring aspects of Yellowstone, as it allows you to visit Old Faithful, the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and so much more at your own pace.

If you plan to drive the entire length of either loop of “The Grand Loop,” be ready to spend anywhere between four and seven hours due to traffic, though for many the time spent waiting isn’t nearly as dreadful as the stand-still traffic of interstate congestion. The point of the self-driving tour is to allow you and your traveling party the agency in stopping your vehicle and exploring the cliffs, lakefronts, wildlife viewing areas, and expansive plateaus at your leisure. By trusting in your own interest-based itinerary, you might be sitting down, overlooking a vista when you spot an emerging herd of buffalo before any other park visitor notices.

Outside of the loop, you can find one of the most unforgettable, stand-out hits of the park when you visit Yellowstone Lake. Resting over Yellowstone Caldera at a staggering height of 7,737 ft, this is the largest, high-altitude lake in North America, and it’s home to a collection of submerged, nutrient-rich fountains beneath the lake’s surface. These fountains supply the lake with unique plant life and also make the area the ideal fisherman’s paradise, as Yellowstone Lake also houses the largest population of cutthroat trout in North America.

Besides fishing, the area is also home to an abundance of waterfowl species, which is viewable from the townships of Lake Village, Fishing Bridge, and Bridge Bay, which all house campgrounds, motels, and other leisure facilities along the lake’s northwest shore. Alternatively, one can find a bevy of naturally-occurring, geological features such as geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, and hot springs in the West Thumb, an area found on the West shore of Yellowstone Lake.

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Sizzling Shrimp Fajita Recipe

Satisfy everyone at your next scorching summer barbecue with this sizzling shrimp fajita recipe from Simply Recipes. These fajitas take advantage of the grilling heat element by charring your fresh shrimp atop the grill as well as a few serrano chiles, giving your salsa a much-needed kick.

Since everyone typically likes their shrimp fajitas topped with certain ingredients, lean into the grab-and-go, buffet-style preparation of this meal and have everything from the tortillas to the sour cream laid out on the table with covered serving platters. Consider also whipping up some Mexican-adjacent recipes of your own to counterbalance these spicy flavors such as homemade tomato salsa, southwestern rice and beans, white queso, or even guacamole.

No matter what you decide for your serving table, just be sure that you have plenty of tortillas, condiments, toppings, and utensils on hand, as the following recipe tends to produce shrimp fajitas that come in high demand.

Ingredients for Shrimp Fajitas

Charred Serrano Salsa:

2 serrano chiles

½ cup of medium red salsa (store-bought)

½ lime, juiced

Pinch of salt

Spice Mix:

2 teaspoons mild chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Fresh avocado


Fresh cilantro

Sour Cream


1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 red pepper, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

½ large red onion, sliced

10 medium flour tortillas

Recipe for Shrimp Fajitas

  1. You’ll begin this recipe by combining the necessary ingredients to make your salsa. Start by heating a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and then char your two serrano chiles for approximately two to three minutes per side. Once cooked, remove the chile, chop the peppers in half, and dispose of your seeds. Chop up the chiles and stir them into your pre-made salsa alongside your lime juice and salt to boost the flavor of your overall salsa.
  2. Prepare your shrimp’s seasoning by mixing up your spice mix of chili powder, onion, cumin, oregano, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Drizzle your shrimp with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of spice mix. Coat the shrimp by thoroughly tossing them with the seasoning.
  3. Add 1 additional tablespoon of olive oil to your peppers and onions and then sprinkle the remaining spice mix atop the veggies. Meanwhile, you can heat your large skillet over medium-high heat, and you can add your seasoned veggies to the pan. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften and char in select spots.
  4. When the veggies are spotted with char, use a cooking utensil to slide them over to one side of the pan and add your seasoned shrimp directly to the cast-iron skillet. Cook the shrimp for 3 to 4 minutes apiece, stirring regularly. Be sure to keep an eye on them, as they tend to cook rather quickly.
  5. Remove the skillet from the stovetop once the shrimp is cooked, and toss the ingredients before covering. Spread your toppings, salsa, and sauces out on a counter or table for a buffet-style dinner. Also, you can consider adding texture to your tortillas by lightly heating them on your stovetop.


Instead of charring your peppers and cooking your veggies and shrimp on a stovetop, you can use a combination of aluminum foil and a hefty grill pan to properly char the ingredients on a propane or charcoal-based grill. This will allow for a more smoky flavor to accompany the spiciness of the shrimp and peppers for a great summer shrimp fajita.

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