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Stirring up memories


In Lewis and Clark's Neighborhood
October 26, 2005

When we got on the plane I wasn’t exactly sure where we were going.  No, that’s not right—I knew where we were going, I just didn’t know how to say it—that city in Kentucky.

            I needn’t have worried, a tee shirt prominently displayed in the first gift shop we passed in the Louisville, Kentucky airport assured me that “Looavul, Luhvul, Lou-e-ville, Looaville, or Looeyville;”  They are all just fine.  I didn’t buy the tee shirt, but I took the advice to heart and quit worrying about it.  And enjoyed visiting a brand new city.

            It wasn’t racing season, so the closest we got to Churchill Downs was a drive-by.  Even from the outside, it’s impressive.  We managed a quick tour of the Art Museum on the campus of the University of Louisville—getting caught in a football traffic jam as part of it.

            But the best part of the trip was when we crossed the bridge over the Ohio River and found a bountiful harvest of pleasure in Indiana.  It was one of those days that simply unfolds.  We had no plans; we didn’t even have much tourist information.  We’d heard there was a farm that produces goat cheese; we weren’t quite sure how to get there.

            Just over the bridge we found a tourist information site, and got more information than we could use in two or three weekends.  Just down the road lay the Falls of the Ohio State Park, a wilderness area in the very shadow of the modern skyline of Louisville.  It was the annual Fossil Festival.  The falls on the Ohio River were diverted many years ago to make the river navigable.  The resulting dry bed—home of the former falls, is  rich in fossils dating back to the Devonian geological period (400 million years ago).  On this day we were free to wander the bed looking for fossils of our own.  We joined half the children of Louisville and Southern Indiana on a hike. (“Wear heavy footwear…You will get wet!” the brochure warned us.)

            What we found even more exciting than the fossils was a little cabin farther down the road.  A cabin that was a mere 200 years plus old.  It is a re-creation of the home of Revolutionary hero, George Rogers Clark.  He built his cabin on land granted to him after the war.  The nearby town of Clarksville bears his name.

            It was amazing to stand on the banks of the Ohio—full of water at this point—and marvel across the two centuries since Clark built his cabin.  From the porch of the rough-hewn structure we could see a modern twenty-first century dam spewing water and energy and protecting the citizenry.  Between the dam and the cabin a canoe with two fishermen floated.  They didn’t seem to care what century they were in.

            The really significant story about this cabin was not its American hero owner, for all the richness of his life.  It’s about his much younger brother William who was born in 1770.  He grew up to join the Militia of Kentucky where he became a fast friend of a regimental comrade, Meriwether Lewis. 

            When Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis to lead the Corps of Discovery through the Northwest Territory, he immediately asked the younger Clark to be his co-captain.  It was at the George Rogers Clark cabin here on the bank of the Ohio that they gathered their supplies, recruited young men from the surrounding countryside and set off on their adventures.  They launched their craft exactly 202 years ago today—October 26, 1803!   And it was to here they returned some three hard years later. 

            We never did find the goat farm.  But we did find the fabulous Huber Orchard and Winery, a “Hoosier Homestead Farm” that was established in 1843—only 40 years after Lewis and Clark set out.   Seven generations of the Huber family have called it home. Here we found all the Indiana children who didn’t go to the Fossil Festival.  With their parents they were enjoying a petting zoo, going on a wagon ride to pick their own pumpkins and apples, nibbling on home-made ice cream and marveling over the heaping bins of fruits and vegetables.  The perfect way to end an autumn afternoon.

            I managed to pack a dozen gourds and a whole bunch of Indiana cheeses in the cooler we’d hauled along “just in case,” but I had to leave those gorgeous pumpkins and apples, all the beautiful vegetables behind.

            But they stuck in my mind.  When I got home, I tried out some autumn recipes,.  Too bad, I had to do my harvest shopping in the canned goods department of the supermarket.

.  We may not have colorful autumn leaves quite yet, but the colors in this salad will make you think of them.

Autumn Leaves Salad

1 small head red cabbage

1(15-ounce) can beets, diced or sliced

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 oranges, peeled, with white pith removed, and cut into eighths

1 cup pitted black olives, drained

 Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core. Slice each quarter paper thin. Put the thinly shredded cabbage into a large salad bowl.  Add the beets, onion, oranges, and olives, and toss to mix well.

Mix together a vinaigrette dressing such as this one.

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons corn or canola oil

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

            Or you can use a bottled oil and vinegar dressing.

            Garnish with fresh or dried dill.

            Here’s a quick and easy harvest cake—and just in time for Halloween!  I plan to color some prepared frosting orange and decorate the cake with candy corn and candy pumpkins.  

Hoosier harvest cake

1 box yellow cake mix

1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin

4 eggs

1/4 cup cooking oil

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices (or a combination of nutmeg and cinnamon)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  With an electric mixer, blend the ingredients until moistened using the low speed; then beat for two minutes on medium speed.  Pour into a greased and floured Bundt or tube pan and bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes.  Let cool completely before removing the cake.

            I made these into a grandson-pleasing treat by baking in miniature muffin tins for about 10 minutes.   Makes a dandy cool morning breakfast!

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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network