Fall Favorites: Candy Apples Were Born in the USA

When it comes to the fall, our minds turn to some of our favorite comfort foods, but let’s include some confection in this category as well. Candy apples are just right for the season. With the temperatures cooling, you can enjoy this festive American treat throughout fall, and right into the Christmas season.

The history of the candy apple originates in Newark, New Jersey in 1908. According to sources, candy-maker William W. Kolb was testing out a new confection for Christmas and decided to grab the attention of people passing by his candy shop by coating apples in his new red cinnamon candy.

Now, if you have ever seen a glossy-red candy apple, you know that it will not only catch your attention, but there’s a certain mouth-watering aspect to the glossy color treat.

So It seems the candy maker had a genuine surprise on his hands. After showcasing those apples, which were simply meant to bring attention to the candy, people were more interested in the entire display rather than just the candy. People came into the shop to purchase the apple, which he sold for five cents.

Soon he did what many a great entrepreneur does, he expanded his audience and candy apples became popular at the beach on the Jersey Shore as well as festivals and circuses.

I don’t celebrate Halloween anymore, but I do remember it being a staple of the holiday in the early eighties…before the ruiners started putting razor blades in the apples. (There’s always going to be those people who take the fun out of everything.) Nonetheless, the candy apple has evolved to include other variations like caramel and toffee. The creations are as varied and creative as one can dream.

Options for candy various candy apples.(Photos from Pixabay and Wikipedia)

Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples are just two of the apples will work for candied apples, but for a list of other acceptable apples, check out the list by Stemilt World Famous Fruit.

See the video below for The Sugar Geek’s recipe for the Best Candy Apple Recipe.

The Quick and Dirty on Kombucha Tea

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea (green, black or white), sugar, bacteria and yeast. The drink’s origins may date back to 221 B.C. in China, and it is made by adding a colony of bacteria and yeast to tea and sugar. According to the Mayo Clinic, once the mix is fermented, “the resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds.”

You can buy bottled or canned kombucha, but if you are more of a DIY-type, check out this recipe on EatingWell.com.

Advocates claim that kombucha tea has a slew of health benefits, which include improving bone strength, managing blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. But let’s not jump to too many conclusions. According to the Mayo Clinic, “These claims are not backed by science. Limited evidence suggests kombucha tea may offer benefits similar to probiotic supplements, including promoting a healthy immune system and preventing constipation.” So do your research to decide whether kombucha is right for you.

Check out TheCoolCultureCook, our fun foodie apparel on Etsy.com.

The Coffee Hunt

I love when I get an inkling to walk on the wild side! This wild inclination was… (DRUMS PLEASE!!!) to search out a new coffee place.

Okay, I know that may not be super exciting but it was a fun little activity to shake up my Saturday pot of coffee, or even the usual suspect coffee places that we all know and love.

So, in taking this little trip— just under 5 miles from my home—I got more than I expected. Before I even made it to John Brown Coffee Shop in Hunt Valley, MD, there was a charcuterie and a really unique little gift shop with amazingly eclectic presents. By the way the coffee menu is extensive, delicious, and provided lots of pastry choices as well.

I recorded this TikTok video earlier in the year so don’t mind my winter jacket. I only mention it since it is the first day of JULY!

I hope it inspires you to check out something new in your neighborhood.

Garcia Donuts Makes a Mean Cinnamon Roll

Cinnamon roll with cream cheese at Garcia’s Donuts in Laurel, Mississippi

Sometimes you experience something so good that you just want to tell the world…so here goes…

(Clears her throat) Eh…uuhmm.


(echoing voice)


(Pregnant pause)


(echoing voice)


Okay, I’m being a tad bit dramatic, but when I say that I had the best cinnamon roll ever, I really mean it. On my recent trip to Laurel, Mississippi, I was on a mission to get Garcia Donuts. Why?

Well, because the last time I was in the area, I saw that hokey yet endearing doughnut-shaped sign, and I just knew it was going to be a gold-star experience.

I wasn’t mistaken.

MCCN Editor Monica Johnson in front of Garcia’s Donuts sign.

Garcia’s does have a whole menu of doughnuts as well as breakfast and lunch offerings. I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome. Prayerfully, I can save that for my next trip.

When I got to the counter, the lady who was serving told me there was only one cream cheese frosted cinnamon roll left. And my thoughts were, “Come to Mama!” It was so fresh and just the right texture—soft and flakey. And since, I am kind of a sweets fanatic, I loved that the frosting was loaded with such liberality. It was divine.

I know you might think, “All this fuss over a cinnamon roll?!!!” But listen…a really good cinnamon roll isn’t as prevalent as you’d think. If you’re used to your usual convenience store or chain doughnut shop version, Garcia Donuts helps you raise your expectations. I love it when that happens.

No Better Place to be than Betsy’s on Magnolia


Nice little ice cream spot called Betsy’s, but don’t look for her serving the cones, she’s always out in the front of the shop just chilling. #betsysicecream

♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依

When in Laurel, Mississippi, look for a blue VW Beetle outside of an ice cream shop. Then you’ll know you are at Betsy’s on Magnolia, a sweet little ice cream shop giving good vibes and a great ice cream experience, which includes sitting out on their deck and savoring every taste.

Betsy’s makes you reminisce about that yesteryear experience called friendly customer service. Remember that? I noticed the young man at the window giving out lovely welcoming greetings, polite instructions and finally a “Y’all come back!” farewell. When you live in faster paced cities, a little southern hospitality goes a long way for the soul. And it went down so lovely with my coffee dipped vanilla soft serve with heath bar toppings on a traditional waffle cone.

Can you hear the angelic choirs singing? Okay, that’s just in my head.

MCCN Editor, Monica Johnson enjoying her Betsy’s on Magnolia ice cream experience.

Betsy’s offers vanilla, chocolate and swirl soft-serve, and you can get it dipped for a hard shell covering with flavors like cherry, blue raspberry, white chocolate, coffee, cake batter, and more.

Betsy’s on Magnolia Ice Cream Shop, Laurel, Miss.

Now ice cream toppings are optional…or are they? Just peruse the menu and one of the toppings will eventually pull you in. There are rainbow sprinkles, Nerds, Pop Rocks, shredded coconuts, Oreos and Lucky Charms marshmallows. Are you starting to get the fun factor? We can’t stop there because your cone selection isn’t limited either. Try their red velvet waffle cone for a different twist.

Betsy’s on Magnolia’s is a sweet, laidback, Laurel, Mississippi experience. And what a great little place to sit down, relax, and enjoy your ice cream one lick at a time. For more information, visit Betsy’s on Magnolia website.

Maryland Mallet

Maryland Mallet is located in Westminster, MD and offers an abundance of seafood dishes, as well as meals for people who do not like seafood. The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff is friendly and always smiling. My friend and I split the steamed shrimp and mushrooms stuffed with crab imperial.

The shrimp were perfectly seasoned but out of the two, the mushrooms were the best in my opinion with heaping mounds of crab imperial. For the entrée, I chose the soft shell crabs and my friend ordered the filet and crab cake. We decided to order a side of crab imperial, which we used as topping for our dishes.

Shrimp for two at Maryland Mallet

Dessert was very tempting, but I was quite full by then and even took one of the crabs home. For a beverage, I ordered a margarita and it was a perfect pairing with the food. During the summer months, all-you-can-eat crabs is also offered, and sitting around the table topped with brown paper while cracking into hard-shell crabs is a perfect way to spend a summer evening.

Contributed by guest contributor Michele Yaruta. Visit the Maryland Mallet online.

Bunny Chow is Served!

Bunny Chow is served! Photo Credit: Gourmandise (Flickr)

South Africa is home to the Durban Indian cuisine called Bunny Chow. It is most popular amongst Indians and other ethnic groups in the Durban area. Okay, I know you are wondering…okay I was wondering, “Why the name bunny chow?” Here’s what the website, African Bites, says, the term “bunny” is another variation of the word ‘Bania,’ an Indian class of traders who sold this tasty street food.

Bunny chows have an amazing presentation. This hearty dish is filled with curries using traditional recipes from Durban: mutton or lamb curry, chicken curry, trotters & beans curry, and beans curry.

Other varieties found across the country, using less traditional Durban-Indian food, include chips with curry gravy, fried sausage, cheese, eggs, and polony. These are all popular fillings; the original bunny chow was vegetarian.

Bunny chows are often served with a side portion of salad containing grated carrot, chili, and onion salad. (Full disclosure: I did have to look up onion salad.) This mixture is known as sambals and includes chopped tomatoes, onions, and green chilies served with white vinegar.

Bunny Chow is oftentimes shared with another person. The street food comes in quarter, half, and full loaves. The main characteristic of a bunny chow is the gravy-filled bread (from the curry fillings).

When in a Durban area, just ask for a “quarter mutton” or the more colloquial saying is “quarter mutton bunny.” Of course, just exchange the wording for the actual size and filling you want to order. You will most likely receive your Bunny chow in takeaway bunnies, which are that bunny boxes that retain heat and prevent leaks from the curry.

Take a look at this video telling you where to find some of the best Durban bunny chow in South Africa.

*Thank you Wikipedia

Black-Eyed Peas Cook-up

Need a black-eyed peas recipe? We have something different than the over the stove beans and rice. Try making a black-eyed peas cook-up!

Cook-up rice is a traditional Guyanese one-pot rice dish that consists of rice, a variety of meats, and fresh herbs that are cooked in coconut milk. It’s definitely a great option for New Year’s day! Check out the ingredients for this classic black-eyed peas cook-up recipe from our O.G. Multi Cultural Cooking Network site.

The first Image is the black-eye peas cook-up being prepared and the second image is the final result.

3 lb boneless chicken thigh (or whatever meat you like)
2 lb medium shrimp (optional)
1 medium onion
½ bunch green onions
4 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp garlic powder)
3 tbsp soy sauce (optional)
Hot pepper to taste
5 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 medium tomatoes
2 bouillon cubes (chicken flavor)
2 tsp Goya Adobo
2 cans of black-eyed peas
2 stalks of celery with lots of leaves(diced)
1 sweet red pepper (optional but looks good)
4 tbsp vegetable/olive oil
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2½ cups rice (parboiled or jasmine)
1 coconut or (1 can coconut milk)
3 cups of water

See the instructions for black-eyed peas cook-up. (Recipe by MCCN contributor Grace Oliver)

A Holiday Tea Tradition

Written by guest blogger Michelle Yaruta

Christmas tea at Kate Pearl Tea Room in Westminster, MD has become a holiday tradition for my family. We dress up, from the youngest, who is 10 years old, to the oldest, and make a day of it. The owners and employees of the tea room take great care in decorating, down to the last detail. The staff is always friendly and goes the extra mile to be accommodating.

The tea is served in courses and can take 1 and ½ hours to 2 hours. Every year the menu changes and the tea room can accommodate vegetarian patrons and those with allergies. The first course this year was an orange cheesecake dip, served with pretzels. This was followed by a chocolate chip scone, complete with clotted cream and raspberry jam. A salad followed with feta cheese, pomegranate, and raspberry vinaigrette. After this, was an apple cider beef stew and a holiday drink that was topped with a lemon and pear foam.

The main dish was a three-tiered appetizer, sandwich, and dessert presentation. The appetizers consisted of spinach puffs and bacon, sausage & stuffing meatballs. The next tier had a pork tenderloin on baguette, topped with cranberry. And the dessert was a mint meringue, a sugar plum cookie, and a chocolate-covered cherry made to look like a mouse. And just when you think you cannot eat another bite, a small scoop of ice cream with peppermint crumbles was served to finish up the meal.

As always, we left full and happy. Tea is never a disappointment and we will continue to go back every year. The menu is ever-changing so it never gets boring. In addition to Christmas tea, Kate Pearl Tea Room has special themed events throughout the year.

Sunset Bay Cafe, Miramar Beach, FL

View from Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort-Bayside

Recently, I had the pleasure to visit Miramar Beach, FL for my birthday weekend, and I was so pleasantly surprised by the family-friendly travel haven. I stayed at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Bayside and loved my view of the bay and the beautiful trees and landscapes. There was so much to enjoy! The first morning when deciding on breakfast I tried the restaurant on the property called Sunset Bay Cafe.

I had already gotten the scoop from the resort’s shuttle drivers that this was a very popular breakfast spot. Seriously, the cafe definitely gave me Jimmy Buffet, Pina colada vibes but I’ll admit, I’m just the cheeseball to enjoy that sort of thing. The Sunset Bay Cafe sits right off of the bay and has large spacious windows to gaze out into the great blue beyond. You can even go outside to eat right by the water.

Enough of the scenery! Let’s talk about what decorated my plate. I had the blackberry pancakes complete with whipped cream and maple syrup, and some scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and coffee to complete my walk on the wild side. My cousin and mother joined me and both ordered the Sunset Platter, which included eggs your way, English muffin, choice of bacon/sausage and some divine fried potatoes.

Our orders were pretty basic, but it was also so delicious, ample portions and the kind of place where you know you could be a regular if you lived in the area. We got there relatively early but no sooner than we got there the placed filled up quickly with brunchers. Again, we missed the stand-in-line rush because we had received the press release from the shuttle drives before we even set foot in the restaurant. Thank you Sandestin shuttle drivers!

Now, like I said, our orders were basic but their menu really isn’t. They serve breakfast and lunch and among the breakfast choices are: strawberry cream cheese waffles and French toast, Banana Brûlée waffles and French toast, shrimp and grits, breakfast croissants and all kinds of omelets and Benedicts. The Sunset Bay Cafe lunch menu includes dishes like seafood tacos, shrimp grilled cheese and yardbird among other things.

Congratulations are are in order for the cafe! The votes are in for 2021’s Best in Destin Best Brunch Award, and Sunset Bay Cafe won for the second year in a row. That’s quite an endorsement in an area where there are so many good places to eat. So if you are looking for a bonafide foodie spot when visiting the Emerald Coast, follow the local lean and grab a table at Sunset Bay Cafe.