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Take a tasteful tour of Virginia, Travel guide offers scenic views and local recipes

Part of the fun of traveling is sampling regional cuisine along the way. With the Great American Publishers “Eat & Explore” series, armchair travelers can also explore the world of culinary travel state by state.

“Originally published in 2012, ‘Eat & Explore Virginia’ has been such a popular edition that the book has received a complete redesign,” Pam Edwards, of Great American Publishers, said. “‘Eat & Explore Virginia’ features favorite recipes from all across the state of Virginia plus interesting facts about the state and many of the famous festivals.”

“Virginia’s natural resources are honored within these pages,” author Christy Campbell said. “Bountiful vineyards, fragrant lavender, wholesome fruits and vegetables and delicious seafood are the backdrops to the family gatherings, local celebrations and tourist destinations that define the commonwealth.”

Information on James River State Park includes favorite recipes from the Fall Festival.

Information on James River State Park includes favorite recipes from the Fall Festival.

The Fall Festival in Buckingham County’s James River State Park is one of the featured festivals and celebrations.

“I’m heavily involved in the Friends of James River State Park,” Park Ranger JoAnne Absher said. “I submitted our recipes — and they printed them.”

The 256-page book, offering a travel guide and recipes from across the commonwealth, includes four recipes from James River State Park.

“The Fall Festival Brunswick Stew recipe is mine,” Absher said. “My husband and I also smoke Boston butts and sell sandwiches and stew at the festival.”

The annual festival, Absher said, includes many “old-timey” activities and free events for children.

James River State Park manager Russell Johnson stirs a pot of stew during the park’s annual Fall Festival.

James River State Park manager Russell Johnson stirs a pot of stew during the park’s annual Fall Festival.

“We have an apple press, teach how to make cornhusk dolls and do candle dipping,” she said.

The park also offers a haunted candy trail (a milder version of the former Haunted Wagon Ride) and an apple sling shot.

“We use ungraded apples and shoot them down in the low grounds so the deer can get them and eat them,” Absher said. “The children love that.”

For the past ten years Alpha Phi Omega at Longwood University has provided volunteers.

“In the morning six or seven of them will come out to help with the stew,” Absher said. “Then they stay and help us throughout the day.”

“James River State Park is known by many as “Virginia’s best kept secret,’” the book’s author stated. “With 15 miles of hiking, biking or horseback riding trails, three fishing ponds and an opportunity to canoe eight miles of the James River, this outdoor paradise calls novices and enthusiasts alike. James River Park offers primitive tent camping, water and electric campsites, equestrian and group camping and two, three and six bedroom cabins.”

Longwood University students from the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity set up a demonstration on churning butter. The fraternity has assisted with the event for the past 10 years.

Longwood University students from the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity set up a demonstration on churning butter. The fraternity has assisted with the event for the past 10 years.

Recipes for Fall Festival Brunswick Stew, Mulled Cider, Fried Green Tomatoes and Strawberry-Banana Luscious Salad complete “Eat & Explore’s” virtual tour of Buckingham County’s state park.

For more information on James River State Park visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.

FALL FESTIVAL BRUNSWICK STEW

(30 gallons of stew over an open fire)

JoAnne Absher

James River State Park ranger

4 gallons water 2 lb. fat meat

2 lb. beef fat 5 stalks celery, chopped

5 lb. carrots, chopped 2 heads cabbage, chopped

4 lb. green pepper, chopped 5 lb. onion, chopped

20 lb. cooked turkey, 5 lb. cooked pork

meat picked off bones 4 (104-oz.) cans corn

6 (104-oz.) cans tomatoes 3 (108-oz.) cans butterbeans

3 (108-oz.) cans new potatoes 2 sm. bottles Worcestershire sauce

2 lb. sugar 1 lb. salt

pepper, garlic and red cayenne pepper to taste

Secret to success: stir constantly and do not stop. In 30-gallon cast iron pot, add water, fat meat and beef fat; bring to boil. Add celery, carrots, cabbage, bell pepper and onion. Cook 1 hour. Add turkey and pork; boil 1 hour. Add corn and heat to boiling. Add tomatoes and cook 1 hour. Add butterbeans, potatoes, Worcestershire, sugar and salt; lower fire to simmer. Simmer 1 hour. Add seasoning and serve.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

JoAnne Absher

1 lg. egg, lightly beaten 3 med. green tomatoes, 1/2 inch slices

1/2 c. buttermilk 1/2 c. flour, divided

1/2 c. cornmeal 1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper vegetable oil

salt to taste

Combine egg and buttermilk and set aside. In separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Dredge tomato slices in remaining flour and dip in egg mixture. Dredge again in cornmeal mixture. For thicker breading, repeat. Pour oil 1/2 inch deep in large cast iron skillet and heat to 375 degrees. Drop tomatoes into hot oil and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

STRAWBERRY-BANANA LUCIOUS SALAD

Joyce Bailey

James River State Park contact ranger

2 c. boiling water 2 small pkg. strawberry-banana Jello-O

2 lg. ripe bananas, whipped 1 large pkg. frozen strawberries, undrained

1 c. sour cream 1 sm. can crushed pineapple, undrained

pecans, optional

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Add strawberries, pineapple and nuts. Pour 1/2 mixture in mold or glass pan. Chill until slightly set. Pour sour cream on top and add remaining gelatin mixture. Chill until firm.