Right about now, I am oh so ready for spring. I am ready for warmer temperatures, hikes in the woods that reveal signs of a new season with new life, and I am ready for the flavors of spring and the coming summer. To get the season started, my husband and I took off for northwestern Arkansas, to War Eagle Mill, to Hobbs Sate Park and the Ozark Mountains.
The northwestern region of Arkansas is one of my favorite places in the country. There are many rugged and scenic areas here and a great number of them have been set aside by either the state of Arkansas or the federal government as protected natural areas. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, canoeing, and just taking a leisurely walk along a quiet creek are only a few of the many things to do on a visit to this part of the Natural State.
Hobbs State Park
Hobbs State Park is the largest state park in land area in the state of Arkansas. The park is located along the southern shore of Beaver Lake. The lake is man-made, the result of a dam on the White River.
Hobbs was once part of a limestone seabed that is constantly being eroded by the creeks found within the park. There are many springs, seeps and disappearing streams that can be enjoyed on one of the several trails in the park. On our visit to Hobbs we chose the Historic VanWinkle and The Sinking Stream Trails.
The Historic Van Winkle Trail runs along Little Clifty Creek. It is one-half mile long with interpretive panels along the way to explain the history of the Van Winkle homestead, its lumber mill, and raised garden. The mill was burned during the Civil War, but came back to life when the war was over. The history of the Van Winkle family is fascinating and gives us a look at how ordinary citizens lived and endured during the war years.
The trails in the park are varied; some are longer and more strenuous; some are more primitive; and some are designed for horseback riding. Walking the Van Winkle Trail and the Sinking Stream Trail, also one-half mile long, was easy and still provided us with some good exercise…and we did finally get a small peek of the spring to come. You can learn more about the park by visiting http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/hobbsstateparkconservationarea/#.Uy8pkLROV9a. Below are some pictures I took of the promises of new life we saw along the way.
War Eagle Mill
War Eagle Mill is located on War Eagle Creek in War Eagle, Arkansas. It is right down the road from Hobbs State Park on Arkansas highway 12. A grist mill was built here by Sylvanus and Catherine Blackburn in 1832 to grind corn into flour for their family and for the families in the community. Farmers from the surrounding area would bring their grain to be ground at War Eagle because it was much closer than the mill to which they had been traveling. Over the years the mill had to be rebuilt several times. It was destroyed by flood in 1848, left in ruins during the Civil War, and burned down in 1924. But each time it was rebuilt and restored to working order, serving the nearby community. War Eagle Mill is presently operated by Marty and Elise Roenigk and provides organic, non-GMO natural products on site or by mail. The mill is the only working mill in Arkansas and is believed to be using the only undershot water wheel in the United States today. You can learn more about the mill and mill products by visiting their site at http://www.wareaglemill.com.
So, after a good walk in the woods, it was on to the War Eagle Mill to buy some bread flour for the very best white bread recipe I have ever used. Several years ago I purchased a bread bowl at War Eagle and I love to make breads in it for special treats, occasions, or special meals. Right now, I wanted it to enjoy with sweet… yes, it reminds me of spring…Blueberry Lemon Curd.
Blueberry Lemon Curd
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2 cups blueberries-I use the ones I picked and froze last season
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 eggs, beaten
Put the berries and the juice of 1/2 lemon in a saucepan. Bring this to boil over a medium heat, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the juice has cooked out of the blueberries. Put the berries through a fine mesh strainer. This will give you between 3/4 and 1 cup of juice.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar together in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Mixing the eggs and sugar before adding the other ingredients will begin to warm the eggs and keep them from curdling when you add the warm juice. Add the blueberry juice and lemon zest and whisk until they are well combined with the eggs and sugar.
Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk the mixture occasionally, especially toward the end of cooking. After about 35 to 40 minutes, the curd should coat the back of a spoon. At this point you should remove it from the heat.
Pour the curd mixture into a jar and refrigerate. You can avoid a skin forming on top of the curd by placing a piece of plastic wrap over the surface until it is cold–about one hour. Enjoy!