You may not think of a salt mine as an exciting place to visit, but I’ll swear otherwise. Here’ ‘s a roundup of four salt mines I feel are worth your time and way more than a grain of that mineral.
Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland
The Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland, earned one of the 12 prestigious spots on the very first UNESCO World Heritage list. Its operations date back to the 13th century, making it one of the most historic and famous salt mines in the world. Operations continued until 2007, more than 750 years. During World War II, the Germans used the mine as an underground facility for war-related manufacturing. Today, it’s primarily a tourist attraction.
As I take my morning walk in Sarasota, Florida, I pass mango trees ripe with fruit. At the end of July and beginning of August, the mangos are in season –so mature they drop from the tree and litter the sidewalk. I picked one up, only slightly bruised, and decided to take it home. That got me inspired to bake.
If you’ve never tasted the golden- peachy stone fruit that bursts with sweet delicious pulp, buy one. Mangoes are high in Vitamin C and A. Mangos are so moist you’ll find juice dripping down your hands. I have heard the best way to eat a mango is naked!
My grocery stores generally sells two types of mangos. While the exact number of mango varieties worldwide is uncertain, there are at least 500 and perhaps as many as 1,000. Many of those grow in India. The mango is the national fruit of Pakistan, India and the Philippines. It is also the national tree of Bangladesh.
My favorite is the thin-skinned, more oblong variety I call a champagne mango (sometimes called honey mangos). They are yellow when ripened and the pit in the center is small compared to other type. The best part is that the flesh is very smooth, without fibers.
In the past, I’ve made mango pie and mango cobbler but never tried to bake a mango cake—until now. The Southern Living website published the following recipe, which I followed, baking the cake for my house guests. This recipe is a Bundt cake, but the texture resembles a moist carrot cake with golden raisins and walnuts, however without cream cheese frosting. My guests declared the dessert a winner, topping it with vanilla ice cream. Why not try it for yourself and see?
If you don’t know how to cut a mango, here is a YouTube video that explains the process in great detail.
• 1 teaspoon orange zest plus 1⁄4 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)
• 1/2 teaspoon lime zest plus 2 tsp. fresh juice (from 1 lime)
1. Prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly oil and flour a 14-cup Bundt pan. Beat eggs in bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in sugar until combined; then beat in oil until combined. Gradually beat in honey.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, to egg mixture, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in mango, nuts, raisins, orange zest, and lime zest. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove to a wire rack, and let stand in pan 10 minutes.
4. Prepare the Topping: While the cake stands in the pan, stir together powdered sugar, orange and lime zest, and orange and lime juice until combined. Invert cake onto a plate. Drizzle Topping evenly over warm inverted cake. (Or make a glaze, stirring together about 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice; pour over cooled cake.) I think I used too much juice in my glaze because it was runny. Tasted good, however.
In the heart of Central Mexico lies an enchanting colonial-era city, Guanajuato. Founded by the Spaniards in the early 16th century, it became the world’s preeminent silver-mining center in the 18th century. Guanajuato’s captivating historic district and famous mines have earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Yet, many have yet to hear of the place. I recently made an extraordinary day trip to Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende and was thoroughly impressed by its beauty and historical significance.
Taking the Bus
I was dropped off at the bus station in San Miquel de Allende and, with a bit of wariness, hopped aboard a public bus. To my surprise, the choice was a luxury option at a bargain price. I found large and roomy seats like those in the first-class section on an airplane. I could recline, use a footrest, and watch a video screen- except everything was in Spanish – which I do not speak. I sat back in comfort and enjoyed the scenery.
A little more than an hour later, the bus pulled into the central station of Guanajuato, and I walked out the door to find a line of waiting taxis. An approximate 10-15 minute cab ride takes one into the historic district. Even though the driver spoke little English, he pointed out the underground tunnels in the old mining town, now subterranean streets. I was fascinated and wanted to explore them, but I had not allotted time. A few mines remain open to tourists, but if lucky, I’ll see them on a return visit.