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  • I work in grams, even at home, so measurements given in cups, tablespoons, etc. are approximate. There are lots of great, accurate, inexpensive scales available, and using one not only guarantees consistent results, it's faster and much cleaner. Just think about the sticky horror of measuring a cup of honey or molasses. A scale eliminates this, and so many other cooking frustrations.

  • Many recipes will insist you use kosher or sea salt, avoiding table salt because it might contain ((gasp!)) iodine, and result in an off flavor. I burden you with no such edicts. If you have iodized table salt, you know it. It says "Iodized" right on the container. If it doesn't say "Iodized," it isn't. Moreover, I've found that iodized salt will generally not produce a weird flavor in most things, and you can use it freely. My greater caveat would be that coarse kosher salt does not always dissolve well, and can produce little "pops" of salt flavor in your final product. Sometimes you want this (I like it in caramel things), sometimes you don't (I don't like it in pancakes, or sorbets).

  • Get an oven thermometer. Very often, a problem with a baked good is the result not of poor mixing or haphazard measuring, but of an oven being hotter or cooler than you or the oven thinks it is. A difference of 25 degrees can determine whether your cookies will spread or puff, whether your muffins will be flat or domed, whether your brownies will take 40  minutes and be moist and fudgy, or will take 60 minutes and have rock-hard edges. Oven thermometers are a rare breed in stores of late; your best bet may be to buy one online. Note that sometimes your oven does hold an accurate temperature, it just takes longer to get there than you think it will.

Hiking Resources:
  • Tim Ernst's collection of guides to the wonders of the Ozarks are invaluable. If you were to purchase just one, I'd recommend Arkansas Waterfalls. If you're really looking to build a good collection, Arkansas Hiking Trails and Buffalo River Hiking Trails are also good bets. Note that the books haven't gotten an update in some time, and some specific details are no longer accurate: there are now trails where there weren't at publication time, landmarks have changed or are missing, etc., but the overall information is solid, and, in many cases his driving directions are a better bet than your driving app's.

  • For those not setting out alone, and/or for those not up for whatever a trail may bring, Jim Warnok's Five-Star Trails: The Ozarks is a MUST. Each trail is rated according to its scenery, trail condition, solitude, suitability for children, and overall difficulty. Detailed descriptions of each trail, and Jim's wonderful photographs mean this is the book to own if you need to "know before you go."

  • Mr. Warnock also maintains a great blog www.ozarkmountainhiker.com  Jim has hiked the entirety of the OHT (Ozarks Highland Trail), and is active on the local trails and in the hiking community. It's not uncommon for me to run into Mr. Warnock at events or out on the trail.

  • If you're here to chase waterfalls you'll need to consult Rick Henry's blog as well as Mr. Ernst's book mentioned above. Rick includes detailed trail descriptions and photographs, as well as lots of GPS coordinates and information on whether the trail is suitable for your dog and/or motorcycle! http://henry411.blogspot.com/

  • For information regarding "the locals," the Arkansas Native Plant Society is a wealth of information. The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission is also a good source of information, and also maintain several "natural areas," many of which you can visit.

  • AllTrails, both the mobile phone app and the desktop site, is a great way to find out about trails in a given area. Most of the trails listed are in the US, but some international trails are listed as well. Not EVERY trail in the Ozarks is listed here, but many are. Always double-check the information on AllTrails with another source - the park website or facebook page, a hiking guide, or local outdoors business - as the site information is gathered and reported by users, and things like park closures or trail conditions are often not updated.