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Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley

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Blooms, Mushrooms, Big Booms . . . and a Cat!

Even though we can’t travel anywhere just yet, there is no better time to start adding locations to our travel bucket list. We’ll be hitting the road before you know it so start making some plans!


The Greater Wilmington and Brandywine Valley, is a truly beautiful corner of the world. For those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit, this would be the time of year to do it … if we could leave our homes. Since we can’t be there physically, we wanted to share some virtual snippets of why this little intersection of Delaware and Pennsylvania is such a treasure.

The Blooms

This region is part of the area nicknamed “America’s Garden Capital.” The flowers that bloom here are total stunners, and there are six beautiful public gardens within just a 12-mile radius

This is a botanical destination where the commitment to natural landscapes was passed down from generation to generation of the Du Pont family, which arrived here from France in the late 1700s and became one of the richest American families by the mid-19th century.

Their various properties – Longwood GardensWinterthur Museum, Garden and Library; the Mt. Cuba CenterHagley Museum & Library; and Nemours Estate – each boast amazing gardens and each one tells part of the story of this fascinating family that loved and preserved natural beauty.

Here are a few images of spring blooms in the area. Things get truly amazing right around Mother’s Day, so you’re getting a sneak preview of the beauty yet to come.

wilmington and brandywine valley

The pink tulips are in Longwood Gardens right now, the little white rue-anemones are currently blooming at Mt. Cuba Center, and those purple and yellow violets are at Winterthur.

The Mushrooms

This region isn’t just known for growing incredible flowers. The little town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is nicknamed the“Mushroom Capital of the World” thanks to its major crop.

With more than a million pounds of mushrooms harvested each year, Kennett Square is responsible for half of all mushrooms grown and distributed throughout the United States!

Locals and visitors make a sport of trying to figure out which restaurant has the very best mushroom soup. Our vote goes to Buckley’s Tavern in nearby Centreville, Delaware.

If you happen to have some mushrooms on hand, you can try to make their version at home.

Yield: 1 gallon

Buckley’s Tavern Amazing Mushroom Soup

Buckley’s Tavern Amazing Mushroom Soup

Comfort food at it's finest!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1½ cups (1 large) onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1½ cups diced celery
  • 1 nice sprig of rosemary, leaves stripped from stem
  • 3 pounds white mushrooms
  • 3 pounds crimini mushrooms
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 ounces vegetable base
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons corn starch
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • Fried leek strips, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

    1. Melt butter in stock pot.
    2. Add onion, garlic, celery and rosemary leaves.
    3. Sweat the vegetables over medium heat until translucent.
    4. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes.
    5. Add water and vegetable base.
    6. Bring to a simmer and cook until mushrooms are tender.
    7. In a bowl, add corn starch to a small amount of water to make a slurry.
    8. Add the slurry to the mushroom mixture to thicken.
    9. Puree the soup by using a stick blender.
    10. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
    11. Finish with heavy cream.
    12. Garnish with fried leek strips.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1 gallon

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2230Total Fat: 138gSaturated Fat: 84gTrans Fat: 4gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 403mgSodium: 6757mgCarbohydrates: 212gFiber: 44gSugar: 84gProtein: 86g

AnOpenSuitcase.com offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. The information comes from online calculators. Although we attempt to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients you use.

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The Boom

Let’s get back to the Du Ponts for a minute. When their patriarch, Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, arrived in the colonies, he set about making gunpowder in a mill along the banks of the Brandywine River. 

Yes, they had an explosion or two. Or 228, if we’re sharing all the facts. Despite those dramas, they eventually figured it all out and the Du Ponts became one of the wealthiest families in the United States, achieving great success in the chemical and automotive industries.

It all began at a rustic mill beside a beautiful river, and today that historic site is preserved as Hagley Museum & Library.

Though Hagley is currently closed, its historian, Lucas Clawson, takes visitors behind the scenes in a video series called “Hagley from Home.” He reveals secrets from Hagley’s Manuscripts and Archives department, and considering how influential the duPonts were, you can imagine they got their hands on some pretty amazing information from other captains of industry.

Here’s Lucas talking about some unexpected things you might find in the manuscript collection:

The Cat

Meet the favorite cat in all of Delaware, Dude. He’s part of the staff of the Delaware Museum of Natural History, where he comes to work each day with Chris Hayden, the museum’s Director of Facilities.

wilmington and brandywine valley

Chris found Dude near a trash bin behind the museum on March 8, 2008, adopted him, and the cat quickly became a fixture around the place, perhaps intrigued by the facility’s collection of 113,000 bird specimens

The Museum of Natural History, which opened in 1972, has long been planning a “Museum Metamorphosis” that will begin later this year. The physical building will be closed until January 2022, when it will reopen for its 50th anniversary as a much more interactive museum. That means that the staff already had a jump on creating a series of virtual programs so museum fans could continue to “visit” the facility even during construction. 

Chris is an essential employee, so he and Dude go to the museum every day; but, Chris says, Dude misses his coworkers and all the guests. But if he gets lonely, Chris can just connect Dude virtually to watch the latest programs, checking out behind-the-scenes tours, live animal demonstrations, and story time. (Dude loves books. He’s even authored five of his own, and they’re sold in the museum store.)

Dude is beloved by museum staff and visitors alike. He has his own Facebook page, and he’s honored at a big birthday bash every March. In fact, his 12th birthday was celebrated with a smaller-than-usual party on March 8, just before we all began sheltering in place.

wilmington and brandywine valley
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