For years I have heralded the Lighthouse Bakery of Dauphin Island’s King Cake as the favored confection for the Mardi Gras season. The family-owned and -operated business has a golden reputation that stretches far beyond the city limits of a town with no red lights or fast food restaurants, making it a destination eatery for those living in Mobile and an adamant recommendation from locals living on that stretch of paradise. Today we mourn the loss of its founder, Mary Scarcliff, who lost her battle with terminal glioblastoma brain cancer at her home July 25.

An Air Force brat who traveled the world, Miss Mary opened Lighthouse Bakery on the island in 1997 after years of working in physical therapy. Since then the business has seen many changes to the island and weathered many a storm. This is by far the worst of those storms, but thankfully her generous spirit lives on as daughter Christa has been running, and will continue to run, the family business ever since Miss Mary became too ill to work.

After 20 years of serving the southern part of our county we can safely say the Lighthouse Bakery has secured a special spot in our stomachs, just as Mary Scarcliff did in our hearts. I’ll be there soon. Save me a King Cake.

It’s too hot. What’s for dinner? Gazpacho for the win!

The air conditioner is getting a workout. Outside the squirrels are shaving their bushy tails. A mockingbird whistles nothing more than a cry for help. Take to the shade and don’t move, young critters, for it is sweltering, and I’m not turning on that stove. It happens once a year at least. I get fed up with the heat and remind myself of gazpacho.

A cold soup is no match for this climate. I’m sure we could melt an anvil if we set it on asphalt. I’m fond of this Mexican-flavored gazpacho and sometimes add watermelon for a bit of sweetness. It’s great served with crushed tortilla chips or strips and washed down with cold sangria.


1 lb. fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
Juice of a lime
1 cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper and cumin to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro
½ can chickpeas, drained

It’s simple. Mix all ingredients except the cilantro and chickpeas in a large bowl. Next, we decide on consistency. For a thicker, chunkier soup, ladle half of the mixture into a blender and purée until smooth (about 20 seconds) and return to bowl. For a smoother soup, just use an immersion blender or process the whole thing in a blender. Add the chickpeas after processing for a good, crunchy texture. Chill for 2 hours and garnish with cilantro.