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What's French in Kentucky?

All last year I read Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France, as slowly as possible. I rationed myself to a few pages at bedtime, especially on nights when the day had been jangling. I wanted to stretch my visit with Julia's verve and optimism -- as well as all that good food -- across as much time as possible. The wonderful son who gave me the book also gave me the 40th anniversary edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Yesterday I cooked a meal for friends using some of Julia's recipes, and also honoring the French framework of eating fresh local foods, with friends, in courses, with delicious wines. In addition to the tiny snips of chives from our own garden -- Hooray for Spring!!! -- I found quite a few ways to cook with local or organic products.

Coq au vin: Elmwood Stock Farm chickens, my homemade Bluegrass butter, Weisenberger Mill's unbleached flour

Potato-leek soup: local Bluegrass cream; organic russet potatoes bought from Good Foods Market

Lahey-Bittman fabulous "Slow Bread": Weisenberger Mill's bread flour

Roast kale with roast onion rings: organic cavolo nero ("black") kale and organic yellow onions from Good Foods Market

Poached pears in vanilla sauce with winter fruits, creme fraiche, and langues de chat cookies: My homemade Bluegrass creme fraiche, organic pears and dried Montmorency cherries from Good Foods Market, organic sugar, Equus Run American Riesling (locally produced from out-of-state grapes)

Ruth Hunt Bourbon Balls

I served French wines. I don't usually, but two things made a difference. First, the meal itself and curiosity about how the "right" wines for the food would complement and increase our enjoyment. Second, I recently heard an interview with Michael Specter, author of a challenging recent New Yorker article, "Big Foot." To my amazement I learned that for my geographic location in Lexington, Kentucky, the food miles on European wines may be less than those for California wines, partly because of the forms of transportation used to get the wines here. Columbus, Ohio is roughly the dividing line -- from Columbus east, European wines have likely used less carbon getting to us than trucked-in California wines would. This information made it seem less indulgent and earth-averse to buy and drink French wines -- one time. Mostly I try for Kentucky wines, but the search for an affordable, good, daily Kentucky red continues without success -- so far.

The roasted kale recipe below is posted on Elmwood Stockfarm's blog:

Kale Crunch Use for snacking or sprinkling on a savory dish, from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven, 1997 olive oil, a little for the baking tray 1 giant bunch fresh kale, stemmed and minced (about 1 pound) 2-3 T grated Parmesan cheese Preheat the oven to 350. Line a large baking tray with foil and brush or spray with oil. Add the kale, and spread it out as much as possible. Bake for 10 minutes, mixing it up once or twice during that time. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired, and bake for 10-15 minutes until it's as crisp as you like it. The kale will continue to shrink and crisp the longer it bakes. If you watch it closely and stir it often enough, you can get it quite crisp without burning it. Remove from oven, and let cool on tray. Yield: 2-4 cups (depending on cooking time)

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