Savoring Kentucky

It's good all over.

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Enjoy weekly Hot Water Cornbread podcasts and recipes.

Savoring Kentucky showcases the wonders of Kentucky's food, farms, farmers, restaurants, chefs, distillers, brewers, orchards and markets. We applaud local food, its producers and champions. We delight in news of improvements in food and food systems. We take pleasure in fine food. We thank our wondrous sponsors for supporting our work and local goodness all around.

Harriet Dupree: Caterer Extraordinare, Entrepreneur, Champion of Good Causes: HWC-2011-11-21

Listen to this episode here.

The fabulous Harriet Dupree in the WLXU studio at Lexington Community Radio. Photo credit Ouita Michel.

The fabulous Harriet Dupree in the WLXU studio at Lexington Community Radio. Photo credit Ouita Michel.

Listen to this delicious show featuring people who know more about food—and Kentucky food—than all the rest of us put together. Harriet Dupree started a soup and sandwich business in college and tried other work after college, but hated it. Her parents, unlike many, cheered when she declared her intention to go to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in London. She worked as a private chef for a former governor and a former Miss America, helped develop recipes for commercial ready-to-cook chicken, co-owned a fast casual chicken restaurant, launched and sold a meal preparation franchise, and played the leadership role in raising funds to expand and stabilize Lexington's crucial Living Arts and Science Center.

More than anything, though, Harriet built her catering company, Dupree Catering, into the very definition of excellence, flavor, and style. Ouita once worked for Harriet, a subject that comes up during the show. Harriet shares experiences, stories, and food how-to generously on this episode.

Enjoy.

Mick Jeffries: Cocktail Wisdom And Holiday Tips 2017: HWC-2017-11-14

Listen to this episode here.

Mick Jeffries on the other side of the studio desk, guesting at Hot Water Cornbread. Mick hosts the long-running WRFL (88.1) radio show Trivial Thursdays every Thursday from 7 - 9 AM.

Mick Jeffries on the other side of the studio desk, guesting at Hot Water Cornbread. Mick hosts the long-running WRFL (88.1) radio show Trivial Thursdays every Thursday from 7 - 9 AM.

Mick Jeffries started mixing things together when he got a chemistry set as a kid. He hoped for exciting things to happen, and—once he grew up a little and pointed his prodigious brain in the direction of drinkable alcohol—that's what happened. Mick has paid exquisite attention to the world of cocktails for decades. Here he shares an hour's worth of inside knowledge, helping all of us navigate the confusing, sometimes scary world of mixed adult drinks.

Listen for cocktail recipes, including classics fitting for holiday tastebuds. Mick shares tips on the ingredients that MUST be fresh and/or homemade, and advice on how to afford to serve cocktails to friends (think "bottom shelf") -- and why it's so worth doing. 

Enjoy Mick!

 

Steven Clem: Clem's Refrigerated Foods—HWC-2017-11-07

Listen to this episode here.

Co-host Chris Michel can't believe his good fortune: perfect Kentucky country ham, a gift from guest Steven Clem. Served crudo. Yep: raw. Photo credit: Ouita Michel

Co-host Chris Michel can't believe his good fortune: perfect Kentucky country ham, a gift from guest Steven Clem. Served crudo. Yep: raw. Photo credit: Ouita Michel

Steven Clem came to the studio to talk about Clem's Refrigerated Foods, a business his grandparents started that serves a crucial function in the central Kentucky food economy: distribution and USDA processing. Steven brought with him something important to him: country ham, cured as his grandfather had taught him—a personal passion, not a Clem's sale item. Exquisitely cured country ham like Steven's makes any chef ecstatic, and some ecstasy may have been poured onto the airwaves during this episode.

Steven also talked about the challenges facing a small company like Clem's. Ouita underscored the importance of processors and distributors who care about and commit to Kentucky producers, as Clem's does. The challenges of ground beef—particularly important to Clem's customers—will surprise listeners and make us all more grateful for the delicious meat inside our favorite burger buns. Steven also shares a short list of his favorite burgers in Lexington—so you have lots of reasons to listen.

Enjoy this episode!

Ruth Hunt Candies: Larry Kezele and Tobby Moore: HWC-2017-10-24

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From left: Tobby Moore, Chris Michel, Larry Kezele

From left: Tobby Moore, Chris Michel, Larry Kezele

Ruth Tharpe Hunt founded a specialty candy store in Mount Sterling, Kentucky in 1921. Her candies and her efforts helped Ruth Hunt Candies succeed and expand, even through the Depression years. In 1988, Larry Kezele became the third owner of this storied business when he bought the company from Ruth Hunt's daughter, Ms. Emily Peck, who had literally grown up within the business and ran it until she was 70 years old.

When he was 16, Tobby Moore began working for Larry in Lexington, eventually moving to Ruth Hunt to handle many physical plant challenges—along with whatever else was needed. Today Tobby is a minority partner in the business. 

In addition to the fun of talking sweets with Larry and Tobby, and we got to taste a new dark chocolate hemp bark they are making for Laura's Hemp Chocolates, a recent enterprise of Laura Freeman, founder of Laura's Lean Beef. We also demolished a box of Larry's favorites: chocolate wrapped cubes with centers like peanut butter and mint that melt away magically in one's happy mouth. 

The present day candies and confections from Ruth Hunt sustain Ruth Hunt's commitment to quality, as stated on the company website: 

Each product is made with the finest ingredients such as real whipping cream, dairy butter and freshly roasted nuts. The rich chocolate used has no additives like wax.

In addition to heritage offerings like pulled cream candy, the current owners have added new sweets, particularly ones flavored with bourbon, Kentucky’s favorite spirit.

This whole episode is sweet!

The Foods of Fall 2017

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Winter squash, inside and out

Winter squash, inside and out

Chef Ouita LOVES fall and winter foods. So we devote a full episode to them, starting with roasting chicken. Squashes, chestnuts, greens...we consider them, offer tips, and generally salivate over the goodness of Kentucky's beautiful foods. 

The foods that bring fall to the plate—squashes, chestnuts and fall greens, for example—star in this week’s episode. Enjoy tips, recipes, and stories about fall foods from Chef Ouita Michel and her two co-hosts.

Vinaigrette Salad Kithchen: HWC-2017-10-17

Listen to this episode here.

From left, Bryce Anderson, Ouita Michel, Chris Michel, Susannah Sizemore. Bryce and Susannah are two of the founders of Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen.

From left, Bryce Anderson, Ouita Michel, Chris Michel, Susannah Sizemore. Bryce and Susannah are two of the founders of Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen.

Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen brightens and lightens Kentucky's local food restaurant scene, especially in the fast and casual category. Their delicious salads, soups, grain bowls, lemonades and popsicles have ardent followers, and with good reason: they taste wonderful, are priced reasonably, and often include ingredients grown nearby.

Two of the five founders came to the Lexington Community Radio studios to talk about their purpose-driven restaurants, and a bit about their other ventures as well. Susannah Sizemore and Bryce Anderson describe their motivations, praise the Vinaigrette team and share the experiences they have had launching a complex business from scratch.

The Vinaigrette crew chose a challenging kind of business—fresh, handmade salads and bowls—that was new for their market. Their commitment to contribute to the local farm economy by buying locally grown ingredients like chicken and blackberries both sets Vinaigrette apart and challenges its owners. Local ingredients typically cost more, and steady supplies can be hard to establish.

Hot Water Cornbread salutes this young, growing company. We wish them every success as they open their fifth location soon. It will be at 3735 Palomar Center Drive in Lexington.

PS: Rona recommends the Vinaigrette patio at 2200 War Admiral Way in Lexington. See why below.

Vinaigrette's patio in the Hamburg shopping area, Lexington, Kentucky.

Vinaigrette's patio in the Hamburg shopping area, Lexington, Kentucky.

Joyce Nethery, Jeptha Creed Distillery HWC-2017-09-26

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Joyce Nethery and her daughter Autumn own and operate Jeptha Creed Distillery, which Ouita notes is the ultimate in a value-added farm-based business. Jeptha Creed distinctions do not stop with mother-daughter ownership. The Nether family grows heirloom Bloody Butcher Corn on their Shelby County (Kentucky) family farm; Bloody Butcher contributes to each spirit they distill.

Joyce brought decades of education and work experience in chemistry and industrial scale distillation, and paired that with a passion for the flavors of heirloom foods. Her interest in heirlooms began with a search for delicious tomatoes, and moved to other vegetables, eventually including an heirloom corn touted for its deliciousness in cornbread. Now the distillery sells several flavors of vodka and moonshine infused with Kentucky flavors, while 500 barrels of bourbon rest and age, picking up flavors as they go from moonshine to bourbon that will sell in future years. Upcoming? Possibly pawpaw brandy as well as sorghum-based rum, and gin.

Enjoy this episode!

Top left photo by Rona Roberts. All others provided by Jeptha Creed.

Leslee Macpherson and Brynne Bowden, Honeywood Managers

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Honeywood Restaurant manager Leslee Macpherson (left) and assistant manager Brynne Bowden talk hospitality, Kentucky sourced cocktails and bourbon. They share their personal favorite bourbons, talk about bourbon seasonality, and offer tips for people tiptoeing up to bourbon for the first time. Stepping past bourbon, we learn about exciting new Kentucky spirits infused with native botanicals, and get a few craft beer tips, too. Co-host Ouita Michel says Brynne and Leslee represent the new generation of restaurant leaders in Lexington—and they do it so well!

 

Martine's Pastries, with Martine and Jim Holzman, 9-5-17

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Martine and Jim Holzman own Martine's Pastries, a storied business in Lexington, Kentucky. Hall of Fame Baker Martine Holzman grew up in a tiny French village, where her father farmed with a draft horse and tended an orchard and vineyard along with vegetables, rabbits, chickens and more. Family dinners on her farm sounds just the way we expect real French food to sound: a soup—perhaps potato-leek, then a small piece of fish, perhaps with beurre blanc; a small piece of meat, perhaps in wine sauce; then always a salad with vinaigrette dressing; then a tray of cheeses (Martine was the family's designated cheese selector) and a dessert. Every night. These were homemade meals, prepared from food grown on their farm or nearby (except for the cheeses). 

Martine and her husband and business partner Jim tell us how they met, describe their families’ responses to their cross-Atlantic union, and explain a bit about the likely source of Martine’s gift for fine cakes, pastries and confections. For their welcome presence in Kentucky we can thank Jim’s interest in the world class rock climbing at our spectacular Red River Gorge.

Martine launched fabled Martine’s Pastries in 1999. Jim joined her in the business in 2001, taking a one-year sabbatical from his commercial real estate business, and then he stayed with Martine's. These two wonderful people also preview their upcoming expansion into a full-service café in Lexington’s renewing East End.

Enjoy all the sweetness of this episode.

Photos provided by Martine's. Thank you.

The Foods of Protest and Resistance: HWC 8-22-17

Listen to this episode here.

Rosa Parks's pancake recipe, included among her papers now at the Library of Congress

Rosa Parks's pancake recipe, included among her papers now at the Library of Congress

Ms. Rosa Parks, a powerful resister, made pancakes that included peanut butter—identified by a present-day activist as favored food of marchers and protestors. What other foods fuel resistance and protest? In this episode, we explore, report, and consider.

 

Carrie McIntosh and Ashton Potter Wright: Leaders in Kentucky's Agriculture and Food Economy

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For this episode, guests Carrie McIntosh and Ashton Potter Wright joined Chris and Ouita in the WLXU studio, bringing together one of Kentucky's most venerable champions of agriculture—the Fayette County Farm Bureau Federation—with one of the newest, Bluegrass Farm to Table. These two groups, along with Fayette Alliance and the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) will host a four-course, locally sourced, Italian influenced dinner in the vineyard at Grimes Mill Winery on August 19. Chef Ouita will be in charge of the food, which will served with wines from Grimes Mill Winery and beer from West Sixth Brewing. Buy tickets for the Field to Table dinner here. The dinner benefits FoodChain.

In addition, Carrie described the work of the Farm Bureau in advocacy and education for agriculture. Ashton updated listeners on the work of Bluegrass Farm to Table, particularly the new Kentucky Double Dollars program that benefits local farmers and SNAP recipients by extending the amounts SNAP recipients in several parts of Kentucky have available for buying locally grown foods.

Enjoy!

Ouita Cooks For Wendell At Hindman Settlement School-A Kentucky Food Story: HWC-2017-08-01

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Chris Michel designed this menu showcasing the Kentucky wonders included in a meal Chef Ouita, Chris and others cooked for Wendell Berry and 200 guests at Hindman Settlement School. The occasion: the 40th anniversary of the Appalachian Writers' Workshop.

Chris Michel designed this menu showcasing the Kentucky wonders included in a meal Chef Ouita, Chris and others cooked for Wendell Berry and 200 guests at Hindman Settlement School. The occasion: the 40th anniversary of the Appalachian Writers' Workshop.

Ouita and Chris describe in detail a celebratory Appalachian/Kentucky meal made with Kentucky ingredients. People cried over the taste of the heritage slow-cooked green beans—and you can learn exactly how to cook them yourself (tears optional but welcome). Ouita and Chris share several other recipes from the meal, including a boiled dressing that elevates coleslaw to the regions of the sublime.

Wendell Berry delivered the keynote address for the occasion, the 40th anniversary of the Appalachian Writers' Workshop at Hindman Settlement School. Ouita tells the story of the Hindman Settlement School and its impact on Kentucky. She describes Wendell's life and work as an inspiration, and compares the physical work of farming with the physical work in restaurant kitchens. She reads a Wendell Berry poem. She defines Kentucky and Appalachian cuisine. And she lays out a philosophy about the way to keep a cuisine fresh and lively, through honoring the basics while adding sparks of current flavors and new cuisines coming into Kentucky and Appalachia. Listen and learn, too, about the effort required to feed 200 people the finest food from their own place.

Enjoy this powerful episode.

Mick Jeffries Shakes Up July 4 With Cocktail Techniques and Tips: HWC-2017-07-04

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Mick Jeffries with one of his many passions: ukelele.

Mick Jeffries with one of his many passions: ukelele.

Mick Jeffries helped launch both UK's WRFL 88.1 and Lexington Community Radio's WLXU 93.9 and WLXL 95.7. He teaches ukelele and has led the ukelele renaissance in Lexington. He is a graphic designer, photographer, and oral historian. Sometimes he deejays, one hears. And hosts fantastic parties. He has made a sustained study of cocktails, and how best to make and enjoy them. He hosts his own radio show for two hours each week, WRFL's Trivial Thursdays, from 7 - 9 AM ET, but he still agreed to be Rona's guest on Hot Water Cornbread.

Learn about the simplest, best cocktail to make at home, and how to make it excellent (it's not about money.) Get suggestions for components to make at home. And learn new ways with bourbon. All in moderation, always a Mick principle.

It was fun. Enjoy!

Mick Jeffries hosting Trivial Thursdays in the WRFL studio at the University of Kentucky.

Mick Jeffries hosting Trivial Thursdays in the WRFL studio at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. John van Willigen Applies Anthropology to Kentucky Food and the Wide World: HWC-2017-07-11

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Dr. John van Willigen, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Kentucky, and author of textbooks, monographs and popular food and cultural studies.

Dr. John van Willigen, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Kentucky, and author of textbooks, monographs and popular food and cultural studies.

While Ouita and Chris travel, Rona talks with Dr. John van Willigen about his life and work as an applied anthropologist. John's interests have led him to study Wisconsin-brewed Kikkoman soy sauce, work with the Tohono O’Odham Nation in Arizona, document Kentucky's tobacco farming and family farm life, and chronicle Kentucky's community cookbooks. One of his current arenas of research and writing involves learning what people ate in Kentucky from about 1750 to 1820, when the steamboats arrived (and brought oysters, along with much change.)

Bravetart—Stella Parks, Pastry Chef and Writer: HWC-2017-06-20

Listen to this episode here.

Here comes a fantastic new cookbook by Kentuckian Stella Parks! Release date August 15, 2017 (also the birthday of Chef Ouita Michel and Saint Julia Child)

Here comes a fantastic new cookbook by Kentuckian Stella Parks! Release date August 15, 2017 (also the birthday of Chef Ouita Michel and Saint Julia Child)

Stella Parks gratified as many of the wishes of the Hot Water Cornbread crew as she possibly could in one short hour (minus our worthy PSAs and sponsor spots). Chef Ouita and Stella have a long history, extending back to Stella's high school days—when, Ouita points out, Stella was already famous in Woodford County, Kentucky, for her cookies. 

We talked about what it has been like, making a big, fine cookbook for six years. Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts launches on August 15. Preorder now

Stella shared some of her deep knowledge of vanilla, a crucial pastry ingredient. Listen to her take on when you might appropriately use synthetic vanilla (vanillin from sources other than a vanilla bean), and how to work with vanilla extracts originating in different parts of the world. Hear her take on why vanilla beans, selling at about $300/pound at the moment, are underpriced as well as under-valued. 

We paid respects, 176 years after the fact, to Edmond Albius, a 12-year old slave on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, who discovered how humans can bring about pollination in vanilla beans, a system still in use to produce virtually every precious vanilla bean today.

Enjoy Stella!

Alma Kajtazovic of Sorella Gelateria: HWC-2017-06-13

Listen here to this episode with Alma Kajtazovic of Sorella Gelateria.

From left, Chris Michel, Ouita Michel, Alma Kajtazovic

From left, Chris Michel, Ouita Michel, Alma Kajtazovic

We've admired Alma Kajtazovic for years, for her work to build community as well as her financial and management smarts, used on behalf of arts and good causes. Since December 2015, we have had new reasons for awe and amazement: hazelnut, strawberry, whipped cream, espresso, simply bourbon, caramel latte, mango, raspberry, peach, salted caramel . . . and more flavors of exquisite gelato, served up at Sorella Gelateria, 219. North Limestone in Lexington. Alma and her sister Selma Sulejmanagic own and manage Sorella (which means "sisters" in Italian).

Today we welcomed Alma into the WLXU studio at Lexington Community Radio to talk about her background, how she and Selma divide and share the work of preparing and distributing perfect gelato to both retail and wholesale customers, and what it's like to be chillin' in a new-old space on the fired up culinary corridor of Lexington's Limestone Street.

Enjoy the sweetness!

Chef Jonathan Sanning and the James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project

Enjoy listening to this episode here.

After the show, outside the WLXU studio at Lexington Community Radio, from left, Chef Jonathan Sanning, Rona Roberts, Chris Michel, Chef Ouita Michel

After the show, outside the WLXU studio at Lexington Community Radio, from left, Chef Jonathan Sanning, Rona Roberts, Chris Michel, Chef Ouita Michel

Chef Jonathan Sanning of Smithtown Seafood led Kentucky into the James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project three years ago, creating memorable burger-mushroom concoctions like the Beef WELLington Burger that remain popular on the menu at the restaurant. Ouita calls Jon "Lexington's most creative chef." The Huit-a-Burger he has created for the 2017 Blended Burger national competition demonstrates his imaginative ways of using local ingredients to present delicious flavors drawn from cultures and cuisines around the world.

The Blended Burger Project is a competition, so go eat the fabulous burger (...chorizo seasoning, avocado crema, lime slaw, corn mushroom queso, and so much more) and then vote for the Huit-a-Burger to win the national contest. Munch the burger—or the other wonderful food at Smithtown Seafood—as you listen to Chef Jon tell about becoming a chef and what he values most in his work.

In Our Kitchens: Strawberries and Peanuts--HWC-2017-05-23

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Tasting traditional Strawberry Preserves and Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam in the studios at WLXU-LP FM, 93.9, Lexington Community Radio.

Tasting traditional Strawberry Preserves and Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam in the studios at WLXU-LP FM, 93.9, Lexington Community Radio.

Ideas pile up and longings accumulate in our kitchens, and we want to TALK about them, go more deeply into them, explore them together. This episode indulges that longing and goes deeply into strawberries, including their health benefits, simple preparations, preservation options (both classic and tartly surprising, tasted live in the studio).

Then Chef Ouita brought out the results of her research into the history of the peanut and its culinary travels into our homes, a tale that is so bizarre she couldn't possibly have made it up. We learn, too, about the nature of many of the 105 ways the brilliant Dr. George Washington Carver suggested preparing the peanut for health and happiness.

Enjoy!

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