Savoring Kentucky

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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.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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

Listen to this episode here.

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!

Dr. Ashton Potter Wright of Bluegrass Farm to Table: HWC-2017-05-16

Listen to this episode here.

How terrific to hear of the success of Bluegrass Farm to Table from local food coordinator Ashton Potter Wright. Saying it has taken three years for some initiatives to take root and flower, in this episode Ashton describes progress in increasing access to fresh, locally grown food and tells about new marketing initiatives that are making a real difference in regional farm income.

Enjoy Ashton!

Lexington Farmers Market Leaders Pam Miller (Founder) and Josh England (Manager): HWC-2017-04-25

Listen to this episode here.

From left: Hot Water Cornbread host Rona Roberts, Former Mayor and Lexington Farmers Market founder Pam Miller, Lexington Farmers Market manager Josh England

From left: Hot Water Cornbread host Rona Roberts, Former Mayor and Lexington Farmers Market founder Pam Miller, Lexington Farmers Market manager Josh England

Pam Miller, who has changed Lexington as much as any one person possibly could and to whom we owe the existence of our fine Lexington Farmers Market, is moving to be near children in another Lexington (MA). In this episode, Pam talks about the history of the Market, and current Market Manager Josh England and she talk about its importance and its potential. They talk, too, about family, France (and other parts of the world), and why food matters so much that we should grow and eat it with great care.

Enjoy this episode. Enjoy, too, this fine article about Pam Miller by Beth Musgrave of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Arwen Donahue and David Wagoner of Three Springs Farm: HWC-2017-04-11

Listen to this wonderful show here.

From left: Ouita Michel, Chris Michel, David Wagoner, Arwen Donahue, and Phoebe.

From left: Ouita Michel, Chris Michel, David Wagoner, Arwen Donahue, and Phoebe.

We were honored when Arwen Donahue and David Wagner agreed to lay down their trowels, cover the paints, shelve the musical instruments, park the tiller and drive from Nicholas County to the wonderful studios at Lexington Community Radio. Their Three Springs Farm, established in 1997 in Carlisle, became one of the first to offer CSA subscriptions, and one of the earliest to use organic methods to grow vegetables for sale. 

Listen as they tell us about foods they grow and love to eat, what drew them from intriguing jobs in Washington, D.C. to settle on land that had been in David's family. Learn about the positive new chapter just beginning on their farm.

Corn, Cornmeal and Philip Weisenberger of Historic Weisenberger Mill: HWC-2017-04-04

Listen to Corn, Cornmeal, and Weisenberger Mill's Philip Weisenberger: HWC-2017-04-04. (Click the white arrow in the red circle to play a recording of the show.) 

One of many millstones near Weisenberger Mill, Scott County, Kentucky

One of many millstones near Weisenberger Mill, Scott County, Kentucky

From the excellent Anson Mills (SC) website:

Arguably, corn possesses the most culinary diversity of any grain. From corn flour to very coarse grits, whole hominy to hominy grits, nixtamal to masa to chicas, parch meal to ancient roasting corns—the range of exciting foods within the vast cuisine of corn is astounding. 

Corn had flourished in the Americas for millennia before European settlers came, and came to depend on it. Cornmeal forms the crucial foundation of hundreds of thousands of meals in Kentucky daily. We talked with Philip Weisenberger, a sixth generation miller at historic Weisenberger Mill in Scott County. We learned about the ways the Mill has been sustainably rebuilt and kept operational. We traveled with an imaginary corn kernel (from Kentucky, and non-GMO) as it makes its way from a farm in Hardin or Logan Counties to the top floor at Weisenberger, and down and back multiple times before it's ready for hungry customers. We get Philip's favorite cornbread recipe!

Enjoy the show.

Cathy and Harkey Edwards Keep Harkness Edwards Vineyards Sound Through Fire and Ice: HWC-2017-03-28

From left: Cathy Edwards, Chris Michel, Ouita Michel, Harkey Edwards

From left: Cathy Edwards, Chris Michel, Ouita Michel, Harkey Edwards

Cathy Edwards, who grows the grapes at Harkness Edwards Vineyards, started out growing exactly the wrong grapes for Kentucky. All that effort to plant, prune and weed, and they had to be taken out. Many other experiments with wine grape varieties and much additional painful ripping out and replanting followed. After 14 years, the grapes Cathy has learned both grow well in Clark County soil and make good wine are influencing other wineries that are part of Kentucky's wine-making renaissance. 

Harkey Edwards makes the wines. Initially he and Cathy both farmed and both made wine. It works better, they say, for each to have a decision-making domain. Their three daughters each play a role in the family business as well.

Harkey Edwards, left, and daughter Beth offering Harkness Edwards wines at the 2013 Food and Fiber Festival.

Harkey Edwards, left, and daughter Beth offering Harkness Edwards wines at the 2013 Food and Fiber Festival.

The Harkness Edwards Vineyards experience includes trials by fire as well as ice. In 2013 the winery and large tasting room burned to the ground, destroying everything it housed. The vines remained, but the following winter brought Polar Vortex weather: Arctic cold destroyed two acres of Viognier vines. 

Now, in 2017, Harkey Edwards has been making wine again for almost a year. Sam's Club has begun offering Harkness Edwards Vineyards' "Big Red," a blend of Concord and Vidal Blanc grapes that Harkey calls "a fun wine." Local Liquor Barns and Kroger Wine & Spirits offer wines from the Vineyards. People interested in wine and helping Kentuckians launch vineyards and wineries seek Cathy and Harkey out for guidance on how to move forward without having to learn so much by expensive, frustrating experience.

Enjoy this fun, interesting, inspiring show.

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