On Memorial Day weekend, we went to Natural Bridge State Park and Red River Gorge. Both are near my husband’s home. We met his parents and sister (and her family) there and enjoyed the day hiking and seeing the sites. Below are pictures from that trip. Click on them if you want to see them bigger (you do!). If you ever get a chance to go, I encourage it! It is a beautiful place!
Yesterday I asked for people to post the view from their backyard. Here is the first one. It is from my friend Vicki. She lives near Harrodsburg, KY, another great place to visit.
These are morel mushrooms.
They are a special culinary delicacy, going for as much as $50 per pound fresh. As a child, my family and I used to hunt for these special woodland gems. Each family has it’s own secret tricks. In an old apple orchard. In an elm stand, a cedar grove. My grandfather insists that you must place the mushrooms in an old paper sugar sack so they don’t sweat or break down.
The City of Irvine hosts the annual Mountain Mushroom Festival each spring. I went with my good friends, David and Kathryn, and met up with some of their friends. We walked through the booths and looked for goodies.
We discovered the typical fair concession food, including corn dogs, cheese steak sandwiches, and lemonade. And some locally ground grits and cornmeal…. We saw some interestingly dressed people. And a llama. Emu eggs. Random junk sold as treasure.
The Mushroom Festival also featured an Agate Hunt/Gem & Mineral Show. (For those who don’t know what agates are, check out this link.) Aren’t they just lovely?
*The first and fourth photos taken by Kathryn. The rest by me.
When my brother came to visit a couple of weeks ago, we decided to do something outdoors to enjoy what was probably the last pretty weekend of the year. We went to the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, about an hour from my house. The village was home to the Shakers, a religious sect, from 1805 to 1910. The Shakers believed in hard work for the communal good, peace and equality, and celibacy. During our tour of the grounds, we saw their excellent craftsmanship in construction and efficiency. For more about the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, go here or here.
I am a huge believer in local, free entertainment. National, state, and local parks are great sources of fun and exercise. About 30 miles from our house is a wonderful city park called Raven Run Nature Sanctuary; the 735 acres are dedicated to the enjoyment of nature. The pictures below were taken during a 5.5 mile hike I recently took there.
Tiny mushroom on a mossy stump.
A view of the Kentucky River.
A happy little creek.
A honeybee on a goldenrod.
A gorgeous field with native Kentucky fall flowers.
Tobacco, cut and ready to house in the barn.
I hope you enjoyed our little walk as much as I did!
A Bloody Derby may sound a bit odd but I think it is about perfect for Kentucky. This is not the traditional Mint Julep that most will have today. Honestly, I don’t like them. Since it seems you can only get them on Derby Day, I don’t think many other people do either. I really enjoyed this drink. Maybe you can serve it for your next brunch or while you are watching the ponies race this afternoon.
- 4 cubes ice
- 4 oz tomato juice
- 1 1/2 oz bourbon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated horseradish to taste
- 1/4 tsp minced garlic to taste
- Celery salt to taste
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco
- Lemon Juice
- Lime juice
- Celery to garnish
Mix ice, tomato juice, bourbon, horseradish, garlic, salt, pepper, Tabasco, juice of one lemon wedge and juice of one lime wedge in a chilled glass. Garnish with remaining citrus, celery and carrot sticks.
The Kentucky Oaks is a Thoroughbred race held the Friday before the Derby. Also held at Churchill Downs, this race seems like pre-gaming to me, though a $600,000 purse seems a bit bigger that a pre-game.
The Oaks Lilly is the official drink of the race. It is really good! I will certainly keep making this one in the future. It is summery, not too sweet, and tasty. You should try it!
The Oaks Lilly
- 1 oz. Vodka
- 1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
- 3 oz. Cranberry Juice
- Splash of Triple Sec
Once the ingredients are mixed, place the Oaks Lily a glass with crushed ice, add a straw and garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.
Bourbon balls tend to be a Christmas candy. They are so good; I don’t think that anyone will object to these tasty truffles. They are pretty easy to make. Definitely a recipe to add to my repertoire.
Bourbon Truffles (from Cellar Door Chocolates in Louisville, KY)
- 1 pound dark chocolate (55-71%), chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve)
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 cup finely chopped pecans (the original calls for 1 cup but I like them really coated)
Bring heavy whipping cream to a boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth. Add bourbon; stir until well-incorporated. Add salt. Let the chocolate mixture rest at room temperature until firm. (I put mine in the fridge for about an hour).
Using two spoons, portion out balls of ganache, about the size of a walnut. Hand roll balls until smooth and then roll it in the pecans. Makes about 40 truffles.
This recipe is artery clogging, greasy, cheesy, delicious, and Southern. It looks daunting to create but really isn’t that hard. Though it may be a Kentucky recipe, the average Kentuckian does not serve this daily. It is reserved for those special moments like the Derby or a trip to Keeneland (who has a great hot brown I am told).
The Kentucky Hot Brown (from the Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 16 oz. heavy cream
- 1/2 Cup pecorino romano cheese, plus enough to garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast
- 2 slices of Texas Toast, prepared according to package directions
- 4 slices of crispy bacon
- 2 tomatoes, sliced in half
In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For each Hot Brown, place two slice of toast in a cast iron skillet and cover each piece of bread with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of the tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top (oops! my bacon is hidden by cheese sauce), sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.
This bottle was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law.
This Reisling won a bronze medal at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It is easy to taste why. The flavor is crisp, fruity, and smooth going down.
A delicious summery drink, this white is not too sweet but not too dry. For $12.99, this is an excellent bottle. I look forward to trying other wines in Lovers Leap’s collection.
Lovers Leap is a winery near Lawrenceburg, KY, that has several other wines including a Vidal Blanc, Merlot, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. According to their website, they use only Kentucky grapes in their wines. Started in 2001, the winery has the capacity to produce over 30,000 gallons in steel tanks with an additional 10,000 in oak barrels (KY Tourism site).
This winery is proof that Kentucky has a wine industry just as good as its bourbon. Bravo!