[Review] The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook belongs in every home in the Bluegrass State

Maggie Green’s The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook is the only cookbook that has ever migrated from my kitchen into my bedroom.

There’s just too much interesting material to keep this book near the stove.

The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook is filled to the margins with everything you need to know about food and cooking in Kentucky. Green, a dietitian and culinary specialist originally from Lexington, expresses an appreciation and love of Kentucky’s culinary side throughout the 368 pages of The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook. Green’s plainspoken writing, from the anecdotes accompanying many of the more-than-200 recipes to the step-by-step instructions for each dish, is injected with a contagious passion for food that makes her first book an engaging work. Her easy-to-follow style will appeal to all levels of cooking expertise.

Green’s emphasis on buying local food and seasonal produce is one of my favorite components of The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook. Green is very commonsense about the importance and ease of eating locally at a time when the message can get lost in pretension. The most effective way Green teaches about seasonal, local cooking is by separating her recipes by the month in which the main ingredients are in season. For example, a recipe for oven-baked pumpkin butter is in the October chapter, while a recipe for rhubarb crisp with granola topping is in the May chapter. The book also provides an index of Kentucky farms and food producers and charts showing the availability of seasonal produce. These components can help any Kentuckian incorporate more local food into their recipes.

And the recipes, by the way, are good. Very good. Green covers every meal of the day, along with providing menu ideas for bigger gatherings, such as the Kentucky Derby or Oktoberfest. I have waited to review The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook for a couple of months until I could actually make some of the dishes. Sometimes, I felt like Green wrote this cookbook just for me. Most of her recipes include basic pantry items that I usually have on hand. So far, nothing out of the cookbook has been difficult to prepare. The dishes aren’t super fancy or intimidating, and that’s how I like them. All of the creations seem to be destined for a family dinner, a holiday party, or a backyard barbecue, food that is to be enjoyed with the people you love.

My favorite dish so far is the Crunchy Pecan Granola. I’ve made it twice, and there’s a request for round three. Each batch makes seven to eight cups, so granola used sparingly and kept in an airtight container has lasted about a month in my two-person household.

Crunchy Pecan Granola

(from The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (I’ve substituted walnuts and almonds and it tastes great)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or flax seed oil
  • 1/4 cup Kentucky sorghum or molasses
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup or Kentucky honey
  • 1 cup raisins or dried peaches or cherries, optional (I’ve used a mix of golden and regular raisins — DELICIOUS)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pecans, cinnamon and salt. Toss the mixture with the oil, sorghum and maple syrup.
  3. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and stir in the optional dried fruit and coconut.
  5. Cool and store in an airtight container.

(Buy your own copy of The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook here. Learn more about Green and her company, The Green Apron Company, here.)

Bits and pieces: Snoop Dogg, food allergy cure and other food news from the web, 10.17.11

 

  • An artist in California replaced some cereal boxes in a grocery store with his own take on what the product really mean. As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the “Sugar Frosted Fat,” aka Frosted Flakes. (Popaganda)
  • A British woman just gave up her Diet Coke addiction. She apparently drank 14 two-liters of the good stuff each week. I guarantee a relapse if Cherry Coke Zero ever hits her lips. (Mail Online)
  • Folks with food allergies: Scientists are closer to finding a way to cure what ails you. (CBS News)
  • Reason #21 why I want to sign any future daughters up for Girl Scouts: The group now has a “Locavore” badge, along with badges for financial literacy and website design. Can I work toward those badges as an adult? (LA Weekly)
  • Rapper Snoop Dogg is obsessed with the world’s largest turnip. This goes under the “Can’t Make This Up” file. (Gawker)

Graeter’s buy one, get one free sundaes make me wish for rain

My strawberry sundae, courtesy of Graeter's.

 

The month is halfway over, but I had to share this sweet deal before April ends.

Graeter’s, a delicious Cincinnati-based ice cream chain with several locations in Louisville, is offering buy one, get one free sundaes on any day that it rains in April. That’s right – two sundaes for the price of one to cheer you up on a rainy day. Heck yeah.

My buddy Beth introduced me to this deal after a great dinner at Cafe Lou Lou in the Highlands, which is right across from a Graeter’s store. She had the hot fudge, while I ordered a classic strawberry. It made my belly happy.

The forecast calls for a chance of rain all week, so I would shuffle on into a Graeter’s ASAP. Bring a friend to share the wealth.

My top 12 foods that everyone likes

One food that everyone likes -- pancakes.

SFoodie, a great food blog from SF Weekly, recently published a blog post about the top five foods everyone likes: chocolate, NY-style pizza, ice cream, pie and french fries.

I wholeheartedly agree with the list.

But this just scraps at the surface of go-to staples in an American diet.

With the help of my uncle and my mom (the two people available who were as interested in this list as I was), I compiled a list of the additional foods I think everyone likes.

  1. Bacon
  2. Chicken
  3. Muffins
  4. Macaroni and cheese
  5. Lasagna
  6. Toast
  7. Cereal
  8. Popcorn
  9. Pancakes
  10. Oreos
  11. Pizza, in general
  12. A nice burger (includes beef, turkey, veggie, bison)

Think you have a better food for the list? Comment away.