It’s time to bid a final ‘aloha’ to our tropical paradise in Hawaii and make the long trip back to the contiguous forty-eight to the land of horses, bourbon and bluegrass in Kentucky. As an added bonus this week, through absolutely no doing of my own (thanks alphabetical order!) we hit Kentucky during the week when all eyes will be in it for Saturday’s 140th running of the Kentucky Derby! So pull out your fancy duds and most elaborate hats as we get ready to “Race for the Roses” during our own journey through Kentucky this week.
Kentucky’s nickname is the “Bluegrass State” but don’t worry, the grass isn’t a different hue in Kentucky. Bluegrass is actually green but has buds that are purple in the spring that can look blue in certain sunlight. The fields of bluegrass are idea for one of Kentucky’s most prized contributions to the nation; thoroughbred horses. Kentucky is known for its horse breeding, racing and training facilities. It is home to Churchill Downs where they run the Kentucky Derby (which is the oldest annual horse race in the nation) as well as the Kentucky Horse Parka 1,032 acre park where visits can learn about the state and its horses, 40 different breeds of which are on display. Thoroughbreds (which are considered to be the best breed for racing) were brought to Kentucky before it even became a state.
Though I only spent a brief night discussing it with the kiddos, if grasses and horses aren't up your alley (and you’re of age!) a trip to Kentucky may be in order if you enjoy a fine bourbon. Bourbon is a special bled or whiskey created in Kentucky that is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years (for straight bourbon). The Kentucky Bourbon Trail runs through the state allowing visits to travel to many of the distilleries located in Kentucky. Another adult product, tobacco, is important to Kentucky’s economy. Coal mining is also important to the state, though the environmental impacts have led Kentucky to reduce production in the recent years.
But don’t worry, there were plenty of family friendly highlights to fill my duo in on tonight. Being the baseball loving family we are, we of course had to discuss the creation of the Louisville Slugger and now we all want to make a trip to Louisville to see the World’s Largest Baseball Bat. Noah’s currently lobbying for a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park to explore the over four hundred miles of underground caves and caverns. I think Kayla and I may let the boys do that while we head to Paducah to check out the National Quilt Museum. We’d all love to go to the Cumberland Gap for some hiking through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. The Gap was an integral part of path forged in the 1770’s by Daniel Boone through the mountains that provided an easier means for settlors to explore more of the newly created nation.
Kentuckians are known for loyalty to their state which has produced natives that include presidents, musicians and athletes. Kentucky is actually the birthplace of two presidents that serve at the same time! Born less than a year and 100 miles apart. Kentucky is home to the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln and the first and only President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Cassius Clay Jr, or he is better known as, Muhammad Ali also called Kentucky home. The state also hand in the creation of Bluegrass Music and is where “The Father of Bluegrass”, Bill Monroe, hails from. Bluegrass combines blues, gospel and folk music with traditional mountain instruments like the banjo, violin and mandolin. If you enjoy culinary creations you can thank Kentucky for giving us Colonel Harlan Sanders creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken and famed restaurant reviewer (and creator of the cake mix) Duncan Hines.
After tonight, my crew is on board for at least a trip to check out the sights in Kentucky (Mikayla wants to move there to have her own horse. I told her to keep dreaming.) Stick around this weeks because we’re going to have a great week, culminating to Saturday with a viewing party to take in “the most exciting two minutes in sports” Should be fun! In the meantime…
I may have (inadvertently, I swear!) terrified Grant when I began searching for Kentucky recipes for the week. I came across the following quote regarding a truly Kentucky dish, burgoo and found it necessary to tell him about it "Burgoo...originally a French stew... cooking up the famous dish at festive occasions...800 pounds of meat, one dozen squirrels, 24 gallons corn, 240 pounds fat hens and five bushels of tomatoes--and it usually served hundreds" I think it was the squirrels that did him in. I promised to hunt high and low for a recipe that did NOT contain squirrels if he would promise to give it a go ;-) So tonight for dinner I made Lakes Burgoo which I am happy to report was squirrel free. My crew really like this (other than the peas, Noah HATES peas!) and it was easy to put together. I can see what it is used for social occasions in Kentucky - kind of reminded me of the way a chili comes together. As the article suggested I served them up with some mini corn bread muffins and the end of the Hawaii pineapple (I miss the islands!) and we had quite the feast this evening.
I mentioned yesterday that the dessert that I had in mind for tonight was something that I wanted to make up head of time. So yesterday during our lazy Sunday afternoon I put together an Old-Fashioned Stack Cake. My kiddos recently discovered apple butter at Grandma's house (my mom is doing Rachel Ray recipes that she can make ahead and have for the week so she's had all kind of fun stuff at her house!) and fell in love. So I thought this would not only be a great Kentucky recipe to try out but something everyone would like. It was a bit labor intensive (and I did half the recipe as the original recipe made 3 6-layer cakes) but something fun to try. And I'm glad I made it ahead as it gave the chance for the flavors to meld.
I'm anticipating all kind of fun this week so stick around. Tomorrow Noah has a delayed start (Kayla's finally back in school!) and then I'm going to go in and help out in his class for awhile. And tomorrow night we're trying another funny sounding food and making our own jockeys out of the rest of our Easter eggs. (See, I bet that made you curious!) So check back in on us! Until then...
Kentucky Fun Fact of the Week: Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.
Mikayla's reward for a job well done at the grocery store - mani/pedi!
Mixing up the Burgoo
After Noah got home they decided to put on puppet shows for each other
We burgoo - do you?
They invited Daddy to come to the puppet show as well - you can tell how thrilled he was ;-)
Old-Fashioned Stack Cake
Yum yum yum
The Kentucky wall is up!
I let them watch a playing of last year's Derby when we finished up tonight - they were captivated!