January and February to some people is a dark, dreary time. Typically in Kentucky, these two months offer the threat of snow and extreme cold. But to me, they provide time to relax after the marathon of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
These months offer intimate dinner and conversation with friends and small meals of hot soups, appetizers and sinful desserts. What better way to chase away the winter’s doldrums than to celebrate with Kentucky Proud products?
The Kentucky Proud marketing program was created by current Agriculture Commissioner and lieutenant governor hopeful Richie Farmer in 2004. When the program began, Farmer’s hope was to provide a marketing program to help expand the farm markets for Kentucky farm products. Its evolution has become a reality for Farmer. According to the Kentucky Agriculture website www.kyagr.com, as a result of this marketing program, over a half billion dollars have been generated in Kentucky Proud food and farm products since 2006.
When the program was first instituted, there were only two dozen farmers. Today, more than 1,400 farmers take part in the Kentucky Proud marketing program. For a farmer to be eligible, the requirement is quite easy. The product must be raised and/or processed in Kentucky by Kentucky farmers.
The state even manages a website (www.kyproud.com) that navigates the user to every county in Kentucky to locate farms, farmers and products. There is also a recipe search that provides some recipes using Kentucky Proud products. Clark County has more than 50 listings for individuals or businesses that have the Kentucky Proud designation.
While many people wonder where Kentucky Proud products can be purchased, I did a little investigative work in Winchester locating and, well, eating some products that can warm up your coldest winter night and appetite.
Le Bayou Gourmet Barbecue Sauce is a sauce that is multi-functional. Based in Berea, the Le Bayou sauce is created from a 30-year-old recipe of the family originally from Lake Charles, La. Primarily tomato-based with tidbits of onion and green pepper, it is a sauce I used as a dressing with coleslaw and a vegetable dip. Since it was tomato-based, I also added it to my marinara for a different slant to pasta. The coleslaw dressing was one-half cup mayonnaise (fat-free or regular) and one-half cup Le Bayou sauce. Le Bayou can be purchased at Gaunce’s Deli or Court Street Gifts.
Another favorite was Houston’s Louisiana Mayonnaise from Houston’s in Louisville. Their mayonnaise has a nice spicy flavor and is a great complement to a pork or beef tenderloin sandwich. A couple of weeks ago, I used it as a rub with garlic and brown sugar on pork tenderloin. It can also be purchased at Court Street Gifts.
Ale-8 One products are also Kentucky Proud. Ale-8 One salsas — which we love — as well as a multitude of other Ale-8 One products can be purchased at The Craft Nook. By adding one-half cup sour cream to one-half cup any Ale-8 One salsa makes a tasty dip for vegetables.
Marlena’s on Main Street carries a line of Kentucky Specialty Sauces that are all Kentucky Proud. I tried the pineapple chutney with a block of cream cheese and crackers and the chocolate bourbon sauce.
Bob Tabor at The Engine House Deli immortalized the Ruth Hunt Blue Monday Sunday (also a Kentucky Proud product), that is a crushed Blue Monday with alternating scoops vanilla ice cream. The chocolate bourbon sauce can only enhance the flavor of the ice cream, chocolate and cream candy on Valentine’s Day — or any other day for that matter.
The average food product travels 1,500 miles before it lands on our plates. I traveled less than five miles to find products that benefit Kentucky farms and farmers and allow me to share time entertaining friends and eating food that is fresh and tasteful. Life could not be much better than this.