When I was a young girl, my mother would take us weekly to the Ashland Public Library to check out books. The children’s section was in the bottom of the “big” library and, even on the hottest days of summer (pre-central air), the library was cool and somewhat dark. There I checked out a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, The Long Winter, and I would imagine eating oatmeal sprinkled with brown sugar and warm milk. I ate bologna sandwiches while reading and imagined that I, too, was eating those thick slabs of homemade bread slathered with fresh churned butter.
As I got older, I moved to Trixie Belden mysteries. My favorite was, if my memory serves me, Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery. In this particular novel, Trixie ate watercress sandwiches and crayfish that were sautéed and put in a salad. As an adult, I am drawn to books about food and specific regions.
Recently, my husband and I took part in the bus tours that Bluegrass Heritage Museum director Sandy Stults arranged in and around Clark County. Each trip offered a glimpse of the history of Clark County and took many people to places that they had never ventured. Even for me, the history behind the rock walls that I tended to overlook while driving through the county on my way to St. Hubert’s Episcopal Church each Sunday now merits my attention.
Again, I am thrown back to a time where families grew crops and ate large Sunday dinners with family and friends. Like the Laura Ingalls Wilders and Trixie Beldens of the books that I read as a child, I think of the places, homesteads and families that have lived in Clark County for two hundred years. More importantly, when talking these bus tours, I have learned how the Kentucky River was more than just a river. I have learned that barges and communities and individuals shaped a heritage that has become a part of me.
Recently, I attended the wedding of a close family friend’s son. A couple attended from my hometown of Ashland. They questioned my intentions of returning for my 35th high school class reunion. After hedging the question, I answered with a “no.” I went on to explain that I really didn’t want to go. I told them that this was my home and that I had been gone from Ashland for 35 years.
This community of children that I had taught, many of which were in attendance at the wedding, was a piece of the puzzle that now made my life. I also realized that this land, the local food I eat, and my friends who have been part of my life complete the picture of the place I now call home.
Quick Peach Pie
Peaches are almost ready to pick in Clark County. While there is nothing better than taking a bite of a ripe peach and feel that juice run down your face, I love making a quick peach pie from one or two of my really ripe peaches.
One or two ripe peaches thinly sliced (you can peel them but I don’t)
One refrigerated pie crust
One-fourth (¼) cup sugar
Dash of cinnamon
Three to four pats of butter (or fewer if you are watching calories)
Cut peaches thin and put in bowl with one-fourth cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll out pie crust on a greased baking sheet. (I mean just open it up, not actually roll out.) Carefully put peaches in the center of the crust and wrap the crust around it. Top with butter and dust with some sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until crust is brown. Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I fix this all summer but substitute any in-season fruit like apples, blackberries, nectarines, or plums.