Sunday, November 22, 2015

Only in Louisville...

I was born and grew up in Louisville, Ky. I (wrongfully) assumed that everyone knew of – and loved – pimento cheese, benedictine cheese, The-Pie-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and Henry Bain sauce. I've written about the first three of these Louisville originals before, so it seemed only fair to introduce you to Henry Bain.

Mr. Bain (1863-1928), the creator of this piquant, tangy, brown condiment, was a head waiter at the private Pendennis Club in downtown Louisville. He developed the sauce for steaks and locally killed game. Legend has it that the all-male club members would routinely bring their kills to the club to be cooked and sauced with the magical Henry Bain sauce.

My grandfather was a member (and long-ago President) of the Pendennis Club so I have lots of memories of dining at this club. (For many years, membership was only open to males. All female guests had to enter the club via the side door. At some point, that rule was dropped; my grandfather however, insisted that my sisters and I continue to observe the old tradition. Out of respect for him, I did – rather begrudgedly. I'm pleased to report that today, the membership is far more diverse than in my grandfather's day and, when invited, I proudly enter by the front door.)

I've seen some jars of Henry Bain sauce for sale at local grocers and specialty food stores; but here's the thing: it is simple to make. You just dump 6 ingredients from the condiment aisle of Kroger into a bowl, mix it up, and funnel it into jars. That's what I did in about 10 minutes last night. I used recycled maple syrup jars and here's the result of my efforts:

I need to figure out how to print a Farm Dover label and then I'm all set to give four lucky people a bottle of this Louisville tradition.

In addition to being delicious on a steak or chop, you can simple pour some over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers. 

Here's the recipe that I used...

Henry Bain Sauce

1 (17 ounce) jar Major Grey chutney
1 (14 ounce) bottle of ketcup
1 (10 ounce) bottle of Worcestershire sauce
1 (12 ounce) bottle chili sauce
1 (10 ounce) bottle of A1 Steak Sauce
A couple of dashes of Tabasco Sauce

Mix all together and pour into sterile jars.

Note: the original recipe also calls for 4.5 ounces of pickled walnuts. In all the recipes I found, it was considered an optional ingredient. I suspect that is because this ingredient is hard to find nowadays. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I'm lucky

I can count my very best friends on one hand, and I know I can count on each of them whenever I need them, and vice versa.

One of my best and oldest friends is Jane. I met her just out of college. She interviewed me for a job at a local bank, made sure I got a job offer, introduced me to Ed, and to a whole new world of art and books. She changed my life – all for the better.

A few years into our friendship, she moved to England, but we stayed in touch – mostly via long handwritten letters on airmail stationery. A decade later, she moved back to her hometown: Berea, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, where she opened a small gift/antique shop. Since then, she has worked a number of jobs, most in bookstores. She's a genius about remembering not only my birthday, but those of my whole family. We talk by phone once a month or so: fill each other in on our lives; trade favorite book recommendations; and promise to get together soon.

On Sunday, she drove down from Tiffin, Ohio, where she currently lives with her cat, Pippin. We spent the next 48 hours walking, and talking, and eating, and catching up. Yesterday, we drove into Louisville to go to the KMAC (Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft) but found it closed for renovation. So we crossed Main Street to have a look around the 21c Museum Hotel. After doing a bit of shopping, we went to my Louisville book club meeting. In preparation for her visit, Jane had read the Raymond Chandler book that we were discussing and fell right in with my other book-loving friends.

at 21c
This morning, we took one final walk around Farm Dover in the misty rain, enjoyed an early lunch of bean soup, and then posed on the front step for a photo to prove that we really were together – and not just talking over the phone.

I watched as she drove down our drive and thought about how lucky I am to have Jane as my friend.

Come back soon, Jane.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My hearts-a-bustin'

Since we've been home from our travels, Ed and I have been busy working the woods, fields, and gardens of Farm Dover.

In our woods, we are playing catch up with controlling the invasive species that like to reappear every time we turn our back (or go out of town for three weeks). Specifically, we been tackling the bush honeysuckle, osage orange and multiflora wild roses. Don't all those plants have lovely names? Don't be fooled by them. They are crazy, and meddlesome, and nearly impossible to get rid of.

Most days, we head out shortly after breakfast with our shovel, clippers, chainsaw and loppers. If we can dig the plant out, Ed digs – and I pull. If it is too big or too stubborn, Ed clips or chainsaws it down to the ground – and I apply the smallest amount of stump killer. Hate to use the herbicide, but if we just clip the target plant, it comes back with a vengeance.

Our work has several upsides. It improves not only the health of our forests, but also of us: it's great exercise. It's satisfying: there is something about getting rid of pesky plants so native plants can thrive. And, perhaps best of all, we get to know our woods intimately as we slowly work our way over every square inch of our farm. Almost every time we go out, we discover something of interest. This week, we came upon a bush aptly called Hearts-a-Bustin'. On its now bare limbs hang the most beautiful pink and red fruit/seed. In an otherwise neutral forest, the color pops – making my heart almost bust with joy.

Turns out there is a song about this bush by country music singer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver. Here's a link to the song, sung by one of our all-time favorites: Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Like most country songs, it's all about being lonesome.

Hearts-a-Bustin' is a beautiful flower
That looks like its heart burst inside
I miss you so much, your sweet gentle touch
I'll love you till the day that I die. 


We spent this afternoon walking our fields with Margaret Shea, owner of Dropseed Native Plant Nursery, located in Goshen, KY. The mission of the nursery is to provide high-quality, local-genetic plant material for restoration and landscape projects. We met Margaret this past weekend when we stopped by Dropseed and bought two persimmon trees, one yellowwood tree and one wild plum tree. She agreed to come out to Farm Dover and give us some recommendations for how we might continue to improve our fields of native grasses and wildflowers. Today, she mostly just walked around our fields and talked with us about our vision for them. She has promised to follow up with her recommendations. Can't wait to see what she comes up with.


Progress has been happening in the garden as well. Although if you looked at it, you couldn't tell. I finally got my garlic planted over the weekend. I placed nearly 80 cloves in neat rows in the back corner and covered them with a couple of inches of soil. I'm waiting for them to sprout before covering them with straw to protect them from the winter cold.

And I began digging up my old strawberry bed. After five productive seasons, the plants had grown too dense and the bed needed to be rejuvenated. But the old plants looked so healthy once I had dug them up and separated them that I didn't have the heart to just dump them onto the compost pile. So, as an experiment, I planted 45 of them in a corner of my big garden. Won't know until spring if this was a good idea or not.

I've got three bales of straw to put down in my garden in the continued hope that it helps keep the summer weeds at bay. Ideally I'd like to put down plain cardboard before the straw, but I've yet to find a supply of brown corrugated boxes that need recycling. Let me know if you have some you could provide for this project.


The days are getting shorter and colder, but our list of outdoor projects is still long. I'm grateful for every day that we can get outside and work our woods, fields and gardens. It makes my heart want to bust!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Oh, Lard!

I had quite the homesteading experience this week. I rendered three pounds of pork fat into eight jars of white, odorless lard. You heard me right. Lard.

There has been a bag of hunks of pig fat sitting in the bottom of our freezer since last December when we purchased half of a heritage hog. It had been weighing on my mind. I've been trying to eat through our freezer so I can defrost and then refill it. Pork chops, gone. Sausage, gone. Ham, gone. Pork shoulder, gone. All that was left were a couple of packages of pork skin, some liver, and a bag of leaf lard: the highest quality fat deposits that surround the pig's kidneys. I've been told that it has little pork flavor, making it ideal for producing flaky, moist pie crusts.

Mind you, I've never made a homemade pie crust and I certainly have never rendered lard. But there is always a first time...

Before I tell you how I did it, I want to back up and admit that cooking with pork fat has long been a tradition in the Galloway family. When I first met Ed, I had no idea how to cook anything other than plain pasta, but he knew his way around the kitchen. On his stove top was a tin can into which he would pour his bacon drippings. A similar tin can also sat on his mother's stovetop and, in years past, both his grandmothers'. Ed would use a spoonful of the room-temperature bacon fat to cook a pork chop, brown some onions for chili, or fry an egg. I was baffled by this practice -- and a little concerned that I might die from it, which I didn't!

Fast forward 35 years and turns out that pork fat (lard) is back in fashion among chefs, especially southern chefs. We dined at Husk in Charleston, S.C., last winter and had the most delicious cornbread, made with – you guessed it – lard. I bought a can at Kroger and made a skillet of cornbread using Chef Sean Brock's recipe.  It was good, but not as good as at Husk. I suspected it was the quality of lard, as most that is sold at a supermarket is rendered from a mixture of high and low quality pork fat sources. It is also hydrogenated and treated with bleaching and deodorizing agents. Yuck.

By rendering my own lard, I could get high quality fat that I could feel good about using. In fact, the lard I produced (unhydrogenated) has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight. And unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, it contains no trans fat. Almost sounds healthy, right?

Rendering the lard required dicing it into small pieces and cooking it in my crockpot over low heat for hours and hours. As the fat melted, I ladled it into canning jars, which I later froze. At the end of the process, I was left with a cup or two of cracklins (which I'm still trying to figure out what to do with).

Once I was done, I couldn't wait to cook with it. Using the Husk restaurant recipe, I cooked up a cast-iron skillet full of cornbread. Thanks to the lard, it was crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside. 

Now, I just need to tackle a pie crust. Wish me luck.

And then there is the question about what to do with the pig skin and liver, still in the freezer. Any suggestions?