Sharon Thompson: Local Foods Expo in Berea to feature expert gardening advice – Lexington Herald Leader

If you’d like to plant a productive garden this spring, take some advice from the experts. On Saturday, Sustainable Berea will hold a Local Foods Expo at Old Town on North Broadway. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A trolley will transport visitors from Old Town to the Berea College Farm Store and the Berea College gardens, where food and plants will be for sale. Activities at the train station in Old Town include an old-fashioned cake walk, with cakes made by Bereans, and a pie auction, with Kent Gilbert, pastor of Union Church, as auctioneer. Steve Parsley, a cutler with the Kilted Crow Knife and Tool Co., will sharpen tools; Shane Garver of Garver Farms will sell blueberry bushes; and Montgomery Farm and Garden, the Potting Shed, and Sticks and Stones will provide a range of plants, supplies and dirt for gardening.

Sustainable Berea also will be selling raised beds, native cedar lumber cut in planks ready for assembly for raised beds, rain barrels, and raw barrels for do-it-yourself barrels. Call (859) 893-4590.

The Sustainable Berea Seed Saving Project is partnering with the Madison County Public Library to provide free garden seeds. Patrons can receive the seeds, and they are asked to harvest seeds from the resulting plants and give it the library for others to use next year.

Seeds will be available at the Local Foods Expo.

“It is crucial to save our seeds, especially our heirloom varieties, as the industrial seed companies continue to produce GMOs (genetically modified seeds) which have negative health effects,” project coordinator Pamela Corley Slowkowski said.

Anyone with a Madison County Library card may “check out” seeds. The library also has books on gardening and gardening tools that can be checked out, and it will offer classes on gardening topics this summer.

Call 859-985-1689 or email or.

Ready for markets?

It’s almost time for the farmers markets in Lexington to open for the season. Vegetables raised in greenhouses and many prepared foods will be available at Lexington Farmers Market, which opens at 8 a.m. April 5 at Cheapside Park. The Southland Drive market opens at 10 a.m. April 6.

Bluegrass Farmers Market, which sells only items produced by the farmers, will open at 9 a.m. April 12 at 3450 Richmond Road, in front of Pedal the Planet Bike Shop and FastSigns.

TV show to go live

Secrets of Louisville Chefs is joining Bourbon Barrel Foods and Mint Julep Tours to give the TV show a new look.

The show, in its 11th year, has moved its production to the new kitchen studio at Bourbon Barrel Foods in front of a live audience. The show will be taped in a bistro-like setting, limited to 24 guests. Each taping includes two episodes with two top local chefs. Tickets for the show are $75 and are sold through Mint Julep Tours. Go to

Tim Laird and Kevin Harned are the hosts of Secrets of Louisville Chefs. Episodes are available for viewing at

Bourbon Barrel Foods and Kitchen Studio are in the historic Butchertown Market, 1201 Story Avenue, in Louisville. Call (502) 583-1433 or email

Cast-iron cooking

Anyone who owns an old cast-iron skillet will gladly talk about its virtues. The best ones are those handed down through generations of good cooks, but if you have to buy a new one, go ahead; your grandchildren will thank you.

Lodge Manufacturing, the producer of American-made cast-iron cookware, has a new cookbook that includes recipes from professional chefs and home cooks that celebrate regional cuisine. With contributions from Lidia Bastianich, John Besh and Mark Bittman, Cast Iron Nation (Oxmoor House, $24.95) is sure to be a favorite. It includes the best tips on how to care for cast iron, perfected throughout 118 years of the family business.

Here’s a recipe from the book.


Beef-bacon hash

3 slices bacon

½ cup finely chopped onion

2 cups new potatoes, cut into ½ -inch cubes and parboiled 5 minutes

1 cup cubed (1/2-inch) leftover cooked beef or other meat

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup (or more) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

In a cast-iron skillet (preferably 10 inches in diameter or more), fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain, and pour off all but a thin layer of fat.

Add the onion to the skillet, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Turn the heat up under the skillet, and add the potatoes in a single layer (you might need to brown the potatoes in two batches, depending on the size of the skillet). Cook until the potatoes are browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add the beef, and lower the heat slightly. Add the garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste, mix well, and heat thoroughly.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the parsley. Crumble the bacon (or cut into small pieces), and add to the hash. Mix well, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog:


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