An avid journal keeper, Maggie Green spent years writing down the dinners she cooked every night.

When she went back through her entries years later, she noticed trends in the way she would cook during certain times of the year. Having worked in publishing for 10 years, Green was familiar with cookbooks organized according to season, but thought she could provide a more thorough guide to cooking throughout the year.

The result is “The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook,” which looks at a year in Kentucky cooking with a chapter devoted to each month. The book, published recently by the University of Kentucky Press, provides recipes specific to holidays and special events like the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl.

Green also provides tips on buying locally and getting the most nutritional value out of your food. She also lists information about community festivals around the state each year, providing a glimpse into Kentucky culture for the uninitiated.

The book includes a wide array of useful recipes; Green explores Kentucky favorites like bourbon balls, barbecue, country ham and cornbread, but puts a creative spin on them with recipes for dishes like chili cheddar cornbread and Kentucky barrel ale stew.

Her recipes run the gamut from appetizers and party-worthy food to desserts and after-dinner drinks. The book helps the reader broaden their horizons in the kitchen while also providing an introduction to Kentucky cooking.

Green also layers in personal touches throughout; in each chapter, she recounts a family story related to cooking. Some of these passages are extremely poignant — in one, she recalls her Irish grandmother, a tireless cook, and the times they spent together. In another, she recalls a Father’s Day when she and her sisters turned their dining room into a makeshift bedroom for their cancer-ridden father.

After bringing him down from upstairs, Green and her sisters prepared a meal of pulled pork, coleslaw and fried pickles. Green remembers her father eating only daintily, lacking the fervor for food he once had. He died three weeks later.

Through these personal stories, Green helps the reader connect with the text.

While the book is mainly a cooking guide, She understands the personal value that cooking has for so many families. By recounting her memories, Green helps the reader connect with their own.

Green, a registered

dietitian, lives just

outside Covington and runs The Green Apron Company, a consulting firm that specializes in culinary nutrition and cookbook development. The New Era recently spoke with her about “The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook.”

KNE: What made you want to organize the book according to month rather than season?

Green: I always thought there were more nuances to each month than sometimes doing a seasonal approach would allow. When I proposed the book, I suggested January through December because you can take advantage of different holidays and specific things happening within each month. Each of the months in Kentucky are all a little bit different, either weather-wise or depending on what is going on in the state.

KNE: Where did you come up with the recipes in the book?

Green: I worked as a private chef cooking for people in their homes for years, and a lot of my experiences and recipes come from doing that. If a recipe is either adapted or interpreted from someone else’s work, I note it in the head note. Some of the recipes are also kind of classic Kentucky recipes that probably a lot of families cook.

KNE: The book is really dense with recipes. How do you think readers should approach it?

Green: Some cookbooks, I’m never really sure where to start. With this book, I really want people to maybe focus on the month they get it, live that month, cook that month, then move on to the next one. There are some recipes where it doesn’t really matter what month you cook them in, but it follows a certain month because it might fit with a certain month.

KNE: What made you want to add your personal memories into the mix?

Green: Food has been a common thread in my life, but I can’t help but think there are other people out there that are in similar situations. You can talk about a great cake, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of difference unless you tell about what makes this cake great when it reaches the people who are eating it. Food brings us together. It has a lot of meaning and a big human element.

Reach Dennis O’Neil at 270-887-3237 or doneil@kentuckynewera.com.

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