It's a Horse Race...With Bourbon!!

Kentucky horse farm (Photo: Gene Burch© 2005)

Oh May is upon us, friends, and that means one thing here in the 'ville: DERBY.  Last week we began the two week haul to the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.  This journey may begin for the horses with immaculate pedigree, unheard of prices at auction as a one year old, trainers betting on this being "The One", purses worth tens of thousands of dollars, track times, morning workouts, and an endless stream of speculations by all of those in the know.  But for all of us commoners not in the business- it means two weeks of events, parades, fireworks shows, concerts, mornings at the track, deep-fried fair food heaven at the chow wagon and-of course, an inordinate amount of liver abuse the season of Mint Juleps and all things bourbon.  Bourbon drinks, bourbon tastings, bourbon menus, bourbon sauces, bourbon desserts, bourbon balls, bourbon-party-in-your-mouth goodness.  Thank goodness it's only two weeks.  I don't think I could hang for more than that.

Cups by Tom Turner
Last weekend was the Julep Cup Invitational at the Mount where 60 international artists submitted over 140 cups based on the Mint Julep Cup theme.  It was a stunning show and we had a fantastic turnout for the first year of the annual event.  The camera with all of the event photos is currently elsewhere, so I will have to share those later.

Cups by Jim Gottuso
The event was graciously sponsored by Buffalo Trace Bourbons and there was a crazy good bourbon based menu and the juleps and bourbon slushes flowed freely.  Aside from lost tents to the monsoon that brought hail and hurricane force winds, it was a great event.  We even had a crew stay through the madness and help us finish the container of slushes.  You know, a true art patron's work is never done.  Find all of the slush and Mint Julep recipes here.

This week I am at a crossroads about the garden.  We are going to be gone for about 5 weeks this summer and I am trying to decide if the garden can even take that kind of neglect.  We haven't put any of the summer crops in yet and I am debating how much I really can manage.  It hurts my heart to think about not having it, but I can't take a repeat of last season.  It never came back from 10 days unattended.  I can't imagine multiple weeks.  The stress of that it too much.  It will certainly require more weeding than I am equipped to deal with.  Maybe we will simplify and just do tomatoes and sweet potatoes/onions and then do a fall crop.  Who knows?  Those decisions are best made in the shade of the evening, on the porch...with a Mint Julep.

This is the first Derby without my precious Mamaw.  I can't even imagine singing My Old Kentucky Home without her.  I am sure we will be weeping like babies as we sing, "Weep no more, my lady".  Derby was one of her very favorite things.  I can't really think about that yet.

I will leave you with an amazing recipe in honor of the upcoming weekend.  It is a traditional Derby time favorite of my family (especially my Mamaw).  My momma makes these every year and they are so chocolate-y, moist, wonderful and just right for the day.  I am not sure where the original came from, other than a friend of hers.  There are sev3eral variations of it on the web.  Please don't skip any steps.  Even though you are tempted to use a box of brownies, you are going to want to actually make these from scratch.  That chocolate syrup in there works some magic.  Trust me, your mouth will thank me.  I hope your horse wins on Saturday.  I'll save you a bourbon slush.

Mint Brownies
Yields 4 dozen 1" brownies
From a 9 x 13 pan

For Brownies:
1 stick butter
1 c sugar
4 eggs
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Gradually add flour and salt, alternating with chocolate syrup.  Add vanilla.  Pour into prepared 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake @ 325 for 28-30 min.  Cool completely.  Brownies will shrink from sides as they cool.

For Mint cream:
1/2 stick butter
2 c sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbs creme de menthe

Cream butter and powdered sugar.  Add creme de menthe and mix well.  Spread evenly over brownies.  Chill 1 hour. 

 For chocolate ganache:
6 oz semi sweet chocolate
1/2 stick butter

Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler.  Spread chocolate over brownies.  Chill 1 hour.  Cut into 1" squares. 

Photo courtesy of Betty Crocker

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