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It’s 5 O’Clock in Kentucky

April is a special time of year here in the Bluegrass for several reasons. Keeneland, a favorite in UPK’s hometown of Lexington, is finally open for their Spring Meet. The Derby is right around the corner. That vicious winter has hopefully been permanently laid to rest. Tailgate season isn’t too far away.

All of these reasons culminate in the heartwarming truth that it is once again acceptable to drink bourbon before 5 o’clock (thanks in part to Jimmy Buffett and Alan Jackson). We at UPK are fortunate enough to have dozens of bourbon recipes at our disposal from some of our most talented authors and their various works.

'Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book' 30% OFF: $10.47

In The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler provide a reader-friendly handbook featuring more than 100 recipes including seasonal drinks, after-dinner bourbon cocktails, Derby cocktails, and even medicinal toddies. See below for a fun twist on an old classic!

Dark & Bloody Bourbon Mary

This is the perfect drink for a Derby brunch. I relished rising to the challenge from those who said a bloody Mary couldn’t be made with bourbon. Ha!

1 teaspoon salt/pepper/paprika mix
2 ounces Woodford Reserve
2 large lemon wedges
1 tablespoon Bourbon Barrel Aged Worcestershire Sauce
1 can (6 ounces) Campbell’s tomato juice

To prepare the seasoning mix, combine in a mortar one part each smoked sea salt and smoked pepper and two parts smoked paprika, all from Bourbon Barrel Foods ( Finely crush with a pestle and shake together in a jar.

To a pint glass or large mason jar filled with ice, add the bourbon, squeeze and drop in the lemon wedges, and add the teaspoon of seasoning mix and the Worcestershire sauce. Shake. Add more ice and the can of tomato juice. Shake again. Garnish with a long straw, baby corn, a large pitted black olive, and a cherry pepper, all on a stick.

If you’re interested in this recipe and more like it, head over to our website to buy the book.

Stay tuned to our blog for posts about all things bourbon for the next couple weeks!


Got A Knack For Nature?

Despite the snow that this wonderful Kentucky weather has bestowed on us yet again, it is still about time to step outside and get your daily dose of sunshine. If you are in the Louisville area, then there is no better place to do this than at one of the five beautiful Olmsted Parks located all around the city. The Olmsted Parks of Louisville are self-proclaimed for being designed for three types of recreation: 1) recreative or individual use, such as walking or running, 2) gregarious or social use, such as picnics, and 3) exertive or athletic use, such as ball games. See the map below to see which park is closest to you.

There are so many things you can do to be active outside this season! Here’s a list of our favorites:

1)      Go for a run. Grab your running shoes and even your dog, and set out on a trail.

2)      Throw a Frisbee, football, baseball, etc.

3)      Fly a kite.

4)      Have a picnic.

5)      Read a book.

6)      Relive your childhood by playing tag, hide and seek, red rover, etc.

7)      Draw, sketch, paint gorgeous scenery.

In all of these parks, you will find yourself among gorgeous landscapes filled with thousands of flowers. Be sure to pick up a copy of The Olmsted Parks of Louisville: A Botanical Guide in order to maximize your nature experience within these parks!


Calling All Mushroom Hunters!

Now that warm weather is finally here, it’s time for one of America’s favorite pastimes to begin again. That’s right, I’m talking about mushroom hunting. This year, when you go around gathering the most succulent morels you can find, be sure to try out this recipe and send your tastebuds on a spree!

Stuffed Matsutake Triangles

3-4 Large Matsutake Caps
Green onions
Minced garlic
Cream cheese
Bacon bits
Salt & pepper
Bread crumbs

Step 1) Chop onions, then put in bowl with garlic and cream cheese.

Step 2) Cut mushroom caps into triangles, and place in baking dish, gills up. Spread cream cheese mixture over caps, sprinkle bread crumbs over mixture, then add bacon bits, salt, and pepper to your liking.

Step 3) Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve as an appetizer or enjoy as a snack or side dish.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians to aid you in all of your mushroom hunting endeavors this coming season!

Kentucky Agate Giveaway!

Do you have an appreciation for art? Agate is one of the most unique, all-natural forms of artwork. Surprisingly, Kentucky is home to some of the most exquisite agate stones in the world. The key is to know where to find them though.

Fortunately for you, we are giving away one free copy of Kentucky Agate, in which experts Roland L. McIntosh and Warren H. Anderson map out where you can find some of the most colorful specimens in the Bluegrass state. Not only that, but they have also compiled hundreds of professional color photographs, showcasing the rare treasure in all its glory.

Be sure to click the link below and enter our giveaway for your chance to receive a free copy! Our giveaway ends at the end of the day on Tuesday, April 15! The winner will be notified by e-mail the following Wednesday.

A Word of Advice From Professor Porkbelly!

In light of the warm weather that is slowly dawning upon us, let us turn to our guest blogger, WKU Professor Wes Berry, aka Professor Porkbelly, for some words of wisdom on how to satisfy your warm weather cravings.


“April is the cruelest month, said T.S. Eliot, the American poet who became an Englishman. I doubt Eliot would’ve scribbled that famous line if he’d been living in Kentucky, where April brings Red Bud and Dogwood blooms, the return of Purple Martins, and the sweet smell of animals cooked over wood coals. That’s right. It’s barbecue time.

In 2009 Professor Porkbelly (yours truly) officially hit the blue highways of Kentucky determined to eat at every barbecue joint from the Mississippi River to Appalachia, and a few years later and 25 pounds heavier I published the results in The Kentucky Barbecue Book.

What did I discover? We Kentuckians are like the big-souled poet Walt Whitman–large, containing multitudes of barbecue. We cook an impressive variety of God’s creatures on numerous contraptions, using diverse mops, sops, sauces and different types of hardwoods. And heck, some of the best places just serve up long-smoked meats naked—just meat, smoke, and time. Maybe some salt and pepper, which is nearly naked.

In a few-county region in southcentral Kentucky, you can eat “Monroe Co. Style,” thin-sliced pork grilled over hickory coals and sopped with a vinegary-lardy-peppery sauce. This short video of R & S Bar-B-Q in Tompkinsville in Monroe County showcases this sweat-inducing BBQ treat. You like Buffalo style wings? Then you’ll probably dig the heat of Monroe Co. style. Get it “dipped” if you like a tingly tongue. The Kentucky Barbecue Book includes an old recipe of this distinctive microregional barbecue dip.

In Hopkinsville and in several counties stretching all the way to the Mississippi River, you can fill up on mutton and whole pork shoulders cooked on traditional masonry pits at places like The Woodshed, a family owned joint who just celebrated their 30-year anniversary. In this video, we get a behind-the-scenes look at their barbecue pits. Warning: it might make you hungry.

Or you might want to take in one of our great barbecue festivals, all described in detail in The Kentucky Barbecue Book, like Owensboro’s International Barbecue Festival in May where you’ll see and smell thousands of pounds of mutton and chickens smoking up the downtown streets, or check out The Kentucky State BBQ Festival in Danville or the state’s largest festival, Paducah’s Barbecue on the River, in September.

And there’s much more to explore, many kinds of microregional flavors of barbecue—all within a daytrip of Bowling Green, my current hometown and ideal location from which to venture for a sampling of our various regional styles of smoky meaty delights. And when you hit the highways, you should have as your co-pilot a copy of The Kentucky Barbecue Book, which includes reviews of 115 of my favorite Kentucky barbecue places + 16 pages of colored photos + over 30 recipes + a regional BBQ map). I’m delighted to send a signed copy right to your mailbox from my website.

So come on down, or up, or over and explore this lovely place on earth. The Red Bud trees are already popping this first week of April, the spring peepers peeping, the lambs bleating—and someday those lambs will grow into mutton, which is oh-so delicious when cooked for many hours over wood coals. Oh, and do try burgoo if eating at one of the 18 barbecue places in the state that make it.

Love and peace and smoky treats, and MAY THE PORK (or mutton, chicken, beef, bologna, city ham, goat—we cook it all in KY) BE WITH YOU!”

Twitter: KYBBQProf
Facebook: Wes Berry’s Kentucky Barbecue Adventures

A big thanks to Professor Porkbelly! Be sure to pick up a copy of The Kentucky Barbecue Book to eat your way into the Spring and Summer!

How well do you know Kentucky flowers?

Spring is in the air! The warm weather is starting to set in and now the flowers can finally start blooming. Kentucky’s gorgeous landscape is home to many of these beauties. Can you tell which Kentucky flowers belong to which season? Take our quiz and find out.

1)      Fragrant water lilly (Nymphaea odorata)


This is a showy aquatic plant that has 6-8 in –wide, roundish leaf blades floating on the water; the blades are often red or purple beneath. The multiple-petaled flowers float on the water and range in size from 3-8 in. in diameter.

Habitat: Shallow wetlands and ponds.

Region: Appalachian Plateaus, Bluegrass, Shawnee Hills, Jackson Purchase.

Frequency: Rare.

2)      Field Pansy (Viola rafinesquii)


This is a slender, delicate, 4 in – 10 in annual with small round to spoon shaped leaves. Note that ½ in. wild flowers arise on leaflike stipulates that are deeply lobed or divided. Flower color varies from white to lavender.

Habitat: Fields, roadside, disturbed soil.

Region: Statewide.

Frequency: Common.

3)      Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa)


This medium-size plant reaches 2 to 3 ft. tall. It has 1 ¾ – 2 in – wide flower heads with a yellowish to brownish or greenish center and 6 to 9 rays. The upper, toothed leaves are divided into 3 segments and the lower leaves are divided into 5 to 7 segments.

Habitat: Wet meadows, roadsides, fields, stream banks.

Region: Statewide.

Frequency: Abundant.


Answers: 1) Summer, 2) Spring, 3) Fall


Learn about more regional flowers in Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky.


Poetry Spotlight: George Ella Lyon

Many-Storied House

As you know, April is National Poetry Month, so let’s continue to honor some of Kentucky’s great poets. George Ella Lyon is an award-winning poet and novelist from eastern Kentucky. Her latest book of poetry, Many-Storied House, was inspired from an assignment Lyon gave her writing students to write a poem based on memories from a house where they had lived. Lyon worked on the assignment as well, and wrote several poems for each room in her home as a way to answer questions about herself and her family. Her poems explore the nature of memory and relationships as well as the foundations of love, family, and community. Below is an excerpt from the “Downstairs” section:


This is the window
they put a kid through
when they lock their keys
in the house. It was
my brother till he got
too big, then my wiry
cousin David, then me.
No screen or storm window,
so once they haul up
the sash, somebody (not
Daddy because of
his back) puts hands on
both sides of your waist
and lifts you straight up
like a post hole digger,
then eases you through
the slot. Your task is
to find the linoleum
with your Keds, steady
yourself, go out the
bathroom door—avoiding
the scary faces in
the varnished pine—
step into the hall,

turn the latch left (that’s
toward the train track),
and let your keepers
back in the zoo.