Larry and Sherry Ayres bought their 41-acre farm from Sherry’s family. Her father had grown up there, high in the hills of Owen County. It was partway between Larry’s job at the Kentucky State Police forensic lab in Frankfort, and her job as an elementary school teacher in the county. “It’s beautiful back here,” says Larry, “quiet and peaceful.”
It wasn’t until after they purchased the property, Larry says, that “I started thinking about how to make it productive.” He’d grown up on a farm, but horticulture appealed to him more than typical crops of corn or beef. And his hillside wasn’t great for row crops, anyway.
Acting on the advice of Cooperative Extension Service experts, Larry planted his first apple trees in 1983. Since then, he has expanded their orchard to include 10 acres of apples, along with plums, peaches, Asian pears, and thornless blackberry bushes, the fruits of which he sells off his farm and at Franklin and Owen county farmers’ markets.
A large number of Ayres’ apples are included in the school lunch programs in Jefferson, Franklin, and Owen counties. “It’s great to get healthy food into the schools,” Larry says.
At the orchard, at 525 Wilson Road near Monterey (enter “Owenton” if using GPS), people can pick their own fruit from dwarf fruit trees or buy picked fruit, in addition to jams and butters made with the orchard’s fruit. Apple season lasts past the first of November. For more information, go online to www.ayresapples.com, on Facebook: Ayres Family Orchard, or call (502) 514-1594.
Apple Sour Cream Pie
Recipe by Sarah Fritschner
Pastry for a two-crust pie
2⁄3 C sour cream
1⁄2 C sugar, divided
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄4 tsp salt
5-6 Cups peeled, sliced apples
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp nutmeg
1 C chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
2 or 3 Tbsp milk or cream
Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray and line with pastry. Heat oven to 350°. Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir to blend. Add apples and stir to coat. Spoon into pie pan. Combine remaining sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and nuts and sprinkle over apples. Cover with pie pastry and pinch crusts to seal. Brush with milk to promote browning, and sprinkle with a little sugar if desired.
Bake pie in the center of the oven until the juices are bubbling and the apples are tender, about an hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8.
Recipe by Sarah Fritschner
1⁄2 lb spaghetti or vermicelli
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1⁄2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
3⁄4 lb cooked chicken or turkey pieces (about 3 cups)
1⁄4 C all-purpose flour
1⁄2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 C chicken broth
1⁄2 C cream
3⁄4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 C unseasoned breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish (or similar size casserole dish). Boil water, add salt, and cook noodles until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and place in the greased casserole.
In a wide, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook on high heat until they’ve reduced in size and liquid is evaporated. Remove to bowl. Add chicken to mushrooms. Heat remaining oil; add flour, salt, and pepper. Stir to blend. Add chicken broth gradually, whisking to work out lumps. Stir in cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and chicken mixture.
Pour chicken mixture over noodles. Lift noodles to mix in chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and more cheese, if desired. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 8.
SARAH FRITSCHNER coordinates Louisville Farm to Table, a program bringing more Kentucky-grown food into local homes, restaurants, and institutions.