Trimble County farmer LARAINE STAPLES was recognized in January by the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy as an “outstanding program administrator.” Since 2001, she has administered Phase I tobacco settlement funds for agriculture development councils in Henry and Trimble counties; in 2002, she added Oldham, and in 2013 she became administrator for Carroll County as well.
Among other things, the agency recognized her for “extraordinary patience and kindness, ensuring that every person who walks through the doors gets personal, professional attention.”
When she’s not writing state reports or attending meetings to explain how the Phase I money is distributed, Laraine helps run a family beef and hay farm that has itself benefited from tobacco settlement dollars, including helping them convert a tobacco barn to a hay barn.
The Stapleses raise Charolais beef cattle on more than 300 acres of farmland. When aging the meat, she says, “We wanted to hang them longer” than the standard. Hanging allows the meat to concentrate and develop flavor, and tenderizes it. Conventional aging times are seven to 10 days, she says. The Stapleses age their beef for 21 days.
For many years, she marketed the beef to neighbors and to families in nearby Louisville. But as her two sons have grown and left home for work and college, and as the price of beef has risen, the farm is taking more animals to auction. Still, Laraine splits a beef each year with her in-laws. The whole filet is eaten at New Year’s. Using ground beef, Laraine makes lots of spaghetti with meatballs, hamburgers, and a homemade version of Hamburger Helper, using onions and green peppers (frozen out of her garden), egg noodles, and cheese.
And although she loves the taste of plain steak, “we do sometimes marinate our steaks,” she says, when they want to add something special. This sweet, tart, and salty marinade is a great way to start off the grilling season. It’s good on any steak, including lean cuts like flank.
Marinated Rib-Eye Steak
1⁄4 C brown sugar
1⁄4 C soy sauce
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1⁄4 tsp garlic powder
4 rib-eye steaks, each approx. 3⁄4 inch thick and 8-10 oz
Mix all marinade ingredients in a freezer bag. Add steaks and marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning often to coat all the steaks. Grill on high 4 minutes on one side. Turn and grill 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. Serves 4.
Horse race pie
Recipe by Sarah Fritschner
1⁄2 C butter
1 C sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla or 2 Tbsp bourbon
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 C English walnuts
1 C chocolate chips
1 unbaked pie crust
Heat oven to 350°. Melt butter and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs just to break them up. Add sugar and beat just to blend. Stir in butter, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt, and blend completely.
Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips into the pie crust. Pour butter mixture over them. Bake pie 45 minutes. Serves 8. Cool 1 hour before serving. If pie cools completely, warm it for 15 minutes in a 350° oven before serving. Best served with unsweetened, real whipped cream.
SARAH FRITSCHNER coordinates Louisville Farm to Table, a program bringing more Kentucky-grown food into local homes, restaurants, and institutions.