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Family inspiration

Chef turns homeplace into certified kitchen

In 2005, Kristia Reynolds, shown, was married, had two young kids and a job as Hickman County emergency management director, in charge of coordinating local and federal resources in case disaster struck the far western Kentucky county.

But cooking was her passion, so she quit her job and enrolled in the culinary program at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. After earning a culinary degree, she renovated the kitchen at her family’s homeplace to become a certified kitchen and became a caterer/specialty baker. 

Reynolds, a consumer-member of Gibson EMC, restored the two-bedroom, one-bath home with its shag carpeting and original vintage curtains—where her grandmother raised Reynolds’ father. After 10 years of catering and small events, The Peery House is now an Airbnb rental/local bed-and-breakfast, where Reynolds bakes, specializing in cakes, cupcakes and cookies. 

“I learned to bake from Grandmommie,” says Reynolds. “I have so many good memories in that house baking with her. There is something very special about the house; even our guests say the same thing.

“She made chess pies a lot. It’s an easy recipe and they are ingredients you have on hand—sugar and butter and a little bit of cornmeal,” recalls Reynolds, who says she plans to have the antique, handwritten chess pie recipe etched into wood to hang as art in the old home. 

Reynolds says though the recipe for the pie calls for three cups of sugar, her grandmother often reduced that amount so the butter flavor would be more pronounced.

Contact Reynolds on Facebook @ThePeeryHouse.

Cooking tips:

To make homemade pie crust: Combine 2 1/2 cups flour and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) of frozen butter and add it to the flour. Use a food processor or pastry blender to mix butter into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix evenly. You should able to press the mixture so that it holds together. If not, stir in another tablespoon of water. Form 2 discs from the dough, about 1 inch thick, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or more. Roll out to fit 9-inch pie pans.

To make lemon chess pie: Substitute fresh lemon juice for the vinegar in chess pie along with 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest. 

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