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Youthful Independence

Fourteen-year-old Bailey Barrett lives on a 100-acre Marshall County farm with her mom, dad, little sister, and quarter horses that she shows in barrel racing, pole bending, team roping, and a variety of other classes.

While Barrett’s parents, Amy and Randy, work off the farm, Barrett has spent the last few years experimenting with small-scale farming enterprises. She once kept layers to sell eggs. “I had about 150 chickens,” she says. She recently got back into chicken-keeping on a smaller scale, acquiring eight new chicks to produce eggs for her family. She raised a baby goat to maturity, which she later sold to a friend, and she raised an Angus bottle calf to sell.

She grows vegetables, too. Interested in comparing conventional supermarket produce with homegrown, Barrett began a small garden a few years ago that includes basil, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, and various lettuces.

And she helps out in the larger garden of family friend Teresa Henson. Henson is teaching Barrett how to can—salsa, green beans, and a dish that Barrett calls Cowboy Candy, a mix of jalapeño peppers and onions that is typically served with crackers and cream cheese. They harvest and freeze jalapeños and make large amounts of the dish to keep and give away. “It tastes sweet when you bite into it, then it gets hotter and hotter,” says Barrett.

4 C sliced or chopped jalapeños
4 C sliced or chopped onion
1 Tbsp canning salt
1 C white vinegar
2 1⁄2 C sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp yellow mustard seed

Combine peppers and onions with salt and cover mixture with cold water. Let it sit for an hour. Drain and rinse. Combine pepper mixture in a saucepan with vinegar, sugar, and seeds. Simmer until soft but not mushy. Spoon into hot jars and cover with hot lids. Seal in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Serve with buttery crackers and cream cheese. Makes about 6 half-pints.

Stuffed peppers
Recipe by Sarah Fritschner

1 C brown or white rice (or 2 cups leftover cooked rice)
2 tsp salt
4 medium green or red peppers
1 lb ground beef, sausage, or lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano
1⁄2 tsp black pepper
16 oz tomato sauce
1 C grated aged cheddar cheese

Boil 2 cups water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the rice, cover, and reduce heat to simmer—white rice for 20 minutes, brown rice for 40 minutes.

Boil a large pot of water. Cut peppers in half vertically, core, and trim white membrane. Add 4 halves to boiling water and cook 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with remaining peppers.

Meanwhile, combine ground meat, onion, and jalapeño (if using) in a wide, deep skillet and cook over medium heat until onion softens, about 15 minutes, stirring to break up the meat. Drain if it seems fatty. Add remaining salt, oregano, pepper, cooked rice, and 1 cup tomato sauce. Stir gently.

Heat oven to 350°. Fill the pepper halves with meat mixture, and place them in a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over all and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Note: Unbaked halves freeze well. Serves 4.

SARAH FRITSCHNER coordinates Louisville Farm to Table, a program bringing more Kentucky-grown food into local homes, restaurants, and institutions.

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