Farm Fresh Cooking and Bottling

Janice enjoys a pour of Old Carter with Sherri and Mark Carter.

By Janice Carter Levitch

It’s no secret that I have a passion for cooking, particularly with fresh ingredients that have been picked just moments before preparing them for an outstanding farm-fresh meal. Fresh picking is exactly what I experienced during a cooking class at Foxhollow Farm with owner and fourth-generation farmer Maggie Barrett Keith and her sidekick Lindsey McClave, a food and travel writer. They have begun producing their own television program, Farmer and Foodie, to be released on a local network soon (stay tuned for those details).

As an eager participant in this cooking class, I dressed in my most farm-friendly attire and walking shoes (OK, the shoes are Burberry, but they look good out in the field). The farm is breathtakingly beautiful, and it always amazes me that we have access to this type of experience in our own backyard.

We were instructed to venture out onto the property to select the fresh vegetables we would prepare in the cooking class. One dish we made was squash blossoms (yes, some flowers are edible) stuffed with a mixture of ricotta and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses. After carefully filling each squash blossom, they were baptized in rice flour before being plunged into hot grapeseed oil, immediately sealing in the cheeses by perfectly crisping the outside. We also prepared fresh chard stuffed with the organic grass-fed beef that is raised on the property. Think of the Greek recipe using grape leaves (Dolmades), but this is the Kentucky version.

Foxhollow Farm.

The only thing missing from this divine meal was a little Kentucky rye to tag along. Which scoots us onto to the next local adventure – meeting the proprietors of Old Carter Whiskey Co. I’m still searching that family tree to find out if we are related.

Sitting down with Mark and Sherri Carter, the husband-and-wife team behind Old Carter Whiskey Co., was a real treat. Justins’ House of Bourbon was the perfect watering hole to meet with this wonderful couple and discuss their road to developing whiskey and their affinity for Kentucky. “The label of our rye is actually original artwork that I created over 20 years ago and it became the first piece of artwork Mark purchased from me,” Sherri said.

“My family roots are in Somerset, Kentucky, and on the back of our label it is noted, ‘Born from the soul of Somerset,’” Mark commented. Their road to making whiskey has blossomed from a friendship into a romance that has since become a true partnership.

They have also developed Carter Cellars Wine, which is described as swoon-inducing by noted wine critics. Situated in Napa Valley, California, I can hear the vines calling my name for a West Coast adventure for a tasting. But for now, my roots are deeply planted in our beautiful community with the people who lend such brilliant support to keep it farm fresh. VT