Kentucky Brownies

In honor of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, I made a batch of my favorite brownies from one of my favorite cookbooks, What’s Cooking in Kentucky.  I have several good brownie recipes but I seem to go back to this one most often for the ease of preparation and great results.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate or 3 Tblsp. cocoa
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8″ baking pan.

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter and add the chocolate or cocoa, stirring occasionally until the chocolate has dissolved.  Remove from heat.

In the same pan, stir in the granulated sugar and eggs, mixing well.

Stir in the flour and salt, beat well.  Stir in the vanilla and nuts.

Pour into a greased and floured 8″ baking pan.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes @ 350 degrees F.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  While still warm, cut brownies into 16 small or 12 large pieces.  

I have a note in my recipe binder:  “First made March 24, 1985 – Excellent.”

Kentucky Lemon Chess Pie

My husband’s family was from Whitley City, McCreary County, Kentucky – near Cumberland Falls.  His mother, Nettie, and her sister, Anne, lived to be in their late 90s – funny, active, energetic.  Aunt Anne belonged to the McCreary County Senior Citizens and in 1983, the group published a cookbook, “Home Cooking Secrets of McCreary County Senior Citizens”.

One of the first recipes I tried was Lemon Chess Pie submitted by Charita Farris.  I have a note beside the recipe, “Excellent- 11/83”.

Each year, I bake the pie at least once during the winter, following Charita’s recipe exactly.  This year, I suddenly realized spring is here and I haven’t made the pie yet.  So, we’re having it for dinner today.


  • Unbaked pastry for single crust 9″ pie (see my recipe here)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tblsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon peel, grated*
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a medium mixing bowl, place sugar, flour, and cornmeal.  Toss with a fork.  Add eggs and whisk together until smooth.  Add butter, milk, grated lemon peel and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Pour into the unbaked 9″ crust.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes until the top and crust are golden brown.

Place pie on a wire rack to cool.  It’s quite rich and delicious.

*Here’s a good way to always have lemon juice and lemon peel on hand for your favorite recipe.

Hodgenville Ham Pudding


This is our family’s favorite way of using up leftover baked ham.  It comes from a favorite cookbook, “What’s Cooking in Kentucky”.  This is a typical 1950s era luncheon dish, probably served with a gelatin salad of some kind and a super-rich dessert.

The cookbook says that when President Dwight Eisenhower visited the birthplace of Lincoln at Hodgenville, Kentucky, the Women’s Club served lunch to the visitors.  President Eisenhower asked for a second helping of this pudding and the recipe, saying he was an amateur chef and wanted to add it to his collection.

Hodgenville Ham Pudding

  • 1-1/2 cups of buttery cracker crumbs (such as Ritz or Town house) – divided
  • 1 cup grated cheese – divided (I like cheddar)
  • 1 cup finely chopped ham – divided
  • 2 Tblsp. diced pimiento – divided
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced – divided
  • 1-1/2 cups white sauce (recipe follows) – divided

White Sauce

  • 2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk

In medium saucepan, combine flour, salt and pepper.  Whisk in cold milk until smooth, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble.  Continue stirring for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.

Butter a 9x9x2 baking dish.

In bottom of baking dish place 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs.  Moisten with 1/2 cup white sauce.  Add 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1/2 cup diced ham, 1 Tlbsp. diced pimiento, and one diced hard-boiled egg.

Add another 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup white sauce, 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1/2 cup diced ham, 1 Tblsp. diced pimiento, and one diced hard-boiled egg.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs on top of casserole.

Bake @ 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes until bubbly hot and crusty.

Makes 6 servings.


This dish can be made ahead for baking later in the day.  Add 10 minutes or so more baking time to compensate for the food coming straight from the refrigerator.

The cookbook, “What’s Cooking in Kentucky” by  Irene Hayes (my version is the Revised Edition 1979) is probably the most used cookbook I own – and I have a lot of cookbooks.  The recipes are down-home, country style, contributed by women from all over Kentucky, and the timing was perfect for me when I got the book for my birthday in 1982.  We had just moved to the country and I had lots of good produce coming into the kitchen every day, sometimes with my husband carrying it in a wheelbarrow!  I notice the book is still available online and it would be a nice addition to anyone’s collection.