If you haven’t picked up on it yet, identify pretty strongly as an Indiana girl.
I’m a Hoosier through-and-through. But there is another state out there that, as much as it pains me to admit, also has part of my heart. I grew up about 30 minutes north of the Ohio River and, while I may try to deny it, the Bluegrass State has always (and will always be) a huge part of who I am. I was born in Kentucky. My first “real” job was in Kentucky. I bought my prom dresses in Kentucky.
If Indiana is my favorite pair of jeans, Kentucky is the comfortable sweatshirt that I secretly love, but wouldn’t dare be caught dead wearing in public.
No offense, Kentuckians.
Growing up so close to Louisville means that the Kentucky Derby was a huge part of my childhood. I marched in the Pegasus Parade in high school. I watched Thunder Over Louisville from the bow of the Belle of Louisville when I was a kid. I wore my Pegasus Pin proudly to school. I happily enjoyed the “administrative holiday” from school that just happened to fall on the Oaks. And I ate my fair share of Derby Pie.
For those of you not from the area, Derby Pie is a chocolate, walnut and bourbon pie that was created at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky. It’s, uh, the best thing in the world. Imagine pecan pie, but with walnuts. Plus chocolate and booze. It is my absolute favorite pie on the planet. It’s even in the running for my favorite dessert on the planet. It’s that good. And being that the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, it seemed only fitting that I have a go at making this Bluegrass favorite a little bit cleaner and healthier.
I went full-on health-obsessed crazy pants with this one. I stripped out all the animal products, made a delicious, whole wheat crust and used less-processed ingredients. I thought for sure I was going too far from the original, but the end result was completely delicious and true to the Derby spirit. The chocolate-bourbon-walnut combo cannot be conquered—even with copious ground flaxseed and whole wheat flour.
The interesting part? I’ve never actually been to Churchill Downs. I’ve stood outside of it. I’ve watched the Derby on TV, but actually don a fancy hat and bet on the horses? Never. Hopefully now that I’m moving home, we’ll make it to the twin spires in the next few years.