Janine Washle is the owner, along with her husband, of CloverFields Farm & Kitchen in Big Clifty. Janine's love of food began in Bavaria, where she was born. She will be the first to tell you that there are quite a few similarities between the cuisine of southern Germany and the southern United States—whether it is jowl meat or dumplings! When Janine was almost 6, she moved with her family to Virginia. She became a U.S. citizen when she was 16. By that time, she was creating menus for her family and cooking the evening meals. Her mother had a large garden and Janine could select any vegetable she wanted to grow in her part of the garden, as long as she cooked and ate it! Okra was one of her first selections and it was definitely a learning curve, since she let it grow long past its prime.
Janine did not enter the culinary field after college. She had a career in advertising, marketing and human resources for many years, although her clients were often food-related. She was successful in this career path, but during that time she spent her evenings creating wedding and celebration cakes for her colleagues, which made her realize she had a desire to be in the culinary field. But it was a marriage proposal that finally made her leave a corporate career. Her husband-to-be challenged her to “follow her dreams.”
In 2008, Janine and her husband purchased an historic farm in Kentucky, which they named CloverFields. This century old farmstead is now their home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. These acres have a strong farming history and it is continuing under the ownership of the Washles. On nearly 200 acres, they raise bees and collect their honey, harvest hay from native grasses and raise sorghum. There is a large garden where heirloom vegetables are grown with seeds from family, friends and Seed Savers Exchange.
There are two kitchens at CloverFields—one is the family kitchen and the other is a fully-equipped commercial setup. It is in these kitchens that Washle develops new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from her culinary research, and most often according to what is in season. It is her goal to take traditional foods, drinks and ingredients and present them in a more updated way, whether it is apple butter, persimmons, tree nuts, or moonshine!
Washle’s competitive side is reflected in her very notable awards in national recipe competitions. She has taken grand prizes in Hidden Valley and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt competitions, won the Kentucky Monthly 2012 Reader Recipe Contest (get her winning recipe HERE), and has received numerous other recipe awards. She still gets the most satisfaction from showing people how to cook and entertain with creativity, without spending lots of time and money!