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Chopped Parsley

Chopped Parsley

On a lemony-fall Sunday morning, this LOCAL breakfast brings out my parsley love. As with most herbs, parsley is packed with anti-oxidants and according to a Chicago Tribune article, “Just two tablespoons of parsley, high in vitamin K and the antioxidant vitamins A and C, pack 144 percent [of the daily recommended amount]…of vitamin K for bone and heart health…. and has been shown to stop breast cancer cells from multiplying and growing.”

Twenty four parsley plants line my front walk. The convenience of having the parsley A FEW STEPS from my kitchen cannot be underestimated. In the middle of cooking delicate eggs, I can pull the eggs off the heat, run outside, grab some

Eggs from Mudlicious Gardens - Grocery Store Eggs Pale in Comparison

Eggs from Mudlicious Gardens

parsley, chop it up, and throw it in the skillet – without compromising the eggs. Every single time we add parsley to our meal, we are kicking up the nutrient level, the flavor, and the visual appeal of the dish. Add parsley towards the end of cooking so the flavor is fresh and green. Dried parsley offers good benefits as well, but in Western North Carolina we are able to eat fresh parsley most of the year – and fresh is exponentially tastier. I use parsley at most meals and even as a lettuce substitute on my sandwiches.

Unprotected, my parsley dies back considerably in the coldest part of winter, but in late winter it revives and begins growing again. If you protect your parley with floating row cover it will flourish in the cold months too. A biennial, it is best to replant your parsley every spring because it goes to seed the second season and won’t produce much foliage. Even most apartment dwellers can grow a little parley in their brightest window, so get growing!

LOCAL Scrambled Eggs

LOCAL Scrambled Eggs

My LOCAL breakfast was fast and delicious. The eggs were from Mudluscious Pottery & Gardens (there was even a green egg in the carton!); the onions were from Gaining Ground Farm; the red pepper and the parsley were from my garden; and the Multigrain toast was from Annie’s Bakery. The cheese was not local, but it was organic.

OTHER HARDY HERBS for winter cooking: Routinely add herbs to your cooking. This age-old tradition is an effortless and delicious way to increase your intake of anti-oxidants.

Rosemary – such a savory addition to potatoes, meats, and soups. Demands good drainage in the soil.

Cilantro – Cilantro loves cold weather, not hot weather. Mine lived outside unprotected last winter.

English Thyme – Often happier in wintertime, demands good drainage in the soil.

Dried Basil (not hardy, but delicious dried) – Dry the leaves and store in an airtight jar. Crush leaves just before using. Frozen pesto is unbeatable.

Gardener/Chef Note: In my opinion, flat leaf parsley tastes even better than curly leaf parsley – but it is not as attractive as an edging to your walkway.

Parsley Plants Lining the Walkway

Parsley Plants Lining the Walkway

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My Neighbor's Relentless Winter Squash

My Neighbor’s Relentless Winter Squash

I froze and watched as two red-tailed hawks flew low over my head this afternoon, hunting doves for dinner. The sky was so blue and clear, I sat in a puddle of sun for a few minutes taking in the fall day, the creature activity, and the pretty little details lingering in my garden. One last purple flower bloomed lonely on the eggplants. I saw a baby snake, the size and color of a great big earthworm. I happily discovered cilantro volunteers. They aren’t afraid of winter. A doggone groundhog munched the tops off of some of my lettuces. Eventually, I got around to the bigger job of fall garden cleanup (read weeding), harvesting the last of my peppers before frost, and digging a few potatoes for dinner.

Cilantro Volunteer

Cilantro Volunteer

DSCN4415

Radicchio

Carmen & California Wonder Peppers

Carmen & California Wonder Peppers

Potatoes for Dinner

Potatoes for Dinner

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Great Week for Greens!

Great Week for Greens!

The tailgate farmer’s markets are cooking with so many choices. We had a cold start this season, but lately the weather has been awesome – nicely parceling out rain and sunshine in just the right amount. Last week almost everything was ready at the market…even local squashes (pattypans have been SO delicious for dinner this week!). Yummy broccoli and cauliflower too. I haven’t seen any field tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant yet, BUT I have been eating local greenhouse tomatoes AND I heard that blueberries were found at the Montford Farmers Market this past Wednesday.

The local strawberries have been so wonderful, I’ve made more smoothies in the last few weeks than I’ve made in the last few years. Strawberries are such a divine fruit; they are full of vitamin C, and they even whiten your teeth when you eat the whole berry. Try them in green salads. Looking forward to the prospect of blueberries, and a whole new toss of smoothie ingredients.

Blue Potatoes are Blooming!

Blue Potatoes are Blooming!

I actually dug a few new potatoes recently and can’t believe how my garden is growing. I had to kickstart some lame looking peppers this week, but otherwise things are looking fabulous. I have been squishing bean beetles, and keeping an eye out for cucumber beetles. I discovered some Colorado potato beetle eggs on my potato plants. Squish. Last time I looked I didn’t find any more eggs…but we all know how that goes.

Get out and enjoy the wonderful bounty. Stock up this Saturday – so you can eat deliciously and LOCAL all week. And remember to visit the local weekday markets too – every day of the week except Monday. Cheers!

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Love those seriously local harvests from my yard. I harvested peas from a little patch of Sugar Snaps that are planted in a flower bed near where I park. Salad greens came from my lower garden…romaine, ‘Firecracker’ lettuce, endive, radicchio, and chives. Such a fresh dinner that tasted full of vitality. I usually just eat my peas raw, but they sure are good sautéed in butter!

Harvesting some salad greens

Harvesting some salad greens

Tiny Pea Harvest...Just Right For Dinner

Tiny Pea Harvest…Just Right For Dinner

Sugar Snaps Sauteed in Butter - The Butter brings Out the Sweetness of the Pea

Sugar Snaps Sautéed in Butter – The Butter Brings Out the Sweetness of the Pea

Read about the Politics of Lettuce to encourage yourself to buy lettuce from a local farmer and to grow lettuces in your own yard – or both. It is somewhat shocking.

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OK people. By this Saturday, every market in the region will be open (except the Bakersville Farmers Market which opens next Saturday). Lets be hoopin’ and hollerin’! On top of that, the weather seems to have finally warmed up. The nice hot sunshine has been making the farmer’s crops grow, coaxing strawberries to ripen, and just generally making

Beautiful Tomatoes

Beautiful Tomatoes

market-going even sweeter.

In view of the weird spring I would advise gardeners to keep an eye on the weather, but the frost date has past and it is officially safe to plant your veggie garden. Tailgate Markets are full of beautiful plant starts. Take this opportunity to buy some transplants, tuck them into your garden soil, and grow some of your very own cool crops at home…like ‘Fairytale’ Eggplant, ‘Carmen’ Peppers, and unusual tomatoes.

Gotta love Western North Carolina. There is a Farmer’s Tailgate Market every day of the week except Monday!

Tailgate Market Schedule Update…

JUST OPENED on Friday, May 17: East Asheville Tailgate Market: Fridays, 3-6 pm

OPEN THIS SATURDAY, May 18: Waynesville Tailgate Market: Wednesdays/Saturdays, 8 am-12 pm

OPENING NEXT SATURDAY, May 25: Bakersville Farmers Market: Saturdays, 8 am-12 pm

SATURDAY FARMER’S TAILGATE MARKETS:

Asheville City Market: April 6, Saturdays, 8 am-1 pm

Black Mountain Tailgate Market: May 4, Saturdays, 9 am-12 pm

Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: April 20, Wednesdays/Saturdays, 8 am-12 pm

Henderson County Tailgate Market: Saturdays, 7 am-12 pm

Historic Marion Tailgate Market: May 14, Tuesdays 3-6 pm, Saturdays, 9 am-12 pm

Leicester Farmers Market: March 30, Saturdays, 9 am-2 pm

Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: April 6, Saturdays, 9 am-1 pm

Mills River Farmers Market: May 4, Saturdays, 8 am-12 pm

North Asheville Tailgate Market: April 13, Saturdays, 8 am-12 pm

Transylvania Tailgate Market: April 20, Saturdays, 8 am-12:30 pm

SUNDAY FARMER’S TAILGATE MARKETS:

Sundays On The Island, Marshall, Sundays, 12-4

TUESDAY FARMER’S TAILGATE MARKETS:

Historic Marion Tailgate Market: May 14, Tuesdays 3-6 pm, Saturdays, 9 am-12 pm

West Asheville Tailgate Market: April 9, Tuesdays, 3:30-6:30 pm

WEDNESDAY FARMER’S TAILGATE MARKETS:

Asheville City Market South: April 3, Wednesdays, 1-5 pm

French Broad Food Co-op Wednesday Tailgate Market: April 3, Wednesdays, 2-6 pm

Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: April 20, Wednesdays/Saturdays, 8 am-12 pm

Montford Farmers Market: May 1, Wednesdays, 2-6 pm

Spruce Pine Farmers Market: May 1, Wednesdays, 2-5 pm

Weaverville Tailgate Market: April 10, Wednesdays, 2:30-6:30 pm

THURSDAY FARMER’S TAILGATE MARKETS:

Flat Rock Tailgate Market: May 2, Thursdays, 3-6 pm

Oakley Farmers Market: May 9, Thursdays, 3:30-6:30 pm

FRIDAY FARMER’S TAILGATE MARKETS:

Yancey County Farmers Market: April 20, Saturdays, 8:30 am-12:30 pm

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Relatively weed-free. That’s what I thought until I generated a huge pile of weeds in my garden. What a thrill to be outside today – soaking up the warm air – working in my garden. I even harvested some dinner as I cleaned up the last of my winter garden. Potatoes, lettuce, and onions…those fresh potatoes are cooking as I write.

One Last Harvest From My Winter Garden

One Last Harvest From My Winter Garden

Couldn’t resist grabbing a minute to lay down on the earth and watch the white puffy clouds traveling the blue sky. Robins hopped in the grass, safely distant and waiting for my departure to explore the potential for worms in the newly-bare dirt. A soft grey bird boldly flew down and started pecking. I become a statue. She adventured toward me checking for tidbits, an immature mocking bird.

Awed by the magic of the day, the bird & insect song, the bumblebee hedging along the honeysuckle-covered fence, the horsetail equisetum that rooted in my vase, the dogwood flowers I picked in my yard, and the optimism of planting a spring garden – I am mystified by bombs in Boston and how we have come to this. I want to know the recipe for healing our country and whatever seems to have gone so wrong with our world.

I feel lucky for my own fearless childhood where bad things (except me getting in trouble) were not on my radar screen. I can’t help but wonder if the people who do these crazy things would be so crazy if they spent more time outside. Without even trying we are surrounded by Beauty. No matter where we live there is always the sky, the sun, the rain, birds flying, plants sprouting in the sidewalk.

I am beginning to think that the human race is the worse invasive species on the planet. Not because of our numbers, but because of our greedy care-less attitudes. We are all so busy. It’s sincerely hard to snatch moments of calm and serenity, to slow things down a notch, and find ourselves blown away by the wonder of creation. I wish I could ensure that kids went outside everyday, or I wish I knew THE answer. I don’t.

But things like local farmer’s markets do weight the game towards personal relationships with our food and the people

Dinner From The Last Winter Harvest

Dinner From The Last Winter Harvest

who grow it. Even if we don’t consciously sense this, I think our bodies know the difference and they thrive on food grown with love and care. Let’s get out there and embrace this season of new fruits from our earth. Visit the market. Plant your own garden. Bring magic and wonder to your children any way you can. Celebrate that we are here. Share the love.

Click here for the farmer’s Tailgate Market 2013 schedule.

More thoughts…on hearing this morning’s news…it sounds a bit naïve to suggest that people like this would be transformed by exposure to the outdoors. Its crazy the way we humans are; killing our own on a regular basis. Seems the whole planet needs some serious grounding in the basics of what truly matters during our short lifetimes. All the while though, the Beauty surrounds us with such unimaginable complexity. It’s there, waiting, always ready to show us the way.

And at work today, my boss Wilma Penland wrote this about Earth Day for our eNewsletter – but it fits these thoughts perfectly:  “Studies from around the world have shown that when adults interact with nature and plants, they have less stress and depression in their lives and that children are less hyperactive and more creative. Research has also shown there is less crime in cities with parks and nature areas.”

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The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Mix Everything Up In A Bowl

Mix Everything Up In A Bowl

OVEN FRIES with CREAMY DIP Recipe

Listening to “The Splendid Table” on Saturday inspired me to make some oven fries for the Superbowl party at M and T’s. I used potatoes

From My Garden

Potatoes From My Garden

and herbs from my own garden, and concocted a dip to go along with the oven fries. The fries were a bit spicy for my friend M, but her husband loved them. I probably shouldn’t have added the last few shakes of cayenne pepper! I don’t usually follow recipes for this sort of thing…so I will give you the general idea and you can change it up to suit your own tastes.

OVEN FRIES

Potatoes – enough to fill a large cookie sheet. Mine were harvested from my garden, a mix of Yukon Golds, French Fingerlings,, and Kennebecs.

1 Onion

Rosemary – 4 long sprigs from my plant, chopped with tough stems removed

Basil – I used dried basil harvested from my summer garden

Olive Oil

Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, and Cajun Seasoning to taste

Paprika

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut up potatoes into French fry shapes and put in large bowl, leaving skins on. Chop onion and add to bowl. Chop and add rosemary. Crush dried basil and add to bowl, removing stems. Add a generous amount of olive oil. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Toss everything well. Spread evenly on a lightly greased cookie sheet, ideally in a mostly single layer. Sprinkle with paprika. I added a bit more salt at this point also, and that (too spicy for M) last bit of cayenne. Bake until done. I like to cook them until they are browning on the edges. Try it with sweet potatoes too!

Spread On Cookie Sheet, Sprinkle With Paprika

Ready To Go In Oven

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My daughter (as a 6-year-old) and I loved the white dip served with the fried eggplant appetizer at Barracas restaurant in New Orleans, and I have always wanted to try making it. The waiter gave me an idea of what was in the dip. On Superbowl Sunday I was missing one critical ingredient…horseradish…and I didn’t want to go to the store, so this recipe has no horseradish. That may have been good since the fries were spicy, but the horseradish adds a really nice snap.  I didn’t measure anything, so these measurements are pure guesses. I just tasted and adjusted accordingly.

WHITE DIP

Sour Cream, about ½ cup

Mayonnaise, a couple of tablespoons or so

Parmesan Cheese

Tabasco

Balsamic Vinegar (best quality you have), about 2 teaspoons

Salt

Pepper

Cajun seasoning (I used some called ‘Slap Your Mama’)

Horseradish, if possible

Mix everything up. Taste and adjust. Serve dip with oven fries. Enjoy.

 Super Bowl 2013 Potatoes, Cornbread Bee Tree 029

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