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'Purple Haze' Carrots, Mudluscious Pottery & Gardens

‘Purple Haze’ Carrots, Mudluscious Pottery & Gardens

Vitality filled my nostrils as I scrubbed the carrots. Just brushing their skins brought home the power of local. This soil. This good Earth. The personal association with the farmers – Cindy Trisler and Rodney Bowling. I suspect this carrot is called ‘Purple Haze’, and being a Jimi Hendrix fan I gotta love that name.

I added these beauties to a creamy potato and kale soup. Chilled to the bone after working most of the day in the rain (even though it is relatively warm), a cozy soup with buttered bread sounded just right as a quick and satisfying supper.

Now I must find the inspiration to stir up some primer paint and roll it on the walls…but that is another story.

Soup, creamy potato and kale soup

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Beautiful weather, the buzz of customers, and lots of LOCAL food – that was today at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. I was enticed to the market by Carl and Julie’s (Mountain Harvest Organics) roasted Italian peppers. Every fall Carl and Julie fill the market with the delectable aroma of roasting  peppers. Peppers are ready hot out of the roaster…but be sure to buy some extras to freeze and use when winter is threatening never to end. The next time they will roast peppers is  on Saturday, October 11 at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. Don’t miss out.

Roasted Italian Peppers from Mountain Harvest Organics - a Real Treat!

Roasted Italian Peppers from Mountain Harvest Organics – a Real Treat!

I got a number of staples and treats this week – some to share at a party next weekend in Chapel Hill ~ salad mix from Full Sun Farm, pears from Bill Whipple, potatoes from Flying Cloud Farm, St. Paulin cheese with it’s lovely crust from Three Graces Dairy, pound cake from Cathy Osada, pistachio shortbread from Sweetheart Bakery (not picture as I already ate it!), roasted red Italian peppers from Mountain Harvest Organics, grits from East Fork Farm (They have a mill on their farm!), crackers from Roots & Branches, butternut squash and onion from Mountain Harvest Organics, wild sockeye salmon and smoked salmon form the Wild Salmon Company, and two milder Habanero peppers from Thatchmore Farm (I hope to trick my friend at work into thinking I am eating a fiery pepper without blinking).

Fall Bounty of Sincerely Local Food - each associated with a particular farmer.

Fall Bounty of Sincerely Local Food – each associated with a particular farmer when eaten.

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Keep your lunch affordable AND local. Make your own!

Are you currently buying your lunch every day? If so, you probably spend $8 to $15 for lunch, depending on whether it is fast food or fancy. That factors out to $160 to $375 per month for lunch. That’s a chunk out of your paycheck! With our abundance of Tailgate Markets in WNC, we can eat a splendidly local lunch that easily surpasses the Subway variety sandwich.

Hint! Cover the sandwich evenly with each ingredient.

Hint! Cover the sandwich evenly with each ingredient.

Great bread is essential for building a satisfying sandwich. Artisan bakers offer delicious choices at all our tailgate markets. I prefer slicing my own bread because I slice it slightly thicker than a standard bread slicer. Spread any condiments (mayo, mustard, etc.) out to entirely cover the bread. Slice your cheese/meat and add the first layer to your sandwich. Follow up with layers of homegrown tomatoes, lettuce, and any other inspiring additions (cucumbers, peppers, basil, radishes, onions, olives, walnuts, etc.). Avocado adds a meaty (but not local) flavor to vegetarian sandwiches. Baby kale and spinach kick up the flavor fun. Use the same technique for constructing a gluten-free wrap rather than a sandwich.

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You can turn anything into a sandwich. Slap last night’s dinner between two pieces of bread as you race out the door in the mornings. It is worth taking a few seconds to meticulously cover the entire piece of bread with each addition, so that every bite is equally delicious.

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Wrap it up and head to work.

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MAKE IT FROM SCRATCH! At the 20th Annual Organic Growers School Spring Conference, Meredith McKissick taught a class called “Things You Should Be Making from Scratch” . The class filled up before the conference, so I could not attend…but Meredith gave me some vinegar mother [read super-thrilling!], and the class handout.

RED WINE VINEGAR    

Making Red Wine Vinegar

Making Red Wine Vinegar

Supplies include:

1 Large Glass Jar (1/2 gallon at least)

1 Bottle of Red Wine (doesn’t matter what kind…cheap is fine according to Meredith)

Vinegar Mother

Meredith’s Directions:

Pour the wine into the jar and float the vinegar mother on top. Cover the jar with a couple of washcloths and secure with a rubber band. Allow to sit at room temperature (or a little cooler, like a basement) for one month. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor.

Very do-able, right? It was super easy; starting the red wine vinegar took less than 5 minutes. Now all I have to do is wait a month while the vinegar mother does her job. Thank you Meredith!

Among other things…Meredith McKissick is the Executive Director of the Organic Growers School, the owner of Sweet Earth Flower Farm, co-owner of Crooked Creek Farm/ Foothills Family Farm, mother of two young sons, and a great cook who does a LOT of cooking from scratch.

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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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This spring we are reveling in eating sweet strawberries from the Tailgate Markets. We’ve made three batches of strawberry shortcake so far, along with a strawberry tart. What a wonderful way to celebrate strawberry season.

Strawberry shortcake is easy to make. Basically you just make sweet biscuits, then cut them in half, and layer them with strawberries and whipped cream.

 

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE RECIPE

 

Shortcake

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour*

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour*

¼ cup cornmeal*

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 heaping tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 stick butter

¾ to 1 cup half-and-half (or cream which is especially good)

Half-and-half and Sugar for topping shortcakes – courser sugar looks pretty

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Gently grate the butter and evenly fold the grated butter into the dry mixture, trying to keep the butter pieces from sticking to each other. Put bowl in freezer for a few minutes.

Remove bowl from freezer, and gently stir the half-and-half into the dough until it is sticking together well and will form a somewhat sticky ball (that you are able to handle). The dough should not be too super-sticky or too stiff.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead gently for about ½ minute. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape about ¾ inch thick. Cut out individual shortcakes with a biscuit cutter about the size of a soup can. Combine remaining dough, re-pat out the dough to ¾ inch thick, and cut out the remaining shortcakes…until you have used up all the dough.

Arrange on a baking sheet around an inch apart. Brush shortcakes with cream or half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until nicely brown on top, about 14 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

Makes 8 or 9 shortcakes

 

*You can also use 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, and eliminate the whole wheat pastry flour and the cornmeal.

 

 

Strawberries – enough for about 6 shortcakes

 

2 pints strawberries, organic

Sugar to taste, about 1 tsp-1 tbsp per pint, depending on berry sweetness

orange juice or lemon juice, just a splash

 

Pull the caps from strawberries and slice about 1/8 inch thick. Add sugar to taste. Add a splash of orange or lemon juice. Toss to combine, taste and add more sugar if needed. Cover and refrigerate until assembling the shortcakes.

Whipped Cream – enough for about 6 shortcakes

 1 pint heavy whipping cream, organic

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a cold, steep-sided bowl, whip cream until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-whip the cream and “make butter”. Once stiff peaks are forming, gently fold in one teaspoon of vanilla.

Whipping the Cream

Assembling the Strawberry Shortcakes:

With a bread knife, cut each shortcake in half. Ladle strawberries on to the bottom half of the shortcake, and add a generous dollop of whipped cream. Top that with the upper half of the shortcake. Ladle more strawberries on to the top shortcake, and add another generous dollop of whipped cream. Garnish the very top with a strawberry if you like. Using these amounts of strawberries and whipped cream, you will have two or three extra (plain) shortcakes.

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Dark, Rich Gumbo

Mardi Gras Day is this Tuesday, February 21. Ashevillians can parade today (Sunday) at 2 p.m. ~ starts on Wall Street and wraps around down Haywood Street and back around by the Grove Arcade. For those who don’t already know – Mardi means Tuesday, and Gras means Fat – which is why it is also called Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday indicates the last day of feasting before you must start fasting during Lent (a period of fasting with the purpose of cleansing yourself, physically and spiritually, to prepare for the celebration of Easter).

If you can’t make it to New Orleans or some other town that celebrates Carnival, you can at least cook up a pot of gumbo. Today’s weather is perfect for blasting some Mardi Gras classics while getting down with some roux on the stove. Since the basis of good gumbo is a good roux, allot at least a half hour to 45 minutes for getting your roux right before proceeding on to the next steps. In other words…relax into it and don’t hurry it. If you make gumbo today, it will be better tomorrow and even better on Mardi Gras Day.

Here is my gumbo recipe (give or take a little), along with some instructions about making good gumbo and making stock:

https://tailgatemarketfanclub.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/seafood-gumbo-recipe/

https://tailgatemarketfanclub.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/cooking-good-gumbo/

https://tailgatemarketfanclub.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/seafood-stock-for-gumbo/

Keep in mind that gumbo is a personal thing – meant to be elaborated on by the cook (that’s you!). Can’t go wrong with lots of onion, green peppers, and celery sautéed into that roux. And remember to wait to throw the more delicate seafood in at the last minute, so it doesn’t get tough. Serve with LOTS of good French bread and butter. And of course (no-brainer), serve gumbo over rice. Gumbo HAS to have rice, or it’s not gumbo.

Here is another recipe and additional advice from Foodista:

http://www.foodista.com/recipe/Z2KPLCN3/jean-s-seafood-gumbo#

This recipe calls for both okra and file…which some consider a really big no-no. And certainly, if file is involved, it is added at the very last. (I don’t know how to add the accent mark, but this word is not “file” as in file cabinet…it is pronounced like fee-lay.)

Note: I would eliminate #11. Why would you want to cool down your gumbo? And why would you want to be messing around with a big heavy pot of hot gumbo in the sink? That sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

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