Oh glorious morning. To walk outside and not cringe from cold. Exuberant birdsong singing open the stomata ofbulbs plants. Green bursting forth from the earth. Daffodils. Tentative peony sprouts. The vague green hue surrounding the weeping willow. Spinach seedlings. And suddenly, puddles of sunshine.

My community of friends is mourning the loss of a supremely warm-hearted friend. Her being left us wrapped in the coziness of the love she exuded to all of us – especially to children. This loss underscores the preciousness of every single moment on the planet. And yet, embracing each minute challenges most of us. Crazy drivers and long grocery store lines can cloud our connection to the miracle that surrounds us everywhere we turn.

I think about just laying on the ground and studying everything contained in one square foot of earth. Universes.

I saw Tailgate Market farmer Ron Gagliano yesterday. He was cheerfully buying pea inoculant. His last two years have been personally challenging, including losing his home to fire. He left me with his current mantra – an ancient Vedic saying:

Water does not wet me,

Wind does not dry me,

Fire will not burn me,

Nor can any weapons cleave me.

 I am ancient.

I am unborn.

Which brings the unmovable strength and fierceness of my friend Libby right to mind.


A Few Goodies for A Cold Weather Supper

A Few Goodies for A Cold Weather Supper

The YMCA WINTER MARKET has moved. It is now located at the Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church at 789 Merrimon Avenue from 10 to 12:30 every Saturday morning until April. That is the church with the giant community garden in the front yard facing Merrimon Avenue – most of the harvest goes toward feeding the hungry.

With only a few minutes to shop, I stocked up on grits and eggs from East Fork Farm, two kinds of potatoes from Meadow Cove Farm plus some beautifully dried shiitake mushrooms, AND a beautiful apple turnover decorated with a heart (smile) from Aimee Mostwill of Sweetheart Bakery plus a yummy coconut shortbread cookie.

On this blustery day, doesn’t a cozy soup (based on potatoes and shiitakes) with an warm apple turnover for dessert sound marvelous and comforting?

NOTE: All the greens were gone quickly…I missed them by a long shot. Meanwhile over at CITY MARKET, Missy of Jake’s Farm said she sold out of her veggies within ten minutes. Wow. Asheville City Market’s winter location is indoors at the Public Works Building on Charlotte and Eagle Streets from 10 to noon.

Hint, hint…Don’t lollygag like I did. Get to these Saturday markets at 10 o’clock if you are serious about winter greens!



Super-fresh Green Chard from Full Sun Farm

Super-fresh Green Chard from Full Sun Farm


By the time I got to the Tailgate Market last Saturday, Vanessa was out of spinach. She suggested green chard as a substitute, and even gave me a bunch of Full Sun Farm green chard to try out. This chard embodies vitality. You can SEE it – even in the photo.

We sautéed Gaining Ground Farm onions and once they were clear, added this super-fresh green chard. Once the chard cooked down a bit, we added the East Fork Farm eggs and scrambled until the eggs were just tender. What a great way to start a Sunday morning!

Scrambled Eggs with Full Sun Farm Green Chard

East Fork Farm Scrambled EGGS with Full Sun Farm GREEN CHARD


Tailgate Market This saturday - Even Though I Arrived Late

Tailgate Market This Saturday – Even Though I Arrived Late

Fall excelled this Saturday with a perfect market day. Because I was late I missed out on some goodies, but look at this luscious bag-full I gathered before the farmers started packing up.

Spinning Spider Garlic Dill Chevre, and a buttery harder cheese from Three Graces Dairy called Castenets

-My favorite Roots & Branches crackers – Olive Oil and Rosemary – to go with the cheese

McConnell Farms Granny Smith Apples for a rustic galette inspired by Mark Bittman

Cathy Osada’s Pound Cake for a tea party to celebrate my friends’ new home and promote good mojo for the upcoming paper signing

-Ultra-fresh green chard gifted by Vanessa of Full Sun Farm to experiment with in lieu of spinach (gardener alert – she says it is VERY cold hardy)

-One dozen eggs from East Fork Farm (not pictured)

-And…the most essential of ingredients – onions from Gaining Ground Farm, one was irresistible  because of its soft red color

North Asheville Tailgate Market, Nov. 1, 2014

North Asheville Tailgate Market, Nov. 1, 2014

Brrrrrr. Fierce or crazy? As farmer Tom Elmore put it…”either these farmers are very committed or they need to be committed!” Snow coated every tree branch on Saturday morning. Temperatures were bitter with a biting wind chill, but the roads were fine. I arrived at the North Asheville Tailgate Market bundled in a wool coat, wool socks, hat and scarf. After about an hour at the market my hands and feet were freezing; farmers had been exposed to brutal temps since early morning. I heard Asheville City Market was also up and running too, and I bet the Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market and others were too.

The Holy Trinity - Onion, Green Pepper, & Celery

The Holy Trinity – Onion, Green Pepper, & Celery

Despite the cold, the farmers were admirably jovial. I stocked up for dinner and the week ahead. My newlywed niece, Cecile, and her husband were visiting – which motivated some cooking to stave off the frigid outdoors. Isn’t that one luxury of cold wintry days? They inspire cooking cozy foods and drinking lots of tea (wine, beer, cider…).

A perfect bread making day, I baked mostly-local multigrain loaves that included flours from Carolina Ground and Steadfast Farm, and a secret stash of cornmeal from Bee Tree Farm. The coarse dough was surprisingly receptive as I kneaded. Cecile concocted a salad with local greens, Bill Whipple’s pears, walnuts, and Kalamata olives. While the bread baked, we nibbled on an hors d’oeuvre of Carol’s mushrooms sautéed in butter and served on toasted pita points. Then came supper – hot bread and butter, salad, and a hearty soup made with many homegrown and local ingredients. The ingredients included carrots that were gifted to me by my sister-in-law during her recent visit. She grew them behind the flowers in her front porch window boxes.

Meals cooked with love from ingredients grown with care nourish us on so many levels. Thank you fierce farmers!

Market Finds on A Freezing Saturday

Market Finds on A Freezing Saturday

Saturday Morning at B & L Organic Farm,

Saturday Morning at B & L Organic Farm

Bread Dough

Bread Dough


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

IMG_3934The landscape colors shifted while I was at work yesterday. All of a sudden, fall is here. She lulls us with her enticing garment of golds and reds; she softens the blow of the coming cold weather; but just as we are relaxing into the beauty of it all…BAM! Brutal weather will arrive. So I don’t welcome fall with open arms. She is the harbinger of winter, my least favorite season. I admit it. I am a member of the tribe that thinks you can always cool down when it is hot, but it is hard to get warm when it is freezing.

The golds and reds remind us that hard frost will soon be here. That frost will snatch the delicious summer vegetables from our grasp until next year. Soak up the bounty of our markets this week. Like a squirrel, stock up for winter – and do what you can to hang on to summer. Revel in the vitality. Almost every day of the week there is a Tailgate Market in Buncombe or surrounding counties, and many markets are nearing their last market day for this season. So, gather your goodies. Thank your farmers. Be grateful we live somewhere where we can easily obtain food raised in our own mountain soils by sincere farmers.

Visit the Tailgate Markets this week!

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