Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Foodie Feastivals


Spring is my favorite time of the year. Seeing bud break, the first violets, redbuds, daffodils and bluets means that in a very short while the farmers markets will be brimming with fresh produce, greens and fruits that my taste buds are aching for. The chickens will be laying once again, goats and cows will be sharing their milk, and livestock will move to greener pastures.
Ramps, the harbingers of spring in mountain hollers, are slower to bulb this year, due to this year's mean, cold winter, says Palette Butler, co-owner of Veranda Cafe in Black Mountain. She shared a recipe for Rampalicious Chicken Soup for THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK, which will be available next week!
In the meanwhile, April brings festivals for foodies to enjoy:

CUPCAKES FOR CURES (www.cupcakesforcures.com), Saturday, April 10th,
1 to 4 pm at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. For a donation, you get to stuff your face
with creative cupcakes made by competing professional bakers or amateurs, who hope
to earn bragging rights and fantastic prizes. In keeping with the true spirit of Asheville,
categories include Best Beer Cupcake, Best Gluten-Free Cupcake, as well as best holiday
or birthday or local foods cupcakes.

THE BLUE RIDGE WINE FESTIVAL, (www.blueridgewinefestival.com)
April 15 through 18th, Blowing Rock. Join winemaker dinners, watch an Iron Chef-like
competition, Fire on the Rocks, join house tours, champagne brunches, and a chance to
taste many of the fine wines made in the Blue Ridge area of NC and VA. I'll be there to
Meet and Greet on Friday afternoon, and under the Big Tent with all the wines and
gourmet foods, when THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK makes its debut

Down east, the little town of Grifton will hold its 40th SHAD FESTIVAL also on
April 17th & 18th along the banks of Contentnea Creek. EAT MO' SHAD as in fried
or in a delicious traditional fish stew and enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere of kiddie
rides and other fair food. www.grifton.com/shadfest/

The largest sustainable farm tour in the country is the annual PIEDMONT FARM
Tour, April 24th & 25th, sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Assoc. and
Weaver Street Markets. In Orange, Chatham and other counties, you can visit buffalo,
a third-generation beef farm, see the work that goes into producing organically grown
veggies and fruits, and the efforts behind getting chevre and other cheeses to the
market. It's a chance to expose your kids, and your friends, to the world of farming.
Get your tickets in advance at Weaver St Markets and area farmers markets.
For $25 per car, you can visit up to 40 farms, although usually only 3 to 4 in one good

Dessert for our Easter dinner! Since cream products bother my kids and me, I cut back on the cream cheese in the frosting, and fiddled with the cake batter, too! It was a winner!!

adapted from Ina Garten

For the cake batter:
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup canola oil
4 medium/large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons gorund cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting:
1/2 pound (1 large package) cream cheese, room temp
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
About 1 pound confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, then line with parchment paper, then butter again and dust with flour.
2. Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in a large bowl, using an electric beater. Beat until light yellow. Add the vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and slowly mix just until all is moist.
5. With a spatula, fold in the raisins and walnuts, then the carrots and pineapple, mixing well.
6. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for about 1 hour, more or less, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans over a wire rack.
8. With an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter and vanilla. Gradually add the sugar until you've got a spreadable mixture.
9. Place one layer of cake on your serving dish, and spread its top with the frosting. Place the second layer on top, and spread the frosting on the top and sides. Wipe the edges of the plate clean. Lick your fingers and your spreader.
10. Place in the refrigerator under cover.

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