Monday, June 21, 2010


Small, tailgate markets need our support in order to draw more farmers and more customers. So instead of heading out on Saturday morning to my town's bigger markets, I hit the North Raleigh market off Durant Road. I find about a dozen or more tables laden with organically-grown produce, pasture-raised meats, free-range chicken and duck eggs, and freshly roasted coffee from Muddy Dog Roasting Co. I also bought their bag of "roasted" yellow corn meal, which promises a more robust, nutty flavor. I can't wait to make some polenta or cornbread with it.
Thick, meaty pork chops from pigs who will soon have a portable pen, or "pig tractor," came from Little River Ranch near Hillsborough. Free-range eggs, Mountain-variety tomatoes, a great head of lettuce, and yellow squash got me real excited. So did the fingerling-style potatoes - red, purple and creamy white. And the first of the season peaches! Cling peaches will be in by next week, I understand.
Grilled squash, 'mater sandwiches, a frittata, pork chops with the potatoes, peaches sliced on my granola, and a heavenly-fresh lettuce salad are what's on the menu at our house this week. Can't wait!

CHARD, ARUGULA, SPINACH taking the heat.......
Up in the cooler ranges of the Blue Ridge, markets are still featuring some of the cooler weather greens, like rainbow chard, collards, or spinach. I expect you better grab some fast before the hot weather does it in.
Last week I was in Galax, VA at the town's Book Festival sponsored by Chapters Bookshop. I found some gorgeous rainbow chard at the market, so for my demo of a recipe from THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK, decided to do May Greens Farmer's Market, a recipe shared by Shiloh Avery of Tumbling Shoals farm, who sells at the Watauga Farmers Market in Boone.
Just about any green can be sliced into ribbons or a chiffonade, then sauteed with onions, mixed with feta and hot pasta. It's a simple and easy dinner, fast food, if you will!

1 package spinach linguine or other fresh (or dried) pasta
splash olive oil

1 bunch (4 to 6 cups minimum) chopped rainbow chard or other green
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches green onions
5 to 6 ounces feta cheese
freshly ground pepper

1. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil. If pasta is fresh, be careful not to overcook. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, separate the stems from the chard leaves. Coarsely chop the stems. Stack the leaves on top of one another, roll them like a cigar, and coarsely chop.
3. Heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large,heavy skilet. Saute the onion and chard stems (not the greens!) in the oil for about 6 minutes or until getting just tender.
4. Add the chard greens and salt. Cook until wilted.
5. Add the drained pasta and the feta cheese and continue cooking for another minute, until the feta begins to melt. Add ground black pepper and serve.
Makes 3 to 4 servings.
recipe copyrighted

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The First Couple choose their first meal in Asheville to be at Twelve Bones. Ribs, Mac & Cheese, greens, corn pudding . . . which sounds like a fine Southern meal to me. I love Twelve Bones' Blueberry Chipotle sauce on ribs, and the jalapeno cheese grits grits are to die for.

Seems President Obama liked his first visit to Twelve Bones so much that he had to take the missus there while on their honeymoon-like getaway. See the video for yourself, HERE

A second location for Twelve Bones has been opened in Ayden, down Hendersonville Rd, and is open for Sat lunch. As you can see from above, the old service station draws a crowd looking to fill up.


SANDHILLS FARM TO TABLE COOPERATIVE is a marvelous organization bringing boxes of farm fresh food weekly to members in the Southern Pines vicinity. You will enjoy their newsletters chock full of ideas and recipes for dealing with the season's bounty, written by an old newspaper buddy and excellent writer, Jan Leitschuh. To get the newsletter, email Jan HERE.


Charles Church, of Watauga River Farms, is one of my favorite farmers. He's been farming on land that butts right up to the river there in Valle Crucis since he "could drag a bucket across the fields." Ever resourceful and innovative, he gave up farming tobacco and learned to produce potatoes, beans, squash and "you name it" organically. He's also raising pigs the old fashioned way, on pasture, and produces beautiful chops and terrific sausage.

And he'll be among the ten farmers featured in this year's High Country Farm Tour by the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture on August 7 and 8th from 2 to 6 pm. That's gorgeous country folks, and a beautiful way to spend a summer's day.

Also check out the Asheville area's Family Farm Tour sponsored by the ASAP on June 26 and 27 from 1 to 6 HERE. It's a huge tour, with over 30 farms included, in some of the most bucolic scenery in the world!


Susan Boylan of Otus Branch Farm near the gorgeous rural community of Todd, NC, shared her recipe for Rhubarb Mint Chutney for THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK. When we tested the recipe, we served it with grilled salmon, and it was an unusual and absolutely delicious relish. Spicy yet balanced with a bit of sweetness. Ditto with roasted pork. I must admit I had never had rhubarb unless in a pie sweetened with lots of sugar and strawberries. This chutney is marvelous!

This past weekend, Susan helped man a booth at the Watauga Farmers Market sponsored by the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, who welcomed both me and my cookbook. An intern from Appalachian State, Kristen, made up several chutney batches and served it on top of slices of baguette from Stick Boy Bakery in Boone, and slices of Ashe County Cheese, also featured in my book. Along with samples of Apple Spice Cake, we drew a taste-ful crowd!

Here's Susan's recipe, as printed in THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK.


2 to 3 stalks rhubarb, finely chopped

1 small chili pepper, seeded and minced

10 to 15 leaves of mint, preferably spearmint, chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons raw or brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine rhubarb, chili pepper, and mint. Gently stir in sugar and salt.

Allow flavors to mellow for at least 2 hours, then adjust sugar and salt to taste. Can by made 1 day ahead and will last up to 3 days in the fridge.