Saturday, March 26, 2011


Rainbow Chard

Spring is my favorite time of year. Not only for the yellow and pink blossoms that erupt from leafless trees and as daffodils, but also for the GREENS from the garden. And now, thanks to hoop houses and growing tunnels, mustard greens, Tuscan kale, curly kale and the above Rainbow Chard hit the markets even earlier.
At Tumbling Shoals Farm, in NC's northwestern corner, Shiloh and partner Jason grow a smorgasbord of terrific veggies. Former Peace Corps workers, they came home and apprenticed with an organic grower in the Triangle area, took some classes in sustainable farming, then found their mountain farm to pour their hearts and souls into.
Last summer during the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture's farm tour, I saw tomatoes in hoop houses, rain gutters adapted as a growing place for starting seeds, and the elaborate schedule used to rotate crops.
Shiloh is a great cook, and I was so happy that she shared this recipe with me. It's become one of my favorite "meatless meals." I just love the slightly bitter flavor of the chard with the tang of the feta and the flavor of the spinach pasta. And it's quick and easy! Try the recipe that follows.......
And, watch my latest appearance on Roanoke's WSLS10's OUR BLUE RIDGE, where I make this dish with co-host Natalie:

Here's the RECIPE:
from THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK, by Elizabeth Wiegand, Globe Pequot Press, 2010

At the Watauga Farmers Market, Shiloh Avery and Jason Roehrig of Tumbling Shoals Farm, sell chemical-free strawberries, lacinato kale, rainbow chard, escarole, endive, arugula, and lots of other spring greens. They recommend procuring the rest of the ingredients at the market, also.
1 package spinach linguine or other fresh pasta
one bunch (4 to 6 cups) chopped rainbow chard or other spring green
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a splash
2 bunches chopped green onions
salt to taste
5 ounces feta cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil. If pasta is fresh, be careful not to overcook.)

2. Meanwhile, separate the stems from the chard leaves. Coarsely chop the stems, then roll the leaves together and coarsely chop.

3. Heat the 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. Saute the onion and chard stems (not greens) in the oil for about six minutes.

4. Add the chard greens and salt. Cook until wilted.

5. Add the feta cheese and pasta and continue cooking for another minute, until feta begins to melt. Add ground black pepper and serve.
SERVES 3 to 4

Thursday, March 17, 2011



Our honey bees are in trouble. Since 2006, beekeepers have lost from a third to 90% of their hives, in what is called "Colony Collapse Disorder" or CCD. And no one knows what causes this sudden disappearance of all adult bees.

Pesticides are the most suspicious culprits, as is urban sprawl and decreasing farmland. For a while, cell phones were thought to bother the bees. There's a varroa mite that feeds on bee's blood and transmits viruses, and a pathogenic gut microbe, nosema, that also cause bee deaths. It could be a combination of all of the above problems, scientists say.


Bees pollinate as they search for food to take back to the hive. And 130 crops - most of them food - depend on bees, from almonds in California to blueberries right here in N.C. Without a healthy bee population, our food supplies will dwindle. Beekeepers here in NC and VA truck their bees all over the South and even out to California, earning money from farmers who rely on bees to pollinate their crops. Without bees, there would be little fruit or veggies.

That's why I'm posting the link below that I want you to follow. Let Congress know that you want the EPA to look into pesticide use and colony collapse disorder.

Honey in tea, on a warm piece of toast, in marinades, vinaigrettes....I do love my honey. Gallberry is the flavor I have left in my pantry, and I look forward to the spring crop of wildflower honey, and tupelo honey during early summer and . . . .
Here's a bread recipe from THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK that comes from Sweet Providence Farm near Floyd, Va, given to me by Ann Houston, the just-turned-20 year-old who is the chief baker at her family's roadside market. As a teenager, Ann loved to bake so much and had such success, that they had a "barn-raising" for the bakery/market they built to sell her oven-baked apple turnovers, pies, cakes and bread. She and her siblings man the cash registers, order and sort the produce and meats that come from other local farmers, and display other Southern products. It's worth the drive to check it out, and during the summer, Ann and her six young siblings play bluegrass on the porch on weekend afternoons.


butter for pans

3 cups boiling water

1 cup rolled oats, plus ¼ cup oats, for topping

2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ cup honey

1 ½ cups wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt *(I added)

1 teaspoon yeast

about 4 ½ cups white flour

2 egg whites

1. Boil water.

2. Combine 1 cup rolled oats and butter in a bowl.

3. Add boiling water to oat mixture. Let stand until butter melts.

4. Add maple syrup, honey and wheat flour, and mix.

5. Let stand until room temperature. Add yeast and stir.

6. Add white flour slowly, stirring, and then kneading until a soft and smooth dough forms. You may not need all of the white flour.

7. Place dough in a clean bowl and let rise until it doubles.

8. Punch down and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Grease two loaf pans with butter.

Divide the dough into two equal amounts, shape loaves, and place into loaf pans.

10. Let rise until double.

11. Glaze with egg whites and sprinkle with oats.

12. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until dark golden brown and hollow sounding when thumped.

YIELD: 2 Loaves