I took some time off from writing the past few weeks but I wanted to share with you the wonderful time that I had at Justus Orchard when I volunteered with ASAP’s annual farm tour. This beautiful place is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Hendersonville. Once you get there, be prepared to relax and enjoy yourself because there is a lot to do and see. In September, U pick was in full swing but right now the apples are only available already picked. They will be open for about another week. Check out what is still available:
I walked alongside the beautiful orchard and stopped to take a few pictures. There were a series of “cow cars” that are pulled by the tractor that look like a lot of fun for children. There is also a bakery featuring apple pie, cider donuts, apple cider, caramel apples and apple bread for a little treat. If you are in need of a meal, there was also boiled peanuts and barbeque for sale. You will feel very welcomed by the family in addition to having a wonderful time and some delicious apples.
Local apples are rich in Vitamin C, quercetin, a plant chemical beneficial to health and the soluble fiber pectin. Some of my favorite ways to eat apples are with a little peanut butter, “sautéed with some cabbage” or try my very favorite way a fall apple crisp
If you miss out on the apples this year, be sure to put it on your itinerary for next fall for something fun to do. You can also visit to stop by for blackberries July-August and Peaches August-September. You can check out their website for availability or call at 243-2420 or 243-7235.
My daughter-in-law, Victoria, son, Noah and grandchildren Sparrow and Wiley were also on the farm tour that weekend. Victoria was one of the winners of the ASAP Farm Tour photo contest:
Here is Sparrow in the “Down the Row” photo:
Congratulations Victoria! I am so lucky to have a wonderful and talented daughter-in-law like you!
This week I spoke with John Swann, owner of the Katuah Market in Asheville which will open in November. Katuah, the Cherokee name for the Southern Appalachian Mountains, will focus on local foods made with high quality ingredients. Some of the features of the market include a deli, hot and cold food bars, grab and go food section from foods all made from scratch. There will also be local dry goods, Appalachian grown produce and meat and other wonderful surprises. When I asked why we should support local farms, John shared with that when we buy locally grown foods it’s eleven times more efficient in stimulating a local economy. In addition, foods grown in our own community are grown more sustainable and taste fresher. Katuah’s motto is “Local by Nature” and I look forward to visiting soon. If you would like to find out more about Katuah Market and upcoming events, follow them on face book at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katuah-Market/503298509706235
Labor Day is a transition time for all of us. The nights are getting cooler and the summer garden is starting to look a little crispy so it is time to get the fall garden planted. My husband and I have a Labor Day tradition of making salsa with the last of the local tomatoes to last until next summer. This is the time to save up a little bit of summer for winter and spring. Some of the things we have done include freezing peaches from the farmer’s market as well as raspberries from our garden. We also made pesto and froze it also. Nothing tastes better than some pesto from your garden in December! We are also making some fresh made green salsa made from tomatillos from our garden and I hope to can a few more local tomatoes into spaghetti sauce and just whole to use in chili and soups. If you have a dehydrator, you can dry some tomatoes or fruit. Canning, drying or freezing a few items is a great way to support the local economy and lower your environmental footprint because it reduces the miles that your food travels to you and when you get food from the farmer’s markets, most of the foods are grown in more sustainable ways.
Saving for the season
Even if you can’t do enough to last the whole winter, every little bit helps. Kevin West’s new book Saving the Season is a wonderful book with a lot of great ideas to inspire you! You can find out more information on his cookbook and blog at www.savingtheseason.com
He has a lot of information on “jams, fruit preserves, pickles and other briny things, canned vegetables and condiments such as relishes, sauces and salsas”.
Winter Sun Farms
If you want to eat local throughout the winter, another great way is to become a member of the Winter Sun Farms CSA which is part of the Blue Ridge Food Ventures who partners with sustainable, local farms to get the freshest produce available. Local foods in the summer are frozen during their peak. Each CSA member comes to the AB Enka campus or a few other locations to pick up monthly. Sometimes they also have some special surprises each month which include a bag of Western North Carolina sweet potatoes and greens and local eggs. One of their slogan’s is: “From their farms, to our freezer, to your table.”
To sign up for a share of Winter Sun Farms http://www.wintersunfarmsnc.com/
Farm to Freezer Idea
If you are looking for an easy way to save a little summer for winter, try freezing some fresh local berries. Right now, raspberries and wild blueberries are available but you better hurry because like the leaves on the trees, they will be gone real soon. They are super easy to do and they will be great for smoothies and fruit crisps a few months from now. Just stem, wash, dry and then I freeze mine on a baking sheet with parchment paper and then put them in freezer bags. Having some local berries that you froze yourself will be tastier than anything you can purchase at the store and can be more economical also.
Wild Blueberries from the Mountains of North Carolina
Last weekend, I had an exciting surprise from our garden. My husband planted some pinto beans for the first year in our garden. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful plants climb on the string and lately with all the rain, our plants looked a little weepy. We thought the pods looked a little yellow and that the crop was lost. Refusing to accept defeat, I picked the pods and began to shell them and was in for a treat. We have almost a pound of pinto beans for our little garden which will be a great source of protein! Because these plants grow from the ground up, they take up little room except vertically so something for them to trail is necessary. This has inspired me to grow more types of dried beans. There is the lina criscos bird egg bean has recently been saved from extinction and there are many others to consider. For more information, check out: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/programs/ark_product_detail/lina_ciscos_bird_egg_bean. That would be a great one to grow and share the seeds with other home gardeners. What a great way to boost some health and nutrition with some beans in our urban Asheville garden. Now the challenge for us is what to make with our special locally grown bean! Should we made some bean tostadas? Plain beans and cornbread? The choices are unlimited!
Sparrow eating green beans at age one.
This weekend our granddaughter, Sparrow came for a visit. When she went outside, she asked if she could go see the garden. After that we picked some parsley, basil and rosemary. She and I smelled each one and tasted them and then she took them over to my husband to taste them as she tells him their names. As a nutritionist and registered dietitian, I care about what children eat and their health. As a grandmother, I am even more concerned about what my grand daughter eats. My son and his wife do a wonderful job raising Sparrow to eat a healthy, diverse palate. Even at two years old, she eats any food that she meets. I understand that some children may have more flavor and texture dislikes but there is a lot parents can do to encourage a variety of foods which include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are a few tips:
1. Let children be involved in meal planning.
2. Prepare a variety of foods and let children explore foods by touching and tasting.
3. Make meal time enjoyable and interact with your children. Turn off the televisiton and phone.
4. Don’t force your kids to clean their plate. Encourage a bite of everything. Sometimes it takes several tastes for a child to accept a new food.
Would you like more encouragement or ideas? Check out ASAP’s Growing Minds Program and if you live in the Western North Carolina region your children may be able to take part in some of their activities check them out at:
Take your children to one of the local tailgate markets for one of their events. Find out more at:
You may also benefit working with a registered dietitian. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and other plans now cover nutrition services for a list of North Carolina Blue Cross Providers, check out:
This morning I had the pleasure to chat with Laurey Masterton, proprietor of Laurey’s “Gourmet Comfort Food” Café and Catering, about her new book The Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen available in September and her upcoming dinner with Firefly Farm on August 1st at 7 pm. During our time together, Laurey gave me a sneak peek of her book and shared her passion for protecting the bees and what a valuable part they play in our lives. She has been a bee keeper for over five years. Her desire to do something to make a difference for bees began when she catered an event for the ”Honey Bee Project” where she discovered that one- third of our food is exclusively pollinated by bees. As a nutritionist/dietitian, I had heard about this but when actually she showed me the list of foods that we would not have without bees, it was overwhelming. She told me that there are many ways we can all help the bees without being a bee keeper, which include not using chemicals on our gardens and lawn and much more which her book highlights at the end. Each chapter of her book is divided by honey varietals and includes many delicious recipes with pictures that were taken at her café. The Fresh Honey Cookbook is available now for pre-order from Malaprop’s at: http://www.malaprops.com/event/laurey-masterton-0
On September 19 at 7pm, join Laurey as she shares her story about bees at Malaprop’s Bookstore.
Another event not to miss at Laurey’s is a wonderful farm and dinner conversation with Firefly Farms featuring some of their foods including Devon Beef, Peaches, Poblanos, Tomatoes on August 1st at 7 pm. Call 252-1500. Seating is limited so call to reserve your spot!
For more information about Laurey’s Café and Catering:
Before I left Laurey’s, I picked up some shrimp salad featuring local radishes, peppers and cabbage and kale salad with roasted veggies. I also saw my friend, Emily on my way out!
I love hanging out in the back yard with our little gardens. In the vegetable garden, we are currently growing chard, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos (volunteer), pinto beans, corn, arugula, beets, lots of peppers, eggplant, spaghetti squash, butter nut squash and a mystery squash that came up volunteer yet to be determined. Our fruit patch consists of strawberries, blue berries and raspberries. With my flowers, I have rosemary, basil, dill, thyme, oregano, lemon balm and lots of lavender. Digging up your yard and replacing it with edibles and plants in general is a greener way to go and a great way to save some food dollars. If you haven’t done it this year, now is the time to create a plan for a fall garden. One of my favorite ways to start is to explore what grows best in my region for each season and explore heirloom seeds. We have a great seed company called Sow True Seeds. I like to sketch out my yard and then add my future garden and place my plants. If you don’t have a yard or can’t deal with digging up your yard, try some containers. Happy planning and then happy planting!
I need a road map to plan my week. I use my work schedule to plan what days I need quick meals or to make something ahead of time. I love this time of year because of all the local veggies and my menus revolve around these seasonal foods. This week includes a veggie pizza on the grill with squash, eggplant, tomatoes and basil, Vietnamese bun which is actually a salad with cabbage and carrots, fajitas with bell pepper and onions. As a dietitian, I try to keep in the habit of going to the market on Saturday after planning my week. This includes the farmer’s markets. For July 4th, our menu will feature fresh lettuce and green beans from our garden, potatoes, fresh pepper relish from the farmer’s markets to add to the top of our local and vegetarian sausages on the grill. We will end the feast with a fruit pizza made with local fruit. Happy 4th!
This week I want to introduce you to Susan and Kim Carlyle who live
outside of Barnardsville, NC. Susan and Kim grow about 75% of the food
that they eat. This includes raspberries, blueberries, cherries, apples,
pears, paw paws, persimmon, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, sweet
potatoes, peas, green beans, beets, carrots, onions, garlic, all kinds of
greens and squashes, eggplant, melons, celeriac, edamame, fennel and many
Susan cans, dries and freezes many of the fruits and vegetables so they
still enjoy eating mostly from their garden, even in winter time. On a
visit to their garden, I was amazed to see their solar greenhouse, solar
food dehydrator and solar oven. Here are a few tips from Susan to begin
growing a little more of your own food.
1. Start small- even a 9 by 12 foot plot can be quite productive.
2. Grow what you love to eat.
3. Grow some things that show results quickly- like lettuces and radishes.
4. Look at your yard to determine where the sunniest place is.
5. Have your soil tested by the extension office and amend accordingly before
6. Learn from others and attend the Organic Growers School held each March at
Below are pictures of their solar greenhouse, solar dehydrator and solar
oven. I hope this will inspire you to eat locally and to find your own
little plot of land, whether it is a raised bed or a flower pot.
Our garden has been bringing us a lot of arugula, spinach, chard, kale, lettuce and snow peas. I wanted to share one of my favorite ways to make a snow pea salad that is simple and healthy as well as beautiful. Hope that you enjoy!
Snow Pea Salad
Take 3 cups of fresh, local snow peas and stem. Blanche in boiling water and instantly plunge in ice water. Drain. Add to a salad bowl with shredded carrots and thinly sliced yellow bell pepper. Made a dressing to marinate salad using:
1 TB peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 TB rice rice vinegar
1 TB low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sugar, honey or stevia
You can also add shredded ginger and thinly sliced scallions.
Let salad chill for an hour and enjoy!