Eating local when you’re busy and broke

Tuesdays are always a busy day for me.  I wake up realizing that I will work until around 8pm.  When you wake up at 7 and think…13 hours until my day is my own again, you feel overwhelmed, and breakfast is the last thing you want to do.

So usually on Tuesdays, I skip breakfast, even though I know I will be hungry by ten and have to figure out what to eat while juggling 10 things at work.  This is why I was so happy to come in to work and find out that Dawn had brought in local goodies for lunch.  On top of that, I will be farm sitting at TK Farms, and while I got a tour of my responsibilities I scored some local bacon.

I was pretty hangry (grumpiness associated with being too hungry) by lunch time, and so the bacon, field peas, and various vegetables were a welcomed meal.  That is the great thing about the local food community.  The joy you get from growing and sourcing your own food makes you always want to share.  Living on an AmeriCorps stipend has been hard, and rewarding.  I have learned that healthy food can wreak havoc on your budget, but in the long run it makes you function at a higher level.  I love to share what I have grown, and I love to have food shared with me.  Lunch was a delicious and upfliting reminder of why the local food movement is more than just growing local.  It’s about community and coming together to share the harvest.

I spent my night helping folks at Ashley Meadows plan their fall gardens.  My meetings here always make me happy.  It is so amazing to see the joy that the families get from growing their own food and planning ahead for the months to come.  I am always surprised by what they want to grow, and their innovative ways of gardening on a budget.  The night spent planning fall gardens made me happy to go home and cook a tasty local meal of baked trout from Mountain Valley Farms, roast potatoes from my home garden, and sautéed cabbage and zucchini.  The cabbage was grown at the Mill Spring Ag Center and the zucchini was a gracious gift from one of the kids at Ashley Meadows.  (It was longer than his arm!)

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My week of eating local hasn’t forced me out of my comfort zone, but has made me appreciative of the community and love built around the farming community in Polk County.

 

Until next time!DSC_5465

Sydney Klein

Agricultural Outreach Coordinator

 

The pantry of temptation

As you know, I have spent a few days at my parent’s house in Hickory.  I have always treated their home as a retreat from my impoverished empty fridge and barren cabinets.  I have been behaviorally trained to go home and gawk at their numerous fancy cheeses, tasty spirits, and pantry that is busting at the seams.

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See….and this is just the dry goods. You can’t see the chocolate and treats tucked around the corner….

 

Needless to say, yesterday, as I lounged around, I could hardly resist the temptation of Hersey kisses and mixed nuts, two things I don’t typically keep at my house.  The first, because I’ll eat the whole bag, the latter because they are pricy!  It was a good thing I had a hearty breakfast of eggs sautéed with cherry tomatoes and kale from the ag center garden and chickens.  I also had a half of a delicious cantaloupe from the market.

My mom and I finished our canning marathon by making peach jam and canning tomatoes.  We decided to have a light lunch, and salad is always a hit at the Klein house.   I had brought down some greens from Adawehi, and we topped them off with Cherokee Purple tomatoes from the garden and some leftover smoked London broil from the night before.  I realized salad dressing was not an option, so we opened up the can of Salsa Verde I had made from the tomatillos I grew at the ag center.  I have to say it was a bit bland, but overall satisfying.

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Roast tomatillos

Dinner is the big deal….

Every meal at the Klein household consists of two meals in one.  It’s either brunch, or linner (lunch dinner).  My dad has always worked through his day without lunch, a personality trait I sadly have inherited, so he does not see the point of having lunch when you can have a huge dinner.

I wanted to be sure he had a hearty meal to come home to, so I got off the couch and got to cooking.  I began by broiling the eggplant, paddy pan squash, potatoes, and cherry tomatoes from the farmers market and garden.  I then made some meatballs with ground beef from a local cattle farmer in Hickory.  I did cheat a little, and add some oatmeal and dried spices to the meatballs, because that is the only way to get a really delicious, stick together type.  I then browned those with onion, pulled them out of the pan, and deglazed the pan with tomatoes and their juices from my parent’s garden.  After adding all the goodies back to the pan we let it simmer on low with basil, thyme, and oregano from the garden until my dad got home.

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The amazing heirloom tomato pasta

My parents had theirs with some quinoa pasta and parmesan, but it was really tasty on its own.  They asked me if I would like to move home and be their personal cook.  I would if they could pay me salary with benefits!

 I love to cook.  I almost went to culinary school, actually, or at least considered it heavily.  But I decided that food is my hobby, and cooking with local ingredients is always an adventure.  I mean, how many ways can you really cook a zucchini??  A lot I tell you.  A lot.  This week of eating local is going to let me expand my recipe box , explore my taste buds, while working under a tight budget.

My goal tonight is to try and make Gnocchi from my potatoes and some local wheat.  Wish me luck!

Until next time….DSC_5465

Sydney Klein

Agricultural Outreach Coordinator

 

Eating local away from home

So, I spent my first day eating local at my parent’s house in Hickory.   I made sure they knew about my meal plan, and were able to hit up the farmers market on Saturday.  Before leaving for my parent’s I had a tasty meal of local eggs from the chickens I have been raising at the ag center along with a half of a tasty cantaloupe I got for $1.00 at the farmers market last week.

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I was so excited to come home and find that my dad had sucked it up and bought a tasty local London Broil and a whole table of fresh produce!  My dad is pure carnivore.  He also has heart disease.  His love for beef cannot be cured, and despite my pleads for him to at least switch to grass fed, he can never justify spending the money on local, healthy, happy cows.  This is just one issue when it comes to local.  With corn and soy being so heavily subsidized, our fat cows at the grocery store do not represent the true price of raising beef.  If we had to pay the true cost, we would eat a lot less, and I think health problems would be greatly reduced…but I digress!

My parents usually only eat breakfast and dinner.  When I arrived they were cooking bacon and slicing tomatoes from their garden, I have to say I could not resist the bacon…and I may of had a slice.  I’m only human.  For my lunch (since my parents are weirdos) I had 2 ripe southern peaches from the farmers market.  I could eat a whole bushel of peaches in two days, but my digestive system would not be happy.

And then we went to Walmart….

My mom had a ton of tomatoes to can, but no jars or lemon juice, so we made a trip to a local Walmart.  Since the economy in Hickory has died, Walmart is the closest thing we have to a grocery store.  It’s cheap and easy, so many Hickory residents buy everything their heart desires there… but sadly it overwhelms the shopper with processed foods, and many of the vegetables fail to evoke excitement.  Much of the money that is spent there leaves our city and travels the globe, leaving our economies in a never ending cycle of poverty.   As we were checking out.  I couldn’t help but snap a picture of a this guys cart, and I felt kind of sad that this was how he fueled his body.  Living on a small AmeriCorps budget has taught me that its very easy to go this route, but after a couple weeks of eating processed food, your body begins to slow down, you gain weight, and you just feel yucky.  It made me appreciate my ability to access fresh foods and to have the space and knowledge to grow many things I need in my own backyard.

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We spent the rest of our night canning and enjoyed a tasty dinner of London broil smoked on the grill with hickory wood from our own backyard, with green beans, and roast beets.  We topped it off with poolside local beers from Duck Rabbit and Bad Penny breweries out of Raleigh and Farmville, NC.  Overall it was a great day.  Food and family always go hand in hand for me, and it’s always fun to pretend i’m a kid for a day or two.

Until next time!

 

 

Saturday Vittles

A five day work week has been pretty much the standard for over 100 years. We bemoan Monday and are ecstatic for Friday. I bet about 99% of the folks reading this though don’t count Saturday as a day off though…there’s the grass to cut, the car to fix, the house to paint, the animals to feed, and more. We work all week to get to the weekend to work on some more stuff. There’s a big difference between leisure time and lazy time I suppose and I wouldn’t rather be working one place or another, I just know that the end of a day spent working feels better than marathoning Parks and Rec for the 3rd time.

I say all this to best describe Saturday which was a mix of the leisure and lazy. Pickup a little chicken feed, read a little, appear to help cook but don’t help cook, and be in charge of opening bottles of things. It was a good mix of leisure and lazy.

We had breakfast composed of our eggs, cantaloupe from McCall’s farm stand in Little River, and pancakes made from the Whole Wheat Pancake Mix made by TK Family Farm. I doused my pancakes with butter from the Farm Store and hickory syrup  from Wildwood.

No lunch but an afternoon snack, eaten on the tailgate after washing the car, to save room for the big dinner. The last of the Annie’s Ciabatta bread, Ashe County Cheddar, and Roots Hummus.

I can neither confirm nor deny that I also snuck the last Cool Mama’s donut. Not really though. But pretty sure I ate it. I totally did.

Dinner was extravagant to say the least. Two TK Family Farm chickens, grilled to perfection beer can style. Two pounds of shrimp from Manna Cabanna skewered and cooked to plumpness. Corn roasted and copious amounts of butter applied. We drank Overmountain Wine, drank Pisgah Pale and Sierra Nevada beer, and finished the night around the fire with baklava and lemon bars created at Blue Mountain Deli in the Hendersonville Co-op. Our nightcap was courtesy of Troy and Sons Distillery of Asheville which paired well with the marshmallows I roasted at exactly 12:01am.

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My brother, who was our chef for the evening.

Thanks for following along my week of eating local. Sydney starts Sunday and I am very confident will put me to shame so well that I won’t be able to show my face for a month. Please see our list of resources for links to any and all of the food we have eaten the past few weeks.

Friday was Awesome

“Exalt the farmer.” says Nick Offerman and he is right. I will add exalt the shopkeep and the produce stand, exalt the markets and their managers & volunteers, the makers of divine products, and exalt all those who buy their food from these folks.

Friday started with breakfast at home of Farm Store Wholesome Country Creamery yogurt, granola, and the honey from our Ag Center bees but then took a turn for the fantastic. Headed to Green Creek to take a look at a farm, Alex and I stopped by Cool Mama’s Bakery for Friday Donut Day. I am forever glad that we did. These are great donuts folks – it doesn’t really matter your donut preference – somehow it fits all the parameters. Outside of the delicious treats, Martha has breads, cinnamon rolls, and a selection of local products. available for sale.

On our way back to the Ag Center we swung through and saw Sofia at Overmountain Vineyards. I had not been there since they had finished their beautiful new patio. I thought about taking a picture but instead, I want you to go to their Facebook page, Like it, and follow every last thing these folks are doing. They could just have folding chairs and a bug zapper and their wine would be worth sitting around and drinking but they have made an oasis. I will show you their wicked bus and I hope the dream for it is a travelling bar that shows up wherever good wine is needed. I bought the Patriot Red and will have it Saturday night.

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In the afternoon I went to Meanwhile Back in Saluda. She has a massive selection of local products and is working on more every day. I have been to many different stores getting ready for and taking this challenge, Meanwhile definitively has a better selection of products than the majority of the places. Don’t forget an awesome beer and wine selection too. While shopping I sipped a Full Steam Basil Beer (if you live in a place that has summertime, this is a beer to try). There’s too much to mention here, but from Mary Ann I bought more of the basil beer, Imladris Farm Smoked Ketchup, Postre Sea Salt Caramel sauce, and Sunburst Carolina Smoked Trout Dip.

Next I went to Manna Cabanna to pickup some fresh from Beaufort shrimp for dinner Saturday night. She also had a nice display of produce and I bought some corn from Carol Lynn from the Cooper Riis farm.

I tell you what, the people of Saluda have their life together. In one swoop, they can get off the interstate, fly across the mountains and float the river with Green River Adventures, afterwards sit and have a local beer on tap at the gas station, Mountain River Tap and Growler. Mosey up the road to Meanwhile and get beer and local meats for the grill. Amble over to Manna Cabanna for some produce and shrimp and then stop by the Tailgate Market to round out their meal and their evening. Not to mention the shops along the way. Way to go Saluda.

I made a beeline for home and then started our somewhat epic journey to get to the Grove Park Inn. Two traffic accidents led us to Hwy 25 which was quite congested. We did finally arrive about 30 minutes late for dinner at Edison. I had a good long talk with our server who led me to the chicken on top of Hendersonville based greens to make a really good Caesar salad. Beer with dinner was the Hi Wire Bed of Nails Brown. We went to Elaine’s dueling bar afterwards where I requested Take Me Home Country Road by John Denver and had a Troy and Sons Distillery cocktail. It came out pink which was just fine because it was delicious.

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After getting home from Asheville we had some homemade ice cream in the freezer, I added some of that Postre Caramel sauce. If I had thought the donuts were my best decision of the day, I was wrong.

Our dog Otis ate local with us today as well! Thanks Food Matters.

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Local Thursday

I have gotten into a groove on breakfast and lunch as most folks do. Breakfast was the same as yesterday and lunch from the Farm Store as well.

Dinner was great and filling. As I peered over the ingredients available I figured that it was going to be something similar to the usual meals I cook. Worked a little late, had to run an errand or two, everybody gets into that mode and needs something quick and reliable. Tonight I made a vegetable medley of zucchini from the Brookshire garden, onion and chickpeas from the Farm Store, garlic from the garden all sautéed in the cast iron pan on the stove. A bit of Ashe County Cheddar & Lila’s Garden Microgreens on top and couscous on the bottom to round it out.  Had another Pisgah Pale while cooking too!

On the way home one of the places I stopped was Harris Teeter in Hendersonville. I was impressed as you walk in the door is a permanent shelf of NC food items. They had a few produce items in the section and I really liked their Local Produce signs and the miles from where I was standing to the farm.

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Tomorrow is panning out to be an awesome day of food! Friday afternoon I will head to Saluda for stops at the Tailgate Market, Meanwhile Back in Saluda (really excited to try that Basil Beer), and Manna Cabanna for some shrimp! After that headed to Edison in Asheville so will have a big blog post for you tomorrow night (or more likely Saturday morning).

As always, here’s the link to all the goodness.

Wednesday Meals

I really liked breakfast today – yogurt from Wholesome Country Creamery from the Mill Spring Farm Store with granola from the same and honey drizzled on top made by last year’s hive of the Mill Spring Ag Center’s hardest workers – our honey bees.

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I have repeatedly found that I am doing a poor job of planning well for lunch. It is easier when I can plan to buy a sandwich at the store or go to town for a meal. Eating locally this week has meant more prep time for meals but it has been enjoyable. Prepping a day ahead for my lunch though is something I will have to improve upon for my next week of eating local.

It is super convenient to have a local food farm store within 30 yards of where you work so I do feel like I cannot complain! Yesterday I had lunch at the store again, a perfectly ripe SC peach, a Hunger Buster Bar (you owe it to yourself to try of one – it reminds me of something I ate as a kid at summer camp), and Uncle Scott’s root beer.

I went by the Hendersonville Community Co-op to grab a couple of extra things for supper. It being summer time it felt like the time for something classic – a burger.

So we had Rosetta’s Kitchen, a restaurant based in Asheville but that sells their products in grocery stores, burgers with Annie’s Bakery Ciabatta bread for rolls. Topped with lettuce and Lusty Monk Mustard from the Farm Store. On the side, sweet corn and Wholesome Country Creamery butter from the Farm Store. And with dinner, a couple of Pisgah Pale Ales, my favorite.

See all the link for food we have eaten here.

Tuesday Night is Farm Store Night

 

This is how the Farm Store all started. A fridge in the hallway of the Ag Center with eggs that could be purchased on the Honor System.  I think of what the hall looked like when we set it up. It was before we had water in the building so cleaning it required bringing buckets of water over from the neighbors or home. We were still heavily into renovations on the first floor. Mopping and dusting the hallways was a fool’s errand as it would be dirty fifteen minutes later.

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The Farm Store came together because of so many people. Carol Lynn Jackson was its creator and first manager, from there to Kacy and Judy. Each and every person brought something magical to the store. It went through so much to now be in the capable hands of Reda Harvey. She has taken the store to a level that we would have not reached for years to come. It is place where people come shop, convene, laugh, learn, and eat.

The store does and will always need you. More than that, the farmers that bring their products need your business as well. When new farmers come to Polk County we tell them this – we have three places you can sell. Go to the farmers’ market and sell your carrot for a $1.00 and get a dollar. It’ll take about a day away from the farm to prepare and go though. Bring your stuff to the Farm Store and sell it on commission (for most farmers – 20%). You get .80 cents of that dollar but that day back on your farm and your product sold all week long. Lastly, when your farm is ready and getting big – start selling through the virtual food hub, Polk Fresh Foods, to markets all over including Charlotte, Asheville, and more.

If you believe in Local – support these places or they will go away. There is no fail safe without consumers believing in what Local means. There is no reason for a farmer to keep going if she is not even breaking even. Want a bigger variety? Longer season? Buy what they have now – INVEST in their future and yours and tell them what you want. They will work towards all of our mutual ideals – one day walking in to the local supermarket after the Farm Store takes it over!

Alright, those that are here for the menu tonight can start here!

 

Warmup: Roots Hummus, Roots and Branches Crackers, and Bottle Tree Irish Ale

Layer 1: We are using the Sunburst Trout Fillet left over from last night, purchased at Food Matters, baked utilizing Solio Family Canola Oil* from the Farm Store. Sliced tomatoes from the Ag Center gardens.

Layer 2: Okra, peas, onions, and green bell pepper from the Brookshire garden.

Layer 3: Salad mix  and couscous from the Mill Spring Farm Store.

Topped with:   Wholesome Country Creamery in Hamptonville, NC provided the yogurt base and cucumbers from Laura’s folks provided the flavor to a tzatziki sauce. Firewalker Hot Sauce from Asheville to taste!

Side: Creamed corn made by my mom last year which was purchased from the nearby McCall’s Farm Stand.

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Dessert: Mint & Chip Ice Cream from the Wholesome Country Creamery Folks

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*If you don’t click on any other link, make sure to check out the Soilio Family Canola oil. Made from farmers throughout the Southeast and really well priced. It is non-GMO and support local family farms.

Lastly, here’s the link to all the links I have posted so far this week, I will be updating soon to include all of Dawn’s as well!

 

Meet our Summer Interns: A Gift of Gardening

This summer I started my first job. I’m a summer intern at the Mill Spring Ag Center, and honestly it isn’t something I would see myself doing as of a year ago. I decided to apply for this internship so I could help a small hobby of mine blossom into something more.  So far it has been a very enjoyable experience and I’m learning a lot about gardening, what exactly local food means and supports, and agriculture in general. I am able to be here thanks to a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation and I really appreciate the opportunity – thanks Community Foundation!

Gardening first became a hobby of mine when I was a child. My family,  mostly my grandmother, created my fascination with gardening. Most years at my home we would have a small flower garden, not anything too intense.  But my grandmother always kept a vast supply of plants around herself, and loved them all equally.

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Grandmother always amazed me when I was younger because she was an old lady(sorry Meme) but still mustered up the energy to travel around her home each day to take care of all her plants. My sister and I would stay at her house for a day and instead of playing with toys and being glued to the television we would go outside and help tend to her plants, harvest muscadines to make jam from, or just walk around in the woods and ask her what this and that was. She couldn’t always answer, but she tried her best just for us.

Even when my grandmother got sick she still tried her best to take care of her plants. I hope when I grow older I still take the time to care for plants as she did. It may not seem like an important enough task to some, but it was to her, and it is to me. I thank my family for giving me the gift of gardening, and helping shape me into the person I am today.

 

 

 

Restoring the Family Table 7.3

Local Diner for a local dinner.

My husband ‘insisted’ I take him out to dinner.  I agreed.  We had to go to SC for gas so we went to South Side Smokehouse. I have seen Sarah McClure at the local farmers markets almost every weekend purchasing from our farmers. Thanks Sarah, for being committed to shopping local and producing some fabulous dishes.   I asked the waitress what was ‘local’ on the menu.   I knew the veggies were local.  Sweet potatoes, grilled green beans, squash and kale.  I ordered the Fried Green Tomato and homemade pimento cheese burger with grilled green beans and sautéed squash as sides. I could have just ordered the grilled green beans. They scrumptious!

Thanks to all our area restaurants who source local product. We all win when we shop local.    It’s been a great week for me. Tasty, creative, fun and good fellowship.  I hope I didn’t gain too much ‘eating local.’