All Things Tomato Bake Sale

tomato pie 2Community Food Advocates is an East Nashville based non-profit with the mission to end hunger by creating a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. CFA is participating in the Tomato Art Festival on August 9th because it is a great way for us to meet and greet the thousands of Nashville neighbors that visit the festival and talk with them about our programs and mission. This year CFA is planning an All Things Tomato Bake Sale as part of our booth activities to serve as a way to draw in festival attendees and also to raise funds to support our work.

We’d love for you to be a part of this by baking or preparing something that can be sold to festival-goers! We ask that your food item be tomato-themed (past items have included such fare as Green Tomato Bundt Cake, Tomato-Goat Cheese Napoleons, Tomato-Basil Scones, Tomato Corn Muffins… you get the idea!), and that you prepare enough for 20 servings. It would also be much appreciated if you could individually wrap the servings. Lastly, if you home bake your item (i.e. not baked in a commercial kitchen) please write “Home Baked” on the label.

To register please complete this form.  If you have questions, please contact Erin Hargrove at erin@communityfoodadvocates.org or 615-385-2286 x 221.

A Slice of Heaven in East Nashville

Chess Pies 1The mom and two boys who have paused in front of Geraldine’s Greatest Chess Pies look a little confused.   As soon as the mother speaks, it is evident she grew up in a part of the country where pies have top crusts or meringue or they simply aren’t pies.

Geraldine Bell is ready for them. She reaches back to the table set up behind her and gathers some disposable spoons and two pies that are set aside specifically for the curious, the skeptical, and the southern cuisine challenged.  The boys eagerly accept tastes of both her chocolate and original flavors.  Even Mom seems won over as she thoughtfully rolls a bite of Bell’s sweet pastry over her tongue.

Photo by: MICHAEL W. BUNCH

To those who have never tasted chess pie, sampling Geraldine’s version is a revelation.  It should be.  Unlike the mass produced approximation of good home food that is the gateway to new avenues to culinary experience that many of us experience first, Geraldine’s pies are the real thing.

“These are the best chess pies in the state of Tennessee.”

It all started with the recipe for her original chess pie as one of many gifts of the heart that was passed down from her grandmother. Eighteen years worth of customers who have followed her would agree.  Eighteen years ago, she was a nurse tech and the pies were a cottage industry she operated in her spare time.  From there, she took her work to the beauty salons, gas stations and small businesses that greed to sell her pies.  The kitchen table enterprise has grown into a business that is part of many Nashvillians’ weekly stops a farmers markets all over the city. 

A good chess pie is one of those under appreciated treasures of southern foodways.  The recipe has its roots in the older English version, sometimes called an egg or cheese pie.  Variations may contain corn meal, vinegar, or cheese curds.  The last ingredient has fueled speculation about the origins of the American name of this dish.  Is “chess” a regionalized version of cheese or the product of a dropped consonant  describing the pie chests where they would have been stored by homemakers in previous generations?  While some online sources may claim to have the last word, there is no conclusive evidence to confirm any of them as the one true source of pie wisdom.

Chess Pies 3For Geraldine Bell, the origins aren’t as important as the inspiration she pulls from her family and her faith. Citing the support she gets from her husband of twenty-seven years and her twenty-four year old son, Bell says they are behind her “110%”.  She sees the business as further demonstration of the myriad ways she has been blessed.   Life’s work is love made visible and Bell acknowledges that a lot of her own heart and soul goes into her craft.

“I put God first in all things.   I do nothing without the Lord and seek Him first.  You have to have faith and believe.”

For more information about Geraldine’s Greatest Chess Pies and other menu items you can find her at the East Nashville Farmers Market or reach her by phone at 615-310-8908.

-Article by Jas Faulkner

More:  Geraldine makes several varieties of chess pies including chocolate chess, lemon chess, coconut chess, pecan chess, pineapple chess.  Additionally she bakes traditional sweet potato pies, pumpkin, chocolate fudge, pecan — you name it. She even makes gluten-free pies, and pies aimed at diabetics. Small pies go for $2 ($4 for gluten-free), and large pies sell for between $12 and $16.

CHILLED HEIRLOOM TOMATO & AVOCADO SOUP

Chilled tomato soup recipe(overnight recipe)
3 pounds Heirloom Tomato = about 4 Cups “juice”
4 teaspoons Sherry Vinegar
4 teaspoons Sugar
4 teaspoons Salt
1 or 2 Avocado
1 Lime, for juicing
Hepp’s Flavored Salt for garnish
Olea Extra Virgin Olive Oil for garnish

Core Tomatoes and chop into roughly ½ inch dice. Use a food mill to crush the flesh and separate skin and seeds. (If not using a food mill, skin and seed Tomato and then chop flesh finely saving any juices to incorporate together) For each Cup of “juice” add a teaspoon each of Vinegar, Sugar and Salt. Allow to chill overnight in a glass bowl to develop flavor. For each serving, slice Avocado in half and remove the pit and then use a large spoon to remove the flesh- place upside down in a shallow soup bowl. Pour Tomato soup around the Avocado without overfilling and then garnish with a squeeze of Lime Juice and Hepp’s flavored salt, such as 7-Fire Smoked, and pour EVO around. Serve with a fork & spoon.

-Chef Richard Jones, Green Door Gourmet

Grifters & Shills Perform Wed. 3:30-6:15

We are moved by real things, and we want you to be as well…

Grifters & Shills writes and performs timeless music with deep ties to the past and a very assertive outlook on the present. They pay homage to the paths long taken, but continue forging the trail using their own voice and style.

Featuring tight vocal harmonies, guitar, banjo, percussion, harmonica, and bass, Grifters & Shills epitomizes the modern take on classic roots music. At the heart of it all lies a deep appreciation for where all of this music comes from. And, by extension, where all of us have come from as well.

In 2014, Grifters & Shills released their debut full-length album, “Watershed.” Produced by Brad Sayles (Houston Symphony) and featuring Max Dyer (cello) and Kevin Hardin (fiddle), “Watershed” guides listeners through a unique and thorough journey of roots music set in the modern day. This new album is the much-anticipated follow-up to their EP, “Trainwreck Junkyard” (2013).

John and Rebecca Stoll met and began playing music together in 2008. Their first band, Westbound, released two albums – “Now & Then” (2012) and “Blackjack Road (2010).

Music from all of their albums is playing on left-end-of-the-dial radio stations across the country.

Their instrumentation and vocals have also been featured on albums from other artists, including Texas favorites Myrna Sanders (Big Head Diva; 2012) and Zach Tate (End of Time; 2012). The band has also appeared in Musician’s Friend advertisements in Guitar WorldMixElectronic Musician and Modern Drummer magazines.

They are currently touring throughout the U.S. in support of their latest album. Catch them live this Wednesday at the East Nashville Farmers Market from 3:30pm-6:15pm. 

HOW LOCAL SHOULD HONEY BE?

Recently a question regarding “local” honey was posed to our East Nashville Farmers Market blog. We asked Carol Hagen, one of the two beekeepers who serve on our board, to answer.

QUESTION:  Is the local honey sold at this market from this area or Goodlettsville only? I can only seem to find honey from there, and would like something generated a little closer to us.

ANSWER:  Actually there are beekeepers throughout the Nashville area, including Johnson’s Honey Farm in Goodlettsville. Currently, much is being made of “local”; it’s absolutely true that raw (unpasteurized), lightly filtered honey contains pollen that helps to build a natural resistance to local pollen allergies.  However, the impression that “local” means within a couple of miles of your home is an exaggeration.

For starters, seasonal winds blow pollen for several miles and bees can fly many miles to collect pollen and honey for their hive.  Farmers seek pollination contracts from beekeepers, so it’s not uncommon for honey bee hives to be driven to regional crops. Often overlooked by the consumer is the bee’s need for clean water, both for drinking and spraying onto the honey comb to keep the hive cool in the summer time.  So consumers may want to consider, IF “local” refers to a circumference of only a few miles of their home, does their locale include chemical free plants and water?

bee with pollen

Truth is the majority of beekeepers who sell their honey at farmers markets and in local stores often maintain twenty-five to several hundred hives in regional apiaries. Beekeepers with small apiaries harvest less than 300 pounds of honey, which is not enough honey to bottle, label, market and sell at a profit.

When it comes to eating honey for local pollen allergies, I’ve started suggesting people consider the Regional Gardening Zones  ( http://www.garden.org/zipzone/ ) as a guide for local honey.  Similar species of plants grow within districts and regions of Tennessee.  Honey collected on thoughtfully cultivated farms or in wilderness areas are excellent sources of raw honey, all of which contain regional pollens. Bees forage for pollen, but pollen also clings to their bodies after they visit a nectar source. Professional beekeepers locate their apiaries near fresh spring water, ponds, creeks or rivers; not surprising, property with clean water often supports an abundance of nectar sources.

The new garden zone maps place Nashville in the 6B-7A zones; both zones sweep the length of Tennessee. We live in the Broadleaf Forest, which historically provides a tasty variety of honey; including clover, the standard American honey. Our middle Tennessee clover honey is especially good because it is a combination of cultivated and feral clovers: white, yellow, red or crimson clovers, and wild Alslike clover. With such a wide variety of clover species, the color of clover honey may vary within the same region.

Wildflower is honey made up of several species of wildflower and tree nectars. Beekeepers may wait until the end of the spring or fall nectar flows to extract all of their capped honey at once; this honey offers a blend of flavors that tastes unique to the available flowers. Tennessee also has crop specific  honey: black locust, basswood, sourwood, blackberry, rose, magnolia, tulip, fireweed or goldenrod.  Bees placed in cultivated fields may yield other specific honey flavors: buckwheat, canola or rape seed, sunflower and Russian sage.

bees 1

A beekeeper may label their honey with a title other than “wildflower” if they can identify and confirm their honey crop is from one nectar source.  Using Sourwood Honey as an example, honey boxes filled with capped and uncapped honey prior to the Sourwood Tree nectar flow are removed.  New boxes filled with empty drawn out foundation are added to each hive.  After the Sourwood nectar flow ends, which means after the sourwood flowers are finished, the beekeeper will mark each sourwood honey box and let the bees cap their honey cells.  Once the honey is ready, only sourwood honey frames are extracted together and no other type of honey is added in the filtering step. The reward is a jar of highly prized Tennessee Sourwood Honey.

The Nashville Farmers Market community includes artisans who infuse honey with herbs or essential oils.  There are honey products, such as “creamed honey” which is a mild, spreadable honey made from controlled crystallization.  Whipped honey is made by blending honey for an extended time which infuses air into the honey; this also results in a spreadable honey. Honey butter is a blend of honey and butter, which is considered a dairy product.

The Goodlettsville honey you refer to is very likely Johnson Honey Farm.  The Johnson Honey Farm was established in Goodlettsville in 1918 and remains a family owned and run farm.  It is a large apiary and does business throughout Tennessee. The Johnsons also partner with apiaries in Georgia and Florida. When you consider the challenges of farming, it’s quite an accomplishment for one family to sustain the delicate practice of beekeeping for nearly 100 years.  Success does not mean they are no longer conscientious about their farming techniques, it means they have evolved with the market and have managed to remain large enough to support their family.

Tennessee is fortunate to have both large scale apiaries and serious hobbyist beekeepers who maintain three to twenty-five hives. You may find a honey product you love to use or you may consider tasting a variety of honey flavors. Either way, I suggest you consider “local” honey to be from the larger Nashville area, middle Tennessee; and include East and West Tennessee within the Garden Zones 6B-7A.  This approach enables you to benefit from a larger spectrum of naturally occurring pollens found in flavorful, raw honey…Tennessee pure, golden honey.

— Carol Hagen, Queen Bee Pollinators

Meet the Farmers of Flying S Farm

flying s farmsFlying S Farms is owned and operated by Ben and Catherine Simmons.  The name, Flying S Farms, came from a family history of flying and reaching for the highest standards so that they may provide you with the best produce possible.  The farm was started in 2003 through a strong desire to produce clean, healthy food through good stewardship and farming practices.

They have a 6 acre natural sustainable farm located in Woodbury, Tennessee.  They offer a wide variety of heirloom and non-GMO hybrid produce. The Simmons Family is dedicated to growing tasty, gourmet vegetables and herbs for families that understand that eating wholesome, nutrient-dense food is the foundation for good health and well-being.

Flying S Farms is also committed to creating a healthy environment. They use cover crops to build soil productivity and practice integrated pest management control. They also use foliar fertilizers that are made with food grade products to promote the growth of their crops. The Simmons Family believes that healthy soil produces healthy plants, which therefore produces healthy people.

Catherine, also known as “The Baking Farmer,” offers many wonderful breads and baked goods. Their kitchen is a licensed facility and operates year round.  They are delighted to offer delicious soups, breads and more for any of your special events.  Her baked goods are certainly not to be missed!!!

Come to East Nashville Farmers Market each Wednesday to shake hands with Ben and Catherine Simmons. Meet your farmer and eat local!

Chubby Bunny Baby Food

JeminaChubby Bunny was founded in 2012 out of the Nashville kitchen of Jemina Boyd. After several of her friends became new mothers, Jemina began noticing that they wanted to feed fresh, healthy foods to their babies. However, making your own baby food can be time consuming, and most new moms would prefer to spend their valuable free time with their little ones instead of in the kitchen. What began as an effort to help out new families has become a business.

Growing up in a family of six where Jemina’s mom made her own baby food, she is no stranger to the process. Jem and her family are constantly experimenting with new fruits + vegetable combinations, along with herbs and spices, to make seasonal flavors that your baby is sure to love. All of the baby foods are made with organic, fresh ingredients that are sourced from local farms when available. They’re also taste tested and approved by a panel of very picky little eaters.

Come and see Jemina and her tasty creations at the East Nashville Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 3:30pm-7pm.

Melon Basics

cantaloupeGet your first, fresh melons of the season this week at the East Nashville Farmers Market!!

What to Look For: Look for those that are fragrant and heavy. Press the end opposite the stem to feel for a bit of give. Give the melon a tap; you’ll hear a hollow thump if it’s ripe.

How to Store: Store whole melons in a cool spot. If cut, cover wedges in plastic and refrigerate up to four days.

New Vendor This Week: Nashville Cattle Co.

nasvhille-cattle-co-logo (2) (2)Meet the latest addition to the East Nashville Farmers Market. Nashville Cattle Co. is an all natural, beef and pork producer run by brother and sister team, Adam and Courtney Deal.  Artisanal cuts of our hormone and antibiotic free products provide you with only the highest quality meats…from our farm, to your grill.

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