Slocal: Yes, It’s Local and So Much More

The Slow Food Movement might be new to you, but it has been around since the late eighties, first as a SLOCALgrassroots effort to move away from the increasing presence of fast food in the diets of working Italians and eventually in the US, where prominent localtarian proponents such as Michael Pollan and Alice Waters took up the cause of promoting a way of eating that was smarter and gentler on us and the planet.  

Slow Food promotes the idea that local, sustainably grown and homemade are always the best choices. If Nashville Master Gardeners Jami Anderson and Russell Kirchner have their way, it could be the approach we all take towards filling our plates and pantries.

Educating themselves about the true nature of mainstream corporate food production in this country inspired them to start producing their own food five years ago. As they learned how much of the value of real food is lost in the process, they began see the importance of local food production.

“Learning from many illuminating documentaries about the food industry (and reading enormous amounts about it as well) reinforced our desire to grow healthy fruits and vegetables that are pesticide-free, fresh, and have as much of their full complement of original nutrients as possible. Likewise, learning about the triggers of a fast-food diet to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease piqued our dedication to the slow-food movement. The continuing depletion of fossil fuels and air quality due to the transportation of food from far-off places to the table made us even more aware of the importance of growing food that is local.”

This was also the inspiration for the name and mission of their company. Slocal Foods is more than just a pretty herb stand situated among the vendors at the East Nashville Farmers Market. Of course you can get basil that will make your kitchen (not to mention your pesto,) smell like a little bit of culinary Nirvana and move on to the rest of your visit. Before you do, take a few minutes and look around. You’ll see herbs you might not recognize. You’ll see plants that, if you let them, will help turn your home into a greener and maybe tastier sanctuary. All that from a fresh sprig or a live plant?  Really?  

For you salt and pepper cooks, Anderson will attest that expanding your taste vocabulary can be daunting.  “…cooking with herbs can be intimidating to people who aren’t chefs and may not have even heard of some of them. That’s why we offer free recipes with the purchase of any herb that uses that herb as a main ingredient, fresh, dried, or live at our Farmers Market booth.” Still need some convincing? Take a look at one of the many recipes you’ll find this season at Slocal Foods. 

Aside from their interesting history and the sensory delight herbs offer, Anderson went on to explain why and Kirchner focused on herbs as part of their life work as teachers and activists for Slow Food: “Farmers markets are great resources for fruits and vegetables that are local but we noticed a gap in the supply of fresh herbs. You can buy some herbs at chain groceries but often they come in plastic (yuck) clamshells and sell for around $3 for just a few (often moldy) sprigs. Neither freshness nor quality is guaranteed in most instances. Selection is also limited to a few mainstream herbs as well. Our herbs are raised organically from seed in rich, composted soil right in our own backyard and we offer many herbs you won’t find for sale in a store.

See what they are offering each week at http://slocalfoods.com. Call Slocal at 615-480-5347 for restaurant herb supply accounts.

– Jas Faulkner

Green Door Gourmet

Green Door PhotoGreen Door Gourmet is a unique farm to fork venture that produces and provides local artisan foods and plants in a farm-cooperative community setting.

Sylvia Harrelson Ganier, the farm operator, brings years of farm and restaurant experience as well as a passion for food and education. Her background, growing up on a dairy farm in North Carolina, melds with her many years in the restaurant business, including being chef and owner of her former Nashville based establishment, CIBO. Personal attention is the main focus of Sylvia and the crew at Green Door Gourmet, and produces both high quality produce, and a positive experience for their patrons.

Green Door Gourmet is located within Hidden Valley Farm on River Road in Nashville, TN, less than 2 miles west of Interstate 40, and less than 10 minutes from downtown Nashville. Their close proximity provides ease of access for customers who crave experiencing the best of local fare but still with in the city limits.

Hidden Valley Farm also serves as the perfect spot for agri-tourism and special farm events. They have hosted events ranging from small picnics and receptions up to a BBQ for 1000 people!

Green Door Gourmet grows up to 80 varieties of herbs and flowers, and a wide assortment of fresh produce grown using natural methods which follow an organic holistic model. They harvest as close to customer-scheduled pick up as possible to maintain the integrity of our product. They do not sell anything that does not pass their own “taste tests.”

You can find them each week at the East Nashville Farmers Market.  Stop by and say hello and meet members of their dynamic crew working on the farm this season.  As them about their unique flower CSA and traditional CSA.

LIVE COOKING DEMO WITH CITY PASTA NASHVILLE

LIVE COOKING DEMO WITH CITY PASTA NASHVILLE pasta dish 2

In honor of the Mini-Tomato Fest, Chelsea Hanson will prepare a tomato basil pasta salad with both fresh and sundried tomatoes tossed with fresh garlic basil pasta.  She will also greill two varieties of ravaoli: four cheese (ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, and romano) and black bean & cheddar stuffed in a jalapeno pasta. Chelsea says fresh pasta provides unparalleled flavor and texture and becomes a highlight of whatever dish you are creating. The pasta becomes part of the flavor of the dish, not merely a vehicle for sauces, and enhances the entire profile. The farmers market is the perfect venue for finding the best in fresh local fare, so pair fresh pasta with fresh vegetables and fresh meats to create the ultimate meal.

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.

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.

Triple L Ranch and Chef Mattie Showcase their Best

Today at your ENFM we are hosting a cooking demonstration with Chef Mattie Goldberg who will be highlighting some of our farmers best of the season farm raised meats from Triple L Ranch and vegetables from our other local Tennessee farms.

Steven and Ann Lee, Triple L Ranch

Steven and Ann Lee, Triple L Ranch

The local meats are provided by our very own Triple L Ranch in Franklin TN. Triple L is a family owned and operated beef farm on the rolling hills of western Williamson county.  They raise polled herford cows the natural way which is in large open grass pastures and are never confined in small pens or barns for finishing.  The cows are raised on a steady diet of grass constantly. During the last 120 days they are offered natural feed consisting of corn, wheat , soy bean meal, cottonseed hulls, soybean hulls.  This grain finishing creates a wonderful marbling and tenderness of the meat that makes their premium cuts taste so delicious.

Visiting Chef Mattie serves it up at her local farmers market in Austin, TX

Visiting Chef Mattie Goldberg serves it up at her local farmers market in Austin, TX

Our chef Mattie Goldberg, born and raised in Nashville TN,  is an up and coming chef currently residing in Austin, Texas. Having grown up cooking at home, her specialty is rustic, bold flavors with a broad range of knowledge in world regional technique.   She has worked in some of Austin’s finest restaurants including Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar on historic South Congress Ave and health conscious, gluten free Snap Kitchen. At the top of her class at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, a small and elite private culinary academy in Austin, she has excelled under renowned chefs and earned a spot as a school ambassador.

As the Demo Chef for 512 Market Kitchen, Chef Mattie highlights different vendors of the Lone Star Farmers Market at Bee Cave each week by showing market patrons how to use only the ingredients available to make fresh, seasonal dishes.  In the coming months, she will be moving to New Orleans, Louisiana to work at James Beard Award winning restaurant Herbsaint.

Fun on the Farm at Noble Springs Dairy

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to tour the Noble Springs Diary.  I was joined by two very excited little boys, my nephews, Reece (age 9) and Eric (age 4), and my sister Laura.

goats 1

The farm is owned and operated by Dustin and Justyne Noble on 230 picturesque acres in Williamson County.  They have about 150 goats and 40 of them are kids (baby goats).


Our tour started off with a quick introduction and then we went down a mowed path past 2 ponds to see Justyne’s two horses, Sassy & Snow.  The were hiding in the cool shade of the trees.  They came to visit and we all had an opportunity to pet them and offer them some grain.

horses

Next we took quick visit of the chickens that they also raise on the farm. They have about 50 chickens on site.  The eggs they collect are used by the family and sold at local farmers markets.

chicken 2eggs

This was followed by an opportunity to get up close to all of the new kids on the farm.  Many of them are still being raised on a bottle.

baby goats

Finally we were able to tour the barn and milking areas.  We were also able to see where the milk is processed and bottled right there on site.  The milking room can accommodate 12 goats at one time.  The dairy is currently milking twice a day.

milking room

After the tour was complete, we were given an opportunity to sample the many flavors of goat cheese that they have available.  Throughout the summer they will also feature limited-run, flavor of the week cheeses such as strawberry and ranch.

laura and eric

In addition to their wonderful cheeses, Noble Springs also offer a variety of other goat milk products including, milk, yogurt, fudge & soap. Their products can be found at the East Nashville Farmers Market, as well as, restaurants and stores in the greater Nashville area.

noble springs logo

Remember, that you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy the fun at Noble Springs Dairy.  It is an amazing opportunity to learn about your locally raised food. Schedule a tour for yourself by visiting www.noblespringsdairy.com, or call (615) 481-9546 to find out where to buy the products.

If you can’t wait for a private tour, then join them at the farm this Saturday, June 22, 2014 for FARM FEST. This is a concert to benefit the Land Trust of Tennessee with live music from Austin Moody.  Crepe Diem Food Truck and Legato Gelato will be serving food and snacks for those interested in grabbing a bite to eat. Turtle Anarchy Brewery will be there handing out free samples of their local brews. Of course there will be a Noble Springs Dairy sampling table too!  The best part is there is no admission and there is only $10 suggested donation per car load.Fun starts at 3pm and goes until 6pm.  There will be plenty of space to relax and enjoy the music. Bring chairs or blankets to sit on.

concert flyer

Farmers Bring the Best to their CSA Programs

 

Spring CSA box from Green Door Gourmet includes lettuce, kales, radishes, brocolli, cauliflower, herbs and strawberries.

Spring CSA box from Green Door Gourmet includes lettuce, kales, radishes, brocolli, cauliflower, herbs and strawberries.

Some of our East Nashville Customers know that a CSA program is “Where It’s At”.  CSA’s are in full swing now and can be purchased at several of our farmer vendors at the market including Delvin Farms, Paradise Produce, Green Door Gourmet and Flying “S” Farms. 

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is a great way to help support a local farmer and enjoy the bounty that comes off the farm all season.  Customers sign up and purchase a “share” at the beginning of the season and receive a box of produce weekly or bi weekly from spring to late fall.  Your dollars help the farmers get started in the season when the expenses are high and also guarantee sale of the vegetables that are grown on the farm.  You will be eating seasonally and likely trying new vegetables such as heirloom fingerling potatoes, kohlrabi, fennel, red Russian kale and so many more that our farmers add every year.

Delvin Farms CSA starts 3rd week of may and continues to the end of October. Vegetables are Certified Organic and grown locally here in Williamson county.

Delvin Farms CSA starts 3rd week of may and continues to the end of October. Vegetables are Certified Organic and grown locally here in Williamson county.

CSA shares make great gifts to share with friends and family. Each beautiful box is an assortment of the best produce from the farms.

CSA shares make great gifts to share with friends and family. Each beautiful box is an assortment of the best produce from the farms.

CSA shares make great gifts to share with friends and family.  Each beautiful box is an assortment of the best produce from the farms.

CSA shares make great gifts to share with friends and family. Each beautiful box is an assortment of the best produce from the farms.

 

 

Recipes: Stuffed Bell Peppers

With the influx of fall greens added to the last of the season’s tomatoes and peppers, I dusted off this recipe and updated it a bit. I’ve made a couple of tweaks (using farro instead of ground beef) that both make the recipe vegetarian and account for what I have in my pantry. Never be afraid to experiment! Cooking is at it’s best when it is personalized. This is a great recipe to use up leftovers – both vegetable and protein as well. You could break up leftover burgers, chop up leftover chicken, use leftover rice, and add any number of leftover vegetables to add to the filling. A variety of cheeses can be substituted (cheddar, mozzarella, feta – again, experiment!) or can be admitted to make this recipe vegan.

  • 4 medium bell peppers (I like red, but used green here)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked farro
  • 3/4 cup cubed or grated Kenny’s Farmhouse Norwood cheese
  • 5 roasted roma tomatoes, crushed
  • 5-8 cloves roasted garlic (I use 8; I like garlic!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, sautéed swiss chard
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut off tops of peppers and carefully remove seeds and ribs of peppers. Drizzle small amount of oil inside each pepper. Place cut-side up in a baking dish.

Filling: In a bowl, combine farro, 1/2 cup of the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and chard. Stir to mix and salt and pepper to taste. Divide into four parts and and spoon into the peppers. Top with the rest of the grated cheese. Add a 1/4 cup water to the baking dish.

Bake in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes and serve. Delicious as a side or entree!

photo

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