From the Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern Cookbook
Time: 5 minutes prep, 15 minutes cooking
2 tsp peanut or canola oil
8 ounces fresh chorizo, casings removed, cut into roughly 1-inch pieces; or 4 ounces cured chorizo, kielbasa or other smoked sausage, finely diced
3 poblano chiles, seeded and sliced into thin 2-to-3 inch strips (about 3 cups)
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 pounds collard greens (about 1 bunch), ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced (1 packed quart)
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet set over high heat, and when it shimmers, add the chorizo. Cook, chopping up the (fresh) sausage with the back of a spoon, until the sausage has rendered most of its fat, about 2 minutes. Add the poblanos, and continue to cook until they have softened slightly and the chorizo is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, half the collards, the salt, and 2 Tbsp water to the skillet. Cook, turning the collards with tongs and adding more greens as those in the pan wilt, until all the collards are in the skillet. Continue to cook until the collards have softened and become dark green, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar and continue to cook the collards, turning them occasionally, until the vinegar has completely evaporated and the pan is dry, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, if necessary, and divide the collards, poblanos and chorizo among 4 warm serving plates. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
A nutritional anthropology study conducted by the University of Florida in 1988 suggested that North Americans had better access to a bigger variety of healthy, fresh foods than most of the rest of the world and yet the average consumer limited themselves to approximately eight to twelve different plant-based foods. In the quarter century (give or take a few months) that have gone by since then, Americans have begun to put more thought into where their food comes from and how it is produced.
The effort to localize production and consumption has led to rethinking heritage and indigenous food crops that had fallen out of favor. Our culinary vocabulary is starting to expand and with it comes a more extensive repertoire of dishes and techniques that sometimes start out as experiments and eventually become familiar household favorites.
There are plenty of reasons people don’t eat specific varieties or whole categories of fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it can be a question of rediscovering a favorite that a grandparent might have grown in the summer. Sometimes it means trying a food you’ve heard of but never tasted. Sometimes its simply a matter of access. Whatever the reason, local growers are eliminating those excuses. Which reminds me of one last excuse: you tried it and you didn’t like it.
If your parents were like mine, they probably asked you to try at least a bite or two before deciding it was off the menu for you. Okay. I’m going to make that same suggestion. If you see something in your CSA share or it’s sitting there in your sample box, and you know this food makes you sad to even think that someone somewhere considers it edible, just stop. Don’t ask to swap it out. Don’t try to palm it off on the nearest child who looks like he’s dying to carry something fresh to Mommy. In short, quit being a baby.
Here is a list of six foods to look for that you may or may not have tried.
Kale – curly or luxuriantly leafy, this green is packed with nutrients and flavor. Try it sauteed, in soups, chopped and raw in salads. One of the classic dishes for this veggie is a stew made with cannellini beans, kale, and chicken.
Collards – They are a food of the gods. You can usually find them bundled together in bunches of four to six large leaves. If you want to try something beyond the usual greens-n-pork preparation, take a look at this recipe from an earlier ENFM post: Collard Greens w/ Poblano Chiles and Chorizo.
Arugula – Steve Martin’s character in “My Blue Heaven” couldn’t live without it. This peppery green makes a great addition to any salad or stir fry. Great on a fresh tomato sandwich or served as a finger food a la cress.
Basil – This sweet-smelling herb is the primary taste profile in pesto and margherita pizza. It also makes a great aromatic garnish for cold ades and a soothing addition to an herbal bath. Try a few leaves on a toasted sandwich with fresh tomato and provolone.
Beets – Most people have tasted them pickled or as crispy veggie chips. The roots are great roasted. The greens? They perk up a tossed salad and fit right in with any kind of greens mix, cooked or raw. For a change of pace, go for the tried and true.
Sweet Potatoes – Many of us were scared away from this nutritious root vegetable by the glutenous casserole that seemed to appear at every big family dinner. Topped with burned marshmallows, each mouthful was a minefield of mush and the odd stealth pecan half that might or might not have been properly shelled. Ah, the holidays! The good news is that sweet potatoes don’t have to be such gut bombs. They’re delicious baked with a little butter or olive oil and a pinch of red pepper.
That should get you started. Okay, Indiana Jones, get out there and try something new to you. There won’t be a test, but there will be another list with some more familiar-but-not-to-you vegetables. Until then, bon appetit!
On Wednesday, the market will be holding its annual fall fest and feature cooking demonstrations by City Pasta Nashville, a petting zoo, live music, storytelling by Magda the Story Spider, plus children’s activities including face painting and fall themed crafts by The Workroom and Plant the Seed.
FOOD TRUCKS: Pappy’s Mobile Cafe and Bradley’s Curbside Creamery
FRESH PICKED PRODUCE: KALE is back! Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Melons, Peppers, Corn, Onions, Beets, Basil, Herbs, Garlic, Okra Eggplant, Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Lettuces and more!
WE WILL ALSO HAVE A 139.5 lb.
HEIRLOOM WATERMELON FOR ALL TO ENJOY!
“Fall has it all,” says Amy Tavalin, “and this Wednesday afternoon, there’s no better spot than the East Nashville Farmers Market to appreciate all the great things that come from our farmers this best time of year.”
The festival runs from 3:30pm-7pm on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014.
If you’ve visited one of the many farmers markets scattered throughout the city this summer, you may have noticed a slight figure in an oversized jacket, asking if you’d like to try some salsa. Her voice barely carries over the giant cellophane bags of corn chips with a South-of-the-Border accent as authentic as it gets. Her name is Alice, or the tortilla lady here at the East Nashville Farmers Market and interacting with her feels more like a visit with your grandmother rather than a casual stop at a farmers market booth. I had purchased and quickly devoured a stack of her tortillas months prior, so I was eager to learn more about her background and the story behind her business. As I approach her booth, she is warm and friendly, as always, and invites me to take a seat beside her. After the initial exchange of polite introductions, I jump right into my first question: “Miss Alice, did you grow up making tortillas with your mother?” Like a silly gringa, I was expecting a story filled with tradition and childhood memories to unfold. Instead, Miss Alice digs a pointy index finger into my knee, leans right in, and spouts, “Hell, NO!”
Spoken like a true Southerner. We were only on the first question of our interview, yet I was already masa dough in her hands. I was hooked on Alice’s sparkling personality as much as I was her tortillas. And though the story behind Alice’s beginnings may not be what the typical gringo would expect, it is a story rich with love, family, and togetherness, coupled with an honest desire to provide Nashville with supremely delicious traditional fare.
Alice Heffernan Salazar is actually not from a place south of the border, but from San Antonio, TX, where her family has lived for many generations. (Heffernan is her husband’s name of Irish/German decent, and Salazar is for her father, she lovingly says with her hand over her heart.) Like many Southwestern native Americans and Northern Mexicans, Alice was raised eating flour tortillas instead of the traditional corn, since flour became a foundation to the regional cuisine due to a climate favorable to wheat production and the product’s solid shelf life and shipping abilities. She was 9 years old when she left the Southwest and moved to Chicago, IL, where she and her husband, John, worked in the printing business. And although her trade was not in tortillas, she never forgot her father’s dream of starting a tortilleria of his own. That dream would be forgotten until after their retirement, when Alice and John came to Nashville to be closer to her daughter, Carole, and son-in-law, Colby.
It was Colby’s idea to initiate the bakery, she admits. He wanted his energetic mother-in-law to have something to keep her busy, so he bought the equipment himself and together they launched the company 4 years ago. The entire family pitched in to help, and together they work side-by-side in the tortilleria. Jokingly, I ask, “So, you learned to make tortillas from your son-in-law, Miss Alice?” “Yep, ” She replies. “And guess what? He’s Jewish!” Her sense of humor is devilish and she has everyone around her in stitches. She is adored by all. Plain and simple.
The Santos de Atocha Tortilleria is located at 720 Nashville Pike in Gallatin, TN, in a modest store front in the Sumner Shopping Center. She arrives every morning by 8am and runs the machines until around 10:15am. Piping hot tortillas are ready to be devoured by customers at 10:30am every morning, she says. “Those babies are hot and ready. Just a little salt and salsa, and you’re ready to go.” And thought her story may be a tad nontraditional, her tortillas are anything but. They are made with 3 basic ingredients: corn, water, and lime, and are sold in a variety of sizes, stacked high in warm bundles. The way corn tortillas should be. The corn is local and ground in her store and can be purchased by customers who want to make their own tortillas at home. She also sells a prepared masa for tamale-making, dried corn husks, her addictive crunchy fried corn chips, and fresh cans of homemade salsa made by her husband, the gringo, she says. Her products can also be found in many stores, such as the Turnip Truck and the Produce Place. More information, including products, prices and where to buy, can be found on her website at www. santostortillas.com.
If you are unable to visit her bakery in Gallatin, Miss Alice is always at the East Nashville Farmers Market (as well as other markets in the area), ready to place a warm bundle of tortillas in your hand that you won’t be able to refuse. You’ll be hooked. Plain and simple.
Waste not, want not. Few would argue with the wisdom of such a principle, but even fewer fully understand the extent to which it can be carried out in household, much less kitchen management. The idea of low to no household commodities waste is sometimes dismissed as a quaint, antiquated holdover from grandparents and great-grandparents who survived the economic depression that hit the US between World Wars. To many, it has been rebranded. Gramma’s frugality now bears the shiny new title, “sustainable living.”
Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. In fact, to cadge a phrase from Martha Stewart, it is a very good thing.
Like organic food production, upcycling/recycling/using every bit of everything from snout to tail is a shiny new concept surrounding older ways that have been kept alive by choice and circumstance. Those who live in less developed parts of the United States, citizens of aboriginal North American reservations, urban dwellers who understand the need for commodities to be used up of because of the lack of space and resources for disposal, and yes, many college students.
Think you’re already using everything in every way possible? Here’s a quick way to tell if that is the case: What does your curb look like on the days the garbage truck rolls through? If you’re doing everything you should be doing, your average household waste for that week should fit into one, maybe two t-shirt bags.
No? Are you still screaming (on the inside, where it counts) “Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!” as you trudge to the sidewalk? It’s okay. We all do it sometimes. If you’re doing it every week, you need to know that it is possible to wean your wastebaskets and trash cans from a steady diet of stuff that could be recycled into rugs, clothing, planters and even fashionable vegan shoes. Keep in mind this kind of change does not have to be a zero sum proposition. You can start small. Just start!
Let me help you out with this. Do you eat Annie’s Mac ‘n Cheese? The next time you’re in the mood for comfort food and you tear open a package, ad you’re waiting for the water to boil, take a look at the box. Yes, the bunny is cute and the bumper sticker offer that has been open since I was an undergraduate is still on the side. What you’ll also find are tips on how to reuse that box before it finally ends up in your recycling bin.
Low to no waste isn’t limited to paper and plastic. Take a look at that pretty yellow oval in your CSA box. For those of you who have never tried spaghetti squash, you’re missing out. It has the texture and taste of a good veggie pasta prepared al dente the way the school cafeteria ladies never intended. Don’t let this tasty, healthy treat go to waste.
I consulted with my friends and fellow veggie fans, Sylvia and Bill Red Eagle, on the best ways to use every bit of a spaghetti squash. Starting from the inside out:
Seeds: The tangle of seeds and mushy, fibrous stuff needs to be removed before the rest of it can be cooked. Once you’ve scooped it out, begin to knead it and you’ll find the seeds will start to fall out. Rinse them off, buff them barely dry with a clean dishtowel and then spread them out on a cookie sheet.
They’re great plain or you can season them with any of the following: cayenne, chili powder, garlic salt, grated parm or asiago, or cinnamon and a little sugar or (a tiny, tiny amount of) stevia if prefer a sweet snack. Once you’ve seasoned them or not, pop the tray in an oven set at 275 degrees for five to ten minutes or until the seeds are dry, crisp, and slide around.
This recipe works with any squash or pumpkin seed and those seeds, called pepitas by my father’s people (who also refer to corn as maiz, go figure…) are a great source of protein and fiber. One cautionary note: they are very rich in Omega-6, which do weird things to Omega-3s, which you and I and everyone we know needs. So, as Cookie Monster might say, they’re probably best eaten as a sometimes snack when you happen to be cooking a winter squash.
Flesh: Some people boil it, some steam it, the Red Eagles like to cut it in half and bake it flesh side down until the fibers pull away into “noodles”. They like it as a side with butter, salt and a little sauteed garlic or garlic scapes when they’re in season or as a “chili mac” when the weather in Ft. Worth gets a little colder. I like it topped with a good “tom ‘n three plus” marinara ( tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers plus herbs and wine).
The Skin, Stem and Seed Muck: All of it composts beautifully. If you have established a place for birds and other neighbor critters to visit and grab a bite, you’ll find that they see the seed muck is like, the best snack ever to squirrels, titmice and black capped chickadees.
So, let’s review. You started with this ornery hard thing that you wondered if you could use as part of a centerpiece or a decoration for the guest book table at church and now you have a tasty snack, a great meal that is light on the carbs, and some good karma from feeding your fellow earthlings. Best of all, none of that ended up in the trash.
Hungry for more? Talk to your local farmer about their favorite ways to use winter squash. You might want to check out these recipes by two of my favorite chefs/foodways preservation advocates:
Southern native Bradford Lee Folk works hard and plays hard. By day he’s out on a John Deere tractor on an organic farm in Tennessee, tilling the land for a living. By night he’s back home in Nashville, tearing it up on stage with his Bluegrass Playboys, playing the rough-edged blend of bluegrass tradition and true country grit that’s his stock-in-trade. After years heading up the seminal young bluegrass band Open Road and then running a rural honky-tonk in Colorado, Brad Folk came back to Nashville determined to make his own music his own way. On his new album Somewhere Far Away, wIth burning fiddles and hard-picked banjo behind him, his new music flows out of the Americana bedrock of Music City, but bubbles with the intensity of modern life. Songs reference East Nashville street violence in one breath and soul-searching isolation in the next. These are the kind of songs whose thoughtful, literate lyrics pull you into the story. Plus there’s an instant charisma to Bradford Lee Folk’s voice, something there that makes you sit up and listen. At the Pickathon Festival last year, Folk got two standing ovations from a simple interview! Now he’s channeling that intensity into granite-hard bluegrass roots, beholden to no tradition but the long-held American tradition of making music with deep knowledge of its own roots and great hope for a fresh future.’
Brad Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys join the East Nashville Farmers Market on Wednesday, September 25th from 4pm-7pm.
1 cup very thinly sliced peeled and seeded butternut squash
EVOO for drizzling
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
6-10 small fresh sage (or basil) leaves (torn if larger)
at least 1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 500 F. Drizzle squash with oil in a bowl and season with salt.
2. Spread cornmeal on baking sheet. Stretch dough into 9.5 inch round; transfer to baking sheet. Drizzle dough with oil, and arrange squash on top, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Bake 10 minutes. In the bowl you used for the squash, toss herbs with garlic, & drizzle with oil to coat. Sprinkle herb mixture over pizza & continue to bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
*Cheese / Tomato Sauce : One can also add mozzarella cheese or another white cheese or your choice, like Romano or even tomato sauce, making this a bit more traditional. Top the crust with these additions, after baking the dough, but before adding the squash. Of course, you can always add more cheese on top too!
The Slow Food Movement might be new to you, but it has been around since the late eighties, first as a grassroots 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.
Before cutting potato, rinse well under water. From there, cut the ends off the potato, stand up on end, and cut slices from the potato that are 1/4\” thick (depending on how thick you want your fries- cut accordingly) Take slices and cut fries out of the potato-using 1/4 ” as the measurement.
Once all fries are cut, place in medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, tossing until every piece is covered. Spread out onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes, flip the fries, and bake for a remaining 10-15 until fries are crispy (35-45 minutes total.) Make sure to not over crowed the pan- this may result in uneven baking.