Please join us for the FINAL MARKET DAY of the 2014 season. Be sure to bring by your little monsters for our Ghost Peppers and Goblins Celebration. We will have a costume contest for the children at 4:30 pm. Followed by storytelling at 5:30 pm with Magda the Storyspider. You may even trick-or-treat with our vendors until 6 pm. Purchasing fresh local produce is a wonderful way to support our farmers and an opportunity to let folks know what you would like them to plant next year. Ghost pepper salsa will also be available to taste and purchase from Ousley Ouch Salsa.
According to Greek mythology, the olive tree became a symbol of peace and victory when two gods, Poseidon and Athena, competed for the title of reigning deity of Athens. Poseidon, the god of the sea, laid his claim by striking his mighty trident into the wall of the Acropolis and from it sprung a well of brackish water. But it was the goddess of wisdom and skill who won possession of the city by offering a more beneficial and gracious gift to the land. She knelt beside the pool of water and planted an olive branch that would grow to become a tree. It is the same act of benevolent gift giving deeply rooted in Greek culture that makes Anna Troussas one of our most unique and elegant vendors at the ENFM. Her authentic Greek cookies, breads, and pastries are prepared with the most quality ingredients that keep customers returning, and the love she puts into her work springs from a tradition that can be tasted in every bite.
Anna was born in Hunstville, AL, where her father, Nick Koralis, was working for IBM. He met his soon-to-be wife, Carol, and the couple moved to Tallahassee, FL, where Anna grew-up. Though her father was born and raised in Greece, Anna had never visited the island until the three family members traveled there for a vacation. By the end of the trip Anna declared that she would be staying when her family returned home to America. She found a job, purchased a car, enjoyed the culture, drank coffee, and what was supposed to last only a summer grew to become 3 years of Anna immersing herself in the country of heritage. Within that time, she met and married her husband, Spyro Troussas, and the couple moved back to the States in 2011. They settled in Franklin, TN, where her parents and sister Christina had relocated.
I asked Anna about the significance of cookies and pastries in Greek culture and cuisine. “It’s all about coffee, ” she begins. ” We love our coffee in Greece, and we love to spend time with each other. It’s about taking the time out of your schedule to sit and enjoy coffee and a conversation with someone, and cookies pare a perfect pairing. ”
It is this experience and knowledge of Greek culture and cuisine that equipped her to begin baking seriously when she arrived back in the States. She had always baked for friends, but she had a desire to do more and was encouraged by them to start her own business. She first applied to the Franklin Farmers’ Market and was surprised when her application was accepted. Within 2 weeks, Anna created her menu, finalized her recipes, and developed her packaging. She works out of her home kitchen in Franklin and sells at 3 Nashville markets: East Nashville, Franklin, and Hip Donelson. Her mother Carol supports the bakery in every way she can and Anna even Skype’s with Nikoleta, her enthusiastic mother-in-law from Greece, who offers advice and guidance in Anna’s work.
Like many, Anna comes from a long line of women who pride themselves in their abilities to prepare food. It is the way they show love and care for their families and friends and it is extremely prominent within Greek tradition, Anna says. There is a myriad of female characters who have influenced her work and recipes with history and stories behind them. Most recipes Anna has created herself, but one in particular she did not. Her favorite cookie, the coffee cookie. Anna obtained the recipe from her aunt (or theia) Popi, who immigrated to America from Greece to be married to a man she barely knew. Popi never learned to read, write, or drive a car, Anna recounts, but she was known for her delicious coffee cookies. She prided herself for these cookies , and Anna fondly remembers them as a child. Similar to a biscotti in shape and texture, they are traditionally topped with sesame seeds and filled in the center with a layer of cinnamon. When Popi passed, Anna was determined to pass on her aunt’s love by learning the recipe and giving the cookies as gifts, she says. “I have one every morning with my coffee. Well, maybe more than one, ” she says with a smile.
Another popular item is the traditional koulourakia, which are simple twisted butter cookies that are sold in lovely cellophane pouches . Her handy-work is so meticulous and perfect that they resemble something found in a specialty store, yet each one is prepared and hand-twisted by Anna. “I’ve been making these cookies almost my entire life, ” Carol says, “but not even I can help her. Mine just don’t measure up. ” She also offers a powdered-sugar coated almond cookie that is a favorite amongst children, and a traditional sweet Easter bread that is made with a spice found only on the Greek island of Xios.
Though all of Anna’s treats are, her famous baklava stands out the most. A popular Greek pastry made of gooey layers of phylo dough, nuts, and often times honey, baklava is a decadent dessert. Anna uses a combination of walnuts, almonds, and pecans, and makes a chocolate variety as well. She even sells baklava in a jar, which is beautifully packaged with a pewter ribbon and perfect to give as a gift. It can be purchased individually or purchased in lovely gift baskets with her other assorted baked goods.
She also delivers to customers who can no longer make the markets, and with the ENFM ending its 2014 season, she is not opposed to making deliveries. “This has been my dream since I was a child, and I’m very happy about it, ” she says. “It means something to me that my customers love my stuff. If I can bring them some happiness, I will. I’m so thankful.”
We’re thankful for you, too, Anna.
If you are interested in keeping up with Anna and the Olive Tree Bakery, please “like” her Facebook page at http://tinyurl.com/theolivebranchbakery.
About the author: Rebecah Boynton has a BS in horticulture from Auburn University. She is a writer, an advocate, and volunteers at the East Nashville Farmers’ Market.
Annie Neeley is a powerful and soulful singer who calls the high-mountain lonesome blues of her home state of West Virginia as well as the muddy lowlands blues of the American South where she lives. She has played all over the U.S. and Europe, solo and with her bluegrass or “blues-grass” band, who honed their sound on stage at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. In 2010, Annie released her first full-length solo recording “Cold Heart Blues”. She has also added backing vocals to the live performances and recordings of many different artists including Matt Moody, Ole Mossy Face, Good Americans, and The Volunteer String Band. She is currently writing songs for her next record for release in 2015.
We are so excited to share in celebrating the arrival of the newest farmer in the East Nashville Farmers Market family. Wilder Lee Geny was born to at 12:08am on October 9th. He weighed 8lb 5oz and was 21″ long. Mom, Sonia, and baby are now at home and doing well. Stacy has been a bit sleep deprived and hopes to return this week with his veggies from Paradise Produce.
Triple L Ranch: A Family Owned and Operated Cattle Farm in Franklin, TN
Right now on the Triple L Ranch, it’s calving season. Twice a year in the Spring and Fall, the Lee family awakes to a number of new additions peppering the pastoral landscape every morning. Around 150 calves are projected to be born in the next month or so, beginning another season on Nashville’s Certified Hereford cattle farm. What an appropriate time to talk about beginnings and the growth of a small cattle ranch. I chatted with Ann Lee, the matriarch of the family business, and learned how the ranch was born, its decades of history, and how the Lee family pulls together to maintain a healthy herd and a tradition of excellence.
The story begins in Memphis, TN, where Ann was born and raised. Her father worked as a businessman in the city, but also owned a cotton farm in Arkansas where his mother resided. It was trips to this farm to visit her grandmother where Ann first became familiar with farming life. At 18, she moved to Nashville to study statistics at Vanderbilt University where she met a mechanical engineering major named Wallace Lee. Two years later, Wallace graduated and the two were married. For a number of years, Wallace worked as an engineer, then joined the Navy and eventually graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, while Ann stayed with her mother. The young couple would move around for 4 years and have 5 children together before settling down in Brentwood, TN. In 1964, they bought the farm in Franklin that would one day become Triple L Ranch.
Originally, the farm consisted of 465 acres with a small commercial herd, raised and bred to be sold at stockyards. Back then, the road they lived on was gravel, a phone call to Nashville was considered long distance, and highway 96 wasn’t even a twinkle in an eye. “We were very isolated, then, ” says Ann. A year later in 1965, the Lees sold the commercial cows and Wallace’s father Louis Leon Lee purchased the first registered Polled Hereford herd, with a dozen heifers and one bull. This marked the beginning of a long tradition of exceptional cattle breeding that the Lees would become known for.
Hereford is one of the two most common purebred beef breeds in the U.S. due to its docility, its superior marbling, and delicious flavor (Angus being the other). Polled Herefords are a hornless variant of the breed that was selected from a naturally occurring genetic mutation. Wallace loved the study of genetics, according to Ann, and read as much as he could on the subject. He began to selectively breed and develop highly desirable traits within his own herd, and as time passed, the Lees gained a reputation for breeding superior cows. They hosted auctions and sold their animals to other farmers– farmers who traveled from all over the country to purchase the particular genetics the Lee’s offered. Their last auction was held in 2008, when the Lee’s son, Stephen (who graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science) set a goal: to offer their cows as pasture-raised freezer beef instead of auctioning them to other farmers. The meat production began and the family started selling to local restaurants and at farmers’ markets. The citizens of Nashville finally had a place to find local meat produced within their community.
“I think it’s fun to go to the farmers’ markets, “Ann admits. “I have a whole group of people I know now and I know their kids and I can keep up with them. We’ve done well with the markets, and I like doing it.”
She goes on to explain how keeping close social ties to the community is important. “Now, we’re having conversations with people who are eating our beef, not buying our cows for their herd. It’s a different process. It’s more personal, ” she says. “We like to have satisfied customers. If anything goes wrong, we like to fix it. We want everyone to be happy with their purchase, and they usually are.”
Today, 4 out of the 5 Lee children live on the family farm (including 4 grandchildren) and everyone plays their part. Stephen uses his degree to select the best traits possible and keeps the cows healthy, says Ann. Abbey raises sheep on the farm and is beginning to sell her meat at the 12th S. market. Carol is in charge of the bookkeeping and deliveries. Her husband, Daniel, is the farm’s herdsman, and together they have a son earning a Veterinary Medicine degree from Auburn University. Bill is president of the family’s other business, the Lee Company, and Cynthia is the Director of Outdoor Education at the University School in Nashville. She often brings her students to the farm where they can play in the creek, identify insects, and have a fun time. The family recently established a blue-bird trail with 75 birdhouses that Stephen designed and the students assembled. “She may live in town, but Cynthia is a big part of the farm,” says Ann.
Since its beginning in 1964, Triple L Ranch has nearly doubled in size from the original 465 acres to 930, with 3 nearby farms they rent as supplemental pasture. The herd now consists of approximately 400 certified Hereford cows, each one registered with the American Hereford Association. They take a more hands-on and proactive approach to maintain healthy cattle, rather than the much maligned practices of commercial farms and feedlots. The Lee cows are rotated in the pasture often, they are never confined, never given growth hormones, and never treated with antibiotics unless necessary. “If one of our cows gets sick and we do have to treat them with antibiotics,” Ann says, “we take them out of the production completely.” They reach production weight naturally, grazing freely on grass and hay alone until the last 120 days of their lives when they are offered a custom blend of by-product free grains in the field.
The Lees believe this grass-fed/grain-finished approach gives their cows more marbling, makes them more tender, and more flavorful, as well. They are taken weekly to be slaughtered at a USDA certified facility in Paris, TN, which ensures the freshest meat possible. Their products include the ever-popular rib-eye, filet mignon, sirloin, and NY strip, as well as other cuts such as stew beef and roasts. “All the guys like a big, marbled, flavorful rib-eye, ” she laughs, but my favorite is the NY strip.” The Lees have recently added chicken production to their farm and sell whole chickens in addition to chicken feet used to make flavorful stock. Other unexpected products include beef cheeks, ox tails, and bone marrow. They also sell beef bones for people to buy for their pets.
This past Spring, the Lee family lost a very special member. Wallace, or “Pawpaw,” passed away. “He is missed every day, ” says Ann. “But the farm is going to continue. Especially with our grandson who is in vet school right now. We know the farm will go on.”
And it will. The restaurant orders are increasing. The satisfied customers are ever-returning. The grandchildren are off to college, planning their futures. Some will even return to carry the tradition into the future. There is even a 4th generation of great-grandchildren coming-up, and who knows what roles they will play someday. And there are 150 new calves expected to join the family within the next month, after all. Life continues on the Triple L Ranch, and all members join in and play their part.
For more information on meat selections, prices, or placing orders, visit their website at www.lllranch.com. Click here to get their recipe for Beer and Beef Stew. You can also catch them on Wednesdays at the East Nashville Farmers Market.
About the author: Rebecah Boynton has a BS in Horticulture from Auburn University. She is a writer, an advocate, and a volunteer at the East Nashville Farmers’ Market.
Beer and Beef Stew
1 lb stew meat
2 T olive oil
2 med sweet onions sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 t dark brown sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 sprigs thyme tied together
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth
1 cup beer
1 T whole grain mustard
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
Pat dry the meat,season with salt and pepper
Coat large dutch oven with olive oil
Over high heat-brown beef in batches–set aside
Turn heat to medium
Add onions stirring for approximately 10 minutes stirring often. Scrape browned bits. Add garlic, brown sugar and saute 2 minutes till garlic is fragrant
Turn to high heat add beef with juices to pot, add thyme and bay leaf. Pour broth and beer over top and bring to simmer. Stir in mustard.
Cover and put in oven for 2-21/2 hours till tender.
Remove thyme and bay leaf. Adjust seasonings
Serve over cooked noodles or mashed potatoes
See them on Wednesday at the East Nashville Farmers Market at pick up your stew meat.
Shelby Bottom Duo are Michael August and Nell Levin. They are one third of the six-piece Shelby Bottom String Band. “Whether waxing nostalgic about bygone days or lamenting the contemporary scourge of mountain top removal, the new-fashioned old-time music of the Shelby Bottom String Band is awash in humanity, humor and insight – all of it wrapped in a warm pocket of nimble down-home rhythms.”
Bill Friskics-Warren, contributor to New York Times and Washington Post
They will be followed by holiday themed stories from Magda the Story Spider at 5:30pm.
½ cup pumpkin canned or fresh
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup kale
¼ cup strawberries (frozen okay)
¼ cup ice
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon clove
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.
On occasion, our weekly market set-up can be somewhat brutal. The trucks begin to circle around 2pm, shaking dust into the air from a summer’s drought. Boxes are unloaded, bungee cords are wrangled, tents painstakingly popped and tables set. This is not always the most enjoyable experience, especially in the sweltering heat. But during our toil and drudgery, there is a special moment when the faint sounds of George Harrison’s guitar can be heard in the distance, and every vendor stops and looks up from beneath a sweaty brow. An arriving vendor blasts the Beatles White Album from the speakers of his pick-up truck, and everyone smiles in the afternoon sun. This is how Ric Ousley of Ousley Ouch salsa greets us every Wednesday at the ENFM. With a grin, a wave, a truck full of tasty salsas, and great music floating through the dusty air.
One look at Ric, and you can tell he is a cool guys. He is ponytailed, forever barefoot, and clad in a pair of wayfarer glasses, yet he is as friendly and approachable as he is unique. He is a true Southern gentleman, in every sense of the word. He was born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, on a small family farm consisting of some cattle and gardens. He describes it as a “dirty stinkin’ town” (which is a direct quote from a Steve Forbert song, he says) due to Laurel’s high number of chicken farms and the plywood manufacturing plant. He grew up with one brother and a sister, and though the town was small, he and his brother could leave Laurel and be in the city of New Orleans in 3 hours flat, he says. Growing up on the farm, he developed a love for the Beatles (influenced by his older sist’er obsession at the time) and fresh produce grown in his family’s garden. He came to Tennessee in 1985, and after having difficulty finding a salsa that met his and his sister’s standards, he began to create his own. This is how the first recipe for Ousley Ouch was created: Out of necessity for a salsa that not only tasted delicious, but that was hot enough, too.
As time passed, his salsa’s reputation grew. He made it for friends, family, parties, and holidays. But when the demand out grew Ric’s ability to supply, he began to entertain the thought of starting a business and selling a line of his very own salsas. He took a jar to Barry Burnette at the Produce Place on Murphy Road, said he wanted to sell it, and asked what he needed to do to make it happen. A couple years later and with Barry as his mentor, Ousley Ouch salsa was officially in the works.
In the beginning, Ric and his wife Haseena were preparing the salsa by hand. They rented catering kitchens on Sundays when they were vacant and the Produce Place was their first real market. They offered two different varieties back then: Mild and Hot. Now, Ousley Ouch salsa can be found in approximately 60 stores statewide, including Whole Foods and Publix. They make over 2,500 jars of salsa per month at a semi-automated industrial kitchen in Lebanon, TN, called the Cumberland Culinary Center. Now, Ric offers 4 different varieties in ascending order of heat level: Mild, Peach and Mango, Hot, and Ghost.
Every jar is filled with the best ingredients Ric can find. All the peppers used are grown on local Green Door Gourmet farm here in Nashville, and so far he has purchased almost 800 pounds of their jalapenos this year alone. He held taste tests with his friends to choose the right canned tomatoes before settling on the popular Red Gold Brand. The peaches and mangoes in his sweet and tart salsa are chunky and fresh tasting with no added sugar, because he wants you to actually taste the fruit. He also has a new variety he is tinkering with that he hopes to name “Ridicul-Ousely,” and ridiculously hot it will be, containing the world’s two hottest peppers, the Carolina Reeper, and the Trinidad Scorpion.
After our interview, I’m certain Ric has one thing for sure, in addition to a friendly disposition. He has good taste. Great taste, in fact, and not just in music. He knows how to make a quality, fresh, and healthy product, and make it taste fantastic, too. If you visit the East Nashville Farmers Market stop by Ric’s tent and taste them for yourself. He has samples available at all times with a flavor to fit your taste buds. And if you stick around long enough while the market winds down, you might get lucky and hear a riff or two of While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
For further information and to make online purchases, visit their website at www.ousleyouch.com. You can also find a video here about Ousley Ouch Salsa that recently aired on Live Green Treen.
Submitted by Rebecah Boynton