We are so excited to announce our very own Nashville singer/songwriter and 2015 Telluride Troubadour Mary Bragg as our special musical guest for our Grand Opening Festival on May 13, 2015. Mary is an award-winning artist whose vocals and musical styling draw comparisons to Folk and Americana greats such as Norah Jones and Patty Griffin. Her latest album, “Edge of This Town” serves-up haunting yet powerful melodies and lyrics sung through a heart-wrenching soulful voice. Not only is Mary an award-winning recording artist, but she is also one of our dedicated volunteers at our East Nashville Farmers Market.
Originally from south Georgia, Mary moved to East Nashville in December of 2013 after ten years in New York City where she became widely-acclaimed in the Brooklyn Americana scene. After her relocation South, she immediately began shopping at the East Nashville Farmers Market and joined the Delvin CSA program. Every week, Mary arrived to retrieve her box of local fruits and vegetables, and eventually began working as an ENFM volunteer.
“I love the market for its entrepreneurial spirit–and of course for the local produce!” she says. “Each of the vendors’ passion for what they do keeps me coming back every week.” She goes on to describe why she likes participating in our community market through volunteer work. “It’s my small way of giving back to something that brings me a lot of joy.”
Last year, Mary won the inaugural BandPage/Zoo Labs Music Residency Contest, which enabled her to create her latest album, “Edge of This Town” at Zoo Labs Studios in Oakland, California. She has been busy with tours and co-writes ever since, and recently was accepted into the world-renowned circle of songwriters at The Bluebird Cafe. But when she isn’t touring, recording, or making huge strides in the Nashville music community, she is at the East Nashville Farmers Market helping customers connect with local farmers and food.
Mary is often found at the information booth answering questions and helping market shoppers, and also at the live music tent where she uses her expertise to set-up equipment. But this Wednesday, Mary Bragg will not be serving her community as a volunteer, but gracing our neighbors and market shoppers with her classically trained voice and deeply moving melodies. Every week, this gracious songbird brings so much joy to the East Nashville market, and we are happy we can share her immense talent and giving spirit with you, our market shoppers.
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!
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:
Our East Nashville farmers market is going strong! Yesterday’s market was a bit damp, but that didn’t stop us. In fact, the rain offered us all a chance to cool off after temps that reached near 90 degrees here in Nashville.
We always have a nice variety of local produce baked goods and other fresh food related products for our market customers. Yesterday was no exception. Fresh farm local produce offerings included sugar snap peas, summer squash, wheat grass, kale varieties, lettuces, strawberries, swiss chard, zucchini, carrots, peaches, pecans, broccoli, cabbage and much more.
Certified organically grown squash, zucchini and green onions from Delvin Farms
Our other vendors shared their specialty made granola, salsa and hummus. We also had milk from Hatcher Family Dairy, cheese and goat milk products on hand. And our new meat vendor Triple L Ranch had beef, chicken and sausage from their all natural beef farm. There were also fresh herbs and starter plants for folks to take home.
Sound too good to be true? Be sure to check out our photo gallery to see what we had at yesterday’s market and who was there. A big thanks to all our vendors and customers who came out on an East Nashville rainy day!
Farm goat cheese from Noble Springs Dairy
We look forward to seeing you at our East Nashville Farmers Market next week. Remember not to let a little rain spoil all the fun!