Tag Archives: local

Olive Tree Bakery: Greek desserts, cookies, and specialty items

Greek 9According 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.Greek 10

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.

Greek 3I 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. Greek 4

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.

Greek 2Another 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.

Greek 6Though 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.Greek 7

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.

Ousely Ouch: Nashville’s Homemade Salsa Company

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 Ric Ousley 4 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.Ousley Ouch

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.ric ousley 3

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

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

Watermelon-Peach Salsa and Tomatoes

watermelon-peach-salsa-and-tomatoes-sl-x

Recipe from Southern Living July 2011 Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Amy Burke

Come and get your fresh and local ingredients for this quick and easy recipe at the East Nashville Farmers market this Wednesday.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup hot pepper jelly
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups seeded and diced fresh watermelon
1 cup peeled and diced fresh peaches
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
3 cups baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh basil sprigs

Whisk together pepper jelly, lime zest and lime juice in a bowl; stir in watermelon and next 3 ingredients.  Season halved baby tomatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; spoon into cocktail glasses. Top with Salsa. Garnish, if desired.

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

Support Your Local Farmer With One Meal At A Time

10013743_10202860779534696_475239739_nCHALLENGE ACCEPTED?

Can you commit to cooking just one meal a week that is completely purchased at the market while supporting your local farmer? It’s simple.

You can buy local corn tortillas, onions, lettuce, ground beef, and cheese.  Then top that with salsa for an easy quesadilla supper.

Or you could buy fresh berries or peaches, croissants, granola, jam or honey and finish with yogurt or cheese for a gourmet farmers market breakfast. 

Of course, if cooking just isn’t your thing there is no reason to worry.  You can also find plenty of prepared foods from our vendors and food trucks as well.  

After you see how truly easy and delicious it can be, you will surely want to add more. Please share your results with us. Have fun!

We look forward to seeing you and your family on Wednesday.  

Recipe: Peppered Beef Slices with Green Onions and Radishes

RadishesThe idea of cooking radishes may not appeal to some people. Try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. After all, onions aren’t just for salads and neither are radishes. You can find the freshest local ingredients including radishes, onions and beef at the East Nashville Farmers Market.

Ingredients
1-1/2 pounds lean flank steak, cut across grain into           1/4-inch-wide strips
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 tblsp honey or maple syrup
1-1/2 tsp coarsely cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tblsp cornstarch
3 tsp sunflower or olive oil
24 green onions, cut diagonally into 2 inch pieces
24 radishes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Instructions
Combine first 5 ingredients in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, turning once to coat. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)
Mix broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch in small bowl. Heat 1-1/2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add half of steak and half of juices from dish and sautée until steak is brown, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to plate. Repeat with 1-1/2 teaspoons oil, steak and juices. Return all steak and juices to skillet. Add green onions and radishes and sautée 1 minute. Stir broth mixture, add to skillet and sautée just until steak is cooked through and sauce thickens, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.
Makes around 6 servings.

Adapted from www.epicurious.com