Tag Archives: Vegetables

No 9 Farms creates Farm Oasis in the Woods

Stephanie and Brian Oaks of No 9 Farms, along with their two children Tyler and Abigail, work together on their family farm to produce organic locally-grown herbs, berries, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and value-added products such as high-mineral seasoned salts and hand-crafted teas. Their 40 acre farm in Ashland City, TN, is flourishing into its second year and ever-evolving with added farm products available for every season. No. 9 Farms also provides organic gardening and seasonal cooking classes for members of the community to take a break from the city and learn more about farm living. The Oaks are dedicated to a nutrition-focused, sustainable lifestyle that is reflected in their products, and possess a tenacity for perseverance and hard work that makes the impossible possible.No9farms

In 2007, the family left their home in Seattle, WA, and bought a house in East Nashville where they quickly became a part of the community. They installed an edible backyard landscape, began growing food themselves, and purchased fresh local produce at the East Nashville Farmers Market. “Walking to the market every week was a big highlight for us as a family,” says Stephanie.  “We could purchase what we didn’t grow ourselves, and we really enjoyed it.” But as the kids became teenagers and the family began running out of space, Brian and Stephanie began to shift their focus from East Nashville to outside the city. “We wanted to teach our kids how to work,” she says, so the family purchased land in Ashland City in 2013.

It began as 40 acres of predominately woodland area, yet it was transformed into cultivatable land through Stephanie and Brian’s perseverance and hard work. “We really laid the infrastructure the first year,” says Stephanie. The couple cleared acres while slowly improving the soil and built a low-energy sustainable home with the help of members from the community. Through their first year, the Oaks’ farm slowly took shape, and by the second year, No. 9 Farms introduced pick-your-own berries,  gardening classes in the field, and cooking classes in their certified kitchen.

Arriving at No. 9 Farms today is like happening upon a farm oasis in the woods, with a sparkling creek running along its border that serves as cool respite for the family after a hot day in the field. A rasp of guinea fowl beside a wood-crafted hen house greets you as well as a greenhouse full of seedlings surrounded by rows of berries and herbs. The Oaks harvest fresh, organic parsley, fennel, dill, and a variety of basils, and sell them at the East Nashville Farmers Market as well as local tea companies and breweries. Customers are also welcomed at the farm by reservation to pick-up customized boxes of organic herbs, seasonal produce, and farm eggs.

No 9 farms butternut    “We wanted to create a place where people could come and make memories with their families away from the city,” says Stephanie. For her, the goal for No. 9 Farms was to educate—to teach the benefits of organic farming, living, and seasonal and healthy cooking to her community. This drive came from a personal place for Stephanie that influenced and shaped the family’s lifestyle and diet for years to come.

When her son was young, Stephanie was told what every mother dreads to hear—that Tyler was suffering from a fatal sickness that he likely could not survive. She became resolute—she would not accept that nothing could be done for her son and became staunchly committed to his recovery. She poured over research and studied naturopathic healing. A healthy diet with a holistic approach was the medicine and treatment she chose for her son, and within a few years, Tyler made a full recovery.

Today, as the family forages ahead into new journeys, they remain dedicated to a balanced lifestyle that is heavily focused on nutrition, hard work, and sustainability. “Abigail loves to work in the greenhouse and Tyler loves to build things,” Stephanie says with a smile. Although Brian travels for work as a musician and producer, he plays a very active role on the farm when he is home. “I just cut stuff and move stuff with the tractor,” he jokes.

The hand-crafted teas and finely-ground seasoned salts they produce are not only culinary specialties but nutritional favorites of the entire family. High-mineral sea salts and pink Himalayan salts are finely-ground with farm herbs to perfectly accompany jars of organic kernels of popping corn. The popular Rosemary Popcorn Salt is inspired from Abigail’s love for the snack, but also look for their next creation­­—a Carolina Reaper pepper salt—created for Brian’s love for spicy food. Herbs are harvested and dried on the farm and hand-blended to make teas meant for boosting immunities and calming moods. All of these beneficial value-added products can be purchased at the East Nashville Farmers Market or through Etsy.

As Tyler and Abigail get older and No. 9 Farms moves through its third season, Stephanie continues to dedicate herself to a life that matters to her most: hard work, healthy living, love and family—the life of a farmer. In the past, the Oaks were one of our East Nashville neighbors, walking to the market to enjoy their community. Today, having them join The East Nashville Farmers Market as one of our vendors is a special sort of homecoming for everyone involved. “It’s neat for the kids and us to be back growing things for our community and seeing all the farmers again, ” she admits. We whole-heartily agree.

For more info on their farm, visit No. 9 FB page.

 

Time To Get Adventurous!

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.

 

collard greens

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

 

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

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
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 potatoesSweet 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!

Honestly, it's just a vegetable!

Honestly, it’s just a vegetable!

 

By Jas Faulkner

Waste Not, Want Not

recycling logo

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:

Emeril Lagasse’s herbed spaghetti squash is an easy dish after a rushed day.
Rick Bayless’ “Worlds Greatest Chili” includes winter squash as part of his refit of a home kitchen classic.
Bon appetit and keep green!

by Jas Faulkner 

 

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.

What to bring to the East Nashville Farmers Market

shopping tips 2We are delighted to have so many new patrons supporting our weekly Wednesday Market.  Here are a few tips we suggest that may help make your visit as successful as possible.

One: We highly recommend that shoppers go green by bringing their own bags and baskets.  This small act has big pay-offs for our environment by reducing waste.

Two: Bring a cooler.  The East Nashville Market hosts more than just fruit and vegetable farmers. You may find meats, milk, cheese, yogurt, hummus, or other items that require refrigeration. By bringing a cooler, you can keep fresh foods cold until you head home at the end of the day.

Three: Bring Cash and Small Bills.  If you forget, or run out of cash, don’t worry!  Bank debit cards are accepted by the market in exchange for tokens to be used at vendor booths.  Some vendors accept checks or credit cards. We’ll exchange your swipe for wooden market tokens at the information booth. Tokens can be used at any booth and are valid all season long.

Awesome Grilled Green Onions

Grilled what?

Grilled what?

I thought I would post a recipe for an item that often gets overlooked at the farmers market. This is a simple addition to the grill that tastes great. You can steam the onions by placing them in foil and sealing it or grill them directly using a grilling screen or rack made especially for vegetables and other small objects. I recommend staying away from the foil and love the grilled taste.

Grilled Green Onions

Ingredients:
12 green onions, rinsed, ends trimmed
6 spring garlic greens (or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped in half)
3 tbsp sunflower, olive, or melted butter
A few shakes of smoked paprika
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions:
Place onions and garlic with oil in a bowl and work the oil over the greens to cover. Preheat grill to medium-low heat. Place greens on a grilling rack. Grill until tender, around 10 minutes.

OR

Cut a sheet of aluminum foil to about 12 by 15 inches. Arrange the greens side by side in the center of the foil sheet. Keeping the green onions flat, fold the foil to make a sealed cooking pouch. Place the foil packet on the preheated grill away from the main heat source. Allow the green onions to steam 5 to 7 minutes. After removing from grill, sprinkle with smoked paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.
Makes around 4 servings.