This summer, delve into new books on food politics, foodie memoirs, reducing plastic use, local investing, and more! These books are sure to spark conversations at the neighborhood pool or beach this summer!
1. Locavore Adventures: One Chef’s Slow Food Journey – Jim Weaver
In Locavore Adventures, New Jersey chef and restaurateur, Jim Weaver, shares his personal story of growing a sustainable food culture, and offers tips and recipes that will isnpire you to slow down, savor locally grown food, and celebrate life.
2. The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000 Mile Diet – Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu
Challenge your beliefs by reading this book that offers a perspective that is against the locavore lifestyle.
3. Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too – Beth Terry
The founder of the popular blog, My Plastic-Free Life, has written a quirky, humorous book with a serious message. She provides personal anecdotes and tips on how to limit your plastic footprint.
4. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round – Marisa McClellan
The food blogger behind Food in Jars has just published an informative, extremely helpful book on canning. It will take you through all manner of food in jars, and how to store this season’s bounty for later.
5. Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It – Amy Cortese
Amy Cortese takes the reader inside the local investing movement, with the idea that by investing in local businesses, investors can earn profits while building healthy, self-reliant communities.
6. 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering – Alice Waters
Organized by decade, Alice takes her readers on a journey from the humble beginnings of the Chez Panisse restaurant, through its rise and acclaim.
7. Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont: A Guidebook – Georgann Eubanks
Take a break from food politics to read your way through this literary regional guide. Eighteen tours direct readers to more than 200 sites that authors have explored in their writing, including Carson McCullers, O.Henry, Doris Betts, Alex Haley, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and David Sedaris.
8. Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and A Better World – Joel Salatin
In his new book, Joel Salatin discusses how far removed we are from the simple joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love.
9. Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious things Can Make Us Feel Better – Seamus Mullen
This debut cookbook pairs traditional Spanish cuisine with rustic farm-to-table fare, and highlights 18 ingredients that help the author manage his symptoms from rheumatoid arthritis.
10. Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution – Jennifer Cockrall-King
Food and the City examines alternative food systems in cities around the globe that are taking food security into their own hands.
There are a lot of great entertaining and educational food events happening around Charlotte this summer. Also, make sure to save the date for the Know Your Farms Tour, which will be September 15-16, 2012.
- June 18, 2012: Five Course Porktastic Dinner at Harvest Moon Grille, 7pm. Featuring pork from Grateful Growers Farm, paired with Birdsong Brewing Company beer. For reservations, call 704-342-1193, or reserve your spot on Open Table. $75 per person, tax and gratuity not included.
- June 20, 2012: Guest Chef Feast at Passion8 Bistro, 6:30pm. Chef Joe Bonaparte will be in the kitchen for a collaborative six-course dinner of local fare. Organized by Slow Food Charlotte. Cost is $68 per person
- June 23, 201: Farm to Table Dinner at Poplar Ridge Farm, 6:15-9:30pm. Featuring Chef Justin Sells from Emeril’s E2 Eatery, the dinner includes a four-course dinner featuring season vegetables from the farm, as well as a cooking demonstration. Tickets are $90 per person.
- June 23, 2012: Charlotte Bayou Festival at Independence Park, noon – 8pm. An advance adult pass costs $25 per person, and includes all-you-can eat Cajun seafood. Children are half price. An on-site art gallery will feature 50 artists showcasing their work.
- June 23, 2012: Pet Food Drive at 7th Street Public Market. Join the market, starting at 8am, to collect pet food for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Feel free to bring unopened, canned and bagged food to help our furry and feathered friends in need.
- June 25, 2012 – An Evening with Mother Earth Brewery At Rooster’s, Uptown location. Contact the restaurant for more information and prices.
- June 25 – 29, 2012: Nourishing Traditions Bootcamp, 10am – noon, offered by Nourishing Wellness Now. The bootcamp offers a full kitchen immersion in an intimate setting. Topics covered include how to make yogurt and other fermented foods; introducing dirty dozen and organic produce; making bone broth from scratch; soaking and sprouting legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts. The cost to attend the full-week workshop is $105.
- June 27, 2012: Presentation on the Farm-to-School program in Mecklenburg County, 3:30-4:30pm. Space is limited so be sure to RSVP to Beth Mack at email@example.com by June 25. See the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council’s Facebook page for more information.
- June 30, 2012: Breakfast of Champions – Beer & Brats Lunch Sampling at Davidson Farmers Market, starting at 8am. Tickets will go on sale the morning of, with 100 tickets available for $10 each. The hearty brats and sausages will come from our market vendors and North Carolina beers provided by Summit Coffee.
- July 8, 2012: Summertime Family Farm Tour and Cooking Class at Proffitt Family Farms. 2pm. Tour the farm, meet the chickens, horses, cows, and Sadie the cattle herding wonder dog. Then head back to the kitchen with Heidi Billotto to refresh with sparkling lemonade and learn how to build the perfect burger. Cost for one parent and child combo is $100. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.
- July 14, 2012: Farm Tour and Cooking Class at Proffitt Family Farms. 3-7pm. Sit on the patio, lounge in the kitchen with a glass of wine and let us serve you 4-5 plates of freshly prepared Italian beef dishes! Jose Villapando from the Common Market will be on hand to provide wine pairings and take wine orders. Cost is $75 per person. Email email@example.com to reserve your spot.
- July 16-20, 2012: Nourishing Traditions Bootcamp, 10am – noon, offered by Nourishing Wellness Now. See the June listing above for more info.
- July 21, 2012: 30th Annual Farmers Day Festival, China Grove, NC. All day event. Started as a way to honor local farmers, China Grove’s Farmers Day festival now draws in 25,000 visitors each year. Wander through more than 200 booths of local vendors selling produce, baked goods, arts and crafts, jewelry, and more. The Children’s Stage will showcase clowns, magicians, and puppets, then stick around for the street dance party at 7pm.
Summer Family Friendly Activities
- June 23, 2012: Film, Food Trucks, Fun on Park Ave., between Camden and South Tryon St. Free showing of Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13). Food trucks will be on-site starting at 5:30pm.
A few months ago, heritage poultry advocate and chef Steve Pope visited Charlotte. I had the pleasure of attending his dinner at 7th Street Public Market (read about it here); it was truly an enlightening and informative evening. It left me with a deep appreciation for the conservationists and farmers who are working hard to bring back many heirloom breeds of chicken that are in danger of extinction.
True heritage poultry are found in very few locations around the country, typically only at farmers markets and directly from local farms. Fortunately for Charlotte folks, we have a few intrepid farmers that are breaking away from raising the standard Cornish Cross chicken. One such farming family is Jonathan and Jan Bostic, who run East of Eden Farm in Huntersville, NC.
East of Eden Farm
I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan the other week, and took a tour of East of Eden farm. A mere five minutes from my home, nestled amongst the sprawling suburban developments where the majority of Huntersville residents live, this small family farm has been owned by several generations of Bostic’s since the 1920s. Jonathan recently returned to the family farm, and is in the process of creating a sustainable, humane poultry and beef business. His first step is heritage poultry and eggs.
Photo by Lisa Turnage Photography
The first batch of Buckeye chickens, a heritage breed that does best when free-range, was hatched approximately 14 weeks ago. They will be available to buy direct from the farm at the end of June. The farm currently has 40 laying hens, 2 roosters, and Jonathan plans to process 5,000 broiler chickens during a nine-month growing season. The farm’s pastured chickens and laying hens are fed an organic feed that is both soy-free and free of GMO’s. For those of you who adhere to a Paleo Diet, East of Eden Farm is a great, local source for soy-free eggs!
These little guys, about 3 weeks old, are ready to be released into pens. The pens, which resemble igloos, are moved daily to a different stretch of pasture. Once they are too big too sneak through the fencing, they are moved onto open pasture.
There they are free to wander to their hearts content.
The laying hens and two roosters are separated into their own pasture, with a movable hen house.
Photo by Lisa Turnage Photography.
East of Eden poultry will be appearing soon at The Bradford Store in Huntersville, and will also be available to order through the farm’s future website for on-site pick up. If you would like more information about East of Eden or their products, you can contact Jonathan Bostic at (828) 713-1538 or JonathanBostic@me.com. You can also visit their Facebook page here.
East of Eden Farm
8300 McIlwaine Rd.
Huntersville, NC 28078
While we were in Paris, there were many types of restaurants we avoided.
Places like Quality Burger, which bear a strong resemblance to Burger King or McDonald’s, were avoided like the plague.
Travelling with a preschool-aged child, we also chose not to visit an upscale, fine dining French restaurant. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to try that gastronomic experience next time.
We also missed out on a visit to Les Papilles (30 rue Gay-Lussac), a lovely little French bistro that changes its menu daily depending on what the chef brings back from the markets. We made the mistake of waiting until our fourth day in the city to attempt making a reservation, something we apparently should have done before we left!
After a visit to jardin du Luxembourg, where Maya had the chance to sail a boat on the lake like a true Parisian child, we ventured to our first restaurant, Chez Jaafar, which serves authentic Tunisian dishes.
When I am not travelling, most of my eating habits are fairly strict, and predominantly locally sourced food. There is one big exception: ethnic restaurants. Some of my favorite restaurants are Indian, Cuban, Ethiopian, Japanese…well, the list can go on and on. Part of the reasons I love ethnic dining is because I get to eat things that are new to me, or dishes that I have not figured out how to replicate at home. Before we even left on our trip, I knew I wanted to try out an Algerian or Tunisian restaurant; both countries are former French colonies. I had Chez Jaafar (22 rue du Sommerard) picked out before we even left the United States!
We ordered a Tunisian salad as an entree, made with tomatoes, cucumbers, tuna, onion, hardboiled egg, and a nice light dressing. For our main platter, we ordered one couscous and one tagine dish. The light, fluffy couscous came out on a shallow platter, accompanied by a dish of two boulettes (meatballs), two merguez (spicy sausage) and a large tureen filled with stewed turnips, zucchini, carrots, and chickpeas in a tasty broth. The tagine had lamb, figs, walnuts, onions, and potatoes. Harissa is served on the side, and is a spicy chili-coriander-garlic paste. Everything tasted amazingly good!
Maya devoured everything before her, including the merguez, and a dollop of harissa with her vegetables. As with all of the restaurants we dined at, she was a favorite with the staff, especially when she thanked them in French.
The following day was a long day of sightseeing, so we started the day at Delmas café on the Place de la Contrescarpe, ordering a café noisette. This was pretty much the only way I ordered coffee in France; it is a shot of espresso served with a tiny pitcher of milk.
Then we headed to the the Eiffel Tower…
where we climbed close to 1,000 steps to a beautiful view, with the Arc de Triomphe in the distance…
Followed by a climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. This view of the Eiffel Tower was our reward.
At the end of the day, we squeezed in a trip to the Musee d’Orsay. Their collection of predominantly French artists includes paintings by some of my favorite artists: impressionist and post-impressionist painters Monet, Degas, Renoir, Manet, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. The museum is housed in a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. When Maya saw the large clock towers, she thought it was the Hugo Cabret book brought to life! In my opinion, the museum also offered the city’s best view of Sacre Couer.
By that time, we were quite worn out, and decided to eat at a restaurant close to our apartment, called Le Mouffetard (116 rue de Mouffetard). I ordered travers de porc (pork spareribs) served with haricot verts, while hubby ordered duck. Both were tasty, but the highlight was definitely dessert, which was fromage blanc. Similar to yogurt, it is typically served with miel (honey), or coulis (a thick sauce made from pureed fruit). Maya chose the raspberry coulis, and I was lucky to get a few bites in before she polished off the whole cup!
Update: Kristin is the winner of “Birds of A Feather: Saving Rare Turkeys from Extinction”. Congratulations!
It might be long overdue, but I have finally set up a way to subscribe to Charlotte Locavore via email. And what better way to celebrate than by hosting a Memorial Day contest and giveaway!
From now until Monday evening, I am doing a recruitment drive for the new email subscription option. The more people that subscribe to Charlotte Locavore, the better the prize becomes!
Simply type in your email address below and you will be entered into the giveaway! You can also find a link to sign up for email subscription on the right side bar of every page. Emails are sent in the form of a weekly digest.
What’s even better, every single person that subscribes to Charlotte Locavore will automatically be entered whenever there is a giveaway! Easy, huh?
If Charlotte Locavore reaches 50 email subscribers, the prize is:
- one month free advertising
- OR the book Birds of a Feather: Saving Rare Turkeys from Extinction.
If there are more than 100 subscribers, the prize jumps to:
- two months of free advertising,
- OR Birds of A Feather, and a $10 gift card to Healthy Home Market. A guide will be included with the gift certificate of local products available at Healthy Home Market.
If Charlotte Locavore reaches 200 email subscribers, the giveaway will be:
- 3 months of free advertising,
- OR Birds of A Feather, the $10 Healthy Home Market gift card, and 2 reusable shopping bags.
How to Enter Giveaway
All you have to do to enter this giveaway is subscribe by email to Charlotte Locavore. That’s it!
How to help Charlotte Locavore reach 200 email subscribers
If you really like the information provided at Charlotte Locavore, or just want your chance at winning the reusable shopping bags, spread the word!
- Follow Charlotte Locavore on Facebook, and share this giveaway with your friends.
- Post about Charlotte Locavore and this giveaway on your own website.
The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and ends on Monday, May 28, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on this post Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
Thanks for entering!
Whenever we go on vacation, sampling the local cuisine in a new country is a large part of what makes our trips memorable. I like to see the local farmers markets, and eat at restaurants that are not targeted towards tourists. I especially love to seek out foods that are not easily available in the United States.
During our week in Paris, I was definitely not disappointed!
Our flight from Charlotte to Paris landed at 7 o’clock in the morning. Luckily, when we arrived at our apartment, everything was ready for us, and after a quick 2-hour catnap, we powered through the rest of our day.
Since we were staying in Paris for a whole week, I chose an apartment through the US-based company Vacation in Paris. The kitchen came fully equipped with everything a traveler could need, including 4 different coffee pots (a 2-cup and 9-cup stove top espresso maker, one French press, and a regular drip coffee pot)! This cute, one-bedroom apartment is situated in a perfect location for a foodie, a mere two blocks from the famous Rue Mouffetard market street.
In true locavore fashion, this is where we headed first. Well, after enjoying an espresso on the balcony, that is, to help shake the grogginess!
The rue Mouffetard is a delightful little street in the Latin Quarter of the 5th Arrondissement, and one that we ended up visiting almost every day on our way to and from sightseeing. The top end of the street is rather touristy, dotted with mediocre restaurants and souvenir shops. However, the lower half of the street is a narrow pedestrian-only market street with ancient origins, as it is the remnant of an old Roman road, with buildings that date to the 12th century.
The lower rue Mouff, as it is nicknamed, is filled with cheese shops, bakeries, butchers, cafes, pâtisseries , and loads of produce. Not all of the fruits and vegetables being sold were direct from the farm, but it was easy to determine which ones were grown in France. All food sold in France must be labeled with its country of origin, so even a non-French speaker can figure out where each item is from. Since France is a relatively small country, all of the French produce is grown within a 500-mile radius, and often much closer!
And just in case you’re wondering, most (but not all) of the non-French produce I spotted at the markets was grown in another European Union nation.
Cheese shops, called fromageries, dotted the rue Mouff. For the fellow cheese lovers reading this, I’m sure you can relate to my desire to purchase one of everything!
Next to the boucherie (butcher) where I picked up some chicken, was the poissonnerie. This seafood stall was chock full of fun things from the ocean. Langoustines, a small pink lobster only found in the north-eastern Atlantic ocean and parts of the Mediterranean Sea, seemed to be the hot item of the day, as they were sold out by the time we came back to the fish market on our way home from the market. I loved seeing scallops sold in their shell, and a huge assortment of sea snails.
Luckily for our daughter, whose favorite dessert is ice cream, the rue Mouffetard has an Amorino gelato location, with flavors that change according to the season and do not contain artificial ingredients. They also make beautiful flower cones, as demonstrated by Maya’s pick of Vaniglia Bourbon del Madagascar (Bourbon Vanilla) and Lampone Willamette (Raspberry Willamette).
I also thank jetlag as the reason why my wandering eye happened to look up on our walk home, and discovered this.
As I later learned, this surprising building décor was commissioned in 1929 by the building’s pork butcher, Facchetti.
Back at the apartment, we stared hungrily at our purchases for a few minutes (which doesn’t include a container of strawberries consumed on the spot).
From left to right:
- 2009 Château Colbert Cotes de Bourg
- Chicken (Boucherie Mouffetard, 140 rue Mouffetard)
- Blue baby potatoes, red currants, shallots, mushrooms, and raspberries
- Sausage (We don’t really know what these are called. They were labeled ‘crayons’, which I find highly appropriate. Whatever they were, these crayons were extremely delicious!)
- Macarons (pistachio, strawberry, and chocolate)
- Beurre (butter), and Comte cheese (Fromagerie Véron , 105 rue Mouffetard)
Breaking out of our food daze, we made Chicken Chasseur for dinner . It was delicious.
Of course, shopping for food wasn’t the only thing we did during our first few days in Paris!
Visited the Panthéon, a neo-classical church turned mausoleum in the Latin Quarter, which is also the site where physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the Earth in 1851, by constructing his now famous pendulum beneath the central dome of the building;
goggled at the gargoyles of Notre Dame;
danced alone the Seine River;
meandered across the Pont Neuf bridge;
explored the amazing artwork found inside the Louvre;
and made friends with a Parisian pup!
Today is the day we leave for France. Hooray! We’re all quite excited, as this will be my daughter’s first trip to Europe.
Part of my preparations this week included scouting around for great local goodies to take with us on our flight. I generally don’t eat airline meals, and I definitely prefer to bring my own food from home rather than buying something at the fast food restaurants you pass by after you get through security.
Inspired by Food Babe’s recent article about healthy, organic travel goodies, I thought I would share my stash as well.
First it was off to Atherton Mill and Market and Old Store Produce, to see what I could find. Atherton Market was a treasure trove of goodies; it is also a great place to pick up a healthy prepared meal the night before a big trip. You can place an order in advance for Beverly’s Gourmet Foods, or stop in and see what she has.
I love Simply Local, and they definitely met my needs this week. Look at all of the wonderful foods they have! I especially liked the dried apples from Perry Lowe Orchards in Moravian Falls, Polka Dot bakery crackers, and the baby greens salad mix from Tega Hills Farm. You can bring your own salad dressing with you through airport security, as long as it is in a 3.4oz container or smaller. If you are travelling internationally, you will want to eat all of your fresh fruits and vegetables before landing!
Cloister Honey was my next stop, where I picked up some honey sticks for the herbal tea I’m bringing along. I always travel with my own tea (sorry, these aren’t local!), my stomach problems tend to flare when I am jet lagged and herbal tea helps calm it down. My daughter also informed me that honey sticks would be the absolute most perfect treat on the plane for her as well. They also sell the whipped honey in miniature containers; the nicely wrapped set of 3 would make a lovely gift if you often stay with friends or family when you travel.
While I didn’t buy anything this week, Nelly’s Naturals also has some wonderful options. I am a fan of her Ridiculicious stuffed organic figs and dates. Just pop them into a small ziploc bag, and they would be ready to travel! She also has a yummy selection of prepared salads and vegetable curries, although a few of these might have too much liquied to make it through airport security.
Old Store Produce in Huntersville also had some great snacks. Instead of buying a heavily processed granola bar from the grocery store or the airport convenience stores, I’d much rather nibble on the homemade ones made by A Lit’l Tate of Heaven, and sweetened with honey (and a touch of brown sugar). They also sell Fishel’s Moravian Pies, another great option for a pre-vacation meal.
This is what our stash looks like for this trip.
From left to right:
- Strawberries from our CSA share with Bell’s Best Berries
- Honey Sticks, Cloister Honey
- Granola bars, A Lit’l Taste of Heaven
- Rosemary & olive oil sweet potato crackers, Polka Dot Bake Shop
- Sea salt chocolate bar, Black Mountain Chocolate
- Carrot sticks, from CSA share
- NC sweet potato granola, Polka Dot Bake Shop (this is going into our checked luggage, not to be opened until we reach the Loire Valley and have some fresh, local yogurt in hand!)
- Toffee oatmeal cookie, Mrs. W’s
- Dried NC Limbertwig Apples
Plus some lovely lip balm from Whispering Willow.
And, the rest of our stash, consisting of non-local items, looks like this:
From left to right:
- Organic whole grain fig bars from the bulk section at Healthy Home Market
- Dehydrated green beans, also from the bulk section at Healthy Home Market
- A variety of single serve nut butters: Artisana’s organic, raw cacao bliss and cashew butter; Justin’s almond butter
- Righteously Raw ‘Caramel’ Cacao Bar
- Tea: Bigelow Sweet Dreams, Yogi Ginseng Vitality, Trader Joe’s Peppermint
- Unique brand sprouted splits pretzels
- Tasty Organic Fruit snacks
- Organic Blueberries (not pictured)
- Organic oatmeal packets (not pictured)
Put it all together, and it packs down quite small! I also put the healthiest foods on the top…so we eat that first.
The first time red beets showed up in my CSA box a few years ago, it took me a few minutes just to figure out what they were. A root, surely…but what kind? Once I figured it out I was shocked I couldn’t identify a beetroot on sight.
You see, I grew up in York County, Pennsylvania, and I’m a PA Dutch girl at heart. As a child, there was often a jar of pickled red beet eggs sitting on our kitchen counter marinating. I love these little pink delicacies, and you would think with beets evoking such a strong memory, I would at least be able to recognize a beet when I saw one.
There’s a simple explanation why I couldn’t, and you don’t have to go any farther than the first ingredient in most PA Dutch recipes for red beet eggs: 2 cans 15 oz. beets.
I had only ever seen beetroot as a pre-peeled, pre-cooked soft vegetable in a can on the grocery store shelf. Pennsylvania Dutch folks definitely love their canned vegetables (Hanover Foods corporation is in the heart of PA Dutch country, and happens to be the largest independently owned food processor in the US, specializing in canned and frozen vegetables and beans). Unfortunately, as most of you know, mass-produced canned and frozen vegetables have largely replaced home canning in the American kitchen. Hence my inability to recognize this vibrant root.
Fast forward to the present: root, stem, or leaf, I have become quite the expert on identifying a beetroot, just the way nature made it. And fresh from the garden, beetroot certainly packs a nutritional punch. For starters, they contain a unique phytonutrient called betalain, discovered by scientists as recently as 2001. Early research is beginning to show that the betalain (also found in prickly pear cacti) is a powerful antioxidant that might provide protection against various stress-related disorders.
Raw beets are an excellent source of folate, providing 37% of our recommended daily intake in one serving. One cup of raw beets also contains:
- 23% of our RDA of manganese,
- 15% of our RDA of fiber, and
- 13% of our RDA of potassium.
Beets are also a good source of Vitamin C, magnesium, and iron.
Storage and Shelf Life
Look for small to medium sized beets that are firm to the touch. In North Carolina, they are typically available during the spring and fall. Both the root and the leaves are edible, but are best stored separately. Store the roots in the refrigerator in an airtight produce bag for up to 3 weeks. Keep the unwashed greens in a separate bag in the refrigerator; they will stay fresh for about four days.
Take care when peeling and slicing beets, as beet juice easily stains pretty much anything it comes into contact with. A squirt of lemon juice will help remove beet stains from your hands.
Ten of my Favorite Ways to Cook with Beets
1. PA Dutch Red Beet Eggs (recipe to be posted tomorrow!)
2. Take the artificial dye out of your red velvet cake by using red beets instead.
3. Add it to hummus.
4. Use beets, along with blueberries, red cabbage, turmeric, or onion skins to create a beautiful array for naturally dyed Easter eggs.
5. Roast them with carrots and glaze with a honey-balsamic sauce.
6. Give roasted beets an Asian twist with the addition of ginger.
7. Add them to a burger, Aussie style.
8. Add grated, raw beet to your next salad.
9. Juice it with carrot, apple, and ginger.
10. Sauté beet greens with garlic and olive oil.
“Grandma knew best.”
That is how California born Chef Steve Pope began his presentation and heritage tasting at 7th Street Public Market this past weekend. Steve’s grandmother always had a pantry, and that pantry was her backyard. To make chicken soup, she started by going out to the backyard and picking out a nice Buckeye or Jersey Giant. The influence of Chef Pope’s grandmother is undeniable; many of his cooking techniques stem from the traditional methods passed down by his German grandparents.
Before getting to the delicious food, however, we heard a very important message from Jim Adkins, from the Carolina Heritage Poultry Coalition. Once upon a time, Jim Adkins worked in the commercial turkey industry, for a ‘small’ breeder who raised one million turkeys each year. These turkeys were not raised in the idyllic farmland that might come to mind. Industrial turkeys are confined to the indoors in extremely crowded conditions of an often windowless barn, subject to artificial light 24 hours a day.
Have you ever thought about why the drumsticks on a grocery store turkey (and chicken for that matter) are so small? The reason for that is due to the fact that an industrially raised turkey is so fat it can’t even walk! That’s how little exercise they get.
That’s not even the worst part. Virtually 100% of turkeys raised in an industrial setting are incapable of reproducing naturally. It is not sustainable, and if left to their own devices, they would become extinct within one generation. Trained employees work 8-10 hours each day to collect semen from the toms, and then spend the next day inseminating all of the female turkeys. This holds true for Butterball, Jennie-O, Cargill, and our North Carolina’s very own Carolina Turkeys.
Good thing we were being served heritage poultry, or you can bet I wouldn’t have touched any of the meat the rest of the night!
If you’re like me, you already knew that industrial turkey = not so good. But what makes heritage poultry a better choice? The following criteria used to classify a bird as heritage shed some light on that question. A heritage bird:
- Is a breed recognized by the American Poultry Association. It will also be listed in the Standards of Perfection book, which currently contains more than 360 breeds of chicken, turkey, duck, geese, and guinea fowl.
- Is able to reproduce naturally.
- Has a long outdoor lifespan. Industrial poultry are what is known as dead-end birds. All they do is eat, sleep, and poop. On the other hand, a heritage bird pastures and forages for its food.
- Grows slowly. The lifespan of an industrial chicken is 42 days. A heritage chicken needs at least 16 weeks before they are ready for processing. A heritage turkey needs 24-28 weeks.
I’m glad I didn’t eat too much of the yummy Anson Mills popcorn that was available before the meal; what followed was truly a feast that awakened all of the senses.
Chef Pope’s first dish was chicken soup in a bouillabaisse. It was rich, creamy, delicious, and most definitely not your run of the mill chicken soup, despite the fact that it was made with just the carcass. Pope explained that a heritage bird is equal in taste and nutritional value to 2-3 industrial birds! And the rich taste and added sweetness in this heritage soup? That is due to the chicken having the length of time to develop a superior, sweeter, and more nutritional bone marrow.
Next up was a small bowl of Tex-Mex caviar, which could easily be made as a one-pot meal for a busy weekday night.
The sliders served were so delicious I almost forgot to take a picture before I ate the whole thing! Chef Pope’s version was made with roasted chicken in an onion and mushroom sauce. It included a seasoning made with rosemary and sage that his grandmother used in her cooking for many years. While chowing down on our sliders, we are informed of the fact that the problem of obesity in America began in the 1960’s. It just so happens that McDonald’s first opened their doors in 1955, and the Big Mac was introduced in 1968. Hmm.
My favorite dish of the night was Bierock, an Eastern European pocket pastry. This is an old peasant dish passed down from farmers. Tonight’s version was made with a Brown Buckeye heritage chicken, cabbage and onion.
One of the common criticisms leveled against local, sustainably raised meats by the average consumer is the cost. In addition to the old adage, ‘you get what you pay for!’, Chef Pope offers a fresh perspective. He counters that you might pay $18 for one heritage bird, but you can get three meals out of it for two people, if you use the whole bird (you might remember our first course, the chicken soup using only the carcass). That comes down to $3/meal per person, and is very economical.
Chef Pope’s chicken pate was made with roasted dark meat, rather than liver, and was topped with an apple jelly and goat cheese. This was the first time I had ever tried a pate, and while the Ritz cracker remained on the plate, I easily gobbled down the rest of it, and particularly liked the subtle enhancement the goat cheese added to the dish.
At this point, we had a short break between dishes to learn about the nutritional difference between grocery store ground turkey and pastured heritage turkey. I knew that, like other sustainable meats, heritage turkey was healthier compared to its industrial counterpart. However, I had no idea the difference between the two was so great. For example, one serving of Butterball ground turkey has 230 calories and 17g fat. Its heritage counterpart only has 140 calories and 5g fat. Most of that extra fat comes from industrial feed, particularly the animal byproducts added to it, which can include ground up chicken. Ugh! An industrial bird does not naturally have trace minerals like iron and chromium, which is also added into the feed. *
Up next was a little meatball glazed in a sweet chili sauce. Chewy and delicious, these would make a great appetizer at a dinner party.
By this point, I wasn’t sure I could eat another bite, but we still had two more dishes to go. Did I mention that heritage poultry is definitely more filling? The next dish that came out was chicken salad, followed by fajitas. The tortillas in the fajita were made just down the street at Lupita Tortilleria y Carniceria on North Tryon Street. They were a wonderful way to end the night.
In the words of Chef Steve Pope, in the end, Grandma did know best. She learned how to live in the structure of her environment. She learned how to create healthy foods for her families. We should all learn from Grandma.
Wendy Austin-Sellers and Bo Sellers, Concord farmers who are making plans to start raising heritage poultry.
Interesting reading to take home at the end of the night.
The beautiful dessert was from Gelitas - Clara's Gelatin Art. Flowers were from Herr's Fresh Flowers, near Lincolnton.
*Keep in mind that an organic, ‘free-range’ heritage turkey raised solely on grain will not differ from an industrial turkey in terms of nutrition. For heritage poultry to be more nutritious, it must be pastured so they can forage for bugs and grass. That’s why it is incredibly important to know your butcher or farmer, so you can ask them how they raise their poultry. Growers and breeders have a story to tell, and it is important for people to know what that story is.
A few types of heritage Breeds:
Chickens: Dominiques, Mottled Javas, Buckeyes, Delewares, Partridge Chanteclers, Barred Plymouth Rock
Turkeys: Bourbon Red, Narragansett
Chef Steve Pope, The Heritage Chef – A great source for heritage recipes and cooking tips, his website includes recipes for some of the dishes served at the Heritage Poultry Tasting.
The International Center for Poultry – Promoting and protecting standard bred poultry for sustainable farming, marketing, exhibition, and preservation.
Carolina Heritage Poultry Coalition – A coalition of farmers that are committed to growing local, sustainable flocks of heritage poultry and getting them back to the tables of American families.
Eat Wild – A great resource when looking for pastured and heritage poultry where you live, as well as grassfed beef and other sustainably raised meats, dairy, and eggs.
East of Eden Farm – A Huntersville, NC farm dedicated to creating good food with the welfare of the community and creation in mind.
I love Mark Bittman. He has never been a chef, worked in a restaurant, or had any formal training. These are facts he is completely open and upfront about. Some may wonder why a person with such a lack of training would conceive of writing the hefty cookbooks ‘How to Cook Everything’, and ‘How to Cook Everything Vegetarian’. However, I find his background is exactly why these cookbooks are so great. He is a home cook; his cookbooks are aimed at home cooks. His simple methods are a wonderful resource for people who are a novice in the kitchen, or those weaning themselves off of packaged meals and frozen dinners. He teaches readers how to make easy, whole food meals, without relying on things like condensed soups, gravy packets, and other packaged mixes.
When I use one of his recipes, it is usually as a base to which I add my own inspiration. One such example is the following recipe, which I have adapted from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook. You can substitute dried beans for the canned, but this recipe is one of my fail safe meals when I’m extremely short on time. I can usually get this soup on the table within 25 minutes of walking in the door! Don’t let the large ingredient list scare you, this is still incredibly easy to put together. This recipe is not 100% local (I’m still looking for locally grown white beans), and is 4 servings as a main course.
White Bean and Kale Soup
1/2 tablespoon butter (Cackleberry Farms)
1 small onion, chopped (sourced from my freezer, it is very easy to buy onion in bulk when in season and freeze it already chopped!)
2 large carrots, chopped (Houston Farms)
1/2 a small cabbage, chopped (Coldwater Creek Farm)
1 15 oz. can organic Cannelloni beans
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (if you don’t have homemade, I recommend Imagine’s Organic Vegetable Broth)
2-inch piece of Parmesan rind
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
pinch of paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 large bunch curly kale (2-3 cups), chopped (Houston Farms)
1. Saute onions in butter until translucent. Add in carrots and cabbage, continue cooking for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the cannelloni beans.
2. Add in the beans, vegetable stock, Parmesan rind, bay leaf thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
3. Add in kale, cook for another 5 minutes, just until the kale has wilted, but still has its bright green color.
4. Remove the parmesan rind and bay leaf. Serve.
It’s that easy! This version makes a very chunky soup. If you like it with more broth, add in another two cups.