Archive for the ‘Respectable, Edible Products’ Category


Originally uploaded by nature55

I love my grocery store if you haven’t noticed. But, today I realized why shopping at a community cooperative really can’t compare to the traditional supermarker. The produce section had fresh, local Morel mushrooms. This type of mushroom is highly valued and even has a small cult following of avid seasonal hunters. The reason a morel is highly valued is because they have a small harvesting season (generally the spring), they are difficult to spot because their color blends in with the foilage, and it is challenging to find a spot where they grow. Fortunately, once a hunter finds a bed of mushroom treasures (generally moist, decaying areas) they can generally return to the hot spot year after year and be rewarded with prized morels. 

Although I have never been morel hunting, I’ve enjoyed the fruitful labor of diligent hunters several times. But, I must admit this is my first non-dried morel mushroom purchase. I am going to eat the mushrooms tomorrow, and I have been trying to decide how to make them the most luscious mushrooms I’ve ever eaten. I’m going to write a few options, and pray that someone points me in the right direction.

  • Pan-fried in butter and coated in herbed saltines
  • Sauteed with butter, shallot, garlic, parsley, and oregano
  • Seasoned, sauteed, and served over local beef tenderloin

I can’t wait to share my choice with you tomorrow. And for all you morel lovers, happy hunting!


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Fresly Picked Blueberries by Kirpernicius

Fresly Picked Blueberries by Kirpernicius



I’m aspiring to eat local. Although the task sounds daunting, I’ve realized over the past few months that Knoxville is a great hub for locally grown food products. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites and some that I look forward to incorporating into my meal plans. 


Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams

Green Man Farm

Vegetables: arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese greens, collards, cucumber, daikon, edamame, eggplant, garlic, green beans, green onions, hot peppers, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, salad greens, salad mix, shallots, spinach, summer squash, sweet peppers, swiss chard, tomatoes, winter squash, zucchini

Fruits: blackberries, cantaloupes, melons, rhubarb, strawberries

Meat: goat, lamb, pork

Grains: buckwheat, rye, wheat

Herbs: everything

Processed: bread, pasta, pickles

Dairy: cheese

Cruze Dairy Farm

Buttermilk, 2% milk, chocolate milk, whole milk

Sweetwater Valley Farm

Cheese: Tennessee-aged, Mountain White, Volunteer Jack, Smoked White, Colby, Buttermilk, Tomato Herb, Garden Blend, Pimiento, Jalapeno, Italian Pesto, Marble, Adobo, Roasted Garlic Pepper

Tellico Grains

Bread: sourdough, wheat, and other varieties

Tea Bread: banana walnut, cranberry orange, pumpkin pecan

Muffins: blueberry, cranberry orange, butter rum

Brownies: chocolate, cheesecake, walnut

Cookies: coconut, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter

Coffee Cake:  spiked apple danish, raspberry almond danish, butter rum, chocolate-coconut danish

Locust Grove Farm

Cheese: Galloway, Appalachian Spring, La Mancha, Cumberland

Dry Aged Lamb

Tomato Head

Pesto: traditional and vegan sundried tomato



Tennessee Valley Eggs

Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese

Cheese: asiago, asiago-peppercorn, brie, herb-bree, barren county bleu, aged cheddar, horseradish cheddar, mild cheddar, tomato basil cheddar, colby, swiss, havarti, etc.

Farmsoy Tofu

Green Mountain Gringo


Corn Chips

Highland Brewing Company

Gaelic Ale, Oatmeal Porter, St. Terese’s Pale Ale, Kashmir IPA, Black Mocha Stout, and Special Seasonal Varieties 

Everything Mushroom

Dried: shitake, chanterelle, lobster, maitake, matsutake, morel, paddy straw, porcini

Kombucha Starter Kit

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Blood Orange from the Local Co-op

Blood Orange from the Local Co-op

I love winter–stews, kale, warm flavors, spiced tea, slow cooking, and soup.  But there is one thing Winter lacks, fruit. Apart from crispy apples, the season really lacks ingredients that satisfy the need for sweet, juicy, fleshy fruit. After feeling deprived for most of the Winter, I was ecstatic to see blood oranges at the co-op. Good gracious I’d never had one, but they immediately beckoned me to buy them and learn about what they had to offer.

What isn’t there to love about these juicy crimson-blushed fruits? Their simultaneous tart and sweet flavor yields a joyous flavor combination that excites the taste buds to no end. The majority of these succulent delicacies are grown in the Mediterranean, but of course, the United States must have a piece of the blood orange pie…California grows them too. 


Blood Oranges are Healthy Too

The blood-like pigment of these lesser known oranges is from anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins have a variety of health benefits–anti-inflammatory, protection against oxidative damage, collagen and nervous system health, better vision. Blood oranges are also rich in Vitamin C which helps your body absorb iron and reduces the risk of cancer. Blood oranges also contain 3 grams of fiber which helps lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of cancer. These oranges have approximately 70 calories per serving, are have no fat, sodium, or cholesterol.

Types of blood oranges

  • Moro:  This variety has the most vibrant hues with a deep purple flesh that originated in Sicily. The flavor has a hint of berry with sweet and sour notes. This more aromatic and more flavorful varietal is the most popular blood orange in the US.
  • Tarocco: This variety is most popular in Italy because of it’s sweet and juicy characteristics along with it’s nutritional value. It has more vitamin C than any other orange in the world. The color is less vibrant than the Moro, but the lack of bitter notes make this variety more desirable to some. 
  • Sanguinello: This variety is very similar to the Moro, but traces it’s origins to Spain. 

How to Use Blood Oranges in Your Kitchen

Although my favorite method of consumption is the peel and pop into my mouth, I also love using the juice and zest in a basic dressing. Blood oranges can also be used for cocktails, marmalade, chutneys, desserts, appetizers..it’s endless really. Here are a few recipes that sound amazing


Check out this ode to blood oranges from my favorite radio station:

NPR’s All Things Considered: The Juicy History of Blood Oranges



Sources: http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Anthocyanins.shtml



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I’m starting a new series called “Tell Me All About it Tuesdays”. Every food and beverage has an extensive history. I want to share their stores with you. Tuesdays will be a food history lesson jazzed up with nutrition facts and fun new ways to incorporate these products into your diet. I’m going to begin the series, with my latest beverage obsession–Kombucha (kom-BOO-cha). 


Homemade cran-ginger, strawberry and mango kombucha by Queersten

Homemade cran-ginger, strawberry and mango kombucha by Queersten




The Chinese first recorded using kombucha, “The Tea of Immortality” in 221 BC. Although the Chinese consumed this fermented beverage for over 2000 years, the name Kombucha originated in Japan. The story goes that the Emperor Inyko was treated to fizzy tea by a Korean physicist, Kombu. The emperor combined the physicist’s last name Kombu with the Japanese word for tea “cha” to form kombucha.

The Russians began to use the tea after traveling to Japan between WWI and WWII after they discovered the tea improved health, longevity, and well-being. From Russia, it’s popularity gained Prussia, Poland, Germany and Denmark. Although it lost popularity during WWII because there was a shortage of tea and sugar, it regained steam after the fighting ended when Dr. Rudolph Skelnar of Germany used it to treat cancer patients, metabolic disorders, high blood pressure and diabetes.


What in the world is Kombucha

Kombucha is a sparkly, fizzy fermented tea derived from the kombucha mushroom. This mushroom is a relative of Chaga, a birch-tree mushroom, used by the Russian peasants of the Alexandrove district near Moscow to cure them of cancer. Peasants from this area are reported to have no cancers in their communities.

Kombucha starts as a bacteria and yeast culture, and it is then placed into a bowl of sweet black or green tea. The liquid transforms into a pool of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and healthy organic acids. This occurs because the living kombucha culture digests the sugars and produces organic acids, vitamin C, vitamin B, amino acids, and enzymes.

The unique champagne-like taste isn’t popular with many consumers. So, in the United States Kombucha is paired with popular ingredients like ginger,raspberry, mango, or cranberry to make a tastier and even healthier beverage.

Nutritional Benefits: “The Tea of Immortality”

Kombucha is similar to yogurt because live bacteria digest sugars and produce acid, and it is also a probiotic. A probiotic is a food or beverage loaded with good bacteria that promote healthy guts in humans. Probiotics, including kombucha,  generally have a sour or bitter taste. The vast amount of research on probiotics focuses on fermented milk products like yogurt or kefir. In the lab, kombucha has shown antiviral, antibiotic, and antifungal properties. In lab rats, it improved liver function and protected the body against stress. However, many of the health claims of this magical elixir are from personal testimonies. Benefits range from treating cancer, HIV, arthritis and allergies to improving energy levels, hypertension, and chronic fatigue. So, what is kombucha made of that might give evidence to these claims?

Organic Acids

  • Glucuronic: This detoxifier binds toxins in the liver and flushes them out through the kidneys. It can cope toxins from plastics, herbicides, pesticides and resins. A byproduct of glucuronic acid are the glucosamines, which are associated with cartilage, collagen, and synovial fluid (this lubricates joints).
  • Lactic acid: Assists blood circulation and helps stomach distress. It also aids in the acid base balance of the body. This slightly more acidic environment, kills the bad bacteria.
  • Acetic acid: Inhibits harmful bacteria.
  • Usnic Acd: A natural antibiotic
  • Oxalic Acid: A preservative that promotes intracellular production of energy
  • Malic acid: liver detoxification
  • Gluconic Acid: greatly benefits individuals who suffer from yeast infections
  • Butyric acid: protects cell membranes and strengthens the gut to prevent bacterial infections

Basic Nutrition Facts: 30 calories, Og fat, 10mg sodium, 7g of total carbohydrate, 2g of sugar, 25% folic acid, 20% Vitamin B2, 20% Vitamin B6, 20% Vitamin B1, 20% Vitamin B3, and 20% vitamin B12. It also has 1 billion lactobacillus bacteria and 1 billion s.Boulardii

Where do I get this stuff?

You can make it yourself. Find out how to do it here


Homemade Kombucha looks a little gross, but its full of healthy nutrients

Homemade Kombucha looks a little gross, but it's full of healthy nutrients

If you prefer not to drink something that looks like the beverage above, try drinking Synergy Raw Kombucha Drinks, with great flavors like Cranberry, Ginger or Mango. But keep in mind, NEVER SHAKE KOMBUCHA OR IT WILL EXPLODE. Trust me, I’ve shaken and it was a mess.


Synergy Raw Kombucha

Synergy Raw Kombucha







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This yogurt is my vice. I particularly overindulge in the plum and walnut flavor, but the peach and passion fruit is a close second. This yogurt has the “ummm factor.” When you open the lid, and take a bite of this creamy sweet delicacy, your reaction will be equivocal to taking a bite of your favorite dessert. It’s just that good. Some other positives: there are no sugar substitutes, no gelatin (an animal product),  it only has 8.5% milk fat (good ice cream has around 30%), and of course it’s packed with calcium and good bacteria. If you struggle with dessert, reaching for that third brownie or eating the WHOLE pint of Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food, try stocking your refrigerator with this equally sinful yet healthier option.

Yes, my love of Liberte yogurt doesn’t stop at the rich Mediterranean yogurt. The 6 grain version is the perfect snack or accompaniment to a light lunch. This product line has less fat and calories than the mediterranean, yogurt, the sugar is natural fruit sugar that has little impact on raising blood sugar, and the 6 grains give the yogurt great texture and nutritional benefits. My favorite flavor is pear, because the subtle sweetness mixes perfectly with the slightly tart yogurt and nutty grains. 

But, not only is the yogurt top-notch, Liberte’s dedication to sustainability is too!  

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