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Posts Tagged ‘Eating Local in Knoxville’

No, I didn’t lose my marbles in South America.  I acquired worms and munched on weeds at my friend Katie Ries’s MFA Thesis Show–The Urban Land Scouts. The worms will be my little kitchen scrap recyclers, breaking down my leftovers into organic matter. My prior composting involved putting scraps into a bowl and waiting until nightfall to sneak down to the green space behind my apartment to deposit my unwanted peels, coffee grounds and egg shells. But now, I shall fear the landlord no more and compost in peace.

Onto the part about eating my lawn (well, I live in an apartment so I’ve actually been borrowing lawns from others). Well, I came back from South America not exactly with money overflowing from my pockets. So, what’s a starving foodie to do about sustaining herself through the day? Forage for food! My favorite food to forage for (aka easiest to find) are dandelions.

The best part about the dandelion, besides its beautiful yellow color, is that the entire plant is edible from the roots to the petals. I don’t recommend eating them when they reach the snowball stage, they are better used for entertaining purposes at that point.

Health Benefits

– The flowers: helps purify the body and blood; aids in the treatment of hepatitis, yellow jaundice, anemia and weight loss; rich in lechitin (good for the brain and the liver)

– The greens: sodium, iron, beta-carotene, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin A

– The roots: ontain inulin and levulin, starchlike substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion

How to Use

– Flowers: dry them and use as tea, infuse into a simple syrup, deep fry (thank you Katie Ries), mix into and omelet or fritter, blend into wine or make into jelly

My way: dried leaves to make dandelion tea

– Leaves: after sauteeing or steaming these leaves can add flavor and nutrients to salads, soups, fritattas, crepes…the possibilities are limitless. The small, immature greens can be eaten raw.

My way: Soup

Forage Soup Recipe

Saute 4 green scallions with 6 ramps. Add two chopped carrots and saute in 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add dried herbs (I used oregano, time and winter savoury). Add 2 cups of dandelion greens and any other greens you have on hand. I added baby collard greens. Cover with water, salt and simmer until your kitchen smells heavenly. As a finishing touch I added spaghetti noodles. Dollop with pesto (I made cashew, spinach and arugula pesto) and voile!

– Root: Delectable roasted and ground into a coffee-like substance similar to chicory coffee. Can also be eaten raw or sauteed.

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I am the proud owner or a new MacBook Pro thanks to my parents and uncle sam’s oh-so-generous tax-free holiday.  I love to take it everywhere. I whip it out of the durable waterproof messenger bag I purchased and sigh as I look at the sleek ergonomic design. Yes, I’m in love with this little electronic gadget. I hope it keeps me more accountable in the cyber world–no, not chat rooms or e-harmony, just more in touch with reality and myself through the blog. Oh yes the blog, I really must get to business and stop bragging.

Who knew organic green passionfruit could grow in Knoxville? Not I, probably not anyone other than the farmer who grew it. But, the good ole reliable market is always full of surprises. So, here I am with 12 lovely passionfruits, fragrant beyond belief. I really had to do some soul-searching to decide what I would make with these green jewels. I want to savour their flavor, be able to worship the chemical reactions that fill my mouth infinitely. I’m going to use the fruit in two dishes. One a simple ode to the passionfruit, the other an appreciation for the complexity it takes on when paired with other ingredients.

1. The Locavore Roll at Nama: Jaime, goddess of flavor creator of delicious hybrid sushi, is going to make me a roll using the passionfruit, tomatoes, buckwheat sprouts, thai basil and bell peppers (all grown in local soil).

2. Passion Fruit with Cream – Deborah Madison’s recipes in Local Flavors never disappoint. Here you cut the top of the fruit, add a spoonful of cream and eat. Take pleasure in the small things.

I know the passionfruit was listed last in the title, but I just couldn’t help myself, I had to start with it first. So, now I’ll restart from the beginning by telling you about the grapes at the market. They are perfect. It reminds me of the grapes I drew as a child with my deep rich purple crayon. They are muscadines, and muscadines are known for their tough skin and sweet fruit. Although many people dislike them for their skin, they are a joyous memory from my childhood. My grandfather grew grapes (muscadine) and created the most delicious grape jelly and juice from his vines. We were only allowed to drink the juice in the kitchen because the color stained everything it touched, including my lips which is I can honestly say I’ve had a purple mustache. After purchasing the grapes, I’ve tried to keep myself from eating them (they’re addicting) because I plan on making grape juice as an ode to my grandparents legacy  using this recipe I found at Chowhound:

1 cup of grapes
1cup to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of the grapes)
placed in a 1/2 gallon canning jar
filled with spring water 
topped with a hot canning lid and ring
boiled for 20 minutes
Let sit for 2 months before drinking
Strain Grapes out of Juice before serving

Finally, after a trip down memory lane, I’ll tell you about the flour. The dear boys at the Colvin Family Farm are the most motivated teenagers I’ve ever met. They flaunt creative talent like that of a senior advertiser. They are well-read, preferring historical prose as opposed to modern day smut. They strive to be better today than they were yesterday. But their kind hearts deserve the most praise. With a bunch of carrots and a bag of freshly ground whole wheat flour, they made my horrible day worth facing. It was a tough day full of turmoil, angst, confusion and self-pity. But the small act of kindness they showed me, made me smile and leave my troubles behind (at least for a little while). But enough emotion, here’s what I’m going to make for my best friend Heather’s going away all-local potluck using the flour

Caramelized Apple Tart with Cinnamon Custard. Bravo

Well, I have nothing else to say except leave you with a quote I read today.

” What a power there are in words…Perhaps the basic secret the scientists never discovered, the first fount of life, is that which happens when a thought takes the shape in words.”

Ayn Rand from The Fountainhead

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Well my fearless readers, I apologize once again for my absence over the past few weeks. Despite the hectic pre-graduation schedule packed with exams and lengthy papers, I’ve also accepted two jobs for the upcoming year–interning at the farmer’s market and hosting at Nama, a local sushi restaurant. But despite all the business, keeping up with blogging is comparable to working out. You’re going strong for a month, but then you talk yourself out of it one day (I must relax, wash my hair, clean the kitchen, etc.) and as soon as you blink an entire month has flown by…But I’m back and just in time for the first spring produce. Since I am working at the farmer’s market, I have  a wonderful selection of fruits, vegetables, milk, baked goods, cheese, meat etc. that have all been locally grown. The farmers are amazing and the love and dedication they have for their food radiates. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to buy food from someone I don’t know on a personal level ever again.

Over the next few months, I plan to rely on the market’s offerings as my primary food supply. I’ll share with you my finding and what I decide to make with them. I’ve taken lots of photos, but my sister’s camera cord is playing a sneaky game of hide-and-seek.

Market Purchases Week 1 

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1/2 gallon Cruze Farm Milk
  • 1/2 lb. Locust Grove smoked Gouda Cheese
  • 5 homemade crusty rolls from Dave
  • 1 lb. sausage from Eric at Green Man Farms
  • 1 qt. strawberries
  • 1 bunch of rhubarb
  • 1 large bag of spinach
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 bunch of parsley, green onions, and oregano
  • Randoms: coffee, asparagus, cheese, and caramelized onion flatbread sandwich, molasses cookie, and and oatmeal, cranberry, walnut, and chocolate chip cookie

 

Market-Inspired Meals from Week 1

Favorite Meal: Strawberry Oatmeal topped with Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

 
Market Purchases Week 2

  • 1 lb. Italian Sausage  
  • 1 bunch of baby beets
  • 1 bunch of rhubarb
  • 2 heads of cabbage
  • 1 quart of strawberries
  • 1 quart Cruze farm milk
  • 1 pint of Cruze farm buttermilk
  • 1 bag lettuce
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head bok choy
  • Randoms: snickerdoodle cookie

 

Market-Inspired Meals for Weeks 2

  • Cabbage Braised with white wine with spinach and sausage- beautiful flavors that meld perfectly to yield a savory healthy meal. Serve with bread to soak up the juice
  • Borsht from Eating Well- a traditional beet soup flavored by beef broth and sour cream
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Compote from Cooking with Curtis- It smells heavenly simmering as I’m typing
  • Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Ahi Tuna- I added broccoli, almonds and carrots for an extra crunch and threw together an Asian-flavored dressing
  • Italian Sausage and Mozzarella Pizza- Daniel is really looking forward to this. Our secret ingredient is smoked, dried jalapenos
  • Teriyaki Salmon with wasabi, lime, and cilantro butter on wilted bok choy from Essentially Food- one of my all time favorite recipes I made while studying abroad in New Zealand. The tender salmon bathing in tart cilantro butter is a heady experience.

 

 

If there are any recipes you’d like to try that aren’t linked, please let me know and I’ll post them!

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