Category Archives: Seasonal Feature

Edible pick of the week

How ‘sweet’ it is…the potato that is…

A sweet potato is a sweet potato is a sweet potato, right?

NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!!

 

A few nights ago, Yanna Fishbone proved Western North Carolina wrong that a sweet potato is just a sweet potato.  Slow Food Asheville hosted an event around the “Nancy Hall” sweet potato which was just inducted in to the Slow Food Ark of Taste.  This may not sound like a big deal, but having this lovely light fleshed ‘sweet’ placed in this international catalog of heritage foods is a grand success story!

At the event, we tasted 10 different varieties; a small quantity compared to the 40 some different varieties that Yanna grows.

Have you ever seen such a beautiful plate of colors? And the tastes, wow, each one was so distinctly different from the next.  It was an eye-opening event that left my palette wanting more.

First item up for taste where these amazing sweet potato doughnuts….mmmm…

There were other delectable tasty treats such as sweet potato pizza, risotto, pies, and breads.

All in all, the event was very successful and everyone left with new knowledge and the ability to grow their own special varieties of sweets.

The Ark of Taste is a wonderful reference guide to unique foods that we are trying to keep in the food chain and not let go extinct.  There is everything from heirloom vegetables to heritage meats, and is available to anyone who would like to purchase them.  These fun items also make great Christmas presents for your friends and family, so go to the list on Slow Food USA and pick yours out today!

Here is a recipe for my sweet potato risotto.  This is a hearty side dish for the holidays, so go to your local tailgate market or farmers market and pick out some big beauties to turn into something yummy!

Sweet Potato Risotto

1/3C extra virgin olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes
1C yellow onion, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1C Marsala or Chardonnay
2C Arborio rice
5 1/2C chicken or vegetable stock, homemade if you have it
Salt & Pepper
1T fresh sage, minced
4T unsalted butter
Parmesan for grating on top
  1. Boil sweet potatoes in pot of water until a fork pierces easily.  Remove from water, let cool. Remove skins and mash up with a fork, leaving some large chunks; set aside
  2. Heat stock on stove and keep warm for future use.
  3. Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil in a wide pan, add onions and garlic. Saute´for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent but not brown.
  4. Add in rice and mix thoroughly with onion & garlic mixture.
  5. Add in Marsala or wine and let the rice absorb it for a few minutes, stirring a time or two.
  6. Add in 1 cup of stock, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Keep adding in the warm stock 1/2C at a time until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente´, this will take about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes , butter, and sage.
  8. Season generously with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  9. Top with fresh grated Parmesan.
 

Sweet Potatoes

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What’s fresh from the garden?

This week, I was fortunate enough to pluck lots of fun veggies from the garden!  As you can see, there are potatoes, okra, chard, and onions.  I have also picked a second round of shelling peas, and yellow and green beans.  Check out your local farmers’ market if you don’t have a garden of your own this year.

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Fourth of July Sourdough Pancakes

This morning we are having sourdough pancakes with local fruits, Greek yogurt, and a drizzle of local honey.

This recipe is so quick and easy to make (as long as you have sour starter on hand), that you could make it any day of the week no matter your time restraints.

If you do not have any sour starter, or don’t know anything about sour starter, go to the Wild Yeast site and look at the “how-to” section under the category archives. This site has all the right information for you, and a bunch of mouth-watering recipes as well .

Now, back to the fruit.  The raspberries came from my garden, which went crazy with berries this year!  There were huge berries, I’m talkin’ an inch-inch and a half large berries hanging everywhere.  This particular varietal has two crops a year; one in the late spring/early summer, and another one in late summer right through to the first snow.  I don’t know what type it is, unfortunately, since some plants were given to us by some friends before they moved, but it is a good one.

The blueberries came from my friend Annie Louise’s farm.  Annie has a beautiful farm, about 30 minutes from here, with an old-fashioned honor system road stand.

The farm practices all organic methods and has absolutely beautiful, picture -perfect produce.

Last weekend, was Farm Tour, a weekend in which a region invites everyone to come and tour the area’s farms.  You have to purchase a button…

For a small fee, which goes to the farms, and then your whole car load of friends and family can tour all the farms for the weekend.  It is really a fun, educational, and amazing weekend event.  It is really awe-inspiring to see how many different farms are in your area, what they offer, and the practices they use to produce.  There are always many samples of goat cheese, or lavender , or pesto, or fresh berries to taste, etc.  There are tons of animals and baby animals to handle and play with and many farms offer a farm-to-table lunch or wine to drink.  It is such a fun weekend, that I encourage all of you to look into the events in your region and go see where your food comes from–you’d be surprised at what is growing in your area!

*and some of the farms will let you swim in the rivers on their property at the end of your nice hot tour!!

Oh right, the recipe.  Why didn’t you tell me I was rambling on….

Sourdough Pancakes

2C sour starter at room temp

2T cane sugar

1 egg

4T olive oil, or any vegetable oil

1/2t salt

1t baking soda

1T warm water

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the starter, sugar, egg, oil, and salt and set aside.
  2. Heat up a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan on medium heat
  3. When you are ready to make the pancakes, mix the baking soda and water together, then add to the pancake batter
  4. Scoop a ladle full of batter onto the pan, wait about 30-45 seconds till it bubbles up and starts to set on the bottom, then flip and wait another 30-45 seconds
  5. Keep going till all the batter is gone
  6. Viola!

Pancakes

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Service Berries

Serviceberries, AKA, Juneberries, are a wonderful little treat if you happen to stumble across them.

In early June they are ripe for the pickin’!

They look like blueberries, except the fact that they are red to begin with, then turn deep purple-blue.  They are sweet and the flesh has a very light flavor, but…

when you come to the tiny seed in the middle and bite into it….

Pow!  a huge hit of what tastes like fresh almond oil!

I love these little guys, and the red ones are just as sweet as the purple ones.  It is such a neat little berry.

Legend has it:

When people died in the winter, the ground was too hard to dig, so when the Juneberry bush flowered in mid-April, they knew the ground was warm enough to start providing ‘services’ to the community

I know, kind of morbid for such a sweet little fruit, but at least it has a story!

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Bear Corn?

Yes, there is such a thing as bear corn.  This lovely little plant grows in the mountains, and when spring rolls around and the bears awaken from hibernation, legend states; that the bears seek it out and eat it to get their digestion moving in the right direction!

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What’s in the garden?

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Branch Lettuce

Branch Lettuce, Saxifraga micranthidifolia, is a beautiful wild green here in the mountains of Appalachia.  It grows both along the edge, and in the middle of creeks on the sandy spots in early April.

The Indians use to collect the greens and eat them for nutritional value…..and hopefully for taste as well because it is the best tasting green I have ever eaten, and the bacon in the traditional way of cooking it may help a little!  As long as I have lived in the South, I have heard the old-timers refer to this dish as ‘wilted’  or ‘killed’ lettuce.  I always thought that the latter was a little harsh, so I prefer  ‘wilted.’  This is both, a beautiful and extremely tasty green.  It is very rewarding to pick from the wild land that has never been modified, sprayed, or tainted in any way.  It makes you appreciate the good things that are still out there growing strong and beautiful in our hectic world.

I encourage all of you to seek out local, wild greens in your area and don’t be afraid to ask your grandparents for an heirloom recipe to make it with.

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