Eating Well And Green In A Mild Winter

Charlotte's mild winter allowed these greens to go from soil to salad bowl on Jan. 30.

February 25, 2012
Roger Sarow

It’s been an extremely mild winter (so far), but we have to wait till late March for a reliable spring. What’s a cook to do right now to offset the winter “blahs”? We asked the folks at the new 7th Street Market in Uptown Charlotte. It turns out several crops do not rely on a freezer or a can.

WFAEats: What fresh and local foods are available in February? 
Produce this time of year falls into three basic categories: storage crops, outdoor crops, and greenhouse crops. Storage crops are grown in summer to late fall. They include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, turnips, beets, winter squash (like butternut and spaghetti), apples, and carrots. Most of these get stored in a climate-controlled building, but carrots store well in the ground. In fact, they actually get sweeter.

Outdoor crops include collards, red and green kale, bok choi, and cabbages. They are weather dependent and are much more resilient in a mild winter like this year’s. A milder winter benefits consumers because it provides more choices during this time of year and benefits farmers by offering more income during this time.

WFAEats: Suppose we can get more elaborate in our growing techniques? 
When it gets too cold, even kale stops growing, so it may not always be available throughout  February. Some farms cover their outdoor crops with a cloth system that protects crops in sub 25-degree weather. It will keep the crops 6-8 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature, which is a significant amount.

Greenhouse crops have a controlled climate, of course. Greenhouse (or high tunnel, i.e. unheated) crops include arugula, bok choi, and lettuce.

WFAEats: Are there particular sub-varieties of these foods that are especially useful during our southern winter? 
Pink Lady apples store really well. Red Russian Kale is very popular and grows well in this climate.

WFAEats: What are some really tasty or unusual ways to prepare each food?
While the variety of local fruits and vegetables may be less diverse this time of year, the ones that are available offer great opportunities to expand your palate.

WFAEats: Any particular food that’s coming on line in February that is especially “healthy”?
Kale is a superfood, packed with beta carotene, Vitamins K & C, calcium, and more.
Colorful vegetables like beets, sweet potatoes and squash are loaded with vitamins as well.

WFAEats: Okay, so it’s been a warm winter (as of this writing at the tail-end of January); still and all, can you give us any inspiration to get us through February?
This week, Barbee Farms is setting out tomatoes that will be ready 2nd week in April.

WFAEats thanks the following contributors, in collaboration with 7th Street Market: CMC Registered Dietitian Jennifer Lowrie with the LiveWELL Health Center; Wes Shi and Sara Zadeh of Know Your Farms; Jacqueline Venner Senske, Operations Manager at the 7th Street Public Market. Thanks also to local farmer Tommy Barbee.

7th Street Public Market is open Wed-Thu-Fri 11-7; Sat-Sun 10-3. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Peter Reinhart’s pizza recipes in Better Homes and Gardens

From the Charlotte Observer
February 15, 2012
Olivia Forston

Peter Reinhart, baking instructor at Johnson & Wales and award-winning author of eight cookbooks, has a five-page spread in the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine featuring his artisan-style pizza recipes.

He shows readers how to make an All-Purpose Pizza Dough and a Multigrain Pizza Dough with Honey.

There are also recipes for his All-Purpose Pizza Sauce and Multipurpose Herb Oil.

The last page is devoted to toppings, and he tries to steer readers clear of mediocre ones by saying, “More is not always better; better is better.”

[Reinhart is a member of the Charlotte City Market Board of Directors, the 501(c)3 parent organization of 7th Street Public Market.]

Vendor Spotlight: Barbecue provocateur “Dan the pig man”

From the Gaston Gazzette
January 25, 2012
Cathey Noell

I finally met “Dan the pig man” and he looks nothing like a pig. As a matter of fact he is quite charming with his deep Southern drawl and reddish hair he occasionally sweeps to the side with his hand while speaking.

His real name, Dan Huntley, and he is known as a Barbecue provocateur, food writer, lecturer and one of the authors of the book “Extreme Barbecue.” He has mastered the art of slaughtering and butchering a pig from the snout to the tail and how to cook everything in between.

Of course, his specialty is smoking a whole hog, but not on the day we met. After hearing about Dan lecturing on the culture and history of barbecue in the South, my husband Ellis and I decided to take a trip down to Historic Brattonsville, located in McConnells, SC.

They had what you would call a “hog butchering day,” with exception of not having to witness the killing and slaughtering of the hog. Thank goodness! However, since we were able to experience early American foodways of the Carolina backcountry, we did get see how early settlers used every part of the hog, from salt preservation to making sweetbreads.

The living history demonstrations also included making “Scotch eggs” using the rendered hog fat and the making of lye for soap. The historic site covers 778 acres and features more than 30 colonial and antebellum structures, two house museums, and a Revolutionary War battlefield site and history programs to interpret Southern rural life from the 1750s to the 1850s. It is a great travel destination for all age groups and families.

Dan’s lecture not only gave insight on how long ago the art of butchering began, but also how it became a day of celebration for communities and how it involved everyone in the process and the sharing of meat at the end of the day. He also talked about his realization of treating animals in a humane way from raising them in open fields and being grass fed to the time of their slaughtering. And of course now, in our time why it is so important to know where I food comes from, how our food is raised and what food is fed to our animals that we consume.

Most importantly, Dan pointed out, that we as consumers will be the ones who dictate change. We must help support our local farmers that produce the meat and vegetables we eat, and encourage others to help in the process of change. Sorry to say I didn’t get a recipe from Dan on how to smoke a whole hog, but here is a great black-eyed pea salad from his cookbook that is great anytime of the year.

Shugs Black Eyed Pea Salad
Recipe courtesy of Extreme Barbeque cookbook

2 cans (12 ounces each) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
1½ Tbs. mayonnaise, or to taste (better to use too little than too much)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine black-eyed peas, onion, tomato, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight to allow the flavors to blend. Serve chilled as an appetizer with tortilla chips, or as a side dish.

Serves 6 to 8.

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This Week @ The Farm Stand

New This Week! 
Anson Mills Heirloom Grains and Grits
Yah’s Best salsas
Holton Hollow Farmer’s Cheese

Featured Products
Lettuce mix
Mushrooms (oyster and shiitake)
Romaine Lettuce
Cranberry Lettuce
Bibb Lettuce
Pink Lady Apples
Granny Smith Apples
Butternut Squash
Spagetti Squash
Brussel Sprouts
Blue Vantage Cabbage
Sweet Potatoes
Irish Potatoes
Green Onions
Strawberries (Last week if available)

Back Again
Imladris Apple Butter
Lusty Monk Original Sin Mustard
Lusty Monk Burn in Hell Chipotle mustard
Roots Hummus
Egg nog
Heavy Cream
Cheval Goat Cheeses

This Week @ The Farm Stand

New Products
Roots Hummus (Original, Roasted red pepper, Chipotle, Spinach, Roasted garlic, black bean)
Imladris Jam (Raspberry, Berry best, Blueberry, Blackberry, and Apple Butter)
Lusty Monk mustard  (original, chipotle, honey mustard)

Featured Products
Lettuce mix
Mushrooms (oyster and shiitake)
Romaine Lettuce
Cranberry Lettuce
Bibb Lettuce
Pink Lady Apples
Granny Smith Apples
Butternut Squash
Spagetti Squash
Brussel Sprouts
Napa Cabbage
Sweet Potatoes
Irish Potatoes
Green Onions

Whole milk, lowfat milk, skim milk, heavy cream, egg nog, half-n-half, buttermilk, butter
Cheval goat cheeses

Featured Farms
Barbee Farms – Concord, NC
The Specialty Farmer – Waxhaw, NC
Homeland Creamery – Julian, NC
Davis & Son Orchard – Lawndale, NC
Commonwealth Farm – Concord, NC
Rivendell Farm – Huntersville, NC
Bush-N-Vine – York, SC
Cottonmill mushrooms – Landis, NC
Cheval Goat Cheese – Vale, NC