Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fall Flavors With Jami from Slocal

by Jas Faulkner

Many novice kitchen gardeners see the cooler months as a time to wind down the garden and subdue the flavor profiles that make summer so vivid.  Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  Fall gardens offer a tremendous amount of satisfaction both in terms of the spiritual and psychological benefits that come from gardening and the healthy boost that comes from eating locally and with the seasons.

According to  Jami Anderson from Slocal Foods, the bright notes herbs can add to your Fall cooking:

Jami:  As we approach the cooler months, look for cilantro again as it bolts and goes quickly to seed during the summer heat. A second harvest of dill and fennel will also be available soon since any planted in the spring will have since run it's life span. Herbs with continuing availability until the cooler weather hits are basil, lemon balm, mint, oregano, parsley, purslane, sorrel, tarragon and thyme. These will die off for the winter but oregano, thyme, sage, winter savory & rosemary will keep going somewhat during the coldest months. 

Many fledgling gardeners and localtarians want to find ways to keep things growing all year long.  Sometimes even the owners of the prettiest raised beds on the block suffer from a secret shame known as Brown Thumb Syndrome.  Buried in their compost piles are the bodies of violets, orchids, and yes, even cacti  that they or someone else couldn't pass up.  With those dessicated bits of decay in mind, many forgo fresh herbs in the winter.  Should sufferers from BTS reconsider bringing plants inside for the colder months?  How hard is it to tend a kitchen garden in the kitchen?  

Jami:  Herbs will grow only a large as the container you plant them in so plan your pot size accordingly for the amount of each herb you wish to use regularly. Make sure you have a sunny window that gets at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily, more is preferable. Our customers have had success growing basil, cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano and rosemary when they start with strong, well-established seedlings and don't under- or over-water them. If you are looking to use large amounts of these herbs for pestos & such, you may want consider growing them outside as a window garden usually yields only enough of an herb for accent and flavoring.

Of course this means that space is a big concern.  Never fear!  Herbs can be stored in a variety of ways.  Drying and freezing are two of the easiest methods:

Jami: One way to get that fresh taste once winter arrives is to freeze your fresh herbs and thaw when needed. Wash, pat dry and freeze in freezer bags. They won't be the same texture or color once they thaw but the flavor will be there. You can also suspend them in olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays. This preserves the structure of the herb a little better and cuts down on some of the color change.

You can dry any herb you wish by either spreading it out on a mat, hanging it upside down out of direct sunlight, or drying it in a dehydrator or oven set to a very low temperature. To decrease the chance of mold, strip the leaves from the stems and discard the stems unless you are hanging the herb to dry. Herbs that taste better by freezing are basil and chives although you can freeze most other herbs as well. Experimentation is the key for determining which method you like best for your taste preferences.

Flavor and texture combinations between Summer and Fall are distinctive.  While canning and freezing are a great way to cut food costs once the days get shorter, it's still a good idea to incorporate seasonal produce into the household menu.  How to apply all of this?  Anderson shares some of her favorite combinations and applications:

Jami: Garlic dill pickles - hands down, my favorite! One of our customers gave us a jar of peach preserves she made by adding some of our lemon verbena leaves during the canning process - exceedingly tasty! Russell teaches a canning class twice a year which has been a great laboratory for recipes he is developing and he is working on a pickle relish recipe right now and I'm working on the perfect pickled egg. All customers get a free recipe with any herb purchase at our booth which features the herb in various dishes, both fresh and preserved, and the combinations are endless. 

The ENFM runs through the end of October.  Does that mean Jami and Russell go on an extended vacation?  Not by a long shoot of cilantro!

Jami: We have a website at where we post herbs and other produce we currently have available. Customers can email us from the site to request herbs and we'll hold them back separately at the booth on Wednesdays (we sell out of some herbs every week so this is a wise thing to do.) Customers can also request large quantities needed for catering, parties, etc. This service is available year-round and customers can either pick up what they want at our local garden in east Nashville or we will deliver large herb orders placed during the non-market months (November - April.)

Look for our fresh, organic and locally-grown herbs at the ENFM Slocal booth along with the herbal tea we brew fresh every week. Herbs are sold by the stem AND by the bunch now!  For more information on Slocal Foods, visit their website at or call  615-480-5347.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dryland Fish and Other Dixie Delights

by Jas Faulkner

So you've been here for a while and can say the local food is your thing.  Honestly, why shouldn't it be?  Aside from great eateries like The Wild Cow and Tayst and Fat Juicy Taco and Cafe Coco and the to-go selections at The Turnip Truck and a thousand other places in Nashville ready to let loose some delightful fireworks on your taste buds; there is the rich variety of locally produced food just waiting to turn your kitchen into a culinary salon.

You're an expert.  After all, you can tell hot chicken from fried and a Goo Goo Cluster from a Colt's Bolt.

Do you know where to get dryland fish?  What is dock and can you add it to Spring mix?  Is poke sallet for real?

Poke Sallet
You've probably seen poke sallet  (or pokeweed, as it is sometimes known) growing in less tended corners of lots and alleys in Nashville.  It is large, with deep red or magenta stalks and  flat, oval leaves.  As it matures, it produces dark berries that are considered a treat by the local bird population.  The best time to harvest poke is when there are small, tender leaves growing from very fine green stalks.  Many people prefer to suate' poke with olive oil and onions or bacon if they're omnivores. It is traditionally stirred into scrambled eggs.

Do people still eat poke? Absolutely! Best to be smart and safe about it, though.  Either allow a plant or two to grow in your own backyard or find someone who doesn't use harsh chemicals that could leach into those little leaves and make you sick.

What's Up, Dock?
There are a handful of variations of dock growing around Middle Tennessee.  The kind that many native Tennesseans' ancestors ate was called yellow or curly dock.  While it does have some nutritional benefits, and is plentiful in this region, new weed hunters should exercise caution when selecting  and preparing plants. Check out a class with a reputable teacher before you try this (or any kind of wild weed hunting).   The best place in Nashville is practically in your back door if you live in East Nasty.  Shelby Bottoms Nature Center offers classes for all ages and interests.

For more information, visit their website:

You Get The Line and I'll Get The Pole and...No?
Nope.  Dryland fish is a name given to one of the most jealously guarded wild food items in North America.  When the water tables were low and creeks and streams had dwindled to a trickle, families would often head out to the nearest wooded area to search for fleshy, tender morel mushrooms.  Inthe kitchen, the morels were  quartered lengthwise, dipped in a beaten egg, dredged in flour and cornmeal and pan fried.  The taste and mouthfeel was thought to be a good substitute for freshwater fish.   Morels were also used as an ingredient in stuffing for game animals and a meat extender before they were hunted into near extinction in some parts of the country.

All of this antique eating sounds great, doesn't it?  It also sounds like a real adventure.  If you're a little short on time to Indiana Jones it for supper, drop by the Market.  You might not find Great-Grandma's Curly Dock, but you will find a selection of locally produced food sold by the people who grew and raised it.  You can't get more authentically Tennessean than that.

Next week:  Jami from Slocal returns to talk about fall herbs, pickles and why hubby Russell is going to kick butt at the State Fair.  Don't miss it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Living Clean and Green

by Jas Faulkner

My writing for ENFM is usually oriented towards news features as opposed to a confessional style.  However, I am making an exception after getting a very interesting personal message via Facebook.

The letter writer in question wanted to know what my family eats, how we eat, and how we afford to eat the way we do.  They had been to the East Nashville Farmers Market and the Turnip Truck and Whole Foods and had seen the cost of a can of soup and a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs and from their standpoint, it looked like a prohibitively expensive may to manage a home kitchen.

I thought about her letter the other day when I was at Publix to refill one of our water jugs.  I realized I'd left my cash at home and decided to buy something at the store and just get some cash with my purchase.How hard would it be to buy something useful at Publix?  It used to be my go-to for all manner of green, sustainable products for the household pantry.

The produce section was my first stop.  What was in season was trucked in from another part of the continent, sometimes another part of the hemisphere.  If it wasn't, it was something my family grew or we bought from a local farmer.  Bread and pastries?  We bake our own. As for the middle of the store, we usually follow the advice given by Michael Pollan and Chicago Chef, Rick Bayless and keep to the periphery of the store as much as possible. When I did venture down a given aisle, I found that what they had to offer was either something we bought from a family owned, fair trade, or local producer (cereal, staples for baking, oil, crackers) or it was something we already made ourselves (nut butters, mayonnaise, most of our pickles and relishes).  I finally settled on a block of organic cheese, took  my change and got my water.

You might be reading this and thinking, "The woman walked all over a Publix and acted like my nine-year-old in front of our semi-filled refrigerator on a Thursday after a Saturday grocery run.  What DO you eat? Tofu and lawn clippings?

The truth might surprise you. While I am not completely meat-free (yet), meals at my house consist of a starch, a protein and vegetables.  I know. How exotic.  Here are some other facts about how we live:  There is little in my household that is processed and has more than five ingredients.  One of the goals everyone in the household keeps when shopping is to avoid foods with more than five ingredients or ingredients that would not be recognizable to most great-grandmothers as a food item or a pantry staple.  What meat remains, our dairy, our eggs, our produce, are all local.  We dehydrate, can, and freeze our surplus as a hedge against high prices in the winter.  We use as much of everything as we can. .  All food waste is composted or fed to animals who live in the small wooded area behind the house. Putting out the trash for us usually consists of one small bag a week for the people who are contracted by the city, a box of glass bottles and a plastic storage box of paper,boxes and recyclable plastics for a private recycling company.

One final fact:  Our monthly food bill averages around three hundred and fifty dollars a month.

Want to know more?  Here are some websites that have served as valuable resources for us.  We recommend the books and magazines attached to these sites as well and encourage you show your support for these individuals and organizations by buying what they publish.

Michael Pollan's Website                       Food Politics - Marion Nestle's Website

 Mother Earth News                              Grit

Urban Farm Online                                Earth 911

ReadyMade                                          Instructables

Slow Food International                        Rodale

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The BEhive Reaches Out To Make Life A Little Sweeter

by Jas Faulkner
(Images still aren't working, people. Apologies to everyone involved!) 

"The Heart-Hive logo signifies that we are a collective, much like an actual bee hive, with only good natured intentions that come from the heart. We are where we live; we are what we eat, and we all have the responsibility to protect and nourish both. The BE Hive is the vehicle for this philosophy."
                            -Benjamin, The BEhive                                    

Wednesday afternoons at the farmers market are always a feast for the senses. There is live music coming from the gifted musicians who offer to play in the center of the park.  The colorful tents compete with the brilliant hues of fresh produce and artisinal goods that catch the eye from every direction.   Among the smells of handmade bars of soap and fresh cut herbs, there is the aroma of grilling that wafts its way around the square, beckoning the hot, the tired, and the hungry to get a good, healthy bite while they are there.

You may have walked by that booth, the one with the curious, engaging logo that is part heart, part beehive.  What is it all about?  What can this mean when you encounter the delicious food, the artful presentation, and the general good vibrations? 

Meet the BEhive.  It’s a band, it’s a creative collective, and it’s a force for good in Music City.  You may have seen ads for their benefit buffets at The Wild Cow.  (You haven’t been to the Wild Cow yet?  Why not?)  You have walked past their table, paused because, yes, that grill is tempting and then walked on.  To that, I say, quit being a baby and go get you some very good and good for you dinner.  You’ll spend a lot less than you’d spend for the fake fast food-like stuff they sell on Gallatin Road and your tastebuds and metabolism will thank you.

So, you're going to follow your nose and pretty soon your tastebuds are going to be convinced...but how did this come about?  We talked to Benjamin, one of the founding fathers of the BEhive:

Well, it all started with a band, Born Empty, who all lived in the same house appropriately called The BE Hive. We were a group of dudes that could express ourselves in any way we liked, and as long as the message and approach was positive, nothing else mattered. Every couple months we held vegan potlucks at our house, The BE Hive. These potlucks were amazing with upwards of 70 people at times, a bonfire, and a kitchen overflowing with vegetarian dishes people had prepared and brought over. We eventually moved out of the house, held a couple potluck fundraisers at The Wild Cow, and then came up with the idea for this buffet and business model.
But BE is more than a band; it's a way of life. The BE Hive is about taking care of yourself, and doing what is right for you. We try to inflict the least amount of negative impact on people and the world around us, while positively influencing those who care to take notice and are open to different ideas. There are a lot of things that are wrong and misguided within our society, but the bottom line is you can't change anyone. People have to want change, and then control their actions towards doing so. This is why we lead by example, and just BE.

Uh.  Wait a minute.  Did he say...vegan?   As in... no meat, no dairy, no... as in VEGAN?

And I said to quit being a baby.

Here's what Benjamin had to say about omnivores and reluctant others who think it's all sprouts and bare, cold blocks of tofu:  

 Ha! I'd say don't tell them it's vegetarian! But I usually tell them that they just need to try the right things. Then I guarantee/challenge them that if they came to the buffet or let me cook for them, I could fill them up beyond their wildest dreams. A lot people associate vegetarian dishes with only salads,  tofu, and weird and pushy vegetarians ready to jump down their backs for eating meat. There are several alternatives to all those things, and with the right protein and side choices, you can fill up most anyone and have them be completely satisfied.
Anyway, Nashvillians are getting smarter about the ways they feed themselves not only in terms of what happens on the inside, but how it effects everything on an environmental and economic level.
 I'm seeing a big farm to table push recently among restaurants. I think one of the things that led me to being so strict and curious about my diet was they way people ate and lived their lives. Seeing this push makes me hopeful that more people are being conscious of the crap they are putting in their bodies (not limited to meat, but also vegetarian items), and push the local organic farming scene while keeping people away from genetically modified and over processed foods
You know, or will know the food is good and they are green to the marrow, but more important than that is what is at the heart of the BEhive: the creative spirit that fosters commuity and the causes they support.

The Collective part of The BE Hive involves the customer, host restaurant. farms, community, the organizations who support the community, and the Hive itself. The gifts people bring are themselves. The customer brings their money, eats healthy food, and walks away feeling nourished and good knowing that some of their money is going towards bettering their community in some way. The host restaurant is associated with a fundraiser, continues to have a day off, gets free advertising, and also walks with some extra money. The community is supported by the non profits that are being benefited. The farm gets the extra business and exposure, and the Hive gets to help people, be creative, build their business and menu, and also profit a little.    
We try to support local organizations with green and sustainable motives.  We like to support the bike community, famers, the arts, kids, and whatever else makes a difference. My favorite organization that we have benefited so far has been the Glencliff Garden Project. They teach high schoolers how to start and maintain gardens while also introducing them to the world of plant based whole foods instead of the more processed food items which are more easily available to the majority of kids in this nation.
So what's ahead for The BEhive?  Tomorrow they are participating in a benefit ride for Bejamin Waldman and on the 14th, they will resume their buffets at The Wild Cow, with an Indian menu benefiting Good Food For Good People.
We plan to continue the buffet and the farmers market, and hopefully add a location or two. We want to have several fundraiser events a month in different spots around Nashville and continue to use other peoples empty kitchens while building our menu and developing our catering abilities. We have some things up our sleeve, but nothing is definite yet. We plan to expand though, and I promise it will be done in a very different way then you've seen before.
Being a force for good can be as life changing as creating a business that does so much for so many.  It can also be as simple as changing the way you do a few things at home. ENFM blog asked Benjamin what three things he would like to see people do to make Nashville a greener place:
I'd like to see Nashville become a more bicycle friendly place, riders and drivers both included. The recycling in this town SUCKS, and I feel that needs to be overhauled. And I wish all public places would be smoke free. Nashville is behind the times with all of these things, and I think its about time we wake up.
To learn more about The BEhive, visit their website at
and follow them on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute news on what the guys are up to.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flying S Farms: Ten Years of Deep Roots and Strong Values

by Jas Faulkner 

"This is our way of life, it is not a hobby but a living. We love what we do, it is hard work but at the end of the day we know we are providing the best we can grow and helping others learn what real food tastes like and where it comes from, locally!" 
                        -Catherine Simmons,  Flying S Farms

One of the benefits of getting your produce from a true farmers market is that you are buying it  from the people who actually grew what you see on the tables. A visit to each individual vendor can and often does reveal the personalities behind the people who create the places that produce what feeds you. In a way, it's a chance to get a feel for those farms.  Okay, it's not absolutely like being there, but it can be the next best thing. 

The Flying S Farms' retail space at ENFM brings to mind the green, sunny expanses of Cannon County, Tennessee.  It is a treat for the senses. In spite of this summer's challenging weather, everything looks lush and vibrant.  There is the smell of fresh produce, sometimes accompanied by a tantalizing whiff of items from their kitchen.

You will also encounter Catherine and Ben Simmons, the owners and operators of Flying S Farms and Baking   The Simmons are not only part of that elite subset of farmers who work on sustainable terms with their environment, they act as approachable ambassadors to anyone who is not quite sure why it is so important to support local agriculture.  

Their sense of community and a natural instinct towards education informs much of what they do.   In fact, it was an observation made by a child Mrs. Simmons encountered in a grocery store that inspired her decision to add prepared foods to their products:

"Baking Farmer came about when I was shopping at one of our local grocery stores and during checkout a young child pointed at me and said "Look mommie, there is that farmer lady and she bakes too!" They had been to our local farmers market and shopped at our booth and I guess through the eyes of a child she ?described me; a 'baking farmer'."
Simmons attests doing all of this can put her in the position of educating people about what that farm has to offer:
"You can not just place your produce on a table and say here it is, you've got to promote it. You need to learn what the produce taste like, how to use it, how to store it and where it comes from. People are so far removed from the farm anymore, they don't know what it takes to produce it or how to use it. We are amazed how many people do not know that green beans do not grow cut up!"
Even with the odd customer who thinks their green beans sprout from the ground already French cut, it is encouraging to see the increase in return customers and the growing awareness of the nature of food production and how it directly affects everyone involved in the process.  The Simmons credit the current market manager (Amy Delvin of Delvin Farms) with much of the market's success.

Even though Flying S Farms is a relative newcomer, having started operations in 2002, the Simmons have strong emotional ties to where they work and live.  Catherine Simmons recounts the history of the farm:

"Ben has always been involved in some form of Agriculture since a young child in Arkansas and Mississippi and through the years has worked with John Deere and with row crop farmers in Tennessee in various ways. My background came from parents of the Depression, we always had a garden in our backyard in Arizona. I recall my dad giving me some yellow banana squash seeds to plant in my very own 5x5 plot, we went on vacation for couple weeks and returning home my squash plants had taken over our backyard! He told me I was a born gardener and I had a green thumb because he never dreamed the seeds would even grow. I was hooked. In 2002 Flying S Farms began when Ben and I moved to the farm to care for my mother after the passing of my father. We met a family that market farmed and they encouraged us to make our kitchen garden larger and sell the excess at local farmers markets. We started very small with about 1/4 acre over a couple years making a few more plots I called Ben and told him Flying S Farms was growing, when he got home that evening I had tilled up the rest of the field with drive around plots, there was now 2 acres of growing room. Flying S Farms is still growing on acreage that we lease locally."
The name of the farm is also steeped in family history:
"As a young man, Ben designed a brand for their family farming business, his father was a pilot in WW2 and Ben followed in his dad's love of flying and he used the Army Aircorp Wings as inspiration for their brand."
Fans of "The S" state that the hearts, hands and minds that drive the farm can be seen in the quality of what appears on their tables.  Most of what goes in to the prepared foods they offer from their licensed commercial kitchen is either directly from their fields or provided by local farmers.  Customers can also be confident that the same care goes into their produce.

"We use natural and organic methods of growing our produce, the produce is getting their nutrients from the soil, not from commercial fertilizers. We sow covercrops in the early fall in various locations of our field to turn under in the spring providing the soil with green manure. During the growing season, we cultivate any weeds and grasses that grow between rows back into the soil. All our plants are either direct sown or started from seed in our greenhouse. We grow mostly heirloom type produce, the real thing and the real taste! As for day to day work, that is exactly it, work!"
Want to know more?  Visit Flying S Farms at East Nashville Farmers Market and on the internet at: