Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tilley Family Report on Winter Gardening

Hello Anne Marie!

Today the Tilley family went to the Farmers Market on Sandy Ridge. We went with "local" and "winter garden" in mind. What we found were fresh apples, beans,eggs, cucumbers, honey and some big beautiful tomatoes. Our tomatoes are still going at the house but we couldn't pass these by. One of the vendors had different types of lettuce in trays, so we got several for the winter garden. Tammy picked out some turnip, radish and beet seed packs with two bags of soil. The lettuce is now in large and medium pots on the back deck and the seeds will be planted in a raised bed once we have time to prepare it. That's a small but big step for us and we're excited!

Mike T.

The Farmer's Market with the Richey's September 19, 2009

Up early and off to the Greensboro Curb Market, downtown on Yanceyville St. Steve, Charlotte and I had to pick up our last Handance Farm CSA bag of the summer, extra shiitake mushrooms for dehydrating, milk, butter and potatoes. We met up with Kim and Lily Richey for their weekly shopping and to have them meet a half dozen farmers whose farms we hope to visit over the next year. Mike Richey has said that they love the market and go almost every weekend, but it has only been recently that they have started buying more than the ready-to-eat foods for breakfast they used to get.

Just this week the USDA launched a national initiative called "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food." How timely! That's exactly what we were doing - getting to know our farmers! We met Lee Tate of The Goat Lady Dairy, Bobby Bradds of Bradds Family Farm, Pat and Brian Bush of Handance Farm, Besty Lou of Betsy Lous Worms, John Handler of WeatherHand Farm and we met some friends of my buddy, June Gallagher of Calico Farms. Whew! What a great morning! We also saw bees making honey, bought some treats from Simple Kneads and tasted some of Pat's heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes. I saw a fair number of regular friends and reaffirmed what a treasure we have in downtown Greensboro!

Lily and Charlotte had a great time charming the farmers and they both got some treats for their interest. The morning was educational in that we were able to sample a few new items. The Goat Lady Dairy has a wonderful raw cow's milk hard cheese, that if I had Steve (my instant ATM) at hand, I would have bought some; next week for sure! Raw milk cheeses are legal and safe to sell and consume as long as they are aged for at least 60 days. If a raw milk cheese is unsafe you won't be able to be in a room with it, your nose won't let you consume it by accident!! (But if you are pregnant it is not advisable to consume any raw milk cheeses regardless of your nose.)

And we learned more about worms and composting from Betsy Lou. But again, I am going to let Steve tackle that blog.

John Handler only has about 10 turkeys left to pre-order for Thanksgiving so get in there soon if you want one. I can't wait for mine. I made a black truffle infused turkey last year and it was divine! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the whole year - go figure!

The Goat Lady Dairy and Rising Meadow Farm are having their 7th annual Open Farm Day on Sunday, October 4th. Rising Meadow Farm produces some great lamb and will feature fiber artistry in addition to a sheepdog demonstration and selling meat. They are open from 11am - 5pm. The Goat Lady Dairy, which is only a mile or so away will be open from 1 - 5 pm. They will feature cheeses and tours of their sustainable agricultural operations including chickens, pigs and cows, in addition to the goats. There will also be a few other local farm vendors there selling other goods, such as Bradds Family Farm meats (you have to try some of his sausage and you will become a fan for life!) Bring a cooler and leave your pets at home - they will be open rain or shine!

And lastly, I want to announce that we learned this week that The Locavore Makeover Project will be a recipient of a Quaker Oats RD Go Grant. This will help send us to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Sustainable Agriculture Conference in December and allow us pay some of our general expenses with the project. Yay!! I am so excited by the incredibly positive response we've had to the project.

My friend and mentor in sustainable ag here in Greensboro, Charlie Headington, says "Eat as if your health depended on it!" By becoming a locavore we are helping our personal health, the health of our local economy and the health of our community. Deliciousness in every way!

At The Richey's House For Dinner

I met with the Richey's on Friday night to have their food pantry and fridge photographed, answer some questions and evaluate some of their current eating habits and challenges. I arrived at 5:30 and left at 7 pm and in the interim I watched Mike make a beautiful frittata out of potatoes, garlic, purple and red peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheese, eggs and a touch of basil for flavor and garnish. The local ingredients he included were the potatoes, eggs, peppers, tomatoes, and basil (from their backyard herb garden).

Mike cubed and boiled a nice big starchy potato. While the potatoes simmered he chopped the veggies, shredded a couple of ounces of cheddar cheese and scrambled about 5 eggs. After draining the potatoes he pan fried them with the onions, garlic and peppers. The Richey's have a very functional collection of Calphalon cookware.

We discussed the benefits of good pots and pans. My personal favorite is All Clad because, like their Calphalon, it can go from stove top to oven. I am not a fan of non-stick surfaces as I haven't found one that really lasts. I love my cast iron skillets and I have several from my grandmother's kitchen that are well used. The only real piece of cookware that I don't have and still want is a 7 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven. I generally use my large crock pot for anything I would use the Dutch oven for, but still, a kitchen girl can dream! I have found that although there are several pieces of essential cooking equipment for any kitchen there are many ways to improvise and still get the job done. Cook's Illustrated (the web site, magazine and cooking show, America's Test Kitchen on PBS) provides some of the best unbiased reviews and lists of essential equipment and reliable brands. Cook's Illustrated is the "Consumer Reports" for food and kitchens. I read it cover to cover every month.

So, back to the recipe: Mike then poured the eggs over the potatoes and veggies and transferred the pan to a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes. He then added the cheese on top and broiled it until the cheese was bubbly. Then after taking it from the oven and sliding it out on to a plate he topped it with the chopped tomatoes and sprinkled the basil over it. What a great start! I was impressed with Mike's skills in the kitchen - he was holding out on me as to how well he can cook. It looked and smelled delcious! I resisted a bite as I would be headed home to eat my own dinner which was cooking while I was out.

When I arrived at 5:30, Mike had just gotten home and Kim was in the kitchen deciding "what's for dinner?" Typically, they stated, it would have been a Friday night to go out to eat. I think Kim said they had gone to Chick Fil-A twice that week and Mellow Mushroom the night before and had eaten a couple of other lunches out and she had grabbed a pastry on the run. The Richey's track their spending and told me that they are spending about 40% of their food dollars on eating out.

As is typical, when we were determining "what's for dinner", we ran across several items that needed to be thrown away including a week old stale French baguette and a bowl of cherry tomatoes. I hate losing food and I have many ways of preserving them just before they go bad. But what I don't catch goes to the compost, so I commented on the compostability of the items we were tossing, and Kim asked "why compost?" My first answer was to "build healthy soils." Especially since they want to develop some raised beds next spring and create an organic garden. Almost all food wastes can become soil with proper composting.

I will have Steve write the blog on this as my compost efforts have generally become maggot or fly larvae factories. Kim also asked about our compost bin and I admitted that after we gave up the indoor worm bin (vermiculture) idea, I bought us a compost system from New Garden Nurseries (made by Miracle Gro) and it has been super efficient and easy to use. I bring home as much as 10 - 20 pounds of compostables a week from work so the worm bin was too small for my needs. The bigger system cost about $130 - the price I would pay for about 4 or 5 meals out, which to me is a small sacrifice for a great gift back to my future produce and the planet.

When Steve starts working with the families on composting he will introduce them to our very own Greensboro Worm Lady, Betsy Lou. She is often at the Greensboro Curb Market selling her worms, worm castings, and castings "tea", a wonderful natural fertilizer. She's great to talk with and she has copies of the book we started with, Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

So back to the Richey's: Mike and Kim are both tired and hungry by the time 5:30 rolls around and we started by talking about how to decide between eating out and cooking in. I gave them a suggestion that was passed on to me that seems to work well. Immediately when you come home put on a pot/kettle of water to boil. Then go change clothes, read the mail, let the dog out or whatever it is you do. While doing those other things think about what you might like for dinner or even as an appetizer. Many, if not most, things require some hot water: pasta, rice, steamed veggies, boiled eggs, potatoes, etc. Just getting water on to boil starts a commitment process -  a commitment to dinner in. The water we started went to simmering the potatoes for the frittata. If you find you don't need the water for some other part of dinner you can always make tea or just leave it there to crank back up in the morning to make a hot cereal, such as oatmeal!

One other problem that many people have is that they are so hungry or tired when they get home that they can't think to cook and the impulse to go out overtakes them. I hereby give you permission to have an appetizer! Eat a half a banana, a few grapes, some crackers and cheese, a piece of toast - it's ok.

One of the most important lessons I work on with a client who wants to lose weight is to have them really tune in to their hunger and satiety signals. I use a tool called the hunger scale. Zero is when you are so hungry that cardboard would be appetizing and ten is how you feel after a Thanksgiving feast and you are unbuttoning your pants. When we learn to eat starting at a one or two and then stop eating when we feel around a five or six, we have a tendency to maintain our weight. But when you eat from a one or two and stop at a four or five at each eating opportunity, we have a tendency to lose weight. But when we are eating to six or beyond, even once a day, then we will tend to gain weight over time.

So having an appetizer and being aware of how hungry you are before and after that is a sure way to avoid eating too much at dinner. Once you are not ravenous you can make good choices. Starting right from zero almost always leads to overeating. Awareness is key! We live life so rushed and we eat so mindlessly that we ignore these natural satiety signals and doing so contributes to our higher body weights and subsequent need to lose weight over and over again. Learn to eat like a baby: eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full and only eat what you really like. This natural way of eating is the best way to live and maintain a healthy weight (provided you have a healthy endocrine system). The other aspect to eating this way is that you learn to appreciate great food. This is the process of "taste re-education", and it is what naturally happens as you convert to being a locavore.

But more about "taste re-eduaction" later on...

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Tilley's Reporting In...

Mike wanted to give you an update as to our brief visit the other night when we photographed their pantries...

We (the Tilley's) as a family are discussing our eating habits and the food choices we make and how those choices affect our bodies, hence present and future quality of health. We talked about bad food choices and some of the effects that show up from those: obesity, high blood pressure, type II diabetes and the like. In fact, there was an article in the paper in the last couple of weeks reporting on childhood obesity, it's causes and effects. Emma (their 9 year old daughter) chose that article to use as a social studies report that was turned in just this last week.

One problem I knew would happen, and we have barely started the program, is resistance to trying new things, by Emma especially. We do NOT want to get into a habit of preparing different menus for the adults and for the twins. SO we will start slowly with new dishes and keep the information flowing in our family as we learn new things about our food choices so that we will WANT to eat in a more healthy manner, not to think that we have to be giving up what we think just tastes good.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Inspired Followers Get Baby Chicks!

So one of the families I interviewed was farther down the path to local and organic eating than I wanted for the project, but we struck up a great new friendship! The family came by our house to take away and recycle our older worm farm. I think it has gone to one of the Guilford County School Garden Projects!! While here they also looked over our backyard chickens and became inspired to get their own. They passed the picture and this note on to me.

Hi Anne-Marie! Tim and I have been following the locavore blog and enjoying the progress. It actually looks like a lot of work for you!

We wanted to share pictures of our new chickens – Pfeffer, Flyer and Lemon Meringue. They’ve been a lot of fun for the whole family and stirred up a lot of interest from our cats!

The chicks are Red Sex-Link, a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Delaware hen. They are all girl chicks, as the boy’s are a different color, so they are easy to distinguish. They are known for their laying capabilities. Currently the chicks eat, sleep, peep and they LOVE to eat the caterpillars that we pick off our broccoli and cabbage plants.

We purchased the chicks, feed, and dishes at the Farmers Feed & Seed Store at 311 North Main Street in Kernersville. Their chicken expert is Rex.

On another note and somewhat ironically, we are looking to buy chickens to eat and wondered if you would share the names of some of the farms you buy free-range meat from.

Isn't this all great!! I think I told them about the Feed and Seed - this is where I get my chicken feed and scratch. They have all the supplies and chickens and rabbits. (Those are next on my livestock list - for the manure, not to eat!)

Regarding their questions about my meat birds: I get my chickens from John Handler, at Weatherhand Farm, he is at the Greensboro Curb Market on Saturdays. He has a Cornish Rock meat chicken that is raised in a truly free range fashion. They are beautiful birds and I have never been disappointed! He is taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys now so get your order in and have a locally raised bird on the table this year!

One of the best and most extensive websites for finding local foods all over the country is You just enter your zip code and you can find farms, community supported agriculture programs, restaurants and markets by the dozens. Please try it this week and go buy something local from someone local - no matter where you are!

Eat well and be well!
AM Locavore

Posts from the families about the start of the project!

The Tilley-Lees wrote:
We had a great time at the Scott’s meet and greet last Friday night. We got to meet Kim, Mike, and Lily. We also met our project photographer, and his wife and kids. Of course, Charlotte was as cute as a button in her cheerleading outfit and later on pirate costume. The children got along fabulously which was great since they’ll be spending a lot of time together. They were able to collect eggs from Ann-Marie and Steve’s backyard chickens. Emma and Cameron also enjoyed feeding the chickens.

The food was delicious and mostly locally purchased. I missed the dessert which I heard was great because I had to leave early. Maybe next time! You have to try the brisket recipe. The meat melted in my mouth. I can’t wait to begin shopping more at the Farmer’s Market for yummy local veggies.

We had time to discuss schedules and activities we were all interested in checking out. We are going to have a good time together and learn a lot as we go.

Ann-Marie got a peek into our cabinets and refrigerator yesterday. She didn’t know you could buy silver dollar pancakes already made and frozen so conveniently. I have a feeling we’ll be making our own and freezing them instead. She found a few out of date items. Hey, I would get around to cleaning those out some day. She needs to come back and do a more thorough evaluation. I am not allowed to clean everything out before she returns.

Better Eater In The Making,

The Richey's wrote:
So, it was with much anticipation that my family & I went to Anne Marie’s house last Friday evening. We had been told during the interviewing process that the lucky families would get to eat some brisket & other local food! And, yeah for us, we were one of the local families! So as we walked in, we were greeted by a lovely selection of food on the dining room table (lots of color!). After meeting the backyard chickens, we were told to start preparing plates for the little ones. As I began to fix plates for Lily & Charlotte, Anne-Marie’s 5 year-old daughter, Charlotte said, “I like corn on the cob, with butter and a little salt, please.” Now, here’s a girl who can tell you the vegetable she likes along with how to fix it! I thought, “Oh, goody! Can Charlotte rub off on my Lily this way?!” Right now, my Lily has a slightly limited repertoire for fruits and veggies. She likes carrots, pineapple, corn on the cob, and depending on the day, green beans. It is hit-or-miss with other fruits & veggies, though. However, my husband & I are starting to encourage Lily to try other things with what Anne-Marie calls a “no thank you bite.”

We discussed a lot of dynamic topics that evening, but one of them was the effect our food system/consumption has on the environment. This will be discussed in future blogs, I’m sure, but Anne-Marie was saying that we should also take a look at packaging before making our purchases. For example, Anne-Marie has seen brown sugar come in packages that consist of pre-measured 2oz servings. Think about the extra packaging that is used for those pre-measured servings (and then think about it in our landfills)! And how hard is it to measure ¼ cup of sugar? These are definitely things that I think we should take notice of when shopping and vote with our dollars….


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Classic Brisket - from the First Family Dinner

This is what I served as part of the Meet and Greet Dinner on Sept 11 - see post from Sept 11 for full menu. Adapted from Marcie Cohen Ferris' Classic Brisket from Matzoh Ball Gumbo

Makes 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 -15 minutes
Stove top cooking: 13 -18 minutes
Baking: 3 1/2 hours
Standing time: 10 minutes

1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt (I use Jane's Crazy Mixed Up salt Blend)
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 (4 1/2 - 5 1/2 pound) pasture-raised boneless beef brisket, trimmed of most, but not all, excess fat
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 med sized sweet onions, sliced thin
1 (12 ounce) bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce
1 cup Heinz (or Red Gold) ketchup
1 Tbsp strong brewed coffee
1 Tbsp stone-ground mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup dry red wine

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the salts and peppers and sprinkle this over both sides of the brisket.
2. Heat the oil in a metal roasting pan big enough to hold the meat, onions, celery and sauce. Add the seasoned brisket fattier side down first and brown for about 5 minutes. Flip the brisket and repeat on the other side for 5 minutes. Take meat out and set on large platter. Add onions and celery to the pan and cook until slightly browned. Add the brisket back on top of the browned vegetables.
3. Combine the remaining ingredients and then pour the whole mixture over the top of the brisket. Swirl the meat and veggies around so the sauce is evenly distributed under and over the brisket. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for 3 1/2 hours.Take out of oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
4. When the meat is fork tender transfer it to a cutting board and slice it thinly against the grain. Serve on a warm platter surrounded by the sauce.