Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Support Your Local Growers

Living in Tennessee, we are quite fortunate to have access to an abundance of locally-grown products, as farmers abound in our great state with a family farm around every corner. From organics vegetables to wines, cheese and beefalo, you'll find a sundry medley just by perusing your local farmers' market on any given day.

Buying locally not only sustains an agrarian culture on which Tennessee tradition thrives, but you benefit as well. In-season fruits and vegetables from your local farmer provide the freshest flavor and nutritional value which far exceeds the produce that has been shipped across the country in a truck, or that which has been sitting on a shelf in your local grocer. Additionally, livestock raised in our state offer a savory, juicy flavor that one can only get from fresh cuts.

Buying locally has many advantages for the consumer. For starters, local foods simply taste better and are higher in beneficial nutrients. Typically, within a few days, vegetable and fruit sugars naturally begin to breakdown, plant cells begin to shrink, and nutrients are lost, leading to less appetizing and less nutritional produce. Local produce has been harvested within one to two days of purchase generally and, therefore, retains much of its flavor, crispness, color, vitality, and nutrients that suffers when produce is traveling from hundreds of miles away. Likewise, locally-raised chicken, beef, and pork, are higher in essential nutrients, are fresher, and have a flavor and texture that is more pleasing to the palate.

Local foods preserve genetic diversity and provide more options. Many local farms grow plenteous varieties, such as prized heirloom tomatoes, in order to stretch out the growing season. Seeds are passed down each generation to preserve the diversity of fruits and vegetables that are available to us. Buying locally ensures that farmers continue to provide a diverse range of agriculture with an array of choices.

Local food supports local farm families and fosters stronger communities. Unfortunately, farming is a vanishing tradition. Over the past 40 years, the number of farms and farmers has decreased by 60 percent. When farmers have the opportunity to sell directly to local consumers, more dollars go back into their farm to sustain their livelihood and also back into the community to support the local economy.

Local food fosters the future. By supporting local farms, you can ensure that farming will be a time-honored tradition from which future generations will benefit.

The website, offers these help suggestions:
  • Check out the "Eat Seasonal" page to find when foods are in season in your area.
  • Buy food directly from your local farmer at a farm stand or a farmers' market.
  • Join a Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) group and purchase a farm share.
  • Encourage your local grocery store to stock food from local farmers.
  • Visit the "Shopping Guide" for CSA information, farmers' markets, and other sustainable outlets.
Consider an investment in taste, flavor, and freshness by buying healthy local foods raised and grown right here in Tennessee by farmers who work hard to bring goodness to Tennesseans. For more information on Tennessee's local sustainable farms, visit

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Food Glorious Food

A recent Saturday excursion to the Franklin Farmer's Market had me more excited than a sugar addict in a candy store. You know that song...the one that goes food glorious food, well need I say more? It was here that I discovered several local organic farms and was, needless to say, "tickled pink" with delight. Among them was Paradise Produce, a farm that delivers to practically my backyard twice a month. So, of course, I had to give it a try...and blab to all of my friends within a 5-mile radius that they had to try it too!

I pre-ordered my veggies which included a nice assortment of chard, broccoli, squash, zucchini, green beans, Yukon potatoes, carrots and raspberries. A pound of this, a pound of that. Click, click, order complete. When I arrived to pick up my produce, I was astonished by the quality and quantity of my bounty -- richly vibrant in color and superb tasty flavors. Nature's best! And maybe the farmer's pound is more like a baker's dozen for I was loaded to the hilt with food glorious food. From the farmer's garden to my plate. You can't get much better than that.

Now how were two of us going to eat all of this! Well, when in a culinary panic, I always turn to Cooking Light, where I found a recipe perfectly suitable for my produce and my palate! I blanched and froze my leftovers for the week so that I can continue to enjoy them in the weeks to come.

By the way, if you're reading this post, you have to be subjected to my shameless plug, so for more information on Paradise Produce, email .

Spring Vegetable Lasagna
from Cooking Light

Cooking spray

8 cups torn Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Asiago cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
6 no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla or Vigo)


Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chard, squash, onion, bell pepper, carrot, and salt; saute 10 minutes or until tender.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add flour, and cook 1 minute. Stir constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook until thick (for about 4 minutes). Remove from heat; add 1/4 cup Parmesan. Stir until cheese melts.

Combine ricotta, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Asiago, and oregano in a bowl.

Spread 2 tablespoons milk mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 2 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of ricotta mixture, half of vegetable mixture, and 1/2 cup milk mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Asiago cheese and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes.

Yield 6 servings

Nutritional Information:
CALORIES 308(30% from fat); FAT 10.3g (sat 5.9g,mono 2.6g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 25.8g; CHOLESTEROL 53mg; CALCIUM 495mg; SODIUM 865mg; FIBER 3.3g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.8g
Cooking Light, APRIL 2001

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These are super yum and easy. Straight from the back of a Ghirardelli box!

1 box Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil
3/4 c powdered sugar (reserve for coating dough)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place brownie mix, flour, eggs and oil in medium bowl. Stir until blended. Place powdered sugar in separate bowl. (I place bowl of mix in fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the dough before the next step.) For each cookie, scoop 1 rounded tablespoon dough and place in powdered sugar. Roll dough gently into balls, coating thoroughly with powdered sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 11-13 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beef Vegetable Soup

Found this recipe online, it's a Paula Deen recipe so I knew it would be good! Looks like a lot of ingredients, but don't let it scare you. You're likely to have most in your pantry. As always, make it your own and include those veggies your family will enjoy the most! I used the chuck roast recipe...Kroger has their chuck roast on sale this week!

2 1/2 to 3 lbs beef short ribs or 2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless chuck roast *
2 Tbs vegetable oil (if using chuck roast)
4 quarts cold water
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 Tbs dried parsley
2 Tbs beef bouillon granules
1 Tbs of each: dried Italian seasoning, House Seasoning (recipe follows), seasoned salt (plus extra for seasoning), Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp of each: celery salt and garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, extra for seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 cup each: diced celery, green beans (fresh or canned), frozen black-eyed peas, frozen butter beans, fresh or frozen cut okra, fresh or frozen corn kernels, diced potatoes
1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
Chopped fresh parsley leaves

If using chuck roast, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the roast in the skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the roast from the skillet and cut into 1 1/2 to 2 in cubes; discard the fat. Replace beef cubes in a large stockpot. (If using short ribs, you can put them right in the pot with no preparation.)
Add the water, tomatoes, and the following ingredients through the bay leaves. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. If using short ribs, remove them from the pot and cut the meat from the bones, discard the bones and fat, and return the meat to the pot. Add remaining vegetables and macaroni and return the soup to a boil, stirring to distribute the ingredients. Reduce the heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper and add fresh parsley. Remove bay leaves. To remove extra fat from the surface of the soup, swirl a lettuce leaf around the surface- it will pick up a lot of the fat.
*The chuck roast will yield more meat, but the bones from the short ribs give the soup an incredible flavor.

1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beef Brisket

Last week I purchased a whopper of a brisket believing I would serve it up for my weekend guests. Well I didn't. So this week I decided to have my own Brisket Wars! I chose 2 was from Food Network chef Tyler Florence and the other from Two totally different recipes as one was marinated in rosemary, garlic and red wine (Tyler's) and the other was beer, chili sauce and brown sugar. I divided the big daddy brisket in two and in the oven it went. Tyler's recipe was good, but the brisket was our favorite! It also happens to be the easiest by far! I did add some southwest marinade (about 1/4 c) to the sauce(H-E-B Specialty Series Southwest Marinade). I admit that I am not a "barbeque" sauce fan, so I was really surprised that I liked it over the other. The best part is that the meat is just as tender and tasty when reheated the next day in the microwave. Definitely a keeper!
**Please post if you use this recipe exactly as stated below and let us know what you think.

  • 1 (3 pound) beef brisket, trimmed of fat
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can beer
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle tomato-based chili sauce
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Season the brisket on all sides with salt and pepper, and place in a glass baking dish. Cover with a layer of sliced onions. In a medium bowl, mix together the beer, chili sauce, and brown sugar. Pour over the roast. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake for 3 hours in the preheated oven. Remove the aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let the brisket rest and cool slightly before slicing and returning to the dish. Reheat in the oven with the sauce spooned over the sliced meat.