It seems I have a bit of a ying/yang situation going on with my food cravings during this time of year. I really look forward to the season that draws us close in to comfort foods and foods that are a celebration in and of themselves. Thanksgiving with the roast bird, creamed vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie. We love these foods so much.
This fall has been a beautiful season of appreciation for me – in the kitchen, out in nature and in my personal life. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am almost overwhelmed with gratitude this year. My husband and I were able to move to the mountains of North Carolina, back to my family home, to spend a dedicated time with family through the illness and passing of my father. I owe him a huge debt of thanks for the many profound life lessons he shared with me and for the very heightened appreciation of nature and the outdoors.
My emphasis on seasonal eating is very much wrapped up in how I was raised and the rhythm of life that was instilled in me through the way my family lived in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Our garden was a focal point of everyday life, and so it is for me still. What is in season is the predominant question I ask myself when thinking of food and nourishment.
This delicata squash and bean cassoulet, another dish from my love affair with the Rhubarb Restaurant of Asheville, NC, highlights the seasonality of the late summer and autumn garden. Having a stock pile of winter squashes in the pantry and jars of dried beans leads to endless possibilities in the kitchen.
It’s officially spring and “From the garden to the plate” found here. STRAWBERRIES ABOUND! As does KALE AND BEETS! If you are lucky enough to be near a year round farmer’s market, then you will come face to face with all of these farm fresh foods! If you are shopping at the market, then no worries – they are going to be the foods your nearest farms are producing in early spring. We all want to “eat local”, yes?
Spring kale is the backbone of this healthy and nutrient rich salad. Contrary to what you may think, it is both tender and crisp and holds up perfectly to the rest of the salad.
Prepping for this beautiful salad couldn’t be easier!
- Roast beets in the oven wrapped in foil at 350, then peel and slice.
- Wash, hull and slice strawberries.
- Slice red onion as thin as possible then add white vinegar to pickle.
- Peel and slice the oranges (colorful blood or cara cara oranges are beautiful!)
- Soak the kale in cold water, then drain, coarsely chop and squeeze fresh orange juice on the kale. Massage the kale to further tenderize before assembling the salad.
Pickled red onions are a great staple in the refrigerator for adding crunchy goodness to any salad. A mandolin slice makes this a breeze, but it’s not necessary.
A simple vinaigrette in a mason jar will dress this salad perfectly to accompany any main protein, or top the salad with your protein… shredded roast chicken, grilled shrimp, poached or smoked salmon.
Change it up and let this salad be your go-to spring substrate to a healthy meal again and again.
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
- 1 juice of one lemon or orange
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper
- Place all ingredients in a small canning jar with lid and shake, shake, shake!
My trip to the Farmer’s Market this week made me SEE RED! It really was completely unintentional. I didn’t walk around and look for RED FOOD. I didn’t scorn the beautiful yellow plums or the plump purple concord grapes. I just found myself subliminally attracted to the variety of beautiful vermillion selections that popped out everywhere I looked.
It started when I spotted the lovely red butter lettuce SKYPHOS. We have grown this lettuce on the farm for many seasons, and it has been a favorite of the chefs consistently. It has a very mild flavor, but also it has some “tooth”. It holds up to the bite and doesn’t collapse under the dressing. It is better than ANY RED LEAF LETTUCE you will ever find at the grocery. I promise.
This head of lettuce invited me to mentally celebrate the salad I was going to make as I made my way from farmer to farmer at the market. I took note of a small, heirloom watermelon and had to ask – what type of melon is this? “A pink heirloom variety” was the answer, and as quick as you can say seed spitting contest, it became a part of the salad in my head.
Is this a summer salad or a winter salad? It’s and END OF SUMMER salad, and so there aren’t any rules that say you cannot mix beets and watermelon. After all, they are both in season, as crazy as that sounds!
The beets were steamed to soften and then a rough uneven cut made perfect salad toppings of this root specimen seasonal crossover.
Shaved so thinly you can see through the porous cells of the red onion, a very nice flavor boost is provided by this addition to the salad. The familiarity and subtle bite of sweet red onion is a great compliment to the sweetness of the berries and the earthiness of the steamed red beets.
The “dressing” for my RED SALAD is a simple drizzle of fresh squeezed blood orange juice and walnut oil (or olive oil is great, too). I used some chopped shallot and a bit of dijon mustard to add some complexity to it, and seasoned with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
Our Scarlet Salad from the Farmer’s Market this week was a real celebration of simplicity and seasonal satisfaction. It was the perfect compliment to our grilled fresh fish – Wahoo Filets from the fish monger. A perfect Saturday evening meal.
Do you recognize this lovely spot? It’s the Pole Barn at Thornhill Farm, where so many great gatherings and purposeful events have taken place over the last seven years. Well, don’t say goodbye just yet! Say HELLO to the possibility that we may continue to see Thornhill Farm thrive into our future as a working farm through a public partnership between the East Cooper Land Trust and a to be announced working partner, soon!
Please send a quick email to our
They vote TODAY, August 26th, 2014 at 6:30pm
These little peeps are growing up now on the pastures at the farm for us for Thanksgiving! It has been awesome to watch their behavior develop SO EARLY and realize the wonder of this beautiful heritage breed. According to the Livestock Conservancy, this is the “original American Thanksgiving Turkey”, as it was a cross between the domestic turkeys brought from Europe and the wild turkeys of the new world. They grow a bit slower and are stronger and more flavorful, certainly.
This is the grown-up version. It’s hard to believe they go from the previous pictures taken in July to the full-grown bird, ready for Thanksgiving by mid-November.
You can put a deposit on your Thanksgiving Turkey for this year on our website.
I’m spending my inspirational time in the kitchen these days (when I have to be away from the farm) with my camera and my farm loot, trying to develop the skills to inspire further this connection to farm fresh food that is so important to me.
so…. that turned into this….
… a yummy farro salad with roasted summer vegetables and goat cheese.
Thank you for indulging me. If you, or someone you know, would like to have this recipe, and/or sign-up to get my recipe blog sent to you as it is published, please go to the website now and input your email address there.
You inspire me.
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I promised to talk about utilizing pastured proteins in an appropriate health-concious way, and so today I would like to introduce you to the virtues of Italian Sausage! Drumroll please…. Meet Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini accompanied by a sensational Summer Salad!
Mind you, we all have our own ideas about healthy eating, and there are so many different opinions and studies and protocols suggested. BUT I DO NOT HESITATE TO SHARE MINE WITH YOU!! Take it for what it is worth to you that I enjoy eating pasture raised animal proteins in moderation, combined with the colorful array of vegetables that are available to us to enhance the meal and my health!
This is a delicious and super healthy meal that is made from such a simple list of ingredients! And literally it can be prepared and to the table in 30 minutes. The best for a weeknight meal, I would say. It also makes a great leftover meal so that you can carry your lunch with you the next day.
To prepare Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini, first begin by cutting the washed zucchini squash in half lengthwise and scooping out the pulp, chopping it roughly along with the other vegetables in preparation for sautéing the stuffing ingredients.
The cooking begins with adding the onions and garlic to the sauté pan first to soften and release their important flavors. Next, add the italian sausage by crumbling into the pan, removing it from the casings, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and fully cooked.
I like to drain the sausage at this point. It provides an opportunity to lighten the meal by removing a lot of the fat that would otherwise wind up in the dish. The flavor is still there, though, believe me!! Remember, we are using pasture raised pork italian sausage, and it contains so much less fat than what you would find from conventional sources. The fat is healthier, too! You can really taste, see and smell the difference. I find it astonishing.
After the sausage is drained, we reintroduce it to the pan, along with the remaining ingredients – garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped zucchini pulp. Stir occasionally while the flavors combine, then when light caramelization begins to occur, remove from the heat and add fresh herbs and seasonings for the final adjustment before the dish is assembled and finished in the oven.
This deliciousness is spooned back into the zucchini boats, heaping it on until you have lovely mounded stuffed cucurbits. The final step for this meal is to add a generous portion of goat cheese to the top of the stuffed zucchini, then place the dish in a 350 degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes.
When you place this dish from the oven to the table, accompanied by that simple summer salad packed with fresh veggies, you will enjoy the response for sure – the wow, followed by the quiet that settles over the table as the enjoyment of everyone else begins.
We plan to continue to raise our turkeys on the farm, even when not preparing for Thanksgiving season, so that we may offer ground turkey to you through out the year. I hope you find this as exciting as we do!! Here is a picture of the Heritage Bronze Breasted turkeys we are raising for Thanksgiving this year at 1 week old! It is amazing how beautiful they are and how quickly they change and grow. My , my, how time flies! Thanksgiving will be here before you know it!
- 4 Medium Zucchini Squash
- ½ lb Italian Sausage
- 6 oz Chickpeas
- ½ Yellow Onion
- 1 Garlic clove
- ½ cup Sun-dried Tomatoes in olive oil
- 4 oz Goat Cheese
- 2 heaped tablespoon Fresh Italian flat leaf Parsley
- salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
- Halve the Zucchini, lengthwise
- Scoop out pulp with a spoon, then dice the pulp for sautéing.
- Add diced onion and minced fresh garlic to a warm sauté pan with a small amount of organic olive oil. Cook slowly until edges of onions begin to become golden.
- Remove these ingredients from the pan and add the remaining chopped vegetables. Cook until edges begin to show the slightest feathering.
- Scoop the sautéed and cooked mixture into the zucchini boats.
Top with crumbled goat cheese and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes!