Wednesday, January 8, 2014

East Fork Farm Feeds Pigs Local Grain


Visit the Neighborhood Y at Woodfin Indoor Winter Tailgate Market 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays through March at 51 N. Merrimon Ave., Building 51, Office 117.
In this mecca of small businesses and producers, Asheville’s food entrepreneurs fuel the local economy by encouraging one another’s success.
This point was made clear during a conversation with Dawn Robertson of East Fork Farm on the opening day of the Woodfin indoor winter farmers market, Saturday mornings at Reynolds Village.
East Fork Farm has added pork to its impressive list of pastured poultry and lamb. The pigs are fed by the output of another local entrepreneur — East Fork supplements the pigs’ diets with excess grain from Farm and Sparrow’s artisan bakery.
David Bauer, founder of Farm and Sparrow, is known for his honest approach to baking, just as the Robertsons have become well-known for their honest farming practices.
Farm and Sparrow’s products are made with locally grown grain, milled on site on Bauer’s homestead in Candler. The “middles,” or unusable grain parts, are collected for the Robertsons to feed their pigs.
“For us, the key to raising hogs is finding a reliable, quality feed source that is affordable,” East Fork’s Stephen Robertson said. “Without this source, the hogs are too expensive to raise.”
Bauer’s middles are nutritious additions to the animals’ diet, and feeding them to East Fork’s pigs is also a way to make use of Farm and Sparrow’s waste. It’s the foundation of sustainability, when the circle of production is made stronger through collaboration.
The camaraderie among producers is highest when both parties gain by avoiding waste, and the final product is improved as well, Robertson said. “As in all the animals we raise, I think the quality is a result of how they are raised and what they eat. Having Dave’s organic byproduct is a definite bonus.”
Support within agricultural communities is an age-old practice. As farming villages evolved to specialize, individual producers saw the advantage of each other’s success as a means to strengthen local communities.
This practice is kept alive here in Western North Carolina as, for example, vegetable and fruit growers utilize manure from livestock producers to fortify their soil. Whey from cheese making is used to fatten hogs, along with the large quantities of spent grain mash from Asheville’s many breweries. “The point here is finding alternatives to conventional, high-priced feed,” Robertson said. Not only is Farm and Sparrow’s grain high quality, it can be locally sourced, cutting costs.
East Fork Farm has plans to purchase a community palletizer for local farmers to utilize. “My hope is to convert the middles as well as grass trimmings, hay and other waste to a consistency that other animals can digest,” Robertson said.
While producing products that speak for themselves, this example of community stewardship seems quite digestible indeed.


1 package bratwurst
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup marinara sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt
Black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Rinse bratwurst and pat dry with paper towels.
Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter. Saute bell pepper and onion until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
Push contents of pan to the sides and add bratwurst. Sear on each side until well browned, about 2 minutes each side. Reduce heat to low.
Add marinara sauce and vinegar and cover. Allow bratwurst to cook completely (about 7 minutes) then stir in corn, beans and basil. Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Remove bratwurst and slice into pieces. Return to skillet.
Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Crumb-Top Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

When temperatures plummet to record-breaking lows (-3 this morning in sunny NC) this is the best thing to do. These muffins are satisfying without being too sweet. Serve warm with plenty of sweet cream butter.

Crumb Top Cinnamon Raisin Muffins: Makes 12 Muffins
*2 cups high quality AP flour
*2/3 cup whole wheat flour
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*4 teaspoons baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon sea salt
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1 cup raisins
*1/4 cup golden flax seeds
*6 Tablespoons melted coconut oil, olive oil or butter
*2 fresh eggs
*1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
*cinnamon sugar for crumb top

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with butter or coconut oil.
Mix dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl, including raisins and flax seeds.
Whisk wet ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Blend into dry ingredients until just fully incorporated. Spoon batter into muffin wells. Sprinkle liberally with a mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon. Bake on middle oven rack for about 15 minutes or until a wooden test stick comes out clean.
Gently dislodge muffins from tin with a knife and transfer to wire cooling rack. Serve with butter and honey.

*Loosely adapted from Spice Foodie's original recipe

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Go Ahead

A suggestion on how to enjoy the hand-shelled pecans you got from market this morning. . .

. . . dunked in Looking Glass Creamery's bourbon-vanilla goat milk caramel you recieved for Christmas.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Fare

Welcoming the New Year from the kitchen... 

Buttermilk biscuits

Slow cooked black-eyed-peas

Collard greens


Wine braised pastured pork tenderloin with apricot compote

"These two Southern classics all but guarantee a prosperous year. Some say the greens represent dollar bills and the peas, coins, ensuring wealth and luck.

According to folklore, this auspicious New Year’s Day tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops pillaged the land, leaving behind only black-eyed peas and greens as animal fodder. Rich in nutrients, these were the humble foods that enabled Southerners to survive. Details of stories differ, but each celebrates a communion of family and friends bound by grateful hearts and renewed hope for good things yet to come."
-Southern Living Magazine; 
Article excerptby: Madoline Markham

To a prosperous 2014!