Exploring Southern Foodways with John T. Edge

It’s not everyday that an aspiring food writer has the opportunity to learn from a distinguished Southern food writer such as John T. Edge. Opportunities like this one leads me to believe that the path that I’m on is where I’m suppose to be. The Masters of Nutrition Program at Meredith College has opened up so many doors in the last four years, and continues to. Last Monday night I had the privilege to be in a room full of nutrition grad students and listen to John T.’s journey in becoming an iconic Southern food writer.

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John T. began by giving us a brief explanation how his Southern roots gave him the inspiration to change careers and earn a Master’s Degree in Southern Studies. This has allowed him to write about the South’s identity around food. Topics such as farming cash crops, race, poverty and power are near to John T., as his work for the Southern Foodways Alliance documents and educates about Southern foodways. Thinking about food in new ways and distinguishing food and place are crucial aspects when telling the story of the South.

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A couple of John T.’s main points were that the Southern food culture continues to evolve and the South is defined by culture and the people who live it. Rather than trying to preserve the culture, John T.’s work focuses on documenting the evolution of Southern Foodways, through working class people. He discussed how a newer Southern cuisine is emerging such as fried chicken from The General Muir, a restaurant located in Georgia inspired by a New York Jewish Deli. Although Southern food is evolving, we learned a little about his own food traditions. You will never find sweet cornbread on his plate and holidays will always include pickled peaches.

As the discussion was wrapping up, I had a chance to gain a little insight on how I can work to become a successful food writer. Unique ideas, passion and practice are a few words that I took away and will remain with me as I continue to write. 057

After our classroom discussion, we headed over to Meredith’s Jones Auditorium to hear from an expert panel of North Carolina chefs and farmers while John T. moderated the discussion. Chefs Ashley Christensen, Scott Crawford, Ricky Moore and Andrea Reusing, along with farmers from Coon Rock Farm, Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb discussed how they celebrate the diverse variety of Southern foods. Agreeing with John T. that Southern food is continually evolving, they discussed the importance of discovering and re-discovering methods and techniques of Southern cooking to stimulate new interest with customers while continuing to reflect the Southern culture they love.

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I walked away from this event with a new sense of appreciation for Southern foodways and am eager to continue my exploration. Thank again John T. and Triangle chefs for sharing your stories with us!

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Thank your farmer and celebrate National Farmers Market Week!

Have you been indulging in summer’s fresh and local produce lately? I hope you have. If not, now is the time to start. The USDA recognizes this week as National Farmers Market Week. There’s nothing better then taking in the sights and sounds of the market, tasting samples, meeting your farmer and going home to sink your teeth into juicy peaches, savory green beans and vibrant heirloom tomatoes alongside grilled grass-fed meat. In honor of this week, here are a few of the farmers I visit quite frequently in the Raleigh area. I am so thankful for their passion to grow wholesome, quality food!

Peaches

Michele’s Fresh Fruit at Raleigh Farmer’s Market

Walker Farms, Franklinville, NC

Amy from Walker Farms at Raleigh Farmer’s Market

Mae Farm Meats

Mae Farm Meats at Raleigh Farmer’s Market

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Brock and Mary Beth from Coon Rock Farm, Hillsborough, NC

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Sandra from Rainbow Meadow Farms, Snow Hill, NC

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Audrey from Two Chicks Farm, Hillsborough, NC

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Produce from Wild Onion Farms, Johnston County, NC

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Produce from Rob’s Fresh Produce, Bailey, NC

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Bruschetta made with Heirloom tomatoes from Edible Earthscapes, Moncure, NC,  baguette from La Farm Bakery, Cary, NC, basil from Wild Onion Farms, Johnston County NC.

Food for thought: Do you have a favorite farmer or farmers market? What is your favorite dish to make using local ingredients?

Ice Cream

ice cream post to blog

What crosses your mind when you hear the word Ice Cream? Is it a certain flavor, the texture or mouth-feel of this creamy, luscious dessert? Does it bring you back to warm summer evenings and the attempts made to lick the cascade of melting decadence before it drips down the side of your cone?  Ah yes… the smiles the word itself brings to faces and contentment to the heart.

The word Ice Cream, to me, brings me back to my high-school years of working at the local Dairy Queen. Not that it was REAL ice cream, it was considered close enough. I dabbled in the gelato craze, which, I do highly recommend trying. However, not until recently have I felt any strong feelings toward ice cream. When I tasted Howling Cow’s Campfire Delight my taste buds danced and I couldn’t help but smile. Now THIS is Ice Cream. THIS is what all ice cream should be remembered as. The first bites brought back the childhood remembrance of crisp cinnamon graham crackers. The hint of smooth marshmallow along with the mildly sweet chocolate chunks (yes, chunks) made this experience one to remember. And to repeat.

Where can you find Howling Cow Ice Cream? Only on North Carolina State’s Campus…..and once a year at the NC State Fair. Why I’ve lived in Raleigh for 4 years and have just stumbled upon it in Our State Magazine is beyond me. Luckily I’m beyond my dairy free days and ice cream is welcomed.

If you happen to live in this great state, or are passing by Raleigh on a late summer road trip, I highly encourage you to pick up a pint, a waffle cone or a sundae and rediscover what ice cream means to you.

Food for thought: How does ice cream relate to your life? Do you have a favorite flavor or brand? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Project Progress: Month 2

July is typically the month I start thinking about the start of the fall semester, planning a few end of summer road-trips/vacations and head to a few outdoor concerts. This year, I feel the days are not long enough and my weekends are shortened as I am visiting libraries, restaurants, attending food festivals and talking with locals about the county’s cuisine. Yes, my practicum does involve eating, and no, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The experience has really been eye opening, learning about this great state and county I live in. Here are a few things I’ve been up to since mid-June.

  • Attended the Lenior County Farmers Market
  • Attended the NC Blueberry Festival in Burgaw, NC
  • Bought the domain for my website
  • Posted Farmers Market Series #1
  • Attended Midtown Farmers Market and the NC State Farmers Market in Wake County
  • Enjoyed BBQ at Skylight Inn (Pitt County), Kings BBQ and Ken’s BBQ (Lenior County)
  • Enjoyed dinner at Chef and the Farmer (Lenior County)
  • Posted on my blogging weekend workshop
  • Posted ‘My Mission’
  • Added a NC Food Festivals page to my blog
  • Researched the Moravian culture and Chicken Pie recipes
  • Subscribed to Our State Magazine
  • Researched Wake County – dined at Poole’s Diner and Mecca
  • Enjoyed NC State’s Howling Cow Ice Cream for the 1st time
  • Wrote emails and spoke with various people/organizations in specified counties

While there’s still so much more to accomplish in the next month….it has been a gastronomical few weeks! Check back soon as posts and pictures of my experiences will be making their way to the blog!

 

What is my mission?

It is now early July and I am near completing my second month of my practicum experience. What an adventure it has been so far! Visiting Old Salem in Forsyth County, talking with BBQ masters in Lenoir County and attending Got to be NC Festival in Wake County has been a few of the experiences this project has led me to. Throughout my research I feel as though I’ve had a challenge that has been lingering in the back of my mind since I started. What is my mission? I know Elena’s mission for her Tasting North Carolina project, but what is MY mission? How do I want to portray my thoughts and ideas on this blog as it connects my research together and continues after the practicum is complete?

The first question I asked myself was “How does this project relate to being a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Gastronome? Second question, “What do I want to get across to my audience?” Thirdly, “What is my voice in social media as a health expert?”

My mission: To share my love and passion for food, nutrition, wellness and health.

Food – I am a Gastronome.

Nutrition – I am a RD.

Wellness – I am a Yogi. I embrace living in the moment and believe in the importance of mind/body health.

Health – Relating to all other facets of well-being: physical/mental/spiritual/social/cultural.

Through this project my hope is to express the importance of knowing where your food comes from while each of us supports our own health and the health of the local community.

As I continue my writing and research, I’m sure my mission may shift and sway as I encounter new experiences and meet new people. Until my next post, Eat & Be Well.

Blog Writing 101

I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Elena in Wilmington, NC to discuss blog writing, food photography, recipe development and goals for my practicum project. We started out by visiting the Columbus County Community Farmers Market and stopped at Dale’s Seafood in Lake Waccamaw on the drive back. To my delight, this was the start of a summer filled with visiting small, local restaurants and trying the local cuisine such as steamed baby shrimp and hush puppies.
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Throughout the rest of the afternoon and weekend we discussed many topics as I picked Elena’s brain to absorb all the knowledge I could and learn a few steps she took in becoming a successful food blogger. Below is a list of list of important and interesting tidbits of what I learned over the weekend. Talk about a motivating 24 hours! I walked away with pages of notes and a feeling of excitement and eagerness to dive into the project.

Blogging: How to connect further with readers and gain audience?

    • Stay consistent. Write quality posts on a regular basis.
      • Google will start to verify posts as current

Photography: How to photograph food?

      • Use angles and beauty from natural light and serving dish to form beauty
      • Move body around subject
      • Keep an eye out for dishes online/thrift stores/clearance
      • Paint foam board preferred color for backdrop
      • Using a phone’s camera (specifically iPhone 5) can work as well as a DSLR camera, mainly for convenience purposes
      • Use Instagram for process shots
      • Check out Photojojo for gifts & gear for photographers

Posting articles with pictures: How to size images and edit?

      • Make photos the same width website theme/template
      • Photoshop
      • Phone photo editing app: VSCO cam

Using Widgets and plug-ins in WordPress: Which to use?

      • Plug-in to easily print recipes: Shareaholic
      • Option for embedding Twitter feed

Using social media: what to post where?

      • Post different content on different platforms
      • Creating a voice within each will lead to more followers

Computer: Which to buy?

      • MacBook Pro with Retina

Promoting blog: How to choose business cards?

Recipe development: How to start?

      • Relate recipe back to personal life
      • Research basic recipes, experiment to make your own
      • Make recipe 1-2 times…or until satisfied
      • Follow other bloggers and read cookbooks and modify at least 2 ingredients to make it your own, credit original author for inspiration
      • Use Bloglovin’ to follow blogs
      • Use Flipboard to collect and save recipes by URL
      • Remember simplicity
      • Stay seasonal

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‘Tis the Season for Farmers Markets! #1

It is officially summer. This may be my favorite time of the year. Not only do we have sunshine for over 12 hours, but the opportunities for in-season, local, fresh produce are almost endless. From farmers markets to roadside stands to CSA’s, each week we can be sure to find a mouthwatering summertime favorite.

As part of my practicum project, I have the opportunity to make it a point to visit farmers markets outside the Raleigh area. This makes me happy, as I get to drive to new places, meet farmers from various counties and most importantly…..EAT! Eat real, wholesome, locally grown food. Anyone who knows me will agree that I absolutely love grocery shopping. It doesn’t get any better when you actually get to MEET the farmer who grew your food. When it comes to waking up early on a Saturday for a market, I’ll be there.

I decided I will start a series of posts of farmers markets I visit over the course of the summer, which will very well lead into fall and winter. I’m so grateful for those farmers who brave the weather all year round! (Thank goodness I live in the South!)

The first ‘non-Raleigh’ market of the year started with a trip to Columbus County. After a drive through back-country roads to meet Elena, not knowing what to expect, I ended up at the pavilion.

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After speaking with a few farmers and buying cucumbers, beets, and turnip greens, grown mostly pesticide free, I was extremely ecstatic when I found a farmer from Higher Ground Gardens selling rhubarb!! Yes, North Carolina grown RHUBARB!!! Being from WI, this was a treat. I have not once found a farmer who was able to grow rhubarb in this state in the past 4 years I’ve lived here. Every time I asked about it, I received the same response: “It’s too hot for rhubarb to grow here.” Well, this farmer has proven that he is able to grow some great looking (and tasting) rhubarb!

The Columbus County Community Farmers Market is surely one I would recommend to anyone who is looking for good quality, wholesome food who lives south of Fayetteville, near Wilmington or even close to the eastern South Carolina border. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Carrot, Beet, Rhubarb Smoothie
Serves 1

1 cup water
½ cup sliced raw carrots, frozen
¼ cup sliced raw red beets, frozen
¼ cup chopped raw rhubarb, frozen
½ tablespoon Coconut oil
Sprinkle of Ginger
Handful of Goji berries

1. Slice and chop carrots, beets and rhubarb after getting back from market. Freeze together in 1 bag for convenience.
2. Pour water into blender, add frozen ingredients and blend to break up.
3. Add coconut oil and ginger, blend. Taste. If the flavor is too earthy, add Goji berries to sweeten.
4. Enjoy!

I thank Elena for inspiring me to add beets to my smoothies and drink them out of blue mason jars!

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 Read more about my ‘Discovering North Carolina’ project here

Food for thought: What is your favorite summertime food or favorite smoothie ingredient?