Serves You Right
"The New Blue Ridge Cookbook" is a story about modern mountain
The author, Elizabeth Wiegand, traveled the Blue Ridge from Brevard to the Charlottesville, Va., area, interviewing chefs, farmers and others in the know.
You will find recipes from local growers Sally Thiel and Joe Martin, Charles Church, Susan Boylan, Shiloh Avery and Jason Rorhrig, Liza Plaster, and Ron and Suzanne Joyner. Chefs Danielle Deschamps of the Mast Farm Inn and James Welch of Crippens in Blowing Rock have access to large kitchen gardens and also shared recipes.
I bought a copy before vacationing last summer, and it truly entertained me while sunning on the beach. The recipes are fabulous, and the stories of those who cherish and produce good food are remarkable.
During an interview with Elizabeth, I asked about her background and interest in food.
"I grew up on a tobacco farm in Granville County (north of Raleigh) that's been in my father's family since 1840," she said. "I know my roots. I know what a hard life farming is, that chores never go away just because it's Christmas, for example, and that sometimes it's hard being 'land rich but cash poor.' My grandmother lived across the road and fed us all during the summer. I learned how to cook from her.
"And I had an epiphany while attending a cooking class in France. We were in the kitchen of a 17th century chateau, watching a professional chef create 'sauce anglaise.' And I realized it was nothing more than the boiled custard that we had always had for special dinners when I was growing up.
Then the gardener brought in his basket overflowing with greens and beans and tomatoes, and I thought, 'Hey, we grow wonderful stuff like that in N.C., too.' It was then that I decided that my 'calling' was to spotlight the wonderful foods of my own turf, North Carolina."
Elizabeth had several reasons for writing about the food movement in the Blue Ridge Mountain region. "Whenever we were camping or fishing in the mountains, or visiting our daughter at UNC-Asheville, being a foodie, I'd find restaurants making the effort to cook with local foods, and at the markets find all these marvelous fruits and vegetables. And I was so impressed with the over-riding attitude of caring about where the food came from and the care it was given to put it on the table.
"Watauga County is not only one of the prettiest places on earth, but it has such friendly folks, too. We take all the back roads that wind through and to Valle Crucis and Todd and up toward the Lansing and Helton Creek area, finding gorgeous streams for fly fishing and hiking trails and, best of all, wonderful restaurants. And I always try to hit the Saturday morning farmers' market. It's one of the best in the state."
You may find a copy of "The New Blue Ridge Cookbook" at Bare Essentials Natural Food Market in Boone or at the N.C. Cooperative Extension office at 971 W. King St. in Boone. All proceeds benefit women farmers through Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, and the cost is $20.
Here is a sample recipe to warm you.
Cream of Carrot Soup
From Chef Danielle Deschamps of the Mast Farm Inn
2 pounds carrots, peeled
1 large onion
Extra-virgin olive oil, to cook
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp. curry powder
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup of heavy cream
1 pinch nutmeg
Dusting of cinnamon
Croutons (honey-garlic flavored suggested)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
2. Cut carrots and onions into equal size 1 1/2 " pieces and put them in a mixing bowl with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, thyme, cinnamon, and fresh ginger. Pour mixture into a roasting pan and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from oven.
3. Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add butter.
4. Once butter is melted, put all the vegetables from roasting pan into the soup pot.
5. Deglaze the roasting pan, by placing the pan over medium-high heat, adding wine, and scraping up any vegetable pieces. Add to the vegetable mixture.
6. Add orange zest, ginger, and curry powder to the soup pot. Add stock and let simmer for 25 minutes.
7. Add juice from orange. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Puree mixture in a blender, in small batches and being careful not to allow the hot mixture to explode. A hand blender designed for blending soup in the pot will also work.
9. Return the soup to the soup pot over medium low heat. Add heavy cream and nutmeg.
10. Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
11. Serve hot, with honey-garlic croutons and dusted lightly with cinnamon
Makes 4-6 servings
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups and is the local food coordinator for Watauga County. To contact Margie, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (828)264-3061.