Chef Chris Mckinley Wows Farmers’ Market Crowd

June 21, 2006

Slow Food Piedmont Triad booth at the Greensboro Farmers' Curb Market June 17, 2006

This past Saturday, Chef Chris Mckinley and his lovely wife Samantha volunteered their time to the SF booth at the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market. Chef Chris puts on the Dinners at the Dairy for Goat Lady Dairy and is the chef for the Nasher Museum Cafe at Duke University. He and his wife, a cheese maker, are enthusiastic supporters of eating local foods.

This weekend they took the lead for SF, hosting a wonderful cooking and tasting session focused on the bountiful array of summer squashes available this time of year. Mary Ellen Smith was there too, providing the original inspiration for focusing on smells and sizzling at the booth, as well as bringing us the cooking gear and helping serve.

Slow Food Piedmont Triad booth at the Greensboro Farmers' Curb Market June 17, 2006Chef Chris whipped up a delicious smelling batch of Zephyr Squash Fritters and Tomato Feta Topping (Chris’s recipes below) and the crowds soon followed; more than 250 tasters! The recipe was an excellent example of taking a plentiful and inexpensive produce item and adding a few additional local ingredients for an amazing outcome. The fritters were pretty, smelled great and had outstanding flavor. Our group purchased beautiful produce, eggs and cheese from Cornerstone Garlic Farm, Inspiration Farm, Goat Lady Dairy, Weatherhand Farm, market manager Larry Smith and a few others.

SF gathered lots of names and email addresses of interested market goers and we can’t wait to host our next chef demonstration on July 15th from 7:30am-11am. Ideas for that day and a volunteer or two are welcome. We are still looking for a chef for that day as well. We hope to see you there. Here is the recipe for the fritters and topping:

Zephyr Squash Fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 tsp salt
1 medium clove garlic, peeled, chopped
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 TBL chopped thyme
1/2 cup flour
2 to 4 TBL olive oil

Using the large holes of a box grater, grate zucchini into a medium bowl. Add the salt, thyme, garlic, pepper, and eggs. Mix well to combine. Slowly add flour, stirring so no lumps form. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until the oil sizzles when you drop a small amount of zucchini mixture into the pan. Carefully drop about 2 Tablespoons zucchini mixture into pan; repeat, spacing fritters a few inches apart. Cook fritters until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Turn fritters and continue cooking until golden, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Tomato and Goat Feta Topping

3 medium tomato-diced
6 oz goat feta cheese
2 cloves garlic-minced
1 TBL tarragon
1/4 cup balsamic
2 tsp salt

Place diced tomato in bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix. Allow to stand approximately 15-20 min. Add tarragon, garlic, balsamic, feta and spoon onto hot fritters. Enjoy!


Cherry Picking at Levering Orchard

June 15, 2006

Road in Levering Cherry Orchard

This past Sunday, my husband Sandy and I participated in a lovely experience that I plan to repeat at least yearly. Along with members of Slow Food Piedmont Triad and UNCG’s “Simple Living in a Complex World” class, we wound our way up to the Levering Orchard in Ararat, Virginia, just north of the N.C./Virginia line between Mount Airy and the Blue Ridge Parkway, to pick cherries and share good food and good company.

In a cherry tree at Levering OrchardThe Levering Orchard is 98 years old. Frank Levering’s grandfather first planted the cherry trees here, and Frank and his wife Wanda Urbanska took over the operation of the farm in 1986, a move that they wrote about in their book Simple Living. It is a pick-your-own orchard, although there are some already picked fruits available for sale. Levering Orchard is known for its cherries, but it also offers peaches, nectarines, pears, and apples. See the Levering Orchard web site for this year’s schedule and other information.

Sandy descends from a cherry treeWe carpooled to the orchard from a couple of departure points, and once there, headed straight for the trees. The trees were much bigger than I’d anticipated, and they were chock-full of cherries! By late Sunday afternoon, many of the low-hanging branches had been picked, necessitating climbing the heavy tall ladders. I was in a tree as often as possible when I was a child, so I enjoyed the excuse to get up there and simply sit for a spell while my husband picked cherries. It is hard but pleasant work, and it is easy to pick more cherries than you meant to buy or use! We concentrated on picking the large dark sweet cherries, and bought half a bucket of the smaller tart cherries already picked. I estimate that between us we picked about 17 pounds of cherries. When it is this much fun, it’s hard to stop. And the scenery and the view – well, it was gorgeous.

Vista at the Levering Orchard picnic

Potluck at the Levering Orchard

Wanda and FrankAfter we all finished our cherry picking, Wanda, Frank, and their son Henry joined us for a potluck picnic and a discussion afterwards about simple living and Slow Food. Also joining in the discussion were Tenley Weaver and Dennis Dove of Full Circle Organic Farm. Tenley and Dennis operate a food distribution co-op of local produce that focuses on USDA-certified organic and biologically-grown vegetables and no/low spray fruits called “Good Food Good People.” They provide consumers and restaurants in southwest Virginia with seasonal sustainably-grown food.

I had a nice conversation afterwards with Frank Levering about my daydream of buying a couple of acres for a little blueberry farm. He was so encouraging that I might actually look into it some day, after Italy! (Everything is “before Italy” or “after Italy” these days – looks like it is already a benchmark in my life.)

Wanda and Frank are the authors of several books about simple living as well as the host and writers of the television program Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska, beginning its third season on PBS in January 2007. In a nutshell, this is how they describe the show:

Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska examines what people can do to make their lives easier and more stress-free, from buying products that will last a long time to managing budgets more responsibly. The show focuses on four themes: environmental stewardship, thoughtful consumption, community involvement and financial responsibility.”

cherriesI recommend their book Nothing’s Too Small to Make a Difference, for a well-rounded view of the simple living philosophy.

For more photos of the event, please go to the Flickr photo site that Mandie created for Slow Food Piedmont Triad.

Flickr group created

June 12, 2006

I’ve created a new flickr group so that we can share our photos of Slow Food events, like yesterday’s cherry-picking! It’s a invitation-only group, so please email me @ mandie [at] captivatedbymandie -dot- com with SLOW in the subject and your email (or flickr site), and I’ll send you an invite!

Local Food Goes Mainstream

June 10, 2006

Time Magazine published an excellent article on the Locavores and the Eat Local Challenge called The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet in the June 4 issue. In fact, it had a whole section on “Eating Smart,” including an article from Michael Pollan entitled Six Rules for Eating Wisely, and another article by Margot Roosevelt on pasture-raised beef, The Grass-Fed Revolution.

All are well-written, informative articles and well worth your time!

City Budget Cuts and the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market

June 8, 2006

Today, I found out that one of the positions that might be eliminated as part of the city budget cuts is the coordinator for the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market. This person is responsible for publicity, event planning, grant-writing, and is a liason to the city government. This is the person largely responsible for the huge growth in the farmers’ market in recent years, and the wonderful events such as the semiannual Pottery Festival and Crafts in the Afternoon.

The farmers’ market supports local farmers, food artisans, businesses, and craftsmen. The other events support local artists and craftsmen. They provide a great service and a community-building experience for our citizens. Altogether, they are a big part of why Greensboro is a wonderful place to live. The people who frequent the Curb Market are passionate about it.

This year Slow Food Piedmont Triad and others were optimistic about working to obtain money to improve and add on to the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market. Plans had begun to add a tasting kitchen and a social area with tables and chairs where shoppers could eat one of the tasty breakfasts that volunteers at the Market often cook, such as the strawberry pancakes on Strawberry Day, or the local eggs, grits, sausage and biscuits served on Farmers’ Appreciation Day. Or where they can simply sit and chat over a cup of coffee. Design students from UNCG were on board to design the spaces.

Our city manager thinks that we might possibly rather keep a dollar or two in our pockets annually than keep the person responsible for bringing us these delightful days and events on the payroll.

Please let our mayor and city council know that Gerry Alfano is valued in our community, and plays a very special role in making downtown Greensboro a better place to live. Tell them that you think the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market is important, and enriches our lives, and that you think that Alfano’s excellent work justifies it receiving more funding, not less.

You can email them from this web page, or you can call and fax them. Their phone contact information is at this web page.

UPDATE: By the time I found out about this and posted it, the city council was already in session. They did not cut the position, so there is no need to contact them, unless you would like to thank them. Thank you, Sandy Carmany, for your timely responsiveness to your constituents!

Cherry Picking and Simple Living Potluck June 11

June 3, 2006

June 11, 2006
Cherry Picking and Simple Living Potluck
Levering Orchard, Virginia
Carpool leaves at 2 p.m. See schedule below.
$5 donation; utensils & beverage provided.

Join the Slow Food crowd for a celebration of the cherry season. Pick cherries, enjoy a potluck meal and talk about life, the slow-simple life.

2 pm: Car pools leave Old Salem visitor’s parking lot in Winston-Salem or the parking lot between Sears and Friendly in Greensboro.

3:30-5:30: Cherry picking at Levering Orchard.

5:30-7:00: Slow Potluck (Yes, bring a dish of slow food.)

6:30-8:00: Slow discussion about Simple Living.

8:00-9:00: Return trip.

Directions: From US 52, 1 mile north of VA line, turn east on Epworth Church Rd. (VA 686). Go 3 miles to Wards Gap Rd. (VA 679). Turn left and go straight for 3.6 miles to 3-way fork. Follow middle fork, Orchard Gap Rd. (VA 691), to Levering Orchard (.7 mile). Follow signs for cherry picking and parking. The meal and discussion will take place at the Cherry Orchard Theatre, up the hill from the packhouse.

For a map and more information, go to

Slow Food News Items

June 1, 2006

Slow Food/Local Food has made it in print and on the pavement during the last two days.

The Wednesday, May 31, GSO News and Record featured Laurie O’Neill in “Close to Home”, an account of Laurie’s month in the Eat Local Challenge wherein she almost exclusively ate food within 100 miles of Greensboro. As she recounts, some foods were hard to give up, ie. cocao beans for chocolate are not grown here, but on the whole the experience was fun, pretty easy, and delicious.

She grows some of her own food and gets most of the rest from the local farmer’s market on Yanceyville and Lindsay. Creativity in the kitchen plus home grown herbs plus fresh produce and free-range meats made the task of cooking an enjoyable one. Laurie is already thoughtful about local food, but this past month heightened her awareness of food, our farmers and herself. That’s pretty much what Slow Food is about.

Sarah Jones, another Slow Food advocate, wrote in her bi-weekly column, “Local food offers extra helpings.” She pointed out that eating locally is not only about eating fresh and delicious food; it affects the world. 1) Local food is better for the environment; it’s transported just a few miles and it’s usually freer of chemicals; 2) local food supports the local economy by returning more money to the farmer/grower; and 3) local food preserves endangered varieties of vegetables whether its kale, tomatoes or apples, and endangered varieties of animals. Added to this is the social conviviality of the marketplace: friends, tastings, chatter.

If that’s not enough, Masoud has reopened Zaytoon as a Mediterranean Cafe: Local, Natural, Organic. It is located in downtown Greensboro at 301 N. Elm Street on the ground floor of a modern office building. One of two entrances is off of a lovely urban plaza so there is outside seating. The hours are M-F, 7:30am-6:00pm. Phone in orders at 336-373-0211.

Debby and I ate there on opening day June 1 and there was a steady stream of customers…satisfied customers. We had the baba ghanouj platter and the falafel wrap. The baba ghanouj was light on the tahini so you could taste the delicately seasoned eggplant. The falafel was crunchy yet moist with cucumber accompanying it. Its internal color was a lime green and we wondered if it contained mashed fava beans along with the chickpeas. Real authenticity and our bill came to $10.68!

The rooms are bright and spacious with local watercolors by known artists on the walls. Feel free to linger too over some baklava and turkish coffee.

We are happy you are back, Masoud and Annah.

Charlie Headington