Monthly Archives: July 2013

History and Harvest at Reeves Homeplace Farm in Little Sandy Mush…another farm story

I recently reconnected with and visited local farmer and not so distant cousin, Robin Reeves.  Glenn and I enjoyed some of Robin’s pastured, pork, turkey and chicken; I never knew turkey meatloaf could be so delicious.  While visiting the farm, we recalled our family connection, and I enjoyed a tour of her family’s historic pre-civil war brick farmhouse.

Reeves Homeplace Farm in Little Sandy Mush has been farmed by Robin’s family for over 200 years.  Robin was drawn back to this family tradition after a number of years away for college, and restaurant and agriculture business careers.  While growing up on the farm, Robin’s family farmed beef cattle, burly tobacco and tomatoes.  After her father, Burder, lost his leg due to diabetes, she and her son, Reeves, moved home to the farm to help her mother, Betty, take care of her dad.  During this time, she became interested in raising pasture raised chickens, ducks and turkeys, and she began building this farm venture over the course of three years while she continued her WNC Ag career and helped with her father’s care until he passed away.  By this time, Robin was seriously wrestling with the pull of coming home to the farm full-time; she struggled with this for a year before making the decision in 2011 to commit to farming full-time.  She is committed to the hard and rewarding work of raising healthy pastured livestock to provide her customers with beef, pork, rabbit, duck, turkey and chicken.  She also grows a few vegetables and sells eggs to round out her farm offerings.  You can drop by the farm, as I did, to pick up your meat or you can also find her farm offerings at the Leicester Tailgate Market and Madison Farms.

Additionally, Robin raises show turkeys that are shown at the NC State Fair.  That is Robin holding one in the photo.  Also strutting in one of the photos is Robin’s favorite rooster.  Robin was willing to let me relocate the other roosters to Bee Branch Farm, but I assured her that we and our hens are quite happy with the current status.

Robin and I share a common family ancestry through our Reynolds’ relations.  My great-great grandmother, Juanna Estalene, and her great-grandmother, Mary Cornelia, were siblings, and one of their younger brothers was AC Reynolds, the well-respected local educator.  I have a copy of a brief bio he wrote, at his daughter’s request, recording family history in which he details his accompanying his father, brother and others as they took a drove of turkeys and a drove of sheep to Asheville on foot; this was a three day trip round trip away from home probably in the late 1870’s.  He recounts his awe in first seeing the French Broad River, and how this trip opened up his world:  “Our world was no longer bounded by the mountains which stood upon all sides of our farm, but it reached twenty miles to the east and would soon cross the mountain and reach fourteen miles to the west.”

The farmhouse that Robin and her family live in was built by Malachia Reeves prior to the civil war; the one foot thick walls were built with bricks molded of clay from the farm, fired and put together with sand and lime Here is a little more history that I looked up in family documents that have been compiled by many diligent family historians over the years.  My thanks to you all!

In 1891, Cornelia (Nelia) married Robert Fillmore Reeves, son of Elizabeth Robeson and Malachia Reeves.  They lived in a log cabin behind the brick farmhouse until their first child was born and Malachia died of pneumonia; they lived in the brick farmhouse the rest of their lives.  Unfortunately, Robert’s life was cut short at the young age of 44.  Nelia had to see to the operation of the farm and rear the children, who were ranging in age from 2-18 by this time.  They raised cattle, hogs and chickens as well as food crops.  Nelia rode her horse to Waldrup’s store in Big Sandy Mush to sell eggs and chickens and to do her marketing.  Later a store was built on the Reeves’ property, which was run by Commodore Wells.  The store sold everything from suits and hats to chewing tobacco and cheese.  After 1918, when her son, Rosco (Ross), Robin’s grandfather, returned from World War I, Nelia managed the store with him, and a corn mill was built next to it.  Nelia was another strong and resourceful mountain woman who kept the farm going and continued to live an active life until her death in 1958 at the age of 89.  I am certain that she would be proud of Robin for her commitment to family and the farm.

I am excited that Reeves Homplace Farm will be one of our Sandy Mush Farm to Cycle stops on September 28th.  Many people will get to learn more about this family farming tradition, and help support farmland preservation which is near and dear to both Robin and my hearts.  Robin’s family is also working closely with Southern Appalachian Conservancy to protect their farmland for perpetuity.

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Soup, Salads and Sautés

I love being a part of providing healthy and scrumptious food to people, and it makes all the hard work worth it when our farm families share their enjoyment of the freshly harvested veggies.   Here are a few of the various ways they have been enjoying the veggies.

*Hardy recommends these two ways to enjoy greens; both recipes from Epicurious.com:

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Onions
3 pound green Swiss chard (about 2 large bunches)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Cut stems and center ribs from chard, discarding any tough portions, then cut stems and ribs crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Stack chard leaves and roll up lengthwise into cylinders. Cut cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-wide strips.
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onions and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add chard stems and ribs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until stems are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add chard leaves in batches, stirring until wilted before adding next batch, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl.

Cooks’ notes:· Chard can be washed, dried, and cut 2 days ahead and chilled in sealed bags lined with dampened paper towels.

· Chard can be cooked 4 hours ahead and reheated over low heat on stove or in a microwave oven.
Gourmet
November 2007
by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

Spinach Salad with Grilled Red Onion and Tahini Vinaigrette (Hardy loves this Tahini Vinaigrette and substituted Kale for the spinach.)


Vinaigrette  
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seedpaste)
2 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 small garlic clove, minced
3/4 vegetable oil

Salad
2 large red onions

12 cups (packed) baby spinach,trimmed
10 large radicchio leaves

For Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients except oil in blender and blend well. Gradually blend in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For Salad: Cut onions lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, leaving root ends intact. Place onions in 15×10-inch glass baking dish. Pour 1 cup vinaigrette over onions, coating evenly. Let marinate 3 hours. Chill remaining dressing. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill onions.)
Prepare barbecue (medium-high-heat) or preheat broiler. Sprinkle onions with salt and pepper. Grill or broil onions until golden. turning occasionally, about 12 minutes. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Place spinach in large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Fill radicchio leaves with spinach. Top with grilled onions. Pass remaining dressing separately.

Bon Appétit
June 1996

*Sandy recommends a couple of ways to enjoy a variety of the veggies in these two meals:

Green Soup:  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/basic_green_soup.html

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water, divided
  • 1/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1 bunch green chard (about 1 pound)
  • 14 cups gently packed spinach (about 12 ounces), any tough stems trimmed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
  • Big pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down, and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven; add rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Trim the white ribs out of the chard (save for another use, such as to add to a stir-fry or other soup). Coarsely chop the chard greens and spinach.
  3. When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard greens. Return to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes. When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them; add them to the rice along with the spinach, broth and cayenne. Return to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once, until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until perfectly smooth or in a regular blender in batches (return it to the pot). Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 4 (omitting the lemon), cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Season with lemon just before serving.

Also, I found another twist on the recipe that looks good:

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/10/06/take-a-chance-on-green-soup-that-is/

*Sandy turned our harvest of beans, potatoes, eggs and romaine plus a few things from the store into a Salad Nicoise.  This looks so yummy I am going to make it for dinner!

Salad Niçoise (pronounced nee-suaz) is essentially a French composed salad, much like our American Cobb salad, but with tuna, green beans, and potatoes, instead of chicken, bacon, and avocado. Salad Niçoise hails from Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea, though like so many foods we enjoy here of French origin, has changed a bit to adapt to our tastes. According to the Wikipedia the Niçoise salads are always made with raw vegetables and served with anchovies. Nicoise salads that are served in America are typically served on a bed of lettuce and include cooked green beans and potatoes. According to our Paris insider, the Niçoise salads there are all made with canned tuna. Depending on the establishment here, I’ve had them either with canned or with freshly grilled tuna. Like its American Cobb salad cousin, the Salad Nicoise takes some time to prepare, given all of the ingredients. This is one dish where setting up your mise en place (all ingredients chopped and ready to go) will help the salad come together smoothly.

Recipe from Simply Recipes:

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/nicoise_salad/

From Epicurious.com:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Salade-Ni-oise-15533

Enjoy the summer bounty,

Terri

p.s.  Tillie, our farm dog,  LOVES veggies.  Her favorite snack is a fresh green bean.  When she hears a green bean snap, she comes running.  Also, she loves the vegetable broth that I make from all the extra greens, stems, and cuttings poured over her dog food.  She even enjoyed the carrot soup.  We found the perfect dog for Bee Branch Farm.  We are lucky!