Category Archives: Food and Recipes

The comfort of a good meal and lively conversation

I agree with the interviewee who I heard on NPR yesterday that it is important to be able to enjoy the lively and open discussion of politics with your guests.  I actually believe we need to have more open and respectful discussions outside our homes as well, but I will save this topic for a future post because today I am sharing my gratitude for a meal enjoyed with friends.  Good food and lively conversation is definitely one of my favorite ways to enjoy an evening, and thanks to Susan’s new cookbook, I finally ventured back into the kitchen.

We sampled three of Susan’s savory bites with the Blue Cheese and walnuts with a dollup of Bee Branch Farm honey, of course, being our favorite.  This is very simple to prepare and to have all the ingredients on hand for when guests drop in for a visit, which is one of the aspects I appreciate about Susan’s recipes, they are not overly complicated and most of the ingredients are readily available.  Entertaining should be fun; keep it simple and relaxing.  It is not about impressing people; it is about having a lovely time with friends.

My mouth is actually already watering for the main course of Beef Bourguignon, again.  Before you jump to correct my English/French combination name of this dish, you will just have to get the cookbook and learn the rest of the story.  This was my first time making this french classic, and Susan has simplified and adapted the recipe to easily available ingredients and modern cooking styles.  Absolutely delicious!!  Well done Susan; I am going to add this to my favorite recipe repertoire.  I served it with peas and a crusty seeded sourdough bread to soak up that tasty gravy.

We finished off with an apple and pear bread pudding, which was a slight adjustment on Susan’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  Susan’s recipe called for a pumpkin butter, but I had a jar of my mom’s apple butter, and my mom makes the best apple butter.  This recipe can be served for breakfast or dessert, and Glenn and I just enjoyed it for both!

There is no pretension in Susan’s cookbook, just as there is no pretension in Susan.  It is absolutely delightful.  Enjoy.

Cookbook Confession

I love reading and collecting cookbooks, but lately I have not been in the mood to cook.  Now before you think, “That is a great way to lose weight.”  Notice, I did not say I was not in the mood to eat, just not cook.    Thus, when I saw Susan Murray’s Our Family Table:  Recipes & Lessons from a Life Abroad at Addison Farms Vineyard’s A Handcrafted Christmas event this past weekend, I decided it was time for culinary inspiration.  Susan and her husband, James, are the charming innkeepers of Carolina Bed and Breakfast in the historic Montford neighborhood of Asheville.  We have partnered with them on a Sandy Mush Fall Farms and Artisans Tour the past couple of years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and hearing stories of their travel adventures.  If you were at Addison Farms this past weekend, then you were treated to some of Susan’s delectable specialties.  Lucky you!


While on that topic, thanks to everyone who came out to Addison Farms Vineyard this past weekend and supported our farmland conservation efforts in Sandy Mush.  We raised $500, and Jeff and Dianne Frisbee, owners of Addison Farms Vineyard generously matched that $500 for a total donation of $1000 to Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to support the continued conservation efforts in Sandy Mush.

Back to culinary inspiration, I have thumbed through recipes, invited friends over to dinner and now heading to the market to gather ingredients.  Soon to be out of my culinary rut, or so my friends and Glenn hope!  A few bites I am considering to whet the appetite…Bourbon Grape Truffles…Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus….

Wishing you all inspiration,


Our Honey is ready!

Our honey bees survived the winter and are strong.  They are happy making honey!  One hive that was weak going into the winter didn’t make it, but the other three are strong, and Glenn started another hive with some of those bees and a new queen.  We will let them store all of their honey so they can build up reserves and go into the winter strong.

The other three hives, however, are strong and making plenty of delicious and nutritious honey.  If you want our pure and natural Bee Branch Farm Honey, get in touch.  This first honey of the season is a poplar/blackberry blend and it is light and very sweet.  The 8oz honey gift jars are $6 each.  You can see a photo of the gift jars on our honey page.  Everyone loves a gift of honey.

See below to learn more about our WNC nectar flow season:  Typical Flowering Season for Nectar Flow.

I find it fascinating to observe the honey bees, and this year they were very interested in our young asparagus.  The asparagus bed was its own little microcosm.  Here is a great description from a fellow beekeeper in Arkansas.


Southern Girl Cornbread

The gauntlet has been thrown down or, in this case, the cast iron skillet.  It all began with my weekly email to our farm families where I include various info about our veggies, recipes and supper ideas.  I shared our previous night’s supper of beans and greens with cornbread.  I shared the very easy and basic recipe for cornbread that my husband makes:

First, you need a cast iron pan (really it is better) to cook your cornbread, and preheat your oven to 400.  1 cup cornmeal mix, 2 Tablespoons of Butter melted, 1/2 cup sugar, and enough milk to get it moving around when you mix it.. bake approx 20 minutes.

Well…Sandra B., one of our farm families called me out.  ” Just gotta tell you. Southern girls never put sugar in cornbread. 😍”  While in all reality Sandra is correct because neither my husband nor I grew up eating cornbread  made with sugar or with a cornmeal mix, I did let her know that this southern girl will gladly eat whatever her southern husband is willing to cook.  In this case, a quick and easy cornbread recipe that was a comfort food to him in grad school at UNC.

Here is a real southern cornbread recipe compliments of Sandra B., who does know her southern cooking.

Sandra B’s Cornbread recipe:
Southern cornbread, as opposed to sugary corn muffins, is mostly about technique.  This recipe is great for making cornbread dressing, btw.
Put about 6 Tbls of Crisco in an iron skillet and preheat it in a 400 degree oven. Or, 5 of Crisco and 1 of bacon fat, if you are not vegan, as we are. Some people like to fry about an inch of salt pork in the skillet, instead of the bacon.
Note: Iron skillets also can be the individual stick style, which our mothers liked, but are very time consuming.
Meanwhile, mix in a bowl,
1.5 cups yellow cornmeal
.5 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda.
1 teaspoon salt
Make a hole in the center and stir together,
1.25 cups buttermilk
1 egg  I now use a vegan egg substitute.
Then, gradually bring in the dry ingredients. I use a large fork.  Like mine a little runny and sometimes add more buttermilk.
When the fat is sizzling and the skillet is very hot, pour it into the mixture and fold it in.
Immediately, pour the batter back into the hot skillet. This will give you that brown crusty top you are looking for when you flip it out onto the serving plate.
Bake about 20 minutes, until edges are brown. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and let it rest for a few minutes before flipping out. If your pan is seasoned well, it should not stick.
Never wash your iron skillet to keep it properly seasoned.  I clean mine out with salt and a paper towel with some oil on it.
So get out your well seasoned skillets, eat some cornbread, and by all means let us know your favorite cornbread recipe.
Cheers to Cornbread from me and Sandra B.,

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

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.
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.)

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

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:

  • 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


  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.


  • 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:

*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:


Enjoy the summer bounty,


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!

Kale recipes from neighboring Sandy Mush Farms

This recipe was a huge hit at the fall potluck; courtesy of our friends and neighboring farmers in Sandy Mush, Full Sun Farm.  Check them out at the North Asheville Tailgate market on Saturdays.

Baked Kale (aka Kale Chips)

You take the kale off the stem and tear or cut it into bit sized pieces, maybe a little bigger because it shrinks. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. I toss the kale until the oil and salt lightly coats the leaves. Then bake it in the oven at around 375 for 5-10 minutes. Take it out and stir the kale a little so it is cooking evenly and then put in back in for another few minutes, just until it is all crispy but before it turns a brownish green. It is still okay when it gets a little over done but better before.

Recipe from Ostara Farm CSA member Barb Svenson.  You can get Ostara Farm products at French Broad Coop.

Massaged Kale Salad

more a formula than a recipe

1 Bunch of Kale (lacinato works really well) or young collards or a mix of each.
Olive oil (preferably one with a peppery taste)
1/2 t. sea salt
lemon juice to taste (optional)

wash and dry the greens and de-stem them.
stack and roll the leaves tightly cigar style and slice into very thin ribbons
place the greens in a large shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & lemon
massage the greens (aka like kneading bread) for a few minutes (they should oxidize a little and completely turn darker green, they will also release some moisture and shrink in quantity)

Now the creative part, add whatever you like –

here are some of my standard combos

greek or french olives, sun dried tomatoes (soaked and sliced) or oven roasted plum tomatoes chopped, feta cheese crumbles, thinly sliced red onion and a splash of balsamic vinegar, a little finely chopped oregano or thyme  (add white beans or tuna to make it main dish salad)

walnuts, dried cranberries, feta or goat cheese, sectioned oranges or clementines, splash of red wine vinegar or lavender vinegar (just a little chopped rosemary is also nice in this)

chopped pecans,  diced avocado, diced apple, and 1 diced protein (sausage, tempeh, baked tofu, smoked cheese, splash of balsamic and  a little dijon mustard mixed in or a little tahini.  (fresh chopped sage if you like)

pine nuts, chopped roasted garlic, grated parmesan, chopped fresh tomatoes, lots of fresh black pepper

Diced tempeh, cooked tofu, any pork, hard cheeses, chicken sausage and seafood (esp whole seared scallops) and beans (chick peas, white beans, black eyed peas)  all seem to work well as proteins to add to make a nice main dish salad.

Farm to Table on Father’s Day

We enjoyed the vegetables of our labor with Dad and Barbara Sunday. Everything came from our garden, except the chicken which we bought from Reeves Homeplace Farm in Little Sandy Mush and the cream style biscuits which I made from a recipe in Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food, one of my favorite cookbooks. I also used Alice’s guidelines for roasting the chicken which I stuffed with fresh herbs and garlic from the garden. I steamed broccoli with a hint of sea salt and roasted the cauliflower in olive oil and then served with a sage butter, and, of course, a bountiful freshly harvested salad. Tastebuds were rejoicing!
Here are a few recipes our farm families shared for favorite ways to enjoy cauliflower:
I prepare my cauliflower by cutting it up, drizzling it with olive oil and sprinkling it with fresh pepper and salt. Then roasting it on a baking sheet at 400 for 10-15 minutes. While it’s roasting, I brown butter in a pan and add fresh sage. I toss the cauliflower in the butter and add pasta and bits of ham. It’s a great quick summer dish. If you puree the finished product (sans ham) you have a lovely substitute for mashed potatoes.

This is from John’s stepmother Betty:

Hardy, I don’t really have a recipe! I just go with the flow, so to speak.
I make a roux of melted butter and flour, guess-te-mating the amounts
!! Then I add milk until I get it to a pouring consistency, or what
looks like a cheese sauce. If it’s a little too stiff, I add some
water!! Then I use good old fashioned sliced cheddar cheese from
Publix, nothing fancy. I tear it into small pieces and add to the
sauce, stirring all the time. Again if it gets a little too thick, I
just add some hot water. Nothing fancy, but John senior seems to
enjoy it. I sometimes add a little nutmeg, but he isn’t too keen on
that! Sorry I can’t be more specific, I just make it until I think it is ok,
and pour it over steamed cauliflower florets!!

“Betty steamed the whole head of cauliflower when she cooked it for us
and then poured the sauce over the whole head. It was beautiful AND
delicious.” ~ Hardy
” We Loved our cauliflower. I roasted it with the baby beets and mixed
in the greens at the end. Yummy! ” ~Patricia

Variety in the garden keeps it interesting in the kitchen

I love fresh, healthy, and flavorful food.  I love growing it, sharing it,  talking about it and especially eating it.  A couple of our farm families inspired me to make a homemade garlic and greens pizza this week.  Joanne mentioned that her family loves arugula on pizza, and Darlyne made a delicious pizza for book group that included spinach from our garden.  I kept is simple with olive oil rubbed on the crust, a mix of freshly harvested and chopped greens and garlic, and mozzarella topping it off.  Yummy!

We have also been enjoying a variety of salad greens.  I love the romaine with a light citrus vinaigrette that enhances the greens.  Olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a hint of ground pepper and sea salt.

Tomorrow I plan to braise and saute pak choi to accompany our crab cakes and make a slaw with kohlrabi, apples and spring onions.

We are growing over 100 varieties of various vegetables so there are plenty of flavors to tempt the taste buds.    Feel free to share some of your favorite ways to enjoy fresh garden vegetables.

Bon Appetit!

p.s. A few links to fun sites to find recipes if you need them:


Congrats to Addison Farms Vineyard! Cheers to Coming Home…

Jeff and Diane of Addison Farms Vineyard have recently bottled their first Cabernet Sauvignon from their own vineyard, and it will be available very soon.  It is aptly named Coming Home.  We were fortunate to have a preview tasting today, and this Cabernet was wonderfully distinct with the subtle aromas and flavors of our rich terroir. I love it! This small batch production will go quickly; don’t miss out.

Close your eyes, breathe deeply and savor the taste and aromas of home.

For those of you who really want a true terroir wine experience, head on out to volunteer and help Jeff and Diane plant the new grapes on the last weekend in April. You will learn a lot, have fun, and make new friends. Contact Jeff to volunteer.

Leaves are falling and the fire is crackling…

I love to work outside on a crisp fall day.  My brother, Brian, helped me haul mulch, which the chickens did a fabulous job of spreading, stack wood, compost leaves and mow the yard.  The onions are weeded and the garlic is planted and mulched. We are still harvesting yummy sweet red peppers, which I used to make a quiche for dinner with fresh eggs from the hens.  The honey bees are still enjoying the nasturtium in the garden and the wild asters and goldenrod.  Tillie, Glenn and I are curled up by the fire enjoying this lovely fall evening.  Sweet Dreams…