A Taste of Apples

Did you know there are more than 4,000 varieties of apples and if you plant an apple seed directly in the ground, you won’t know what kind of an apple it will produce? Most trees are grafted onto existing root stock so that the apple variety will be faithfully reproduced. You could just plant a seed – to see what might happen – and if you enjoy the apple it produces, you might be able to name the variety yourself!dscn1298

Apple Cider and the resulting Apple Brandy are much the same way. You can use a single apple or mix different types of apples together, juice them, filter out the sediment, and either pitch yeast or just let it ferment naturally. Soon you will have a robust cider.dscn1301

In the early days of our country, cider was king. Wineries and breweries did not exist outside of cities, along the frontier, so everyone planted apple seeds to provide food for livestock and their families. Pressing the juice was just part of being sustainable, and the best way to preserve it was to let it ferment and then store the low-alcohol cider in jugs in root cellars for cold winter days.

Apple brandy came about when the water in the cider froze, leaving the alcohol to be poured off — a very simple process that is still used today by local folks. However, to get the full benefit, many moonshiners would take that cider and run it through their stills to produce a heart-warming Apple Brandy.

dscn1300

for a North Carolina apple brandy try Fair Game Apple Brandy. Made from WNC apples, it is perfect for the holidays. So, next time you bite into an apple and spit out a seed, think of all the uses that come from the humble apple seed.

 

Saving Seeds

Whenever I see birds in the winter flocking between trees, eating the berries from pine cones, poplars and elms, I think of seeds, especially saving seeds from my garden for spring planting. Each year my list grows and I am amazed what can be saved and what I failed to save. This year I have wild leeks, dill, radish, spinach, onion, okra, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, hollyhocks, and many more.bean-celebration-flyer

 

What’s the point you may ask? Simply go to the store in spring! I recent years I’ve noticed that seed stores are vanishing and when I order from seed catalogues the seed count is dismally small.  If I planted everything with tweezers and all seeds survived, I might be ok but …!

 

Besides, I’m trying to save the biodiversity of food bearing plants and flowers that are adapted to my environment and the microclimate I live in. This allows me to plant early in the spring in my windowsill or greenhouse so I can set out healthy mature seedlings at the first opportunity and if they freeze, I will have extra’s to plant again. It also gives me a lot of pride in that I have a dozen or more varieties of tomatoes, some named for friends or places they came from. I guess it is a type of self-sufficiency or sustainability – or maybe I just like looking at my seeds in the refrigerator during the winter and imaging what the garden will look like in spring.

Cookbooks

Do you collect cookbooks? I certainly do and read them just like detective mysteries! It is not just the recipes; it is the cooking hints, author’s experience, the cooking lore and the historical context of the publication. Many times, I stop by yard sales, thrift stores and book sales at local libraries. Other times I shop cookbook magazines or bookstores. My best finds are those that often come to me through friends and fellow foodies. I have recently acquired several cookbooks and would like to introduce you to these authors.lost-art-of-pies-cover-128x200

 

I just received an email about a new cookbook that includes the Western North Carolina Farmers Market.  The cookbook is by (www.southernliving.com/) Southern Living and is entitled “Farmers Market Cookbook: Harvesting a Fresh Look at Local Flavor” (available March 16, 2010) It is all about local fresh ingredients available at farmers markets throughout the south. We are very fortunate here in Asheville to have a great selection of winter markets, farm stores and natural food markets.

 

One book I recently purchased is (www. lenoresnatural.com/) “Sublime Soups, vegetarian soups and quick breads” by local author Lenore Baum. Lenore brought several copies to our last Slow Food “soup event” and donated a share of the proceeds to our education fund. We shared many great soups that night and the leftovers were packaged and donated to local homeless shelters. With all the snow and ice, this cookbook is one I am reading and cooking from this winter.

 

Was your power off in the last snowstorm? Did you wish for a wood cook stove? You need to know about the books available from Barbara Swell of () Native Ground Books and Music, here in Asheville. Barbara has researched and published ten cookbooks with recipes dating from the 18th century to the 1950’s. These wonderfully illustrated books tout the uniqueness of “Early American Cookery” or “The Lost Art of Pie Making” with tips for using wood cook stoves and old-fashioned recipes and folklore.

 

Whatever the season or reason, we have a wealth of great cooks, wonderful markets, dedicated farmers and many cookbooks by local authors. Head to your local bookstore or check out the mentioned websites and support this vibrant community!

Does Size Matter?

I had bought the first bottle of wine, a good red cab and had just shared it with a friend. When you go to a winery, you use their glasses and while I prefer a glass with a large bottom and smaller mouth, you have to accept their choice. It was a nice small stemmed glass withbottles their logo. I did not think it important as to how many glasses we each had, the wine was good and the conversation with a dear friend was great. The sun was going down, the bottle was empty much too soon, and not feeling like we wanted to leave just yet, we decided to try a different wine. I always enjoy reading the labels so when the bottle appeared on our table I read about the wine, the winery and of course those government warnings! I then commented about how tall the bottle seemed and how elegant it looked. Or did it?

 

Looking back at the label, I realized that the bottle was 500ml, not the standard 750 ml I was use to! What is this! It was then that I looked around and discovered that all the bottles at the other tables were the same size. I then looked at the prices for the wine – they were what I would expect for a standard bottle. What a shock! I have since noticed several wineries using the 500 ml bottles and while it might be a way for them to increase profitability (or get more bottles from a small production), I know I might tend to shy away from these wines, because one bottle should have been enough, and size does matter to me.

Taste of Spring

MountainFirePressKit(lr)_imSpring is in the air. Can you taste it? It really hit home when I started tilling a row or two of a small garden I share with a friend. Left over from the fall garden, I found quite a few spring onions that I had missed from last year’s harvest. They had multiplied in number for each one I had failed to pick. They were fresh green and pungent – like spring. I had also just harvested several beautiful heads of butter crunch lettuce from my greenhouse. The onions and lettuce, along with a few fresh radishes, and I had the makings of a fresh spring garden salad. But the dressing – what to do. Looking in the herb bed I spotted a renewed clump of fresh chives – of course a buttermilk chive dressing – one of my favorites! Yum – Dinner!

I’m lucky to live in the country and have many resources available locally. However I don’t always have the time or energy to do this every year. This year I am doing things a little different. I am buying a share of a CSA – a Community Supported Agriculture farm’s crop. That is right – along with 20 other families, I am buying a share of what a local farmer produces on his farm.

Each week starting in May, right on through October, I pick up a box of fresh, locally grown produce! Salad greens of all types, onions, radishes, edible pea pods, broccoli, and herbs in the early spring. In the summer months, fresh corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, chard, peppers and squash. Then in the fall, carrots, cabbage, pumpkins, onions, spinach and whatever else is still growing! This is a great deal of fresh local food for such a small investment.

A CSA is a way for a farmer to pre-sell his crop to a limited number of customers. The farmer gets the money for planting and harvesting up front and the customer is guaranteed an equal share of whatever is grown. This type of agriculture has been going on for years. In a good year, everyone receives the bounty and in a not-so-good year, the customer may receive less but the farmer is still able to pay farm expenses, taxes, mortgage, and “keep the farm” going for another year. I am buying a one-half CSA share this year to supplement my small garden, at a very reasonable price of $300. Six months or 20 weeks of farm fresh food for less than $15 a week.

We all need to invest in our local farms – and keep our farmers on the land, working for our community. Supermarkets are fine – but just imagine another “dust bowl” or major flooding out west and the impact on the price and selection of food. Imagine as fuel prices continue to increase – how that will affect the price of your food. Besides, we want to keep our hard-earned money in our community and support our neighbors and friends while preserving farmlands for both food production and recreation.

It is not too late to sign up for a CSA program. We have over 20 local farms offering CSA shares. Here is a link to help you find a local CSA (www.buyappalachian.org/filter/detail/csa) Remember, sign up today, and in May, you too will be saving the environment, supporting a local farm, and tasting the joyful bounty of spring.

 

Snout to Tail

Can you eat a whole animal? Certainly, you can eat most parts of a fish. Crispy fish skins, fish cheeks, crispy fin and tail, fish roe, and fish stew. How about most of the parts of a hog?

Braised Shoulder

Well, that is exactly what we did on one Sunday night at the Admiral Restaurant. The Admiral is a funky place that has garnered a well-deserved reputation for excellent food. I have spoken with many visiting chefs who come to Asheville, and when I ask them where they ate while in town, they will reply “At the Admiral.”

 

It was at this special wine dinner called “Snout to Tail” that folks had the opportunity to eat the whole hog. This was a brilliant offering by the Admiral Restaurant, Asheville Vintners, Haw River Wines and Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Jamie and Amy Ager from the Hickory Nut Gap Farm were on hand to witness the gusto with which their product was appreciated. Their hog was a 240-pound beauty that the chefs butchered and cured in the week prior to the dinner.

Carnitas

It was great to see old friends and new faces, and to make new friends. As you know, Asheville is such a small world! Turning to the person at the next table, I asked him where he was from and he replied Chicago. Then I asked, “Do you know Mark Lindsay?” and he replied, “Yes, he’s one of my dearest friends!” Mark lived in Asheville for several years and is now a wine distributor in Chicago. Of all the people in Chicago, I would run into one of his dear friends here in Asheville.

Corned Belly

The service staff was wonderful and kept our glasses anchored with fresh libations, prior to serving each course. Sitting down at the table, we were greeted with a bowl of freshly-fried pork skins called “Chicharrones.” These are not like the salty aberrations that you usually find in bags at the corner market. These were fresh, crunchy, and made a great entry into the meal. They were served with a Prosecco wine. If you have not enjoyed Italian Prosecco in place of champagne, you should give it a try this holiday season. This was quickly followed by a “Pork Foam drink,” almost like a bloody Mary without the blood or the Mary.

Pork and 64 degree egg

Even though the Admiral has such a small kitchen, it was amazing to see five or six people cooking with ease. They had quickly plated the first course for the crowd of 60 or so people. This course consisted of Toulouse Sausage, Head Cheese (yes, it is a pâté made from parts of the head), and garnishes of chopped fennel pickles, and mustard. The head sausage was like a country pâté and the sausages were very delicious.

Sausage

As we moved into the meal, we were served a Sancerre, a Pinot Nero, a Gewurztraminer, and finally a wine made from grapes that had been dried into raisins before making the wine, called a Corte Majoli Amarone della Valpolicella. The dishes served with these wines were Grilled Pork Loin, and Carnitas in a Pozole Sauce. All of these dishes were great but the next two dishes were really outstanding.

 

The Corned Belly was presented with an incredible Kraut, with Caraway Cream and Rye Bread Croutons. The Corned Belly was actually the lean meat from the stomach. That was followed by a Braised Shoulder, and Gnocch with San Marzano Tomato, Basil, and Pecorino cheese. I must say that of all the wines served, the Brunello di Montalcino was a truly fine wine and left me wanting more, even at the end of the meal.

 

Finally getting down to one of the Admiral’s trademarks, we were served a Chocolate Candy Bar with Candied Bacon, and a Bacon Crème Anglaise. The Admiral had presented this at the WNC Chefs Challenge and it was one of the highest scoring dishes. It thrilled everyone!

Candy Bar

At the end, a spontaneous cheer arose from the audience. Everyone raised their glasses and saluted the chefs and staff, who made this a most memorable evening. While we may not have consumed all of the parts of the pig, we certainly took a trip from the snout to the tail, and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it!

 

So when you hear of a wine dinner, and particularly when it’s prepared by outstanding chefs using sustainable, local foods from unique WNC farms, check it out. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

 

 

Admiral Restaurant (http://theadmiralnc.com

Vintners (www.appalachianvintner.com)

Haw River Wines (www.hawriverwineman.com)

Hickory Nut Gap Farm (www.hickorynutgapfarm.com)

Chicharrones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicharrones)

Prosecco wine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecco)

Pork Foam (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/9361682)

Carnitas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnitas)

Pozole Sauce (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pozol%C3%A9)

Gnocchi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnocchi)

San Marzano Tomato (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Marzano_tomato)

Pecorino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecorino)

Brunello di Montalcino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brunello_di_Montalcino)

Cardinal Gin – Southern Artisan Spirits

stillEver been to Kings Mountain, just south of Shelby, North Carolina. While Kings Mountain is known for its Revolutionary War Battlefield Memorial, it is also the location of an emerging industry in North Carolina. I visitedSouthern Artisan Spirits, a producer of North Carolina’s first legal gin since Prohibition, which began in 1919 and ended in 1933.

I came across this new gin while visiting my local ABC store. I’m always looking for new distilleries in our state and this one caught me by surprise. For the last several years, whenever I visit a new ABC store, I ask them to initiate a North Carolina spirits display section. The new ABC store in the town of Woodfin just put together such a collection to showcase NC spirits. Southern Artisan’s product is called Cardinal American Dry Gin and is packaged in a classy bottle with a cork top.

I located the Southern Artisan website and immediately wrote the owners an e-mail telling them how much I enjoyed their product. After receiving a quick reply from Alex Mauney, one of the owners, we started exchanging e-mails and then phone calls about how they got into the gin business. Alex is a bread aficionado and, like me, built his own wood-fired bread oven based upon the principles of Alan Scott. Also like me, Alex developed an interest in “all things yeast.” I really had to see their operation!

Upon arriving in Kings Mountain, I was directed to a light industrial section of the city and an old textile mill that had been in Alex’s family for many years. The mill closed 10 years ago and the Mauney family had been considering other uses for the building. Alex and his brother, Charlie, along with their father, Jim, had decided to look into the new trend of developing artisan products. Alex is in the construction business and is also the head distiller. Charlie was a poly-sci major in college, but decided to take a sabbatical to assist in the two-year struggle for approval of their new enterprise from both the Federal government (ATF – Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and the newly-crafted requirements of the North Carolina Bureau of ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement). Charlie said it took a lot of paperwork, a lot of talking with fellow distillers, and a lot of helping local and state officials to understand what they were trying to accomplish.

Upon entering the building, I expected to see a room full of large copper kettles, mash tuns, wooden barrels, and something resembling a chemist’s laboratory. I was surprised at the sparseness of equipment and how well lit the large space was. Sitting in the middle of room was a beautiful copper kettle, a 100-gallon “Pot Still” production kettle that seemed more a work of art or museum piece than an actual manufacturing still. Alex said that this still was purchased in Portugal, and was used to experiment with fruit brandies and other product lines that they hope to bring out in the near future. Alex explained that copper is a porous metal and tends to retain the taste of the previous distillation batch, and therefore it was not used for their gin production.

Directing me away from this beautiful piece of equipment, Alex pointed to several large vats of clear liquid. He explained that this was a new type of distillation system, using stainless steel vats with an induction heater to bring the alcohol to an exact temperature, in a very controlled process. He then showed me the bottling process, which currently runs at about 100 bottles per hour. They produced about 5,000 cases in 2010 and hope to increase their production soon. In order to get their product into ABC Stores in the state of North Carolina, all alcohol must be shipped to the Central Receiving Office in Raleigh. We talked about the irony that State trucks deliver cases of alcohol to the local ABC stores in the Shelby area and return to Raleigh empty. Alex asked if they could ship their cases down to the Raleigh warehouse via these trucks, but that is not allowed due to regulations. Therefore, they have to arrange for private carriers to ship to the same warehouse in Raleigh!

Getting down to the business at hand, Alex started telling me about the process of developing their gin. They have an extensive group of friends in WNC and spent a lot of time soliciting ideas and testing new recipes. He started by researching the historical production of gin and recipes from the 1700s forward. They spent over two years developing their formula and have done such a good job that the gin recently won a Silver Medal at the International Spirits competition in New York.

He also learned that there are many styles of gin, and the style he was most interested in is called the “Western style.” When I first tasted the gin, I found it to be different from Tanqueray and Gordon, but similar to other Western-style gins such as Hendricks. The Western style is much smoother and allows the botanicals to flavor the gin and give it a more pronounced taste. The Western style also does away with the predominant taste of juniper berries and replaces it with the subtlety of other organics. While the Mauneys insist on purchasing ingredients that are natural and organic, many of those ingredients come from other countries and some are wild harvested. They are searching for growers in North Carolina who can supply many of their botanicals.

Once the 11 botanicals (coriander, spearmint, cloves, Grains of Paradise, and more) are added to the alcohol and allowed to steep or infuse over a period of time, the gin actually turns green. It is distilled once more to produce a clear and richly-flavored product that is then bottled. To find out more about the types of botanicals in Cardinal Gin, you really need to read the excellent article written by Mackensy Lunsford in the December 22-28 issue of Mountain Xpress.

Alex has a large collection of hydrometers, which are used with many different forms of spirits to measure specific gravity of the liquid and determine the alcohol content or proof of the alcohol. It is very important to certify the specific gravity of the product and to be able to balance the different gravities to reach the appropriate alcohol content. Cardinal Gin is 42% alcohol by volume, or 84 proof.

In talking about the bottle itself, Alex explained that the design was done by a local artist who used our state bird, the Cardinal, hence the name of the gin. The drawing is in a tribal style, similar to what you would find in tattooing, and the mirrored image of the Cardinal represents the fact that the Mauney brothers are twins.

Alex’s father, Jim, said that they were seeking to produce a gin that complemented tonic water with a fresh-cut lime. I think they have certainly achieved their goal! If you are downtown Asheville, stop in at Posana Café and ask the barkeep to mix Cardinal Gin with one of their organic mixes. Posana also makes its own ginger ale, which goes very well with Cardinal. Southern Artisan Spirits is researching a new provision in the North Carolina law that permits “tastings” at the distillery. When they are certified, you really need to plan a trip to Kings Mountain and check out Southern Artisan Spirits. In the meantime, visit your local ABC Store and ask for Cardinal Gin. We need to support them and other NC distilleries, and to celebrate their spirit of entrepreneurship.

Southern Artisan Spirits http://southernartisanspirits.com

Alan Scott (http://sourdough.com/interview-alan-scott)

Posana Café www.posanacafe.com

Mountain Xpress http://www.mountainx.com/dining/2010/122210thats-the-spirit

Grains of Paradise http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/grains-of-paradise

Bloody Butcher Corn

cornA friend phoned me many months ago and asked, “Have you ever heard of Bloody Butcher Corn?” I had not, but I had a pretty good idea why he was asking. Many of our conversations centered on the ancient art of mountain moonshine.

At a late-night gathering of friends several weeks later, our conversation returned to the topic of Bloody Butcher Corn. “Wait,” he said, and a few minutes later he brought out a pint jar of clear liquid. “This is made from Bloody Butcher Corn and lightly flavored with herbs.” The pint jar quietly made its rounds and everyone agreed that this was the real thing. It was so smooth going down! Now I really wanted to know more about the Bloody Butcher Corn.

In researching Bloody Butcher Corn, I discovered that it has a rich history. It’s a blood-red corn originating in the 1800s by mixing Native American corn with the white settlers’ seed. You often see it decorating the front doors of mountain homes when the air turns crisp, and being used in culinary dishes by some of the world’s renowned chefs.

Armed with this knowledge, my next task was to find a local source for this corn, to taste it, and then to grow some. As a heritage plant, it should be fairly disease- and pest-resistant, and it should respond well to the local climate. Everywhere I looked, not a seed could be found! Then, late one night while reading the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) Listserv, I saw a small advertisement for Bloody Butcher Cornmeal. Well, let’s follow up with this and see where it leads. This was how I was introduced to Yancey Fox Farms near Burnsville.

Yancey Fox Farms is a working farm that grows many products, such as heirloom corns including the Bloody Butcher Corn. Most of what they grow is for seed, bulk sales, and for fresh-ground cornmeal. Farm owner Susan Fox said, “We are seed savers and have a seed dealer’s license. We use the seeds we save, and also sell seeds we have in excess. We are native to these mountains, so we are all about keeping our heritage alive and doing things the old way. We even take the husks from the Bloody Butcher Corn and make faceless corn husk dolls.”

Susan and husband Alan have always farmed to some degree, as did their families. They are an Animal Welfare Approved goat dairy farm, sell “Animal Feed” milk and have a “Goats on the Go” rental service. They make homemade goat milk soap, Farm Fresh Flower Essence Jellies from edible flowers, and traditional berry/fruit jams. You can also buy blackberries, red and black raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, mulberries, and apples. They grow lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, radishes, carrots, peas, beans, corn, heirloom tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, turnips, sorghum, luffa gourds, and herbs, just to name a few!

Alan, a taxidermist, also makes Native American style drums from bushel gourds and brain-tanned deer hides. He also makes knives, as well as traditional tear-shaped dream catchers of grapevine and Bladed Kyanite stones that they hand-mine on the farm. Their produce and crafts are certified “Appalachian Grown” and listed with HandMade In America, NCFresh, NC Agritourism, and YanceyGrown. You can find Susan and Alan’s products at restaurants, farmers’ markets, at the farm, and online at www.localharvest.org.

I was disappointed to learn that they had sold out of all the Bloody Butcher Corn and cornmeal for this year but they promise to plant a lot more in 2011. It seems that this corn has come into such demand recently that it is difficult to find, and we will have to wait until summer to try it. I know several people who plan to grow this corn. Let’s hope it is a bountiful year and, as the old mountain saying goes, “…so much corn that I had to pack it out of the mountains in mason jars.”

yanceyfoxfarms@frontier.com

www.localharvest.org

http://www.wvfarm2u.org/culture/folklife/bloodybutcher.aspx

www.asapconnections.org

What’s the Buzz About?

 

I find our Western North Carolina foodshed diversity exciting. It is not just the food, or the wine, or the distilleries, but all of these together.

Now we have local Honey Wine, also known as Mead. Honey, a gift from our bees, is unfortunately a dwindling natural resource and I’m just discovering how wonderful and diverse Honey Wines can be. Mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages in the world, and in Marshall we have a producer who is purchasing local honey (mostly from Woodfin) and producing a quality product that is available for sale in nearby stores.

I’ve been to Fox Hill Meadery and our host/owner, Jason Russ, was very generous with his expertise and his meads. This was a tasting arranged by the French Broad Vignerons to explore the process of making wine with honey. I drove to Marshall on a recent evening, crossed the island bridge, and then cautiously wandered on winding and twisting roads to find Fox Hill Meadery. For two years, I’ve been hoping to make just such a visit. They have a tasting room, but it is by appointment only. I’m impressed both by the size of their production (about 1,000 cases a year) and their dedication to their product.

We tasted six meads, light to dark, with different flavors and different attributes. Many of Jason’s meads are lightly oaked and aged for six months or longer prior to bottling. These meads may be stored for many years, to continue aging. All were most enjoyable, but let me try and tell you about what I tasted.

The first was a Blackberry Honey Wine available for $16. The dryness of the blackberries blended well with this mead. There are many meads that lend themselves to fruits. Following that we sampled a Ginger-Apricot Honey Wine, which was 12% alcohol. The aroma of ginger along with the full-body taste of ginger was breathtaking. Folks who love ginger will make sure to have this wine in their cellars.

Traditional Mead Honey Wine was golden in color, alcohol about 13% and, while sweet, not overpowering. The Apple Honey wine was a Semi-Sweet Traditional Mead with a spark of spices. It allowed the apple fruit flavor to come forth and I found it a bit drier than the Traditional Mead. To honor the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we tasted a Spiced Mead bursting with the holiday flavors of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Warm this up slightly and serve with any holiday dinner!

What really got my attention was the Special Reserve Mead. A 16% alcohol (that didn’t hurt!) made with buckwheat honey and aged the longest of his wines with oak. It was a beautiful dark amber color and, when opened, it had the smell of a fresh farmyard. I bought two bottles of this to enjoy and share on a cold winter day.

But wait, did I tell you this was a meeting of a wine-making group? Someone also brought a Serviceberry wine, almost like cherry without the cherry flavor. It will make a great dessert wine and these berries are free for the picking, as they are plentiful in our mountains. Someone also brought a Petit Verdot. Although young at only two months, it should finish at six months as dry and full of flavor. This grape has been found to produce well in the “new world” and make some surprising wines, especially if you enjoy tannins in your wine.

Fox Hill Meadery’s tasting room is open by appointment and their wines may be purchased there or at most wine stores in Asheville, Maggie B’s in Weaverville, and Good Stuff in Marshall. To make a tasting room appointment or to place orders, go to www.foxhillmead.com or call 828-683-3387.

What I found out this evening is that there are hundreds of different Meads out there waiting for us, and we have to look no further than our own back yard to experience some of the best. So, get a group together, call Fox Hill Meadery, and prepare to spend an enjoyable time learning about meads and enjoying the sweet “Taste of WNC.”

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead

http://jeweloftheblueridge.com/JeweloftheBlueRidgeVineyard.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petit_Verdot

http://www.foxhillmead.com/

http://goodstuffgrocery.com/

Chill Out: A guide to making the ultimate seasonal treat

Do you remember the expression “to make hay while the sun shines?” Well, with all this recent snow, I’m reminded of my youth and making Snow Cream whenever the clouds allowed. As I grew up, we were warned to only use the snow for snowmen and snowflAKEsnowballs due to the pollution and nuclear tests effecting the atmosphere. But recently, with back-to-back snows and large accumulations, I think it is time to eat snow again! Here’s how to do it.

I prefer a fluffy dry snow to the wet heavy snow (too many ice crystals) but any snow will do. Be sure to scoop the snow from a safe place, like the top of your car or from a clean trusted surface. Ask yourself, “If I dropped a piece of toast on this thing, would I still pick it up and eat it?”

Take a large mixing bowl and place in it 2 or more cups of either milk, half-an-half, whipping cream or a mixture of any of these. Then add sugar, and stir until the sugar is totally dissolved and tastes just as sweet as you like it. Add a pinch of salt and as much vanilla extract as it suites your taste buds. Here comes the fun part: add snow gradually while stirring until the right consistency (or it just feels like ice cream) has been reached. For those of you with a dairy allergy, think “snow cones” and use your favorite fruit juices to mix into the snow and serve.

Pass around bowls and spoons and sit by the fire and just chill out! With enough of the right ingredients I think we can eat our way right into spring.