What is a bunch?


The recipe called for a bunch of parsley. What exactly is a bunch? Did you know that until the 20th century most cookbooks did not list “standard” measurements such as cup, tablespoon or ounces! It seems that many of the “old” measurement terms still abound in our lexicon of cooking terminology.

I am consciously trying not to be swayed by measurements when cooking but to understand the relationship between the ingredients. Many of my recipes copied onto my note cards simply contain the suggested ingredients and notes about appropriate temperature and timing. For your see, the great cooks, those who invented the recipes are those who cook by feel and intuition – just as our great grandmothers did!

Let us think about the terms, pinch, dash, jigger and bunch. I always enjoy looking at my Food Lovers Companion (by Sharon Tyler Herbst) and consider it one of the best kitchen guides available.

They define a pinch as about 1/16 teaspoon or less. I bet that if you took a pinch of salt and measured it you would be very close. A dash usually refers to liquid measurements – a few drops – but we also talk about a dash of pepper or other seasoning. For me a dash is a little more than a pinch about 1/8 teaspoon. Now a jigger (or a pony) is about three tablespoons, about 1 1/2 ounce of a liquid. What you hope the bar tender is really putting into your mixed drink glass even though it does not look like it!

Finally, what is a bunch? A bunch is really, whatever you decide it is to be! You see, the taste of the food is up to you and you are responsible for the outcome. Let your intuition take over, taste the recipe in your mind, look at that parsley, cilantro, or spinach, and go for it. After all, you are the cook and the only way to learn about the interactions of ingredients is to take a jigger of confidence, a pinch of knowledge and a dash of inspiration as you prepare food for that next bunch of folks!

Taste of Our Carolina Foothills

It is Sunday and liquid sunshine is misting over the many canopies where eager foodies are gathered to enjoy the samples of pleasure at the Taste of Our Carolina Foothills wine and food festival20150927_140532

The location, Overmountain Vineyards in Tryon is a beautiful vineyard with terraces and special group seating for the nearly 400 people attending this event. The event is a fundraiser for the Our Carolina Foothills public relations campaign to create awareness about and promote tourism in Landrum, Tryon, Saluda and Columbus. [Read more…]

7th Asheville Wine & Food Festival

Our Festival brought together a vibrant culinary community, attracting 5000 attendees over the celebratory week!


August 28, 2015 – The seventh annual Asheville Wine & Food Festival, presented by sponsor Asheville Color Imaging, was held August 20-22 in downtown Asheville. The festival attracted 5,000 wine and food aficionados to three days of signature events: ELIXIR, NC’s largest distillery showcase and craft cocktail competition; SWEET, a feast of desserts, wines, and spirits; and the GRAND TASTING, featuring farm-to-table restaurants, artisan food producers, bakers, chocolatiers, craft brewers and distilleries, and winemakers who turned out to cook, pour, demonstrate, and serve their love to eager attendees. The festival, one of the largest indoor culinary festivals in the southeast, is a testament to the region’s growing food scene. [Read more…]

The Community’s Kitchen in Tryon NC

When a community of farmers, food producers, and volunteers get together it is usually to plan for a service or to celebrate the opening of a much needed service. On Sunday, July 12, Polk County’s first mission-driven Incubator and Teaching Kitchen “The Community’s Kitchen” opened in Tryon NC. Polk Community Kitchen1

This facility has been a long time coming with many farmers, educators, business organizations, civic and church groups partnering to “provide an accessible space for local entrepreneurs, farmers, community members and organizations to process high-quality food products in a diverse and collaborative learning environment and then offer them an on-site marketplace.”

Carol Lynn Jackson, the founding board leader for Slow Food Asheville Foothills Community and owner of Manna Cabanna Market had a vision of providing sustainable healthy food access by leveraging Polk’s County’s capacity within its thriving local food community.

Polk Community Room2In addition to a processing kitchen, the offer a community room that can be rented for educational events, civic meetings, music, and private events.

Many of the attendees at the kick-off event on Sunday, announced that they had signed up and pledged to eat totally local for a week each, writing about their experience, the farms that the food was purchased from, and the accessibility of local healthy food. Read about their experiences at (https://www.facebook.com/polkcountyfarms)

If you are in the Tryon area, stop by this facility at 835 N Trade St, Tryon NC 28782 and support their efforts. As an L3C organization they welcome investment from foundations, businesses, and individual investors who can receive a tax advantage.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Quote by Margaret Mead

Polk Community Kitchen-drawing

Blue Ridge Tiny Homes, Gifting the Dream & Gardens

May 30 & 31, 2015 – what a weekend we had in Barnardsville. Over 400 families attended the Open House for

Blue Ridge Tiny Homes and their most beautiful tiny home just finished and ready for ownership. They lounged in the grand room, shared stories with their children in the loft bedroom, or dreamed out loud about the meals they would cook and share with families and friends. The dynamic conversations were about not just the home, but the lifestyle, and future that will embrace all generations and ages. Retirees, those want to be retired, downsizers, young families, and those wanting to start their first family, were all excited to see how much choice they had and how little was missing from what they already had in their homes.

It is a conscious choice to retain the useful and source out those items, hobbies, habits that clutter our life. What does this leave room for? Gardening and the control of our diets, our health, sunshine, fresh air, a walk on newly turned earth and the smell of soil and plants crushed underfoot while exploring, while leaving behind most thoughts that distracts us from work or troubles.

Can all this come from owning a Tiny Home? All this from a decision to make a difference and change our world to be a more sustainable, community driven, and shared lifestyle.

I think it is just possible.

Bob must admits that he owns a 1966 Airstream (26‘) and finds it a lovely place to be. Wait to you see the inside pictures. So many visitors even I did not get a chance to photograph the spectacular and fully furnished inside!


See Blue Ridge Tiny Homes www.blueridgetinyhomes.com




A Culinary Circus of Drink, Music, Competitions & Fun in Asheville NC

Culinary artistry and showmanship preselected by chefs and mixologists, intensified by the competition among competitors and emphasizing smaller, more intensely flavored courses. “The amuse-bouche is the best way for a great chef to express his or her big ideas in small bites.”

May 1 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at the MHCC Event Center. Presented by Capital at Play.

Got Tickets?  http://ashevillewineandfood.com/amuse-essence-best-chefs-mixologists-new

Can’t wait?  Sample this signature AMUSE cocktail in anticipation of the upcoming event:


1 oz Absolut Vanilla

3/4 oz Domaine de Canton

1 oz Orange Juice

1/2 oz Roses Lime Juice


Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with a splash of ginger ale.

Lime twist and/or cherry garnish.




This creation is shared with you by Kenny Rieg of Chop House, Downtown Asheville.Chop House Logo

Spring’s Abundance

In the back yard, the bees are brawling.
The scent of the nectar alone has made them tipsy, drunken, even.
From inside I hear their thick black bodies bumping against the window, making me think at first that a hummingbird has thrown itself against the glass.
Outside, the air thrums with their beating wings.
The petals flatten beneath the whir.
Though these flowers must number in the thousands, they hover over this patch of pink and purple, unable to decide.
Whenever one of their compatriots nears, they rush at each other in a huff.
On the porch steps, I hold my breath as one of them darts towards me.
It hangs in the moist air, inches from my face.
“Are you guarding?” I ask it out loud.
But it turns its back to me and dives head first into the fragrant lap of spring’s abundance.

Brawling bees

Written by: Elizabeth Dankoski helping students get into the school of their dreams p:781.724.9138 | e:info@elizabethdankoski.com | w:www.elizabethdankoski.com | a:Scheduler: http://tinyurl.com/owzpdyl

Ramps: A Sustainable Harvest

Ramp season is nearly upon us here in the Appalachian Mountains. These delicious wild leeks are becoming increasingly popular among chefs and home cooks throughout the country, but many people do not know how to properly harvest them. The Appalachian Food Storybank and the Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association have partnered to create a video that shows potential foragers how to sustainably harvest ramps so that the plant will continue to grow in following seasons. We hope that you or your organization will help us promote this video, “Ramps: A Sustainable Harvest,” by sharing it on your website, blog, or social media platforms. If you know of any other parties that might be interested in helping us promote the video, please feel free to forward it to them as well.  The embedded link will take viewers to the Appalachian Food Storybank’s website where they can view the video.


Poached Farm Egg with Ramp & Chevre Grits & Benton’s Country Ham “Cracklins”

Recipe submitted by Chef William Dissen of The MarketPlace

(Yield: 4 servings)


Ramp & Chevre Grits Anson Mills Coarse Yellow Grits                                        1 cup

Water                                                                                 3 ¼ cups

Olive oil                                                                             2 tbsp.

Onion, finely chopped                                                      2 tbsp.

Garlic, minced                                                                   1 tsp.

Heavy Cream                                                                     ¾ cup

Chevre                                                                              4 tbsp.

Franks’s Red Hot Sauce                                                     1 tbsp.

Ramps, bulb trimmed, grilled, roughly chopped                 10 ea.

Salt & Pepper                                                                     to taste

Poached Farm Egg                                                             4 ea. (see recipe)

Benton’s Country Ham “Cracklins”                                    4 tbsp. (see recipe)


  1. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and stir in the onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
  2. Add the water and bring to a rapid boil. Rapidly whisk in the grits and stir continuously until the grits are combined with the water and the grits begin to bubble.
  3. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with plastic wrap. Keep in a warm place for 1 hour.
  4. While the grits are resting, bring a grill to medium high heat. Lightly oil the ramps and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill until they are lightly charred and the bulbs are tender – about 2 minutes. Remove the ramps from the grill and allow to cool. Cut them roughly and reserve to finish the grits.
  5. Unwrap the pot and place over medium heat to heat back through. Stir in the heavy cream, chevre, Frank’s Red Hot. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in the chopped ramps and serve immediately.
  6. To finish, place the grits into a ramekin and place a poached egg on top of the grits. Season the egg with salt & pepper. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of the “cracklins” over the egg. Serve immediately.

What is eaten and why? “Cornbread Nation” with Ronnie Lundy

Appalachian Foodways Course for the UNCA Asheville/OLLIE/College for Seniors, April 1, 2015. What is eaten and why? “Cornbread Nation” with Ronnie Lundy

Ronni Lundy started her session by bringing biscuits and local Sorghum Molasses Syrup. She made a real southern treat, warn sorghum molasses mixed with warm butter. What a wonderful childhood memory. To mix warm sorghum molasses and warm butter into a sticky spread, just for those hot biscuits on a cold morning – yummmmm!

Ronnie Lundy & Bill Best

Ronnie Lundy & Bill Best

Sorghum cane (looks similar to sugar cane but with a big clump of seeds on top) is harvested and crushed in the fall here in the mountains. The syrup is boiled in pots or vats until it thickens. Then it is sealed into canning jars for enjoyment. For some families, other than honey, this was the only sweetener available for pancakes and stack cakes.

Ronni explained the difference between what most people know as molasses and what a lot of mountain folk call molasses or sorghum molasses. Most molasses (blackstrap) are derived from sugar cane or beets. Sorghum is a major grain that originates from Africa. Brought here by slaves, the sorghum plant has a sturdier stalk that yields the green sticky liquid that must be boiled down for hours to achieve thickness and sweetness. Sorghum molasses is a product unique to the Appalachians.

Ronni talked about the dual cultures of Appalachia (rural & cities) and her journey from the coal mining mountains to the city. “Everyone in the mountains seems to be connected by kinship or sometimes by hardship.” The rural mountain culture is one of connections and mountain people spend that time “nurturing connections.” Perhaps, that’s why the mountain people tend to know their neighbors much more easily than people in cities. Even death is a nourishing time in Appalachia. Everyone brings food and stories to share around the table.

Ronnie is the author of Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken, a classic fusion of the food and music cultures of our region. https://www.southernfoodways.org/awards/ronni-lundy-2009-lifetime-achievement-award-winner/

“Traditional and Essential Seeds” with Bill Best

Appalachian Foodways Course for the UNCA Asheville/OLLIE/College for Seniors, April 1, 2015. “Traditional and Essential Seeds” by Bill Best.

Bill Best brought a large bag of Heirloom Appalachian Bean Seeds to accompany his talk of flavorful pots of “Beans and Leather Britches!” He spoke of “Traditional and Essential Seeds” and his lifetime of collection, identifying and sharing Appalachian bean seeds. Bill says that our Appalachian Foodshed is one of the most diverse of any county and seed saving preserves that diversity. We are losing much of that Lazy_Wife Greasy Beansbiodiversity as our right to save seed is a disappearing inheritance, thus we are losing much of our food culture heritage.

Bill keeps almost 700 varieties of heirloom bean seeds at the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center, which is at his farm in the Knobs country of Madison County just outside of Berea, Kentucky. Bill says that “Appalachian seeds represent a heritage going all the way back to the Native Americans.” He was recently invited to an Appalachian archeology burial site dig dating back 13,000 years. This was a woman who was buried with bean seeds. Many of those seed types still remain with us in today.

The culture of seed saving is an ancient one. The Native Americans planted beans in a configuration referred to as the three sisters. Beans, corn, and winter squash planted together. The beans will grow up the corn stalk and the squash covers the ground and helps keep down weeds. Bill says to “look for heirloom corn because the heirloom corn has the thicker stalk to support the weight of the vines.”

Bill’s family has been saving seeds for over 150 years and he gathered some of his first seeds in 1973. He started selling heirloom beans at the Lexington Kentucky farmers market and he now sells his seeds in all 50 states.

Bill Best’s new book, Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste is a must read for understanding why commercially grown beans are just a decoration, and not for eating. Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/09/27/2846594/berea-farmer-bill-best-advocates.html#storylink=cpy