Category Archives: Reap & Eat

Apple traditions old and new

Above: photo by Joye Ardyn Durham

by Diane Mooney

Ever since the Scotch-Irish immigrants drove their wagons into western North Carolina, toting their apple seeds and saplings, apples have been woven into the fabric of mountain life. Early settlers ate apples. Their livestock ate apples. They drank cider when good water couldn’t be found and used cider vinegar to preserve food so they could survive the lean winters. Cellared apples provided a taste of freshness in the dark winter months and a promise of spring and apple blossoms.

…while we may no longer choose from hundreds of varieties, small growers preserve heirloom varieties like Arkansas Black, Ginger Gold, Cortland, Hoover and Jonathan.

While apples don’t loom as large in our lives today, they still play a significant role in North Carolina. Our state ranks seventh nationally in apple production with more than two hundred commercial apple operations. While hundreds of varieties once grew all over the mountains, today’s commercial growers focus mainly on Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome and Stayman apples. Sixty percent of these commercially grown apples are sold for juice and applesauce. Others go to supermarkets. And while we may no longer choose from hundreds of varieties, small growers preserve heirloom varieties like Arkansas Black, Ginger Gold, Cortland, Hoover and Jonathan. These fresh-grown apples are abundant at farmers’ markets as well as at roadside stands during the peak apple season of mid-August to October.

Apple traditions old and new
Photo by Halima Flynt from Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders

One of the most famous local vendors is Barber Orchard Fruit Stand in Waynesville, a North Carolina institution since 1932, now owned by Benny Arrington. The fruit stand, open August to Christmas Eve, sells apples along with cider and baked goods. “Apples are a natural crop in the mountain climate,” Arrington says. “The warm days and cool nights give apples an excellent flavor.” He has the distinction of being the only commercial apple grower left in Haywood County. But he’s an apple man through and through. He’s the fourth generation of his family in the apple business. His son Steve is the fifth and Arrington is hoping for a sixth generation to continue the tradition of apple growing.

Another tradition Arrington participates in is the Apple Harvest Festival in downtown Waynesville, celebrated this year on October 15. Now in its 28th year, this event has grown into the region’s premier celebration of all things apple. Apple deliciousness abounds in apple spice kettle corn, apple butter, apple bread and of course, plenteous pecks of apples to bring home. More than 150 booths of unique arts and crafts made in the US offer everything from pottery to jewelry, wood furniture, handcrafted soaps and knitted apple beanies for newborns.

A new tradition taking hold in Asheville is CiderFest NC, now in its third year. This festival, also on October 15, showcases more than 20 hard cider makers from across western North Carolina as well as special guest cideries from out of state. Unplugged local bands and buskers from the Asheville area will serenade festivalgoers as they enjoy a sample of cider or an apple-focused small plate at the chef’s station. For those who want to try their hand at brewing cider, a home cider-making booth, sponsored by Asheville Brewers Supply, will offer cider-making kits and demonstrations.

Appalachian Apple Heritage
Photo by Joye Ardyn Durham

One of the featured cideries at Ciderfest NC, Urban Orchard Cider Company, brings creativity to cider conventions. “Our cider is rooted in tradition,” says Jeff Anderson, marketing and creative director for Urban Orchard, “but we bring a new twist by experimenting with different yeasts, infusions and pairings.” These aren’t your grandpa’s ciders. Sidra Del Diablo is a cider infused with habanero and vanilla for a spicy bite. Sunglasses at Night channels summer with a blend of strawberries and fresh basil. Tainted Love is a semi-sweet raspberry brew. Located in West Asheville across the river from the River Arts District, Urban Orchard ciders are crafted from Hendersonville apples and brewed in their cidery, located beneath the cider bar.

Apple abundance

Barber Orchard Fruit Stand
2855 Old Balsam Rd, Waynesville, NC
Daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Urban Orchard Cider Company
210 Haywood Road, Asheville
urbanorchardcider.com

Apple Harvest Festival
Downtown Waynesville, NC
October 15, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Dr. Frank King, bison meat and health

Pure, wild food sources may hold key to restoring optimal health

Story by Frances Figart | Photos by Joye Ardyn Durham

 

“A powerful female spiritual entity taught the Native Americans about a time of hardship coming in the future. As a sign, she would return then as a white buffalo. Native peoples awaited her return as the time of harmony being restored to all people.” ~White Buffalo Calf Woman legend

As an intrepid medical student in the 1970s, Frank King tried being a vegetarian. For about a year he felt vital, but at the end of five years, his health had become compromised.

Bison Meat and Health
Dr. Frank King

Upon being introduced to bison meat, he immediately felt more vigor. While building his integrative medicine practice, the young doctor recommended his patients replace red meats with bison. Those diagnosed with high cholesterol, headaches, allergies—even hemorrhoids—seemed to respond and even recover on the bison meat.

Impressed, Dr. King set out to raise bison on his family farm on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Constructing special fencing and corrals suited to the bisons’ size and strength, he bought two gold and silver trophy champion males in Denver and 27 females in North Dakota. After raising them for four years, he headed to Asheville to establish his now-renowned natural pharmaceutical company, King Bio, acquired property in the rolling hills of Leicester, and moved his growing herd here in 1989.

“Starting an innovative natural pharmaceutical company had its challenges,” he says. “At times I asked myself, ‘Why am I raising all these animals?’” The farm was expensive, the potential for profit was questionable and it was incredibly hard work.

Return of the buffalo

King was considering selling the farm and his herds when a Native American friend shared with him an ancient Sioux prophecy that changed his mind.

More than 1,000 years ago by our marking of time, a beautiful young woman dressed in white appeared to the Oceti Sakowin tribe (also known as the Lakota) and told them about a time of great trouble coming upon the earth many generations hence. She taught them ceremonies and songs to help avert it. When those times arrived, as a sign, she said she would return as a white buffalo. After four days of teaching, she rolled in the dirt and turned into first a white buffalo, then black, yellow, and red. Native peoples awaited the birth of a white buffalo, believing it would herald a time when all colors of people from all corners of the earth would be restored to harmony.

“I was immediately awestruck. The lightning bolt hit and I said, ‘I need to do this!’” King recalls. “From that point on, it has been my mission, my conviction, to do all I can to bring the bison back to their full genetic potential and allow for the conditions that support the return of the white buffalo.”

The deep roots of bison

Looking out across the 160 acres of King’s Leicester farm, it’s easy to envision a time when there were
60 million bison—more than any single species of hoof stock ever.

“They were so plentiful they interfered with development of the country,” King says. “Because of this and because the white man knew that the buffalo gave much support and strength to the native Americans we were fighting, we killed the buffalo, taking away the native food source.”

The eastern bison, now extinct, ranged from Maine to Florida and were most heavily concentrated in the Carolinas. The bison King has bred—which graze on non-GMO grasses and can grow up to 3,000 pounds—are a cross between the American plains and Canadian woods bison indigenous to this continent.

“From that point on, it has been my mission, my conviction, to do all I can to bring the bison back to their full genetic potential and allow for the conditions that support the return of the white buffalo.”

While other champions such as Ted Turner have made more epic strides toward saving the buffalo, King says the mission for his farms (he now has multiple properties) is to keep us connected to foods that are untainted by generations of hybridization—bison, elk, deer and even muscadine grapes. These foods reconnect us to prehistoric genetics, creating a missing link that King believes can restore harmony in our own bodies—and possibly on the planet, as foretold by the legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman long ago.

“Like dinosaurs, bison carry with them the wild qualities that humans have not messed with genetically,” says King. “These are animals that have survived the ice age. Their deeply rooted, pure genetics can help realign our own optimal health.”

Bison Meat and Health

This ancient genetic makeup is shared by other exotic inhabitants of the farms: the Himalayan yak, another source of nutritious meat and, here for their milk, the camel and African Watusi, whose horns can be 12 feet wide.

“Learning the Native American legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman motivated me to help restore the health of people and the planet through these magnificent creatures with roots back to prehistoric times, which can, in turn, help restore humanity,” says King, who offers natural products from all his various herds to the public and to restaurants through the shop at Dr. King’s Farms. Learn more at drkings.com/farms.

As the editor of Plough to Pantry, Frances Figart plans, assigns, directs and edits all the stories in each issue.

Farm-to-table suppers at The Farmer’s Hands

For a delightful evening put yourself in The Farmer’s Hands

Story by Peter Kent | Photos by Sarah Jones Decker

Gauging the success of a farm-to-table supper, there are two signature moments to listen for. The first is the lively banter that comes as guests share their lives. The second is the hush that descends as companions savor fine food.

At The Farmer’s Hands in Mars Hill, the suppers are an unqualified success. Ariel Dixon-Zijp and Dutch-born Sebastiaan Zijp (pronounced Zipe), build on each other’s talents to create convivial chemistry and delicious, local ingredient-based cooking. It’s no wonder there are so many repeat customers among tonight’s 30-some guests.

Farm-to-table Suppers

Ariel and Sebastiaan’s farm makes an inviting first impression. The three-gabled, pre-1900s white farmhouse with green tin roof is set off by flower gardens, raised-bed vegetables, chicken and duck coop, rabbit hutch, hoophouse for greens and small-plot irrigated fields. The two-acre farm seems almost magically to nestle in among its residential neighbors.

Gauging the success of a farm-to-table supper, there are two signature moments to listen for. The first is the lively banter that comes as guests share their lives. The second is the hush that descends as companions savor fine food.

“It makes you feel so good to be here,” says Tracy Mousseau of Black Mountain. “Their passion is so catching. It makes me very happy.”

Guests are welcome to wander through the house filled with artwork and antiques. Both home and gardens showcase Ariel’s sense of design, while the pantry offers a glimpse of the pair’s interests. Two glass gallon jugs of dandelion wine and another of violet wine made by Ariel sit on a shelf, passing time till next year. Herbs and grain heads dry on racks. There is one bouquet of flowers—red roses, now dried wine-dark. “That was the first bouquet Sebastiaan gave me,” says Ariel.

The pantry also serves as the chef’s library, where charcuterie is given a generous serving of space. “I’m very interested in meats and processing methods,” says Sebastiaan who, after culinary school in Vancouver, sharpened his skills for 15 years in some of New York City’s best restaurants: Gramercy Tavern, Bar Blanc Bistro and Bouley, where renowned chef David Bouley worked.

Farm-to-table Suppers
Ariel Dixon-Zijp and Sebastiaan Zijp

“Bouley was a leader of modern French cooking—lively, lighter, brighter tastes using the finest and freshest ingredients,” says Sebastiaan, whose cooking highlights nouvelle cuisine style.

The main course this night is homemade sausage of venison and smoked pork with onion jam and onion soubise. There is a pasta dish of homemade fettuccini flavored by a light creamy Parmesan sauce with a kick from garlic and anchovies. Sebastiaan dishes the hot pasta and sauce into bowls of tender spinach leaves wilted by the heat. The result creates a mild pesto flavor and a multi-textured savory bite, soft and chewy. The supper winds down with poached strawberries and rhubarb topped with mint ice cream and butter-cake crumble.

Farm-to-table Suppers

“I told them they were charging too little,” says Karen Kennedy of Asheville, an unabashed fan of this dynamic couple. “For what they do and the food they serve, they need to charge more.”

Future farm-to-table supper dates are July 2 and 23, August 6 and 20, and September 3 and 10. Learn more at thefarmershands.com.

Peter Kent is the newest member of the Plough to Pantry editorial council.

Budy Finch: Flat Rock’s husband-and-wife catering team

above: Kip Lindsey and a student stirring spices into turkey chili by Linda Cluxton
by Frances Figart

It’s not “buddy” but Budy (as in Booty) Finch that is making quite a stir around Flat Rock, NC. It’s made up of husband-and-wife team Amelia and Kip Lindsey, and the name is a combo from both sides of the family.

Amelia’s grandmother Beulah Belle, or Budy, was a farmer, teacher and accomplished cook around Nashville, TN. “I learned how to can, make apple butter in a kettle over a fire and fry a mean chicken at her side,” she says. Kip’s grandparents, Carolyn and Harold Finch, lived in Richmond, VA, and “their style was classic Southern hospitality—quick to offer you a cocktail and a seat,” he says.

Influenced by family traditions of simplicity in cooking and eating, and realizing how much they loved helping people have a great time, the couple decided to start a catering company that would provide delicious food and delightful service to everyone in their community. Their Budy Finch parties—featuring whole animal barbeque, Carolina shrimp boils, oyster roasts and farmers’ market feasts— highlight the wonderful ingredients and traditions of this region.

The Lindseys provide daily lunches for the Mountain Community School and Immaculata Catholic School, both in Hendersonville, as well as offering catering services to western North Carolina and beyond. They also act as chef instructors for the culinary program Connect & Feed The Need at St. Gerard House, a Hendersonville-based non-profit helping those with Autism Spectrum Disorder prepare for, find and retain meaningful employment.

“We believe that people enjoy themselves more when they are comfortable. That is what we learned from our grandparents.”

“This program specifically focuses on the skills needed to work in most organizations that involve food preparation and serving,” says Julia L. Matthews, program coordinator. “We also teach core values—which can be applied while working in a restaurant—that incorporate both social and daily living skills.”

The Lindseys provide the technical cooking component for the teens and young adults, who quite obviously enjoy their company and their teaching methods. “I could not imagine a better group to share our experience with,” says Kip Lindsey. “Every class is a joy; we all learn and grow together.”

Autism cooking instruction
Kip and Ameilia Lindsey by Linda Cluxton

The Budy Finch lunchbox program offers affordable, handmade, nutritious food for nonprofits and schools starting at $4 a person. For spring, the Budy Box dinner delivery service includes local, pastured, organic roasted chicken; Irish beef stew with gold potatoes, carrots and parsnips; salmon cakes with lemon-dill cream sauce; and artichoke and wild rice casserole Monday-Friday.

“We believe that people enjoy themselves more when they are comfortable,” says Amelia Lindsey. “Delicious food and passionate service will make people happier than a lot of bells and whistles. That is what we learned from our grandparents.”

Delivery to Flat Rock and Hendersonville are included with Budy Box orders, and they deliver outside that area for an additional fee. Email budyfinch@gmail.com or visit budyfinch.com to learn more.