macerated strawberries and a farewell to Spring 

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

When I was a child tracing the cracks of sidewalks with my tender bare feet I knew nothing of the joy that each season had to offer–I was simply on a mission to find things in the dirt and release them from the soils firm grip. It seems like yesterday Nanny was walking across the decrepit bridge to the garden in search of the overnight harvest. She would pluck a basketful of tomatoes that were tugging at the vines and grazing the moist dirt below. The Serrano peppers would be swaying in the breeze as if wanting to chime like bells on the veranda. It was indeed summer and spring was leaving behind the last of the wild berries that grew up against the fence. The old wooden fence where you could occasionally catch a glimpse of our neighbor’s dog’s eyes glaring at you in the sun. I avoided getting to close to that fence in fear of shrilling barks being directed my way with great force–and laced with disdain and contempt for my existence. That is what I knew of dogs then, not now.

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

I remember only having a few strawberries to eat from those bushes because they didn’t produce much fruit and I’m not sure why. But it may have something to do with the local plants in Oak Ridge contaminating our water supply, I kid, we had much supply of vegetables that never lacked the ambition of sprouting forth–only the strawberries. I was a lover of strawberries when I was a child but I was a meticulous eater of sorts, only chasing the lush red fruit and leaving the slightly bitter and tangy hull behind. This relationship was and is still the same with many other fruits today, don’t judge, you simply like what you like and we are who we are.macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

macerated fruit, strawberries, Delvin Farms, buy local

In my family, I simply can’t recall anyone ever macerating strawberries or fruit. It just wasn’t ‘a thing’ in my family. My mother and Nanny both used the gelatin in a tub when making desserts if Nanny wasn’t putting it in Jell-O mold for a church potluck. My father’s mother was the rinse and eat from the pint kind’ve of woman, and the resident baker, my cousin Carnell would typically bake them into a cake that would be lathered with strawberry frosting. It wasn’t until my mother in-law came into the picture some eleven years later that I would actually know and love the art of macerated strawberries. I’m sure I came across it in some format or another throughout culinary school but nothing that stuck like when the MIL made them.macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

There’s nothing like strawberries in season that will create a flutter in your heart and an excitement of your palate when you bend down to pluck it fresh from the vine. The experience of that tender bite kissed by sun, releasing that sweet juice into your mouth and without warning the corners of your lips begin to curl up the sides and you’re smiling ‘something serious’ that just can’t be contained. The strawberries you’re feasting your eyes upon in the post today are from the lovely folks at Delvin Farms and some from the folks at Kelley’s Berry Farm. I won’t lie to you I picked both of them up at East Nashville Farmer’s Market because I like to spread the love event though I occasionally have my bias depending upon the product. But I couldn’t fight the urge to have these berries in snacking distance so I sat them in the front seat, and if you know anything about Nashville traffic, it’s a nightmare. I came to an abrupt stop and the berries began to cascade in slow motion through the air and onto my ‘freshly cleaned’ car floor (wink). Well, there was no way I would be able to separate them and I don’t think the berries minded being blended so everyone was happy and now we’re spreading the love for two companies, so win win.

As you all know it’s kind’ve of a pain in the roo to put recipes into a formatted display in which you can just scroll down to the bottom and make it. I’m a talker and I’m going to tell you what to do to have this deliciousness in your mouth sooner than later. Not to mention, I love that it encourages you guys to actually read the content though I know there are those of you who hate it (sorry, not sorry)!macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

All you need are some fresh local strawberries or some Driscoll’s or whatever store brand you can get your hands on will work. I know that I caught you kind of late with this post because strawberry season has ended for us here but you may be lucky. And be warned that most mass producers pick strawberries before they’re ready so macerating them is never a bad option. Always rinse your strawberries off unless you have a little country in you, like myself, then you eat them in the car on the way home from the market. Cut the berries into whatever size you prefer and toss them in to a couple of tablespoons of granulated white sugar. I recommend two tablespoons of sugar per pint of berries you have. Toss the berries in the sugar to give them an even coating in a bowl that’s not metal. Let them set in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes occasionally giving them a little stir to insure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Once you have a nice syrup in the bottom and fruit has weeped just a little, you have a perfect bowl of macerated strawberries ready to be devoured. This is great to do with your kids, it makes the perfect topping for a slice of cake or a scoop of ice cream and this process also works well with peaches, plums, pineapple etc. And if you desire to use raspberries or blackberries you’ll want to crush some of the fruit to encourage juicing.

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

You can find this recipe on Steller Stories and please follow along for quick recipes and creative happenings in my life. I really hope you guys enjoy and I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your seasonal fruits!

macerated strawberries on The Local Forkful

 

Green Bean Delivery Service, Vegetable Soup & $15 Off Your First Order!

Green Bean Delivery Service, Nashville, TN, buy local, food blogger, food styling, chefs

Green Bean Delivery Service Nashville, TN, The Local Forkful Blog, Food Delivery Services, Nashville Food Bloggers            organic carrots, carrots, food styling, foodie, nashville tn, food blogger

Your local CSA’s are in full swing. Farmers can’t keep up with the Summer’s harvest as it sprouts from the soil thanks to Spring’s rain. And it’s one of my favorite time’s of year because produce is flowing freely and I can barely keep up with the veggies from farmers markets in the fridge before they go bad. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to tell you about a food delivery service here in Nashville, Green Bean Delivery.

The Green Bean Delivery service approached me with the offer to receive a FREE bin of goodies from their selection of local/non-local produce and groceries. I couldn’t resist the opportunity because my wife and I work very busy schedules and its hard to go grocery shopping sometimes. So this just seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out to see if it was something we’d be interested in doing more than once and we have. Check out the 5 reasons while you’ll love them from organic offerings to supporting local and fighting food insecurity. I enjoyed being able to receive items from Provence Breads, Hatcher Dairy and even some eggs from Willow Farms.

cremini mushrooms via Green Bean Delivery

Its super simple , and there’s no membership or enrollment fees which is a plus, it stinks to feel like you’re married to something that you don’t use often, like ‘gym memberships’…zing! But you go to the website, browse the shop and have a field day, though I won’t lie to you, it’s not cheap but the prices aren’t far off from what you’re paying at your local grocer and did I mention you don’t have to find a parking space or touch grocery carts covered in pink-eye!? You have to commit to minimal pricing packages like you’ll have to purchase $28 in veggies and produce before moving on to groceries and then it’s a minimum of $35 after that. They’re just encouraging you to ‘Eat Your Veggies’ and support our farmer friends, in which a lot of the vegetables are from their own farms in Indiana and Ohio.

You get the option to have your delivery scheduled for Monday or Thursday between noon and eight pm. I received my first box on a Thursday evening and I won’t lie, my emotions were that of a Christmas morning and the best part is that I knew the contents of the package because I chose them, so no returns here folks. I also picked some products that I wanted to try, so don’t forget to check out the discount section on their site too!

You can also opt to have it delivered to your office or pick it up at their warehouse near the airport. You can cancel or suspend your items in case you’re going out-of-town or maybe your schedule changes.

The weather was still cool when I first received this service, I didn’t want you to think I was completely crazy making hot soup in the summer time, not that there’s anything wrong with that! I would love to see more local options included in the selection because we love local here at The Local Forfkul and they also take requests for products you’d like to see in their options and will try to accommodate you. And because you guys are awesome and you read my bloggity blog, you will receive $15 off your first order, so #winning! The code is bc6lofo and it will expire three months from today.

This soup is very simple, it’s actually one-stop shop. I sautéed some onions until translucent, and then add the garlic. Allow that to cook until aromatic about two minutes. Add five cups of chicken broth, and add sliced some mushrooms and asparagus. I also threw in some kale and chickpeas I had in the fridge. Add a can of tomato puree, fresh thyme then salt and pepper to taste. I let that slow simmer for about 30 minutes until all the flavors began to come together. A little squeeze of fresh lemon doesn’t hurt if you have it. I hope you guys enjoy your Green Bean Delivery orders as much as I have! Here are a few links from some food blogging friends who also used the service!

Erin’s Food Files // Lesley Eats // Eat Drink Smile

Please comment below if you’ll try the service and what you might be cooking with your box of goodies! I want to hear all about!

 

rainbow chard, green bean delivery, nashville, tn

Southeastern Cuisine and The Asheville Wine & Food Festival!

 

The Local Forkful, Food Blogger, SponsorIn anticipation for the Asheville Wine & Food Festival we’ll be talking all things southern food today, and why not? It’s only an intricate part of our lives here in the south and since the arrival of spring the fields have come to life with sun-kissed produce for harvesting. The creak of  screen doors have begun singing, honey suckle is running wild, the crickets are demanding your attention and the smell of smoked meat is in the air. Southern cuisine is the heartbeat of the southeast United States.cornbread panzanella salad

 

When I hear the word ‘food’ the first thing that comes to mind is ‘southern food’. Not simply because it’s mainly what I know but because it’s what I love. It is what I grew up eating around the dinner table and what I will die eating around the dinner table. Southern food is so rich in history and influenced by so many cultures that in #essence, southern food is ‘our’ food. We, a collection of people from different parts of the world all contributing little pieces to create a bigger picture.

 

Southern food is an experience all on its own; the simplicity of preparation in combination with love and attention to detail is what brings it to life. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are my greatest southern #food influencers. The most prominent of these three being my great-grandmother, she lived for food and loved everything about it. Most of my childhood memories involve her in the kitchen telling me stories of when she was a child, and how they used everything they had available to make meals. She’d tell me that eating your vegetables wasn’t an option when she was growing up because the table would be filled with them and maybe some cornbread and meat if they were lucky. I remember how upset she would be when people did not finish their food.Gluten Free Biscuits, The Local Forkful, Asheville Food and Wine Festival

I believe resourcefulness is at the heart of southern food. It’s the art of using what is available according to the season and making the best dish out of minimal ingredients. It’s the preservation of food to make it last through the cold season. It’s a celebration of hard work, the joy of new friendships and the exhibition of affection for mankind. There is an excerpt from John Egerton’s book Southern Food that sums it up perfectly…

 

“Within the South itself, no other form of cultural expression, not even music, is as distinctly characteristic of the region as the spreading of a feast of native food and drink before a gathering of kin and friends.  For as long as there has been a South, and people who think of themselves as Southerners, food has been central to the region’s image, its personality, and its character.”

Southern Food

 

I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else but the south, except Europe…because pastries, but even the French have their influence in the south (hello Louisiana!). But there’s something about cities like Nashville, Asheville, Memphis and Atlanta that make you excited about southern eats, not to mention the hole in the walls along the way and those boiled peanut stands dotting the sides of country back roads.

Roasted Beets, the local forkful, The Local Palate Magazine

 

The dining we experienced last spring in Asheville, NC is still clear on my palate as though it took place yesterday. The kale pekoras at Chai Pani, the fried green tomatoes and grits at The Early Girl Eatery and that gluten-free deconstructed s’mores dessert from Posana. And I won’t even get started on all that is French Broad Chocolates, that’s a whole blog post in itself if you’re familiar with my #chocolate addiction. I hope to see you at the Festival with me eating all the #southern goodness! You can find all the details here.

 

 

 

Collard Greens, Pork Belly, Turnips and New Year’s Tradition.

Collard Greens & Southern New YearI’m not a superstitious person to say the least, but I can’t fight tradition. For as long as I can remember my family has eaten the southern staples every New Year for the first twenty years of my life and then I may have fallen of the bandwagon a few times between twenty-one and thirty but who’s counting?

It simply goes without saying that I’m a sucker for comfort food and the first of the year is just a really good reason to gorge on all of my favorite southern eats. Excuse me while I get sentimental for a moment, if you follow, you’re used to it. If not–you’ll learn. Imagine for a moment sitting on a worn in sofa, you know the one where it’s the only place you’ll take a nap despite the piercing spring you feel on your hip bone. There’s a quilt draped across the back side for easy access when the sudden urge to nap consumes you. The smell of crispy pork bits are filling the living room with a light smoke that dances beneath your nostrils. Lids are trembling from steam fighting through the pots of collards and black-eyed peas. The sizzle of butter around the sides of the cast-iron work its magic on the cornbread and in that moment–your heart is full and your stomach overwhelmed with anticipation.

See, back then New Year’s resolutions were but a thing of some other culture. It was never spoken of at our house. It was more about the blessings of being alive another year, surviving the trials and tribulations that life had brought us the previous year. Reliving the joyous moments of life events and looking forward to what the year would bring. If memory serves me well, I believe collard greens brought ‘good luck’ and I could say without hesitation that a bowl of potlikker and a hot piece of buttermilk cornbread would be a perfect last meal contender.  And anyone graced with a bowl should consider themselves none other than lucky…or blessed. There’s nothing quite like it when you talk about southern foods.Collard Greens, Pork belly, Turnips and New Year's Tradition

 

But moving on, these collard greens are so easy to make that it’s a perfect side dish to accompany various meals. And I made them the way my great-grandmother used to with a nice slab of pork belly, but you may also use a ham bone or bacon if you please. I can even recall there being some ox tail in there a time or two, so as you wish. First, I pre-heat the oven to 450° and cook off the pork belly, skin side down for about twenty-minutes to render some of the fat off and get a nice sear. While that is cooking, I simply take three bunches of collards – I rinse them under cold water to remove any residual dirt that may be hanging around. I cut the stalk out of the center because it can be annoying to chew on, well at least for me, but hold onto them. Layer the greens, roll them, and cut them into 1/2 inch ribbons. Then take one quart of water and two cups of chicken stock or three bouillon cubes for two cups of water, the stalks and bring it to a boil. Throw in a couple teaspoons of kosher salt and Texas Pete…or Tabasco. Once the liquid begins to boil, remove the stalks and add the greens, cover the pot. I usually let the greens cook for about an hour and a half before I peel, chop and my turnips. If you put them in too early, they will turn to mush and that’s not acceptable. Allow the greens to cook for about two hours or so, though there are those who believe that they should be cooked twice as long, not I.

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You can tell that the greens are done when you can penetrate them with a fork with ease, and they are tender. Not to mention, your eyes may involuntarily roll back into your head and your toes may curl. You’ll see what I mean. I love to eat greens with a hot pan of fresh made cornbread or lace hoe cakes, but my grandmother also ate them with a slice of white bread when the mood hit, so as you wish. This year has already been filled with so many changes and I’ve learned some new things about myself. Things that need improvement and things I didn’t even realize were there. Either way, I’m excited about making improvements for the better. I want 2015 to be a year filled with more ‘I dids’ instead of ‘I didn’t’s’. And I’m wishing the same for you this year. Discover something new about yourself and find ways to improve or maybe just enjoy what it is you discovered. But in the meantime, sit down and enjoy a hearty bowl of collard greens and pork belly, you deserve it.

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Peanut Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies & The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Peanut Butter Chocolate Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies More than the perfect chocolate chip cookie filled to the brim with chocolate-y goodness, a crispy rim and a chewy center is a chewy center. This has always been and always will be my favorite part of any cookie. So you crispy cookie people may want to move on. As a child, I endured the crunchy rim and saved every last moist bite of the center until the very end. The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap was the perfect opportunity for me to flex my cookie making abilities and create this idea cookie that had the perfect chew.Peanut Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

But enough about my love for chewy cookies, let’s talk about the cause! The Food Blogger Cookie Swap was created by Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen to benefit Cookies for Kid’s Cancer. I’m beyond flattered to be apart of such an awesome cause seeing as how my father-in-law and wife both fought cancer and live to tell the story. It’s a beautiful thing when my love for dessert can be used to fuel research for such a life-threatning illness. And not to mention, the thought of receiving three dozen of cookies is a no-brainer, yes please!Peanut Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies & The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap

I was thrilled like many other bloggers to receive my holiday inspired cookies and I’m already looking forward to next year. I mean, who doesn’t want cookies in their mailbox?Below, I have shared a photo of the cookies I received with a link to the blogger from whom it came from as well as a recipe for cookies! So I hope you enjoy and think about participating next year, you won’t be sorry.

 

Peanut Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks butter softened
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Tucker’s Nut Butters (Cashew Butter)
2 eggs (room temp)
1 teaspoon Nielsen Massey vanilla
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces %67 Olive & Sinclair Chocolate (chopped)
3 Tablespoons Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a non-stick cookie sheet or silicone mat.

In a standing or electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until fluffy. Add in the cashew butter and peanut butter to the mixture, beating until well combined. Beat in eggs one at a time and vanilla.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and kosher salt. Add it slowly to the wet ingredients along with the chopped chocolate. Mix until just combined. Scoop onto a silpat or lined Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a stand or electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Break up the almond paste and add to the mixture, beating until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chopped chocolate. Mix until just combined. Scoop onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet with a medium cookie scoop. You can make your cookies larger or smaller if you like but remember to change cooking temp accordingly. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are just a light golden on the top and outside and slightly undercooked in the center. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. And try to contain yourself, they are ridiculously delicious straight out of the oven, not that I’d know or anything…

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms via The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap

Peppermint Blossoms via @stracciatellabella. You can visit her at http://www.stracciatellabella.blogspot.com

Butter Cookies via The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap

Butter Cookies via @kelly_ldbaking. You can visit her at http://www.longdistancebaking.com

 

Gingerbread Cookies via The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap

Ninja-bread cookies via @norhang. You can visit her at http://www.frommetovuu.com