New Year’s Day is almost upon us. Not only is it time to start seeking out the celebration, it’s also worth thinking about how to ring in 2012 on the right note. Xpress suggests some items to help make your holiday menu both delicious and auspicious.
Collards for health and wealth
Even if you’re the meat-and-potatoes type, you’ll want to work a little something green onto your plate this New Year’s. Superstition says that eating leafy greens — which resemble folded money — will help usher in riches (something most of us could use these days). Local “bills” may still be found on the shelves of select area groceries, as well as year-round farm stands. Search for your favorite variety using ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
Black-eyed peas for extra fortune and fiber
Sometimes fortunes are built coin by coin. That’s where black-eyed peas come in. Their seed-like appearance is thought to resemble coins that swell, or “increase in value,” when cooked. If you didn’t get your hands on any from tailgate markets earlier this season, don’t worry. Local sprout producer Sunny Creek Farm produces re-hydrated black-eyed peas, which only require a 20-minute boil to prepare. Buy them this time of year wherever Sunny Creek products are sold. Find a list of their wholesale clients on their website.
New Year’s is not the time to watch your weight, according to tradition. Pork has often been used to signify wealth — eating “high on the hog,” for example. Go ahead and indulge this holiday season to ensure a year of economic prosperity (so that you can afford those trips to the gym).
Local pork can be found throughout winter direct from the farm, as well as at grocery stores and butcher shops (check the Chop Shop on Charlotte Street for a variety of cuts from high and low on the hog, including trotters). In grocery stores, look for the Appalachian Grown™ logo to ensure that your local pork is truly local.
Other sources for local meat near Asheville include Hickory Nut Gap and Farside Farms (683-3255). Both offer their pork at year-round farm stores/stands. And, Cane Creek Valley Farm offers pork and beef CSA packages year-round. In the Hendersonville area, contact Lunsford Farms through its website, or via firstname.lastname@example.org to order. The farm promises pork through the winter.
Don’t want to do any more holiday cooking at home? Look for local pork products on the menus of Appalachian Grown partner restaurants. Find a list of restaurants and producers here.
A sweet start
Keep up the calorie overload (in the name of fortune, of course) with locally baked goods. Sweets are a tradition from December holidays through New Year’s, with a special emphasis on round or ring-shaped goods and cakes that contain hidden coins or trinkets. Gifts of baked goods are also thought to bring a household good luck, symbolizing that the residence will always have food.
Annie’s Naturally Bakery offers several traditional treats. Find their German Stollen on the shelf at Ingles, or special order it through other grocers that carry their products. Annie’s also offers Italian Panettone; they use a traditional family recipe passed down through the generations. Restaurants like Early Girl Eatery can be your cake source, too. With 48 hours notice, they can provide special order cakes and pies. Red Velvet and pecan pie, with pecans from nearby in South Carolina, are their most popular holiday requests. Search “Restaurants and Bakers” or “Bakers and Caterers” at http://buyappalachian.org to find more sweet treats.
Not only does eating local bring you good luck, it brings the small businesses around you good luck, too. We wish you good cheer throughout your year and a very delicious holiday season!
Get Local Gets Revamped
ASAP’s Get Local initiative, which highlights one local food every month when available at groceries, tailgates, and area restaurants, will shine the spotlight on three new local ingredients in 2012: ramps, mushrooms, and potatoes. Of course, local favorites like tomatoes and apples remain on the new calendar.
Ramps and mushrooms are now included alongside honey and trout as part of ASAP’s work to promote area forest products, in partnership with groups comprising the WNC Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project.
“Many farmers manage forest lands that can generate income, strengthen ecosystems, and produce delicious local foods at the same time,” says Peter Marks, ASAP’s Local Food Campaign director.
Other examples of local forest products include beeswax, firewood, decorative greenery, maple syrup, medicinal herbs and watercress.
Shoppers interested in learning which local farms offer these products from the forest can now find out through a specific search of ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at buyappalachian.org/forest_products.
What else is new for Get Local in 2012? Because a big part of the initiative works to showcase restaurants using the highlighted local, seasonal ingredients, ASAP will partner with one restaurant a month throughout the year for a featured event. January kicks off with a focus on local honey and a honey hors d’oeuvres tasting at Laurey’s Catering and Gourmet to Go on the 26th. Stay tuned to ASAP’s websites and Facebook and Twitter pages for more details on this and all the upcoming special soirees.