Robert and I are Locovores. This does not mean that we are “loco”; although some people might think we are for spending so much time farming vegetables for our CSA Members in the Asheville and greater Buncombe County area! As a general rule, being a Locovore means one tries to eat food that has been grown within 100 miles of where one lives. WE stretch this radius to 300 miles so we can get to the coast and include our favorite sea foods in our diet along with citrus from Florida.
When I tell people we eat our own vegetables twelve months out of the year, the next question is always, “How can you do that? What do you eat?!” In an attempt to answer that question, we have been taking photos of some of our winter meals.
You will see we are not vegetarians, but we could be because our diet is filled with vegetables from our own sustainable gardens. We eat our own veggies 360 days a year. We grow organically—although we are not certified. Eating more vegetables is what the doctors are prescribing! Literally, doctors are now writing prescriptions to eat more veggies! And when you start with the freshest possible product, your meals will taste much better and provide you with the most nutrients.
We are busy growing seedlings and plants and vegetables much of the year. Professional farming is a full-time job which means our meals are by necessity what one might call “30-minute meals.” This is possible with advance preparation and preservation of produce when the garden is in full production since that is when we have the local food available.
As a member of our CSA, one should not expect to have quantities of food which need to be preserved. We prepare our CSA Boxes with the vegetable requirements of a family of four in mind. What we want to show here are ways in which food can be preserved when plentiful.
I recommend blanching vegetables before freezing in order to preserve the color, nutrition and texture. I have placed a guide for doing this in the recipe section under “F” for “Freezing.”
We are Buncombe County CSA Farmers—not photographers nor web designers. We find most endeavors require a great deal of trial and error—including growing vegetables for our CSA Boxes! We always attempt to do our best in all endeavors!!
Sautéed Peppers and Wild Rice with Asparagus Spears
Our desire to have a plentiful personal supply of asparagus is what got us started in this family farming business in the early 1990’s. Unfortunately, asparagus production on a large scale is difficult in WNC. We struggled with the many summer droughts and winters not getting cold enough (think Michigan and Washington winter temps) and the asparagus beetles and crown fussarium. We no longer grow asparagus on our farm–however, we grow nearly seventy other vegetable varieties! The above spears were steamed and it appears just a bit too long. Three minutes and off the heat source is a good rule of thumb when it comes to cooking asparagus spears!
Gluten Free Pizza
We make our own gluten-free pizzas starting with a tomato-base sauce made from our own tomatoes or perhaps a pesto base made from our greens with sliced romas. Next, we add black olives, sauteed mushrooms, and sliced bell peppers which we have frozen and waiting. Then, we layer on fresh greens. If the greens are large, we just chop them up a bit to make them bite sized. Top with fresh mozzarella and into the oven it goes. Into each life a little pizza must flow. We make it healthy!
Roasted Beast, Sautéed Asparagus with Mashed Potatoes & Hunter Gravy
Yes, even mashed potatoes can be made, dolloped and frozen. This is what we do once they start to grow sprouts! If you keep them long enough, our potatoes will sprout because we do not spray chemicals on them to prevent this naturally occurring growth process. This meal is fit for a king and could be topped off with some freshly baked bread to soak up all of the hunter style mushroom gravy.
On Top Of Spaghetti . . .
Steamed veggies & meatballs on top of spaghetti squash! All were previously frozen, but who would know? We find the soil on our Buncombe County farm perfect for growing many vegetable varieties.
Sweet Potato Fries & Broccoli with Veggie Quiche
In our name, Cane Creek Asparagus & Company, the “& Company” represents the other nearly seventy varieties of veggies we attempt to grow for our CSA Family each harvest season on our sustainable Fairview farm.
Broccoli and Carrots
A delicious year around favorite and part of the thrill of livin’—harvested and frozen from our gardens. For the best flavors, sauté vegetables until they are just fork tender! No wonder scores of local families have been delighted by our Cane Creek CSA veggie boxes over the years.
Beans with Almonds
First, brown the almonds in some butter or Smart Balance. Then, add the beans and quickly heat through. Fresh beans will give a better crunch; but in the winter quick-frozen beans will do just fine. If ever we give you more fresh beans than you can use, simply blanch them for two minutes and freeze! Quick and easy directions are on the web site under “F” for Freezing.
Penne Pasta with Stir Fry
I keep bags of “mixed vegetables” in the freezer. And I keep bags of “same veggies” in the freezer. It all depends on what is available at the time of freezing! When it comes to a quick stir fry, they are ALL good. Using whole wheat organic pasta will add an even healthier touch to your meal.
Winter Squash Soup with Tomatoes
Winter squash and sweet, vine-ripened, roasted tomatoes make up this delicious, hearty soup! Tomatoes can be preserved by pressure canning or roasting and freezing. We provide easy steps for the freezing preparation of veggies with our recipes—just in case you want to give it a try. Most families will not have enough vegetables to both eat and preserve on a regular basis with an every-other-week CSA Box. Please do not think that food preservation is mandatory for CSA Members. But if ever the quantity of fresh vegetables gets ahead of what you can eat, preservation is a tasty option. Or, give any excess you have to a friend or neighbor! The recipient will love you and you will be introducing another family to vegetables grown on a sustainable, local farm in Fairview!
Patty Pan Squash, Eggplant, Potato with Chicken
Roasted organic chicken, a potato, grilled eggplant, and whole steamed squash and zucchini for a different perspective. Be sure to note the small size of our patty pan squash! We strive to harvest our veggies at the peak of their perfection. This is why we use the word “gourmet” in reference to the vegetables we put into Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA boxes!
Veggie Stuffed Patty Pan Squash
These sweet patty pan summer squash were stuffed with a mixture of chopped fresh veggies and before baking. We have discovered they can be frozen and reheated in the oven! We do provide recipes for our CSA Members. The internet provides many more links for cooking inspiration.
Potatoes will last for months when kept in a cool dark place—but not the refrigerator which is too cool and will turn the natural sugars to starch. We cut strips down these fat fingerling potatoes before roasting. Just as a reminder, roasting any vegetable brings out all of the natural sweetness! Organic basil is added to the dish after removing from the oven.
Seafood with Broccoli Casserole, Mushrooms and Baked Potato
Broccoli casseroles as well as zucchini casseroles freeze well and make for a part of quick meal. I like to make an extra casserole when the veggies are abundant and put it in the freezer. I do not cook it before freezing. Be sure to allow about 90 minutes to bake from the frozen state.
Colorful Veggie Mix
This colorful mix of onions, peppers, zucchini and summer squash is sautéed to perfection in butter. If you get tired of eating these veggies in the summer, saute or blanch them and pop them into the freezer for later.
Baked Fish With Veggies
Your CSA Farmers love to go deep sea fishing at every opportunity. Gardening and fishing are two of our favorite things! Unfortunately, farming does limit the fishing trips many months of the year.
We grow many unique Asian greens for our CSA Family Members. In the spring, we always eat our greens raw as a salad. All of our hearty greens (except for the lettuces) can be washed, chopped, slightly sautéed, and quick frozen in meal-size bags for a special winter treat with any meal. Don’t worry, we also grow turnip and baby collard greens in addition to our tasty exotic greens! If you get overwhelmed with greens, try making a smoothie (1/3 liquid, 1/3 fruit, 1/3 greens) and your surplus will disappear rapidly!
Greens and Feta Pie
Any type of greens can be used (or hidden) in this recipe. A salad goes well with the Greens and Feta Pie for quick, nutritious meal.
I will admit we don’t have fresh tomatoes in the winter! And, oh, how I miss them . . . One year we did keep tomatoes until February. They were not the same as fresh from the garden—instead, they rather tasted “store bought.”
Tasty, Healthy Meal
This meal consists of baked wild-caught fish (on your farmer’s line), roasted potatoes and asparagus with a steamed mix of green and yellow zucchini. A vegetable steamer is another necessity for our family. We have two, actually. We like the BPA-free, oblong style because it holds both spring asparagus spears and corn on the cob quite nicely!
Veggies and Fish
More baked deep-sea fish and vegetables. This is a small Sheep’s Head fillet, I believe, with a colorful sauteed mix of vegetables which are grown organically on our Fairview family farm in Buncombe County near Asheville, NC.
Winter Squash Variety
Winter Squash will last easily through February—assuming the growing conditions were perfect that year. Unfortunately, not all years are “perfect.” In wet years, you need to bake the squash immediately and freeze the pulp rather than trying to save the vegetable in its natural state. If and when the outside skin starts to develop “spots,” you know it is time to get cooking. Such “spots” are one of the wet year hazards and are easy to cut out in preparation for baking. One advantage to having frozen pulp available is that it cuts down considerably on mealtime preparation!
Spaghetti Squash & Peppers
Spaghetti squash (fresh or frozen) can be substituted as organic pasta in many dishes. Eat it alone or use it as a base with a stir fry or spaghetti sauce on top. Shredded cheese is optional. Colorful bell peppers, however, are not optional, in my opinion! Of course, these pepper slices were frozen, too. Sliced or chopped sweet bell peppers are great on pizza and in many soups! One gets creative when striving to eat only local produce.
Quiche is versatile with or without meat; but vegetables are always a required ingredient at our house! Quiche is easy to make and freeze in a bag. To prepare, simply thaw slightly and pour into a pie shell or bake in a dish “custard style” in a pan of water. This makes for a quick meal when I am busy transplanting tiny seedlings in the greenhouse!
Robert’s Eggplant Parmesan
Sliced eggplant baked with our home-canned tomato sauce and topped with sliced green bell peppers. These will be topped with Mozzarella Cheese as a final step before serving! Eggplant slices are excellent served either hot or cold. And they freeze well! We layer them three deep in a freezer container. They can be defrosted in the microwave and heated at a low power. Or in the oven or a steam oven to provide another delightfully fresh taste of summer vegetables!
Slices of firmly baked (fork tender) butternut (a winter squash) can be frozen. To prepare, thaw slightly and sauté, steam, bake, or roast them until heated through. Butternut pulp makes delicious soups. It can also make some awesome healthy desserts. Or, use thawed chunks mixed with a diced avocado and co-mingled into a bowl of fresh greens for a nutritious salad.
Soup & Chicken Breast & Veggie Sautée
Organic local chicken, mixed veggies and a bowl of chunky tomato-basil soup with a dollop of sour cream! Herbs are easy to grow on your patio in a planter or even on your kitchen counter year around.
Potatoes will last well into the winter when stored in a cool, dark place. We attempt to grow a variety of potatoes each year. Farmers work hand-in-hand with Mother Nature, so each year is always surprising and a challenge!
Snap peas will not have the same crunchiness after being frozen as when raw, but they can be added to a stir fry. Freeze the pods individual on a cookie sheet so you can pour out as many as desired each time.
An Italian Feast
Local, organic chicken breast with cheese raviolis topped with braised zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers with Parmesan cheese—a dish inspired by the Italian side of the family! Organic, whole-wheat pasta took a back seat in this particular meal.
Spaghetti Squash Soup with Meatball
We like to keep a bag of homemade organic, grass-fed meatballs in our freezer for a quick protein addition to our spaghetti squash soups—and for meatball sandwiches!
Sautéed Ching Chang
We grow many unique Asian greens for our CSA Family Members. In the spring we always eat our Ching Chang greens raw as a salad. These were sautéed and then frozen in meal sized bags for a special winter treat. Add a bowl of fifteen-bean soup or a slice of thin-crust pizza made with organic whole wheat and you have a quick, healthy meal.
Greens For Smoothies or Soups
Any of our greens can be blanched and pureed and frozen for use in smoothies and soups!
Acorn Squash Soup
Acorn squash, indeed, any winter squash makes a hearty, nutritious winter soup. Vine-ripened tomatoes roasted at their peak flavor and then frozen are a vital component to many of our soups and sauces. This soup is topped with additional sautéed onions.
This is my Pepper Parmesan Zucchini Casserole topped with Japanese Panko bread crumbs! Also, I have an excellent Broccoli Casserole recipe from my Mom which I share on this web site. Always make dated labels so you can identify what is in your freezer packages!
Pickles & Relishes
I could eat cucumbers every day, but there is only one way to make them last through the winter—relishes and pickles! We believe we grow the sweetest cukes ever on our sustainable Fairview family farm. Perhaps this is due to the rich organic bottom land soil in the Cane Creek Valley region of Buncombe County—or perhaps it is the specialty seed which we purchase!
Pressure Canned Beans
FYI: Membership in our CSA will not provide enough vegetables to supply the average family for the winter ahead—so do not expect this with your CSA Membership. To get that quantity of food, you would need either your own big garden or to go to the WNC Farmer’s Market and purchase from the farmers who “grow for market” and sell in bulk. Cane Creek Asparagus & Company grows only for our CSA Members in Asheville, Biltmore, Arden, Fairview and the surrounding Buncombe and Henderson County areas. We do not grow for wholesale distribution—or even for tailgate marketing!
Fruit Pie Fillings
These jars of blueberry pie filling are part of my private harvest. Sorry, there are none of these in the CSA Boxes. We do have some U-Pick bushes on our sustainable farm for our CSA Members only. And there are two well established U-Pick Farms in the Fairview area! Actually, organic blueberries are a part of our family history. Three decades ago, Robert’s father grew organic blueberries on his Buncombe County property and made the first award-winning, organic blueberry wine in the State of North Carolina!
Fresh Basil and Italian Parsley
Basil and Italian Parsley are two of our favorite herbs. If you want to try gardening, fresh herbs are easy to grow on your patio in a container or even on your kitchen counter. You will find their presence particularly uplifting on cold, snowy, winter days! We are fortunate in WNC to have a ready supply of local foods available at tailgate markets and area farms. You can readily find butter, cheeses, eggs and poultry, and all types of meats, fruits, and honey produced locally. Of course, you still must go outside the 300-mile radius to acquire coffee, chocolate, and spices!
A good way to begin the Locovore Challenge is to join an area CSA. Robert and I are proud to be serving the local community via Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA. For over twenty years, we have provided scores of CSA Members in Asheville, Biltmore, Arden, Fletcher, Fairview and the surrounding Buncombe area with our beautiful CSA Boxes of veggies. We look forward to serving your family, too!