Soap Box

My very own cute little soap box!

Posts Tagged ‘local’

Apple Butter Recipe Fail

Posted by eemilla on February 10, 2013

Back in the fall, LB and I went to Hickory Nut Gap Farm to get some apples and some sausage for my honey and to explore.  LB was too small to enjoy the play areas as she had just begun walking a few weeks before so the admission I paid felt steep considering it is a dollar less than the WNC Nature Center.  Plus your admission doesn’t get a discount at the store.  However, they don’t charge admission for spring or winter visits or if you just want to shop, and next fall LB will be more able to enjoy the hay bail jump and tricycle track as well as the animals.  Her favorite part was reaching into the huge apple bins and putting them in the bag.

The apples were thankfully much cheaper than at that store, but most of them were too ugly to get sold in the store so maybe they were seconds.  We purchased some pink ladies, granny smith, and winesaps.  The winesaps were terribly mushy, and I won’t be purchasing those again.  While we ate a few sliced apples, most of them went to the apple butter.

I’ve been afraid of canning, but this experience was easy; plus, how awesome is it to open your refrigerator to find homemade apple butter.  I decided to base my recipe on Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy mostly because I liked the Shakespeare reference in the recipe title.  I understand that sugar is  important in helping the ingredients gel, but I loathe oversweet apple butter so I had to reduce the sugar which meant the cooking time was mind numbingly long before I reached the desired consistency.  Next time I think I’ll also reduce the cider, and while I liked the taste there is some wiggle room on increasing the sugar.

Ooops!  I can longer find the notes for my recipe adjustments except that I started with 5lb and 5 7/8oz of whole apples which became 3lbs and 10 1/8oz after peeling and coring.  I guess I’ll do better this fall; below are pictures of the process.

whole apples

peeled apples

cooked aples

yay immersion blender

finished apple butter

Advertisements

Posted in family, food, fun | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

West First Wood Fired Pizza

Posted by eemilla on July 23, 2012

Back in March or April I had a meeting in Hendersonville so I had my husband and LB meet me so we could try lunch at West First Wood Fired Pizza, I ordered something and my husband ordered something else with a beer; I remember we both enjoyed our meals, and the price and portions were nice.  The interior was funky and modern (the oven is so pretty), with a stairway that I was terrified of falling down.  Our service was nice and fast for a busy lunch, and I wanted to go back to try some of their desserts.  It took a few months, but we did eventually get back to Hendersonville.  For some reason we opted for a Friday night dinner with a teething one year old; as it was Friday around 7 we did end up waiting for thirty minutes or so, and their foyer is a tight fit with more than a few people waiting.  Please note that out of respect for staff and our fellow diners we do keep LB quite with toys, food, or outdoor strolls.

As LB was hungry, and she had drilled the grapes we had packed for her while we waited we ordered the trio bread plate (hummus, sun dried tomato tapenade, and roasted garlic cloves).  The portion was good to share with hearty chunks of bread and enough of each of the complements.  We both ordered a pizza; while I typically feel that the wood fired pizzas are overpriced, I was satisfied with the toppings on mine.  My honey ordered a salmon pie, and I had a campari (although I have no recollection of what is on it).  While our service was noticeably slower than the busy lunch, we never felt neglected; such is the cost of dining out on Friday night during prime dining hour.

I did not make it to dessert again as I had gone by their bakery in Fletcher (at St John and Hendersonville Rd) in search of their key lime pie which I’ve heard raves about; they did not have it that day so I placated myself with a chocolate cupcake that was disappointing based on my love of Short Street Cakes and the delicious in spite of being ridiculously over-frosted cupcakes from my cousin’s wedding.  I couldn’t order their key lime pie as my awesome husband had made me one a few days ago, so I guess another trip in is order.  As for their beer list, I only recall it listing a couple of local brews, and I don’t recall it being nearly as extensive as the online one.

On a final note: Although it was a Friday night at prime dining hour, we were able to park on Main St a few blocks from West First.
West First Wood-Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Posted in food | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Shout outs

Posted by eemilla on November 20, 2011

We’ve really cut back our dining out with LB because we really don’t want to be one of those couples with a kid acting like a kid in a nice restaurant, but we also hate lugging all the baby accoutrements around anymore than necessary.  However, we did stop in Brevard a few weeks ago for lunch on our way to Highlands for a wedding.  Before that we checked out the latest vegan addition to the Asheville restaurant scene.

My husband wanted to try Jordan Street Cafe, but they were closed so I got my pick of Marco Trattoria.  We opted to eat inside as the sunny fall day was keeping the outside dining areas full.  I ordered an eggplant parmesan, and my honey had the crab and sherry bisque with an arugula salad and a the panini special (which I don’t recall).  Both dishes had nice presentations and portions in addition to being tasty.  The tiramisu that I attempted for dessert was terrible; it was a runny pile of mush that tasted overly sweet.  Our service was fine, and the prices are reasonable.

Marco Trattoria Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Asheville’s first vegan fine dining restaurant, Plant, opened a few months back, and we had to visit as my husband’s awesome former boss is one of the owners.  I had never been to Gourmet Perks so I don’t have a reference for what the interior used to look like, but Plant is modern and open.  The service was nice, and our food was great.  We started with the seitan skewers with fried plantains, and I craved them in between visits.  I followed with the black pepper tofu; I don’t really recall much about the tofu, but the rice cakes and the watercress were divine.  My husband enjoyed his wild mushroom risotto, but I don’t recall sampling it.  At our next visit we came for lunch, and I was able to enjoy the skewers again.  I followed them with the Thai roll, which was tasty, and again I don’t recall sampling my honey’s berger.  On a visit that I missed after my return to work, my husband checked out the reuben, which he said was an all around good flavorful sandwich.  To make up for going without me, he brought me some mocha and mint chocolate chip ice cream which could easily give Ultimate Ice Cream and The Hop a run for their money (I haven’t tried any of Ultimate’s vegan options so I am speaking of their standard ice creams).  While Laughing Seed may have a better location, Plant definitely has the better food.

Plant on Urbanspoon

Posted in food | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

The LAB

Posted by eemilla on May 17, 2010

I visited the LAB a week or so after it opened, and I greatly enjoyed their beer sampler.  On my most recent visit I hit up the sampler again to hone in on my favorite brews, but I also enjoyed some food this go round.  The hummus plate appetizer was far superior to the portabella caprese sandwich; while the hummus and baba ghannouj may not have been the best I’ve ever had, their coupling with the cucumber spears and flatbread fit so well with the summer weather we’ve been experiencing.  Their awesome patio provided the perfect place to watch the afternoon downpour as well.  The portabello caprese sandwich seemed like a bit of an anachronism, and while the same might be said for the hummus plate, they spiced it up by offering garlic, scallion, and curry flavored spreads.

For an Asheville restaurant, it’s a bit of stretch to call their menu vegetarian friendly as they do, but they do brew good beer.  Their white is wonderfully refreshing, and even though I don’t really prefer IPAs, the LAB’s is nicely balanced.

Posted in food | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Two Spoons Returns

Posted by eemilla on April 7, 2010

Last Saturday we hit Two Spoons to enjoy our first ice cream of the season.  I heard a rumor that they were no longer serving Ultimate Ice Cream so I was slightly concerned, but I knew even if I didn’t love their new ice cream the homemade waffle cone would make it all good.  While my favorite KMA (Kaluha, mocha, and almond) was absent and the Black Mocha Stout had been replaced with Wedge Porter Cream, my second favorite, Ginger remained.  Although the menu bills it as Double Ginger, I feel like it isn’t as strongly ginger flavored as it was last year, and I know the chocolate-coffee combination I sampled was not as potent as the aforementioned KMA.  However, the waffle cone was awesome, and the ice cream was still creamy and delicious.  I combined the Wedge Porter Cream with Ginger while my lovely husband had Dulche de Leche and Butter Pecan.  Even if the flavors aren’t as over the top as I want them to be, Two Spoon serves superior ice cream in a really cute shop with an awesome staff.  Along with the supplier changes, they’ve added a website and created a menu that lists their entire stable of flavors; the menu boasts the availability of ice cream cakes and pies as well as being able to rent the space for birthday parties.

Posted in food | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Biltmore Park a haven for local businesses?

Posted by eemilla on December 1, 2009

After spending a few days in the land of fried and breaded, I was a bit irked to read Jason Sanford’s “South Asheville Rising” touting Biltmore Park as a model for bringing local businesses to chain ridden South Asheville, especially since the accompanying photo was of a chain restaurant.  While Biltmore Park’s new addition has brought in some arguably higher quality chains (e.g., 131 Main and Travinia), they are still chains (albeit more regional than national).  We have not found a good reason to eat at any of these restaurants (aside from Brixx, thanks to its bogo special), and their menus (especially PF Chang’s) really aren’t offering anything to bring us in.  I did appreciate that the article was bookended with paragraphs on local businesses (12 Bones, Tupelo Honey Cafe, and The Thirsty Monk), and Mr Sanford did include a few examples of local businesses that are moving into the square (with the omission of Sensibilities and Perks which have been there a few years).

On the bright side Biltmore Park does have sidewalks and an enviable greenway that connects the neighborhood to the local schools and their playing fields as well as the South Buncombe Library, and even though it is currently pretty devoid of trees, it is far and away superior to Tunnel Rd II (i.e., Airport Rd).  Further improvements to draw people in (although I don’t always get the feeling that Biltmore Park wants locals hanging out in their town square) would be music, a beer festival, or at the very least bus service (which the Transit Master Plan does mention).

Admittedly I do shop at Ingles, Target, Pet Supplies Plus, and Earth Fare on a regular basis (with an occasional trip to Marshall’s, Best Buy, and Michael’s).  I do not despise chains because they are chains, but rather because they are not as good for the local economy as local businesses, and they very often don’t treat their employees as individuals.  I do despise the homogenization they inflict, and I cannot express how irritated I get every time I drive down Tunnel Rd II when I see the idiotic building orientation of Carrabas, Chilis, Cracker Barrel, and Lonestar.  Rather than site the buildings with the seating facing the mountain view, customers dine with a lovely view of the parking lot.  I understand that they didn’t want an ugly blank wall facing the street, but surely someone could’ve thought for a minute what a waste of the view their designs were.   I also detest the market saturation and the horrendous architecture.  Although their new location is only a few miles away, MalWart decided to completely abandon their hideous monstrosity on Hendersonville Rd for their new even more massive structure on Tunnel Rd II.  Ingles provides an even more disgusting example of waste; their new Hendersonville Rd store (the one across from Earth Fare not the one across from Biltmore Forest or in Fletcher) was built yards away from the previous one.

Tonight we’re dining at Pomodoros for the first time a several years (the first time at their new location), and we’ll swill some fine beers from Monk South at Pint Night and Cask Night later this week.  Keep those local businesses in mind when buying gifts!

Posted in politics | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Thirsty Monk South!!!

Posted by eemilla on September 11, 2009

These pictures are not the best or most clear, but fuck it!  I drank good beer in South Asheville after nine pm (actually all of these photos were taken after 11:30 pm)!

specialized beer glasses

In addition to the expected bar stools, Thirsty Monk South has a couch and coffee table area, two dart boards (with plenty of other board games), and a dog friendly patio (also smoker friendly).  I played some cricket with my honey, and he schooled me.  In my defense he was the designated driver.

getting my ass kicked at cricket

thirstymonksouth

We are so stoked about good beer in South Asheville, even if we still cannot catch the bus back home.  One step at a time.

Posted in food | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Local Food Failure

Posted by eemilla on July 7, 2009

I thought the local food challenge was going to be easier, but alas I was not able to concoct a meal that was completely local without changing my shopping habits more than I was ready to.  I love Hickory Nut Gap Farm eggs, but I wanted to avoid animal protein for both its ecological repercussions and my changing diet.  I found locally fermented tempeh and locally milled flour, but they both cost more than three times their non local options.  The French Broad Food Coop did have some fava beans from either Jake’s Farm in Candler or Gladheart Farms in Asheville, along with local shiitakes from the Mushroom Co-op, Jake’s Farm’s romaine heads, and Gladheart’s local broccoli crowns.

Although I did not complete the challenge as I wanted to, I did try fava beans for the first time.  I love them (even if you have to twice shuck them), and I devoured my fava shiitake dish (garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil being the non local interlopers).  The next step is to either commit to a CSA share, more homegrown food, or to tailgate market shopping.  Last year we did so well with all our victory garden herbs, arugula, kale, and tomatoes, but we completely dropped the ball for this year.

Congratulations to Small Footprints at Reduce Footprints for once again challenging me to see past my own greenwashing.

Posted in food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Summertime equals Ice Cream

Posted by eemilla on July 4, 2009

Actually I don’t care what time of the year it is, I always love ice cream, but summertime means that Two Spoons is open later so it’s easier for me to get there.  Our first encounter when they opened last year made me a fan upon my entrance.  The smell of waffle cones greeted me, and my mouth started watering.  I don’t remember what I ordered on the first visit, but on a recent visit I did Cup of Joe and a chocolate flavor (I believe the KMA).  My husband ordered Strawberry and Ginger; my next visit I’m going to deviate from my normal chocolate requisite and order Chai and Ginger.  Two Spoons uses Ultimate Ice Cream, and the flavors are so spot on.  The Ginger was so fresh and clean without being too sweet or spicy, and my Cup of Joe hit my coffee craving right on the head.  As stated previously though, the killer is the homemade waffle cone; I haven’t ever enjoyed waffle cones before so I don’t have a peer to compare Two Spoon’s version but just a whiff will be all the persuasion you should need.  At this time, I haven’t tried any other than scoops and cones, but they also have sundaes and several toppings for build your own gluttony.  Before you smother the ice cream try it plain; ultimate is an appropriate title.  In fact, I’m so spoiled with Ultimate Ice Cream that I don’t even like Breyer’s anymore.

There is a little atrium out back, and the interior has plenty of kid friendly chalkboard painted walls.  Parking is on the street, but the neighbors aren’t that busy so it isn’t a problem.  The hours run from 1 to 9, I think for summertime, but a call might be the best bet.

Posted in food | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Change the World Wednesday Challenge from ReduceFootprints

Posted by eemilla on June 25, 2009

This week the challenge is to be a locavore for at least three (or one full day if you eat min meals) of the twenty plus meals that make up your dining week.  In this town many a restaurant makes it easy; Laughing Seed Cafe has a farm that they source many things from, and many other restaurants either do the same or use local farmers.  Even though my fair city makes it much easier than other places, it is summer, and I love mangoes, which don’t grow in zone 7.  I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know exactly what is in season throughout the year, but thankfully, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has a friendly chart for the area.

Many a critic of eating local will argue that it is too expensive, and I agree that it can be pricey; however, the trick is to grow it yourself or make friends with someone who does.  My co-worker rents, and she still grows zucchini, red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, parsley all in containers.  Although this year some unexpected family emergencies gave us a pass on planting our victory (against corporate agriculture) garden, we have big plans for next year.  Alternatively Community Supported Agriculture shares are a great thought for those without the time or the inclination to grow their own vegetables (or the space to raise chickens, cows, goats, etc).

I will post some photos of our local meal, as its content will depend on what Mom has ready for harvest and what the Coop has in stock.

Posted in food, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »