We’re Baaaaaack!!!


So how long has it been friends? One, oh geez, TWO YEARS?!

How ya been? Wonder where we went?

I guess you could say life happened for us; just a few changes since we last spoke. We moved back to Vermont. Harrison took over a responsible restaurant with national acclaim. I worked for a young inspiring magazine helping their business grow. We then followed our hearts back to our hometown. And oh yeah, we had a kid. He’s pretty awesome. We’re pretty proud.

 

Andrea

 

Harrison

 

A lot has happened but we can honestly say that we are finally hitting a joyous stride as we lay down roots with our boy here in the place we always thought we needed to leave.

View of Pilot Mountain, MingleWood Farm, TowniesWS
And with that, we are taking a closer look at our new-again city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina over at our new site, TowniesWS.com 

Winston Salem, NC - TowniesWS.com

 

There, we will be showcasing the doers, makers and innovators that are helping to make our “little-city-that-could” shine. Of course there will also be seasonal eats from Harrison, photo essays from me, as well as some creative inspiration for all of you out there.

artist palette, TowniesWS.com

Homegrown Tomatoes, TowniesWS.com

Summer Tomato Beet Salad, TowniesWS.com

 

We’d love to have you follow along with us in this next chapter. Big plans in store. Here’s to the ride!

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Truffles for Backpacks

More than $1,600 in truffles were consumed in the creation of this post.

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You should have seen them all, smelled them. There were loads of big beautiful Black Perigord truffles generously donated by Jane Smith of Truffles NC.

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It was all in support of the Backpack Program, a child hunger initiative created by the Second Harvest Food Bank. These truffles were the draw that brought more than 4o guests, two chefs, a local food writer and a team of volunteers together to raise more than $3,000 in three hours for food insecure children in our rural communities.

Truffles NC donates a percentage of their sales each year to the Backpack Program. This annual dinner was created by Jane to help increase those funds each year.

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We met Jane a few months ago at the Cobblestone Farmers Market and we quickly became raving fans of her truffle honey and truffle butter. We picked her brain for tips and nerded out on facts, like –

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  • Did you know the piedmont region of North Carolina is prime for growing truffles? The NC Department of Agriculture awarded grant money years back to encourage former tobacco farmers to transition to this newly transplanted, highly coveted crop.
  • On average, black perigord truffles sell from $60 – $100 an OUNCE.
  • It typically takes 8 – 10 years after planting the inoculated trees for growers to reap their first harvest (talk about patience! No wonder they’re so expensive!)
  • Trained dogs (or traditionally female pigs) are used to sniff out the truffles for growers. (Turtle might be getting a new day job.)
  • When Martha Stewart was looking to start a truffle growing operation, she visited North Carolina and Jane to get the expert scoop!

Last month, Jane and our new friends at Beta Verde reached out to see if we might want to help bring the Second Annual Truffle Dinner together.

Hmmm… let’s see… eat decadent truffles for a day while giving back and supporting Jane’s generous efforts. How could we resist?

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Chef Susi Gott Seguret, director of the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts in Asheville designed the evening’s menu and Harrison pitched in on execution. Margaret and Salem Neff, owners of Beta Verde and managers of the Cobblestreet Farmers Market, opened up their fantastic home and sourced almost all of the ingredients locally from nearby producers, including Harmony Ridge Farms, Gary’s Produce, Flora Ridge Farm, Grace Meadow Farm, Border Springs Farm, Carolina Mountain Trout, Camino Bakery and Three Sisters Bakery.

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Biltmore Estate graciously provided champagne to kick off the evening while Susi treated the guests to truffle rolling demos to get their hands dirty.

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Sanders Ridge Winery also joined us for wine tastings and bottle sales for proper pairings and to keep the good times flowing.

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The dollars raised will be used to provide elementary school children at risk of hunger with backpacks full of nutritious, child-friendly foods to take home over the weekends during the school year.

A special thank you to everyone who helped make this special night possible and bring Jane’s vision and mission to life.

And thanks to Michael Hastings for the great coverage in the Winston-Salem Journal here!

Until cook with new friends again,

a+h

Chapter Two.

Farewell Vermont. You will be missed. It’s back to North Carolina we have gone.

We would be lying if we said we didn’t struggle with leaving; funny because we only moved to Vermont for Harrison to attend culinary school. But we ended up falling in love with the area with its contagious locavore lifestyle and deeply rooted good food community.


And we continue to crave the breads…

The cheeses…

The hidden treasures…


The beer…


I like to say that it was in Vermont that I finally entered food rehab. I went from microwaving to making from scratch; from drive-thrus  to farm stands; from cans and boxes to picking and canning. We moved for Harrison but in the end we think it might have been equally for me.

In Vermont my passion for food grew ten-fold. And so did my love for working side by side with Harrison. He cooks and I photograph. He explains how-to and I write. He learns hands-on and I read his textbooks to ask questions. He executes our event menus flawlessly and I make sure our guests are enjoying themselves. He continues to inspire me. I continue to challenge him.

Isn’t it funny where life leads you when you just let loose and let it?  If you were to ask me a year and a half ago if I could see myself working side by side with him day to day I would have thought you were nuts. But today I can’t think of any other place I would rather be.

For us, life has led us back to North Carolina to give his mom some much needed support with her thriving catering business with him in the kitchen and me in the office with coordination. And we’re looking forward to using our passions to create lasting food memories for clients.

While we’re here, we also strive to create new farm to table experiences with the community in our home state. Ultimately, it is our dream to one day have a small farm and cafe and do it all on one site. We’ll see…

So although the New England culinary adventure has ended, we know that a whole new adventure is about to unfold. We hope you’ll continue to join us here to share in new inspiration and continue to celebrate the community that food builds with us.

Hello Winston-Salem. Here goes…

Freshly Baked Fun at Great Harvest Bread Company in Chapel Hill NC

We know. We hear you. “Where are the new recipes?!”, you say.

We’ve been holding out on you and for that we’re sorry.  But we promise that will be changing very soon. A sincere thanks for your patience as we get ourselves sorted out this month.

You see, it’s been pretty hectic at our house. Harrison is finishing up school and getting ready for graduation in a few weeks (hooray!). And we’re getting ready to move to Stowe, Vermont for the summer where we’ll be helping out on a nearby organic produce and flower farm (double hooray). And we’re also making plans for another new adventure that takes us back south in the fall (details to come!).

We’re also apparently trying to create a new world record for number of round-trip visits to North Carolina in the span of 30 days (one more to go!). We’re on the road again and again and again…

On this latest visit my brother and I met up in NC and headed to Chapel Hill to check in on our dad and step-mom who just opened the doors to their new bakery and café!

It’s amazing what your parents will get into after their kids fly the coop.

In late March they purchased the existing Great Harvest Bread shop in Chapel Hill from its former owners who were ready to transition on. They closed up shop for a few weeks, remodeled the store, put their own touches on the space and now they are off and running with my dad at the helm as the new managing baker (aka the sponge and dough man). And let me tell you friends. The man can bake!


And bake he does, starting bright and early Mondays through Saturdays at 4:30am. He mills his own flour on-site and bakes up fresh breads, warm cookies and scrumptious fruit-filled scones and muffins daily.

We arrived on blueberry scone day. Lucky us. YUUUM!


Right by his side is our step-mom Cathy who is all smiles and has the counter covered serving up free samples (including granola!), rich coffee and some fine-looking fresh bread sandwiches.


Family or not, you better believe we took advantage of all of those freshly baked samples. Our personal favorite? Their cinnamon swirl bread which my brother sliced up thick to whip up some ooey gooey delicious Mother’s Day French Toast. Oh and the warm rosemary garlic bread with a smear of melted butter – hello savory flavor.


If you live in the Chapel Hill area or find yourself traveling through, we would love it if you stopped in and said hello (walk in all VIP-like and ask for Cathy and Jeff). It’s a big new adventure for them and we know how much they will appreciate your support. Please tell them we sent you and don’t forget to let us know what you taste-tested!

Great Harvest Bread Company
229 South Elliott Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Hours: Monday –  Saturday, 7:00am – 6:00pm

Until we celebrate new beginnings again,

A+H

Lemon and Rosemary Infused Strawberry Cocktails

Hip Hip Hooray! Spring has finally arrived!  Can we please tell you how excited we are to welcome in a new season of fresh fruits.  Bring. It. On. We say.

Sorry root veg.  It’s been real but alas we bid you adieu. 

Now, it’s still pretty early here in Vermont to get the buckets out and go picking. But our friends down in NC have been teasing us with tales of their early strawberry season.  And since the temperature is rising to a perfect 70 degrees today we just had to jump the gun and toast the change of seasons with one of our newest infused cocktails.

Pull out the flips flops and the Adirondack chairs friends…
Let’s let loose on our Lemon & Rosemary Infused Strawberry Cocktails, shall we?

We’re serving them up two ways today. So pick your pleasure – frozen or on the rocks.


Ingredients:
(yields 4 pints of frozen beverage or 5-6 cocktails on the rocks)

  • (1) quart of strawberries
  • Juice of 4-5 lemons ( 2/3-3/4 cup)
  • (1) bunch of rosemary
  • (4) Tablespoons (1/4 cup) of sugar in the raw
  • (2) Tablespoons of honey
  • Plus vodka, white rum or spiced rum … measurements below

 

To make your strawberry puree:

  • (1) quart of strawberries, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • (2) Tablespoons of honey

Puree the berries and honey in a food processor or blender.  After you puree, you can either leave the seeds in your mixture or strain the seeds out.  If you strain the seeds out, plan for a possible yield shortage.


To make your simple syrup:

  • (2) large stems of rosemary
  • Juice from 4-5 lemons
  • (4) Tablespoons of sugar in the raw

Heat the lemon juice and sugar on low until sugar dissolves.  Then add your rosemary and turn off the heat.  Stir repeatedly to increase flavor and aroma.  Remove rosemary and dry on a rack.  (You can later use to create candied rosemary for garnish.)

This should yield ¾ cup of simple syrup.


On to the cocktails!

For those who prefer it frozen…
You’ll need a blender or a Vitamix.

The following is for (2) pints of frozen drink.

  • (1) cup of pureed strawberries
  • ½ cup of simple syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary
  • (2) pints of ice
  • ½ cup of water
  • (3) ounces of white or spiced rum  (we prefer white with this)

Blend all of your ingredients.  Voila!

For those who like their cocktails on the rocks…
You will need a small cocktail shaker.


To make (1) cocktail:

  • ½ teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of pureed strawberries
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of simple syrup (depends on how sweet you would like your drink)
  • 1 ½ oz. of vodka  (we used Barr Hill Vodka)
  • 2 ice cubes

Combine ingredients in your shaker with your ice cubes…shake, shake, shake…

Then pour over ice in a small rocks glass.  Bottoms up!


Until we toast to the new season again,

A + H

Oh and speaking of toasts…. we’d like to cheers to Rob and Rebecca who made it official this weekend.  Happy wedding weekend guys!! Congrats and cheers to you!!  And cheers to April for ringing in her 30s AND cheers to Mom for her big birthday weekend too!  Here here!  All this celebration calls for another round of drinks!