Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Catch up on good times

We had a contest on who could use Two Pigs Farm Pork Product in a recipe the best!
The winner is Chelsea Stone!! One of Dover Vineyards own. She made a delicious Mexican style Chorizo dish.
How to make it:

Cornmeal Biscuits with Chorizo Gravy and Scallions

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    ¾ cup cornmeal
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1½ teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    ¾ cup buttermilk
Gravy and Assembly
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 pound fresh chorizo, casings removed
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2½ cups whole milk
    Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
    Hot sauce
    1 avocado, sliced
    4 scallions, thinly sliced
    2 radishes, thinly sliced (optional)
    ½ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
    ½ cup Cotija cheese or queso fresco (optional) (Cackleberry Queso Fresco)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Using your hands, work butter into flour until pieces are chickpea-size. Add buttermilk and mix just to blend.
  2. Drop dough by heaping ¼-cupfuls into an 8" cast-iron skillet, spacing about 1" apart. Bake, rotating skillet once, until biscuits are puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 12–15 minutes.
Gravy and Assembly
  1. While biscuits are baking, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium. Add chorizo, breaking up any large pieces with a spatula. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chorizo is browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon.
  2. Whisk flour into drippings in skillet and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is very smooth and starting to turn a light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly until incorporated. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook gravy, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5–8 minutes. Stir half of chorizo into gravy; season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
  3. Spoon some gravy over hot biscuits and top with avocado, scallions, radishes, cilantro, Cotija (if using), remaining chorizo, and more hot sauce. Serve remaining gravy alongside.
    Great job Chelsea!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

More summer recipe ideas

Hey customers, cookers, and eaters! These past two weeks have been ripe with more ideas for what we have in the stand right now. For the Forth of July, I made a vegetable-centered meal featuring a tomato and roasted vegetable risotto! One of my CSA members gave me an idea on how to make a less-cheese centered mac and cheese, and then yesterday, I took some of Bill Logan's Carolina Artisan Bread and made a quick pizza/flatbread sort of thing. It's been a fun two weeks of delicious, locally-sourced eating for me and my family.

The first step in making the risotto was to saute all of the arborio rice and some onions in olive oil for a few minutes. While this was going on, I chopped up some squash and zucchini, tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and threw them in the oven to roast at 350 until tender. I also put 6 tomatoes, cut in half on an oiled baking (cut side down) sheet and tossed them in the over as well. Then I started adding the liquids, first with vegetable stock. I stirred it till it absorbed, then added some soy milk. I stirred that till it absorbed, and then I added some white wine. Guess what I did next? I stirred it till it absorbed. I added some more vegetable stock and kept stirring, repeating till almost finished. When the tomatoes looked like they had cooked  through, I took them out, let them cool a bit and removed the skin. It slid right off. I put the tomatoes and the juices from the pan into the risotto and cooked it some more, stirring and letting the tomatoes assimilate. When it was creamy and smooth, I put it in a serving dish and topped it with the roasted vegetables. We served it with a cucumber salad (thinly sliced cucumbers, onions, a tiny bit sour cream, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and celery seed) veggie burgers, and some sliced tomatoes.

One great idea a customer of mine gave me was using squash and zucchini to cut the amount of cheese in a mac and cheese. Not only does it cut the amount of cheese, but it increases the amount of vegetables (from zero to like 6). Plus it's delicious. First, you roughly cut 10 squash and zucchini, a sprig of rosemary, some garlic, and one onion. Toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them in the oven to roast. Start boiling your water for your macaroni. Add in the macaroni, but remove it from heat and drain about minute before its finished. Next, take the roasted squash, zucchini, garlic, rosemary ( just the leaves) and onion from the oven and put them in a blender. Add in enough soy milk to get the blender going and let it develop into a thin paste, like pancake batter. Add in some poultry seasoning if you feel like it. Don't if you don't feel like it. Then, toss your pasta in the mixture so that it coats it like a regular mac and cheese. Add in some Parmesan cheese if you'd like. Top with a bit of mozzarella, provolone, or white cheddar if you want. Or don't. Pop it back in the over and let the macaroni finish cooking.   Then you eat it. You can tell your kids its full of vegetables, or don't. I served it with one of my favs: cucumber soup. Just peel and quarter some cucumbers and an onion. Place them in a blender with an avocado and some soy milk to get the blending started. Add salt and pepper and your choice of herb: either dill or cilantro. Blend until smooth. SOOOOOO good and refreshing. Great as a dip too if you make it a little thicker!

One final recipe/food idea I 'd like to share with you is for a quick farm fresh pizza or flat bread sorta thing. I took one of Bill Logan's classic loaves and split it in two. if you want a thin crust, you can easily split it into three. I then stuck it in the oven to let it toast. I chopped up four tomatoes, a bunch of basil, one hot pepper, and a small onion. I tossed them in olive oil salt and pepper, took the bread out from the oven, and topped it with the tomato mixtures. I put it back in the oven while I chopped up some squash, zucchini, and peppers. I tossed them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, removed the bread from the oven, and then topped it with the squash mixture. I sprinkled it with a little cheese and put it back in the oven for enough time for the squash to soften. Then I ate it. It was delicious and easy and made very few dishes. Perfect for a weekday evening when you don't want to get your kitchen messy and hot.

So how are you going to make these recipes your own? 
Happy Cooking and Be Creative! 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My parents let me cook them dinner

Cooking dinner for your parents shouldn't be a big deal, especially for someone, who like me, cooks all the time! But this, in fact, was a momentous occasion. My dad was out at my house mowing one of the vineyards and mom didn't have any dinner plans. I miraculously convinced my mom to come to my house to eat and convinced my dad to stay! My mom is a notoriously picky eater. She only eats things that her grandmother would have fixed. She's not too impressed with my 1001 uses for radish tops. My dad will try anything I cook and most of the time he likes it, but any time I'm cooking for mother, I have to do it by the book, southern style.

breading squash
So what did I decide to fix? What did we have at the farm stand that day? Why tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onions, potatoes, rosemary, a bit of butter, and a few peppers. Why not peel the cucumbers and put them in a blender with the onions, peppers, tomatoes olive oil, salt and pepper, and make gazpacho? And how about roasted potatoes? Just cut them up, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven at 400 until tender. I knew that dad and I would want a sauce on our potatoes, but that mom hates, I MEAN HATES, rosemary. Solution? Put two table spoons of butter in a skillet and chop up some rosemary in there. Let that roast with the potatoes and then add a little bit of white wine. Stick it back in the oven for 5 minutes, let it reduce, and voila, there is a sauce! For me and dad! Mom doesn't get any. 

frying squash
Finally, while the gazpacho was chilling and the potatoes were roasting, I set to frying the squash. I know I sound like I'm a sales person for House Autry products, but I'm not. They are simply a staple in my family's kitchens. So I cut up the squash into little medallions, put them into a tupperware, throw in some House Autry Seafood Breader, and then shake. Then I go back and separate the pieces which have stuck together, add a bit more seafood breader, and shake again. Finally, once they have sweated a bit, I throw in a bit more seafood breader and give them a final coat. I get my oil hot in the pan and start frying. Once they get puffy on one side, I flip them. It doesn't take long, and these things are sweet and golden brown and delicious. I do one frying pan full, unload it into a pan for the oven, and do three more, keeping them warm in the oven all the while. Once I've finished, the potatoes are roasted, the butter sauce is made, and the gazpacho is cold.

yep. this is food. i can eat this.
Dad gets in from mowing, complains a bit about something, I get him a glass of the new Rose (Come to our party on July 15th to celebrate all things ROSE!!) and serve him a plate. He doesn't complain. But he never does. Mom gets herself a plate (she had brought over other food just in case she didn't like my cooking), and I get a compliment. The squash a perfectly done! WOOHOO!! She liked the potatoes and even tasted the gazpacho. Said it was well balanced. I'll take that! 

my plate, and yes, i turned the label to the
 wine to face the camera for extra brand management.

Farm fresh food doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. I even cooked extra so I could make additional meals out of it for the rest of the week. I've been eating the left over gazpacho with Volkhorn from Carolina Artisan Bread for lunch. I've made fried squash and tomato sandwiches (re-heat fried squash in the oven or George Foreman-like grills). I'm going to make a tortilla espanola out of the left-over potatoes and sauce. 
ok. i'll try this.

And this is just what I did with the produce I had on hand from our farm store. My customers are doing even more things and I can't wait to share with you their ideas of how to eat the food that's coming off the land right now. 

they belong to the clean plate club. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Eat the squash like it's your (delicious) civic duty

Happy Early Summer Everyone! It's the time of year when most farmers have squash coming out their ears! We love this time of year because we get to eat and produce one of the most sustainable crops out there- squash and zucchini! But it's also quite frustrating when customers are scared to buy it because they "just don't like it. I mean how do you fix it? Mom just always boiled it and it was terrible!"

Recently, I have been struggling with the fact that many people don't know how to prepare the vegetables we grow, and thus don't know how to support local farmers with their purchase dollars. I was luckily born to a home economics teacher and an owner of a grocery store, not to mention the granddaughter of two wonderful "country cooking" experts. But I realize that not everyone is as comfortable around the farm-to-fork concept as I am. I feel like I need to change this. As much as I hate taking photos of my food, I know that for my business to survive, and for us to have a sustainable, local food system, we are going to have to re-educate massive amounts of people on how to eat seasonally and what that means.

Right now, eating seasonally and eating locally means eating squash. This is the time of year when squash can really shine. It's delicious. It's tender. It comes in about 20 different varieties, all of which are beautiful and fun. And there are so many different ways to fix it! You don't just have to boil it! Or saute it! Although both of these are great logical options! I'm going to go Bubba Gump on squash for a second. You can roast it. You can fry it. You can make it into fritters. You can put it in curry. You can put it on your burrito. You can put it in pasta salad. You can toss it with marinara sauce for pasta primavera. You can saute it with broccoli, carrots, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce and pretend that you got take out.

I love experimenting with our vegetables and I've recently created a new sort of recipe for a vegetable loaf. I used squash, zucchini, and kohlrabi, but you can pretty much substitute any kind of veggies in this recipe that you have during whatever season! I even made a mustard greens loaf a few weeks ago and it was AWESOME!

Grate up your squash, zucchini, kohlrabi. Chop an onion. Pour in some House Autry Hush Puppy Mix. Add in the required oil for the volume of mix you're using, but use only half the amount of milk/water. Add in an appropriate number of eggs, and mix. It should end up thicker than pancake batter, but not like cookie dough. Bake in a well greased cast iron skillet. Eat like cornbread with some beans or even use it to make a tomato sandwich!

The classic way I grew up eating squash was stuffed squash (or zucchini). My mom would parboil the squash, but it in half, scoop out the middle and mix it with some onions, bread crumbs, sausage, and an egg. Then, she would re-stuff the squash, top it with cheese, and bake it till the cheese was lightly brown. A few weeks ago, I made a vegan equivalent by substituting the sausage and egg with ground up chick peas, some sage, garlic, time and oregano. Sorta like mixing hummus with your squash and onion mixture. Then I made my cheese sauce by sauteing flower in some oil, thinning down the mixture with some of the left over ground chick peas and white wine. Then I flavored it with salt and pepper. Dad ate it. He was a meat cutter for 50 years. He couldn't tell the difference!

So guys- This time of year, we, the farmers of North Carolina, would love for you to experiment with squash and zucchini. The key to eating locally and seasonally, and preserving our small farms is changing the way we eat throughout the year. You will not regret it. You will become more creative and nutritious as you add more locally grown products to your diet. It's the best way ever to not get bored with your food!!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer Internship 2 Week Experience

My name is Zenethia and I am an Agricultural and Technical Systems student with a concentration in Horticulture. I came across Dover Vineyards when looking for internships to apply to for the summer experience. I wanted a hands-on learning experience and the Dover Vineyards was the perfect place. Just within 2 weeks of working here I learned an abundance of things. From learning how to plant and pick properly to learning about different methods and different types of fruits and vegetables, it has been a great experience thus far. My coworkers are very friendly and have been great teachers. From their teachings I can tell they have learned a lot themselves from Elizabeth. I literally learn something new everyday and starting to get more comfortable with task that are asked to be done. The main thing that I love about working here is that we do something different everyday and there is never a dull moment. It takes a lot to keep up a farm and garden but with hard workers like we are at the Dover Vineyards we always get things done while satisfying customers. Other than learning the horticultural side I have learned to work with customers and run the farm stand and farmers market. As my career I want to open peoples eyes to growing their own food no matter the environment and promote healthy eating and living. I also want to make my own products from oils and soaps to smoothies and juices. Although I will be going back to school in the fall I will take everything that I'm going to learn this summer and apply it in the class room. I am excited to see what the rest of the summer at Dover Vineyards is going to bring me!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Can we just talk about last week?

Guys- last week, we had almost 6 straight days of below freezing temperatures. Yes, we were prepared (well, as much as any farmer can be). It is often common this time of year to dip below freezing once things start to bloom, but for us to have such growth so early (almost a month before normal Spring), and then have such a cold snap, we were scared if our emergency measures would be enough.

Well, we will have strawberries! YAY!! We covered them and irrigated them and, from what we can tell right now, the plants look mostly fine. The berries we had, survived. It's the flowers that took the biggest hit. That means we will have berries for a while, then go for a dry-spell, and then pick back up where we hopefully were going to be this time of year.

But another crop wasn't so lucky: peaches. No, we don't have any peaches on our farm, but we sell peaches from other local farmers. They are a HUGE draw to our stand in the summer and a big part of other farmers' livelihoods.

And this is where I need you to pay attention. Peaches are one of the impulse items which makes our farm stand profitable. Their sweet juicy deliciousness is what makes small diversified farmers and farm stands an economic viability. When you're driving down the road and see a sign that says "squash" do you say- Hold up, Honey! Stop the car! We gotta get a bushel of those squashes! No. You don't. Squash aren't sexy. Neither are cucumbers, beans, basil, beets, kale, lettuce, peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, winter squash, basically 80% of what we grow. We count on those eye catching crops, peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, and pumpkins, to get the customers in the door. And, most of the time, once the customers arrive, get their impulse buy of peaches or tomatoes, they purchase other ancillary items, the items which make running a sustainable, diversified, small family farm, possible.

So what happens when you don't have peaches for sale? Last year, we saw a drop in sales of all things, simply because we were not able to put out our sign that said "Peaches." We didn't get the traffic of previous years when we were able to sell the peaches of our Cabarrus County neighbors. People would stop in, ask if we had peaches, we would have to turn them away, and then they would drive away, not making a purchase. This pattern proved detrimental to our sales during the summer. We had all of the rest of the crops, just not the Sexy Stars which make consumers stop and pick up a pound of beans, three squash, 4 cucumbers, a jar of jelly, honey, and a bar of soap.

So, not only have our friends lost their profitable peaches for two years in a row, now, according to smart business models across the southeast, small diversified farms are not as profitable as they should be when we have our Sexy Stars.

What we need from you, our customers and friends: Please Please Please continue to support us and other small farms this year even though we don't have peaches! Please stop, see what we have, and make your meals according to what's in season. It's easy to cook seasonally when the season is literally fruitful. What's tough, and what's vital, is to support the farms when the weather is difficult and the Sexy Stars aren't so bright. There is still a ton of great, delicious produce out there which will carry our farms through the dim summers-of-few-peaches. If you ever have any questions of how to work our produce in to your diet, just let us know. All of our staff can help you with recipe ideas. We, the farmers of Cabarrus County, need your support in the good years and the bad years. We have bills, just like you, regardless of how the weather treats us.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

It's Spring and look who's Blooming!

We get asked all the time as farmers, "What do you do in the 'off' season? What if it snows? What if the weather changes?"... etc. And the answer is pretty simple... There is no "off" season. Sure, the weather may not cooperate from a day to day basis during the Winter months. But if plants aren't growing, it doesn't mean that we are sitting, waiting, and watching.

This year in fact we had a totally different approach. Due to the success of Charlotte's first Kriskindlmarkt (Christmas Village) and a grant from the local group Farm Hands Charlotte, we were able to get a head start on Spring like never before!

Strawberries were planted late October.. in hopes of harvest in late April. Spring, however, had other plans! We will probably be harvesting within this month or so! "So soon?" you ask. Trust me. We're just as floored as you. So with weather changes comes ingenuity and careful planning.

As most of you may or may not know, Farming is not an exact science. In fact it is a lot of trial and error. We do precision based guesswork, based on data and information that can change at any time. So basically a nicer way of stating that we "roll with the punches". And our team is taking those punches like a champ!

Not only are we over a month ahead on planting; we have finished constructing our new beautiful greenhouse, we have finished updating and securing 'Chicken Run' (our coop), we have started germination of all vine clippings, and now we begin our new seed cells for our Summer crops!

It is so rewarding to put a seed into the ground and days later see the green peeking through the soil...

We can't wait to bring this year's produce to market! We will, of course, have our usual... tomatoes, onions, lettuce mixes, asian green mixes, arugula, strawberries. But we are also trying our hand at some new veggies. Jerusalem Artichokes (a totally tubular tuber!) shaped like a ginger root and tastes like a potato... we are excited for the new addition to the family!

As always with changing weather, comes changing growth rates... therefore, when strawberries are ready to harvest.. we will be opening the Farm Stand. It is a little earlier than normal... but then again when is the last time we had an 80 degree day in February?? That being said keep an eye out for updates at the farm. We love providing fresh, local, organic produce to the public.... so the sooner we can do it... the better!

Thank you for all the support. We really are having a great year at Dover Vineyards so far.. and there is so much more to come!

 Our New Greenhouse!
 Sprouts of mixed greens!
 The start of a pea plant!
 Jerusalem Artichokes
 Green strawberries ...almost there!

-Olivia, Dover Vineyards