published Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Pierce: Free cookbook series promotes locally grown foods year-round

Last week a new cookbook caught my eye because it's all about foods grown locally.

"Eat Up" is a small, thin paperback (about 5 by 7 inches and just 38 pages), but its size is part of the gimmick. It's the first in a series of four free cookbooks that will be released seasonally by Gaining Ground. The idea is to collect all four, then you'll have a year-round collection of healthy recipes all based on produce and meats raised by farmers within 100 miles of Chattanooga.

Gaining Ground was launched in 2010 by the Benwood Foundation to encourage the production and consumption of locally grown food. Jeff Pfitzer is its executive director.

Even though "Eat Up" is small, Gaining Ground didn't skimp on its preparation. The cover is decorated with 17 pencil drawings of local veggies available in spring. The commentary inside is the advice of local farmer and chef Ann Keener. Beautiful color photographs illustrate what the accompanying recipe should look like when made.

The recipes run the gamut from Kale Caesar Salad to a mouthwatering recipe for Baked Chicken With Rosemary Potatoes from Lucy Crider of Crider's Creek Farm.

There is only one dessert included: Beet Brownies. As much as I love fresh vegetables, that's a waste of perfectly good chocolate.

Anyway, Pfitzer said in a news release the purpose of this cookbook is to introduce readers to locally grown ingredients they may have never known existed and to encourage them to shop local farmers markets for these products. The Roasted Kohlrabi and Fennel recipe is a good example.

The summer edition will be released in July. Until then, you can pick up one of the spring cookbooks at the farmers markets listed in the accompanying information on cooking demonstrations.

Despite beet brownies, you'll be glad you did.

Spinach Salad With Strawberries

2 cups baby spinach, washed

1/2 cup fresh broccoli, cut into small florets

1/2 cup strawberries, washed and sliced

1 chopped hard-boiled egg (optional)

1/4 cup cooked kidney beans (optional)

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (optional)

Toss all salad ingredients. Top with 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette (recipe follows); the remaining dressing will keep two weeks in the refrigerator.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard

2 teaspoons honey

Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a glass jar with lid, and shake well. Refrigerate unused portion up to two weeks.

Cooking Demonstrations

Gaining Ground is sponsoring four cooking demonstrations to show shoppers how to prepare some of the recipes included in "Eat Up" and to let then taste-test the finished dishes.

Cookbooks will be available at each site, as well as at Chattanooga Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays in First Tennessee Pavilion, and Fresh on Fridays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekly at Miller Plaza.

• Thursday: Signal Mountain Farmers Market, 2815 Anderson Pike, 4-6:30 p.m.

• June 2: Brainerd Farmers Market, 20 Belvoir Road, 10 a.m.-noon.

• June 6: Main Street Farmers Market, 325 E. Main St., 4-6 p.m.

• June 16: St. Alban's Farmers Market, 7514 Hixson Pike, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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