Seven Ways to Eat and Drink Local

Eat and Drink Local. Over the years it’s become my mantra. With so many locally grown, raised, caught and made products across the Carolinas, its really easy to do.

Heidi takes her how to eat and drink local to TV in Raleigh

Talking all things local at WRAL in Raleigh with 9 am Hour co-host, Lena and Larry the camera man!

Today, Tuesday Sept 17, I am delighted to be in Raleigh, NC spreading the word of eating local. At 9:45 this morning I’ll be appearing on WRAL with hosts of the “9 am hour” news broadcast, talking about seven extraordinary local products. All of them are crafted in North Carolina. And they are all available to the retail market in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. Most are available across the state, the region and the country.

eat and drink local

if you live in the Raleigh/Durham viewing area you may have caught this eat local segment live. In case you missed it – I have you covered and now you can link back and watch it on the WRAL Website here.

How to Eat and drink local this late summer season

While all of these products are available all year long, its nice to know how to craft them each into seasonal recipes. In the follow up post, I’ll include detailed recipes. Today I’ll offer quick and easy suggestions on how to incorporate each of these products into your daily meal planning.

eat and drink local

So, let’s get started. Keep all of these great local products in your fridge, your freezer or you pantry. Having them on hand is step one in making it easy to eat and drink local every day!

Eat and Drink Local Elderberries

Norm’s Farms is in Pittsboro NC. Norm’s grows the American Black Elderberry. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants, the elderberry is the super food of the season. With the change in weather that comes with the season, elderberries can help you naturally boost your immune system an may be just what you need to keep you going strong.

Take a shot of Norm’s Elderberry wellness syrups or extracts to relieve and help possibly prevent any seasonal distress. Use Norm’s jams and jellies on toast in the morning, on sandwiches midday and as a sweet component to sauces and salad dressings. Norm’s cocktail syrups are just that, but are also a wonderful way to add flavor and the benefits of elderberries to tea and sparkling water. You can also use Norm’s syrups in place of sugar in recipes for all your favorite desserts and baked goods.

Celebrating the American Elderberry this weekend

Norm’s Farms is celebrating the local American Black elderberry this weekend September 21 from 1 pm till midnight and you are invited. The fun takes place in Siler City, NC – check out all the details here

Read more, subscribe to their blog and get more recipes on the Norm’s Farm website. Norm’s Farms elderberry products are available across the country. Find a retail location near you here.

Got Milk? Get to a Local Dairy.

Ran Lew Dairy Milk, Buttermilk and Chocolate milk are all from Randy Lewis farm in Snow Camp, NC.

I met farmer Randy Lewis Years ago and have a great appreciation for what he does. He’s been in the dairy business his whole life. The cream top milk from his farm is some of the best in the state. Why? First of all, what you see is what you get. Other than the pasteurization required by state law, Randy and his crew, don’t add anything else to the whole that comes from his cows. He describes it as “barely legal.” I describe it as simply delicious.

Old Fashioned Buttermilk is a great way to cook with a fine local product

The whole milk buttermilk from Ran Lew Dairy is made the old fashioned way and is full of naturally occurring probiotics. It’s good for you and delicious. As many of you know from following my social media, I’ve just returned from the first Chow Chow Festival in Asheville, NC. As host of the GotTobeNC cooking stage, I was fascinated by a cooking demo done by chef Curt Shelvey of Curt’s Cucina in Southern Pines, NC.

Curt used Ran Lew Dairy buttermilk as the acid component to his homemade ricotta cheese and it was fabulous. That’s how good this milk is.

When local milk becomes local cheese

The ricotta cheese recipe: Ran Lew Dairy whole milk and Buttermilk, in a 4 to 1 ratio plus a dash of salt. Warm the milk, add the butter milk, heat to temperature, strain through cheese cloth and wait. I’ll have the detailed recipe from Curt in a blog post to come, but its a keeper I promise you! RanLew Dairy Buttermilk is a basic in salad dressings, biscuit and cornbread recipes, too.

Make Mine Chocolate

Ran Lew Dairy chocolate milk will blow your mind. Its the best you have ever tasted. Unlike the whole milk and the buttermilk, the cream top chocolate milk has two added ingredients. They are quite simply: cocoa and sugar.  You and your family are going to love it. It’s delicious to drink, of course; but I love using it to make chocolate pudding, chocolate ice cream and chocolate custard pie!

Ran Lew Dairy milk is available to chefs and restaurants across the state. And, consumers can buy it to in retail markets in the Triangle and close to the dairy. Look for it in the dairy section at Whole Foods in the Cary, Chapel Hill, West Cary and North Raleigh. Its also available in the Durham Co-op market and in Cary, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough at Weaver Street Market locations. In the next post, I’ll share chefs from across state who feature Ran Lew Dairy products on their menus.

Meanwhile, if you don’t live in the Triangle or near Snow camp plan a road trip to the Triangle and bring a cooler. You’ll definitely want to stock up to take some home.

Think outside the soup bowl with Miso Masters Miso

Did you know that Miso Masters Miso is a locally crafted North Carolina product? It’s true! Made by time honored Japanese standards in Rutherford County NC, Miso Masters is the largest producer of organic miso in the world.

And I am here to tell you that miso is not just for soup any more! It was my pleasure to represent Miso Masters at the Chow Chow festival. Cooking with me on stage: Chef Thomas Card of the Counting House restaurant in the 21c hotel in Durham North Carolina. Thomas used the aged red miso as a brine to cure salmon. The technique is super simple. Spread the miso on both sides of a salmon fillet. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for several days. Rinse off the miso and slice the fish thin. Delicious!

Miso Masters miso comes in a variety of flavors. From traditional white to aged red. Interestingly these two very different varieties start with the same recipe. The color and the deep flavor of the red simply come with the aging.

The Sweeter Side of Miso

Use the mellow white miso in place of cheese for fabulous dairy free pestos and add in as a subtley sweet component to marinades, salad dressings and sandwich spreads. Combine the sweet white miso half and half with local honey for a fabulous syrup to drizzle over pancakes or my recipe for a stuffed french toast breakfast sandwich. Oh my! Miso is also great baked into cookies, brownies and ice creams.

Taking Local to the Lusty Side

Lusty Monk Mustard is hand crafted in Candler, NC, just outside of Asheville. This artisan mustard from comes in three flavors: Altar Boy honey mustard; Original Sin whole grain variety and, if you are looking for more of a kick turn to a jar of Burn in Hell . The how to eat and enjoy local instructions from the company are Indulge, Repent, Repeat. I concur.

This hand crafted is not only a great condiment but like all the other local products listed here, consider it a go-to ingredient for stocks, sauces and marinades. 

All of Lusty Monk mustards are fresh ground and made in small batches to insure quality and flavor. Family owned and nationally recognized, this award-winning mustard is made with all natural ingredients. Lusty Monk Mustards are available across the state and across the country. Find a jar near you, here.

Local Hummus

Roots Hummus is a small company based in Asheville doing very big things. They craft 10 different varieties of artisan made hummus, so everyone is sure to find a flavor they will love.

Roots Hummus is arguably best served as a dip or spread, but I also love it in place of oil in a salad dressing. Toss root veggies ( pun intended) or cauliflower florets in your favorite flavor and then roast in a 300 degree oven for 30-40 mins. Its a game changer.

Like the other companies here, of the missions of Roots Hummus is to pay each of their employees a living wage so that after work folks don’t have to go work a second or third job to make ends meet and instead can go home to spend time with their families. The company has also made it a point to give back the community they call home. Read more here for info on the Roots Foundations and how Roots is giving back.

Roots Hummus is sold across the country. For more on where to find visit

Saucing it up

I just met my new friends at Ya’ll Sauce Company from Winston Salem NC this summer and I love what they are doing.

eat and drink local
Josh the Sauce Boss at Ya’ll Sauce Co. in Winston-Salem NC

This family owned company makes three different traditional Southern sauces Each sauce has a fun and flavorful story, you can read here. Then, I am happy to introduce them by name.

Mississippi Comeback Sauce is a blend of Duke’s creamy mayo ( another great condiment local to the Carolinas), creole mustard & creole seasonings.

Kentucky Henry Bain has a Tomato base blended with mango chutney, red pepper flakes and Old Forrester Bourbon!

And finally the Jezebel Sauce. Orange Marmalade, whole grain mustard, Muddy Pond sorghum and a kick of horseradish you will love.

Like all the local products in this post, you’ll enjoy these sauces in a million different ways. Try them on salads and sandwiches, as marinades, over roasted or grilled meats, as dipping sauces and more.

In the Raleigh area, you’ll find the Ya’ll Sauce line at Butcher’s Market & NOFO at the Pig. Outside of the Triangle and the Triad, you can order online. Look for them in the Charlotte market soon. You know I will keep you posted!

Smiling Hara Hempeh

If you enjoy a plant based diet, I think you might agree that sometimes its hard to find interesting and satisfying sources of protein. I’m delighted  to tell you that your search is over and you only have to go as far as the refrigerated case of your local supermarket to find Smiling Hara Hempeh out of Asheville, NC.

This family run company has taken the standard recipe for tempeh, most commonly made with soy, and has recreated it to offer soy-full and  soy- free variations, all fortified with hemp protein to make Hempeh, a high protein, gluten free, plant based protein you are going to love.  

To make it even better ( and easier) Smiling Hara Hempeh comes packaged and marinated in a trio of delicious variations:  Asian Miso Ginger ( which comes sliced), Raspberry Habanero BBQ and Smoked Salt & Pepper Steak.  Made from only the highest quality ingredients, grown without GMOs and sourced as locally as possible, this hempeh is probably at its best steamed or sautéed before serving. We love and regularly enjoy all three varieties on sandwiches or in stir-frys and you will too! See my favorite fall recipe for Smiling Hara veggie chili here and then check out a host of other terrific recipes and all the where-to-buy info on the Smiling Hara website.

One comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.