Eating local

Holiday Helpers Edition of Eating Local

When it comes to eating local, you know I am always on the search for new and interesting products, produce and proteins to share. In this pre-Thanksgiving post, I’m sharing five fabulous products plus recipes to help shortcut your holiday season cooking time.

This is the first of two posts. Consider it a taste of all the eating local to be done. In a day or so I’ll be back with more recipes on how to use each of these five local products and several more that I told you about last month, in ways you perhaps, have never thought of.

eating locally
Snacking with friends is the very best way of eating locally! Here I am with Charlotte Today host Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson munching on Yon’s Pecans and Bungalow Picnic granola after the show! Oooh, that bear behind Eugene looks hungry, too!

As a precursor to this post, I was excited to share this “Holiday Helpers” list on WCNC’s Charlotte Today. I was on air on Tuesday Nov 26. 2019. In Case You Missed It, Here is the video, then read on for more details about each of these delicious products.

It goes without saying that Charlotte Today show hosts Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson enjoyed this seasonal version of eating locally as much as I did.

Here’s is the lowdown on the list with where-to-buy info an website links. Stay tuned for recipes and more deliciousness to come.

Eating Local: VeloPops Charlotte

I fell in love with these locally crafted pops the minute I took my first bite.

eating locally

There is a lot to love in the VeloPops freezer cases – including my first faves here: the coffee pop made from Mint Hill Coffee Roasters ( dipped in dark chocolate, oh my!) And, the double layer Uncle Scott’s Rootbeer pop, another wonderful local GotToBeNC product made in Salisbury NC.

The team at VeloPops keeps it local and seasonal with flavors to suit every occasion. They are each so delicious, that I started thinking about incorporating them into recipes… Cranberry orange pop granita; VeloPop cocktails and mocktails and…wait for it… Pup Pop Holiday gravy.

Eating Locally
Its true… The VeloPops pup pops are made from ingredients humans can eat, too! Melt them down in a roux of butter and flour and with just a little bit of seasoning, they make a wonderful quick and easy base for homemade gravy!

Cooking with VeloPops, Just Think Outside the box!

Have I peaked your interest? The basic recipe is in the photo caption, but there are more details to come. Know that sometimes, when you just think outside the box a bit, very delicious things happen.

Meanwhile, try all the seasonal VeloPop flavors. Pumpkin cheesecake, cranberry orange and cranberry apple are all delicious and will make a fun dessert to that plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. Or, chop them up and refreeze them to make a granita – serve it up in a sweet little demi tasse cup from my friends at Haands Pottery for a refreshing and beautifully served intermezzo between courses,

VeloPops Charlotte is located at 1645 Matthews Township Parkway. Matthews, NC 28105. Call them at 704.776.8419
Hours: Sun – Thur: 11am-8pm; Fri & Sat: 11am-9:00pm

Eating Local: Yon’s Pecans from Ridge Spring, SC

eating locally

Not sure if you are aware, but pecans are a wonderful local crop, grown and harvested across both of the Carolinas. I became aware of these local South Carolina pecans from the folks at Yon’s Family Farms when I wrote about Clemson’s Best Ice Cream in the summer of 2019.

eating locally
This sampler tin of all the delicious pecan candies at The Nut House & Country Market in Ridge Spring, SC makes a fabulous holiday gift!

Then late in the summer while I was on my way to Titan Farms for an article on South Carolina Peaches, I stopped in at The Nut House and Country Market and I knew I just had to write about these pecans!

You can order online here or go visit the Nut House at 505 E. Main Street
Ridge Spring, SC and shop local there.

In South Carolina, visit any Food Lion store to buy Yon’s Pecans raw halves for all of your holiday cooking.

Eating Local: Parla Pasta

eating locally

I wrote about Parla Pasta in one of my first ever posts on local product; and it is a pleasure to be working with the Parla Pasta family once again. So nice to know that you can shop local simply by going to the freezer case in your local grocery store.

eating locally
You’ll find the recipe for this delicious take on classic Pasta e Fagioli soup made here with Parla Pasta Tortellini in one of my first ever Eat Local Roundups ( scroll to the end of the post for the recipes)

Parla Pasta is available at Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Lowes, and Publix just to name a few. You’ll find tons of info and great recipes on the Parla website here; plus, follow their cute Instagram feed for a fun Italian language lesson in every post!

Parla Pasta the kind of local product you want to have on hand when you need a quick, homemade and healthy meal. We love the packaging because you can pull out enough for one or two servings or you can make the whole package for a group of 4-6 for lunch or dinner.

Fried Parla Pasta Ravioli

In the follow up post here, I’ll share my quick and easy recipe for sage butter – a terrific sauce for both the baked Parla Pasta Manicotti and almost any variety of the ravioli.

eating locally
Fried Parla Pasta Ravioli dusted with fresh grated real aged Parmesan cheese make a wonderful holiday appetizer.

Meanwhile, for a great quick and easy appetizer, that is a crowd pleaser for sure, try a batch of crispy fried Parla Ravioli! Heat about an inch of oil in a hot sauce pan. When the oil is hot, carefully drop in any of Parla’s frozen ravioli and fry till golden brown on both sides. Remove the crispy cheesy filled packets from the hot oil. Drain on several thicknesses of paper towels. Then, dust with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese to enjoy as a hearty homemade holiday appetizer.

Eating Local: Bungalow Picnic Company Granola

eating locally

This trio of fabulous from scratch granola is made right here in Charlotte NC! I love the unique flavor combos and the fact that these are big chunks of deliciousness, perfect for snacking right out of the package when the mood strikes.

All three varieties are available at Harris Teeter around town, and in Ingles Market’s around the state.

eating local

You’ll find the Peanut Butter Banana and the Dark Chocolate Sunflower variety on the shelves of Whole Foods, as well. Look for Bungalow Picnic Founder Dee Dee Dodd’s photo on the Local shelf-talker right by the line up of her product. You may also order directly from the Bungalow Picnic website here with free shipping on orders over $50.

Not just for breakfast any more…

Know that this delicious granola isn’t just for snacking – or serving with yogurt and fruit for breakfast. Grind your favorite variety up in the food processor and use in place of nuts in any recipe. Or break it up slightly and sprinkle over a salad instead of a crouton.

You can also add crumbled Bungalow Picnic Granola over any sort of cheesy casserole as you would a bread crumb; or a more finely ground version as a crunchy topping or crumb crust for cheesecake or cobbler.

Bungalow Picnic granolas are made with organic coconut oil and other all natural ingredients and are wheat free, dairy free and soy free.

I’ve kept the following recipe for my Bungalow Picnic Company Granola Fruit Crisp gluten free by using almond flour in the mix; but if gluten isn’t of concern to you, feel free to substitute an organic all purpose flour instead.

Bungalow Picnic Company Gluten Free Granola Fruit Crisp

1 cup almond flour

 1/2 cup organic sugar

3 Tbsp. local sorghum syrup molasses

 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

 Pinch of salt

 1 stick  butter

 2 cups your favorite variety of Bungalow Picnic Company  granola

 3 1/2 pounds local NC or SC apples, peeled and diced

2 cups organic cranberries, coarsely chopped

 ½ organic sugar

 ¼ cup orange juice 

2 tsp. each: cinnamon and cardamom

2 Tbsp. almond flour

For the apple crisp topping: Combine the almond flour with ½ cup sugar, sorghum syrup molasses, baking powder and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend together with a few quick on/offs. Add in butter and combine, again using a few quick on/offs. Add in the granola the same way, until the granola is chopped to your liking. Reserve.

Toss the chopped apples and cranberries with the remaining sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, cardamom and 2 additional tablespoons of almond flour.

Place the fruit mixture into a  a buttered oven to table 13×9 inch pan.  Generously sprinkle on the granola streusel topping and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Eating Local: Summerstar Farms Best Jam Ever

eating local
SummerStar Farms “Best Jam Ever” is available every Saturday at the Matthews Community Farmers Market

These small batch artisan jams are made from local ingredient and hale from Monroe NC. You won’t find them in any retail location or online, but they are always available at the Matthews Community Farmers Market where you can sample and taste and buy directly from the master jam maker, Kerry Robertson.

eating Local

These seasonal sweet and savory jams are delicious on bread or toast, but I encourage you to once again step outside the box and enjoy them as the flavor focus on an appetizer of Uno Alla Volta ricotta cheese on a toast point or bite-sized pastry shell.

SummerStar Farms’ more savory flavors, such as the Smoky Mountain Haze, are simply wonderful as a glaze on baked chicken or pork chops ( stay tuned for a great recipe in the next post). Use sweeter versions in holiday baking for thumbprint cookies or make these easy Best Jam Ever Shortbread Bars.

Best Jam Ever Shortbread Bars

1 1/2 cups butter

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup organic rolled oats

1 cup organic sugar

2 cups your favorite variety of SummerStar Farms Best Jam Ever

Use a food processor fitted with the steel blade to combine 1 cup of the butter with 1 2/3 cups flour, 2/3 cup of the sugar and 1/3 cup oats. Blend until you have a crumbly mix, then, press into a parchment paper lined 12×17 inch baking sheet with sides to make the bottom crust. Spread the jam over this bottom crust layer.

Next, combine the remaining 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup oats in the processor and combine once again to make a crumbly mixture, then sprinkle over this bar cookie’s jam layer.

Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven or until edges are golden brown, then remove from oven and allow to completely cool before cutting into squares to enjoy.

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