keep it local text

Keep It Local

As a long time food and travel writer, my mantra and my niche has become to keep it local. I encourage my readers to eat and drink locally wherever they are; and to support local business & producers whenever that is an option.

Each month on these pages I share a short round up of easy ways to keep it local in the kitchen, the pantry, around the house and today, in caring for your pets, as well. In this March round up, it’s my pleasure to share these five fabulous ways to share the local love.

Gebhardt Farms Maple Syrup

Let’s start with something sweet. This first way to keep it local today, really isn’t a locally-produced product; but it has a local Charlotte, NC footprint, it’s delicious and done right and that works for me. This small-batch, hand-crafted maple syrup is harvested on the Gebhardt family farm in Wisconsin; but David and Marianne Gebhardt actually live and work in Charlotte.

Each year, they return to the farm in early spring, to help David’s dad with the tapping of the trees for the annual harvest. It’s what David has done each year since he was a kid.

Together the family carefully and meticulously boil down the sap into 100% pure maple syrup the same way they’ve been doing for decades. The way previous caretakers of this forested land did before them. Just last year they decided to turn their family’s maple syrup into a business.

Now, they are bring their farm fresh syrup back to share the sweet treat with all of us at restaurants, coffee shops and retail locations across the Carolinas. Look for Gebhardt Farms Maple Syrup around town a coffee shops and retailers such as Community Matters Cafe, Local Loaf in NoDa, Lincoln’s Haberdashery, Smelly Cat and Queen City Grounds, all in Charlotte and Groundwork Common in Concord, just to name a few! You’ll also find it on the retail shelves at the Coddle Creek Farms farm store in Mooresville, NC.

How to enjoy “Real Deal” maple syrup

This is maple syrup the way nature intended it to be. Full of nutrients and vitamins and laden with a soft aroma that sets your palate for sweet satisfaction. If you’ve never tasted the real deal, fresh from the farm; then, honestly, you don’t know what you are missing. I suggest you try your first pour by the spoonful and then, on a stack of hot buttered buttermilk pancakes.

Then, you can start substituting it for sugar at every turn. It really is a healthier option.

pancakes and syrup
Pancakes here from 34 degrees restaurant at the Beaufort Hotel in Beaufort, NC; but that’s another story…. stay tuned!

Use Gebhardt Farm’s hand-crafted fresh from the farm maple syrup in cocktails, tea and coffee or as a satisfying sweetner in any of your favorite baked good recipes. It’s also delicious blended with a bit of bourbon and served as a glaze on pork, chicken or seafood – or on a batch of oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, on my! The possibilities are endless.

In the months ahead, look for more from Gebhardt Farms to come with the 2021 harvest. I’ll be sure to keep you posted here. Meantime, try it in any of the ways I’ve listed above and in the recipe below.

Baked Brie with a Maple and Mustard Finish

baked brie

This super simple baked brie recipe is from a Superbowl post I penned earlier this year. To sweeten things up a bit, take away the tapenade and instead, pair the Lusty Monk Mustard in the recipe with a hefty drizzle of Gebhardt Pure Maple Syrup. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or a delicious start to any evening meal.

bottles of syrup

Gebhardt Farms Maple Syrup comes in two sizes and is available to order online. Bonus! Free home delivery within a 15 mile radius of Charlotte.

Mama Young’s Nut Butters and Pupper Butter

Speaking of Coddle Creek Farms ( we were, just a moment ago) another of my favorite ways to eat local is peanut butter.  In my estimation, not many do it better than Steve Young of Coddle Creek Farms. Known for his honey and eggs, Steve is proud to pay homage and bring life back to a recipe from his great grandmother “Mama Young,” with an all-natural nut butter. To Steve’s mind this line of nut butters embodies the values with which his great grandmother lived: Simplicity, honestly and love.

jars of peanut butter

No arguments here.  Steve took his Mama young’s original recipe and upped the game a bit. Now, chocolate peanut butter, a white chocolate peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and a crunchy peanut butter are all available, as well as Mama’s smooth original. With the 2020 season came even more new variations on the theme.

Sweet & Spicy is The Way to Do It

spicy peanut butter

Our new fave in the Mama Young’s line? Sweet & Spicy Peanut Butter. Do you love a Vietnamese or Thai peanut sauce? Look no further. Just stir fry your favorite blend of local veggies and a meat or plant-based protein. Then add a half a jar or so to the pan. This savory peanut butter quickly transforms into a delicious sauce. It really is as easy as simply opening a jar. You’ll want to keep several on hand.

Dogs love it, too!

We all know that dogs and puppies love peanut butter as much as we do. Many dog owners use peanut butter as a way to deliver meds or stuff it in hollow dog bones as a treat. But, your dogs don’t want and don’t deserve a sugar-laden processed peanut butter any more than you do. So this past year, Steve debuted his Coddle Creek Farms Pupper Butter. Made for dogs’ health with the addition of turmeric, coconut oil and cinnamon, this hand-crafted blend is also good for humans. Try it in smoothies and shakes and in your next batter bread or cookie recipe. It’s a keeper!

dogs and peanut butter

Coddle Creek Farms Nut butters are available many places in and around Charlotte and Mooresville at the farm store at 200 Coddle Creek Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28115. 

Steve also takes his show on the road, selling on Saturdays at the SouthEnd Farmers Market at Atherton and at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market in Bldg. C. Visit Coddle Creek’s website for a list of retail locations; or, if you are not in the Charlotte area, to order online.

Customized Cutting Boards crafted in Mooresville, NC

Many say a chef is as good as his or her tools. Truth is, even for the most talented chef, good tools do make the job easier. Not much worse in any kitchen than dull knives (which I will save for another story); or hard plastic cutting board that dulls knives, or worse yet, a poorly constructed wood cutting board that splinters or cracks. Juices run, cleaning is impossible and it just plain doesn’t look good.

Enter woodworking craftsman, Jeff Mathews of Old World Molding Company. Jeff expertly crafts lots of gorgeous creations of wood, but has found himself a niche in culinary circles across the country. Chefs everywhere love the precision and artistic care with which his cutting boards are beautifully constructed. Each one is a work of art. These boards are not made from just one thin layer of wood, but a mélange of thick cut honed wooden slats joined and jointed as he would were he crafting a beautiful wooden cabinet or molding. 

man and cutting boards

Hand-Crafted with a Signature Style

Look on the side of one of Mathews’ Old World Molding boards and you’ll see small semi-circular joints, holding each piece one to the other. It’s a part of his signature style and goes, he says, to the strength of the final product.

“For cutting boards you always want maple,” Mathews told me. “It’s the only wood that doesn’t absorb bacteria like pine and plastic do.”

Jeff also uses other hard woods such as walnut and mahogany to add accents. To finish his boards he treats them to several luxurious coats of his own of mix of beeswax and mineral oil. This finish is a super spa treatment for the wood and will help keep your boards well cared for and in great shape for years to come.

cutting boards

Not only will you find Jeff’s Old World Moulding signature cutting boards in chef’s kitchens across the Carolinas; but these “Made in Mooresville, NC” boards have been considered a must have in chefs’ home and commercial kitchens around the world.

From Mooresville, NC to Ritz, Disney and Beyond

Chefs talk when they find something great. That’s what happened when the word of Old World Moulding Co. started to make its way around the world’s culinary circles.

One of those chefs was Sean Woods, then the Executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. Woods asked Jeff for his expertise, he wanted to know why the industrial wood boards his had in the kitchen were splitting and cracking.

With Mathews’ experience, knowledge and attention to detail ,he had all the answers to the questions chefs were asking about inferior cutting boards. Even though they may have been expensive, the boards they had weren’t constructed well and they were manufactured out of lesser grade woods. Jeff changed all that, making superior boards for these kitchens that really did change the chefs lives. Once other chefs in the Ritz chain heard the news, Jeff was inundated with orders. Then the word spread to the chefs on the Disney properties and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cook Like A Chef with your own Old World Moulding cutting board

Now, the likelihood is great that any wooden board or serving tray you see in a Ritz-Carlton or Disney property anywhere has the Old World Moulding, Mooresville logo on the side.

It’s a great local success story, but the best news it, you can own one, too! These boards make wonderful birthday and anniversary gifts or wedding presents. Looking for hand-crafted, one-of-kind, artisan awards or plaques for your next round of corporate accolades? Jeff can help you with that, just call.

Learn more on the Old World Moulding website. Or reach out to Jeff personally, digitally at or call for information or an appointment, 704-662-6000.

Keep it Local with ZolaTerra Cleaning Products

If there is one thing we can all list as a take away from 2020, its the importance of keeping surfaces clean, along with regular hand washing. Washing your hands often is not only one of the best defenses against Corona virus; but is important for our general well being. As I searched for cleaning products in the year that has just past, I looked for something that would not only sanitize; but something that wouldn’t be too caustic and would be healthy for the environment all at the same time.

claning products

I first spotted the ZolaTerra line in an email newsletter from Renfrow Hardware in Matthews, NC. Interested and intrigued I reached out to learn more and haven’t looked back since. The ZolaTerra line is a collections of some of the best cleaning products I’ve ever used. They work like a charm, but without noxious odors, harmful fumes and chemical additives that are bad for us and bad for the the environment.

Healthy Cleaning Made Simple

There is no smell to any of the Zola Terra products, which honestly, was hard to get used to at first. But with time, I’ve come to realize that a pleasant aroma, doesn’t necessarily mean clean. If you are looking for a pleasing scent, then I suggest you use high quality essential oils in a diffuser, after you clean. But, to get the root of the problem, the cause of the odor, turn to Zola Terra.

cleaning products

Here are a few of our can’t live without, ZolaTerra go-to’s. The Stain and Odor Eliminator is a must. We use it everywhere, for grass and dirt stains on the carpet, bathroom and shower clean up, and stains on clothes and kitchen surfaces. I was sold as soon as I saw how easily the product worked on beet and pomegranate stains on my cutting boards. You can see the results for yourself in the untouched photos above.

Cleaning Up Couldn’t Be Easier

Likewise we love the Stainless Steel Cleaner, the glass cleaner and the all purpose cleaner for every surface imaginable. The foaming hand soap now lives at the kitchen sink and in each of our bathrooms.

There is also a cleaner for pet and gym equipment odors, a vegetable wash, a make up brush cleaner and one for dry erase boards. And that, my friends, is just the tip of the Zola Terra cleaning products iceberg.

Each of these cleansers come in a variety of sizes and Brodie Levadnuk, the person behind the brand, can help customize whatever you might need for your home or business. Locally made in Charlotte NC, the line is huge with a cleaning solution to every problem. You can check out the catalogue and order online here.

PS – Select ZolaTerra products are also now available at Coddle Creek Farms farm store and through FreshList CLT.

Composting Made Simple

Composting has been on my bucket list for years now. But, each time I looked into the possibility; it just seemed like too big of a project to handle from beginning to end. But not any more.

Now Crown Town Compost makes it incredibly easy. Here is how its done. Go to the website ( here is the link) or go to the booth at the SouthEnd Market. Sign up to participate. If you are a homeowner it will cost you $20 a month if you drop off and pick up at the SouthEnd Market. If you would like to have a home service pick up, then the monthly subscription fee is $30. As of this writing your first two weeks are free, so you’ve got nothing to loose and everything to gain.

There are also subscription options to get a slightly bigger container for your home and of course, there are opportunities for commercial restaurant and business accounts. Contact the team at CrownTown to learn more.

crown town compost

Recycling is the key

I now keep a paper berry container or a bowl from the market on my counter as I cook. I fill it with scrapes and then after the chopping is done, I take the whole thing over to the compost bucket I keep beside my kitchen trash can.

You will get a Crown Town Compost bucket when you sign up to store your household food waste. Drop it off at the market each week and they’ll exchange it for a new clean one. That’s it.

I love it. Now I am no longer throwing food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags and the like into a landfill. And, later this season when I need some soil for my herb or kitchen garden, I can get it from CrownTown! There is nothing about this not to love.

interior of car with bags

Of all the changes I’ve made in the past year, to the way I cook and run things in our home kitchen, this is probably the biggest. You should start composting, too. With Crown Town’s help, it just doesn’t get any easier. You’ll find of the details on the CrownTown website, here. Go talk to them at the market, they can answer any questions. Or, midweek, contact them at 704-930-6314 or to learn more. 

Hungry for more ways to Keep it Local?

Check out these past posts and products:

For the Love of Eating and Drinking Locally

Cooking with Local Condiments

Keep it Local as You Shop Cyber Monday

More Ways to Eat and Drink Local


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