A fantastic meal can be whipped up when fresh produce and meats donated by local farmers get in the hands of a creative chef, as the Sept. 19 annual Food and Growers Association of Laughery Valley & Environs meeting proved.
What a variety of foods chef Adam Israel experimented with: chicken from Joshua Mincher, Friendship; beef from Patty Reding, Decatur County; duck eggs from Mark Deardon, Dillsboro; goat meat and feta goat cheese from Bonnie Robbins, New Point; sweet potatoes, turnips, heirloom tomatoes, arugula and cilantro from Ande and Lauren Schewe, Delaware; butternut and spaghetti squashes, corn and watermelon from Matt Meyer, Sunman; beets, spinach and onions from Becky Miller of Michaela Farm, Oldenburg; pears, hops and herbs from Kathy Cooley, Batesville; and Swiss chard and kale from Molly Freeland, Batesville.
Those ingredients were turned into chicken cacciatore; a beef dish with braised greens; goat meatballs spiked with sweet corn, cilantro and horseradish; a hash made of sweet potatoes, squashes, onions and fresh sage; frisee and spinach salads accented with watermelon, duck eggs, pickled beets and other surprises; for dessert, a butternut squash soufflé topped with a pear glaze; and a light tea that blended hops, lemon honey and watermelon juice.
According to outgoing President Kathy Cooley, “FGA was formed to respond to the needs of farmers, parents and health professionals who wanted to strengthen the connection between community health improvement, sustainable agriculture and a viable local economy.”
Cooley, a registered dietitian at Margaret Mary Health, observed, “I’ve been pushing fruits and vegetables for a really long time. I’ve grown them, eaten them, cooked them, canned them, thrown a few out … I love them all and encourage folks of all ages to eat them.” Remarkably, when she asked attendees to introduce themselves and name a unique produce they ate within the last week, more than 20 answers included Asian pear, okra, mangosteen, ground cherries, Brussels sprouts and paw paw.