Staples for Spring

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The poet, Margaret Atwood, once said, “In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” And while the recently cold weather continues to test my patience for springtime, daffodils are in full bloom on Mendenhall Street.

With spring, or the hope of warmer days ahead, I spoke with several folks who are most acquainted with local dirt –farmers and friends of the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market. I was curious to hear their opinions on spring’s best staples and what we should be looking forward to consuming here in Greensboro this season.

While John Handler at WeatherHand Farm admits he’s no longer a “spring chicken,” he did shed light on the days when “you couldn’t run down to KFC and get fried chicken anytime you wanted.” Before the 1940s, when heritage breeds of chicken were being grown on farms, it took about 10 to 12 weeks before chicks were big enough to slaughter. Nowadays, incubators help produce a hybrid called the Cornish Cross chickens year-round. John used to raise Cornish Cross chickens before suffering a shoulder injury that keeps him from processing. However, Handler still offers local goat, lamb and rabbit meat in addition to organic vegetables, cut flowers, and microgreens at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market. If you’re looking for free-range, natural chicken, visit Rocking F Farm.

Margaret Arbuckle, Curb Market board member, reminded me of the plethora of fresh strawberries that will soon be center stage at the Market. Sawyer Farms is one of many local farmers who can sell you baskets of the sweet and healthy treats. And, a chat with Sawyer’s saleslady –Gene– will make the most memorable kickoff to your weekend. I prefer my strawberries over a bowl of local Gorilla Grains, thick yogurt, and local honey.

Natalie Foster, of Cornerstone Farm in Rockingham County, specializes in all forms of garlic. This time of year, you can find garlic scapes. They are unique and different.  Garlic scapes are the curling tops of garlic plants and are just as edible as garlic bulbs. Cornerstone Garlic is the ultimate resource for this unusual ingredient. Garlic scapes are delicious in homemade pesto, quiche, pastas or risottos.

Eric Calhoun, board chair of the Market, couldn’t resist mentioning the short season ahead of fresh asparagus. Be on the lookout for various varieties of asparagus at the market. I encourage you to be adventurous and try the white and purple ones!  Calhoun loves the simplicity of Splendid Kitchen’s recipe for Midnight asparagus with creamy eggs and crunchy bread. Simple, seasonal and sounds delicious.

My favorite spring treat is slow-roasted pulled pork. Several farms, including Cornerstone Farm and Massey Creek Farm, sell a pork shoulder or Boston Butt cut of pork meat that are perfect for slow roasting, braised in apple cider vinegar and glazed with locally crafted Voodoo Sauce from Chef Jay Piece at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, all sandwiched between a scratch-made roll from Loaf Downtown and garnished with the famous Miss Jenny’s Pickles.

So, skip getting dirty this spring and head over to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market for culinary adventure. Meet your local farmers; test yourself to try new recipes including the best of the season’s freshest ingredients.

Local BBQ Pork Sliders with Lucky 32 Voodoo Sauce

  • 3 pounds, local pork shoulder or boston butt
  • 2 tablespoons, canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup, apple cider vinegar
  • 2 big pinches, red pepper flakes
  • Lucky 32 Voodoo Sauce
  • local rolls
  • your favorite coleslaw
  • local or homemade pickles

Using a dutch oven, heat oil to medium-high. Season pork generously with salt and pepper. Sear on all sides until brown. Add an inch of apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes (do not inhale when you do this!). Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until falling the bone. Add VooDoo Sauce to taste. Serve on rolls with your favorite coleslaw and pickles.

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