Brainerd Farmers' Market, located in the parking lot of Grace Episcopal Church at the corner of Brainerd Road and Belvoir Avenue, reopens for the 2014 season on Saturday with its usual offering of homegrown produce, artisan foods and handmade soaps and crafts.
Featured vendors include Circle S Farm, Everett Heritage Farm, Greenwell Farm, Out Back Farm, Pocket Farm and Walden Farm, as well as Dixie Soaps, Sylvana Bonita, Lookout Mountain Local Honey, Wunderbar and Barley Bones.
But this year, there will be an added focus aimed at spreading the word and encouraging low-income families in the Brainerd area to visit and partake of the market's nutritional offerings. The project, "Get Here-Get Fresh," is funded through a grant from the Community Foundation.
Last season, the market started accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards, aka food stamps. This year, it will further its outreach by presenting notices in advertising slots on CARTA's Brainerd bus route, improve signage around the market location and print notice cards and calendars with market hours and food stamp services, then distribute them in Brainerd neighborhoods.
Unlike other low-income areas of town, Brainerd cannot be considered a food desert with grocery stores such as Bi-Lo and Aldi within reach. But, says Stephanie Everett, co-owner of Everett Heritage Farm, "It does not have a place other than the Brainerd Farmers' Market where the community can access truly locally grown produce. All of the farmers at the market grow and harvest their produce within 50 miles of the market location."
From her farm, Everett brings a wide range of her certified naturally grown produce to the market every week. She is also a community outreach adviser to the Brainerd Farmers' Market
More than 17 percent of families living in poverty in Hamilton County get food for their families through U.S. Government Food Assistance programs, such as food stamps, according to a market news release. In 2013, 16 percent of the market's fresh produce sales were to food-stamp customers. This year, Everett says, the market hopes to double that number, but organizers realize the diversity of the Brainerd neighborhood and that not all its residents use government assistance when buying food.
"We're uniquely located among neighborhoods that share dramatically different average household incomes and employment rates," Everett notes. "The market serves as a positive community meeting place for this diverse population.
"The Brainerd CARTA bus line is the most highly utilized route in Chattanooga. CARTA passengers also reflect a broad spectrum of household incomes and employment rates."
As a farmer, Everett places strong importance on consumers' ability to connect directly with community farmers' markets.
"Farmers build personal relationships with their customers," she says. "We get to know their shopping lists and their weekly budgets right down to the penny."
Everett began farming in the winter of 2011 on family land in McLemore's Cove at the base of Lookout Mountain in Chickamauga, Ga., and became a vendor at Brainerd Farmers' Market a year later. Since then, she says, she's realized what a tightly knit "family" of farmers she has joined.
"We often share work-trade days among the farms and share 'farm talk' each week at the market," she says. "We raise each others' tents, bring extra market supplies to share, barter for produce, problem-solve the latest pest and gather for farm meals. It is a special place indeed."
Brainerd Farmers' Market will be open every Saturday through December from 10 a.m. till noon.
For the first time in state history, the iconic Pillsbury Bake-Off will be coming to Tennessee, and now's the time to start your oven and come up with a winning recipe in the categories for Weekend Breakfast Wows and Amazing Doable Dinners. Finalists chosen to participate in the 47th Bake-Off will gather on Nov. 3 at the Omni Nashville Hotel to cook their dishes for judging.
In addition to being held in Tennessee, there are a couple of new angles to the contest this year:
• For the first time, America's vote will be combined with the judges' decisions to determine the Grand Prize Winner.
• The contest ingredient list has been expanded to include Pillsbury's gluten-free line of products.
• Judges will award the Pillsbury Gluten Free Award to the finalist with the best recipe which uses a gluten-free product and does not contain wheat or any products that include wheat as an ingredient.
To enter, or for a complete list of rules and regulations, log onto BakeOff.com. Pillsbury will accept entries through May 8.
This recipe has been circling the Internet for some time and recently appeared on my Facebook page as well. There are several versions out there, but this one with maple syrup is particularly nice. The recipe has a few too many steps for a harried weekday morning, but if you have a few extra minutes this weekend, give it a try. There's no denying this is a bacon lover's dream, so if you have any in your family, be forewarned, they'll want more than one. And best yet, you don't have to buy those bacon-cup makers you may have seen advertised on dreaded infomercials.
White or wheat bread
Shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, partially cook the bacon for about 3-5 minutes in a large skillet under medium-high heat. You want the bacon to be a little cooked but still pliable. Mix maple syrup and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low so butter melts. You can't mess this up so don't worry about amounts too much, but generally 1/2 stick of butter per cup of maple syrup is a good mix.
Using a cookie cutter, ravioli cutter or other 3-inch diameter cutter, cut circles out of the bread slices. Grease or spray muffin tins and line with bacon so the meat circles each mold. Brush each side of the bread with the syrup/butter mixture and place in cup so it rests evenly at the bottom of the mold. You may have to do a little trimming of the bread, but it's OK if it doesn't fit perfectly.
Crack an egg into each mold, season with salt and pepper and give each cup a sprinkle of cheese. You can also add the cheese on top of bread, beneath the egg. Bake until egg whites are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Run a small knife around cups to loosen. Serve immediately.
Note: There are no specific quantities needed for this recipe. They will vary depending on how many you plan to make. It's safe to estimate about 2 bacon cups per person.
Contact Anne Braly at email@example.com.