Eat your yard, or the nearby farm

Two North Carolina women I admire have recently come out with local-foods books I admire. Buy them! (please…)

Nan Chase eats crabapples from her yard (photo Rebecca D'Angelo)

“Eat Your Yard!” by Nan K. Chase is uber-local. It’s about trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and flowers for your yard and your kitchen, with recipes, of course. The book includes information on 35 plants that offer the best of landscape and culinary uses. I’m envious of her color photos (and great title)! It covers fruit trees, such as crabapple and quince; nut trees, including chestnut and almond; and covering herbs and vines, such as bay, grape, lavender, mint and thyme. And don’t forget the edible wildflowers. Nan also gives tips on canning, pickling, dehydrating, freezing, juicing, and fermenting.

I have a soft spot for Nan. When I was researching my book and she lived in Boone (she’s in Asheville now), I wrote asking if she knew anyone with an extra room I could stay with for a few days. (We’d never met or talked.) She said yes, and offered up her own house! That was incredibly hospitable, and she and her husband, Saul, even included me in their dinner plans. Thank you both again!

The book is published by Gibbs Smith and costs $20. Nan is touring the country to promote it. Her next gig is at the wonderful Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC. Check out her schedule here.

Elizabeth Wiegand grew up in a farming family in central North Carolina

The other book I want to rave about is “The New Blue Ridge Cookbook” by Elizabeth Wiegard (WEE-gard), who lives in Raleigh. This is the mountain version of her “The Outer Banks Cookbook.” The book’s tagline is “Authentic Recipes from Virginia’s Highlands to North Carolina’s Mountains.” Instead of focusing on the usual traditional Appalachian cooking, “Blue Ridge” brings to light the new food movements — Slow Food, locavores, farm-to-table restaurants, and the like. So while Beth explores culinary history she also takes a fresh look at local. Her recipes come from farmers, chefs, and home cooks. The sidebars are as interesting as the recipes, and include farmer profiles and such ditties as the history of the sweet potato and NC truffle growing. Alas, her photos are black and white, as mine will be, but they’re still quite lovely.

I first learned about Beth and her book when I was traveling in the NC mountains last summer researching my farm-travel guidebook, and the news struck fear in my heart because I kept hearing that someone else was writing the same book I was. Say it ain’t so! I finally tracked down her name and contacted her and was relieved to learn that hers was a farm-focused cookbook and mine was a farm-focused travel guide. Still, we have a bit of overlap, especially in our sidebars. I can only attribute that to the “great-minds-think-alike” syndrome. We’ve since met for lunch and enjoyed comparing notes about writing, farmers, and food.

Beth’s book is published by Globe Pequot Press and costs $19. She, too, is doing readings, and writes a fun, informative and beautifully photographed blog called Carolina Foodie. Go to “events” on this page for upcoming readings. For you local readers, she’ll be at A Southern Season on April 30, McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village on May 2, and Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on May 7. (Dang if I’m not going to be out of town for every one of those.)

I hope you’ll support these wonderful writing women and their equally wonderful books. Both would make perfect Mother’s Day (May 9) gifts, come to think of it.

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