Edible Columbus Winter 2021

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THE STORY OF LOCAL FOOD

Member of Edible Communities No. 47 | Winter 2021

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A modern take on the traditional cookbook by Chef Tricia Wheeler A ring of menus, shopping lists, and recipes centered around cooking for those you love 4 nights a week. Learn more about our story and shop at peacefuldinners.com Follow us @peacefuldinners on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest

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WINTER 2021 | CONTENTS

DEPARTMENTS 3

EDITOR’S NOTE

5 #EDIBLECOLUMBUS

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EDIBLE ENTREPRENEUR

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

20 CULTURE 30 RECIPES 34 EAT 36

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HERBS

FE AT URES 8

NOURISHING A FAMILY TRADITION This is the year I needed to bake kolache By Linda Lee Baird | Photography by Rebecca Tien

16 HOW NEIGHBORS FEED NEIGHBORS The Innovative Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) program helps many By Kayla Bennett

22 WE ARE WHAT WE EAT

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Brought to you by Edible Communities in partnership with Civil Eats By Twilight Greenaway

38 YOUNG BAKERS From bagels to babka, these Columbus kids are pursuing their passion By Rebecca Tien

C O V ER

Photography by Rebecca Tien

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EDITOR’S NOTE

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F

or most of us in Ohio, one of the challenges of winter is adapting to fewer hours of daylight. When the winter solstice brings us the shortest day of the year on Dec. 21, we will have just nine full hours of daylight—a loss of five hours of daylight since mid-June. As the increasing darkness and dropping temperatures drive more of our activities indoors, it seemed like a good time for us to visit people in their kitchens. For this issue, we found quite a few people using their indoor time for baking. But the people you will meet in these pages aren’t your typical home bakers. They are family members keeping tradition alive by making Slovakian or Macedonian pastries. They are kids baking as a business and as a way to help people. And they are professionals baking bread from local ingredients for those in need. You also will read about Ohio’s ginseng hunters and learn why this root is a highly prized treasure. We will introduce you to a couple of entrepreneurs introducing Vietnamese coffees and teas to Columbus. And, in an era when keeping a restaurant going is a minor miracle, we’ll take you to one that has been serving people for 110 years, all in the same location. If you have an interest in trying out some seasonal recipes, we have advice from four food bloggers who provide instructions for hearty winter dishes, or perhaps just a special cocktail or dessert. You may recall that in our Winter issue last year, we introduced you to the Pizza Connoisseurs of Columbus, a Facebook group that discusses mom-and-pop pizza shops in Central Ohio. The writer of that article, Linda Lee Baird, was named the winner of the best feature writing award among freelance writers in the Ohio SPJ Awards, given annually by the Society of Professional Journalists. Considering the

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Franklin County Farm Bureau EDITOR IN CHIEF

Gary Kiefer | gary@ediblecolumbus.com DESIGN MANAGER

many talented writers in the state, that is quite an honor for Linda. Meanwhile, the Pizza Connoisseurs group, which had 27,000 members when the article was published, now has grown to more than 48,000. (You, too, can join. The only requirement is a love of pizza.) Their annual poll, held in October for National Pizza Month, brought votes for 150 pizza places in Central Ohio. The winner was Pizzaroni’s in Etna, which also won in 2020. Both years they edged out Terita’s on Cleveland Avenue, which had won in 2018 and 2019. Tommy’s also is a past winner. Other consistently strong poll performers include Pizza House, Stadz, Ange’s, Hounddog’s and Little Sicily. I’d like to thank Linda for bringing us the idea of writing about the group, and I’d like to thank all the members of group for providing our family with so many great ideas for pizza places to try. Whether you are cooking at home or patronizing local restaurants, I hope you have wonderful meals this season—and a healthy and happy new year. —Gary Kiefer gary@ediblecolumbus.com

Edible Columbus is brought to you by Franklin County Farm Bureau Board of Trustees: Leland Tinklepaugh, president | John Hummel, vice president Roger Genter, secretary | Dwight Beougher | Veronica Boysel Connie Cahill | Denise Johnson | Lewis Jones | Jack Orum Lauren Prettyman | Cassie Williams | Nathan Zwayer

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Kayla Bennett | Angela Lee Rebecca Tien WRITERS

Linda Lee Baird | Kayla Bennett Lynn Donegan | Wynne Everett Angela Lee | Malinda Meadows Christina Musgrave | Rebecca Tien ADVERTISING

Melinda Lee melinda@ediblecolumbus.com

CONTACT US

P.O. Box 368, Hilliard, Ohio 43026 melinda@ediblecolumbus.com ediblecolumbus.com

Edible Columbus is published quarterly and distributed throughout Central Ohio. Subscription rate is $25 annually. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.

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Everything tastes better when it comes from the farm and is made with love. open for indoor dining, outdoor dining, carryout, and live music in the beer garden!

Local Roots Powell 15 E. Olentangy St. Powell, OH 43065 614-602-8060 www.localrootspowell.com

To learn more, contact melinda@ediblecolumbus.com | (800) 451-8908

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#ediblecolumbus Share your edible endeavors with us on Instagram via #ediblecolumbus! Here are a few of our recent favorites...

From top, left to right: @maggiessmunchiess @birria_onthetown @whatshouldwedotoday_cbus @tastingcolumbus @ohiopies @explorecolumbuscafes @cbusfoodtrail @midwest_foodfest @cvl614foodie |

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Preserving Macedonian culture, one zelnik at a time Ryan Miller’s business grew from a savory pastry inspired by generations of family history Story and Photography by Angela Lee

H

e is a quiet dreamer, a creator of various forms, an engineer by trade—and his name is Ryan Miller.

Stepping into the world of food through the sweet innocence of a foodie Instagram account, Ryan felt inspired to take on a new endeavor and be the captain of his own ship. It all began on a honeymoon trip to a village known historically as Patele in northern Greece, where he was re-introduced to the Macedonian culture of his grandfather. Through the stories told by his cousins and the feasts shared by his extended family, Ryan became enthralled by the family history and the traditions of his ancestors. Since that day, he has committed to being a vessel for the preservation of the Macedonian culture. To Ryan, food serves as a method to share history and tradition. Food tells the tale of a village dating to ancient times when Macedonia was an empire ruled by kings. Food tells the tale of babas (grandmothers) working tirelessly to serve a massive feast made from scratch to their children and grandchildren as they all gather under one roof in celebration of family. Food is the active preservation of stories, and it brings us all together. The creation of his business, Zelnik, stemmed from a desire to artfully balance the breaking and safeguarding of tradition. To Ryan and to his family, the flaky, layered Macedonian zelnik is a savory pastry dish that reminds of home and family. But also, it is a dish that breaks barriers and is the cumulation of flavors taken from different regions across the globe. He describes his business as “nontraditional Macedonian.” Being “nontraditional” means to think outside the box, be inspired by different cuisines, and take a chance on creative innovation. Ryan sought to earn the nontraditional moniker of his small business, and that he did. Ryan credits his knowledge of zelnik creation to his father, who was devoted to annotating the “nonexistent” recipes of Baba into the written text to be shared, loved and passed on to the next generation. To those unfamiliar with zelnik, it is the epitome of “slow food.” “Everything takes a long time to prepare from scratch, but you feel the love put into the labor and it’s rich with flavor,” Ryan says. It’s a warm hug from Baba in the form of eight layers of dough with even more layers of butter and sugar. The version that Zelnik sells as “Baba’s Original” has a filling of eggs, cottage cheese, feta cheese and leeks. There also is a Spiced Beef version with ground beef, feta cheese and fire-roasted tomatoes.

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For those who are new to this dish, Zelnik offers a simple ordering process on its website and provides delivery options as well. But it stands out by being unique in its presentation. “It’s best right out of the oven when it’s perfectly flaky. Even delivering it hot wouldn’t be the same,” he says. The first bite of zelnik is meant to embody the quality of take-and-bake gourmet food and the culture of Macedonia. And for Ryan, that remains to this day. When asked about how he is doing after another year of the pandemic, he answers with an honest calm in his voice. “Definitely people were more enthusiastic about Zelnik at the start, I think. As soon as people were able to go out more, the orders kind of dropped off, too, because people weren’t eating at home or weren’t ordering in as much. Social media has been a way for us to connect and build relationships with the community.” Then their social media accounts got hacked, which required rebuilding everything. “But we’re so thankful for everything this past year has brought us,” he says. Despite the setbacks, Ryan is still fully committed to Zelnik and all it has to offer to the Columbus community. “The truth is, I’m incredibly stubborn and I believe this concept can work in some capacity. The thought of not seeing it through scares me more than all of the energy it will require to get to the next level. It feels good to share [my culture] with people and see the joy it brings to them: Nourishing people, it feels good.” When taking that first bite of a zelnik, Ryan says, “it’s not something entirely different. So many different cultures have dishes that are wrapped up in dough. But I hope that the flavor combinations and textures are maybe something a little different from what they have ever had before and it’s pleasurable for them. The highlight of the whole dish is the dough: it really gives that flaky and crispy texture. I hope it’s a fun experience for people. It’s take-and-bake, but with a different approach. I want them to taste the quality and say, ‘Yeah, I’d eat that again.’” To learn more or to order zelnik online, visit nontraditionalmacedonian.com. Angela Lee is a food photographer, freelance writer and social media strategist. She’s always in search of her next culinary adventure. You can find her on Instagram at @FindYourFork or via email at FindYourFork@gmail.com.


EDIBLE ENTREPRENEUR Ryan Miller and wife, Laura

Baba’s Original (Photo courtesy of Zelnik)

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NOURISHING A FAMILY TRADITION Slovak kolache was something I grew up eating but had never baked, until now By Linda Lee Baird | Photography by Rebecca Tien

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hen my grandfather was growing up in Middletown, Ohio, kolache—a Slovak sweet roll—was a sign of the holidays. His mother would bake enough for her seven children, plus friends and neighbors. Without adequate refrigeration or storage, she’d wrap the rolls in linen and store them in a trunk, retrieving one whenever they had company. My grandpa told me this story a few weeks ago, as he sampled my first attempt at baking kolache. While I hadn’t succeeded in replicating exactly what he’d grown up with—in flavor or scale—I was glad I’d finally tried. It wasn’t that I hadn’t considered trying before. For years, when the holidays rolled around, I thought about how nice it would be to have some kolache on the table. I even had a recipe, given to me by my mom. It came from her mother, who had jotted it down as she watched her mother-in-law (my great-grandmother) make kolache from memory, documenting every step of the process in hopes of replicating it. But every time I looked at that recipe, which compresses hours of work onto a single index card and begins with an intimidating 17 cups of flour, I always turned to cookies or something else familiar. Kolache is time-consuming and difficult enough to make that it wasn’t a holiday staple for our family when I was growing up. Some years we had it, most we didn’t. But when we did, I always loved it. The meaning of the word kolache varies from region to region, family to family, and kitchen to kitchen. In the Czech Republic, it’s a sweet roll encircling an even sweeter filling. Dusty Kotchou, an owner of the Kolache Republic bakery that spe-

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cializes in this style, said that traditional Czech flavors include poppy seed, apricot and cream cheese. To my Slovak family, kolache looks—and tastes—quite different. It still starts with sweetened yeasted dough, but this time it’s rolled out flat and wide, like a pie crust, covered almost edge to edge with a walnut or poppy seed filling, and then rolled into a loaf and baked. The result looks like bread on the outside, but slicing it reveals swirls of hidden flavors. It also seems some specificity may have been lost in translation between Slovakia and Middletown. Kolache, I learned, is often used in Slovak as a generic term for sweets; what we called kolache were more precisely nut and poppy seed rolls known as orechovník and makovník, respectively. (To apply a rule I once learned about squares and rectangles in geometry: Every orechovník is a kolache, but not every kolache is an orechovník). While the word kolache may mean different things to different people, if you are lucky enough to be one of those people it’s a word—and a food—you won’t forget.


with them and turning it into a popular treat. Texas native Rick Jardiolin grew up eating it, and after moving to Ohio found himself craving kolache while drinking beer with Kotchou one night. He described a savory—and very Texas—version: a sweet roll stuffed with jalapeño, cheddar and kielbasa; the perfect latenight food that he couldn’t find on any local menus. Jardiolin and Kotchu decided to make it themselves. Soon, they were bringing kolache to friends’ houses, to rave reviews. “People said we should do something with it,” Kotchou says. They started selling it at farmers markets until they had the opportunity to open the shop. Today, the Kolache Republic operates in the back of the Daily Growler, ensuring that anyone else craving kolache with their beers won’t have to learn to bake it first.

Kolache in Columbus

Though kolache is a popular dessert across Eastern Europe— there are Hungarian and Polish versions as well—if you haven’t tasted it, you probably haven’t heard of it either. Or at least, you probably hadn’t heard of it before Kotchou and his partners opened the Kolache Republic in the Brewery District in 2013. The kolache at Kolache Republic may be Czech-style, strictly speaking, but its Texas roots and Ohio setting are evident on the menu. (For example, they recently made a seasonal buckeye flavor to celebrate football season.) Over a century ago, while my Slovak great-grandparents were settling in Middletown, many Czech immigrants were arriving in Texas, bringing their kolache

On the other side of town, at Hilliard’s Center Street Market, Laura Young is doing kolache differently. Her shop, Bakes By Lo, sells cakes, cookies and other sweets throughout the year. But when the holidays roll around, she adds kolache to the menu for a limited time. Young makes the Slovak version, and lists it on her website as her “favorite thing to bake.” “Kolache reminds me of my childhood, it reminds me of sweet memories in the kitchen with my mom,” she says. In her family, making kolache was a daylong process. As the holidays approached each year, she would gather in the kitchen with her mom and grandma, watching them use a nut grinder to make the filling of walnut and shredded coconut. Young and her family always made enough to freeze and share with friends and relatives. “It lasted all season long.” |

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My First Kolache

At the end of September, my grandfather turned 100. I decided that this was the year I needed (kneaded?) to bake kolache. In celebration of his centennial, I wanted to make the food he had loved as a child. I wanted him to know that it mattered to me, that his great-grandkids will grow up eating it too. While I loved the idea of using the recipe from the index card my mom had given me, as a novice, starting with 17 cups of flour and ending with 12 rolls was more than I was ready to take on. Luckily, in the many years since my grandmother’s fateful baking observation, the internet had been invented. I found a promising recipe on a blog called Bakes & Blunders. It was similar to but simpler than my mom’s—starting with a manageable three cups of flour and yielding two rolls. It also went into details that could never fit onto an index card, but that I found extremely helpful. Following author Colleen Gershey’s advice, I decided to use a mix of bread and all-purpose flour, and I knew to scald the milk before cooling it and adding yeast, a process that helps the gluten properly form. And then I had to confront what all seasoned kolache bakers agreed is the biggest challenge: working with yeast. Even though yeast likes warmth, Kotchou explained that humidity can affect yeast dough, and said it’s easier to bake in the cooler months when the air is drier. Young said that she tells her bakers to “be patient” with kolache, reminding them that “working with yeast is hard.” My mom was the most blunt, telling me emphatically, “Don’t kill the yeast!” (It’s no coincidence that one of my childhood kolache memories can be summed up as the day the yeast died. The dough had to be remade from scratch—literally.)

Four generations of the writer’s family, including Grandpa (above), taste the kolache

With the dough set to rise in a warmed oven, I started working on the filling. This time, I stuck closely to Mom’s recipe, adding vanilla extract, orange rind and vanilla wafers to the walnuts, but also some cinnamon from Gershey’s version. After the dough came out, I rolled it out, spread on the topping, sealed the loaf with milk and crossed my fingers. An hour rise and a 45-minute bake later, I had one beauty and one beast. The first roll was picture perfect, but the second had come apart in the oven, the filling bursting through the top. Ugly or not, what mattered was the taste, and that was up to Grandpa to judge. He pronounced my kolache slightly different than what he’d grown up with, but “good.” That’s all the encouragement I needed to keep going. This may have been my first time making kolache, but it won’t be my last. I’ve already got some tweaks in mind for next time, and like Great-Grandma, I’m not ready to write down my recipe yet—it’s going to evolve, and that’s OK. Because the most important lesson I learned from this process is that the best kolache isn’t the one that’s exactly like Grandma’s; the best kolache is the one that’s yours.

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Kolache Republic is located at 702 S. High St. and on Instagram @kolacherepublic. Bakes By Lo is located at 5354 Center St. in Hilliard, and on Instagram @bakesbylo. Linda Lee Baird is a Columbus-based freelance writer and educator. Follow her adventures in food, writing and parenting on Instagram at ms_lindalee and at lindaleebaird.com


Enjoy the taste of pure Ohio maple. BonhomieAcresMapleSyrup.com Email: dnbrown33@gmail.com | Call: 740-501-4681

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Gather your friends and create a cookbook club A dinner club and book club combined into one is an easy way to cook up community By Malinda Meadows

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round this time last year, a nicely wrapped parcel landed on my doorstep. It was a time of social distancing, and a time when we all seemed to be craving a bit of community. Upon peeling back the paper, the cookbook Hot Bread Kitchen was revealed, its cover showcasing two mouthwatering loaves of nan-e barbari.

Gathering in person is great for those who like to entertain while simultaneously taking the culinary pressure off one host. Think of it as a crowd-sourced feast. Each person in the club is responsible for cooking something different from the same cookbook—whether it’s a main, side or dessert—to create a collective meal for all to share.

This moment was the unofficial start of my first long-distance cookbook club.

Virtual clubs allow club members to enjoy cookbooks, community and connection in the comfort of their own homes. In this case, it’s often nice for participants to cook the same dish—it still feels convivial, and sets up a perfect opportunity for comparing notes and swapping insider tips.

The sender of the cookbook is a dear friend, and prior to the world changing in 2020 it was common for the two of us to try new restaurants around Columbus, to break bread at old favorites, to share a scone over coffee or to try our hand at a cooking class. When my friend sent me a copy of the cookbook—and kept one for herself too—we were able to reconnect in a different albeit familiar way: over food. The plan was to bake the same recipes and compare notes as we went. Time has passed since the first recipe (olive oil focaccia), and the world has once again changed with it. Right now, it seems as if we’re collectively navigating how to socialize again in ways that feel most comfortable to each of us. That, my friends, is the beauty of a cookbook club. It’s an easy (and delicious) way to connect and cook up community—whether virtual or in person. If this sounds appetizing, then gather ’round your foodie friends. Here’s how you can start your own.

Choose Your Fancy

When setting up your cookbook club, the first step is to decide whether your club will meet in person or virtually. There are plenty of merits to both.

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No matter what you choose, aim for six to eight people. You’ll have enough attendees to try out various recipes, yet it’s still small enough to feel intimate and allow for discussion.

Set Your Timer (and Expectations)

Once you decide how to gather, you’ll want to determine how often you’ll meet. Avid foodies may aim for every other month, while casual cooks may prefer more of a quarterly cadence. Set expectations around complexity and ingredients too. Is this a beginner’s club, or will more advanced cooking techniques come into play? Will the recipes have commonly found ingredients, or will the participants need to source more elusive ones like black garlic or rose harissa? Enthusiastic cooks may find a special thrill in the hunt, but those pressed for time may not.

Choose Your Book

The club is formed, expectations are set, now it’s time to select a cookbook. Take turns choosing; whoever chooses also wears the hat as host. Here are some popular titles to whet the appetite.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT

From Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat is the perfect all-rounder—easily accessible and full of fantastic recipes that always turn out well. Sprinkled throughout Cook This Book by Molly Baz are scannable QR codes that demonstrate trickier techniques via video, while Poppy Cooks is also great for bringing it back to basics. For vegan and vegetarian meals that span global cuisines, try One Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones. Explore Italian classics with a Marcella Hazan cookbook, or try your hand at Indian comfort food with From Bombay with Love. While full of color and flavor, maybe reserve Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks for those die-hards who love to source tricky ingredients. (I’m looking at you, rose harissa.)

Bon Appétit

When the moment comes to show off your work and chat about the results, the in-person gathering can be as simple as a casual kitchen hangout or a full-blown dinner party with corresponding themes and attire (because why not?). If weather and recipes allow, you may even consider a picnic in the warmer months. Virtual partiers don’t have to skimp on the fun and fanciness,

either. Paperless e-vites do well to drum up the party vibe, and if you’re still feeling ambitious even after all of your cooking, you can even send around at-home cocktail recipes that can serve as aperitifs or digestifs. If there’s anything you should not worry about with a cookbook club, it’s (perhaps rather ironically) how the food turns out. Some recipes will be winners; others may not get repeated, and that’s OK. Food is rarely ever just about food, or even nourishment. It’s about hospitality, pleasure, connection, community. A cookbook club isn’t about cookbooks either—not really, anyways. It’s simply a vehicle for all of the above. It’s a speedbump against the organized chaos of daily life, a method for connecting and reconnecting whenever the need for togetherness arises in our ever-changing world. In those instances, consider dropping a parcel on a friend’s doorstep—it’s a great way to get the dough rolling. Malinda Meadows is a freelance writer based in Columbus but will travel the world for a good meal. She loves handmade pasta, Swedish music and the first day in a new city. Find more of her writing at malindainthesnow.com or follow along on Instagram @malindainthesnow. |

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HOW NEIGHBORS FEED NEIGHBORS IN ATHENS Innovative Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) program helps growers, producers and those in need Story and Photography Kayla Bennett

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thens, Ohio, is home to one of the oldest farmers markets in the country, which has helped spark several bakeries and grocers to focus on locally sourced ingredients. Today, Athens also is home to an innovative project known as Neighbor Loaves (& Meals).

This program simultaneously supports local grain, bean and nut farmers and local businesses while turning food shoppers into small donors who help feed neighbors in need. The donors purchase meals and whole-grain bread made with at least 50% Ohio-grown crops, and those are gifted to food pantries and other food-access sites around Athens County. This neighbors-helping-neighbors project was launched in June 2020 by the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative, which is part of Rural Action, a membership-based nonprofit organization based in Appalachian Ohio. The loaves for Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) come from the Village Bakery, which offers a sliced spelt sandwich bread; the Athens Bread Company, offering a sourdough red fife bread; and Shagbark Seed & Mill, offering corn tortillas. The meals include vegetarian chili from Casa Nueva and black bean burgers from Kindred Market. To see this entire food chain at work, let’s start at Schmitmeyer Farms, a family farm in Darke County. Paul Schmitmeyer grows organic black beans and sells them to Shagbark Seed & Mill of Athens, an organic mill that sells dry beans from the most recent harvest and mills flour every week to offer the freshest staples possible.

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Above left: Kindred Market Above right: Casa Nueva and chili preparation Below: CFI food distribution

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The beans are sent to the Shagbark mill, where production manager Joe Beres oversees the cleaning and packaging. Beres said it’s important to Shagbark to purchase from Ohio farmers because their business model is all about supporting the local community.

from a participating business, the food goes to Community Food Initiatives (CFI), an organization working to build community resilience through supporting a food system in which everyone in Appalachia Ohio has access to healthy, local food.

The packaged black beans are distributed to local businesses such Casa Nueva, which is a hip, worker-owned coop featuring Mexican-inspired food, and Kindred Market, a full-service, organic and natural grocer.

Reggie Murrow, donation station coordinator for CFI, said the meals are then passed along to local food shelters and resource centers, primarily through its weekly Tuesday morning food distributions.

Casa Nueva uses the black beans to make their vegetarian chili for purchase through Neighbor Loaves. Thom Hirbe, food and beverage operations manager at Casa Nueva, said Neighbor Loaves sounded like a workable endeavor for the business to pursue, and it has been an honor to be part of the program.

CFI distributes to places such as the Federal Valley Resource Center, a nonprofit community center that includes a thrift store, a musical instrument lending library and free concerts. Food also goes to Good Works, a community center for people who are struggling with poverty and homelessness in rural Appalachia.

“One of the reasons I moved to Athens in 1995 and never left [is] because of the sense of community here,” Hirbe said. “It is the idea that people will go out of their way to help out others in their community who are currently not able to help themselves. And so, to me, it’s just an extension of that same reason why I came to Athens to begin with.”

Murrow said Neighbor Loaves has picked up traction since it began, and he and hopes the project will only continue to grow. “I think the more the people are able to give, the more people will give,” Murrow says.

Hirbe said this project has helped connect the community. “It’s just a reminder that we’re all here together doing this thing, which is just living in the space that we live in.” Riley Kinnard, general manager at Kindred Market, has seen local support grow since the program began. Customers at the market are offered an easy way at checkout to purchase meal for the program that consists of a black bean and sweet potato burger made by the Kindred kitchen team from those same black beans. “[It’s a] combination of making a smart business choice while also having the opportunity to collaborate with local nonprofit and food shelters,” Kinnard said. “It feels really smart, it feels like ‘Wow, this is a really clever idea.’ We are proud to be involved.” Once people have purchased a Neighbor Loaves meal

Judith Morgan, director of the Federal Valley Resource Center food pantry, said the people who come to the center look forward to picking up the produce and meals distributed through Neighbor Loaves. The people who receive the meals are those seeking support and nutrition throughout and around Athens County. Athens community members have purchased over $15,000 in bread and meals since June 2020. The success of the program goes beyond the dollars, however. In a short time, Rural Action’s Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) has helped to bring Athens businesses closer together with each other and with the people in the area. It helps farmers to sell crops, food producers to grow sales and donors to feel good about helping others. Finally, it feeds hungry people in Appalachia, which is the biggest success of all. Kayla Bennett is currently a journalism student at Ohio University and works with multiple media outlets. Follow her on Twitter @kkayyben.

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A taste of Vietnam From lotus tea to bold coffee, Viet Tea & Espresso aims to impress By Malinda Meadows

Chris Hires

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CULTURE

“I

t’s a coffee that packs a punch,” says Chris Hires when I ask him how he would explain Vietnamese coffee to the uninitiated. An avid coffee drinker, Chris got his first taste of the good stuff when he and his partner, Nathan Ha, were visiting Nathan’s home country of Vietnam four years ago. A long transcontinental flight behind them, Chris was desperate for a caffeine kick when Nathan’s mother served traditional Vietnamese espresso. Immediately intrigued (and perhaps immediately alert), Chris became an instant convert to the rich and robust liquid. Call it a light bulb moment, love at first sip or perhaps just a serious jolt of caffeine, and soon the pair was concocting a plan for how to bring the joy of Vietnamese coffee to Columbus. And thankfully for us, they didn’t just stop there—they spent this past year serving up Vietnamese tea alongside coffee at our favorite farmers markets across town. If you’re new to the Vietnamese style of either beverage, just as I was, one conversation with Chris and Nathan and their unparalleled enthusiasm and appreciation for the country and its offerings just might have you rethinking your morning cup. Just as wine from Napa Valley tastes different from the same varietal produced in France, the region of origin determines the flavor characteristics of tea and coffee, too. Chris and Nathan import their tea from the Lào Cai province, a remote northern part of Vietnam with majestic mountains and the country’s most ancient tea trees, some of which have evolved into their own unique subspecies. Since Vietnam’s climate is no stranger to heavy rains, this translates to a pure, clean, thirst-quenching tea. “Almost like tasting the ocean,” Chris explains.

than were so open and generous with their tea knowledge that I could imagine how easygoing the experience of sharing a cup with them would be. In their current lineup, they have strong favorites, particularly their black lotus and oolong teas. The black lotus tea has the strength typical of a black tea but is balanced with the floral sweetness of the lotus flower. “So sweet that you don’t need any sweetener,” Chris says. So popular is this tea among their customers that they can barely keep it in stock. For an all-day sipper, reach for the creamy and light oolong tea, which imparts a nice vegetal flavor. These leaves are so potent that they can be steeped multiple times, too, allowing for two or three pots of tea from one serving. As for coffee, their current selection includes a whiskey-barrel-aged Vietnamese Arabica—which is delightfully bitter like a rich, deep stout—with two more options currently on the way.

It’s All in the Prep

For those new to preparing Vietnamese-style beverages, the process is just as easy as your regular cup at home. Tea drinkers can achieve the perfect cup by giving the loose leaves enough space to bloom and impart their flavors. The amount of tea to use per cup is a personal preference, so while they have recommendations, you can also play around with quantities to achieve the taste you like. Either way, brewing becomes a fun and dynamic process. For coffee, skip the paper filters and opt for phin filters, stovetop espresso makers or French presses, which work best to preserve flavor in its truest sense. If you love a cold brew, you can swap out your regular coffee for a Vietnamese-style option to create a delicious and robust treat.

The higher elevations in Vietnam also yield excellent Arabica beans, which showcase a fruity and light flavor profile. Although Robusta beans typically produce a larger crop, craft coffee movements in Vietnam and beyond are driving the popularity of Arabica beans.

Can’t decide on what to make? Just do as the Vietnamese do. It’s customary to drink coffee just in the morning, Nathan explains, but tea is meant to be sipped, savored and shared throughout the day. So grab a friend and make Vietnam your next culinary stop right here in Columbus.

The Best Pairing: Good Conversation

Find their entire selection online at vietespressoandtea.com. Every purchase supports 1% for the Planet. For new happenings, sign up online for their newsletter.

Unlike tea rituals in some other cultures, sharing tea in Vietnam is a more relaxed experience, where the value is placed not on formality but rather the shared connection and conversation. I learned from Nathan that sharing tea in Vietnam can be as simple as pulling some fresh leaves from a nearby tea tree and sipping a pot together in the garden. When I asked about their recommendations, Chris and Na-

Malinda Meadows is a freelance writer based in Columbus but will travel the world for a good meal. She loves handmade pasta, Swedish music and the first day in a new city. Find more of her writing at malindainthesnow.com or follow along on Instagram @malindainthesnow.

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Photo: Saverio Blasi/shutterstock.com WINTER 2021 | edible| Communities 22

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WE ARE WHAT WE EAT It’s Time To Make Food Decisions With the Climate Crisis in Mind

STO RY

BY

Twilight Greenaway, senior editor of Civil Eats,

produced in partnership with civileats.com

If we had been told, a decade ago, that so many climate-

they said that other parts of the world—developing na-

fueled disasters would hit the food system so soon, would

tions with little infrastructure and large numbers of subsis-

we have believed it?

tence farmers—would face the worst of the problem. And

If someone had described the catastrophic flooding of the Missouri river that submerged a million acres of corn

those of us in North America? We’d be fine until at least the end of the century.

and soybeans in 2019 (followed a year later by winds in the

Then someone turned the lights back on, the economists

same region that were so destructive they flattened corn si-

thanked the audience and everyone went home. I wrote

los), produce crops in Texas freezing in April, winemakers

about the lecture, quoted the experts on the science and was

having to throw away entire vintages because they tasted of

careful to take a similarly calm tone, as if I were writing from

wildfire smoke, shellfish in British Columbia being literally

a great distance about something that may or may not occur.

cooked alive in the ocean and ranchers throughout the West

Of course, some climate scientists were already issuing

being forced to sell off tens of thousands of cattle so they

dire warnings at that point, and many had made concerns

wouldn’t starve due to drought—would we have listened?

about our ability to feed ourselves central to their pleas

Would we have done more to prepare?

for action.

I can’t help but think back to a lecture I sat in on in

But most of us had no idea how urgently we needed to

2008 on the future of food and climate change by a pair of

prepare for what we’re now seeing play out in the food sys-

Ivy League economists. I had seen An Inconvenient Truth

tem—and in the world at large. Indeed, the stakes couldn’t

and was serious about local food. And I had a hunch that

be higher. Food production has been rocked to the core and

reducing my “food miles” wouldn’t cut it.

many small and medium-scale farmers are contemplating

The economists talked about the potential boon to crop yields, due to “increased photosynthesis” and “CO2

throwing in the towel. This fact was driven home for me this summer, as I

fertilization,” but added that warming temperature and ris-

trudged through ankle-deep mud on my family’s small farm

ing evaporation would balance one another out, at least in

in Captain Cook, Hawaii—on what was once the “dry side

our lifetimes. Some places would get too wet, and some

of the island” but has seen record-level, nearly non-stop rain-

would be too dry, they warned. And, as if to reassure us,

fall for the past year. My mother, a farmer, was dismayed at

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the constant rain’s impact on her orchards, and by the host

be marketing ploys, but it’s clear that they’ve realized “sustain-

of new invasive species—from fire ants and wild boars to slugs

ability” is a term they must use literally, as in, do their business

that carry a brain-eating parasite—that are thriving there due to

models have a future?

warming temperatures. The soil has been consistently saturated

When it comes to making sure the rest of us have a future,

with water, and the coffee and fruit trees are suffering from multi-

however, I’m betting on the work of small-scale farmers and

ple fungal diseases at once. The vegetables in the gardens are often

ranchers—and more of them working at a human scale—as one

stunted and mildewy as the sun has stubbornly refused to shine.

of our most important solutions to the climate crisis.

And I thought about those self-assured economists when I

If done right, farming and ranching can help bring the natu-

returned home to drought-stricken Northern California, where

ral world back into balance. And it has the potential to reverse our

I saved water from my kitchen and shower and lugged it to the

current scenario: millions of acres of land covered in monocrops

tiny garden I struggle to keep alive through the dry season. Most

growing in soil that is overly tilled, void of most life and actively

of the small-scale farms in the area didn’t have the luxury of re-

washing into the ocean nearly every time it rains.

claimed water; instead, they found themselves abandoning doz-

Soil holds three times more carbon globally than the atmo-

ens of acres at a time, making radical changes to their business

sphere does. And it can hold more if it’s managed in a way that

models, and discontinuing their CSAs. Meanwhile, the ongoing,

brings more of it back to life. But to do that we need producers

often terrifying onslaught of wildfires made the mere thought of

who are immensely curious and dedicated—who see the chal-

rain seem like a mirage on the other end of a very long desert.

lenge at hand and want to rise to meet it.

The fact that these “new normals” have already had a dra-

They need to work in concert, and they need to represent a

matic impact on the food system probably shouldn’t be a sur-

much wider swath of the population—here in North America

prise. Global temperatures have already risen 1.5 degrees Celsius

that means intentionally making space for exponentially more

above pre-industrial levels and the impacts are evident. The sixth

young people, more Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BI-

assessment report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on

POC) producers, and more LGBTQ producers. It also means

Climate Change (IPCC) in August warned of significant drops in

passing systemic policies that help them explore, invest in and

crop yields for corn, wheat, rice and other cereal grains if global

modernize the farming practices that have long been successful

temperatures hit the 2 degree C level. If that happens, the report

at cooling the planet.

said, there will be “more times of year when temperatures exceed

In plain terms that means we need more perennial crops, trees

what crops can stand” and “risks across energy, food and water

on farms (i.e., agroforestry and silvopasture), managed grazing,

sectors could overlap spatially and temporally, creating new and

cover crops, waffle gardens and other methods of deep-soil plant-

exacerbating current hazards, exposures, and vulnerabilities that

ing, crop diversity, prescriptive burns, seed sovereignty, local food

could affect increasing numbers of people and regions.”

and farm infrastructure, and multitrophic aquaculture.

Among the clear list of hazards are the “food shocks” caused

We need to help more farmers control weeds without tilling

by extreme weather events—and they show no sign of slowing

the soil. We need more compost on the surface of the soil and

down. For these reasons, food prices are expected to grow at a

more mycelia and living ecosystems below. We also need more

steadier clip than most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

plants at the center of our plates. We need to spend more time

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organi-

listening to Indigenous communities and remembering that our

zation (FAO), for instance, global food prices rose by nearly 33

needs are inextricable from the needs of the natural world, and

percent between September 2020 and September 2021.

the ecosystems that have kept it in balance for millennia.

It’s not just farmers who are scrambling to respond. Many of

Most of this probably won’t require new cap and trade mar-

the world’s largest, most powerful food companies are starting

kets, new consumer labels or new technology. But it will require

to examine their supply chains in a new light, hoping to posi-

more hands—and very likely a different, more collective ap-

tion themselves as part of the solution. Multinational food com-

proach to land ownership, at a moment when building housing

panies like General Mills, Smithfield, Unilever and Danone are

is considered a much more valuable use of land than producing

all publicizing the changes they’re making in their supply chains

food.

to address emissions and rethink their farming practices. Some of these changes could have a real impact and others might just

None of this will mean much if we don’t also stop burning fossil fuels—and subsidizing that burning on a global scale. But continued

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there’s more and more agreement among scientists and

their foods, it often has the curious effect of making us

climate advocates that we also need to turn more of our agri-

into the kinds of people who want to vote for—and fight

cultural soil into a carbon sink, and that doing so is a matter

for—systemic change.

of how—not if.

I was thinking about this recently while lugging a

The good news is that a lot of smart people are already

bucket of dishwater out to my garden and feeling a little

working on the how. And that’s where your dinner—and

like I was wasting my time, as my neighbors were still turn-

breakfast, lunch, snacks—enter the picture.

ing on their hoses. It hurts my back, it’s absurdly time con-

There’s a healthy debate in both agriculture and climate

suming. But every time I do it, I am made again and again

circles about the value of individual action versus the need

into the person who notices water and who keeps noticing

for systemic change. And food, thankfully, lies at the in-

water—who notices plants, notices soil. And being that

tersection of both. What we do—and eat—every day is

person is what makes me ache for climate policy that pri-

who we are. When we support people who produce food

oritizes survival for all.

with soil health and the climate in mind—whether that’s

Can we change the food system in time to help cool the

buying from them directly, using a farmers’ market dollar-

planet? That’s an open question. Do we have any real choice

matching program or dining in restaurants that cook with

but to try? As I see it, absolutely not.

Closing Thoughts From Our Founder Thank you for joining us on these pages, the third in a series of thought leadership pieces from Edible Communities. We would like to send a special thanks to our partners for this issue, Twilight Greenaway, Naomi Starkman and the team at Civil Eats who made this story possible. Telling powerful stories about local food and community has been the mission of Edible Communities for the past 20 years. And while I know we’ve had an impact on the way food is grown and consumed throughout North America, now more than ever there is a greater urgency for all of us to do more. A lot more. As Twilight so elegantly points out in this article, taking individual action daily—whether recycling household water in our garden or demanding more inclusivity for those raising the food we eat—is what keeps us aware and makes us pay attention. It is what makes it impossible for us to ignore the honest reality inherent in: “What we do—and eat—every day is who we are.” And it is what will ultimately lead to systemic change. During this holiday season and as we begin a new year, I want to express my deep and enduring gratitude to the network of wildly talented individuals who are the lifeblood of Edible Communities—the publishers, editors, contributors and staff who so diligently work to bring you these important stories throughout the year—every single one of whom has courageously and tirelessly fought to keep their local food communities alive, even in the face of a global pandemic. With independent journalism being threatened today more than at any time in our history, it’s especially important for us to support their efforts. The ability to maintain editorial independence and to dive deeply into urgent issues like the climate crisis are critical to the health of our society. That is why organizations like Civil Eats (civileats.com) are so important to us and to our mission. I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter, donate, be informed, pay attention—help effect change. Tracey Ryder, Co-Founder & CEO Edible Communities

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EASY WINTER CRANBERRY MULLED WINE Makes 6 cocktails

Warm up this holiday season with a glass of Cranberry Mulled Wine. Combining dry red wine, cranberry juice, vermouth and spices, this easy recipe from Christina Musgrave of Tasting with Tina is perfect for a crowd. Serve as your guests arrive and be the best host of the year!

Directions Combine ingredients together in a large saucepan. Stir gently.

Ingredients 1 bottle dry red wine 1 cup cranberry juice ¼ cup sweet red vermouth 1 orange sliced, plus more for serving 4 whole cloves 3 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish 2 star anise, plus more for garnish 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

Using a fine strainer, strain the mulled wine to remove orange, clove, cinnamon and star anise.

Cook mulled wine on medium heat until it reaches a slow simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve in a mug and garnish with more orange, star anise and cinnamon sticks. You can find more of Christina’s recipes at her website (tastingwithtina.com) or on Instagram (@tasting.with. tina) or Facebook (facebook.com/tastingwithtinablog/).

HARISSA AND HONEY GLAZED CARROTS Makes 4-6 servings

Hannah Lewis of The Beard and the Baker brings us a delicious different way to spice up holiday carrots. This Harissa and Honey Glazed Carrots recipe is a great idea for a unique holiday side dish. It earns bonus points for requiring only four ingredients.

Directions Boil rainbow carrots in a large pot of water. You can peel your carrots, if desired, but we prefer to leave them a little rustic. Boil for 3–5 minutes, depending on the size. They should be tender enough to poke with a fork.

Ingredients 1 bunch rainbow carrots 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons harissa seasoning

Add butter to a nonstick pan and start to melt. Then, add honey and harissa. Whisk with a rubber whisk (metal will ruin your pan) until totally combined.

Find more of Hannah’s recipes at her blog (thebeardandthebaker.com) and on Instagram (@thebeardandthebaker) and Facebook (facebook.com/TheBeardAndTheBaker).

Place glazed carrots on a serving platter then drizzle any remaining glaze in the pan over the carrots. Top with chopped carrot top greens, if desired.

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Over low-medium heat, add the cooked carrots. Toss and continue to coat for about 5 minutes, until fully coated.


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RED WINE BRAISED SHORT RIBS Makes 4 servings

Laura Lee Pendy of Cuisine & Cocktails knows how to make a delicious, comforting meal. This Red Wine Braised Short Ribs recipe is perfect for chilly winter evenings. With tender short ribs, fresh herbs and a delicious red wine sauce, this dish is sure to delight the whole family.

Directions Season short ribs with salt and pepper on both sides. (If boneless, cut into large pieces if they’re not already.)

Ingredients 2 pounds short ribs, bone-in or boneless, with outside fat trimmed 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, diced 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped 1 large celery stalk, chopped 4–5 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons tomato paste 5 fresh thyme sprigs 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 1 tablespoon oregano ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 bay leaf 1 cup dry red wine 2 cups beef broth Mashed potatoes for serving (optional)

Brown on all sides, 10–15 minutes. Turn heat down slightly if needed. Remove to a plate.

You can find more of Laura’s recipes at the Cuisine & Cocktails website (cuisineandcocktails.com), and on Instagram (@cuisineandcocktails) and Pinterest (pinterest.com/cuisineandcockt). 32

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Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Once hot, add short ribs.

Add onion, carrots and celery to pot. Add more olive oil if too dry. Sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste, thyme and parsley. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes. Add oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook 1 minute. Pour in wine, turn down heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add beef broth and return short ribs to pot. Bring to simmer then turn down heat to low. Cover and cook 2–2½ hours, or until meat is easily pulled apart with fork. Serve over mashed potatoes (optional). Drizzle top with sauce and top with fresh thyme sprigs.


EGGNOG PUMPKIN PIE Makes 1 pie

Combine two holidays in one with this Eggnog Pumpkin Pie recipe from Erin Vasicek of The Spiffy Cookie. This delicious dessert is perfect for the holiday season. Ingredients 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1¾ cups fresh pumpkin purée or 15 ounces canned ¾ cup sugar ¼ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon ground allspice ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1½ tablespoons flour 1 cup eggnog Directions Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Roll the dough into about a 12-inch round. Transfer to the pie plate. Trim away the excess, then fold the edges under and crimp them. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and pumpkin. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mixture. Add eggnog and mix until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and transfer the pie to the oven. Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the filling is firm (it will still jiggle, but if you touch it it shouldn’t be wet). Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and bake for an additional 15–20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 175°. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. You can find more of Erin’s recipes at The Spiffy Cookie blog (thespiffycookie.com) or on Instagram (@thespiffycookie) or Facebook (facebook.com/TheSpiffyCookie).

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A restaurant with deep

roots

The Alcove has been serving customers in Mount Vernon for 110 years Story by Lynn Donegan Photos courtesy of The Alcove

I

f you’re looking for an unforgettable dining experience, The Alcove offers both a contemporary menu and a historic setting. Located in Mount Vernon, about 50 miles northeast of Columbus, the restaurant celebrates a major milestone in December: 110 years of serving customers in the same location on Main Street. The Alcove today features fine dining, catering and even a dinner theatre. The Alcove wasn’t always a restaurant. It opened on December 6, 1911, as Candyland, a local ice cream and candy shop started by Fred Surlas, an immigrant from Greece, and Peter J. Francis, an ice cream and candy maker from Youngstown. Candyland soon began offering sandwiches in addition to candy and ice cream. Then, to accommodate a growing demand for quality food over sweets, the shop opened the Alcove Room in the late 1920s. Its popularity led to the construction of the building you see today, which was completed in 1937. Just a few years ago, The Alcove underwent a major renovation. Karen Wright of the Ariel Corporation purchased The Alcove, which then closed for about six months while the renovations took place. The entire restaurant was gutted and Columbus interior designer Fritz Harding helped transform The Alcove into the restaurant it is today. “He’s very ambitious when it comes to patterns and textures,” says Assistant Manager Donovan Rice. “The choice of materials he uses are very brave and daring ... he uses leather and wood veneer and velvet, and we have flocked wallpaper and silk.” Other special touches include chandeliers in the main dining room, which were flown in from Louisiana, and a four-pillar piece located in the rear of the restaurant, which is rumored to

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have come from a Columbus mansion. A variety of dining room options are available for both large and small parties, but since the renovation there is more of a focus on smaller groups. “It’s a lot more intimate than what it used to be,” Rice explains. Despite the changes, some original details remain. Today, you can still find the original candy display cases upstairs in the banquet room bar. The pillars in the center of the restaurant, now painted black and gold, also are original.

Farm-to-Table Approach

In addition to the elegant ambience, guests can look forward to an impressive array of menu options. Every dish is made from scratch with an emphasis on sourcing locally whenever possible. Chef Jared Driesbach is passionate about implementing the farm-to-table concept at The Alcove; he frequently shops at farmers markets and buys from local farmers and small businesses in Ohio. These include Round Hill Dairy and Buckeye Bread Co. “He is really adamant about using fresh and local products,” Rice says. “Every day we’re getting in a shipment from some small farm in Ohio, and it’s really fun to see him unpack those things, and they have handwritten notes … it’s just very personal.” Chef Driesbach says the restaurant has “a huge connection with Yellowbird Foodshed, who have capitalized a genius concept of resourcing, sourcing and providing local food from all over Ohio.” He hopes to continue expanding The Alcove’s farm-to-table approach. “We are merely in the beginning stages of bringing this


EAT

concept to life, but essentially the direction we are moving is local—for local economy, sustainability within the community and healthy,” he says. “You know the person that grows it, you know their vision and their passion; it has love put into that product, and you can taste it!” From appetizers to entrees, there is something for every palate. Popular menu items include the prime rib, the Tomahawk Ribeye, a 30-ounce grass-fed Black Angus ribeye, and the Salmon Oscar, served with truffle risotto, which Rice praises as “the best around.” For customers looking for a taste of the original restaurant, the menu still offers an updated version of the classic crispy chicken sandwich, which “is still a crowd favorite.” Be sure to save room for dessert, though you might have a hard time deciding between the cheesecake, crème brûlée, apple crisp and other dessert items. The drink menu offers custom cocktails including The Bookworm, which Rice describes as a “bubbly, very light citrusy drink,” and Rice’s personal favorite, the General Washington, a darker drink made with Bulleit Rye, Madeira, orange juice and Luxardo cherries. For first-time customers, Rice hopes that their visit will leave a lasting impression. “Our façade … is small and unassuming, so when you come in, it’s kind of that ‘wow’ factor,” he says. No matter the occasion, The Alcove provides the perfect setting for making memories you’re sure to savor. As Virginia Woolf wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Learn more about The Alcove and see the menu at alcoverestaurant.com. Lynn Donegan is a freelance writer and full-time copywriter who grew up in Knox County and now lives in Greenville, SC. In addition to writing, she enjoys trips to the local farmers market, hiking, reading and a good cup of hot tea. |

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GINSENG IN THE SPOTLIGHT Ohio’s green gold is threatened even as it grows more popular than ever Story by Wynne Everett

F

or generations, American ginseng was a fairly well-kept secret of Appalachia.

Locals in rural portions of Ohio knew where to find the desirable botanical in the woods, tended to it and took pride in guarding their knowledge before passing it on to children and grandchildren. Ginseng had a mystique and a special, respected place in culture. But then came the internet age, attention of the wider world and skyrocketing prices overseas for America’s ginseng. Suddenly ginseng has become “green gold,” easy money and the subject of overhyped television shows. Prices shot up in recent years from $350 a pound to more than $1,000 a pound for dried ginseng, mostly exported to Asia. As a result, Ohio’s ginseng caretakers have seen dramatic and threatening changes. “When people hear those numbers, of course they want to do a TV show about it or look for easy money,” said Chip Carroll, a long-time ginseng grower, dealer and evangelist in Meigs County. “It’s been a bit heartbreaking.” Ginseng, which happily grows wild in the forests of southeast, central and portions of northeast Ohio, is highly desired in China where it is used in herbal medicine to promote stamina, among other uses. The plant, which can live to be up to 100 years old, is incredibly slow growing, which makes it particularly vulnerable to various pressures, including habitat loss, climate change and poaching. Its precarious nature means that ginseng cultivation is highly regulated by state, federal and

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international law. The season for digging ginseng in Ohio runs from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 each year. Diggers do not need a license, but they do need written permission from landowners to collect the valuable plant. And they must follow detailed rules, including only digging mature plants, recording where they harvest their roots and immediately replanting the dug plant’s seeds in the same place. Ginseng dealers, who can buy the roots with a permit, must submit detailed records and obtain ginseng certification documents before they can export the dried roots. Unfortunately, ginseng’s value and the toll of the opioid epidemic on Appalachia have combined to fuel an increase in poaching as people who are desperate for cash see illegal harvesting as a way to get quick cash. That’s why Carroll and other long-time ginseng community members are working on a variety of initiatives to conserve slow-growing ginseng and preserve its special place in the culture and economy of Appalachia.

A strategy for conservation

Carroll is a Youngstown native who discovered ginseng as a Hocking College student in the late 1990s. He has worked


HERBS Chip Carroll

But as in China, American herbalists have found ginseng is beneficial for helping the body manage stress and for boosting energy, said Athens-based herbalist Erika Galentin of Sovereignty Herbs. End even though it might be tempting to generously hand out a root known to improve energy, Galentin says a little ginseng goes a long way. “Who wouldn’t want ginseng? Who doesn’t want more energy? But we can’t just go all take American ginseng for a boost,” she said. Instead, Galentin said she uses ginseng—which she says tastes slightly sweet and woodsy, like ginger without the heat—in combination with other strategies, such as diet and exercise, and herbs meant to more holistically improve good health. Galentin said use of ginseng is somewhat controversial because some herbalists question the ethics of buying a threatened plant that is often poached. “There are a lot of herbalists out there who believe we should not be using it at all because of its precarious position,” she said.

for years as a steward, teaching would-be ginseng farmers and diggers sustainable practices. Andrea Miller, the sustainable forestry manager with Rural Action, also is part of the movement dedicated to encouraging more sustainable care and cultivation of ginseng. Her agency encourages landowners to consider “forest farming” of ginseng and other botanicals such as goldenseal as an alternative to cutting timber from their wooded property. Increasing the number of people growing their own ginseng could help take pressure off wild populations while also offering a passive-income source for property owners. The practice also helps build a community of engaged and knowledgeable ginseng caretakers. Carroll also advocates for developing better opportunities for ginseng dealers to sell their product domestically. While about 99% of America’s precious ginseng harvest is exported every year, the ginseng Americans find here in products such as teas is ironically of low quality, he said. Developing a better domestic market would protect against any potential collapse in the Asian import market and also help American consumers, he argues.

Ginseng’s boost

With so much American ginseng being exported, many Americans haven’t had any firsthand experience using it.

Galentin said she buys her ginseng from a local root dealer she knows and trusts. Like Carroll and Miller, she is devoted to using ginseng in a way that promotes responsible use and better public understanding of its cultural value as well as its monetary value. “I really believe human beings and ginseng are meant to interact, but responsibly,” she said.

The path to sustainability

Miller learned about ginseng from her grandmother, who tended it in the woods. But she now worries about the plant’s future. “The more housing developments go up, the more habitat we’re losing,” she says. “We’re losing the plants in the wild with habitat loss, climate change and poaching. We’re losing the plant.” The key to saving ginseng in its natural habitat—she, Carroll and Galentin all say—is to rebuild the special emotional and cultural connection between the plant and the people who live where it grows wild. “I think of ginseng as a national treasure of our country, culture, environment and economy,” Carroll said. Wynne Everett is a Columbus native who grew up eating fruits and vegetables from her grandparents’ farm and beef bought on the hoof at the county fair. She’s now a vegetarian and a veteran journalist whose career has taken her to Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Toledo. She has a passion for food stories and can be reached at wynneeverett@gmail.com. |

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Young bakers learn about business—and caring From bagels to babka, these Columbus kids are pursuing their passion Story and Photography by Rebecca Tien

I

n 2020, as one lockdown bled into the next, many people who were homebound with little to do began to look for hobbies to while away the endless hours. Some picked up knitting or the ukulele, and others turned to the kitchen for inspiration. Baking, in fact, became such a popular pastime that in March of 2020 the King Arthur Flour Co. saw a 2,000% increase in flour sales, according to Adweek. Adults and kids alike were bitten by the baking bug. Instagram feeds abounded with sourdough and cinnamon rolls, and flour became harder to come by than toilet paper. For three Clintonville kids, baking was not only a pleasurable hobby, it launched two full-fledged businesses with a spirit of giving back at the core. Thirteen-year-old Kaian (Kai) Moses has known for some time that he wanted to start a baking business, and the early days of the pandemic gave him the time he needed to do so. Many of his friends were making cakes and cupcakes and he wanted to find his own niche. “I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to make bagels,” he says. After some experimentation and YouTube research he landed on a recipe. “I tried it and it came out amazing!” gushes his 10-year-old sister Anika.

Together he and his sister came up with a business name, The Bread Box, and a logo drawn by Kai. A family friend helped them to design business cards and a social media presence. By October 2020, they were distributing professionally packaged Intro boxes to help spread the word. “We would give boxes to friends and family who would share with their friends and from there we’d start to get orders,” says Anika. “By January, we had gone through 130 pounds of flour!” They have since expanded their menu to include a broader array of goods, including gluten-free lemon bread and chocolate chip cookies. Although the Moses siblings refer to The Bread Box as a business, it is more aptly described as a community service. Rather than sell their items, they ask for people to make a donation if they can. Sometimes the donations are cash, sometimes flour, sometimes nothing at all. “The reason we decided to do donation-based is that we knew that a lot of people like baked goods, but not everyone has the money to give us for a set price. With donation-based, hopefully they don’t feel like they have to give us something in return,” explains Anika. 38

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Kai and Anika Moses

“For every order we receive, we use the donation to pay it forward,” says Kai. All donations are used to buy more ingredients, which they then turn into food donations. They’ve donated baked goods to neighborhood organizations including the Clintonville Resource Center, Clinton Elementary School for Teacher Appreciation Day, and most recently the critical care staff at Riverside Hospital. COVID has made some things more difficult. All items need to be individually packaged. It is not unusual for Kai and Anika to be up early on a school morning, packaging up goods to be delivered for a winter senior breakfast or necessity bags at the CRC. “It’s a whole operation,” says Kai. “Anika is stapling a business card to the bag and I’m putting a sticker on it.” The Moses siblings are not the only Clintonville kids with the vision to start a business while simultaneously doing good. Elijah Roher-Smith, 11, has always loved to experiment in the kitchen and had aspirations to start his own business prior to the pandemic. The original plan was to run the business with friends, but then COVID hit and gatherings became impossible. The busi40

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Their product

ness, Kids in the Kitchen, became a natural way to spend time and get involved in something. When asked about his original motivation, Elijah grins widely and says simply, “I was bored, and it was fun.” As he talks, he busies himself doing what he loves most: carefully measuring out flour into a waiting bowl, the mixer whirring noisily over his words. Elijah’s menu is seasonal and often inspired by what’s growing in the large garden in his backyard. His zucchini bread in August shifts over to pumpkin bread come fall and he updates his customers on the current availability through his website and social media, precipitating floods of orders. Offerings in heavy rotation include vanilla and lemon-blueberry pound cakes, babka and brownies— which he’s made so many times he has memorized the recipe by heart. Akin to the Moses’ philosophy, it is important to Elijah that a portion of the proceeds from every item he sends out of the kitchen get donated to local charities including Children’s Hunger Alliance and the Charlie Brown Bird Rescue in Columbus. Food insecurity and environ-


Elijah Roher-Smith

mental conservation are both issues that are close to his heart. “When we lived in LA there were a lot of homeless people we would encounter and Elijah was always asking, ‘How can we help them?’” recalls Elijah’s dad, Ryan Smith. “He would insist that when we went to the grocery store and there were homeless people outside that we buy them a bag of oranges, or peanut butter and jelly. He would take the train with me sometimes to work and he always made sure we brought fruit to give to the homeless people we passed by.”

His product

hio.wixsite.com/kidsinthekitchen. Rebecca Tien enjoys finding a way to weave together her love of storytelling through images and words. An award-winning photographer, she is drawn to capture the small, beautiful, messy, universal moments that make people feel connected. She has written for various publications including The New York Times, Edible Columbus and 614 Magazine. You can find her on Instagram at @rebeccatienphotography.

And why the Charlie Brown Bird Rescue? “I like animals,” Elijah says. “I don’t want to see them go extinct.” For Elijah, as for Kai and Anika, it really is that simple. Caring matters and it’s important for them to give back wherever they can. You can find The Bread Box on Facebook at Thebreadbox614 and on Instagram at @thebreadbox614. Learn more about Kids in the Kitchen at kidsinthekitcheno|

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On behalf of all of us at Franklin County Farm Bureau, we want to thank all of our loyal readers over the past year. Your passion for local food and agriculture makes this publication possible! We hope you all enjoy this holiday season and can spend a day in the kitchen trying out this award-winning buckeye recipe by Brooke Fleshman, of Fantastic Futures 4-H Club and Farm Bureau member in Franklin County!

Instructions Mix the first 4 ingredients in a strong mixer until smooth and pulls away from the edge of the bowl. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons powdered sugar if needed.

Scoop into 1 tablespoon balls, quickly roll and place on parchment paper lined rimmed cookie sheets.

Freeze until hard or nearly hard.

Melt chocolates according to package. Using a toothpick, dip each ball into chocolate. Once chocolate

Ingredients

is hard and peanut butter mixture is soft, fill holes by

1 pound peanut butter

gently tapping.

1/2 pound butter 1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Can be kept at room temperature or refrigerated for

1 pound powdered sugar

longer storage.

Dipping chocolate, (Ghirardelli preferred)

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Makes 60-80 buckeyes.


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