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A Message for Our Volunteers: Thank You!

Thanksgiving is in the air! I can’t think of a better way to spend our time than in gratitude. We’re all highly aware of the atrocities and problems that exist in our world – too aware, some might argue. It’s easy to become bogged down in the anxiety that comes with constantly hearing bad news. What can we do to combat this negativity? By giving thanks. By looking for a silver lining and a sliver of gratitude on the most routine days. By celebrating all the wonderful, good things that life brings.

At ALFN we have a lot to be thankful for. We are a small nonprofit that has a big goal – connecting farmers to consumers throughout Arkansas. The Little Rock Food Club, the 501’s only online farmer’s market, is a vital part of fulfilling our mission to bring more local food into the hands of consumers and increase business for local farmers and vendors. As many of you know, every Saturday and Monday we run pick up locations for customers to conveniently grab the groceries they ordered during the week from farms and kitchens all over Arkansas. These pickups require a lot of organization, inventory work, and big smiles. It would absolutely not be possible without the volunteers who show up every Saturday morning to help sort, count, and distribute food to our customers. These volunteers come from all walks of life – some are retired, some are college students, and others volunteer a few hours before heading into their weekend jobs – but they all have one thing in common: a passionate commitment to a healthy local food system.

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Cathi and Jeff make a great volunteer duo!

Since this weekend is our Thanksgiving Market (the last chance for folks to order everything they need for their Thanksgiving meals next Thursday), we’d like to take a moment to formally recognize and appreciate all of the volunteers who spent a Saturday morning with us over the past year. If you find that you are interested in spending a few hours volunteering with us, please consider signing up for a shift. Every shift you volunteer earns you $5 of credit or a month of membership on our online market. No matter how often or how long you volunteer, we are grateful!

2017 ALFN Volunteers:

Amanda Isbell

Angela Gardner

Cathi Watkins

Cyd King

Elizabeth Lee

Fiona Dudley

Heather Paul

Jack Bruno

Jeff Watkins

Joyce Hardy

Karen Huber

Karen Walls

Katelynn Walker

Kathy Rateliff

Katy Elliot

Lamonica Anderson

Lanie

Lauren Palmer

Lauren Robinson

Lynn Frost

Marisa Nelson

Molly Robinson

Samantha Lee

Sandy Haden

Stephen Wild

Sunny Singh

Tamara Robinson

Thomas Herndon

 

Thank you for all you do volunteers!! Keep fighting the good fight.

-Claire Admire, Program & Market Manager17814688_10158753493530122_1551948993460827646_o.jpg

3 Perfect Persimmon Recipes

Say hello to the persimmon, a gorgeous fruit that arrives just in time for fall recipes. If you’ve never enjoyed a persimmon before or attempted any recipes highlighting it’s crisp flavor, now is the time to experiment! We’ve rounded up three great recipes that will make the persimmon the star of your table this week.

Persimmon Bread

from Natasha’s Kitchen

What says “fall” better than a freshly baked, savory loaf of bread? This one is chock full of walnuts, raisins, and – you guessed it – persimmons!

Persimmon-Bread-6Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp real vanilla extract
  • 3 cups fuyu persimmon pureed (a little over 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp baking soda, sifted to make there aren’t lumps
  • 1/4 tsp (generous pinch) of salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 cup raisins

 

  1. Remove tops of persimmon with a butter knife. Cut into quarters and puree.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp vanilla. Mix in 3 cups persimmon puree and the melted butter.
  3. Add 2 tsp of sifted baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp cinnamon and whisk to combine. Whisk in 3 cups flour until blended.
  4. Fold in 1 1/2 cups walnuts and 1 cup raisins until evenly dispersed and divide the batter between buttered loaf pans. Bake for 45 – 50 min or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min then turn out onto wire rack to cool to room temp.

Harvest Cranberry, Persimmon, and Burrata Salad

from Halfbaked Harvest

We promise there’s plenty of room on your Thanksgiving menu to fit this salad in! The colors are gorgeous, and you’re sure to impress guests (or yourself) with how divine it tastes.

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  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • flaky sea salt
  • 3-4 cups baby kale and or arugula
  • 3-4 fuyu persimmons cored + cut into wedges
  • 2 clementines peeled
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 8 ounces fresh burrata cheese torn
  1. Combine the walnuts, pepitas and maple syrup in a medium size skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the mixture becomes golden, toasted and caramelized. Remove the nuts and seeds from the skillet and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl or on a large serving plate, combine the greens, persimmons, clementines and cranberries. Add the torn Burrata cheese and sprinkle on the walnuts and pepitas.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and adjust salt + pepper to your liking. Drizzle the dressing over the salad or serve along side the salad. EAT!

Pomegranate and Persimmon Winter Sangria

from Salt & Lavender

This one will have you filling your glass to the brim! Plus, look at how good it looks in a punchbowl. Crème de cassis is a fruit liqueur made from black currants, but you can substitute any other fruit liqueur that you’d prefer.

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  • 2 persimmons
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 cup crème de cassis (or other fruit liqueur)
  • 1 bottle moscato, chilled
  • Soda water (optional)
  1. Slice the persimmon into thin circles, then cut the circles in half. De-seed a pomegranate to get your 1/2 cup of arils. Add the fruit, including the cranberries, to a punch bowl or pitcher.
  2. Add the pomegranate juice, crème de cassis, and moscato.
  3. Chill the sangria for at least a few hours (if not overnight) before serving (it will still taste good if you drink it right away). You may add a bit of soda water to each glass prior to serving if desired.

Seasonal Produce: October in Arkansas

By Board Member Angela Gardner

Fruits

Persimmons. Not as common as apples, persimmons are a fall fruit that delightfully lend
themselves into both sweet and savory fall recipes. Keep an eye out for them from our vendor Barnhill Orchards this season and check out these wonderful recipes available here. I am very fond of the 1-ingredient frozen custard.

Roots

Radish-Eyeball-Garnish-56a173305f9b58b7d0bf62ceRadishes. Consider making radish eyeballs for a fun Halloween twist.
*20 radishes, cleaned and trimmed
*10 small pimento stuffed olives, halved crosswise
-Using a paring knife, scrape off most of the red skin from the radish, leaving enough red to give the radish a veined appearance. Rinse radishes.
-Using a very small melon baller, cut a small hole in the stem end of each radish. Insert an olive half, cut side out, into each hole; serve.

Shoots

Peppers. The time has come to savor the last of the summer peppers. There is an abundance of great peppers available on the market and at your nearby farmer’s market. My favorite recipe, from Eugenia Bone, for preserving red bell peppers is in a marinade.
Makes 6 half pint jars
*4 lbs red bell peppers (8-10 medium), stems snipped off
*1 cup bottled lemon juice
*2 cups white wine vinegar (5% acidity)
*1 cup olive oil
*2 medium garlic cloves, sliced (about 1 TBSP)
*1½ tsp salt
Preparing the Peppers:
-Place the oven rack about 7 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and char them under the broiler, tuning them often with tongs so that they blister all over, about 20 minutes.
-Let the peppers stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the charred skin, cut the peppers in half, and remove the seed pods.
Marinade and Canning:
-Prep jars for canning.
-Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, galic and salt in a saucepan and heat just to boiling over medium heat.
-Stuff hot jars with peppers and pour over marinade leaving ½ – ¾ inch of headspace. Wipe rim clean, screw down lids and place jars in canner. Bring water to a boil and process for 15 minutes.

5 (Easy) Ideas for Fall Home Decor

by Board Member and Customer Angela Gardener 
  1. Pumpkins, Squashes and Gourds. A staple of the fall season, pumpkins, squashes and gourds are a multifunctionaladdition for your home décor. Barnhill Orchards has a variety of squashes available for purchase though the market, check out their great combo pack or Butternut, Acorn and Sunshine squash. Armstead Mtn. Farm also has some visually delightful Tahitian Butternut Squash that would look great on your front stoop. For mini pumpkins and gourds, visit Rattle’s Garden at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market.
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  2. Cotton. Incorporate these tufts into your next table place setting or add to a glass jar or tin vase for a water free table decoration. Cotton can be picked at Peebles Family Farm near Augusta, Arkansas. Bring the family and enjoy the corn maze while you’re there! Hurry though, the maze and cotton patch will close on Oct. 31st.85d94448c6e13d9114041b352ac862c0
  3. Dried Okra stalks. For a new twist to front door or mailbox décor, consider adding dried okra stalks with pods intact. Jill Forrester, a grower/owner of New South Produce Co-op has stalks available for sale on her website.
  4. Sorghum & Millet. Another fun addition to wreaths and front door entrances are bundled stalks of sorghum and millet. The 8th Annual Sorghum Festival will be held on Oct. 28th at the Historic Heritage Museum in Mount Ida, Arkansas. Ornamental Millet can be found at local nurseries and placed in pots or directly planted into your flower beds.ae0f6713216eec2c438756a95b93604e.jpg
  5. Magnolia Leaves. Arkansas is blessed with a variety of Magnolia Trees. Take a stroll around a nearby park and you should be able to find one. There are also some Japanese Magnolia Trees located on the grounds of the State Capital. Gather some branches to place in vases or harvest leaves for a garland and wreath. To extend the life of the leaves, mist lightly and keep out of direct sunlight.

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Fall Squash Varieties (and how to cook them)

We’re up to our ears in squash this time of year, and you won’t hear us complaining! Meet the stars of the fall squash line up, and learn how to transform them from centerpieces of the table to centerpieces of your plate. You can shop all of the squash mentioned below at the Little Rock Food Club.

Butternut Squashcut-butternut-squash-htc136_sq_0_vert

A familiar variety, this orange squash lives up to its name with buttery, sweet undertones. It’s works in a variety of dishes, by itself as a side, or incorporated into a soup. It’s best seasoned with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and of course – salt and butter! If you’re not into the texture of squash, give this butternut squash and spinach tortellini a try.

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Acorn Squash

This squash variety is known for its nutty, savory flavor. It works well paired with meats and other oily, rich foods. We love this recipe for turkey stuffed acorn squash from Innocent Delight!


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Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash might as well be called the godsend squash, as it makes the perfect noodle alternative for people on gluten-free or low carb diets. Get out of your red sauce/cheese sauce rut and shake things up with this guilt-free pad thai recipe from the Soccer Mom Blog.

9638Sunshine (Kabocha) Squash

Sunshine squash looks like a cute, small pumpkin. It’s a sweet hybrid variety of the Japanese Kabocha squash, and has an edible skin! If you need a recipe to impress, pull out this Kabocha Squash Fennel + Ginger Soup with Spicy Coconut Cream. It’s vegan and gluten free, and 100% sure to wow your dinner guests.

Bringing Balance to Your Fall Diet Using Ayurveda

Most of us are familiar with the idea of having a “seasonal diet”, or eating fresh foods during their peak harvest. It helps that are bodies seem to have an internal  guide that makes us crave hydrating, sweet melons during the summer heat waves and warm, savory pumpkin breads during winter’s cold snaps. Another way to look at these seasonal changes and how they relate to our digestion is through the lens of Ayurveda (eye-r-vay-duh) medicine. Ayurveda medicine originated in India, and is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and a sister science to yoga. The main purpose of Ayurvedic treatments is to bring the body and mind into balance according to your constitution, or dosha. The three doshas are pitta, kapha, or vata, and their attributes are described using the 5 elements: earth, wind, fire (feeling groovy yet?), water, and air.

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If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry. This way of thinking holistically about our bodies and tying our constitutions into the elements is super unfamiliar to Westerners. However, Ayurvedic medicine is still the main form of healthcare in India, and is practiced by many homeopathic doctors here in America as well. And some of it just makes plain sense. We won’t go into the different doshas and their attributes in this post, but feel free to explore on your own. This quiz is a good place to start understanding what attributes go into discovering your dosha, or if you want to take a deep dive into Ayurveda check out this book by Dr. Svoboda.

So on to the more easily digested (pardon the pun) and applicable part of Ayurvedic medicine, which is diet. Fall is the season of “vata”, which is characterized by being cool, light, dry, and erratic (um, hello, quintessential Arkansas fall). According to Ayurveda, the vata dosha must be balanced with more grounding elements in order for us to transition harmoniously into the new season. How do we do that? I think you’ll like the answer – eating lots of savory, oily, soft foods that are high in fat and protein.

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Think hearty, warm soups full of good fats (bone broths full of collagen, omega 3, avocado oil, ghee, and moderate amounts of coconut oil) and grass fed proteins. Steam your veggies and eat them warm instead of raw and cold. Lean towards foods that are salty, sweet, or sour, and stay away from bitter or spicy meals. Keep it oily, hot, and dense.

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So there you have it, full permission to indulge in some of our favorite fall and winter pastimes. If you’re watching your waistline then take into consideration the extra calories you’re consuming with your increased fat and protein intake, and consider eating a couple of large meals during the day instead of many small meals and snacks. This keeps your insulin levels from constantly spiking, and helps heal your gut lining. As always, cutting off your eating by 7pm or 8pm gives your body plenty of time to digest your food and focus on restoring and healing while you sleep (it also helps reduce late night useless calories!).

Double the Love for Green Groceries

Many of you are already familiar with Green Groceries, ALFN’s partner program with Christ Episcopal Church. Green Groceries’ mission is to provide struggling local families with fresh, healthy food, and to support local farmers while doing it! Currently their program provides 25 local families with a biweekly delivery of groceries at Christ Episcopal Church. These groceries includes in-season vegetables, fruits, legumes, responsibly-farmed meat, bread, and farm eggs – all from local farmers.

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This program has been running strong for three years, thanks to its incredible base of supporters. Now YOU have the chance to support it too! ALFN is providing this program with a $2,500 grant, and we’ve challenged Green Groceries to raise a matching $2,500 by December 31st. This amount is enough to buy 160 shares of groceries! Please consider giving to this great cause, whether it’s $1 or $100 (any support of $100 or more gets a cool tote bag!).

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Give $100 or more and get this cute tote as a thank you!

This money goes directly to buying food for their participants. How is the money spent? $2 provides a family with supplementary local food for a day, $15 provides a family with supplementary local foods for a week, and $60 provides a family with supplementary local foods for a month. Donate directly to Green Groceries and help them meet their goal by December 31st. Share with your friends and families, because this is one check we can’t wait to write! Also, be sure to keep up with the program on Instagram and Facebook.