Local Farms, Foods Make Tennessee Land of Milk and Honey – Even in Winter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “Are you resolved to eat locally grown foods in the new year? You don’t have to wait for summer produce to ripen on the vine,” says Tammy Algood. “You can still find local foods produced year-round – like milk – or foods that keep well over time, like honey.”
Algood is spokesperson for the statewide Pick Tennessee Products campaign, the promotion developed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development Division to help consumers identify and choose foods grown or processed in Tennessee. Algood creates recipes featuring foods grown or processed in Tennessee.
“Tennessee has a great dairying tradition,” says Algood. “There are major brands of dairy products in each region of the state made with milk from Tennessee dairy farms. Smaller local dairies will often sell their wholesome, pasteurized products right off the farm, but can also usually be found in some retail stores.
“The Hatcher Family Dairy in Arno sells dairy products straight off the farm, but also has their products available in several stores in the area. You can find the dairies in your area by visiting www.PickTnProducts.org.”
“Honey bees are essential for pollinating crops, so local honey also can be found throughout our agriculture-rich state,” says Algood. “Even in the dead of winter, honey can be found on farms and at local farmers markets. Joe Tarwater is a Maryville beekeeper who, like many others in the state, sells honey at farmers markets and in bulk.” Beekeepers are listed at www.PickTnProducts.org.
“Honey-dipped Cookies are rich and satisfying,” says Algood. “And since you’re using local foods, you can even justify breaking that other resolution about eating sweets!” The recipe calls for substantial amounts of butter and honey.
The secret to successful Honey-dipped Cookies is patience, according to Algood. “First, let the honey mixture cool a bit before dipping the cookies. You’ll get better results if the mixture is warm instead of hot. Second, if you don’t wait long enough after dipping the cookies to start eating them, the cookies will fall apart on you. The cookies are quite delicate, and on top of that are dipped into a wet mixture after baking, so allow them to fully dry on a wire rack.
“Of course, they’ll taste just as good either way!”
Directories of local dairies and local honey producers are available online at www.PickTnProducts.org. For more recipes featuring Tennessee farm and processed products or listings of more local and artisan food products, visit the TDA Market Development Web site at www.PickTnProducts.org.
Please find a hi-res downloadable photograph of the attached recipe at www.picktnproducts.org. Click on the featured recipe.
Pick Tennessee Products Featured Recipe for January/February
¾ cup Wesson vegetable or corn oil
½ cup (1 stick) local unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
Juice and zest of ½ orange
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup local honey
¾ cup water
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat oil and butter until creamy. Add ½ cup of sugar and continue beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in orange juice and zest, mixing well.
In a small bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda and 1 cup of flour. Add flour mixture to oil mixture. Then add remaining flour a little at a time, thoroughly mixing after each addition until a dough is formed. Dough should hold its shape without spreading. Shape into ovals with a teaspoon and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cookies are firm and only lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the remaining cup of sugar, honey and water for 3 minutes. Remove the honey syrup mixture from the heat. While mixture is still warm, dip cookies in it. Remove cookies and sprinkle dipped end immediately with walnuts. Dry on a wire rack. Yield: 2 dozen cookies.