My favorite place to be on Saturday morning: a farmers market. I have some favorites, but honestly, I enjoy visiting different markets each month. The variety that my community offers when it comes to seasonal, locally-grown produce and pasture-raised meats is what makes living in central North Carolina so great. From fresh ginger and shitake mushrooms to peaches and heirloom tomatoes—the abundance of produce here is immense. I can find farm-fresh eggs or pasture-raised pork, lamb, goat, and chicken. Everything I need to create delicious meals can be found at my local farmers markets on Saturday morning. There is, however, a downside to my farmers-market-centered world: I can only buy enough for a few days. By Wednesday, I have usually exhausted all of my supply of fresh local ingredients. I do my best to avoid food waste, so I try to control my impulse buying and only get what I know I can prepare while it’s still fresh.
The solution to this problem was recently revealed to me when I tried Bella Bean Organics for the first time. I ordered by 5:00PM on Friday, and the following Wednesday a box of beautiful produce, herbs, eggs, and pasture-raised meats from Coon Rock Farm was delivered to my doorstep. No weekly menu in my home would be complete without ingredients from local artisans, so I also ordered cheeses from Hillsborough Cheese Company and rice from Anson Mills. The variety of products and produce was not only impressive, but also allowed me the convenience of avoiding the grocery store as my only mid-week option. I came away from my ordering experience thinking, “If this is what they offer in the winter, I cannot wait to see the spring/summer options!” I always feel a sense of victory when I can get the majority of my ingredients from local sources. Bella Bean Organics offers both local and non-local items as well as certified organic options.
Bella Bean Organics is not your typical farm-to-doorstep business. Owners Jamie DeMent and Richard Holcomb also own Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, NC and Piedmont Restaurant in Durham, NC. Their passion for sustainable local agriculture and their vantage point as farmers makes them the perfect curators of an online farmers market. A large percentage of the produce, eggs, herbs, and pasture-raised meats offered through Bella Bean Organics are grown and raised on their farm. Because it is farmer-owned and operated, ordering from Bella Bean Organics is much like visiting a farm stand. The great thing about ordering is that you can do it from the comfort of your home and have it delivered to your front door for a small fee. Convenience, variety, sustainable choices, and southern artisanal products—who could ask for more?
If your goal, like mine, is to use as many locally and regionally grown, raised, caught, and made products in your weekly menu, then check out what Bella Bean Organics has to offer. Here are some recipes to get you inspired to use the last of the winter abundance, too. I promise spring, with its sugary peas, tender lettuce, and ripe delicious strawberries, will be here soon!
Winter Market Stir Fry
- 3 medium carrots, julienned
- 2 small heads of cabbage, thinly sliced *
- 2 small turnips, peeled and diced *
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup Shitake mushrooms, stems removed & sliced *
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 ½ tbs. local honey *
- ¼ cup chopped green onion (white and green parts) *
- 3 bundles Rice Vermicelli Noodles
- Sesame Oil
- Canola Oil
- Prepare noodles according to package. Once drained, toss with 2 tbs. sesame oil and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine: soy sauce, honey, garlic, and green onion. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbs. canola oil and 1 tbs. sesame oil in a wok on medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add cabbage and sauté for 3 more minutes or until cabbage starts to wilt.
- Add the carrots and continue sautéing for 3-4 more minutes or until carrots begin to soften.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the noodles to the wok. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the noodles and vegetables, tossing to coat.
- Remove from the heat and serve.
* indicates items from Bella Bean Organics
- 6 Medjool dates, pits removed
- ½ cup Hillsborough Cheese Company Lebna *
- 3 tbs. local honey *
- ¼ cup toasted, chopped pecans *
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Place the dates in a small oven-safe baking dish and drizzle with the honey.
- Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until dates are caramelized and soft
- Place caramelized dates in a shallow bowl and top with the lebna
- Sprinkle with pecans (and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg if you desire!), drizzle with additional honey, and enjoy.
Note: To make this dish completely local, use seasonal fruit such as peaches or figs!
* indicates items from Bella Bean Organics