VERVE’s guide to local classes and experts on cooking, canning and growing your own.
by Cassady Sharp
When cooking with Lenore Baum, it’s best to turn down the heat. Daintily poised at her kitchen table, the petite raw-food expert directs her husband Joe to the cabinet for a jar of dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes from two summers ago. “Raw food retains its life force,” Baum says, explaining that the tomatoes, even dehydrated, retain their nutrients because they haven’t been cooked. “The live energy from raw food is transferred to your body.”
The Delaware native and her husband seem to be living the optimum-health dream. They wake up early to tend to their copious Weaverville garden, climb a mountain and finish off with a morning yoga session. “Once you eat raw, live food right from the garden, you can really notice the vitality. It’s such a difference,” Baum says.
Believe it or not, when the couple moved to Weaverville in 2003, they weren’t expert gardeners. Baum credits the Organic Grower’s School in Old Fort with teaching her a good deal of what she currently teaches to others. She and her husband went to every session they could, splitting up and comparing notes later. “It’s just trial and error,” Baum explains. “You figure out what needs more sun or less sun and you learn.” Joe also notes that many of their neighbors and friends were planting and working in community gardens, which meant they had plenty of people around them willing to share advice.
One Day Only: Pie Party with Barbara Swell
One of the best and most kitschy-cool pie bakers around, Barbara Swell leads a summer pie baking day on July 28 in her Haw Creek log cabin. You’ll learn the art of the flaky all-butter pie crust. Peaches, blackberries and blueberries will be in full swing, so in this class, she’ll help you make all kinds of fruit pies and tarts with lattice, solid and crumbly tops. Class starts with a glass of wine and appetizers from the garden and ends with pie eating. 6pm, $45. Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 828-298-2270.
Go Wild at the Ashevillage Institute
andor Katz, who calls himself a “fermentation revivalist” and is the author of two books about wild foods, leads the Wild Food & Fermentation workshop at the Ashevillage Institute with plant enthusiast and herbalist Frank Cook. The pair will spend a good deal of time walking outdoors, getting to know local plants, harvesting edibles and medicinals and making sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, herbal elixir meads, miso and other foods. To register for the class, call 828-225-8820.
Cook with Everyone at Warren Wilson
Michael Gentry wants to know your needs. From dietary restrictions like gluten intolerance to having too much of a specific ingredient on hand (like tomatoes), Gentry, a retired food-service professional, incorporates them into his class, Everyone Cooks, on Thursday nights at Warren Wilson. The class, which emphasizes organic ingredients and vegetarian cooking, is just $15, and it wraps up just before the campus contra dance. Call 828-273-6542 for more details.
Save the Tomatoes
Late summer is the ideal time to fire up a pressure cooker and bring out your Mason jars. Didn’t have time to eat all the voluptuous tomatoes from your bucket garden? Don’t fret. The Buncombe County Cooperative Extension will offer a Canning Tomatoes workshop on August 6. Go to buncombe.ces.ncsu.edu or call 828-255-5522 to register.
Roast, Dry and Freeze Your Summer Food
Pressure canning got you feeling a little heated? Don’t forget that icy mecca where you can shove just about anything: the freezer. Asheville’s home-cooking and historical-cooking guru Barbara Swell will show you how to roast, dry and freeze summer favorites like peaches, tomatoes, figs and peppers. Get ready for the less-than-fruitful winter months with Swell’s Preserving the Harvest class on August 19. Register by emailing email@example.com or by calling 828-298-2270.