On Your Mark, Get Set: Finding Food Inspiration in the Land of Bluegrass
By Jeremiah Tickner
Every July my family and I attend the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival on Walsh Farm in Oak Hill, New York. I love listening to the bands from the top of the hill in front of the main stage, or close to the musicians in the different performance tents. This year was especially fun because for the first time I brought my bike and could ride all around the camping field or up to the vending area with the beautiful clothes, crafts, instruments and great smelling food. I had also chosen this week to participate in RecipeRelay. As I wandered around, I wondered what I would make relaying off the Summer Flounder en Papilote with Roasted Fennel and Blue Berry Salsa that Valerie and Eugenie made.
I knew it would very easy to find locally grown organic food at the festival because right on the vendor road, Grey Fox has a farmers market set up by Farm Assist Productions and the Common Hands Farm Project. These two groups support small farms and farmers in New York state. This year there were 18 different farms and bakeries that brought products to the market. When my family and I stopped by the first time, we were amazed by all the greens, beets, baby potatoes, garlic, scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, herbs and so many other vegetables. They also had fruits, flowers, eggs, cheese, breads, jams and meats. Now I only needed to decide what I wanted to cook!
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On Friday there was a “Cookin’ Throwdown” in one of the performance tents. I had never been to a cooking show at Grey Fox before, but my mother, my friend and I went to see it because we thought I might get some ideas for the Relay. Best of all, the musician/cooks planned to share the food at the end! Frank Solivan of the Dirty Kitchen Band and Linzay Young of the Red Stick Ramblers cooked chile verde and pots of cajun food full of pork sausage, chicken, hot peppers, vegetables and rice. They then played bluegrass and Zydeco music while the food simmered. It was a lot of fun to sit in the front row and watch them cook and play music. The finished food tasted so good; I especially loved the sausage. I had found my inspiration!
My family and I went back to the farmer’s market fully inspired. Remembering the ingredients Valerie and Eugenie had used, I picked out scallions, cucumbers and basil, like they used in their salsa, and I bought sweet corn on the cob. I also added cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas and a lime. I was especially excited when I saw sweet pork sausage patties from Cool Whisper Farm in Ghent, New York. They make a variety of beef and pork products from grass raised animals. With this last find I had finally decided on an idea for my Relay meal! On Thursday I will share my story of cooking delicious food while camping on a beautiful farm with bluegrass music filling the air.