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Submissions sought for cookbook that will provide blueprint to cooking with local ingredients

SALISBURY — Before moving to Rowan County about seven years ago, Carol Corken had never heard of persimmon pie.

That changed when she tasted the sweet dessert made using the orange fruit for the first time at the Liberty Fire Department’s annual chicken and dumpling dinner. 

“All the ladies in the auxiliary made homemade desserts and that’s where I had persimmon pie for the first time,” Corken said. “I’d never even heard of that.”

About six years later, Corken is working to put together a cookbook that will feature recipes like persimmon pie that have been submitted by local residents. The idea behind the cookbook, Corken said, is to encourage people to cook with produce and meat that can be bought at the Salisbury Farmers Market or from local farmers.

The cookbook is one of several measures that members of Salisbury’s Local Food, Local Places initiative are taking to bolster the availability and popularity of fresh food in downtown Salisbury. The city received $25,000 for the Local Food, Local Places initiative after being one of 16 municipalities nationwide selected for the grant by the EPA and USDA.

A local steering committee composed of community stakeholders and led by Salisbury Parks and Recreation Director Nick Aceves is working with the EPA to form a plan of action, which will include the cookbook.

An aficionado of cookbooks, Corken came up with the idea while browsing the Salisbury Farmers Market one Saturday morning.

“There’s a vendor at the market named Lee Ly who sells flowers and Asian vegetables and I always have to ask her, ‘Lee Ly, what am I supposed to do with this,” said Corken, who is also a board member for Bread Riot, a local organization that supports community agriculture.

Corken said that she isn’t the only person she knows who sometimes struggles when trying to figure out how to incorporate a local ingredient into a dish.

“Sometimes there are things at the market that people just don’t know how to cook,” Corken said.

Not knowing how to include local ingredients into tasty meals can discourage people from buying fresh produce from local farmers, Corken said. The cookbook seeks to remedy that problem.

Corken discussed the idea for the cookbook with members of the Local Food, Local Places initiative and said that it was one of the projects that received the most support. Now, Corken just needs recipes, which she said there should be plenty off.

“I think there’s a lot to offer from various communities in Rowan County,” Corken said.

After collecting as many recipes as they can find, Corken and her helpers will test them and organize them by season.

“There’s so many things that grow locally here,” Corken said. “In October, November and December there’s pumpkin, butternut squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, collards, pork, eggs, chicken and those are all things you can find at the farmers market or from local farmers.”

For the summer months, Corken said that the cookbook will include guidance on how to include strawberries, peaches and other fruits into recipes. By buying seasonal produce from local farmers, Corken said that people not only support Rowan County’s economy, but also cut down on the environmental impact of having food transported from far-away states.

Corken said that the cookbook should be published by next fall.

There are three ways to submit recipes for the cookbook. People can bring a copy with clear instructions to the farmers market and drop it in the “recipe box,” email the recipe to info@breadriot.org or mail the recipe to Bread Riot at P.O. Box 296, Salisbury NC, 28145. 

Those interested in helping out with the cookbook should email info@breadriot.org.

Along with the cookbook, the Local Foods, Local Places initiative is working on other steps to increase access to local produce, including a mobile market.

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