Michael, a young man in Raleigh, North Carolina recently posted a question on the Cooking with Elise facebook page.  Michael was looking for a great-tasting and easy salad to prepare for an upcoming “Guys Cook for Girls Night.”  Go Guys Go!  Michael, eager to impress his friends, would like to serve a recipe that is unlike the every day tossed salad.

I love to hear from young men unafraid to enter the heart of their homes. We all know that cooking is not just for girls! Michael is one of many young men who visit my blog regularly looking for inspiration, tips and recipes to share with his family and friends.

In addition, children of all ages (and perhaps your spouses) will be more apt to eat their greens if they are included in the preparation of the meal. Allowing helping hands to dry the lettuce by putting it in a large dishtowel and “swinging” it around will encourage them to enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Soft Greens, Berries, Currants and Sunflower Seeds with a Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

Berries and seeds are not only for the birds!  Try this delicious salad and let me know what you think!
Assortment of soft lettuces like Boston, Bibb, Red Leaf, Butterhead, and Mesclun
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
1 c. fresh Blueberries
1/3 c. Currants
¼ c. Sunflower seeds
½ c. Crumbled Feta cheese, optional

½ c. balsamic vinegar
½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar or raw honey
Pinch of white or black pepper
Wash and dry greens very well.

Place dried greens into a salad bowl; add fruit, currants, sunflower seeds and feta cheese which adds a nice saltiness to this sweet dressing.

In a jar with a lid or a bowl, combine vinegar and oil. Add agave nectar and pepper. Shake well. Do not pour the dressing or toss your salad until you are ready to serve.

Tip: Always chill your salad well before serving. To do so, place a paper towel over the bowl and cover in plastic wrap. The paper towel keeps the moisture off of the lettuce. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Wake County is very fortunate to have a certified organic farm in our own backyard. Fred & Virginia Miller, the owners/growers of Hill Top Farms, a Certified Organic Membership Farm in southern Wake County, practice sustainable agricultural methods by operating their version of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), you can find information about how it works and how you can join on their website:

www. HilltopFarms.org

For a crop listing and approximate harvest schedule please go to:


Hill Top is scheduled to open to the public on May 1.

Farm Tours

In addition to their abundant organic crops, Hill Top Farms also offers a tour of the 30 acre farm which consists of a trip through the horse barn where participants get a up close, hands on education about equine care including feeding and grooming one or more of the nine resident horses, feeding the chickens and petting the goats and a hayride out to the fields where you get to see and taste organic vegetables in production and learn about how things grow and why organics is important. We’ll pass the beehive and visit the greenhouse where participants can plant their own seed in a peat cup to take home and watch grow or even plant a seedling in our “Practice Field” where you get to be the farmer!
Hill Top’s focus is on education and relaxation, but the fun comes naturally as there is something to be learned by everyone, regardless of age. The tours last about two hours and you are welcome to picnic on the grounds, under the shade of 100 year old pecan trees, before or after your visit!
The charge is only $10 per person, 3 yrs. and up, including all adults. During strawberry season, you can even stay and Pic-Yer-Own basket of organic strawberries! Strawberry season runs through the month of May. If you’d like to spend a day in the peaceful setting of a working farm please email Fred or Virginia at info@hilltopfarms.org or call Fred at 919 618-5601 to schedule your group’s visit! (minimum 10 paid participants, maximum limit, 40).