"Farm Fresh Tennessee" is a cornucopia of fun, food, farmers, and festivals across the state.
Truth be told, I’ve never been clear on how to pronounce sorghum or what to do with the syrup until I attended a book signing for “Farm Fresh Tennessee,” a treasure trove of information on food, farmers, and agri-tourism from authors Paul and Angela Knipple.
At the book signing, the Knipples shared a bowl of caramel popcorn balls made with sorghum and country ham, a tribute to two of Tennessee’s iconic flavors. The popcorn balls were sticky, delicious, and not too-sweet. Most people swooped in for second tastings.
The recipe for the popcorn balls is included in “Farm Fresh Tennessee” and inspired from the couple’s wanderings across the state. The Knipples traveled about 30,000 miles over the course of a year, visiting places like the Shady Valley Cranberry bog (who knew?) and the Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill, where the Guenther family has been making sorghum syrup for 50 years.
“When you walk into the mill it’s like walking into a sorghum spa,” Angela said, explaining the sweet fragrance of the steam that’s part of the production process. “It’s unbelievable.”
The Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill is one of many adventures the couple is likely to share at Hog & Hominy Wednesday night for a book-signing and benefit for the Mid-South Farm to Table Conference, held annually at Rhodes College. The conference, started three years ago, is a coming together of farmers, advocates, and consumers interested in strengthening the economic viability of local food. The book signing and dinner, from 6 to 8 p.m., will offer the restaurant’s traditional farm fresh menu plus a few surprises from the book.
The couple’s support of the farm to table conference reflects both the book’s focus and the Knipple’s practical and philosophical lifestyles.
“The conference is doing the same thing we are trying to do with the book, but it is doing it from the other direction,” Paul said, explaining the couple’s drive to connect more Tennesseans with their agricultural roots.
“There is so much we couldn’t include in the book,” Paul said. “We were amazed at the diversity of Tennessee, from the hot, flat land of Memphis to the high, cool mountains of east Tennessee.”
Farm Fresh Tennessee at Hog & Hominy, May 15, 6 to 8 p.m. (707 W. Brookhaven Circle)