Itz Gůd Füd and Great Eating

by Julia Milano

Elaine Nesmith brings heart and commitment to sourcing and serving the best of locally grown and chemical-free produce and meat at her mobile restaurant Itz Gůd Füd.  “Health is directly related to what you put into your body and the quality of food one eats. We believe we can be beneficial to our community by providing healthful food,” said Nesmith.

Elaine Nesmith and her husband Clay Cook
Elaine Nesmith and her husband Clay Cook

As anyone who has stopped by Elaine’s food truck and ordered one of her signature crepes, soups or salads can attest, her cooking is not only healthy but scrumptiously delicious.  “I like to change it up according to what’s fresh and seasonally available,” she said on a recent breezy morning at the Hot Springs Farmers and Artisans Market where you can often find the truck during the main market season.

Food Truck Friday, August 2015
Food Truck Friday, August 2015

“When we started this venture two years ago, I was inspired by my work with the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and Growing Healthy Communities – Hot Springs.  We wanted local people to know that good food can taste delicious.”  Nesmith actively worked with the city of Hot Springs in organizing a monthly gathering of food trucks which park around the market pavilion from 11 am to 8 pm every last Friday of the month through October.  “This is a pilot project in which we hope to grow more food trucks that source their menus from local farmers,” Nesmith explains. “I like to think of it as farm-to-fender eating.”

Itz Gůd Füd menu
Itz Gůd Füd menu

At different times of the year, Nesmith may offer other gluten free options such as arepas-venz, succulent corncake sandwiches.  Her most popular crepes are the Popeye & Porky stuffed with uncured, antibiotic free smoked ham, organic spinach, farm fresh eggs, house sundried tomato pesto, and hormone free sharp cheddar cheese, and the Ole’ Francais full of grilled marinated happy chicken, homemade salsa verde, farm fresh eggs, and organic cilantro crema, and hormone free sharp cheddar cheese. The salads and soups are always in tune with the seasons and feature many unusual combinations.

“There are two basic strategies essential to avoiding obesity and promoting good health,” said Nesmith before returning to cook for the long line of people at her food truck window.  “Increase your physical activity and your access to healthful foods. It’s simple really, and when you visit us at the Hot Springs Farmers Market on the Greenway trail, it’s a wonderful way to accomplish both!”



Recipe: Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery’s Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

Recipe: Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
Recipe: Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
On The Road Again
On The Road Again

Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery is one of the hidden Southern restaurants featured in Morgan Murphy’s third in the Off the Eaten Path series, On the Road Again. You can enjoy this appetizer at Superior, and you can pick up a copy of the cookbook signed by the author while you are there.



Recipe: Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery’s Savory Mushroom Strudel

Savory Mushroom Strudel
Savory Mushroom Strudel


OnTheRoadAgainSuperior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery is one of the hidden Southern restaurants featured in Morgan Murphy’s third in the Off the Eaten Path series, On the Road Again. You can enjoy this appetizer at Superior, and you can pick up a copy of the cookbook signed by the author while you are there.


Recipe: Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery’s Citrus Quinoa Salad

Citrus Quinoa Salad
Citrus Quinoa Salad

On The Road AgainSuperior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery is one of the hidden Southern restaurants featured in Morgan Murphy’s third in the Off the Eaten Path series, On the Road Again. You can enjoy this salad at Superior, and you can pick up a copy of the cookbook signed by the author while you are there.

Recipe: Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery’s Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie

Gelato di Superior Pub Cookies
Gelato di Superior Pub Cookies
Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie
Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie

OnTheRoadAgainSuperior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery is one of the hidden Southern restaurants featured in Morgan Murphy’s third in the Off the Eaten Path series, On the Road Again. You can enjoy these cookies at Superior, and you can pick up a copy of the cookbook signed by the author while you are there.

Malabar spinach: the summer substitute for spinach

Malabar spinach isn’t really spinach, but it’s a similar type of greens that comes from the tropics, India in particular. It grows well in the Arkansas summers when other types of spinach turn bitter from the heat. It has more substance that the types of spinach we usually eat and it is not as slimy.  A great plus is that it produces all summer. It can keep growing until the temperatures hit 35 degrees. It grows as an annual, but often it reseeds and comes up the next spring.
Malabar spinach and tomatoes
Tomatoes and Malabar spinach both like hot climates as well as frequent watering and feeding. The Malabar spinach is interplanted with tomatoes.
Sharon Dent has been growing Malabar spinach for five summers. She first saw it at Schults Nursery in Hot Springs and then found the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. She’s found the plants in several local stores in the last few years.
Malabar spinach is a member of the Basellaceae family. Basella alba is a green leaf variety while the red leaf variety belongs to the B. rubra species, which has purplish stems. The vines are quite attractive and can be trained to grow as an edible ornamental.
Stems and seeds
The red leaf vines have beautiful stems and the seeds are white and then turn purple. You can grow Malabar spinach from the seeds or stem cuttings.
It takes 70 days from spring planting to harvest. Sharon usually starts harvesting it in mid-June. She plants it in large pots. Typically there are three to five pots of it planted with tomatoes on her front patio. Malabar spinach takes some shade which is good because her patio has filtered shade in the morning. It does fine, but in shady areas the vine tends to climb trying to reach the sun. More sun might be better.
Harvested vines
Harvest Malabar spinach by cutting the leaves. Or trim the vines and then remove the leaves. The stems of young vines are edible until they become too tough.
Malabar spinach likes moist fertile soil with plenty of organic matter. You can trellis it alone or with peas or tomatoes or cucumbers. The Malabar spinach climbs up Sharon’s tomato vines which are staked or caged. Since tomatoes are heavy feeders, she feeds the tomatoes and Malabar spinach combo monthly and waters most days to keep them growing vigorously.
Large leaves
Large (2-4″ diameter) leaves
Malabar spinach is rich in Vitamins A and C, as well as iron and calcium.  Sharon tries to serve it several times weekly because it is so nutrient rich.
Wash and cut
Wash and cut the leaves into ribbons for cooking.

Gardening Know How
What Is Malabar Spinach: Tips For Growing And Using Malabar Spinach

Dr. Weil’s Blog
Gardening: Malabar Spinach

Dear Friend and Gardener

by Julia Milano

Dear Friend and Gardener:  Letters on Life and Gardening by Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto. DearFriend&Gardener

Gardeners by passion and profession, Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto enjoyed a rich friendship extending over twenty years.  The two exchanged letters redolent with gossip about plants, the British gardening world and their personal lives.  They both owned homes with extensive and rather famous gardens, open to the public and raised plants to sell in their nurseries.

Chock full of hands-on plant knowledge and entertaining observations about plant species, their joyful letters contain a cornucopia of information and amusing anecdotes reflecting both the plants and people inhabiting their worlds.  The letters take a reader through a whole year of seasons as Lloyd and Chatto prepare and propagate to make their gardens ready for the hordes of visitors descending in spring and summer.

Lloyd spent his entire life gardening at Great Dixter his family home, which is beloved throughout Great Britain for its creative and colorful plantings.  Lloyd was a passionate cook (usually of his own vegetables), a sought after speaker and writer as well as a generous teacher to generations of young horticulturalists.  When he passed away in 2006, Lloyd was universally mourned as a great master of the horticultural world.

Chatto’s gardens are of equal renown and she has been called “the most influential gardener of modern times.”  Well into her nineties, she continues to influence and educate through the remarkable gardens she created out of a tangled wilderness in the English countryside.

Reading the missives of these two dear friends is a rare and delicate treat.  I plan to reread the book with a plant identification manual by my side so that I can more fully visualize the trees, flowers, shrubs and bushes they describe.  How illuminating to briefly share the triumphs and disappointments of Lloyd and Chatto and to ponder the rich friendships formed by those who live to love plants.

Fall and winter gardens

by Sharon Dent

Fall is approaching and it will soon be planting time for fall and winter gardens. Greens of all types are nutritious and versatile and great candidates for your garden. I plant greens in my flower beds. A border of spinach in a winter flower bed adds unexpected green during brown months.



Greens can be used in salads, steamed, sauteed and in a wide range of recipes. One of my favorites is ham stuffed with spinach. Another is a kale and peach smoothie.

Cauliflower likes growing in cool temperatures and moist atmospheres. Plant in late summer for a late fall harvest. Cauliflower needs magnesium and without providing it, expect your heads to be stunted. Watch the acidity of the soil too; cauliflower needs to grow in neutral to slightly alkaline soil.

Among the easy-to-grow greens are kale, Swiss chard, spinach, collards, mustard, tender greens, and turnip greens. My family eats the leaves from the cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts plants too. Also delicious are arugula, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and a wide range of lettuces.

Bok choy
Bok Choy is a favorite that likes a cool growing season but a sunny growing site. For baby bok choy, harvest from the time of planting might be 45 days, but it will take 60 days for a fully mature plant. So in Hot Springs, it is best to plant seeds in mid-August.

Greens are best suited for cool weather growing. They like consistent moisture, and insufficient water will inhibit growth. Cabbage worms and slugs sometimes attack your crops. Pluck them off, or use Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) to get rid of the pests.

Plant cabbage from mid-August to mid-September. I use plants rather that seeds.

Keep the growing areas free of competing weeds.  Applying mulch helps discourage weeds and preserve moisture in the soil.

Carrots must be grown in deep, sandy loam, or the carrots will be deformed.
It is ideal to plant when night temperatures are 55 degrees and daytime temperatures are 75 degrees.
Beets like to be planted in late August to early September. It takes 60-70 days for them to mature. They must be planted in loose, sandy loam which means lots of soil amendment in Hot Springs, and it needs to be 18 inches deep or more. Beets can survive frost and light freezing temperatures.  Detroit Reds are my favorite and I especially like eating the tops as greens. Remember when planting that it is best to plant seeds as beets do not transplant easily.

Let me know your favorite greens and recipes for using them.

How to make kefir

by Louise Lee

Print This Post Print This Post

About kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk product that is made by inoculating the milk with a certain type of bacteria, called kefir grains, These are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Kefir is a sour tasting drink that has amazing health benefits. It contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly probiotic bacteria along with vitamins and enzymes. The kefir grains eat the lactose  in the milk during fermentation, so kefir has the added benefit of being nearly lactose-free.

Kefir is simple to make. It requires only two ingredients — grains and milk.

Kefir grains

The nicest way to get grains is from a friend. If you don’t know someone who makes kefir, you can order the grains online. I bought mine from Donna Schwenk at I’ve been using them for over two years, and I’ve given away lots and eaten even more of the extras that grow as you ferment milk. If you order online, make sure you are getting grains for milk kefir, not water kefir.


Grains are living organisms, so once you get them, you need to treat them accordingly. It’s a commitment that you can’t just leave at intervals and come back to. Heat and starvation will kill the grains. But you can rest them when you need to by putting them in milk (one cup of milk for one tablespoon of grains) and refrigerating for a week or two. When you are ready to make kefir again, pour off the milk and throw it away. Add fresh milk to make kefir again.


If you can get raw milk, it is the best way to go. It requires a little more effort, but it’s worth it. If you start with grocery store milk and switch to raw like I did, you will not need to be convinced that they are two different products. My grains grew very slowly until I found a source for raw milk. Then they went wild.

Current law in Arkansas allows us to buy raw milk if we go to a farm and pick it up. I get raw milk, and before I make kefir I separate the cream. I pour a gallon of milk into a gallon glass jar and let it sit on the counter for an hour or two until the cream rises to the top. Then I remove the cream with a ladle, label it and put it in the refrigerator.


IMG_7634If you use pasteurized milk from a grocery or health food store, look for whole milk from cows NOT injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST). Check to make sure the milk is not ultrapasteurized. Ultrapasteurization extends the shelf life and it seems to be popular with the organic brands, which also lean heavily toward non-fat and low-fat, which is not good. Before I switched to raw milk, I used Hiland.


How to make kefir

Put the grains in a sturdy glass jar, and add milk (one cup milk for one tablespoon of grains).


Let sit on counter for about 24 hours or until it thickens.


Strain kefir.

I use a plastic strainer and a large measuring cup. I run the plastic spatula through it and use it to scrape the creamiest part of the kefir from the bottom of the strainer into the cup.


Pour the kefir into a jar, and measure the grains into another jar.


I didn’t always measure the grains when I used the store bought milk, but I have to with the raw milk because they grow so fast. A quart jar of fermented milk produced about 3/4 a jar of kefir and there were three tablespoons of grains plus some extra (not show in this photo).


Add milk to grains and put it back on the counter until it thickens.

Currently, I’m making three quart jars of kefir. After I strain the grains and pour the kefir, I measure three tablespoons of grains into a clean quart jar. I label one of the jars with the current day of the week. When you make kefir over a long period of time, it’s easy to forget how long it’s been on the counter.

The kefir will separate into curds and whey, especially during warmer temperatures. This is okay. You can shake the jar(s) a couple of times a day and again before you strain it.

Second ferment kefir

I pour the kefir into quart and/or pint jars. At this point, you can drink it or put it in the refrigerator.  But there’s another simple option that increases the probiotics and nutrition in the kefir. It’s called second ferment.


Just add something with some natural sugar to feed the kefir for another twelve hours and put it back on the counter for. The simplest and most elegant thing to add is a thin slice of lemon peel. Orange peel works too, and any small piece of fruit is good. I love mango or fig. Of course, you could just add some honey or sugar. One of my favorite things to add is crystallized ginger. Dried fruit works, and so does jam or jelly or preserves. Inulin is a prebiotic powder made from chicory root. That’s what I used today.


I use Post-it page markers to indicate what I added before I set it on the counter. “Plain 2” for second fermented kefir with inulin, “Ginger 2” for ginger, etc. I stack the three quart jars of kefir in the back corner of my counter. Then I stack the one quart and two pint jars of second ferment kefir toward the front. They will go into the fridge after twelve hours.


The extra grains go into a small jar if I’m planning to give it away. Otherwise, they go into my NutriBullet cup for a smoothie. Today I added some barley greens powder, pomegranate powder, and frozen blueberries to the kefir and extra grains. Sometimes I add some local raw honey. And sometimes I just have it plain, because I love the taste.


And this is my reward after my batch of kefir is finished.


Later I will come back and have a cup of coffee with fresh cream. This cream was on the top of the half-gallon jar of milk and I scooped it out with a gravy ladle.


There are jars of cream in the fridge and any day now I will get out my stand mixer and make butter with it. And there will be buttermilk too.

Recipe: Basil Pesto

by Annette Enderlin
Recipe for Basil Pesto

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoon walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Whirl until blended, leaving coarse.




Make this recipe in summer when basil is abundant. Freeze it to use throughout the winter.AnnettesBasil