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Do it yourself

A slow food suggestion.

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For Penny Rudder, one of the founders of Heartland Arkansas Slow Food, “presenting a plate of beautiful food” is as thrilling as “painting a picture.”

Not all of us are so artistically inclined in the kitchen, but eating according to the principles of the Slow Food movement doesn't require gourmet skills. The key requirements are in-season foods grown locally; when Rudder cooks, she serves small portions of meat and loads up on vegetables, which require fewer natural resources to grow.

That can mean some adjusting in fall and winter, when most fruits and many vegetables aren't available. But there are still plenty of possibilities.

Take, for instance, the produce included in the November basket from farmer Jody Hardin's Basket-a-Month program: Sweet potatoes, fresh-frozen pinto beans, a whole chicken, pecans, bell peppers, salad greens, kale, tot tsai (an Asian green Hardin describes as a mix between spinach and bok choy) and raw milk cheese.

Hardin includes a newsletter each month with suggested recipes; he recommends brining the chicken, then smoking it.

A side of pinto beans is easy enough to whip up, maybe seasoned with a ham hock from one of Adama Farms' Gloucester Old Spot pigs.

For a savory spin on the sweet potatoes, cut up and roast with hunks of red onion, then toss with parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary. To get some green in the mix, sautee the kale or tot tsai, or top the salad greens with some diced bell pepper and grated cheese.

For dessert? Pecan pie, of course.

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