Mead has been working with Community Farmers Markets for almost three years, starting at the Decatur market and now managing the Ponce market full time.
As a self-professed foodie, she decided not to get a meal plan while in college but to cook for herself. As she cooked from many different cuisines, she developed spice blends that made quick work of preparing healthy meals with a range of flavors.
When Mead was fresh out of college with a degree in English, her first job was running the farm-to-school lunch program at Grant Park Cooperative Preschool. “I wanted to be a garden teacher and I had always loved to cook. Now I was preparing meals for 75 kids a day using my spice mixes and for the parents who would come into the classrooms and eat lunch, too. They told me, ‘You’re really good at cooking. I’d buy your food.’”
After four years of cooking at the school, Mead began Better Off Fed in 2018. She describes it as a constantly evolving culinary project. It began as a meal prep company, and because she was relying so much on her spice mixes in her cooking, she began selling those, too.
When the pandemic arrived, she stopped doing meal prep but kept and expanded the seasoning mixes. Ultimately, she ended up with eight blends: her “haus” blend, BBQ dry rub, Greek, chili, taco, Thai-inspired yellow curry and ranch seasonings and a mix she calls “spicy faerie” with garlic, parsley, edible flowers, crushed red pepper, pink salt and oregano.
Mead feels a special connection to pecans as she remembers the three pecan trees that grew on the last remaining piece of her grandmother’s original homestead in Lindsay, Oklahoma, and how her grandmother would shell those pecans and mail the shelled nuts to her family every year.
Mead just planted a pecan tree at home in Atlanta’s Venetian Hills neighborhood, where she has a vegetable garden, grows a variety of fruits and mushrooms, and keeps chickens. “Two generations ago, my family was homesteading, and my grandparents think it’s wildly hilarious that I am committed to what they consider a hard way of life. They think the best thing in the world is sliced bread.”
Creating pecan recipes to share with the Ponce City Farmers Market shoppers is a way she can honor that family heritage.
All too often, we relegate pecans to sweet dishes. Pecans add crunch and body to these savory recipes from Taylor Mead of Better Off Fed and the Ponce City Farmers Market. Mead calls for pink salt in all her recipes, an ingredient she prefers for the trace minerals it contains. It’s fine to substitute regular salt if you prefer.
Black-Eyed Pea and Pecan Butter Hummus
Hummus is infinitely adaptable. Add more lemon, more garlic or more salt to taste. Mead likes seasoning this with the smoky flavor of Beautiful Briny Sea’s Campfire Sea Salt, a mix of sea salt, sumac, ancho chile, cumin and smoked paprika. It’s available online or at the Chop Shop on Memorial Drive. And she uses Georgia Grinders pecan butter in this recipe, available at Whole Foods Market and local farmers markets.
— All recipes are adapted from ones by Taylor Mead of Better Off Fed.
Pecan Pesto Grain Salad
Mead likes to cook the barley for this hearty side dish in her Instant Pot. “I was horrible at cooking grains until I got my Instant Pot. It delivers flawlessly cooked grains every time.”
You’ll want a bunch of carrots with their tops, available at farmers markets and most grocery stores, for this recipe since you’ll need the tops for the pesto. And she prefers crumbling her own feta from a block stored in brine, rather than purchasing crumbled cheese.
If you purchased carrots without tops, you can substitute flat-leaf parsley for the carrot tops in this recipe. If using carrot tops, discard the stems and use only the feathery fronds.
If you have leftover pesto, freeze it in an ice cube tray and use to season cooked pasta or roasted eggplant.
Grilled Pork Chops with Apple and Pecan Relish
Mead’s Haus seasoning is available at Better Off Fed and is made of equal parts pink salt, pepper, garlic, onion and paprika.
Apple and Pecan Relish
This relish is tart and nutty. For the most colorful presentation, keep the peel on the apples. Extra relish can be served with chicken or tempeh, or added to a grilled cheese sandwich. Mead’s Aunt Katy gave her the tip about letting the apples and shallots sit in an ice water bath as a way to keep the produce crisp when pickled.
Cheesy Breakfast Tacos with Salsa Macha
Per taco, without Salsa Macha: 203 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 10 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 12 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 201 milligrams cholesterol, 232 milligrams sodium.
Pecan Salsa Macha
The inspiration for this dish came when Mead sampled the macha from Chico chef Maricela Vega. “It made me dream for days of crunchy pepitas and toasted sesame. I thought pecans would be a fun substitution to try.”
Mead likes a mix of half avocado and half grapeseed oil for this salsa.
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