Sunday, March 30, 2008
Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo, Callay! - Spring has almost sprung and our renegade farmers and crafters are ready to start the BHM this week!
NO this is not an April Fool's Day trick; some of our hardy vendors will be here at the BHM on April 1, from 3:30 - 7. Come and get back into the habit of shopping weekly at the BHM, pick up some fresh and local seasonal produce, farm fresh eggs, grass-fed meats, free-range chickens along with all the yummy baked goods. Come and see what are crafters have been creating over the winter!
Our official BHM opens on May 6.
Mark your calendar for the following dates:
Official BHM opens on Tuesday May 6
BHM Appalachian Spring Family Festival, Saturday April 12 - bring family and friends to celebrate all the aspects of spring and the renewal of life! Shop for fresh produce, explore local traditions, or bring and instrument and join the live music. Anndrena Belcher, will share traditional Appalachian storytelling, music, art and dance. This event is free and open to all our friends and/or soon to be friends.
Vendors participating this week are:
Mica Hill Farm
Plants and Flowers
Mustard Seed Farm
Back to Earth Foods
Bernies Baked Goods
Bread For the People
Pure light Candle Company
Trail's End Farm
Seashells and Beads
See you at the market!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Also, visit the Ecology Action website for more information -- biointensive methods are a great way to maximize the yield in any backyard garden, and are perfect for those who have limited space. Even if you're not a fanatic, attending Jeavons' workshop will definitely help deepen your repetoir of organic gardening techniques. For those who are seriously interested, Ecology Action provides apprenticeship and teacher training opportunities.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Ok, so eating is a biological act turned cultural. It is an extremely intimate act- we take something from the outside, bring it inside, and it becomes us. Eating, indeed food, is very sensual. It is a gift- hopefully one we are able to share. Thinking of my food's origins, seed, plant, fruit- farmer, market, cook, all of that work and energy- for me. It takes months to produce even a bite of food, and that deserves a moment of reverence and gratitude.
For a while last summer, I was obsessed with the book, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse; The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution by Thomas McNamee. (I even made a pilgrimage and everything...) Anyway, the book is fantastic because it reaches beyond the business of food to the consciousness food brings and fosters. McNamee quotes Alice Waters saying: "It’s important to encourage all the other values that are beyond nourishment and sustainability and the basic things. Beauty. When you set a table, you know, take time to do that- teaching the pleasure of work- that’s probably one of the most important lessons. It’s also about diversity. It’s about replenishing. It’s about concentration. It’s about sensuality. It’s about purity. It’s about love. It’s about compassion. It’s about sharing. How many things? All those, just in the experience of eating, if you decide you’re going to eat in a very specific way. It changes your life, and it changes the world around you."
What and how we eat does matter, just as the words we choose ultimately matter. Food, whether we like it or not, is biological, cultural and political. How we choose to interact with food is a personal choice that affects others- those we know and those we don't (yet) know. This point was driven home when I passed a billboard with a photo of a breakfast burrito that said: "This is what I would make at home. If I cooked." Yikes! Choose not to be removed from your food's production- choose instead to participate in a way that gives you joy. Then share.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
But what about the Locavore's Dilemma? Yes, you heard me right. So what is it? Well, if you're a fan of eating local, you probably already know. The locavore's dilemma is this: what the heck do you eat in mid-March?
Well, I hope to inspire you. In spite of the continuing lack of fresh veggies, Erin and I were able to do some good cooking this week, proving that March can be just as interesting (and possibly more creative) than June. And no, not all of it was done with local ingredients. That's okay. In my opinion, being a locavore and an activist for sustainable agriculture is all about doing what's possible. For your own health and sanity, I recommend eating well, no matter what day of the year, and sometimes that means using ingredients from afar (another locavore's dilemma -- should you forever renounce Florida oranges?). The point, here, is to try as hard as you can, or are able to, with promises to 'do better next year!' March, I believe, is the hardest time of the year for maintaining a local diet -- even those of us who did canning and freezing in the summer (I didn't) are probably running low. So here's a sampling of what we're cooking and eating during one of the most frustrating months for food.
Relatively, we used a lot of local ingredients for this one, so I feel justified in calling it a 'local' frittata. The mustard greens were available in a big bag for $7.99 at Ellwood Thompson's, from Just Picked Farm in Montpelier VA. We had goat cheese available through Faith Farms from Goats R Us, a farm in Green Bay VA. And our eggs came from a generous co-worker who has her own chickens!
4 cups mustard greens, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons diced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons diced olives (use your favorite kind)
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.
1/4 cup goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
In preparation for the final step, set your oven to broil. Then, using a medium-sized cast iron skillet, brown the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the onions and cook until they are slightly soft. Then, add the mustard greens. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and stir them together with mayonnaise. This step is optional if you don't like mayonnaise -- it is simply to get a fluffier egg texture. When the mustard greens have wilted, add the sun dried tomatoes and onions and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, then add the eggs. Cook until the eggs have mostly set. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top (use as much or as little as you like) then put the whole skillet in the oven for a few minutes, checking periodically until the eggs have completely hardened. Serve with buttered toast. Serves 4.
All of the ingredients used for this recipe are available at Ellwood Thompson's. I got the idea from my #1 favorite site for recipes, RecipeZaar. Check out the recipe we used here. I followed most of the instructions pretty closely, except we used roasted red peppers from a jar instead of a fresh red pepper because peppers are out of season right now. It was easy to get up early one morning and set up the tofu to marinate. The results were really good, and the salsa tasted fresh and summery -- a preview of things to come!
Erin claims to be a 'pizza purist' -- crust, sauce and cheese is all she needs. And while I've always been the type to overload my pizzas with piles of toppings, this pizza was great! The key, of course, was the quality ingredients. Our crust was based on a recipe from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food. We opted to let it rise in the refrigerator overnight, and the consistency turned out great. The sauce was pretty simple, just Pomi tomatoes-from-a-box (these are amazing), garlic, and a custom blend of italian spices. Cheese? Ellwood Thompson mozzarella, and a bit of parmesan.
So go on and cook. Now is the time to be creative...right as you're hitting the utter low of the cooking year, tired of potatoes and kale and heavy winter stews, not yet in possession of the spring veggies your'e dying for...
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Yes, Martha has a wonderful article on edible weeds, including a nice edible weed identification photo and lots of recipes. Some of these "weeds" were available at local Richmond Farmer's Markets last summer. Some plants we now consider weeds were originally grown for food and medicinal uses. The dandelion was actually introduced to America by the early English settlers who grew it in their gardens. I would of course suggest that you know for sure what it is you are picking and that you harvest only from your own garden or the garden of a friend who knows the history of chemicals used for turf, etc. Or, just buy these healthful and satisfying additions to available greens from your local market.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
So should you stop buying Muir Glen salsa or Cascadian Farm cereal because both companies are owned by General Mills? That's up to you, but it's certainly important to be well-informed about where your food is coming from. In general, it's more healthy to buy organic instead of traditional produce. However, many organic brands use large-scale industrial processing to distribute their products in quantity, and if that idea bothers you (as it does some locavores), you may change your opinion of some familiar 'health' foods after looking at this chart.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Lift a piece of baklava, a Mediterranean dessert of finely chopped walnuts and layers of pastry, dripping with honey. Dip a crisp cucumber into a bowl of creamy, heavenly chickpea dip called hummus. Bite into a hot chicken shawarma—and let the tender meat, freshly made wrap, lettuce and yoghurt sauce take your tastebuds far, far away from rainy Richmond to a coastline of white sand and wind and the brightest blue water.
You won’t, at that blessed moment, give a thought to eating healthy. But you don’t have to because the people of 2M Mediterranean Market & Deli already have.
“This is good stuff,” Denis says in English made slightly exotic by a Bosnian accent. “We cook it all fresh.” He points to the foods under the deli counter—a large bowl of tabouli (a salad made with cracked wheat, tomato, onion and chopped parsley), tempting rounds of spinach or meat pies, stuffed grape leaves in neat rows. “Olive oil, olives, garlic,” he lists ingredients of Mediterranean food. Another counter, another list, “Figs and dates are full of fiber,” he moves past the bowls of both dried fruits, “chickpeas and lentils—more good sources of fiber, protein. Red lentils we use in our soups; they are high in B12.” He points to the tubs of spices on display and for sale in the racks that line the deli and make up the store. “Fennel seed is good for digestion. Ginger, also.”
“I can tell anyone about the healthy side of this food.” He boasts with perfect honesty.
I ask about the desserts, taking in the mouth-watering sight of baklava triangles and the Kataif rolls (shredded wheat stuffed with walnuts).
“Made with nuts and honey,” he says and I nod knowingly. More good stuff. And only $1.99.
The deli owners and chefs take pride in fresh, well made food.
“The hummus,” Denis shows off the tubs full of the delicious spread, “is good for a week—well, good for two, but fresh for a week. We make a little every day, to make sure it is fresh.” he goes on to the counter full of the cuts of lamb, “The meat we use is all lean meat. The pita is fresh made and low carb.”
“You go to any restaurant around, go to the back, and you will find a freezer. The food is frozen, taken, put in a deep fat fryer—whatever. And the ones that are supposed to be authentic food—like Chinese—it is not something the ones who cook it eat. It is full of fat and bad stuff.”
Denis promises he eats the food he sells. I don’t blame him. Anyone tucking in daily to fresh hummus—good with any sort of raw vegetable—and fine feta cheese in a pastry pie or perhaps Greek salad would be well satisfied for life. Carnivores will love the wraps made with lamb, chicken or beef. Every ingredient is as fresh as it can be; so good, your eyes will roll back into your head in happiness as you take each bite. For those who are new to Greek or
I recommend the chicken Shawarma wrap (a half is 3.99 and very filling; a whole is 6.85 and heats up well for lunch the next day),
And, of course, the baklava.
Monday, March 10, 2008
My friend Pete was usually working the Manakintowne table, and as a gardener and a chef he always had great ideas for preparing their fresh produce. This year Manakintowne Farm plans to be at the Goochland farmers market every Saturday and also at an as yet undisclosed Richmond market.
In addition, they have gone through the licensing process to sell prepared foods, and so I am sure they will have some delicious homemade offerings.
Jo at Manakintowne Farm was kind enough to send me a short list of things we can all look forward to seeing at their stall this May. It includes...salad mix
chicories, including radicchio and dandelion shoots
heirloom tomato plants
baked and prepared goods from our produce (new this year)
Sound too good to wait for?
You can also find a variety of Manakintowne Farm micro greens and shoots right now at Ellwood Thompson's. Hope to see you at the market this May!
That is why I disagree with so many articles that call local food a trend. Eating locally is getting back to eating healthfully and appreciating the work and the time it takes to produce food. It is noticing what we have been ignoring- that which sustains us.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
White Bean and Wilted Spinach Salad
4 large hand fulls of de-stemmed baby spinach
2 cups Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 large sweet white onion... (a sweet white onion makes all the difference here)
Fresh grated Parmesan to taste
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Quarter the onion and then slice one quarter into medium (about 1/8 inch) slices
2. Saute onion in butter or olive oil (about one tbsp) over med heat just until soft and somewhat translucent
3. Add the rinsed Cannellini beans and continue cooking just until beans are warm through
4. Add the spinach and cook until evenly wilted, grate Parmesan over spinach once it is close to being done.
5. Salt and pepper to taste.
That's it. You're done. This is a very quick, but wonderful salad. I like to serve it still slightly warm, but room temperature or even cool is fine too. It's great with warm, crusty bread.
Variation: Saute onions and beans but use arugula and wilt with lemon juice and garlic
Wilted Spinach with Cranberries, Pecans, Walnuts, and Feta
This is a nice mix of sweet and salty, you can play around with the balance by adding more cheese, nuts, or berries depending on if your feeling like something on the sweeter or more savory side.
4 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach, destemed
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
3/4 cup whole pecans and walnuts (50/50)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
Feta, or Goat cheese
1/8 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
Orange dressing ( recipe below)
1. Saute pecans and walnuts in butter and salt over med heat until hot (Roasted pecans or walnuts would be better if you have them or the time)
2. Toss in the spinach and cook until evenly wilted
3. Drizzle orange dressing just to coat nuts and spinach once spinach is about 1/2 wilted
4. Once spinach is wilted, add dried cranberries, mix ingredients well and turn off heat
5. Mix with thin slices of raw red onion
6. Top with crumbled cheese
Orange Dressing (Enough for 4-6 individual salads)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup OJ concentrate
1-2 tbsp dry white wine
Blend and serve
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I used to think this fear of bees just rather silly, but now I understand that it is actually a real problem both for the beleaguered bee and beekeepers. Just last week I met a man who started beekeeping 20 years ago, but gave it up after a couple years because his neighbors were so afraid of his bees. Finally, after living near those same people for so long and having built a relationship with them he was able to pick up where he'd left off 18 years before. This is a positive story. In other examples keepers were forced to give up their hives because of frightened or unsympathetic neighbors. Another keeper friend of mine lost a good deal of his bees after his farmer neighbor sprayed his crops with an unfriendly pesticide. Fortunately in this case it was brought to that farmers attention and he agreed to stop spraying, or change his spray time to evening hours when the bees aren't active.
As a home owner you can do the same. Be patient with your beekeeping neighbor, and hopefully you'll be rewarded with some wonderful free honey. Watch what you spray and when you spray it. Some very familiar vegetable plant dusts are Not bee friendly. Many products will specify that they are highly toxic to bees in particular and those products will indicate that you are not to spray any flowering plants or areas with flowering plants close enough to catch drift. So always read the label, or of course better yet, just go organic.
According to the Virgina Cooperative Extension website the form of Kiwi most commonly sold in grocery stores is the species Actinidia chinensis. According to other sites including NCSU Actinidia deliciosa is also very common among the supper market Kiwis. Most of these come all the way from New Zealand, although apparently South Carolina has been growing some commercially.
In class Kiwi was referred to as one of the Virginia crops dependent upon bees for pollination. I need to learn more about just how much and where kiwi is grown as a crop in Virginia, but for now I am excited about the possibility of growing kiwi in my own garden to satisfy my kiwi needs.
Hardy Kiwi A. arguta can produce as much as 150 Lbs of fruit per plant. These vining plants are dioacious, meaning they need a male and female plant to produce fruit ( although according to Edible Landscapes a female A. arguta can produce fruit without a male, but in limited quantities). The kiwi requires a sturdy trellis and also a long warm period of 150 frost free days to set fruit, but for most of Virginia that's not a problem.
Kiwi vines produce fragrant white flowers in the spring and yellowish-green fruits in late summer. These fruits contain twice the vitamin C as an orange and as much potassium as a banana!
If you are interested in trying to grow your own, or just want to learn more, check out the Edible Landscapes site for available varieties and their growing requirements.
The market will focus on fresh produce and some prepared foods and plans to operate on both Wednesday and Saturday of every week through November.
Don't forget, more markets mean a need for more vendors and more market shoppers. If you haven't made a habit of shopping your local farmer's markets for fresh meats and produce, this spring will be a great time to start.
RFC will keep you posted on more specifics as they become available.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
It's too late this year to join a CSA. They're hugely popular, and the two CSAs in Richmond -- Amy's Garden and Victory Farms -- had huge waiting lists, and as far as I know have already determined their membership lists for 2008. However, you can still get involved! Sprout Richmond has a new blog, and they are looking for volunteers to help with their 2008 project: the development of a small plot of land off Robious Road for CSA-style farming and other sustainable practices! Sprout asks you to email David at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested. And check out the Sprout blog -- it looks like a great source for information on sustainable eating in Richmond.