Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Brunch- Cheese Grits and Sticky Buns with Pumpkin Butter

Let's face it- some days you just need stamina. Here are some lovely recipes for brunch, fit for tradition.

From the Freemans:
Crazy Aunt Sharon's Cheese Grits
3/4 Cups grits
3 Cups water
3/4 Cup butter
3 eggs, well beaten
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. tabasco
paprika (sprinkle)

Add 1/2 tsp salt to water and cook grits 5 minutes. Add butter and stir to melt. Add remaining ingredients, and stir. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until set.

Pumpkin Butter
3 Cups fresh, roasted pumpkin
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ginger powder
2tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients, and cook over medium low heat for about 30 minutes, until the butter has turned brown, and is fragrant. Puree if needed.

Sticky Buns with Pumpkin Butter and Pecans
*I have not yet made these, but this is my plan.

2 cups pumpkin butter

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Roll out puff pastry to 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread pumpkin butter over dough, short 1 inch from one short end (for sealing). Roll toward this end, sealing by pressing dough with your fingers. Slice into 2 inch pieces.

For the topping, combine brown sugar, butter, and over low heat. Stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish and sprinkle pecans on top. Place roll on top of pecans, close together. You can refrigerate the buns until ready to bake. Bring to room temperature, then bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until they are golden brown. Invert immediately onto serving dish- serve warm.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Agriberry at St. Stephen's

From our friend Anne Geyer at Agriberry:


Agriberry "Sleigh" of favorite Apples to

St Stephens Wed. ( Oh and broccoli too )

Ok Agriberry fans- the weather is looking wonderful for Wednesday's evening market at St. Stephens Church on 6000 Grove Ave.! Your favorite apples-Honey Crisp, plus Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Fuji Apples to mix and match by the peck- For $20 a peck or six pecks for $99! How about having them in the wooden peck basket too? Add a ribbon and you have a super last minute drop off holiday gift!

Pickup from 4pm til sold out... or 7 pm.

Oh and Apple Cider too...think of holiday time mulled cider or freeze in serving size zip bags for winter/spring smoothies...

Yea Locavore fans, Yea Agriberry , and Yea Apples!

p.s. Farmer Chuck Geyer, picked Broccoli before the snow for us too...winter veggies are great!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Solstice Soup and Salad

In case you missed it, last night was the winter solstice. Celebrating the return of ever more increasing light that proceeds this night with a cozy fire, a hearty winter meal and good does of winter ale and red wine seemed a good idea. Some good friends joined us to share a meal of hearty lentil soup, warm brie with crusty bread, and a salad of fresh greens, apple, roasted fennel, roasted walnuts, and fresh shavings of Parmesan. For dessert I made what turned out to be my best ever batch of baked apples.

This meal, requiring very little last minute preparation, is perfect for allowing the cook to spend time relaxing with friends rather than rushing around the kitchen. The Soup, made up ahead of time, was ready to be served whenever we were ready to eat. I baked the brie in an open baking dish that could go strait to the table. I cooked it for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees along side the foil wrapped baguette and the baking apples. In addition to the food I made I also had on hand plenty of homemade confections I'd received as gifts from friends, neighbors and coworkers. One of the nice things about entertaining at this time of year is that you can put those yummy gifts to good work saving yourself time spent in the kitchen, and giving yourself a chance to sample all of them without eating entire jars of cheese spread, and whole pound cakes all on your own.

For the lentil soup I followed The Barefoot Contessa's recipe which calls for green lentils, carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, cumin, tomato paste, thyme, salt and fresh ground pepper. To this I added a couple of finely chopped, medium potatoes. I also used an extra 1/2 tsp. cumin and thyme, replaced the celery with fennel stalks, and the chicken stock with vegetable broth. It was great with some 'Flur de Sel' and fresh ground pepper added at the table. For the salad I made a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, course salt and fresh ground pepper.

Sadly my usual recipe free technique of 'tossing and tasting' means that I'll probably never be able to exactly replicate the deliciousness of those baked apples. They were just sweet enough with a nice tang from the ginger and the apples themselves. Here's what I can tell you... I used 6 large apples in a mix of Empire, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. I pealed and sliced them into 1/4 inch slices. I mixed these with a relatively small amount of brown sugar and honey then seasoned with perhaps a tsp. of powdered ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and spread slices of butter (about 1/3 stick) across the top. Cover and bake for about 1. 5 hours... this cook time is based on my very old gas oven.

Fleur de sel is hand raked (harvested) sea salt. Penzey's spices on Cary street used to carry a couple different versions of this and French grey sea salt. This past December I discovered that they no longer carry these salts at the shop or on-line. I also checked Sur la Table and found only flavored salts (ie. black truffle) for more money than I wanted to spend. Finally by accident I discovered a good sized jar of Fleur de sel at Trader Joe's containing twice the amount at perhaps half the price of the Penzey's hand raked Fleur de sel.
For more information on different salt's to use in your cooking or at the table check out this 9 salt taste test review in Slate.

Whitehouse Kitchen Garden and An Explanation for Sweet Winter Veggies

A few weeks ago, the RFC did a cooking segment for channel six featuring foods that require a frost to taste their best. After spending some time researching the cause of the excess sugars found in winter brassicas and cold season apples we were a bit hard pressed to explain it easily to others. This quick story about the White House kitchen garden has a sidebar that does a very tidy job of explaining why spinach and kale taste sweeter when the temperature goes down.

A Couple Quick Updates for Lakeside

Two of Lakeside Avenues food spots have undergone a major change in the last few weeks. First, after multiple overhauls the restaurant formerly known as The Fat Goat (previously known as Zed Cafe) closed its doors over Thanksgiving. The word is the owner is currently searching for a new location for the local food supporting, northside restaurant.
Second, the New India restaurant is now the Lakeside Sports Grill. Apparently, however, this restaurant is still under the same ownership, and you can still get Indian food via carry out! Interesting.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Backyard Farmers

My friends Jay and Rochelle started an organic garden last summer, and could not figure out why their tomatoes would not fruit. They were really disappointed, as they had purchased topsoil from a local farm, and had researched and purchased beautiful, organic plants. And after all of their work, nothing much happened.
Backyard Farmers came to their rescue, helping them amend their raised beds with compost and planting a cover crop. Shawn and Tim, two of the Backyard Farmers, tested the soil that Jay and Rochelle bought and found that it was dead and that the soil structure was too loose, so they introduced components that would encourage microorganisms and water retention.
Jay was so excited because the Backyard Farmers pulled all of the weeds, re- worked the beds then planted garlic in one bed, buckwheat in another, and rye grass in the third. These cover crops will help break up the hard pan under the amended sections, bring nutrition for later crops to access, and remain a weed deterrent. Jay and Rochelle can also add the biomass to their compost pile when they are ready to clear the beds to plant in the spring.
The Backyard Farmers will come back to the garden in the spring, and walk Jay and Rochelle through what seeds to purchase , when to plant and how to care for the crops. These knowledgeable horticulturists have made themselves available to their clients, and Jay and Rochelle are looking forward to growing their own food, and learning a lot in the process. Check out the BF website to get in touch with these mobile farm gurus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Discounts on Local Food

Are you missing those once abundant fruits of summer? I know I am going through the basil pesto and canned tomatoes in my pantry like nobody's business. There is good news if you are willing to invest in a summer Community Supported Agriculture program early- you can get discounts on your membership!
Fertile Crescent is offering $25 off if you join before the end of January.
The cost of a full share for 20 weeks is $500.
The cost of a half share for 20 weeks is $300.
On farm pick up is $475 for a full share and $275 for a half share.
Adam Bressa and Darbi Jewell have been farming for in Green Bay for several years, and are expanding their markets and CSA pickups this year to include Byrd House, South of the James and the Market at St. Stephen's. Check out their lovely site for more info on their farm and how to sign up for their CSA!

Frog Bottom Farm sent this info for interested 2010 CSA members:
Next year we're doing an extended summer season -- from the first week in June through Thanksgiving week. That's 26 weeks. The full share will be $650 and the half share will be $350. Since this is more than last year, and a big amount for some folks to pay as one lump sum, we will offer payment plans.

For folks who pay in full by January 15, we're offering a discount -- the full share will be $600, and the half share will be $325.
I was a member of Frog Bottom's CSA for both the summer and winter season, and have really enjoyed talking food with Ali and Lisa. Check out their gorgeous farm site here.

Also, if you want local food NOW, Fall Line Farms is offering a huge discount on their memberships. Join for only $35.00, and enjoy shopping from 50 local vendors. Learn more about this amazing co-op here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RFC Cooking Class- How to Cook Grass Fed Beef

We have been asked to teach cooking classes using local ingredients to further the mission of the Farmers' Market at St. Stephen's. Since neither Shannon nor I know anything about cooking red meat, we asked Shannon's husband Matt to help us out. He did a great job!

Here is the menu, some notes and recipes from our early winter cooking class:

Matt Talks Grass Feed Beef:
So I've heard of a couple differing opinions on how to cook grass-fed beef, but one constant remains. Grass-fed beef has less fat and cooks much quicker than grain-fed. For this meal I'm using a london broil. about 1.5" thick. If you have time to marinade over night then do so with your favorite marinade. I like using a simple combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, worcheshire sauce and a sprinkling of dried oregano. First I douse one side of my steak in worcheshire, sprinkle with salt, pepper,and garlic powder to taste (usually enough of each to lightly cover the surface). Next I sprinkle a light dusting of dried oregano, not too much though it can over power the other flavors.Then I flip the steak over and repeat the process. Cover and refrigerate over night.
If you are short on time you can use a rub and tenderize the meat with a meat tenderizing mallet. In the past I've used left over rubs from when I've made ribs, but they contain sugar which will burn and I wanted my steaks to taste like steaks and not ribs. So... I have been searching for a good steak rub and believe that I have found one. I wanted a little bit of heat and some smokey flavor which the chipotles do both. It's a smoked jalapeno. What's not to like?!Here's the link .
I have found that by adjusting the amounts of ingredients you can customize a rub to your tastes, don't be afraid to experiment! I reduced the amount of black pepper in this rub by 1/3 since it also has chipotle's for heat. Once the rub is made sprinkle it on and rub it in on both sides then tenderize with the mallet. Your breaking down the connective tissue of the meat when you use the mallet. Tenderizing it manually instead of chemically. A process that is also achieved with acids like vinegar, found in most marinades.
First step in preparing to cook grass fed beef is to let it sit out and come to room temperature. The reason being that grass-fed beef contains less fat and cooks quicker. If you took it out of the fridge and started cooking the outside would cook faster than the inside resulting in a steak that looks done but is actually rare and not up to temperature inside. Secondly grass fed beef is better cooked in a pan than on the grill. The precious juices, which keep the meat moist, would be lost on a grill. If grilling, sear meat on both sides at high heat. Then reduce heat to low and baste frequently throughout grilling until the desired internal temperature is reached.

Once the meat has come to room temperature it's time to cook! For this meal I'm going to use a pan and the oven to finish the cooking process. Always pre-heat! Putting a hot steak into a cold pan does no one any good. Get the pan HOT and sear both sides of the meat, about 1-2 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Place the meat in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 10-15 additional minutes turning once about halfway through cooking. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat and the cut. Remove the meat about five degrees below your desired temperature. It will continue to cook as it rests. Temperatures are as follows:

Medium Rare:145

Medium: 160

Well Done: 170

London broil, as with most cuts of grass-fed beef, is meant to be served medium rare.
Once time is up remove the meat from the oven (checking to ensure that it is cooked to your liking) cover and let it rest for about ten minutes in a warm place. This will allow the meat to reclaim some of the moisture/juices lost during the cooking process and will make your meal that much more delectable. Once the meat has rested plate it up an serve it according to your recipe or tastes. London broil is served thinly sliced and goes quite well with my roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Recipe to follow.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Parsley
5 medium to large baking potatoes
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons butter (made from pastured cows)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large head roasted garlic (more to taste)
1/2 cup milk (from pastured cows)
Wrap the head of garlic in foil and roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until soft. Cook time depends on the size of the head. Boil potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Drain well, and add the butter, and milk Mash with a potato masher, or use a mixer with a paddle attachment. Once milk, and butter is combined cut the bottom, or root end of the garlic heads off then squeeze them like tiny tubes of tooth paste into the potato mixture. Make sure not to include the papery skins. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper to your liking, and enjoy!

Apple Pie
Makes 1 pie

2 pie crusts (I use the flaky pastry dough from the Joy of Cooking.)
Oven at 350 Degrees

3 pounds of apples- several different varieties, peeled and sliced

Mix with:
1/2 cup of butter, cut up in bits
1 tsp each: ginger, cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
sprinkle of sugar

Roll out pie crusts until they are slightly larger than your pan. Place one in deep dish pie pan, and fill with apple mixture. Cover with other crust, and make four slits in top for venting. Brush with whole milk and sprinle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for at least an hour- perhaps and hour and 15 minutes, until top is golden brown. Serve warm with brown butter ice cream.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baking with Sweetwater

Jerry V. sent this amazing sounding cake recipe, just in time for Florida citrus season!

The holidays for our family has always been a whirlwind, but a good one. Holiday baking may just be one of our favorite parts of that whirlwind. This time of year, our ovens bring forth an almost constant stream of cookies, cakes, breads and other yummies. One thing you can always count on during December is the orange cake.
Our family's orange cake tradition has been handed down from my Grandmother, Josephine Veneziano. She'd make this moist, sweet but not too sweet pastry with a hint of citrus each December, and it made her famous in her neighborhood. She never would tell folks where she got the recipe, or how she developed it, as far as I know, and when she passed it on to my mother, she stressed about how we should keep it in the family. So, why am I sharing it with you now?
Simple. I'm not.
The recipe has been modified by everyone in the family who has been given it, starting with my mom. This version comes from my sister, Jen Thurman. Grandma's and Mom's versions are good, but I like Jen's a little more (sorry Grandma). Her version is a little more moist and has a bit more orange flavor.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups margarine
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2 orange rinds
3 cups flour
pinch of salt
Cream the butter and sugar. Dissolve the baking soda and milk. Add the soda/milk mixture, eggs, and all other ingredients to the butter/sugar mix. Mix together, then pour into 2 8" or 9" round pans. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. Top with an orange juice and sugar glaze while still warm.
In keeping with tradition, I've come up with my own version as well. Take the recipe above, and replace the 2 orange rinds with the rinds of 3 - 4 lime (6 - 8 Key limes) and the orange juice with the lime or Key lime juice.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Local Food For Winter

Although it's not yet official, winter seems to be upon us. The main market season is over. A couple of the area's farmer's markets will hold renegade markets where vendors who use covered houses to grow produce continue to sell along side meat, cheese, bread, honey, and preserved food vendors. There is also stored root veggies, apples and cider.
To date there are three winter markets that I know of plus a couple of great winter co-ops...

The Market at St. Stephen's will be open Wednesday evenings from 4-7 through December 23. For more info and a link to their Facebook page, look here.

The South of the James market has been in discussion for sometime about where they would hold their winter market. The latest news on their website says that vendors will be at Blanchard’s Coffee Co. at 5047 Forest Hill Avenue on Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm. The market will run December 12, 2009 - April 24, 2010. This info. is different from the 3 other locations I'd heard recently from SoJ vendors, but it's the spot I'm gonna check out next weekend.

The Byrd House market will continue with their trusty renegade market on Tuesdays from 3:00-6:00. The Market ends an hour earlier than their regular season hours.

The Huguenot-Robious Farmers' Market is moving indoors after the holidays. As of January 14th this Thursday Market will be held inside the Great Big Greenhouse and maintain it's regular hours of 10:00 am to 3:00pm. I have only heard great things about this market from both vendors and shoppers. I believe the market will be taking a break from mid-December until January 14th. However, there may be one more market this coming Thursday. You can e-mail the manager at for more information.

The Goochland Farmer's Market will hold an indoor Holiday Market this coming Saturday, December 12th. Not held at the markets usual location the holiday market is to be held inside the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Western Campus, 1851 Dickinson Road, Goochland, VA 23063. I have been to their holiday markets in the past and been very pleased with the selection of food and gift items.
In addition to the holiday market the Goochland Market is working with Lulu's Local Food to offer a winter food Co-op. For a fee of $45 you can join and then select your meat, dairy, bread, and produce etc. from a detailed online product list. There are two Goochland area pickup sites to choose from. Learn more, and register here.

Lulu's Local Food is the brain child of Molly Harris of Edible garden. Lulu's Local Food is a website created to coordinated food co-ops like Fall Line Farms. This amazing food Co-op has 50 of the Richmond Area's best vendors participating. Erin has written about the winter food co-op Fall Line Farms before and her market at St. Stephen's Church is one of the area's pick up sites. This co-op has amazing food, incredible selection and pickup sites from Ashland to Southside and in The Fan. There is a $75 registration fee to pay for people to man each pick up site and for someone to coordinate and manage the website etc. This fee will be reduced to $35 after the holidays. To check out the list of pick-up locations, and learn more click here.

The Seventeenth Street Farmer's Market will hold a Holiday Market on Saturday December 12th from 9:00am -4:00pm. In addition to the Market will be the Grand Illumination at 5:00 and according to their website... "Featured at noon is Richmond's favorite holiday tradition, Tuba Christmas. We will have over 80 tuba players scheduled to play synchronized in four-part harmony along with a singing Santa caroling the crowd. It is a must see holiday event for the entire family!For additional information please call 804-646-0477."

There is also The Rural Routes winter csa and Ault's Family Farm was selling a limited of shares of pork for the winter. If you know of other winter farmer's markets or winter food co-ops please send us an e-mail and I will try and add it to this list.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Art And Food At Manakintowne Farm This Sunday

This Sunday, December 6, from 1:00-5:00pm Manakintowne Specialty Growers will host an event featuring local artists, and supporting The Food Bank. Just bring something for The Food Bank to attend. Shop for the holidays while you snack on some local treats. The list of artists includes...
Lisa Nye portraiture
Heidi Lersch mixed media
Sarah Masters oil sticks
Wes Mears fine furniture
Erin Richardson fiber
Garth Swanson drawings
Lisa Goodwyn oils
Fielding Archer mixed media
Patsy Jewett watercolor
Julien Archer T-shirts
Henry Archer wood carving
Food will be provided by "friends of the farm."
Manakintowne Specialty Growers
2570 federal hill farms road
powhatan, virginia 23139 (in the Barn) rsvp

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Project Winterfood event is tomorrow!

Check out the info sent by Project Winterfood:

Project Winterfood is a local food event and art exhibition organized by a group of VCU Graphic Design students. The theme of the event is spinach, apples, and sweet potatoes: all seasonal foods available in Virginia during the Winter.

Event + Art Exhibition
December 2nd, 2009
7-10 PM
1509 West Main Street

Continued Art Exhibition
December 4-31st, 2009
Gallery 5, 200 W. Marshall St.

What is it?
Project Winterfood is a local food resource, art exhibition, and benefit event. Project Winterfood was created by a group of VCU Graphic Design students to help share and preserve the culture of food in our Richmond community. The students who organized the event know how easy, practical, and beneficial it is to utilize local food options. With the help of some community partners, we are excited to share this knowledge with the public.

Project Winterfood will house a fascinating art exhibition made up of work that celebrates three winter foods: apples, spinach and sweet potatoes. The artwork has been donated by local artists and will be on sale during the exhibition. All proceeds from the artwork will go to benefit The Central Virginia Food Bank and Gallery 5, a non-profit gallery that supports using the arts to promote positive social action.

At the event, there will be a gathering of partners involved in the Richmond area food community to answer questions and share information about local food options, resources, and benefits. Visitors will be able learn more about how they can easily enjoy food from local farms as well as restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients. The community partners include such local businesses as the Farm to Family Veggie Bus, Dominion Harvest, Savor Cafe, Ipanema Cafe, Rostov’s Coffee & Tea, Ukrop’s, The Byrd House Market, and more to come which will be listed on the website as the project continues.

During the event there will be live fiddle music , sample & tasting booths, and delicious coffee provided by Rostov’s Coffee & Tea. Each visitor will leave with a complimentary take-home brochure designed by Project Winterfood. The brochure will contain information & resources as well as recipes that include the three featured winter foods.

After the event, the artwork will be on display in Gallery 5 throughout the month of December. It can be purchased during that time as well.

Why is it important?
The team at Project Winterfood is passionate about sharing and preserving food culture. It is our mission to share with others in the community how easy, accessible, practical, beneficial, inexpensive, and fun it is to utilize local food options. Project Winterfood is reaching out to everyone— those who already enjoy farm fresh foods and those who have heard the phrase “eating locally” without getting a chance to learn what it’s really all about.

The Project Winterfood event will present seasonal winter produce in a unique way that creates a memorable, informative, and fun experience.

Who are we?
Project Winterfood is combined of a group of VCU Graphic Design students who are interested in promoting positive change through community service learning. They are part of Noah Scalin’s Design Rebels course striving to make a positive difference as Graphic Designers in the Richmond Community.

Media Inquiries:
Christina Gleixner (540) 204-1365
Johnny Utterback (804) 543-5142
Cody Whitby (540) 273-8407

Eat Your Greens!

Savory Greens and Feta Pie
Great for brunch or supper when you have a ton of greens!

1 cup flour
pinch of salt
6 TBS cold butter, cut into pieces
3 TBS ice water

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Add butter, and mix with your fingers, pinching butter with the flour, trying to coat flour with butter. You can also do this in a food processor, but I get better results with my fingers. When butter is distributed, and your mixture looks like rough cornmeal, add ice water all at once. Stir in the water, and shape the dough into ball, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into circle large enough to fit in 9 inch pie pan. Place in pan and crimp edges, To keep the crust from bubbling up, cover with it foil, and spread dry beans or ceramic pie weights on the bottom of the crust, and par bake for 10 minutes.

1/2 cup chutney (optional)- nearly any variety would be good- tomato, pear or persimmon
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 large or 2 small onions, sliced
1 pound mixed greens like kale and collards
3 Eggs, whisked
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
Night Sky Feta, drained
Hot Pepper Flakes

Spread chutney over bottom of pie crust. Wash and chop greens into 1 inch pieces. Heat olive oil on medium high heat, add greens when onions are translucent. Saute until greens are bright green and have cooked down. Put mixture in pie plate, spreading out over chutney. Mix eggs and milk with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and pour over greens mixture. Crumble feta on top of mixture, and finish with hot pepper flakes. Cook for 50- 60 minutes, or until center is firm.

Kale with Apples
Serves 4 as a side
Ali of Frog Bottom told me about this dish, and I am so glad! He swears it doesn't need any salt, but I couldn't help adding some.

2TBS butter
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
(about) 10 leaves of kale, chopped into 2 inch pieces, stems removed
pinch of kosher salt- if you wish

Saute apples over medium high heat until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add kale several leaves at a time until there is room in the pan for more. Cook just a few minutes until leaves are bright green and slightly wilted. Add salt and enjoy.

White Bean Soup with Tomatoes and Greens
Serves 4
Shannon gave me the recipe for this, which I have long lost. This is my version and one of my favorite soups of all time.

2TBS olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 cups chopped cooking greens like kale, collards or mustard
2 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1 can or 2 cups dried and soaked white (cannellini or navy) beans
1 pint canned tomatoes or 4 medium fresh tomatoes
3 TBS dried herbs like basil, thyme, oregano. parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil, and saute garlic and onion until soft. Add kale and heat until just wilted. Add rest of ingredients. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brown Butter Ice Cream

All righty, now. We are in the season of eating, even though there is very little left in the field, and of setting out lights to protest the elongating darkness. So, when my friend John told me that his world had been rocked due to the discovery of brown butter ice cream, I knew that if there was any time to try such a decadence, it would be during this holiday season.

I have tried this (over the top) ice cream both with peaches I canned during the summer and with apples cooked with honey and bourbon, spices and still more butter. So great. I do think that the ice cream is best if eaten just slightly melted and within the first couple days of making it. For some reason, the pronounced butter flavor seems to dissipate with time.

Brown Butter Ice Cream

1 Cup butter
1 1/2 Cups heavy cream
1 1/2 Cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
pinch or two of kosher or crunchy sea salt

Cut butter into pieces and heat over medium high heat until golden brown (until the large bubbles have just stopped forming) The butter goes from golden to dark very quickly, so keep an eye on it.
Heat milk over medium heat. Combine egg, sugar and salt, and pour into milk. Gently heat (you don't want to cook the eggs) until mixture coats spoon- add butter. In a large bowl, measure cream. Pour egg and butter mixture though mesh strainer into cream, and cool until ready to freeze.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Egg Rolls For Breakfast?

We just got back from a very brisk outing to the South of the James Market. My husband and I were both super hungry so we finally decided to try the egg rolls sold there as breakfast/ lunch fare. With a toaster oven hooked up to a small Honda generator, and four flavors of egg rolls ready to go the warm, crispy and portable treats were looking pretty good. At a dollar a piece we tried one each shrimp, chicken, cabbage, and tofu. I asked no questions about how she made them or where the ingredients came from. I just ate. I'm no egg roll expert, but these were the best egg rolls I've ever had.
Spring roll wrappers are used instead of the usual thicker egg roll casing. For the cabbage egg roll the cabbage was mixed with carrots and apparently pickled. Slightly spicy and tangy the cabbage was delicious with the sweeter duck sauce served on the side. Same goes for the salty tofu egg rolls, made simply of wrapped, fried tofu. The chicken egg rolls were my husbands favorite. We went for two of those, and while I also loved the chicken I think that having one of each was perfect.
This vendor will be at South of the James next week for what is supposed to be the last Saturday of the season. A renegade market is being planned, but the details are not yet determined.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pat's Favorite Winter Cover Crops

If you keep up with this blog then you've read mention of her countless times. Now my mother-in-law has finally written a post for this blog! Pat works at an area nursery after going back to school for a second degree (in horticulture) via night school. She actually graduated from school the same month she retired from her job! Here she just tells you about two good winter cover crops that can help nourish you soil and prevent soil erosion during the bare winter months.
Two cover crops that I have used successfully are Austrian Winter Peas and Winter Rye.
The winter rye --not annual or perennial you want it to grow in the winter not die-- is best when planted in September but I have had success with later plantings(as long as it is warm enough to germinate). It is used mainly to improve clay soils. Broadcast the seed, water, and let it grow. How much seed you use is up to you. I guess about a pound would seed @200 sq.feet. Sometimes, if you have planted early it may need a hair cut if you want a neater look. Let the cuttings lie. This rye will die in the heat of late spring(June) so you can plant in it and let it act as a mulch or turn it under into your bed. The root system is extensive and deep so I chose, after trying all ways, to pull it out after it dies and add to my compost pile. It is not hard to pull after it dies.

Austrian Winter Peas are my cover crop of choice. You should use an inoculant when planting these. The inoculant introduces beneficial bacteria to ensure the formation of high-nitrogen nodules on the roots. You can broadcast or plant in rows in your beds. Cover with a thin layer of soil to deter the birds from eating your seeds. They continue to grow and add biomass in the winter(slowing as it freezes). When the pea tips form pinch them and add to your winter salads. That's an added benefit to using this cover crop. They are yummy. Like other legumes,winter peas add nitrogen to the soil so they help rejuvenate your beds. In spring or whenever you are ready to use the bed, either turn them under as green manure or pull and add to your compost pile. They are easy to pull. Just a note: I plant winter peas OVER my garlic bed so I have two things growing in one bed.(The peas also keep the weeds down.) The peas are gone before you dig the garlic BUT if not, as you dig the garlic you can turn under the pea biomass. If you plant other winter root crops you may try the peas over them as well.

Sources for these cover crops:Peaceful Valley Farms @ has the Austrian winter peas and inoculant. Seeds of Change also carry the peas. The seed is less per pound at Peaceful Valley but shipping is higher than Seeds of Change. Johnny's Selected Seeds @ carries the Winter Rye. I have used Abruzzi Rye which is carried by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange . Locally Southern States and Ashland Seed carry the inoculant. You want to ask for Garden inoculant or one for legumes.

You can click here to watch a short YouTube video of local sustainable agriculture professor Cindy Conner talking about cover crops in promotion of her DVD.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Menu for a Thanksgiving celebration in Napa

Just for inspiration...

Cider glazed turkey
Rye bread stuffing
Golden onion pie
Bacon smashed potatoes
Carrots with shallots, sage and thyme
Green salad with champagne vinagrette
Persimmon and fennel salad
(something green)
Cranberry orange relish

Pumpkin flan
Bourbon and orange pecan pie
Chocolate fudge pie
Fig Crostata

Byrd House Renegade Market Tonight!!!

The Byrd House Market sent out this e-mail .... Just look at all the great stuff they will have for your thanksgiving meal! We have been trying to find Brussels Sprouts at market for the last couple weeks with no success, but Byrd House has got them on their list for tonight!

It's that week when we feast til we burst! OK, almost burst. As we prepare to grace family and friends by sharing great food and warm company, remember the RENEGADE Market is open this week --Tuesday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm-- to make available the freshest produce, meats and baked yummies available for your holiday convenience. Join us!

Brussels Sprouts - Cabbage (New Jersey Wakefield & Flat Dutch varieties) - Cauliflower - Broccoli - Spinach - Kale (Red Russian, Siberian and Tuscan) - Swiss Chard - Radishes - Beets - Broccoli Raab - Locally grown apples (Granny Smith, Red or Yellow Delicious, Jonagold, & Fuji varieties) - Eggs, Chevre Cheese, Chicken, Honey - Get free-range Turkey for the Holidays - Applesauce - Apples with Cherries and Raisins -
Cranberry-Apple Relish - Homemade Egg Noodles - and MORE!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tradition, Sweetwater style.

From Jerry Veneziano of Sweetwater Farm:

Thanksgiving is here again, quite possibly the most food-oriented holiday in the US. Across the country, people will be sitting down with family and friends for the traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. Out here at Sweetwater, we spend the day with ourselves, and gather with family later in the week. This has its advantages, but also provides a bit of a challenge. See, we love the traditional feast as much as anyone, but after having it 2 or 3 times over a long weekend, it starts to get to you a little. So, a few years back we started giving our holiday meal a little twist, adapting the meal to various regional and ethnic food styles -- taking a Thanksgiving trip in our kitchen, so to speak. So far, we've done Louisiana (Cajun and Creole), Indian (turkey curry - YUM!), Italian, and Chinese. This year, we're going to Morocco.
We'll start the meal off with a couple appetizers. Off the grill will come kebabs, made with sausage, apricots, and a couple vegetables to be named later. Merguez sausage would be most appropriate, and I've found at least one source here in Richmond, but it’s made with lamb, which we don't eat (at least not knowingly). We'll substitute andouille, just a personal choice there. Our other appetizer is a hummus served with flatbread.
Next to the table* will come couscous, seasoned with garlic, mint, parsley, basil and lemon juice. With this, we'll be serving zaalouk, a salad of roasted eggplant and tomatoes with a dressing incorporating garlic, pepper, parsley, harissa (a chile paste) and several other ingredients.
(Yes, we're eating at the table. I realize it'd be more appropriate for us to gather on pillows and cushions on the floor; I have a toddler. That's not going to work.)
Then comes the main course. We do like working turkey into these meals, but it appears that many other countries don't use the bird (or at least I haven't found many recipes or references). Adapting a chicken recipe seems to do the trick, though. This year, we'll do turkey Tangiers-style -- basically, season a turkey breast and thighs with parsley, onions, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg, then grill.
(As a side note, the grill is a great place to cook a turkey even if you want to do the traditional Thanksgiving meal -- just put it in a roasting pan, and lower the lid. The downside: your house doesn't smell like cooking turkey. The upside: you've saved all that oven space, so you can make your house smell like baking pies!)
With the turkey we'll be serving a potato tagine (slow cooked with tomatoes, onions, ginger, paprika, cumin, garlic and saffron) with lemons and olives.
Beverages? Mint tea, which is traditional in Morocco. We'll also be serving cranberry wine from Horton vineyard. The wine has nothing to do with Morocco, but hey, its Thanksgiving, got to work cranberries in somehow!
OH...almost forgot dessert! Melons, and honey cakes. The melons are sadly out of season, but you can still find some that are pretty good if you hunt.
I won't claim that this is a 100% authentic Moroccan meal -- I doubt we've ever gotten any of our Thanksgiving meals completely "right." Do think, though, that we should be close...and more importantly perhaps, that it'll taste really good!
Of course, what really matters about Thanksgiving is reflecting on the blessings of our lives. We tend to lose sight of them, at least I do, but in spite of the challenges (or perhaps because of them), I have much to be thankful for, especially for having Beloved and the Wee Pirate as part of my life.
That's what Sweetwater is up to this year, what are y'all doing for the holiday?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

100 Mile Thanksgiving-and Other Local Food Accomplishments on 'With Good Reason'

Yesterday's Broadcast of the local Public Radio program 'With Good Reason' was dedicated to fascinating and inspiring work being done in the area of local food in Virginia. The first piece follows the story of UVA professor, Tim Beatly and the 100 mile Thanksgiving that he and his students accomplished.
Two years ago I convinced my mother-in-law to make our multi-family Thanksgiving dinner a 100 percent all local Thanksgiving dinner. Okay, so in the end there were perhaps a couple things... (think olive oil and salt) that weren't local, but mostly it was an amazing success. I even went so far as to read what I had hoped was an inspiring passage from Barbara Kingsolver on the beauty and meaning within an all local Thanksgiving. We benefited from having family my in-laws had to visit in New Jersey during peak cranberry season. They brought a bunch back with them. I saved blueberries from spring, found local pecans, roasted and pureed my farmer's market pumpkin for the pies. We had everything including seafood, a heritage breed turkey, wine, my father-in-laws homebrew, and a cornbread stuffing using cornmeal from the Ashland mill. Two years ago it was harder to get stuff this late in the season and we were all impressed by the bounty that lay before us that night. Since then we've relaxed the rules to suit the larger family, but a large part of the meal remains local.
The story of Tim Beatly and his student's is filled with useful information and plenty of "food for thought," and his is just one of four stories from yesterday's broadcast. Listen to the broadcast Here.

Fresh Fall Raspberries!

Anne Geyer of Agriberry was at the South of the James Market this past Saturday with her entire three sided table covered with pint after pint of piled up, plump, red raspberries. Anne, who runs the Agriberry CSA and Westmoreland Farm, explained that these fall producing red raspberries are in their first year. Thousands of plants were put in the ground this past April. Normally these raspberries would produce fruit earlier in the fall, but since their are in their first year they produce later and will continue to produce fruit until the first hard frost (about 29 degrees). That is good news for us! There is no hard frost in the upcoming days forecasted so if you would like some delicious and beautiful red raspberries for you local Thanksgiving there is still time to get some. They cost $5 per pint.
Your next opportunity is this Tuesday Night at the Byrd House Market.
Here is Agriberry's current market schedule...
Tuesdays: Byrd House Market 3:30-6:00
Wednesdays: St. Stephen's Market 4:00-7:00
Whole Foods Market 4:00-7:00
Thursdays: 17th st. Farmers Market 9:00-1:00
In addition, the Agriberry CSA is now taking new members. Visit for more information.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Consider yourself invited...

From our friends at Avery's Branch Farms:

You are Invited to Our Second Annual
"Day to Give Thanks for Udders"
Saturday, November 21, 2009 Rain or Shine
1:00 to 4:00 PM
Avery's Branch Farms
16923 Genito Rd
Amelia, VA 23002

~ Farm Tours
~ Hay Rides
~ Meet the Cows, Pigs, and Chickens
~ Hot Cider and Fresh Cookies
~ Showing of "Food Inc." Movie at 2 PM
~ Lunch Offered by our Mennonite friends at Countryside Shoppe Next Door

Bring your cooler to pick up your fresh turkey and stock your freezer for the winter!
We hope to see you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fresh Screening at Ellwood Thompson's Coffee Shop

Ellwood Thompson's will be hosting viewings of FRESH the movie, a film produced & directed by ana Sofia joanes.

"We all just watched FRESH...and we were mesmerized and empowered. Every American needs to see this. You will capture hearts with this. I can't wait to sit in an audience watching this. It is absolutely masterful. "
- Joel Salatin

To view a trailer or for more info about the movie, visit their site.

The next viewing will be on Sunday, November 22nd at 6:00 pm

A $10 per person donation is suggested.
All donations will go to the Center for Rural Culture, which funds the Goochland Farmer's Market and the local Richmond chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recipes for VATM: 'After the Frost'

This month on Virginia this Morning, we are highlighting some of the vegetables which ripen more fully after a frost, like roots veggies, kale, persimmons and brussles sprouts. The show airs on Monday, November 16 at 9:00 am. To change things up a bit, we asked our friends and readers for some of their favorite cold weather recipes using these ingredients, and got some real treasures! Enjoy!

Sallie sent her mom's recipe:

Happy's Kale and Potato Soup with Red Chili

This is one of my favorite soups and has endless variations- it can be vegan or vegetarian or done with a chicken broth and sliced kaelbosa for the dedicated meat eater.

Here is the recipe in Mom's words: A very satisfying winter soup!

1 bunch of kale

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red or yellow onion diced into 1/2 inch squares

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

1 small dried red chili, seeded and chopped or 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 bay leaf

1teaspoon salt

4 medium red potatoes (about 1 pound) scrubbed and dried into 1/2 inch cubes

7 cups water


sour cream (optional)

Using a sharp knife cut the ruffled kale leaves off their stems, which are very tough and take a long time to cook. Cut the leaves into pieces roughly 2 inches square, wash them well and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, add the onion, garlic, chili, bay leaf and salt and cook over medium heat for three or four minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes plus a cup of water or stock. Stir together, cover and cook slowly for five minutes.
Add the kale, cover and steam until it is wilted, stirring occasionally. Pur in the rest of the water, bring to a boil, then simmer slowly, covered until the potatoes are quite soft, 30 to 40 minutes.

Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the potatoes by pressing against sides of the pan or puree, a cup or two at a time in a blender and return to the pot.

Taste the soup for salt and add a generous grounding of pepper. If possible let the soup sit for a hour or so to allow flavors to develop. Serve hot.
Jennifer's Persimmon Chutney
6 persimmons
1 small onion
1 granny smith apple
1 asian pear
Dice fine and saute in olive oil.
Add the following and simmer over medium heat until your house smells amazing. (Add stock if mix becomes too thick).
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground clove
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Really wonderful if you marinate chicken in it for 4 to 8 hours and then bake.
Root Vegetable Gallette, from the Freemans:
Ned says:Here's what I remember without looking at anything. May need some refinement.
You want a pretty hot oven. Maybe 400 degrees.
Get what looks good, fresh, and local but I usually include:
Sweet Potato
Cube the Sweet Potato, Rutabaga, Turnip, Parsnip into roughly same size, an inch or smaller. I have this belief that some variation in size is good for caramelization and texture, but I could be fooling myself there. On the onion, I usually just quarter it and then slice again into 8ths.
Chop up a good bit of fresh rosemary 2-4 sprigs maybe, a little fresh thyme (sprig or two) -- you want a healthy pile to toss with the veggies.
Put root veggies in large bowl, toss liberally with olive oil, heavy dose of salt, the herbs, and a lot of fresh ground black pepper. Don't be shy, spices are your friend. Coat the veggies really well, and if it looks like you need more herbs, add some. Also, make sure it's all well coated with oil -- that really helps caramelize things when you roast them.
Put the mixture in a big roasting pan, spread out in a single layer.
Roast it, uncovered, probably between 40 min to an hour. Turn it with a spatula every 20 min or so, a little more frequently toward the end. Keep an eye on them. You want a good bit of caramelization and browning, but not burn. (some crisp edges on the smaller pieces is fine.) When it looks good, it's done.
While it's roasting, make your favorite pastry dough. I usually use the butter pastry from Joy of Cooking, though I've been known to toss in a tiny little extra sugar and salt, and I use all butter, replacing shortening.
You'll need to chill the dough a little before working, so make sure you get to it pretty soon after the veggies go in the oven.
Assemble the gallette.
By the way, I don't know if this is what an official "gallette" is or not. So someone should check that out. But anyway, that's what we call it and here's what we do.
Roll out the dough to about 1/8" (I say 1/8", but honestly we just roll it out till it looks right). You're just rolling it out kind of roundish and irregular... like a pie crust, but worrying even less about regularity.Place the rolled out dough on a flat cookie sheet. (It's ok if it spills over the edges... you're going to fold it over later toward the middle).
Once your veggies are roasted and beautiful, let them cool a little... you want them still warm.
Put warm roasted veggies in a large bowl, add some blue cheese that you've crumbled up. Between half cup and a cup, depending on size and how much you like the blue cheese flavor. I like it. Stir the cheese in to the veggies with a wooden spoon... you'll find that in doing so you lightly mash a few of the root veggies. Not a lot... what you're doing is just making the mixture hang together lightly.
Now, spoon veggie filling from bowl into the middle of the pastry. Spread it out to the size you want the finished gallette. The idea is that you fill just fold the edges of the gallette over the filling. Usually, I leave enough room to cover the top of the gallette, but with a good 3" or so hole in the middle so you can see the good stuff. Fold the edges over the top at one point first, then move around clockwise. the dough kind of folds over making this nice rustic looking fan pattern.
Bake it.
Turn oven down to 375 degrees
Bake the gallette on the cookie sheet until done. I'm guessing here, but I think it's about 20 minutes Browned, but not burnt. Enjoy in wedges. Nice fall spinach salad with a lightly acidic dressing is great with it.
Shannon's Green Olive and Garlic Brussels Sprouts

The recipe for this side dish came to be after I found a recipe in Bon Appetit for Brussels Sprouts with pistachios...I changed just about every ingredient in the recipe, but stuck to the technique of cooking the separated brussels sprout leaves rather than the whole sprouts. Separating the leaves and sauteing them over medium/high heat allows for them to cook quickly enough to preserve their crisp, nutty flavor and prevent the sulfurous smell and bitter tastes that have stopped so many potential sprout eaters in their tracks. My husband loves this recipe, although before I convinced him to try just one bite of this recipe he was a time tested, Brussels Sprout detester. Separating the leaves is time consuming, but the results are well worth the effort. As usual I don't usually follow a recipe, but just keep tasting and adding dashes of things until the flavor is just right for me. Do the same for yourself with the garlic, salt and cheese and you are sure to be happy.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
12 large brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds),
about 10-12 large unpitted, green olives (pit the olives and cut into eights length wise)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
About 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Course Salt and Fresh Ground pepper to taste
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Submerge the sprouts and then remove from the water. Remove the individual leaves by cutting off the bottom of the sprout. The outer most two or four leaves will fall of or be easily removed. Keep repeating this process, slicing a little off the bottom, removing the loosened leaves until you are left with the yellowish core. Discard the core. Rinse the lose leaves once more and set aside.
Heat oil in large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprout leaves and olives, and saute until leaves start to become tender, but are still bright green. This should take about 3 minutes total. After about 2 minutes drizzle lemon juice over. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grate the parmesan cheese over top and stir. Serve immediately.

Shannon and Matt's Parsnip Curls
My husband uses these "curls" as a topping for one of our favorite salmon recipes among other things. I thought they might make a great topping for some homemade macaroni and cheese.
Peel a couple of large parsnips. Discard the peel. Continue to use the peeler to reduce the parsnip to a pile of long, thin shavings. Heat oil (canola works well) over medium/high heat in a skillet. Once a test parsnip sizzles when added to the pan add the rest. Cook until the curls start to turn golden brown (usually within a couple minutes). Use a fork or slotted spoon to remove curls and lay them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Season with salt to taste.
For the Mac and Cheese, try one of my favorite recipes for the dish from Martha Stewart. Click here to view the recipe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Voice of a farmer: Meet Jerry of Sweetwater Farm

I asked my friend Jerry to give a farmer's perspective on the Richmond food system, and here is his introductory post:
It all started innocently enough, with Erin asking me to contribute something for the blog from time to time. Of course I agreed...then she suggested I introduce myself.
Oh dear.
Remember when we were kids, and the teacher would start off the year by having you say your name and a little bit about yourself? Am I the only person whose mind immediately went blank at that moment??? I mean, I'll tell you anything (just about), but what would you like to know?
Soooooo....what to say....Hi. I'm Jerry Veneziano, and like most people, I play many roles in this life. The most important being Husband to Heather, and Dad to Morgan (aka The Wee Pirate). I'm also a blacksmith, sculptor, student and (the reason I'm here) farmer. Heather and I own and operate Sweetwater Farm, LLC, a small mixed vegetable and herb farm in the megalopolis of Apple Grove (Louisa county). Sweetwater sits on just over 6 acres, with just under 3 either currently in or soon to be under cultivation. We're still getting started at this, and learning as we go. Even though growing isn't new to us (I've been working in family gardens since I was 3; Beloved is professional horticulturist), growing for market does seem to have a few twists of its own. And as exhausting and frustrating as it can be at times, I'm loving it.
One of the crops I tend to focus on here at the farm are peppers, sweet and hot. The sweet ones sell better, but the hot ones are just so fun! Yes, we're the ones who provided young Ms. Wright with the Ghost pepper (bhut jolokia): unlike her, I've actually tried it. It's not that bad! My day job coworker, Dave, used a Sweetwater Ghost in a batch of chili; while you definitely can't miss the heat, it wasn't overwhelming or even painful. The key, as in so many things, seems to be moderation. He only used about a third of the pepper. Don't be afraid, it is a friendly Ghost!
Anyway, nice to meet you, and I'm looking forward to talking with you some more!

New Restaurant in Richmond...

Check out the news on the Urban Farmhouse Market and Cafe, a new restaurant coming to Richmond that promises to deliver menu items made from seasonal and locally sourced produce. They're even accepting applications, for those of you looking for a more 'sustainable food' oriented job in the restaurant industry. Check out the restaurant's website. I must note that the RVANews article makes much of the Cafe's 'organic' menu, while the restaurant's own website makes no specific mention of a plan to use organic produce. New restaurants with sustainable food goals are all the rage these days...let's see how this one turns out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is the Virginia Food System Council?

This just in from Molly Harris, the VFSC representative from our area:
Virginia Food System Council
Collaborating to Strengthen Virginia’s Food System from Farm To Table


Collaborating to Strengthen Virginia’s Food System from Farm to Table

A robust local food supply that is affordable and accessible to all Virginians is an important issue for community health and security. Collaboration and dedication to improving local food supply will strengthen Virginia’s overall food system as well as foster job creation, accelerate new farm, food, and community initiatives, and further the economic recovery and revitalization of Virginia communities.
The need for such collaboration as a statewide council became evident at the 2007 Virginia Food Security Summit convened by the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech as it focused on local and regional food availability and accessibility. Tanya Denckla Cobb of the University of Virginia’s Institute of Environmental Negotiation and Matt Benson and Eric Bendfeldt of Virginia Cooperative Extension worked with a resulting working group of key stakeholders and foundational organizations to coordinate and establish the Virginia Food System Council, which was formally incorporated in 2009. The Council’s purpose is to strengthen Virginia’s food system from farm to table with an emphasis on access to local food, successful linkages between food producers and consumers, and a healthy, viable future for Virginia’s farmers and farmland.
“The Council is bringing together a broad range of parties from both private and public sector interested in food related issues that haven’t been at the same table before,” explains Katherine Smith of the Virginia Association of Biological Farming. “The Council will identify where the gaps and needs are and collaborate to bring all segments of the food system together in synergy.”
Goals of the Virginia Food System Council include:
Expanding and strengthening Virginia’s local food system
Educating and communicating to the public and key stakeholders a sustainable food system's impact on health, economic development, natural resources, and social well-being
Identifying barriers to and opportunities for improving the local, regional, and state food system
Making policy recommendations and implementing strategies to improve the availability and accessibility of healthy, nutritious foods for all Virginians.

By pursuing these goals, the Virginia Food System Council will be helping to support agriculture and food-based economic development for revitalizing rural Virginia and low-income urban neighborhoods; improve Virginia’s food security through increased local and regional food supply and distribution chains; reduce the high public health cost of obesity; support and encourage the development of new economic networks, small businesses, and industry for processing, storing, and distributing locally-grown Virginia products to Virginians.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reader's Recipe Request: Brunswick Stew and Tomato Soup

We had a reader request for a Brunswick Stew recipe, and since I am vegetarian, I asked my coworker at Lewis Ginter, Phyllis Laslett for her recipe. Phyllis and her family make bunches and bunches of Brunswick Stew every other year at the Hanover Cannery.
Phyllis says:
The Cannery is open to anyone during harvest season starting in July, August, October, so it’s closed now. Non-Hanover residents pay a slightly higher fee. Here’s the FAQ link.
Here is the recipe for Brunswick Stew and a delicious sounding tomato soup from Phyllis. The recipe seems to be easily adjusted for one batch- Phyllis' recipe makes 40 jars. You can find most of these ingredients locally right now.
Rose Jenning's Stew (Mrs. Jennings is one of the ladies who works at the cannery)
10 lbs chicken (cook, defat, take off the bone: cook as for broth & use broth in this recipe)
10 lbs beef (cooked, cooled & cut up)
country ham bone or ham hocks
6 lbs onions (cooked in fry pan with 1 lb butter: add chicken meat from broth)
2 bunches celery, chopped
5 quarts corn (home canned or frozen if possible)
5 quarts limas (home frozen)
3 lbs carrots, peeled & cut up
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cut up
5 quarts EACH: tomatoes, tomato juice
20 lbs potatoes--peel or not, as you like, cut up at home & frozen
1 gallon water
These I don't add, but are in the recipe:
44 oz bottle ketchup
1 regular bottle Heinz 57 sauce
These I do add:
1/3 bottle Worchestershire sauce
1/4 lb black pepper
3/4 lb salt (I use a lot less)
1 lb sugar (I use less)
2 tblsp Tabasco
Thyme, Sage as you like
It's best to do as much prep as you can before going to the cannery: for one thing, it's a lot of stuff and takes a long time to prep, for another, there's no provision for cooking the chicken and beef there. You put everything in a big kettle they have and simmer until ready, then it gets canned & processed. Takes about 6 hours and makes about 40 cans.
We make this about every other year.
The great thing about canning: it makes a LOT of stuff. By going to the cannery you get help from the home economist there, who makes sure you don't make big mistakes and monitors your product and the canning process so it's safe. These ladies have been doing this for a long time and they know a lot! The other thing about canning is you control fat, salt, and sugar content.
Other things we can and the most successful: tomatoes, apple sauce (we like it really thick and spicy). We also canned tomato soup: very tasty
Going to the cannery takes up a whole day, but you've got all these lovely cans to pull out in the winter. Sometimes tomato canning in August is rough, but, then, it's not in your own kitchen!
Tomato Soup
1/2 bushel tomatoes
1 bunch celery
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup butter or margarine
2-3 lbs onions
2 tblsp parsley flakes (or 4 fresh)
red pepper flakes to taste
2 cups sugar (I used one)
1/2 cup salt (I did it to taste: probably much less)
Also good to add: the end of the basil
Quarter tomatoes and cook together with onions, celery, parsley, red pepper flakes. Put this mixture through the juicer. Add cornstarch, sugar, salt & butter, put in a large kettle and bring to a boil. Adjust seasonings. Add basil at this point if using. Put into cans or jars, seal and process.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Worm Warming Reminder...

I have been meaning to write a post about vermiculture for a very long time now... like the last 18 months. Alas for now I will simply send out a very last minute reminder to all of you who have started this enterprise. Tonight and the next few nights may be too cold for those little Red Wigglers.
A basement should be an ideal spot for winter warmth, and weekly access for feeding. I don't have a basement. So for all but the very coldest of nights (at which time they go in my kitchen against my husbands objections) mine have done just fine in our shed with a blanket wrapped around the base so as to not cover the air holes. I use a light colored plastic bin so that on most sunny winter days I can set the bin outside in the sun to absorb warmth without cooking the little guys before they go back into the shed for the night.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

News From Chocolate Cravings

Chocolate Cravings is a small, local business. The owner has been selling her chocolate creations... Guinness Brownies any one?... at local farmers markets for perhaps the last two years. She makes all kinds of chocolate barks, chocolate bars, chocolate tarts, brownies, and more. I have tried so many of her creations, but to date my two favorites remain her dark chocolate bar, and her banana curry coconut milk chocolate bark! This last one I got to try when a friend of ours hosted a party, and was so generous as to buy enough bags of all different flavors of the Chocolate Cravings bark as to allow each guest to take two bags home as a party favor.
A few months ago the owner was able to open up her own shop on Lakeside Avenue just across from the site of the Lakeside farmers market. If you haven't checked it out stop in at the upcoming Lakeside holiday shoppers event listed at the bottom of this post. Everyone I know who has attended this Lakeside event in the past couple years has had a really nice time. With samples sure to be handed out, this event may be a great time to try some of the more adventurous creations.

Here are the updates from Chocolate Cravings...

Farmers' Markets:
Chocolate Cravings will be at the Williamsburg Farmers Market this Saturday, October 31st from 8:00am to 12:00 noon. As always we will have a selection of barks, brownies and chocolate treats including: Chocolate pots de creme European Praline Pumpkin Truffles
This will be the last regular season market until the holiday markets.
The dates for the market are:
Saturday, November 21 8:30 - 12:30
Saturday, November 28 8:30 - 12:30
Saturday, December 12 8:30 - 12:30
Chocolate Cravings will be at all of the holiday markets and will be taking orders for the holidays for delivery before Christmas.
New Kitchen/Store Hours
Chocolate Cravings moved this past summer to a new kitchen space in the Lakeside Hub Shopping Center. My address is 6929 Lakeside Avenue. Store hours:Monday 9:30 - 2:30 Tuesday 9:30 - 2:30 Thursday 9:30 - 2:30 and 3:30 to 5:30 Friday 9:30 - 2:30 and 3:30 - 6:30 Saturdays - hours in December tba
Come by for a selection of barks, etc. If you are looking for something in particular, please call or email me at least a day in advance so I will have it for you.

A Holly Jolly Christmas on Lakeside Avenue
Chocolate Cravings is participating in the Holly Jolly Christmas on Friday, November 13th from 5:00 to 9:00pm and Saturday, November 14th from 10:00 to 5:00. Over 20 retailers along Lakeside Avenue will be open. Complimentary trolley rides so you can visit us and others along the avenue.Come by to sample some chocolate goodies and check out ideas for holiday entertaining and gifts. Northside Artist Studio Open House - November 21st and 22nd Chocolate Cravings will be participating in the Open House and will be at Saturday 10:00 to 4:00 and Sunday 12:00 to 4:00 1514 Westwood Avenue.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Edible Garden to close

I was very sad to hear that after 5 years as a pioneer in local food support, the Edible Garden restaurant will close on November 7. Molly Harris, who ran the restaurant since its beginning, has been an inspiration to us because of her commitment to local producers. A year ago, when she realized that many farmers struggle to make money after the market season ends, she created Fall Line Farms, and with it a way for producers and consumers to connect over the long winter. We owe a lot to her work, and hope that in the expansion of Fall Line, the support in local food will grow.

Below are the menus for the next couple of days. I encourage you to stop by before the doors close- it is a great excuse for a drive in the country, and an amazing meal to boot.


October 29 - 31, 2009


Hearty Pasta Fagioli with Smoked Ham, Heirloom Beans & Pumpkin on Grilled Parmesan Crostini



Seasonal Mixed Greens with Roasted Seasonal Squash, Farm Fresh picked Apples, Toasted Walnuts & Cinnamon Honey Vinaigrette



Roasted autumn pumpkin and herb bisque




Teriyaki Glazed Grilled Bison Short Ribs with Braised Baby Bok Choy



Chili Pepper rubbed Pan Seared French Cut Breast of Chicken with a Spicy Tomatillo Salsa



Spanish Style Braised Pork Roast with Roasted Jalapeno Peppers, Tomato, Onion & Saffron Rice



Pan seared Maryland Style Lump Crab Cake & Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp combo with a Lemon & Herb White Wine Butter Sauce



Tuscan Style Butternut Squash, Grape Tomato, Eggplant & Faro Stew with Fresh Baked Garlic Bread



Grilled ½ lb Fresh Ground Pork Burger with Sliced Fennel, Roasted Marconi Peppers, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese & Roasted Garlic Aioli



Be sure not to miss Chef Ed’s Fresh Home Baked Desserts




Seasonal Mixed Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash, Candied Pecans, Sliced Fresh Ham & a Maple Thyme Vinaigrette



BAKED FRITTATA of the Day with Dressed Greens

SOUP of the Day


Pan Seared Pork Bratwurst Burger with Lettuce Guinness Beer Braised Onions & Brie Cheese on a Seeded Soft Roll



Open Faced Sliced Bison Pot Roast with Roasted Carrots, Turnips, Potato & Cabernet infused Brown Gravy on Peasant Bread



Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken with Roasted Apples, White Cheddar Cheese, Spinach & Herb Aioli on Fresh Baked Foccicia



Southwestern Wrap with Black Beans, Saffron Rice, Roasted Onions, Sautéed Peppers, Lettuce, Monterey Jack Cheese & Chipotle Aioli

$ 9.95


Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Thyme infused Sautéed Onions, Swiss Cheese, Spinach & Roasted Shallot Aioli on a Soft Roll




Chunky Natural Peanut Butter Surprise with Apples, Raisins & Chocolate Chips on Soft White Bread




Sunday Brunch at Edible Garden

11:00 am to 2:00 pm


Complimentary Selection of Homemade Mini Muffins, Crumb Cake Squares & Biscotti

ENTREES ($12 - $18)

Cinnamon Spiced Brioche French Toast stuffed with Mascarpone Cheese & Virginia Bacon with Maple Butter & Brown Sugar Drizzle

2 Toasted French Baguette Crostini topped with a Fried Egg, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Hydroponic Tomato, Basil & Reduced Sweetened Balsamic Vinegar

2 Large Fresh Eggs Any Style served with Sage infused Breakfast Sausage & a Sweet Potato & Onion Hash

Grilled 1/3 lb Burger of the Day topped with Bacon, Sautéed Onion, Cheddar Cheese & a Fried Egg on a Fresh Baked Bun & a side of Roasted Potato

Chocolate Chip Silver Dollar Buttermilk Pancakes with a Vanilla Bean English Cream & a side of Sage infused Breakfast Sausage

Quiche of the Day served with Seasonal Mixed Greens tossed with Maple Walnut Vinaigrette & Grilled Multigrain Toast


Chef’s Choice Dessert of the Day with Rostov’s Fresh Brewed Coffee or Tea