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.