Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
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
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 @ http://www.groworganic.com/ 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 @ http://www.johnnyseeds.com/ 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
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
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
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.
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 agriberry.com for more information.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
You are Invited to Our Second Annual"Day to Give Thanks for Udders"Saturday, November 21, 2009 Rain or Shine1:00 to 4:00 PMAvery's Branch Farms16923 Genito RdAmelia, 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 DoorBring your cooler to pick up your fresh turkey and stock your freezer for the winter!We hope to see you!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
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
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.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Virginia Food System CouncilCollaborating to Strengthen Virginia’s Food System from Farm To TableVIRGINIA FOOD SYSTEM COUNCIL ESTABLISHEDCollaborating to Strengthen Virginia’s Food System from Farm to TableA 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 systemEducating and communicating to the public and key stakeholders a sustainable food system's impact on health, economic development, natural resources, and social well-beingIdentifying barriers to and opportunities for improving the local, regional, and state food systemMaking 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
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.
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 hocks6 lbs onions (cooked in fry pan with 1 lb butter: add chicken meat from broth)2 bunches celery, chopped5 quarts corn (home canned or frozen if possible)5 quarts limas (home frozen)3 lbs carrots, peeled & cut up2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cut up5 quarts EACH: tomatoes, tomato juice20 lbs potatoes--peel or not, as you like, cut up at home & frozen1 gallon waterThese I don't add, but are in the recipe:44 oz bottle ketchup1 regular bottle Heinz 57 sauceThese I do add:1/3 bottle Worchestershire sauce1/4 lb black pepper3/4 lb salt (I use a lot less)1 lb sugar (I use less)2 tblsp TabascoThyme, Sage as you likeIt'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 tastyGoing 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 Soup1/2 bushel tomatoes1 bunch celery1 cup cornstarch1 cup butter or margarine2-3 lbs onions2 tblsp parsley flakes (or 4 fresh)red pepper flakes to taste2 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 basilQuarter 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
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.