Monday, December 27, 2010

Naughty or Nice?

It is true- I am the kind of girl who gives people vegetables for Christmas. Last year, it was homemade pickles and chutneys. This year, I went raw. The thing is, my brother is one of the best and bravest cooks I know- and since he and his lady moved to Austin, TX last year, they have been so busy getting settled in that I thought I'd give them a leg up on some of the local farms 'round there. I found, which is a bit like our Dominion Harvest, but with the addition of gift baskets. I could have gotten bunches of wine, cookies and locally made snack foods, but I am the big sister, so I opted for a big old box of veggies to be delivered to their door. Greenling consistently sources from several local farms in the Austin area- and gives farm info with each order and on the webiste.

Plus, I wanted to find out what grows in Austin in the winter. A lot, as it turns out! Everything from radishes to tangerines, apples to peppers to lettuces and herbs was in that box. Plus, Al got to know to know several local farms all at once, and a great service to boot! So, if you are ever at a loss for what to give someone- go with veggies. Everybody needs 'em!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Real Richmond Food Tours

This sounds really fun! From the Grace Manor Inn website:

The two-and-a-half-hour walking tours take you through a certain part of the city, and along the way you stop at restaurants, meet owners and taste culinary goodness. In between munching, you’ll get a taste of Richmond’s architecture, history and current happenings. Sounds like a pretty good deal!

There are two upcoming tour dates. Thursday, December 30, is Shockoe Slip: Capital of Cuisine, and Saturday, January 15 is Shockoe Bottom: Shock and Awe. Tickets cost about $40 and can be purchased online.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

'Tis the season, for comfort foods, for warmth. And for cleaning out the fridge. What could make better use of all of those things than Shepherd's Pie? I made this version vegetarian and wheat free, (preceded by a tour of my fridge to determine what needed to be eaten) but it is very versatile. And, I must say, satisfying on a cold winter eve.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Serves 6

8 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and cut in large dice
for 12- 15 minutes, until you can easily put a knife through.

Add 1 (to 1.5) cups of milk to drained potatoes and mash or whip in stand mixer. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Saute for ten minutes on medium heat:
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 leeks, chopped and rinsed (whites only)
1 parsnip, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 head Cauliflower, broken into florets
5 oz golden shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Generous pinch of dried italian herbs

Cook together for another ten minutes until well melded.

1 cup red wine
1 cup broth
2 TBS tamari
1 cup rinsed green lentils

Salt and pepper to taste

Toss for a couple of minutes to coat. Add veggies to casserole (9x11) and top with mashed potatoes.

Shred 1/ 3 cup cheddar cheese on top.

Cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes- until broth is bubbling and potatoes are tipped with brown.

Enjoy- stay warm!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

20 Great Ted Talks For Total Foodies

Thanks to Jasmine for sending us this! Just click here, and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Apple and Rosemary- a new favorite combination

It all started on Friday night. Several friends met to christen an artist friend's new studio, and one lovely woman brought individual apple gallettes- brightened with a hint of rosemary. I will tell you, it was inspired. So much so that last night (only a couple of days later) I got a text from a friend and neighbor who also attended Friday's festivities:
Rosemary Apple Crisp coming out of the oven in a few. Want to come over?

Um, yes please.
So, here is Susan's take on our new favorite combination. This is a delicious wheat free version.

Rosemary Apples with Oatmeal-Almond Crisp
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 5 Pink Lady apples (or some other tart variety), peeled, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Toss apples with lemon juice and rosemary and distribute evenly in the bottom of a 2-qt baking dish.

    Combine almond meal, brown sugar, oats, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture is relatively evenly mixed. Distribute the crust evenly over the apples.

    Bake 40 minutes.
    Serve with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.
    Makes 6 -8 servings.
    [If you like it with lots of crust, double the first five ingredients.]

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Map of Industrial Farms by Concentration in US and Virginia

    The organization Food and Water Watch has put out a map of the United States showing varying concentrations of factory farms. You can adjust the map to look at all factory farms, or individual types of factory farms. You can select by state for a closer look. Select Virginia and then click on the various counties to get specific information. A few clicks through there is also a page of some state by state information they have put together. I can't speak to the accuracy of all that information, but the map, and the updates are interesting at least.

    Holiday Open House and Cooking Classes at Nadolski's

    It's been a long time since I've looked at Nadolski's Butcher shop. They used to sell they homemade sausages at the St. Stephen's market. Once they gave us a number of them to share with guest at a spring RFC potluck. Everyone loved them,and new Nadolski's customers were created. The sausages are made each day. They make prepared meals as well. Meats are sourced from a number of Goochland and Crozet farms, as well as Polyface Farm. You can read about the farms, and their individual practices on the Nadolski's website. You can also check out cooking demos with titles like 'Duck a l'Orange & The Art of Braising.'

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    End of the Season at St Stephen's Market

    Harmony Hill farm lays it all out for you..

    About a month ago I ventured over to St. Stephen's Market for one of the last of it's summer markets. I had been once earlier in the summer, but not since. My husband and I arrived cash and shopping bags at hand, but this time rather than worrying quite so much about filling my shopping bags I was going to stop and take the time to enjoy more of what the market has to offer. I stopped at the first stand we came to even though I was certain I wasn't going to buy anything. I was wrong. An array of different savory cheesecakes, jams, jellies, and desserts lay before us. Before I knew it I was being invited to sample one, then four different cheese cakes as well as the Damson Plum Butter I was eyeing, and that beautiful looking key lime pie. I tried them all. I really should have gotten some of that Damson Plum Butter. It was so good. I said we'd be back for a cold Key Lime Pie wedge (enough for 2 people for $5) as we were heading out. On to the next stop....

    I sampled four different kinds of Cyndi's hot pepper and fruit jellies like Mango Habenero, and Roasted Plablano. All were good, but I fell for the Peach Habenero combo. Next, at Night Sky Farm's stall we bought a $3 block of Sweet creme table butter. Everyone at the market, other vendors included swore this was the best butter they had ever tasted. I sampled Night Sky's marinated feta. Jars filled with feta cheese, herbs and olive oil sat on the table, and multiple customers came here just to get this treat. After some nice leisurely conversation with the owner I walked away with the block of butter, and a package of creme cheese to top of that pepper jelly.

    Our next stop was the adjacent Haashooms. That's the name of Steve Haas' mushroom business. Steve's a laid back seeming guy, and like everyone here he seemed happy to stop and talk with his customer's. We selected a lion's mane mushroom and some oyster mushrooms. We had a nice time, and learned a few things about growing mushrooms.

    This handsome fella was painted by an artist who sells her paintings, including portraits of customers dogs at St. Stephens. We spent a long time talking with her and her husband, and are definitely going to get a portrait of our own pup. We had fresh eggs, bread, produce, cheese, butter, pepper jelly, and mushrooms. By the end of this beautiful morning it was time for lunch. We wondered over to Jazzbo's Rollin' Gumbo truck. I got the chicken gumbo and my husband got the Jambalaya. We stopped there to chat with the owner who is an old acquaintance, and then headed out grabbing the last slice of key lime pie from that first vendor.

    On the way out we passed Erin who manages this market and I told her in all honesty that this was possibly the most fun we had ever had at a farmers market. Laid back, friendly vendors mix perfectly with a pleasant atmosphere and plenty of great finds. Happy and ready to head home we approached our vehicle only to discover I had locked the keys in car. Curses! Okay well, a phone call for help was made. Luckily, the car was parked under the shade of a tree. Great music was being preformed by Haze of Haze and the Transients. We had an impromptu picnic of Gumbo, Jambalaya, and jalapeno cheddar bread. We even had key lime pie for dessert. Just as we finished our lunch help arrived. What magical place is this?! I look forward to visiting this market more often next summer.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Fiery Fish Smack Down

    Okay, so it's the day before Thanksgiving, and I should be telling you about our heritage turkey and the rather crazy,bumpy ride down a pitch black road on Tuckahoe Plantation my parents took last night to get said turkey. Instead I am compelled to tell you a tale that starts with my most awesome husband spending $17 on a beautiful piece of rock fish, and ends with me coughing, and furiously smacking a giant ball of fishy flame with a kitchen towel. One hour later, every window in the house open we are still trying to salvage our dinner. The moral of the story... do not trust any recipe that says you can place a butter laden, bread crumb covered fish under the broiler!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    New film: Farmageddon

    Watching Food Inc. was great a great way for us to understand the break down the general food system so that we could wrap our heads around it. Fresh is wonderful movie about how beautiful and natural farming can and should be. I loved King Corn because it didn't take itself too seriously, and because it gave a sympathetic look at how we got to this crazy place in the food system. The Future of Food taught us about the complications and ubiquitousness of genetically modified foods.

    Now there is a new movie about our big ag food system- and the gloves have come off. Look for Farmageddon in 2011.

    Farmageddon Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Public Hearing on City Community Garden Program This Monday

    City Council’s Health and Human Services Committee held a meeting on Wednesday on the City of Richmond’s request to create a Community Garden Program. There is now a second meeting before City Council for the Public Hearing. This is to be held Monday November 22 at 6pm in City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, City Hall.

    Apparently there were a few in attendance on Wednesday that spoke in opposition to the program. If you are in favor of the the Community Garden's Program you should consider attending the meeting on Monday night and speak in favor of the program.

    If you are unfamiliar with the community gardens proposal you can follow these links for more information. link to ordinance for Community Garden Program link to resolution for parcels for Community Garden Program

    Northside Artists' Open Studio Today and Tomorrow

    I've been seeing flyers for this around Northside, and got this in an e-mail from Chocolate Cravings. I've been to one of these before and it was a really lovely experience.

    Artists' Open Studio

    Show and sale at five artists' studios, 10 a.m.-4 p.m on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m on Sunday at 1350, 1501, 1514 and 1519 Westwood Ave., and 3313 Suffolk Road. Chocolate Cravings will be at 1514 Westwood Road. "

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Massaged Kale Salad

    I first got word of this salad from Ali Moussalli of Frog Bottom Farm, who looked straight into my eyes and practically grabbed my hand when he was telling me about it. Ali is one of the most laid back people I know, so of course, this emphatic turn was intriguing. How DO you eat raw kale?

    Cut the kale into ribbons, sprinkle olive oil and salt, then massage everything together for a few minutes- until the kale darkens. Then you have a base for a hearty fall salad. The best thing about this salad is that these greens can hold up to stronger flavors like sesame oil, and ume plum vinegar or tahini- ones that mere lettuce just could not handle.

    I loved it with avocado and tomato, but Frog Bottom has several variations on their blog. I am sure you'll dig one!

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    2011 CSA deal from Frog Bottom Farm!

    News from Frog Bottom Farm:

    Registration is now open for our 2011 CSA!

    The big change this year is that registration is now online at We've partnered with a company called Small Farm Central to do this; their focus is building websites and offering ecommerce services to small, direct-marketing farmers like us.

    Otherwise, most things remain the same:
    Our CSA season will still run for 26 weeks, from the first week in June through Thanksgiving week.
    Full shares still cost $650 plus tax, and half shares still cost $350 plus tax.
    You can still pay by check (always appreciated) or credit card (now integrated with registration instead of through PayPal).
    You can still pay in full up front or in installments. Exact details are on the registration site.
    We hope some of y'all will take advantage of our Early Bird Discount. From now until December 31, all full shares will be $50 off and all half shares will be $25 off -- that's like getting two weeks of your share for free. We'd love it if you let friends, family, and neighbors know that they can register now as well.

    The new registration system should be easier for you, and we hope it will be a big time-saver for us as well -- giving us more time and energy to grow vegetables, to try some new varieties, to continue to develop our website as a place to share our farm's story and help you decide what to do with all those vegetables! We hope the registration process is clear and straightforward, but please call us at 434-248-5525 or send us an email if anything seems confusing.

    Thank you so much for supporting our farm. We can't imagine doing anything else, and we think strong local foodsheds are such an incredible way to keep cities and rural areas vibrant and healthy. You play a direct role in all of this by belonging to our CSA.

    In gratitude --
    Lisa, Ali, Arlo and the Frog Bottom crew

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Tricycle Gardens Urban Farm Stand Still Selling

    This just in from Tricycle, I should have included them in my post season market post!.....

    "Fall is here, and we are still getting loads of amazing greens (kale, collards, raab, chard, lettuces, lemongrass, oregano, and more!) from the 9th & B Urban Farm. The Farm Stand is still OPEN, but will be moving it to our new Headquarters (2107 Jefferson Ave in Church Hill) starting Tuesday December 30! (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-6:30pm). "

    A friend of mine went there last week and said they were really impressed by the quality of the produce there.

    Hearing for more community garden space in RVA this Wednesday!

    Thrilled to see that the City of Richmond is on board for more community garden space!

    From: Alicia R. Zatcoff, J.D., LEED AP
    Sustainability Manager
    City of Richmond

    The City of Richmond’s request to create a Community Garden Program to use city owned parcels for community gardens will be heard by City Council’s Health, Human Services and Education Committee on Wed., Nov. 17 at 5PM in City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, City Hall. There are two papers. The ordinance request for the program (first link) and the resolution to make city parcels available for use as community gardens (second link).
    Please feel free to forward this information to interested parties and encourage members of your organization to attend the meeting and speak in favor of the program.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Mark Winne Speaking This Sunday and Monday Nov. 14, 15

    Mark Winne, author of Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas will be speaking at two locations this Sunday and Monday on the topic of his second book.

    Mark Winne will be speaking at:
    The Harrisonburg Barnes and Noble at 289 Burgess Rd. on Sunday, November 14 at 1pm.

    Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, November 15 (Monday) at 7:00 PM in the Hunt Gallery on the campus of Mary Baldwin College.
    To visit Winne's web page, and read more on his latest book click here.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Fresh Film Viewing Tomorrow

    From The Center for Rural Culture....
    "The Center for Rural Culture will be hosting a screening of
    FRESH The Movie, a film produced & directed by ana Sofia Joanes

    FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.
    When:Tuesday, November 9th; Reception at 6:00 pm
    Screening at 7:00 pm
    Where: The Village Building, 3910 Old Buckingham Road, Powhatan, VA 23139
    A $10 per person donation at the door is suggested as a tax-deductible donation to CRC.
    Our Local Roots Co-Op now has a pick up site in Powhatan Courthouse! Join us at the reception to find out more!"

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    A Day of Sheep Shearing, Food and Cider

    From Their e-mail...
    Simply Abundant Sheep Shearing Day!

    Join Simply Abundant on Sunday November 21st from 8am to 3pm for our fall sheep shearing day at Tuckahoe Plantation in Goochland County, 12601 River Road Richmond VA 23238.

    Come early to select your favorite handspinning fleece directly from the sheep. We will also have delicious lamb, yarn, chicken and other wonderful treats for sale that day.

    Admission to both the sheep shearing and the grounds is $5. Enjoy a wonderful fall day of sheep shearing, sheepdog demonstrations and self-guided tours of the grounds. Lunch will be available for purchase. Try some of our delicious lamb chili and hand pressed apple cider. We will have vegetarian options available as well.

    Guided tours of the Tuckahoe Mansion will be held at 10am and 1pm for an additional $5 per person.

    Please RSVP by email to before November 15.

    Hope to see you there!

    Emily Lenschow
    Simply Abundant Farm

    In The Kitchen Magazine Online

    In The Kitchen Magazine is choc full of all kind of seasonal, local food stuffs. The current issue has articles entitled Apple Heritage, Becoming a Locavore (written by someone new to the idea), November Meal Planner, Produce Home Grown Apples, Are You Eating Those Acorns?, (I love that tittle.) Duck Sausage & Oyster Gumbo, and Vintage Virgina Annual Apple Fest Host the Annual Apple Pie Contest.... Whew... Check out some or all of these informative, short pieces Here.

    Virginians Need to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

    The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is used, in part, to monitor consumption of fruit and vegetables. The 2009 data reports that only 33.7% of Virginians eat fruit twice daily (the recommended daily consumption) and 30.3% eat vegetables three times a day (the recommended daily consumption). Fruit and vegetable intake in VA has stayed steady over the last decade. Nationally, fruit intake decreased slightly but significantly (statistically speaking) and veggie consumption remained unchanged.
    To read the report summary, and to compare Virginia with other states click here.

    Or, read this article from the NY Times.

    Save Our Food -Holiday Festival

    From their website...
    "A Celebration of Virginia's Best Foods and a Showcase of Food, Wine and Specialty Gifts
    Last year, more than 3,000 people attended the Save Our Food Holiday Festival, making it the area's largest and only holiday food and wine show.
    This event is the perfect place for you to simply enjoy a day with friends or family, take a break from the holiday hustle and pick up some delicious and locally produced gifts.
    When: Saturday, Dec. 11, from Noon until 7 p.m.
    Where: Farm Bureau Center at The Meadow Event "

    I've talked to some who participated in last year's event, there was a focus on sustainable ag. and pasture raised farm animals, but it was not exclusively so.
    Learn more about Save Our Food and the festival Here.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Richmond Area Holiday, and Winter Farmers Markets Abound!

    Just a reminder that there are several area markets who will be continuing their regular hours, holding renegade markets, or having special holiday markets over the next several weeks and the upcoming winter months.

    Huguenot and Robious Market: This market outside The Great Big Greenhouse originally was set to run only through September. Now they have extended the market through November 18. Market hours are from 10:00am to 3:00pm.

    South of the James will continue to hold its Saturday market from 8:00-12:00 through December 4.

    When South of the James is over the Market Umbrella is hosting what they call "South-Er Of The James" at 4910 Forest Hill Avenue SATURDAYS from 10 am to 12 pm
    December 2010 - April 2011
    . Google street view shows this address as the vacant lot next to the Blockbuster Video near West Over Hills Blvd.

    Lakeside Market will continue both of it's Wednesday Markets and it's Saturday market through November! They also will be hosting a special Holiday Market on the evening of Friday November 12 from 4PM til 9PM to celebrate the "Holly Jolly Christmas" on Lakeside Ave. More information at

    Goochland Farmer's Market will hold two holiday markets.
    Saturday Novemeber 13 from 10:00-2:00.
    Saturday December 11, 10:00-2:00.
    Both of these markets will be indoors at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Collage's Western Campus, 1851 Dickens Rd. Goochland. The Goochland Markets Local Roots winter food CoOP is starting now. Get more information or sign up Here.

    The West End Market will host two holiday Markets. The first for Thanksgiving: Wednesday, November 24th, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. A second for Christmas: Saturday, December 4th, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

    The Ashland Farmer's Market will also host two Holiday Markets.
    Saturday November 20th
    Saturday, December 4.
    The normal Saturday market hours are 9:00 -12:00. It looks like the Holiday Markets will have the same hours.

    St. Steven's Market is hosting an On line Market There may still be room available for signing up. For $50 you can order from 20 different vendors online and pick your order each week on Thursdays from 3:00-6:30 pm. For more info. click Here.

    Farm to Family: Jump on the bus, stop by their Mechanicsville shop or join their fall CSA. "Members buy a share of the 2010 Farm to Family CSA including local grass fed pastured meats, dairy and locally made bread and receive a weekly delivery of goods starting 09/16/10 extending 12 weeks. Anyone joining after the start date will be pro-rated,- Shares break down to about $45.00 per week (including Turkey) The cost of the membership is $550, save $25 if you pay in full." Click here to find out more, including how to get facebook or twitter updates on the bus location.

    Lulu's Local Foods: Started by the woman who once owned Edible Garden, Lulu's Local Foods is an online program that allows for the creation of multiple CSAs in our area and beyond. One hope is to coordinate area drop off sites to reduce fuel and time for each individual producer. I participated last year via the St. Steven's pick up location and the available food choices each week was almost overwhelming! Click here to learn more and choose of the 2010 pickup sites near you.

    Byrd House Renegade Market: Byrd Houses yearly "Renegade Market" started up this past Tuesday. I used to go every week and loved it. Bread, meats, veggies and more for loyalist shoppers from dedicated vendors. 2-6pm (or dark, whichever comes first)
    Weekly through April 2011. Click here to see the vendor list and keep up with updates.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Lion's Mane Mushrooms

    Pulled Lion's Mane Mushroom

    I mentioned in my last post that this week I was going to try the Lion's Mane Mushroom. Well, try I did. I got my lion's mane mushroom from Steve Haas, of HaaShrooms at Saint Stephen's Market. He sells a a variety of mushrooms depending on the season. This past Saturday, I bought one lion's mane mushroom for $5. That's one mushroom for $5. I also bought a small handful of oyster mushrooms for the same price. I was willing to pay the money just to try this mushroom at least once. Also, I had tried the Chicken Of The Woods mushroom he sold in late summer and loved those ( Steve says those are his personal favorite).

    Steve told me the bright white mushroom in my little ziplock bag would pull like crab meat, and even taste a bit like crab once sauteed with butter and garlic. Well, why not? Sampled uncooked and plain this mushroom has little flavor, but it takes on the flavor of whatever it's cook with. It did indeed pull apart nicely, but as for flavor I am afraid we messed things up by adding some onion and the oyster mushrooms into the mix to go over our pasta. I fished a couple pieces out to try on their own and with they had a consistency similar to crab, and tasted like the butter, garlic sauce they were cooked in. If I tried them again I'd skip the pasta and maybe put my garlicky butter dripping mushrooms over top a little micro greens or something similar. I'm glad I tried this mushroom that I'd never even heard of before. I ate well, and learned something, or actually a few things which mean those five dollars probably went further than many. You can check out the great HaaShoom's facebook page here to learn more , and see photos of the "wild crafted" lion's mane mushrooms he harvested just this Friday.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Day Tripping

    Day Tripping: I thought I would start this post with a little Wikapedia defining of the term. The first thing that popped up was this..."Day Tripper" is a song by The Beatles. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was released as a double A-side single with "We Can Work It Out".[1] Both songs were recorded during the sessions for the Rubber Soul album. "Day Tripper" topped the UK Singles Chart[2] and the song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] To read on about that, click here.
    Okay, but then I found this on "–noun
    a person who goes on a trip, esp. an excursion, lasting all or part of a day but not overnight."
    1895–1900; day trip + -er1 " Closer to what I was seeking.

    So yes, my husband and I went on a day trip a couple of weekends ago, and aside from the occasional bickering caused by trying to rely solely on google maps, we had a great day. Taking off from Richmond we headed straight for Charlottesville where we ate lunch at Feast. So yummy! We both loved the sandwiches, fruit salad, and bean salads. Simple but delicious foods and lots of great treats to look over while you wait. Afterward we could of hit the Gearharts Chocolates within the same building and enjoyed some mouth watering chocolates, but we knew we had a big day full of treats ahead so we held off.

    Cruising up 250 we were quickly in Crozet Virgina, about five minutes outside of Charlottesville. Our first stop, actually in the town of Ivy was The Barn Swallow, is a beautiful old barn that now holds locally made pottery, hand bags, jewelry, furniture and more. I couldn't help myself, and came away with a beautiful vase by Janice Arone.
    Just about a fifteen minute drive "up the hill" is Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. Here ten nuns have been making an amazing golden Gouda cheese for twenty years in order to raise money to keep the monastery in operation. The two pound wheels of cheese are sold via mail order for $33. However if you go to the monastery each wheel is $25. I had to try some of this cheese that I have been hearing so much about. A call ahead is requested if you plan to visit. Outside of a very small , and simple chapel there is nothing to see other than the friendly face of the nun who hands you that hefty wheel of cheese. The sister helping us reminded us to use a peeler to remove the interior rind prior to "attacking the cheese."

    We came prepared with a cooler in the back seat, placed the Gouda inside and took of for our next destination... Blue Mountain Brewery. Only problem, those Google maps did not mesh with the ever changing route names and we were repeatedly driving around the tiny town of White Hall in one big circle. After passing the White Hall Vineyards three times I decided to take the hint and stop in for a wine tasting. We sampled several of their varietals which I never tried before. At the same time we were able to watch the wine making staff at work through a large plate glass window near to the tasting area. My favorites from the tasting were the 2008 Petit Manseng, and the 2008 Touriga. Matt liked the 2007 Gewurztraminer. The ones I truly prefer like the Viognier, and Cabernet Franc are not available for tasting. I did however walk out with a few bottles including the 2008 Cuvee des Champs.

    Refreshed, and with proper directions from the nice people at White Hall, we set out again for the Blue Mountain Brewery. Minutes later we arrived just in time to enjoy a beautiful evening on the deck overlooking the mountains, sunset included. For just five dollars you can enjoy a sampling of six different beers. The food was alright. They feature local bratwurst from Double H. Farm in Nelson Co., pulled pork BBQ from Edward's in Surry, and house pickled jalapenos. People had their dogs on leashes with them at tables further out on the lawn and children ran around in the cool grass. It was a great ending to our day.

    A week after our trip we enjoyed the wine and cheese together with some good company. A nice way to share the experience of our trip with others.

    Our wheel of Gouda and a Bottle of White Hall's Cuvee Des Champs

    Literally translated as "blend of the fields," this Bordeaux blend also shares the owners' last name. Described as having "Bouquets of dark cherries and cinnamon" with " deep royal colors to enhance flavors of dark chocolate and rich plums that precede a well-balanced finish of vanilla and oak." The 2006 received a Platinum rating at the Virginia Wine Lovers classic.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Farmers' Dinner, with Manakintowne Specialty Growers

    Farmers Dinner
    Sunday, November 14 · 7:00pm - 10:30pm

    Join us for an evening of food, wine, and a bit of VA history. Enjoy a dinner with Manakintowne Specialty Growers, featuring their delicious herbs and produce, and sample some of Virginia's finest wines while learning about the origins of your food and drinks. Sprout will offer a four course meal, each with a sampling of VA wine, for only $35 per person, or a dessert and wine sampling only option for $15 per person. Reservations must be paid in advance (by November 12th). You may make your reservations by calling Sprout (804) 592-5771 and paying by credit card over the phone, or by going to Sprout's website and clicking on Calendar of Events and following the prompts to pay with paypal, or by stopping by the restaurant. Space is limited, see you then!

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    This really happened.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Time To Try Something New

    One of the great things about the local foods movement is that it pushes you to break old habits, mix up your routine and try new things. That certainly was the case for me. I eat, shop, cook, and think about food differently. I have met a host of great new people, made new friends, and visited great places I would have never thought to go.
    That said, most of us are creatures of habit, and I am one shining example! Three years into my own local food adventure I had once again falling into a fairly entrenched routine. I go to the same market nearly every single week, to the point of having never made it several of our areas other markets this summer. Once at the market I make a bee line for my same four or five favorite vendors each week. This is my grocery shopping and I'm getting it done. I've even fallen away quite a bit from trying out new things there.
    Same market, same foods, most often with the same preparation. Thank goodness for Seasonality or that old trap of eating way too much of just a handful of food would have had me for sure.
    We'll a few weeks ago with October rolling in I gave myself a pinch. I promised myself that I would start exploring again, not just the markets, but all the great stuff around me that I'm taking for granted.
    I set a very easy goal. All I need to do is try two new things a week. They can be foods, music, restaurants, places, authors, recipes etc. Sometimes life can seem exhaustingly busy. When money, time, and energy is limited it's easier to go for the safety of the well tested track, but I've found the smallest effort has lead to great rewards. Weather I like each thing or not, half of the fun is just in the mini adventure of discovery. I've found a really affordable wine that I love, a mouth watering wheel of cheese that required 15 minutes of perilous dirt road driving to get, and I found out that I really like the Chicken of the Woods Mushroom.
    On this weeks list... Kohlrabi, and the Lion's Mane mushroom to name two. Happy Discovering!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    This Just In From Victory Farms-Great Variety!

    I decided to post this portion of the e-mail from Victory Farms because I think it's a good representation of the markets right now....
    "The garden is bursting with goodies right now - thanks to cooler weather and a little rain! We'll have LOTS of great greens, roots and fruits this Saturday from 8am-noon at the South of the James Market so come on by! We still have summer items like eggplant, peppers and cucumbers as well as some gorgeous ripening and green tomatoes plus cooking and salad greens and so much more!
    We need to work through this week's Henley's Orchard inventory so we won't have the new varieties mentioned earlier until next week, but the ones we have are crunchy and sweet and great for apple pies and snacks too!"

    It looks like lots of great stuff and tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day.
    I will not be at South of the James this weeks, but will instead be checking out other area markets I don't normally get to. However, last week I got a huge bag of mustard greens, kale, sun gold tomatoes, a chocolate croissant, eggs, kohlrabi, 2 large bags of perfect looking green beans, 2 large heads of broccoli, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, eggplant, arugula, a very large and beautiful bag of salad greens mixed will violets, asain pears, apples, "country pears," red sweet peppers and probably more that I've forgotten. Next I'll have to post the menu plan for the week that all this great stuff inspired. Happy shopping...

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Fresh, Local Food all Winter with the St. Stephen's Online Market

    We have had such a wonderful, albeit hot, farmers market season at St. Stephen's, that we didn't want it to end! We knew it would be hard to convince folks to come out on the upcoming dark, cold mornings, so we developed an online farmers market.
    Here is how it works:
    • Go to
    • Click the Join button
    • You pay $50 for 6 months access to the site. Then, all winter long, and into spring, you order food from the vendors listed.
    • You order and pay online over the weekend, then your order is sent and filled by the vendor who brings it to St. Stephen's on Thursdays for you to pick up! That is it- locally grown, artisanally produced food simplified.

    Eli's Greens has three greenhouses full of veggies, Simply Abundant Farms will have lamb as well as Bronze and White Breasted Turkeys for Thanksgiving, Greenway Beef will have grass fed beef, Norwood Cottage will have their amazing breads- and the list goes on! Check out the Online Farmer's Market site for a growing list of participating vendors, and join today! Registrations are limited.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    West End Farmers Market/ Storing Apples

    (Although I like the double benifite of food as decoration, it may not be the best way for it to be stored.)

    Here's some good info. on storing apples for the winter from the West End Farmers Market news letter. Just don't forget that the ethylene gas the apples give of will also ruin spring flowering bulbs you may be keeping in fridge till planting, along with causing other fruits and produce to spoil more quickly. I am lucky enough to have a second fridge, (okay, it's the beer and wine fridge) that I can store my apples in.
    The West End Market will run through Saturday October 30, but will also hold two holiday markets on Wednesday Nov. 24 from 10a.m. to 4p.m., and Saturday Dec. 4 from 10-4.

    "Apples can be stored for relatively long (3-4 months) periods of time. Cold storage at low refrigerator temperatures (35-40F/2-4C) is able to help minimize loss of nutrients. In addition, it's helpful to maintain some moisture in the cold storage area, for example, by inclusion of damp cheesecloth in the crisper bin of a refrigerator.

    Over a period of time involving months, there is loss of total polyphenols from apples, including both flavonoid and non-flavonoid polyphenols. However, valuable amounts of polyphenols (and all other nutrients) remain. In some food traditions, cold storage of apples over the winter months is still counted on as a key part of dietary nourishment from fruits.

    You've no doubt heard the saying, "one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch." Well, research studies agree. An apple that has been bruised from being dropped (or that has been damaged in some other way) will start to release unusual amounts of ethylene gas. This ethylene gas can pose a risk to other apples that have not been damaged and greatly decrease their shelf life. For this reason, it's important to handle apples with tender loving care, and also to remove any damaged apples from groups of apples stored in bulk."

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    2010 Hans Falk Lecture Series

    The Hans Falk Lecture series looks into the "how, why and what could be" of our food choices. Focusing on the democratization of food, the VCU School of Social Work, St. Andrew's School and the Central Virginia Food Bank will bring expert speakers on sustainable agriculture, and resources for healthy eating.

    The next lecture will be: The Democratization of Food- A Social Responsibility
    Wednesday, October 27, 2010
    St. Andrews School Auditorium
    227 South Cherry Street

    Open to the public or call 804.643.2717 for more info

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Cooking with Fire

    A couple of weeks ago, I got to go camping at Crabtree Falls with some (thankfully foodie) friends. After a glorious drive, on which I had no idea where I was, nor where I was going, I found that my lovely friends had set up camp by a stream. You can't imagine my relief upon my arrival- a tablecloth! Wine!
    Turns out, we had each brought the essentials- olive oil, cutting boards, biodegradable soap, paring knives. And lots and lots of food.
    When cooking with fire, it is important to have a plan. Or lots to drink. I had both.
    Veggie skewers and Twin Oaks Tofu with skillet cooked polenta. And wine.

    Skewers were soaked in water (thanks to a very forward thinking member of our party), tofu was oiled and herbed, and everything was well tended.
    I didn't take photos of breakfast, but there were cinnamon rolls heated on the gas stove, coffee and omelets with leftover veggies and cheese. Well loved, we were. So, that was my bougie camping trip- the last one 'til the summer creeps back.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    October at the Market

    October is the best time to shop farmers' markets! Everything from summer veggies and fruits to autumn squashes and greens are available now.
    Market haul from the Farmers Market at St. Stephen's:
    From Wild T Bison Farms:
    Raw Dog Food
    Pastured Eggs

    de Rochonnet delights
    Chocolate peri peri spice rub

    Night Sky Farms:

    Rosotv's Coffee:
    8oz Mama Zu's Blend, whole bean

    Flores Produce:
    Tiny eggplant
    Brussels sprouts
    White onion
    Sweet potatoes
    Golden potatoes
    red pepper

    Epic Gardens:

    H2O Collect:
    Emporer shiitake mushrooms
    Pearl Oyster mushrooms

    Evans Family Collective:
    Alpaca yarn

    Frog Bottom Farm

    Amelia Soap and Herb Company:
    Cinderella Pumpkin

    Norwood Cottage Bakery:
    Curry Raisin Bread
    Belllevue Baguette

    Petit Bouchees:
    Vanilla and Lychee Macarons
    Almond Biscotti

    Golden Delicious apple
    Honeycrisp apples

    Eli's Greens
    Cut flowers

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Iron Chef Challenge

    My brother Alex is the best cook I know. Seriously- with out a recipe, or much planning, he can take a pile of ingredients, and turn it into the best meal you think you have ever had. He is the cook at his house, but his girlfriend Miranda does the grocery shopping, so every night is like an Iron Chef competition for them. She comes home with a pile of stuff- and he works his magic on it.
    So, when they came to visit this weekend, it was like the ultimate show- Alex and Miranda came down from New York to see the farmers market I have run for the past couple of years, bringing with them some fantastic dumplings from Chinatown. Our dinner on Saturday was to be based around those dumplings.
    Between us, we must have picked up everything that wasn't tied down at the market Saturday. But, oh man, what a supper.
    You have got to love a man whose idea of a pre-dinner cocktail is tequila. And ice.
    We were calling this salad Deep Southern/ Asian fusion- battered and fried okra, raw kohlrabi, peppers, carrots, edamame, radishes, and greens with a black sesame and ume plum vinaigrette. Oh. My. Goodness.

    And- the evening's centerpiece: dumpling soup. We started a broth right when we got home from the farmers' market, and boiled the shiitake mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery with star anise, szechuan peppercorns, hot peppers and salt for hours to make a rich broth. Then, we strained the veggies and Alex added sliced shiitakes, scallions and dumplings to the broth, making the most lovely, comforting and balanced soup. I wish I could tell you how- but only Alex knows.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    A Toast to Childhood

    I grew up eating just about anything I wanted. I was a sick kid, and my mom responded by letting me have what I wanted when it came to food. McDonald's multiple times a week, and Domino's Pizza every Friday night was a way of life. The Domino's was on the end of my street and when I was in elementary school it was part of the fun to ride my bike up the hill with my friends and bring home the pizza. All that is well and good, but the childhood foods I most remember, and crave are the ones that I have only recently come to realize are not the food stuffs of most peoples childhoods.
    One "dish" (to use the term loosely) that will forever be a go- to breakfast food for me is the 'Egg in a Cup.' The Egg in a Cup is actually two eggs, hard boiled for ten minutes, peeled and dropped into a coffee mug. At this point they are topped with two large pats of butter and chopped into a soft mash with your spoon. Add salt and pepper, and a piece of buttered bread and you have yourself some breakfast. It was not until my adult years that I realized that most of society was appalled by the artery clogging potential of butter covered eggs served with buttered white bread. Nevertheless, I eat mine happily, telling myself that the eggs and butter from pastured animals allows me some wiggle room. I believe that if you try this once you will not be disappointed.

    Times change, tastes change, but still sometimes the simplest of foods from our childhood can make everything a little bit better. I recently heard on radio that somebody did a crazy study that determined toast, with it's toasty smell and texture, to be the top comfort food in America. Interestingly, when I think of the foods that seemed to set my family's most ordinary eats apart from my those of my friend's families, it was the toast. Three versions come to mind. The first, cheese toast, was a staple. White bread, toasted and buttered and then evenly covered with thick slices of a sharp, hard cheddar was finished simply by a sprinkling of salt. Cold hard cheese on top of warm, buttered toast, served along with a cup of coffee, and perhaps a fried egg and bacon. It 's a family favorite. Again, I recognize that many are unwilling to accept bread that is buttered and then covered with cheese and then salted. To me it is family, and a warm fire, a full day of playing in the neighborhood, or hanging round with my dad 'helping him' with house projects. It is good. Now a days I have it on 9 grain instead of white, and enjoy eating it for breakfast with apple slices.
    The second type is the same basic preparation... toast white bread till golden, and butter with room temperature butter. ( I'm sensing a theme here...) I should mention that the butter at home absolutely always sat in a butter dish on the kitchen counter so as to stay soft. This time, rather than topping with cold cheese, hot sizzling bacon is used. So, that is white bread, butter, and bacon- Bacon Toast, as in "honey would you like a piece of bacon toast?" Yes, thank you!

    Finally, a slightly more nutritious take on this theme, Avocado Toast. Yes, toasted bread, soft butter, and soft avocado spread thick. Top with salt. Also very good, and also eaten with great frequency. All grown up I actually don't eat bacon anymore at all, possibly a shame as I still crave it almost singularly in its Bacon Toast form. I also now usually forgo the butter on my avocado toast, (but certainly not because it taste better without). Still, it was a surprise to me when friends and coworkers showed such curiosity at my smashing of avocado slices into a smooth thick spread upon my toast. What's going on here? This is not revolutionary, just simple and satisfying. Surely this would spoil the slender simplicity of the open face toast, but writing this now I'm thinking the three together would make a pretty good sandwich.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Tricycle Gardens Event at Juleps this Thursday!

    Just in from Tricycle Gardens:

    Julep's New Southern Cuisine SPECIAL Tricycle Garden's Cocktail Party

    Please join Julep's and Tricycle Gardens this Thursday, Sept 30, 8:30pm. Come celebrate National Organic Month. There is no cover charge, no attendance fee, and you don't have to buy a ticket. Just come down and enjoy complimentary hors d'ouevres made from locally-sourced, organic product. Julep's is donating a dollar to Tricycle Gardens for every drink sold. Help us reach our goal of $1000 dollars. That means we need 1000 people that all have one drink, or a hundred people that each have 10 drinks, or 1 selfless person to take one for the team and order a thousand drinks. Stay tuned to the event wall and see what drinks we'll have available, as well as what hors d'ouevres we'll be serving. Cheers.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Cover Crop Time

    All my butternut squash plants have died. As they came up from the castings I spread, and I have 15 squash to hold me, that suites me just fine. Now to fill in that bare soil. Last year I finally behaved myself and actually used a winter cover crop. Last year I used a pea. This season I have decided to go with a a type of perennial rye ( Wren's Abruzzi Rye) that is ( according to Southern Exposure) most suited for the southeast, blended with vetch. You can check it out or order some of your own from Southern Exposure Here.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    At the Market This Week

    Just as I was actually beginning to believe I could stand another eggplant, and even tomatoes and cucumbers had lost all their excitement, mid-September rolls around and all the world has changed again. What a lovely thing to go to the market and find watermelons piled next to butternut squash. Salad greens and radishes wait patiently by cartons of tomatoes. A classic salad is in the making. Erin and I started trading some notes on what each of walked away with yesterday from two different markets. Here's what we got...

    Arugula (Frog Bottom Farm)
    Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms (H20 Collect)
    Golden Pumpkin Fettuccine (Bombolini Pasta)
    Lots of tomatoes (Frog Bottom Farm)
    Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread (Children's Hospital Bake Sale)
    Edamame (Epic Gardens)
    Plain, black pepper, herbs de provence, and spicy pepper chevre (Night Sky Farms)
    Eggs (Faith Farms)
    Goat milk soap (Night Sky Farms)
    two tacos (Boka Tako Truck)
    gelato (de Rochonette's delights)
    Last peaches of the season (Agriberry)
    Apples (Agriberry)
    Eggplant (Fertile Crescent Farms)
    Shallots (Frog Bottom)
    Winter squash (Fertile Crescent Farm)
    Flour (Faith Farm)

    From the South of The James:
    From Fertile Crescent...
    Black Cherry tomatoes( One pint )
    Sungold tomatoes (One pint)
    Salad greens (A lovely bag of mixed including plenty of perfect looking leaf lettuces)
    Kale (A large and beautiful bunch)
    Swiss Chard (ditto)
    Finally, one rather dark and dangerous looking apple billed by the large sign propped up before the basket as "The Best Apples in the World." Unsure about that, but it was crisp, juicy, and had a nice tart-sweetness.Best of all these apples from what is I believe a single tree are spray free. That is a vary rare thing for a Virginia apple, but I digress...
    Carrying on...
    From Thistledown Farm...
    One large bag of fresh tender green beans
    A very big bag of Honey Crisp and Gala Apples (grown by Saunders Brothers)
    A large bag of Peaches... a last hoorah!
    Several Asian Pears (all also grown by Saunders Brothers I believe)
    From Victory Farm...
    One bunch radishes

    From Bill's Produce...
    7 Red Bell Peppers (at a dollar a piece, who can resist?!)
    A seedless watermelon
    2 cucumbers
    1 bok choy
    Orange and white sweet potatoes
    From Empress Farm...
    One 6lb whole chicken
    Whew... Now on to the cooking!

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Several Ways to Prepare Kohlrabi

    Kohlrabi, you know that funny white and green bulb like food you may have spied at the market or in your CSA box. One blogger described it as "an organic green sputnik." Kohlrabi is a German word referring to the turnip like appearance of this food that is actually a brassica originally bred from wild cabbage. I have tried Kohlrabi when others have prepared it , but I've never tried cooking with it myself. My parents sent me this article from Yankee magazine with two recipes for preparing Kohlrabi. Here is another great site with all kinds of information on the stuff. They both sounded good enough to make me actually want to prepare some. Alas, I may have to wait a little while. Available in early summer, we should be seeing it pop up again after the fall's first frost.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Oktoberfest this weekend!

    Jerry Veneziano from Sweetwater Farms sent in this info to let us know about a fun event happening this weekend:
    St. Benedict's is having their 6th annual Oktoberfest this weekend! The 'fest features authentic German music and dancing, and of course German food and drink! A variety of wursts will be available, along with pretzels, sauerkraut balls, potato pancakes and more. And of course desserts! Over 20 varieties of beer and wine available...most of it local (or at least regional)! All but one of the wines offered are Virginia wines, with the exception being a Riesling from Germany. Regional brewers include Legends and Extra Billy's from Richmond, Starr Hill from C'ville, Blue and Gray from Fredericksburg, Heavy Seas from Baltimore, and Weeping Radish from the Outer Banks.
    The fest will also feature the Christkindlmarkt, a unique shopping experience based upon the Christmas markets held annually throughout Germany and Austria. Vendors will offer a variety of unique German and holiday items, including one offering lebkuchenherzen -- gingerbread hearts.
    Oktoberfest will be at the corner of Belmont and Hanover in the heart of Richmond's museum district. Admission is free! Limited parking is available in the VMFA parking deck ($3); otherwise, street parking is available wherever you find a spot!

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Roasting Pepper's 101

    Last year at around this time, and well into October we had an over abundance of late season peppers. We had hot peppers in many forms, as well as red, orange, and green sweet peppers. By late October we had harvested all of our sweet peppers. This left us with lots of green peppers, in particular slightly under ripe Anaheim peppers.

    Ripe Anaheim peppers are perfect for roasting, but when that last season harvest of still green peppers comes around roasting is the answer. We roasted them by the arm load! Just lightly coat the skin with olive oil, (sometimes this step is not even necessary,) and place on the grill over low heat. Using tongs, check and turn them regularly until the flesh is cracking and charred. Remove them from the grill and let them cool until you can handle them easily. Using a paper towel and a fine bladed knife, peel away the roasted skin. Slice open the pepper removing the stem, seeds and pith. Cut into wide slices and enjoy on sandwiches, bread, in eggs, on pizza or whatever suites you. If you don't have a grill, there are lots of "how tos" on line for broiling peppers. Living in an apartment in Philly I would just use tongs to hold them over the gas flame on our stove top. We like to dress them with a little balsamic, olive oil, salt, herbs and garlic powder for a perfect topping on some crusty bread. So good.

    Farm To Family Now Offering Home Milk Delivery

    Mark Lilly's Farm to Family Bus, Shop, and CSA enterprise have just added home milk delivery. You can visit the shop at 2817 Mechanicsville Turnpike, friend them on facebook or twitter for updates on the bus whereabouts, or sign up for their CSA. The CSA includes Polyface meats (including a thanksgiving turkey), and locally made bread. In addition it includes a half pound of Mountain View or Goats R Us Cheeses, as well as Mountain view milk, and yogurt. To just have milk and yogurt home delivery is $10 per week plus a $10 monthly service charge. Click Here for their website.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

    The new Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) is offering up their first issue for free online until October.
    Looking at this peer reviewed journal you can check out topics such as Commentary on Why Aren’t There Any Turkeys at the Danville Turkey Festival? (That's Danville Ohio) Or you can read columns like The Economic Pamphleteer: Rethinking Government Policies for Growing Farmers, as well as Views from the Food System Frontier: Measuring Agricultural Stewardship: Risks and Rewards. Click here to read from the August issue or to subscribe.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Photo Essay from International Food Bloggers Conference

    A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. I was definitely a small fish in that pond, but I loved every minute of it. Since I returned to real life in RVA, I have been thinking a lot about recipe development as well as community efforts and artisan foodstuffs, inspired by the conference. One of the most immediate components I can attend to is photography- so here are some select moments from the conference captured in pictures. Truly, everything was so gorgeous-
    Yep, that is me in the foreground. This photo of the main conference room at Theo chocolate was taken by Marie Asselin of Food Nouveau. Check out her lovely blog, with recipes, travel fantasies, and her take on the food at the 2010 IBFC. Swoon.

    Every detail of the conference was most civilized, including this tapas party put on by the Secret Sherry Society. How fun are they?

    There was always tons of food around- of course. Plates- nay, platters- of chocolate, vats of coffee, a menu read every few hours. I am still thinking about the donuts from Top Pot that came out of these boxes. Well fried, and thus, the best I have ever had. I miss them.

    And then, there were the food trucks. Oh my goodness- what fun. Do you see the one on the left dressed like a pig? Guess what they serve...

    Lunch on Sunday was provided entirely by these lovelies. And the beer was crafted by Pike Brewing. Their Dry Wit was amazing- hoppy and infused with herbs like lavender and chamomille. Pike also made a Kilt Lifter ale made with a bit of scotch. Brilliant.

    Every time I see this photo, I want one.
    My favorite truck had falafel- do we even have one of these in Richmond? Anybody want to go in on this idea with me? Beautiful falafel, creamy raita and pickled veggies- I could eat this all day!
    My other favorite (I have never been very good at owning superlatives) was the mobile pizza oven. Can you see the flames in the back, and the wood? Amazing pizza- crispy, bubbly crust- Seattle is so lucky.

    These food trucks are usually part of a regular street market that goes on every Saturday in the Freemont neighborhood. There were some fruit, veggie and flower vendors there, but I liked photographing the shoes best.

    Finally, below is a photo of the building where the magic happened for us that weekend, and where many fine ideas and products emerge every day- the Theo Chocolate factory. I am so enamored of their work (and their fine, fine chocolate) and I can't wait to share with you soon. For now, I can show you this:
    Thanks for hosting us, Seattle, and thanks for reading, y'all!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Book Reccomendations From My Summer Reading List

    This summer I've been in a bit of a funk. I'm a gardener and the endless weeks of 100+ degree days, the lack of rain coupled with hellacious swarms of Asian Tiger mosquitoes had me running for cover. At home my garden was largely left to make it's own way to fall, and it's got the dead and stunted plants to prove it. Within the comfort of my air-conditioned, and mosquito free house I sought out inspiration to fight the fight again next season.
    Gardening, and most certainly agriculture, can turn your entire perspective of nature on it's head. I would need all ten fingers and ten toes to count up the various assorted diseases and pest that have just this summer taken to stealing, eating, weakening, or outright killing my plants in the name of their own survival. Covered in Deet, wide brim hat, and a touch of poison ivy, heading outside can seem more like warfare than convening with nature.

    To the rescue cam Susan Hand Shetterly's new book Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town. This beautiful book speaks to a love of place that encourages us to love the natural world of our own space, our own yards, neighborhoods, towns, and remaining wild places. Learning to understand, care for and respect the wildlife that surrounds her Maine home has been the work of Shetterly for the last forty years. A perfect quote on the front cover by Terry Tempest Williams says " I read [this] not only with great delight, but with a yearning to stay put and live more fully."
    In one passage that has stayed with me Shettery, after describing the loss of the great alewife migrations, speaks perhaps to a common appraisal that what wild spaces left to us are not truly wild, possibly not worthy of our admiration, attention or protection.

    Quote: " 'Nobody owns anyone, except in memory,' John Updike wrote. I suppose that goes for owning wild migratory fish in a hometown stream as well. We can spend our lives regretful. We can watch three ospreys and want a dozen. We can hear the shattering screams of twenty gulls and know that true cacophony is a hundred of them, each one insisting on its own insatiable hunger. We can want fish we can walk over, but those are [another's] memories, not ours. I would like to see what he saw, but I don't dare miss what is here now."
    I will admit that nearly every section of this book brought tears to my eyes if not for it's sadness than for it's beauty.

    Next on my list Gary Naban. That's Gary Naban, period. Okay, I have only read two of his books. I have just started the third. Erin has read and loved the forth, and my friend Lucy who finally pushed these books into my hand swears (as many others do) that everything he rights is absolutely worth reading. His writings are also works on place and how where we come from effects who we are and what we should, or even can eat. His work always seems to be far ahead of the curve. For example, Naban wrote "Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods' for publication in 2001. That is, in the year 2000 Naban at only foods that could be harvested, foraged, or hunted from within 250 miles of his Arizona home! An interesting comparison to Barbara Kingsolvers' 'Animal Vegetable Miracle' which starts off describing how Kingsolver decided she must move her family from Arizona to West Virginia in order to live off the land. Granted, Naban also eats some road kill, and one of Kingsolvers stipulations was that she would not be feeding her kids from the roadside. She was referring to dandelions, but that's just the point. Naban's approach is to look towards those traditional and wild foods of the land, the prickly pear cactus, peppers, and wild animals and discover the benefits of such foods.

    I just finished reading his 2004 book 'Why Some Like it Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity.' This amazingly interesting book delves into the genetic difference that cause people to respond differently to various foods and drinks, not as individuals, but as a people who share specific genetic adaptations to the environment of their ancestors. Why some people become anemic when exposed to fava beans, why others are so effected by refined grains and alcohol, and why some of us love to eat hot peppers and bitter greens, while others can't even stand the thought.

    His book 'Renewing America's Food Traditions, Saving and Savoring the Continents Most Endangered Foods' was published in 2008. A big book filled with photographs, and recipes it's a sort of coffee table book on endangered foods. The Fish pepper I did the LGBG video on is in there, as is the Fainting Goat, and the Blue Crab. Divided up by sections like "Crabcake Nation" and "Bison Nation," Naban looks at some of the best traditional foods, and how those foods helped define different regions of our country.
    Check out his official site here for many more books, videos, and information on his lectures.

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Morgan Spurlock @ IFBC

    Alright, y'all. Here is a bit of the conversation we got to have with Morgan Spurlock about the benefits of eating together and about food traditions and about his mama.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    2010 International Food Bloggers Conference

    Next week, I get to visit Seattle for the annual International Food Blogger Conference hosted by Foodista and Zephyr Wine Adventures (Wine adventures- two of my favorite words!) I am super excited to go to Seattle (never been!) and nerd out with some like minded folks about food. From what I can gather from the awesome sponsor list, there will lots of good eatin'. Plus, I get to be in the same room with folks whose ideas and writing I really admire- Morgan Spurlock who made Supersize Me and 30 Days, the lovely bloggers Orangette, and Gluten Free Girl- not to mention the Editors of two gorgeous food magazines, Saveur and Bon Appetit. Part of the conference even takes place in the Theo chocolate factory. Heaven, I am telling you, probably looks a lot like this.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Considering the Food System

    Those of us who work in the food system are feel very happy if we can engage other agencies and efforts in our projects, and we are truly lucky if we can consider everything from the sustainability of production and responsibility of potential waste. At the Farmers Market at St. Stephen's, we have been blessed to work with farmers, consumers, as well as our food pantry and other agencies that could use the food left over from the market.

    Thanks to, who did a lovely piece on the gleaning program at the Farmers Market at St. Stephen's. Feel free to read the article, and please let us know if you have ideas for fully integrating all of the components of a responsible food system.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Broadview Ranch August Sale!

    Our new buddy, Lee Atwood of Broadview Ranch, sent us a reminder that orders for their August sale must be placed by tomorrow Thursday, August 12th at midnight. Until then, you will get 40% off ground pork. In addition, you will receive the standard discounts on orders over $100 and $200 of 5% and 10% respectively. Broadview Ranch will deliver to Roanoke, Richmond, Charlottesville and DC over the weekend.

    Broadview Ranch, a Shenandoah Valley farm, produces grass fed and finished beef, forest fed pork and pastured eggs. The multi-generational family owned and operated business is dedicated to sustainable farming, ethical animal husbandry and fine eating. Check out their online store here.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Shannon's Fish Pepper Video

    If you like hot peppers, beautiful ornamental vegetable garden plants, or some local food history you can check out this YouTube video I did for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden!

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    RFC Visits Twin Oaks!

    Last weekend, the RFC was graciously hosted by the Twin Oaks Community. Twin Oaks is the intentional community in Louisa where the best tofu in the world is made. 100 people live on 450 acres, tend bountiful gardens, preserve their fruits and vegetables, make their own bread, yogurt, and sauerkraut, and care for cows, chickens and each other.
    Our new friend Benji led us around the beautiful property, where the members of the community work and live. Twin Oaks is perhaps the longest continuously operating intentional community in America. Established over forty years ago they have made an art of learning to share work and life with others. One thing that struck me about Twin Oaks was the unbelievable productivity and success achieved within an environment of freedom and purely democratic decision making. From the care of the animals, to the production of their own milk, butter, yogurt, eggs, bread and meat, planting of orchards, on to the construction of special housing for aging community members they are able to turn the complicated into the completed.

    Cardboard boxes they pick up from the ABC store throw aways are used to keep weeds down in garden pathways. It was so tidy and colorful, It actually looked kind of good. Seeking to be as sustainable as possible, the gardens and tofu are all organic. A vast run of solar panels provides the energy for three of their main buildings. Most housing is without air conditioning. Compost is made from garden and food scrapes as well as the soy bean byproducts from their tofu production.

    Twin Oaks is also known for making hammocks in many forms and colors. They even have ones made of silk rope and others made of incredibly soft rope made from recycled plastic bottles! They actually start from scratch with their hammocks making the rope itself. They purchase just enormous spools of string, and create the wooden frames at their own small saw mill. Once the main supplier of hammocks to Pier 1 Imports, the public can still order their hammocks on line, and their amazingly good tofu has become a big enough success to make up the difference.
    I told Benji that I had never really liked tofu until I tried theirs (true story.) He says that although they use good quality ingredients, he attributes the unique goodness of their tofu to their wonderfully pure water that comes from an underground aquifer. Benji points out that tofu is about 70% water, so it makes sense that good water would make all the difference.
    Out of the tiny tofu plant, with out anyone person serving as a whip cracking boss, Twin Oaks has been able to produce enough quality tofu to supply nearly two dozen Whole Foods as well as other groceries like Ellwood Thomson's, tons of area restaurants, and a national company that makes prepackage frozen dinners. Their tofu is now sold as far away as Chicago! One of the packages of tofu Benji gave me was completely in French! Where was that headed?
    The tofu facility was an astounding view of economy and efficiency. We donned our hair nets for a peek in the door. About a dozen people were working away scrubbing the kettle, and cleaning machinery decked out in their white aprons, gloves and hairnets.
    In addition to all of this a lot of work goes also into providing for the everyday lives of all who live and work at Twin Oaks. Although Benji is in charge of marketing, he like everyone else has multiple task to complete in the required forty two hour work week (Those with children are given a portion of their work hours to childcare.) The week we were there he had one round of bread making duty, a day of dinner making duty, and after being nice enough to spend hours touring us around the property he was heading off to help make sauerkraut.

    All of the recipes in this sweet, handmade cookbook serve 100 people. Cooking for that many would be quite an art, I should think.
    Benji generously served us lunch- tomato stuffed with Jalapeno Spinach tofu, homemade garlic bread, and the famous well water. So delicious!

    Keeping up with all of the produce alone must be a huge job!

    Before we left, Benji loaded us up with all kinds of Twin Oaks products- soy sausage and loads of flavored tofu. Look for recipes featuring our new favorite ingredient as we work our way through this fantastic stock pile.
    By Shannon and Erin