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

Dominion Harvest reviewed by Dining in Richmond

We enjoyed this post by the author of the Richmond Gastronomy Blog. Good info on what to expect in your Dominion Harvest Box along with a little local food insight.

Pizza night

Pizza and ice cream, huh? You would think I have the palette of a twelve year old. It is in these lovely comfort foods that I feel I can experiment- I can make them from scratch and really know what I want out of the final product. Plus, my favorite part of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver was when she said that Friday nights were always pizza nights at her house. Having that kind of cozy tradition makes life very simple. At the end of a hectic week, at least you already know what you will be having for supper.

Pizza dough is very easy to make- just time consuming. I love the recipe for pizza dough from the Joy of Cooking- which we refer to as 'the joy'. Sauce is equally easy- a large can of whole tomatoes, cooked down and crushed with herbs and garlic. That is it- top with whatever else you dig. The one we made last night has crumbled Twin Oaks soy chorizo, mozzarella and fresh basil. So so so good!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Meet the Vendors at The Market @ St. Stephen's, Part III

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ice Cream recipes: Peach and Brown Sugar Cinnamon

Y'all know I love ice cream. Today I got so excited to find the Homestead Creamery heavy cream again that I went straight home, foregoing all of the practical foods I could make (say for tomorrow's lunch, perhaps?) and went straight into making TWO kinds of ice cream.

I also keep buying peaches at the farmers market like some kind of summer food compulsion. Peaches are really good with cream, and really, really good with ice cream. Plus, they are probably amazing IN some ice cream. So, to assuage my peach collecting habits, I made a brown sugar cinnamon ice cream to go with some (yet unmade) peach dumplings, and peach ice cream to take over to Shannon's for dinner tonight. Both of these recipes were inspired by ones found in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebivoitz

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream

Over medium low heat combine:
1 Cup whole milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
5, 3 inch pieces of cinnamon sticks
1 Cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Warm for about 10 minutes, then let steep in refrigerator for at least 1 hour

Strain out cinnamon, and heat (on low), adding:
3 egg yolks

Warm until custard coats spoon, then add:
1 cup heavy cream

Chill in refrigerator and freeze in ice cream maker. Fantastic with peach dumplings (recipe to follow soon...)

Peach Nectarine Ice Cream with honey
Peel and coarsely chop: 3 very ripe (medium) peaches and
2 very ripe nectarines
then heat with 1/2 cup water until soft
Add: 1/2 cup honey*
Heat through, then cool to room temperature

Pour mixture from pan into food processor. Add:
1/2 Cup plain, European style (a.k.a. sour, runny) yogurt
1 Cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
touch of vanilla extract

Blend until just combined and cool thoroughly before freezing in ice cream maker.

*I used the dark honey from Faith Farms. It gave the ice cream wonderful depth- people who tried the ice cream wondered if I had added cinnamon or other spices, but it was just the complexity of this honey that imparted so much flavor.