Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tedx Event in Richmond, 'Changing the way we eat'

Invite you to the TEDx event, "Changing the Way We Eat" on February 12, 2011. The day long webcast/ viewing party will take place at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (6000 Grove Avenue). Join us and learn from national leaders and from your neighbors about what is going on in the food world. Speakers include:
  • Dr. Melanie Samuels from Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, whose mission is to "end hunger by distributing food and empowering families through information and support, which will give both strength and dignity to the community".
  • Elizabeth Ü, Founder of Finance for Food, will speak about her work of helping to finance sustainable food entrepreneurs.
  • Kathy Lawerence, founder of NYC's Just Food and current Program Director of School Food FOCUS, will be speaking about our school system's food – what happened and what’s being done.
  • Chef John Fraser of Dovetail and soon-to-open What Happens When
  • Laurie David, Producer and Author of "The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time"
And the list keeps growing! Check out the Tedx Facebook page to see the latest additions.

Webcast schedule
10:30 am - 12:15 pm: What Happened?
Lunch (Local vendors)
1:30 - 3:15 pm: Where are We?
4:00 - 5:45 pm: Where are We Going?

The event is free, but you need to pre register (so we can be sure to accommodate everyone!) Register here.

To learn more about the impact of a Tedx webcast/ viewing party, check out this great NYT article.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Souther of the James Market

Just a short bit ago I got back from my very first visit to to The South-er of the James Market. Dang it was cold out there. Temperatures hovered at 20-21 degrees as I headed out around 10:30 this morning. Winds whipped about. Burrrr.. No one was going to be there, I was sure, but I wanted my Pizza Tonight kit dang it.
As I approached a view of over a dozen tents started to warm my heart if not my hands. A large sandwich board marked the parking just off Forest Hill Ave heading east towards West Over Hills. Two dozen or so cars were neatly parked in rows despite the lack of markings. People, actual people were coming and going from the market. As I approached I saw some of my old favorites, Aults, Thistledown, Grammy O's as well as the Snider Bros. Bus, fresh hot coffee, dog treats, Faith Farm and more. A large bonfire sat a blaze in the middle of the large gravel lot. Vendors and customers alike lingered there to warm up finger tips and chat, probably about the cold.
It was all worth it. I got my pizza kit, and met Victoria of Pizza Tonight, as well as the author of one of our favorite blogs Onion Cloute. There were plenty of fresh eggs, meats, jars of homemade soup, sauces, bread, carrots, apples, as well as some crafts. Thank you to all those who with stood the cold to share their wares. I'll be back for certain.
Open from just 10am-12pm each Saturday through April.

Fresh Ginger Tea

My sister-in-law Wendy swears by this tea for amazing overnight relief at the first sign of a head cold. I definitely believe it makes me feel better almost instantly. Since she first made this tea for me a couple of years ago, I've become a convert. She says it's kinda harsh, but it works. I actually don't even find it harsh- I love it- with or without a teaspoon of good honey. Luckily making the tea requires little more work than tossing in a regular tea bag.

Peel and grate enough fresh ginger to fill a tea diffuser. I use a paring knife to peal the ginger and my Microplane to do the grating. This usually takes just about as much time as it does for the water to boil. When I have cold and know I'll be drinking this daily, I'll grate up enough to fill a small container. Seal it up tight and store in the fridge for a few days worth. Place diffuser in mug, fill mug with boiling water and let steep for a few minutes more than you would regular tea, until water is actually kind of cloudy.
And while we're talking ginger....

Did you know about the ginger growing program at Virgina State University. A friend of ours first told us about this a couple of years ago when she showed up to one of our potlucks with a salad that included fresh ginger she had aquired from them. Here is a short summary by Reza Rafie Ph.D, of the trials using a High Tunnel technique. You may have heard him talking about this very project last year on NPR's 'With Good Reason.'

Cold Season Chicken Veggie Soup with Fine Herb Tofu

Over the holidays my family fell prey to one of the myriad winter colds that are chasing folks around this year. My uncle ran out of town fast. A few days later he was bragging cheerfully that the cold germs couldn't catch him as his raced away on I95. Having to stay here, I was running in place, trying to take care of my husband, but dousing everything within reach, including the hands that were doing the reaching, with rubbing alcohol. To this my uncle replied "Bob and weave, lass, bob and weave-serpentine, serpentine!" Alas, my best cleaning moves were no match. My steady diet of supplements, Advil, and antihistamine could not keep this cold at bay. I was sick and it was time to turn to the kitchen for help.

First on my list is fresh ginger tea. While sipping this I start making chicken soup. It's usually a little different each time. Here's what I've been really enjoying this season. The chicken broth, fresh ginger, and roasted garlic seem like a power house of cold fighting goodness when mixed with all these fresh veggies and greens. Also, this makes quite a lot so if your able to make a great soup when you first start to feel that cold coming on then you should have soup enough for a week. Just be sure to bring each serving back to a boil.

Approx. 3 Quarts Chicken Broth (home made or low sodium)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 Whole med to large head of Roasted Garlic
Fresh Grated Ginger (About a 2"x2" hunk, pealed and finely grated)
4 med-large carrots sliced into 1/4" rounds
3 med russet potatoes scrubbed and chopped into small cubes
1 large yellow onion, pealed and chopped
Celery or fennel stalk chopped
1 package Twin Oaks Fine Herb tofu, cubed to 1" pieces.

2 bay leaves
tsp. salt
1tsp thyme
1tsp marjoram
Fresh, course chopped winter greens ( I've used cabbage. I've also used, parsley and swiss chard)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place whole head of garlic in clay garlic roasting dish or wrap in foil. Leave in oven until fully softened (about 1 half hour). Mean while chop onion, add olive oil to large soup pot over medium high heat. Toss in onions as soon as oil starts to sizzle a bit. Add some of the salt. Chop celery or fennel while onions cook, stirring onions occasionally. After about 5 minutes add the celery and a little chicken broth if needed. Stir, scraping bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon as you add rest of chicken broth. Add herbs, bay leaves, and rest of salt. Bring broth to a gentle boil. Meanwhile chop carrots and potatoes. Add carrots once broth is boiling cook for couple minutes. Peal and grate ginger. Rinse and cube tofu. Add ginger, tofu, and potatoes. Cook until tender. When garlic is done remove from oven to cool. Once garlic is cool, use a serrated knife, cut the bottom off the entire head. Holding the head over the soup just squeeze all of garlic into soup and toss the papery skins away. Note: you really need to let this cool before handling otherwise it's rather like Napalm on your finger tips!

Once every thing is cooked and you got it tasting good, adding a pinch of salt, herbs, as needed (this will depend upon the chicken broth you started with) and you're ready to serve.
Toss a small handful of the fresh greens, or fresh chopped parsley into the bottom of your bowl. Ladle soup over top. Rest up, and enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vitality Salad 3-ways

My sister-in-law introduced me to this salad over Christmas. We had one perfect dinner of butternut squash soup, crusty bread with butter, and this wonderful crisp, cool salad. Vitality Salad is so named because it is supposed to help energize you in these cold and dark winter months. Made only of fresh chopped cabbage, granny smith apples, and toasted pumpkin seeds, it is also exceedingly simple and easy. She originally got this recipe from a Barnes and Noble cookbook with the bare bones tittle 'Vegetarian.'

The Recipe : Salad...
1 fresh head of green cabbage (or 1lb of cabbage)
2 Granny Smith apples
1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp Salt

3 tbsp Lemon juice
3 tbsp Canola oil
3 tbsp Pumpkin seed oil
Fresh ground pepper to taste
A pinch of Cumin

Cut the cabbage in half from top to bottom. remove the hard core near the base. Cut each half in half again lengthwise. Cut cabbage into 1/4 inch slices down the length of each quarter starting at the narrow tip. Place cabbage in a large bowl and add salt. Vigorously knead the cabbage for a full 1 to 2 minutes, and let sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peal and quarter the apples. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices lengthwise. Cut these slices again lengthwise into 1/4 inch sticks. Make the dressing by whisking ingredients together till fully combined, or make inside a container and shake vigorously. Toss all together, cover and refrigerate till ready to serve. Shortly before serving toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet on medium heat, moving the pan continuously for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Serve salad with seeds in small dish to be sprinkled on top of salad.
Warning! I'll give you the same warning my sister-in-law gave me. If you follow this and use a whole head of cabbage you will have enough salad to feed 20 people with leftovers! If this is not your goal, cutting the recipe is advised.
Apparently when my sister-in-law made this for us she followed the recipe as it's written. It was perfect. The seeds as separate, at table garnish was her method, and a method I highly recommend . I have so far made this twice, each time differently, and each time only using half a head of cabbage. It has been quite nice both times. The real point is that this salad is amazingly versatile. Fennel, Kohlrabi, caraway, golden raisins, any of these things sound to me liked they'd be tasty additions or substitutes. For those of you who tried one of my, close to as written versions and said you really wanted the recipe here you go....

Effort number one: My Dressing: I reduced the amount of oil, tilted the balance towards the sesame oil , and used fresh lemon, plus more cumin than called for. (I used sesame seed oil, as I could not find pumpkin.)
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
2, maybe even 3 pinches of cumin

The Salad:
I was using a medium head of cabbage, no giant monster sized head. My farmers market "Bunch" of parsley however, was enormous. I used about half of it, so that's probably what amounts to at least one whole bunch of grocery store parsley from what I've seen.
I planned on making just a quarter of the amount called for. In the end, lack of attention caused me first to chop 2 apples, then to add the whole amount of dressing! Realizing my mistake I chopped, and bruised another quarter of the cabbage and added that. Still as far as cabbage to rest ratios go it was twice the apple and nearly twice the dressing all be it with less oil. It was quite good. Also, over the course of the week, as we ate and ate, and I took some into work to share, and at home we ate some more... we probably used nearly 1/3 a cup of toasted pumpkin seeds just for the 1/2 head of cabbage.

Effort number two:
The Dressing
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tbsp sesame seed oil
2 pinches cumin

This time the Apple to Cabbage ratios were as the original recipe, using half a head of cabbage and one apple. The difference... again I was distracted by enjoyable conversation. The result this time was quite a bit of fresh ground pepper. Whoops. It was not enough to make the salad spicy, or overwhelming, but it did tilt the balance a bit from the pure fresh flavor. Another mistake, I left my pumpkin seeds at home. I decided to toast some pine nuts Erin had at her place. Again it was very good. This time it was served with the so delicious 'Gypsy Soup' our friend Casey made from the Moosewood cookbook, and some Norwood Cottage curried raisin bread. It was another great meal, mistakes and all.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Creme Brulee: Dark Chocolate and Orange with Anise

So, the other day I got all inspired to make creme brulee for a dinner with friends because I had gotten lots of lovely eggs from a friend in Louisa. I also have this bottle of Pastis my father brought back from his recent trip to France, which is far too strong for me to consider as a cocktail. So, hey- dessert! Anyway- this was brave and silly on many fronts. I have never made creme brulee before (Shannon has though, and since she was coming over, I knew I could rely on her for help if things got hairy). I have no proper ramekins or dishes for anything like this- so I used my myriad collection of teacups to serve them. I have no brulee torch, but I knew there was one out there somewhere- we had used it before, remember? I also had no idea how many people were actually going to show up for supper, so after I made a batch of about 8 chocolate creme brulees, instead of showering and getting out of the long underwear I had been wearing all day at work, I decided to make another half batch- just in case more people showed up. I am relieved to tell you that it all worked out. And thank goodness for my dear friends who don't care if I have to change my clothes after they have already arrived for supper. And who don't mind if I want to experiment my crazy flavor combinations on them. And who eat my creme brulee sans brulee if I never did remember who it was that had that kitchen torch.

And with that- I give you two flavors of creme brulee-a most forgiving dessert.

Dark Chocolate with Anise

11 egg yolks

1 quart heavy cream
1 tbs Pastis
touch of salt
tsp vanilla
3/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup cocoa powder

1 3.5oz bar dark chocolate (I used 70 % cacao)

Oven at 325 degrees.

Scramble egg yolks in medium bowl and set aside. On medium low, heat cream, pernod, salt and vanilla. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder until well blended. Break chocolate bar into pieces, and melt into cream mixture.

Take mixture off of heat. Slowly stir in eggs and combine well. Strain into pitcher or batter bowl, then divide evenly between small ovenproof dishes or ramekins. Put dishes in larger roasting pan, and pour water into the pan about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, creating a water bath. Bake about 40 minutes, or until custard is set. Cool in refrigerator (I put mine outside for the sake of space) for a couple of hours- through dinner.

To brulee: Sift about a tablespoon of white sugar on top, and slowly burn sugar with a kitchen torch until caramelized and liquified. Be careful- it is easy to really burn the sugar!

Anise and Orange with Honey

3 egg yolks

10 oz heavy cream
1 TBS orange peel
1 1/2 TBS Pastis
pinch of salt
1 TBS vanilla
1/3 cup honey

Follow cooking directions above- enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I finally ate at Aziza's on Main. It seems everyone I know has eaten there, and for one reason or another I've never made it there until this week. After months of listening to people go on about how good it is I couldn't take it anymore! Matt and I went early on Thursday night, but even though it was just after 6pm there were multiple tables seated in this cozy spot. I didn't really want to be writing a review, so I'll skip my petty complaints. The service was fabulous, being relaxed, pleasant and timely. I went with the white speciality pizza topped with Hedgehog mushrooms, Chanterelle mushrooms, truffle oil, and garlic, and it was delicious. For my appetizer I ordered the one vegetarian option that was not bread based. A Manakintowne Farm Greens Salad with pickled turnips and black olives was set before me and the amount of green towering upon my plate actually made me gasp a bit. It lasted through the entire meal as Matt and I ate bites of greens between pizza. My husband really like his pizza as well, and he loved his salad a.k.a. 'The Perfect Egg." This is also one's of Erin's favorite dishes just about anywhere I think. During the course of my meal I tried four things new to me, which is always fun, including pickled turnips. Surprisingly these were also good despite being well, turnips. Apparently pickling really can work magic.
Perhaps best of all for me was the cream puff. I know their famous for this house made extravagance so I ordered one even though I have never in my life liked a cream puff. The few times I've tried one the strait cold sugariness of it had me taking one small bit and discreetly disposing of the rest. I have therefore been avoiding them for a good while now, until Thursday. The Azizas cream puff is so rich and creamy without being too sugary. It's also so big that my husband and I had to split one. This was monumental for me. Obviously I had been damaged by poor cream puffs in the past, but clearly there are good ones out there to be sought out.
Amazingly we have heard from a couple of friends that Azizas has a lemon butter cake they felt was even better than the cream puff. Of course I tried to order that as well, but alas they were sold out. Our waitress talked me into a slice of chocolate cake that she said was made by the former White House pastry chef now in Fairfax. Okay, impressive and that was good too. We will definitely be returning, to sample from their deli case for takeout, or perhaps for small plates on a Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Local Produce Farms

Need to find out more about farms in Richmond and the surrounding area? Here are some links to get you started. Many of these farmers sell at markets all over Richmond!

Is your farm missing? Let us know!

Dave and Dee's Mushrooms
Epic Gardens
Tricycle Gardens' Urban Farm -Farm Stand
Trails End Farm: produce and eggs plus.  (Provides products to  Ellwood Thompsons, Acacia Midtown and Six Burner restaurants.)
Kruize Family Farm
Root Force Collective
Bill's Produce

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Apropos Roasters

Last Month I got the chance to try coffee from this tiny Richmond Roaster. I was gifted a small bag of the "Costa Rican Honey Process Micro-lot." A loyalist to Blanchard's Dark as Dark, this Apropos coffee was the first in a long time to really peek my interest. It was delicious. They will blend and roast batches to your taste. They support small , fair trade producers, and they offer home delivery to most in the Richmond area at a total cost that's not much above the pure coffee price of other quality coffees in our area. Check out their website for information, or to order. There you can also find a list of various Richmond area restaurants and events where their coffee is served and sold.

Broadview Ranch Offers A Sale On Pork

I did a post about Broadview Ranch a good while back after having met Lee at a small gathering of Slow Food Richmond members. I have to say that I have not yet purchased their products, but Lee left a good impression. If you would like to check them out and learn more about them now might be a good time. Here is a portion from their latest e-mail.

"Place Your Order for January 15th-16th Delivery
Its good to know you are wanted and quite a few of you have sent emails prodding us for a sale. They say the customers is always right so lets have a sale! You need to be quick about it because we will take orders until midnight on Thursday, January 13th for deliver on next Saturday and Sunday - that's next week. (Sorry DC we can't make it up there this time).

Pork 15% off!!
This month we are having a sale on all pork products. We have a lot of hogs that we are carrying into the winter following a fantastic acorn crop and we need to see some return on our efforts. Show us your appreciation with a big order. "

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Indoor Market Today!!

A reminder that the Huguenot and Robious Market at the Great Big Greenhouse has started up indoors! From their own posting....

"All Virginia products; antibiotic/hormone-free meat , poultry, and eggs; fresh-baked goods; fresh winter greens; crafts from Virginia artisans. EVERY Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. THROUGH FEBRUARY 24th. "

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The RFC on!

How fun is this? Each week, has a feature called '5 questions for a Foodie'- and this week, the RFC was featured! Check out the article here. My favorite part? That I admit to having five meals a day- two of which are mostly drinks...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fertile Crescent Summer CSA Discount-Act Fast!

This Just in from one of our all time favorite local farms. All organic, always high quality produce.

Just check out these carrots we bought from them in November! This picture doesn't do them justice. Let's just say that has to be some amazing carrot for my husband and I to stop in the middle of making dinner to take a picture. They were so big, they looked more like parsnips, but they turned out to be delicious.
Okay, I digress. Here is what they sent us about this year's CSA....

"This year we are offering a 15 week CSA. It will run for 16 weeks with a built in “skip” day that can be used if it is necessary to miss a pick up. The 16 weeks will begin early to mid May and then conclude at the end of August. We will be offering one size share this year (for more information visit our website, )
The cost of a 15 week share is $310, with the sales tax is included in the price.
We will provide a 20% discount to our CSA members on additional produce purchased from Fertile Crescent Farm at the farmers’ markets and at the farm throughout the season.
Our pick up locations are The Byrd House Farmer's, South of the James and on the farm. We are also offering delivery in the Richmond and Farmville areas.

If you sign up and pay in full by January 31, 2011 you will receive a $25 early bird discount!!!

We are available to answer any questions you may have, please email us at or give us a call at 434-392-6997. "