Saturday, March 31, 2012

Food Policy forum- this week!

Register today, and come hear the latest food policy developments in RVA!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

RFC kitchen tour: Erin's

I love the idea of welcoming you into our kitchens because my kitchen is one of my favorite places in the world, with all of its windows and good smells and life.  When I moved into my 1928 bungalow nine years ago, my kitchen was super tiny- there was only room for a Barbie stove and a play refrigerator.  Over the past several years, I have been able to expand into the former screened porch (also too tiny to be any fun) and make a happy, bright space to live and work.
All of the tropical plants take refuge here during the winter. 
My workspace.  See the giant holly tree right outside of the window?  Someone carved their initials (with their sweetheart's) in it long before I moved in.
My constant companion and premier dishwasher, Clyde.
My baking station.  And more plants!
Farmhouse sink from Ikea and Paperstone countertops.  Plus, a pass through to the dining room.   The cabinets, backsplash and shelving as well as the pass through were all made by Shannon's husband Matt.  He is most talented.
Open shelving to keep well used items in easy reach.
Bookshelf just for cookbooks.  
The stove, spice rack and window into the pantry. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time for Fresh!

Tuna Melts and Garlic Oven Fries

Mackerel in Lemon Parsley Cream Sauce
 The full meal with buttered parsley potatoes and roasted veg.
Definitely one of the more nutritious of late

Okay, I've been really busy lately, extra busy, and it's showing in our meals. They're all on my favorites list, just maybe not all lumped together.  No longer a menu, but instead a nightly surprise that usually sits a bit heavy in the belly. As I start this post the meal is to be Turkey Rubens with oven fries.  Another night, bread and cheese, peanuts and pretzels, and a late night turkey sandwich, followed by turkey burgers with oven fries.   I should stress that I'm not complaining about those meals.  I was so very grateful for each and everyone, and scarfed them down without pause. I'm just more than ready for a fresh bright green pea, or crisp, freshly picked lettuce. It's the first week of spring, and as I write now the tide has turned. Fresh food is on its way.  Matt just harvested clean and prepped some chard from the garden.  Leeks were just pulled and rinsed, and I hope to have a little more time to spend at the stove...

Menu for Early Spring Easy/ Fresh Meals

1. Inspiration Soup  from Molly Katzen with goat cheese, and spiced whole figs from Rockahock Farm on crusty rosemary bread.
2. Salad of Romaine with thin sliced radish and Kilegree Irish Cheddar   and homemade honey mustard along with Cabbage and White Bean Casserole(The casserole is a Heidi Swanson recipe, and this link is a lovely one with step by step pic.s etc. Got this 'Kilegree' at Whole Foods Market, Otherwise look for their Cheddar and Dubliner at Kroger and Martins, but also look for a sale.)
3.  White bean, green garlic , fresh cilantro, and  canned tomato salad , with spicy grilled chicken, and crusty bread
4. Vitality Salad,  potato and leek soup, rosemary bread
5.Andouille sausage, White Bean, Anaheim Pepper and Swiss Chard Stew

Stew is on... and nearly done.  Thank the goodness !!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kitchen Tour

I love seeing people's kitchens, I think it tells you a lot about a person. The RFC has been wanting to give you guys a sense of our kitchens and how we use them, so I thought I'd take the lead....
There are certain things that always live on my stove top. Two sizes of cast iron skillets reside beside my big ol' dutch oven which I use for everything. My fancy "weekend" coffee maker which never gets put away, and of course the kettle - used daily.
Ok, I have a thing for little jars and containers. These tins I found many years ago fit perfectly into my spice cabinet (a repurposed hotel key keeper.) They are perfect for bulk spices and keeping things fresh. I'm not always a tidy person but I admit to finding a tremendous amount of pleasure from this cabinet- everything in it's place... and alphabetical!

So, ceramics is my other love, (besides this food stuff) and I like to make most of what we eat on.

The mugs are a growing collection from potter friends, so nice to grab a mug made by known hands.

Back to the container love, I keep most of my dry goods out in jars on open shelving. Everything from rice to quinoa, nuts, raisins, seeds and oats live there. This makes it easy to menu plan and see what's needed.

Stool so little hands can help.

Beside the stove live more essentials: olive oil, pepper grinder, sugar, bowl of garlic, shallots and ginger and my honey.

And in the center of it all the island, which is essential to every part of our day. Breakfast lunch and dinner table, art project table, reading and writing, whining, fussing and spilling, singing and laughing- it all happens here.

So, fellow RFC ladies, show us your kitchens...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RFC Recommends

Shannon: Olivista extra virgin olive oil- Grown in California, given five stars by the 2010 Rosengarten Report, lovely, fruity, fresh flavor and reasonably priced. The unfiltered and unrefined oil is available at the Carytown Kroger deli section. Somehow the oil is bottled/ re-bottled and has hand written fill dates on the label that are only days old. We love the flavor of this oil for dipping bread or for light salad dressings. Check out the included link for more information.

Erin: Pomi Tomatoes- If you can't can them yourself, Pomi is the way to go. Pomi is available at most large groceries- I keep a box or two on hand to make marinara sauce or soups. Italian tomatoes are the only ingredient in these boxes, there is no BPA, no citric acid as a preservative, nothing but tomatoes. You can taste the difference!

Casey: Ok, thinking about this theme made me think vinegar... which made me think of Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joe's. One of those simple delicious (inexpensive) things we use all of the time in our kitchen. Always reach for it when I make vinaigrette, mix with two parts olive oil one part vinegar add salt, pepper, maybe shallots and a hint of dijon mustard, perfection!

Rachel: We took our first trip to Camden's Dogtown Market this weekend. You'll remember the location as the former Ejay Rin space. Well, Andy Howell has re-opened it as a market/deli and we love it. My husband and I became Howell-groupies when we first moved to RVA in 2003... he owned Avenue 805 and we could walk there. Since then we've been faithfully following him around RVA. Go there, you'll love it. You can enjoy a great sandwich and a beer or (!) pick your own bottle of wine to enjoy from the market, small corkage fee does apply. Check out the deli case for yummies to enjoy at home. He has great selection of both meats and cheese. And, the best part is, he has house made products for you to enjoy...bacon, smoked salmon, and prosciutto (oh, my!). Maybe you'll make a beautiful sandwich with other offerings mentioned in this post?? Have fun and enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

RFC visits Peter Chang's

This weekend, the RFC traveled out to Peter Chang's Cafe in Short Pump. The restaurant has a great story, and I am a sucker for a good story.   If you have never had the pleasure of real szechuan cooking, (or even if you have) get there.  Each dish was so phenomenal, I went Friday and Saturday nights this weekend (true story), and both times made sure I had enough for leftovers.  
*Bok choy with tofu skin

*chicken with peppers

*numbing beef in clay pot

*Thanks to Sal for the fantastic photos!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Old Meets New - A Peak at a Spring Garden

It's spring, ya'll! The sun is shinning and we are bustling around the garden. As the new goodies sprout up, I am also admiring the beauties that have survived the winter. It is a magical combo of the new and the old. What a beautiful tipping point - happy weekend!!

Peach Flowers and Buds

Purple cabbage

Green garlic

Heading Cabbage


Green Onions





Thursday, March 15, 2012

Does the world need another granola recipe?

I say yes! I can't claim this one as my own, it's a variation on a granola recipe that has been floating around the internet for a while. You can find it here and here.

But it' just so darn good (in part thanks to the olive oil) that I had to share. It's perfectly crunchy, salty but not too sweet. It's an everyday breakfast at our house and as we enter berry season I know I'll be making a ton of it.

(This is my version adapted from Early Bird Foods and Food 52)

Olive Oil, Maple and Almond Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips (or unsweetened shredded coconut)
1 cup raw almonds, chopped (pecans or any other nut will do)
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Olive oil
*1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cherries, whatever you have)

Heat oven to 300˚ Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat.

Mix ingredients in order they are listed (dry then wet ingredients, adding dried fruit after baking.)

Spread onto baking sheet and bake about 45 min, stirring every 15min.

Add fruit and enjoy with yogurt, milk and soon with berries!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

RFC throwback: March

Finding recipes to share with you for this month's throwback was not easy.  There were a lot of philosophical posts, there were a lot of exclamations of excitement over the markets opening again, but there was not a whole lot of cooking going on.  I feel that this year too- late winter is a difficult time to get excited about, food wise.  We've been eating a lot of the same things for weeks and months.  We are ready for a change, yearning for fresh foods to return to our dinner tables.  I hope you find something here that inspires you from RFC Marches past...

In 2008, Shannon shared her recipe for spinach salads, savory or sweet, a wilted version with white beans and one with cranberries, walnuts and feta. Perfect for early spring! 

To combat the winter blues, we do love to cook with and for each other.  In 2009, we recorded a podcast doing just that- the first in a series of dinner parties we recorded. I am so glad we did, because I loved listening to it again!  Pumpkin was our featured ingredient during this dinner, and so we have recipes for pumpkin sage sauce for pasta and pumpkin pie, as well as gardening tips and fun facts about the Cucurbita pepo.

In 2010, there were NO recipes posted during the month of March.  There was, however, a little veggie garden prep post that may help get you excited about your own veggie garden.  What are you all planting this year?

I do love a dinner party, and loved remembering this breakfast- for- dinner superfun time in 2011 when we made pancakes of all kinds (superfluffy ones, gluten free ones and vegan ones too!)  Recipes for all, pancakes for all!

Happy March, everyone! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Virginia CSA!

Just got word of this last night from the folks at Sprout Richmond:

The Richmond region is blossoming this spring with yet another new CSA… here are some words about Crumptown Farm straight from the source...
“Crumptown Farm is the place naturally good food calls home! We are a small, family farm located in Buckingham County, the Heart of Central Virginia. Our land is 100% chemical free and our produce is raised from non-GMO, chemical free seeds in our own greenhouse. All of the seeds that we begin with are either untreated or Certified Organic. We select many Heirloom varieties as well. We are passionate about bringing our customers Certified Naturally Grown vegetables of the highest quality possible. Our methods include soil enrichment by encouraging microbial life, Japanese Natural Farming techniques, cover cropping and providing beneficial insect habitat. Taste, freshness and nutritionally rich produce grown using natural methods are our main goals.”
To learn more about Crumptown Farm and how to become a member,  visit
Sprout Richmond is an all volunteer food advocacy group and consultant service that is committed to the growth and success of local, sustainable, artisanal farming & food production serving the Richmond, VA metro region.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 28th- You're invited!

Come see what the Food Policy Task Force has been working on, and add your voice to food policy in Richmond, VA!  There is only room for 250 people, so please register early.  These community forums are an integral part of the policy process- and your input will be highly valued.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Seed Starting and Hardening off For Spring Veggies

If you haven't gotten going already, now's the time to start sowing seeds indoors for your crops like tomatoes and peppers which usually require about 6-8 weeks from sowing to transplanting to the garden.  There's also still time to start some cool season crops like lettuce, cabbage, and cauliflower. For all the above crops, transplanting works well and 65 degrees is within the optimum range for germination soil temperature.  This makes starting the seeds indoors a good way to save some money and get a jump on the growing season.  You can quick start some seeds by soaking them in a shallow container of warm water over night, or by wrapping them in a wet paper towel and enclosing them in  a clear plastic bag for a couple days until you see the first root sprout.
For best results use a sterile growing media, and plug trays or cell packs that keep seedlings separated and thus fungal diseases contained.  Keep soil moist, but not too wet. 
Plants need sunlight to grow, but it's actually light from the blue range of the spectrum that makes plants grow the best. For this reason a simple fluorescent light bulb offers plenty of quality growing light for your starts.  Light from the green part of the spectrum is completely reflected by the plants (why they look green to us) and so is unhelpful to the photosynthetic process. As I just learned from my Certified Horticulturist manual, red light when combined with blue light is best for encouraging flowering, and so the grow bulbs you can purchase are a combination of and blue light but not necessary for starting seedlings. Some crops such as radish, peas, spinach and Swiss chard will do best by direct sowing once temperatures allow, or within the cover of  a cold-frame.
Don't let your seedlings stay in their plug trays or cell packs too long-  they will become weak and leggy.  Before moving your seedlings outside, you need to go through the process of "hardening off."  At least two weeks before planting your indoor starts, begin cutting back on watering and reducing the temperature for your cool season crops by taking seedlings to a shady spot outside on days with little wind and temperatures above 45 degrees.  The shade is important to keep them from scorching in the direct sunlight. This process helps build up carbohydrates and the protective cell walls of the leaf and stem tissue.  It's these thickened cell walls that will help protect your plants from sun scaled, wind damage, and colder temperatures.  Plant according to the seed packet instructions and fertilize with a mild liquid fertilizer.  I like to use fish emulsion.   Happy Growing!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Show the love for Pizza Tonight!

Y'all know we love Pizza Tonight, and you KNOW we love all things (most things) local, so here's a chance for you to love them too!  Right now, Pizza Tonight has a Kickstarter campaign, raising money to expand their vendor list to local farmers and producers.

As if helping a local business expand is not wonderful enough, their thank you gifts are extremely generous (and all involve pizza!)  So check 'em out today, and help Pizza Tonight expand!