Friday, April 27, 2012
I really enjoyed the housemade gnocchi at Tastebuds, followed by housemade a vanilla ice cream. Come people, get out there eat some food, support a good cause and our local businesses at the same time - enjoy!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
|Spring veggie garden|
I am so in love with the podcasts we used to do! In 2009, we did recorded several dinner parties with featured seasonal ingredients. This one is all about fennel- one of our all time favorite veggies! Listen in for Virginia wine notes, and three dishes using fennel (soup salad, and shortbread!)
|Feast for the eyes and the belly|
I loved this place. It can be a bit hectic, so it may not be the right spot for a quite restful meal, but if your up for a bit of deli-market style energy then you will be well rewarded. The amount of delicious food that surrounds you, wines and hard ciders you can't find in Richmond, the cheese counter, the olives and olive oils, candies and chocolates, and packages of prepared foods made with local eggs, chicken, dairy and greens, all give you plenty to look at while you wait for your own meal to be served.
And, in April of 2011, Casey wrote her first post for the RFC on a visit to the Homestead Creamery. We are so glad she joined us!!
Happy, happy April all!!
Delivery truckThe kids were able to bottle feed a young calf just recently weaned from his mother, and Donnie described the workings of the farm.100 cows are raised on grass. In the winter months their diet is supplemented with corn and wheat raised on the farm. As we toured the milking building my son was disappointed we couldnt see the cows being milked... until we realized the first milking is at 4am! Donnie walked us through the milking process and the simple but impressively labor intensive process they repeat twice daily.
Monday, April 23, 2012
With fresh eggs and fresh chard in abundance, it seemed a great time to make one of our favorite weekend breakfast, or week day dinner treats... a frittata. Frittatas are one of those wonderful quick concoctions that works with a wide range of ingredients. If you have eggs and some fresh greens or vegetables, you've likely got the fixings for a good frittata. Cheese, garlic, onions, shallots, herbs and spices can be mixed and added to suit what produce you've got on hand.
Frittata for Two:
(This makes a hearty breakfast for two, or a respectable lighter meal for four. )
1 large bunch swiss chard, stems removed
3 med. cloves garlic
6 -8 white button mushrooms
Parmesan, or other cheese
Pinch of marjoram
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Crack the for eggs into a bowl and beat together with a fork incorporating a pinch of salt, fresh group pepper and marjoram. Using a large, seasoned cast iron skillet on medium heat add a little olive oil and a good pat of butter. Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes, and then add the garlic. Within a minute or so, before the garlic starts to brown add the chard to wilt. The moisture from the leaves should be enough to keep the garlic from browning. As soon as the chard is wilted (1-2 minutes) spread the ingredients even across the bottom. You may need to add another pat of butter or a little oil to make sure that the eggs don't stick to the pan. Pour the eggs over top. Do not stir!! Let cook for a minute or so until eggs are set on the bottom. Quickly remove from heat and grate a little parmesan on top. Place the skillet into the oven on the middle rack. Keeping careful watch, remove from the oven once the eggs have fully set (about 5-7 minutes). Let cool for a minute and use a spatula to cut down the middle of the pan. Plate up with fresh warm bread, oven fries, or fried potatoes.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with the enormous bag of chard stems I couldn't bring my self to toss out! Chard stem and carrot soup?? hmm...I don't know...
Saturday, April 21, 2012
|Megan and a gigantic tomato!|
Tell us a little about Horse and Buggy.
Horse & Buggy Produce works with local farmers in the Shenandoah Valley and around Central Virginia to bring our subscribers the best, freshest, and tastiest local produce every week. We started in 2006 by Brett Wilson, and from those humble beginnings, we now serve customers in Richmond, Charlottesville, Crozet, and Lynchburg. We work primarily with a small, Old-Order Mennonite community in the Shenadoah Valley. We provide weekly and bi-weekly produce subscriptions for local food lovers, in addition to products like pastured eggs, beef, poultry, pork, and trout; baked goods like granola and bread; and local artisanal cheeses, tofu, bread, pasta, spices, and other products. We are really dedicated to local food, local farmers, and local artisans, and try to make our products as accessible as possible. We offer home delivery for just $2.90 per delivery; we'll bring it right to your door, and our shares start at around $25 a week.
What is your job description?
Heh, I always struggle with that one. How about: Social media guru / marketing / public speaking / personal chef / delivery driver / saleslady. I'd been a subscriber for several years when I moved to Richmond last August. I was talking to Brett Wilson, founder and owner, one day at the JCC pickup in Richmond, and commenting how wonderful it was that we could simply switch our pickup sites, and not have to find a new service. He mentioned that if I was ever interested in helping H&BP find new customers in Richmond, he could use the help. I said, "well, actually, I'm looking for a job". He said "well, seriously, I'm looking for someone in Richmond to work for us." I said "well, SERIOUSLY, I'm looking for a job". Once we decided we were both serious, we got to talking, and I started working remotely for Horse & Buggy Produce here, in a range of capacities. So far, I've developed our communications with customers, revised our website, activated our facebook page, and started blogging. Plus some public appearances, talking to groups, and helping to find delivery organizers. Oh and so much more, I can't write it all here. That's pretty much the way Horse & Buggy works. The other women who work full time for us, Masha and Carly, would have similarly difficult times explaining their job titles. The organization really does function like a family, and everyone does a whole lot of things. There's truly no job too big or too small... One week, I'll be in a suit speaking to a large company about making Horse & Buggy Produce available at their location, and the next week, there are 40 watermelons in the trunk of my 1998 Mazda sedan. Seriously. 40. (I have pictures.) It's a wonder there are any shocks left in that thing.
What makes Horse and Buggy different than other subscription services?
#1: We're more convenient. Because we work with a community of farmers, we're able to be more flexible with customers. So, for instance, you can start or stop anytime you want. Sign up in the middle of the season, or the last 2 weeks. And in fact, we're moving to a year-round model this year, so the idea of a "season" will disappear. You simply activate your account when you want, and deactivate it when you don't.
You can choose to miss deliveries. If you're going on vacation to Bermuda (or Florida, or Wisconsin, whatever), just login to your online account, tell us what dates you'll be out of town, and you won't receive your shares that week, and you won't be charged.
We also allow folks to swap up to 1 item each week for something else. If you REALLY don't like beets, you just let the office know you'd like more of something else. No problem.
#2: We deliver. Yum. Yes. If you want to come to our pickup site at the JCC each thursday and pick out your produce, you can still do that. But we will also deliver to your home for less than $3 each week. That's a box of produce on your doorstep. No driving or shopping. Right now, we offer delivery in The Fan/Museum District, Carytown, West End, Forest Hill/Woodland Heights, and Bon Air. We hope to be able to expand to Church Hill and Ginter Park/Northside in the coming months. If anyone out there is interested in helping us do deliveries in their neighborhood, we pay in groceries. It usually takes 1-2 hours per week, and most of our organizers make enough to offset at least half of their share cost.
#3: We're not a CSA. CSA is a term that's thrown about a bit easily in the local food community, and we want to be clear. Horse & Buggy Produce is not a single farm. We really do work with an entire community of farmers and it's one of our biggest assets. Working with many farmers means that we can provide GREAT variety each week, and our customers don't bear the risk of farmers, as in a traditional CSA.
I mentioned the Mennonite community we work with. All of these farmers are small plot farmers, growing a variety of crops, and before 2006, many of them didn't have a way to get their produce to buyers. (Remember: some of these folks still use horse and buggies to get around!) Without a way to distribute their produce, in 2006, the community came together and created a "community auction", where farmers come together several times a week in a big outdoor pavilion, wholesale buyers from nearby gather, and they auction their produce. We see these farmers every week, visit their farms, and have created long term, lasting relationships with them. We see their kids at the auction. We drink coffee and have lunch with them. Most importantly, the entire community has dedicated itself to the auction. Farmers won't make outside deals with buyers. They'll insist on sending it through the auction block, and that means that farmers get the best price for their crops, and no single farmer gets all the business. The entire community benefits from this arrangement. The entire community and local economy rise together. It's inspiring.
What do you love about Horse and Buggy?
Oh gosh, so many things. The food is fantastic, beautiful, freakin' delicious, and local. I love that we really try to stay true to the "homegrown" experience. We really do have personal relationships with all the farmers we work with. When I went to the auction last fall, I was amazed by the success of what I saw: a cooperative economy. All the wholesale buyers know one another, they see each other every week. They tease one another on who got best price on corn last week, or who's gonna grab that killer flat of heirloom tomatoes. And the farmers and buyers mix freely; they know one another personally. It was just astounding to see how powerfully thinking as a community can benefit so many people at once. I really think it is cooperative capitalism at it's best.
Also, have I mentioned the food. Cabbages the size of basketballs, lima beans as long as your hand (I'm a lima bean convert), bibb lettuce that looks like it's been groomed by a food photographer. And the eggs? Oy. Don't get me started. Ultimately, it comes down to this: the flexibility is great, delivery is convenient, the prices are really, really reasonable, and I feel all warm and fuzzy about those Mennonites that I'm supporting. But what keeps me coming every year: the taste.
What does the future of local food in Richmond look like?
It's an interesting question. It's certainly a bright future; lots of providers, lots of farmers, lots of community activists. I'm particularly excited for the city's work of local food in schools, and looking at access to fresh and local foods for all city residents. I think the fact that we have half a dozen markets in the the city limits during the growing season is testament to the city's excitement about local food. Here's the thing: Richmond is a big city. Local food is affordable. As the number of CSAs, food clubs, and farmer's markets grow, I really continue to be convinced: there's room for everyone. There's enough for everyone to have a piece of the economic pie. Because everyone, EVERYONE in Richmond, should be able to have high quality, fresh food, available to them. That's the ultimate goal.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I have (in my lazy gardening) come across a lovely discovery! Let that cilantro grow!
There are three reasons for this:
One- aren't those flowers sweet?
Two- if it self seeds, you will have cilantro as cilantro in the fall. (And if it never freezes, you can harvest the leaves all winter!)
Three- If you harvest the seed, (which for some reason changes the spice's name to coriander) you can use it to add perfumey elements to indian, middle eastern and mexican foods. I toast it with cumin seed, crush it, and keep it on hand to add to anything I'd normally use cumin in.
Friday, April 13, 2012
This year has been especially rewarding because it is the third year of our asparagus patch. An asparagus patch is kind of like a savings account. You start it, then you wait and watch it grow. In year one we saw a few spears pop up. Then, in year two, we saw a few more. Now in year three year we are in the money –well, err, in the asparagus! We've been enjoying asparagus by the bundles. Well worth the wait!
Our asparagus and other recently harvested spring treats
(radishes and broccoli florets- nom, nom)
If you don’t have an established asparagus patch, right now you can swing by Ellwood’s to snag some local asparagus, also available now at your local Farmers’ Market. Of course, purchasing is more expensive than plucking out of your garden, but now is the best time. Asparagus is best when fresh, like super fresh. So, with asparagus season ending soon, make sure you grab some from a friend’s garden or pick some up at the market, and get cookin’!
Ellwood's Current Asapargus Source: Emporia, VA
(72 miles outside of RVA)
I like to do almost nothing to my asparagus. I like to cut into ¼ inch diagonal strips, sauté briefly in olive oil, add garlic. That’s it, yo. Sometimes I combine with pasta or spaghetti squash with black pepper, salt, and a little grated parmesan cheese. Or, another favorite is to drizzle with olive oil and broil for 5 minutes (or until lightly browned and golden). Finish with cracked pepper and kosher salt. Need a say more?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Tomten Farm is new to the Richmond area, taking over what was Fertile Crescent farm out in Green Bay VA. I wanted to introduce ourselves (Brian and Autumn) and the farm to you all. We are both new to the area, last year we farmed up north in Madison County and before that way up north.
Tomten Farm has 2.5 acres dedicated to annual vegetable production, offering a wide array of organically grown produce and herbs for local markets, restaurants, and our CSA shares. Our goal is to offer high quality, excellent tasting produce for people who love to cook. While focused on produce, we will also be raising poultry for meat on our pastures throughout the farm. Chickens (Red Ranger, Red Broiler, or Freedom Ranger) will be available June through November. Ducks (Muscovy) and turkeys (Broad Brested Bronze) will be available in the Fall.
Although we are new, we are trying to get the word out about our Community Supported Agriculture shares, as we are growing over 50 different crops, from the expected to the unusual, using natural and sustainable methods. Brian and I share over 10 years of experience involved in farming and food and we are hoping to find members who love to experiment in the kitchen with fabulous tasting and exciting produce. We will be starting our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares the 2nd week of May with two pickup options in Richmond: Byrd House market on Tuesdays and South of the James market on Saturdays. If you'd like to sign up or have any questions about Tomten Farm and CSA, contact Brian and Autumn via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 434.392.1896.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Cathy Churcher ; Chocolate Cravings : Super yummy chocolate bars, Guinness brownies and seasonal specialties like peanut butter filled eggs sold through farmer's markets, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden gift shop, and by special order from her shop on lakeside avenue.
Kelly Walker ; Chocolates By Kelly : Out'a sight salted caramels, liquor filled cordials and more. She even has a Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar with menu suggestions. Made in her shop on Forest Hill Avenue, you can find them at Once Upon A Vine South, Elwood Thompsons, Quirk Gallery and other area shops.
Tim Gearhart ; Gearhart's Chocolates: The original Store on Main st. in Charlottesville is where all the chocolates are made daily. The perhaps three year old store just off of Grove Ave. allows us to enjoy their chocolate truffles and chocolate covered orange peels a bit more regularly.
Anyone we missed? Please let us know!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
|This is a weird photo, I know. I am using my phone until I get a real, grown up blogger's camera. Any recommendations?|
*I think this would be so good with greens, and perhaps with the cheese tossed with the bread before the topping is added. Just a thought- let me know if you try it!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
|Our circa 19?? 'Brown' Stove|
|Willie and Friends|
Located in the lobby of the GRCC building, the downtown Olio location is hidden from plain sight, and is a smart re-purposing of a space that appears to have once been a cafeteria. But, this not cafeteria food, I assure you.
Olio’s deal is they combine old world products and local options. I say, "Yum!" The downtown option sticks to that concept. The menu mainly consists of salad and sandwiches, things that you can grab and go. All their sides are made daily. They even have local OG chicken. Now, come on, that's pretty dope.
They have a salad bar that’s available daily, complete with local options, fresh fruit, dolmades, and various and sundry bean-based salads. In fact, I looked at the menu and there are over 13 references to locally-sourced and/or organic foods. Two thumbs up, Olio!
In their cold case, they have little cups of protein and pasta for your enjoyment. I love this idea. I like to get a combo and toss them together to make my own invention. For instance, on Friday I went for garlicly kale, organic chicken, and cranberry cous cous.
And for those days that beckon a coffee-bump + a sweet, they have freshly baked cookies and an espresso bar. These cookies are tasty, let me just say. Note: the espresso bar is open from 7am - 10am.
So, downtowners, go and give Olio some love! And if all this isn't reason enough, if you are a state or federal employee they'll offer you a bit of a discount...come on, this is pretty grand. Enjoy!