Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Broadfork Farm

I have been traveling quite a bit this summer, trying to meet as many Little House vendors as possible, and also trying to see as much of this beautiful region as possible before I am at the store all day, every day.  I had only heard of Broadfork Farm because of their biodynamic practices, gorgeous produce and tasty bread.  This farm is only in its second year, but boy to they have some fans!
Dan and Janet and their youngest
Dan and Janet moved to Janet's childhood home in Chesterfield county, cleared several acres, and now farm year round.  They even grow salad mixes mid- summer and mid- winter, along with several plantings of heirloom tomatoes, peppers and other tasty veggies.

Their whole front yard is full of flowers for market!
 Their farm is so neat and impressively productive- especially considering that we visited at the end of the hottest July I can remember.  I loved hearing how they incorporate the biodynamic calendar and preparations into their growing practices, making this conscious farm beyond organic.
We ate okra straight off the plant!
Plus, Dan and Janet are super fun, making us wish we could return for one of their pizza parties around their wood fired oven!  These industrious folks are building a second, larger oven because demand for their bread has gotten to be so great.  I cannot wait to try it.
Janet and the Malabar spinach
You can get beautiful produce, flowers and bread from Broadfork Farm at the South of the James and Brandermill markets through October (and hopefully at Little House Green Grocery, whenever it opens!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Everona Dairy

Last week, Shannon and I traveled to northwestern Virginia for a tour of Everona Dairy.  

Everona is one of the only sheep's milk dairies in VA, and boy, do they make fantastic cheese.  Flavorful and sophisticated but without pretense, their cheese consistently wins awards, yet is not easy to find in RVA.  I, of course, am hoping they'll sell at Little House...
Our tour included a look behind the scenes- this kitty watched over the milking line.

This kitty watched over the new lambs.

Just as an aside, wool makes a fantastic mulch.  Who knew?

The cheese is absolutely incredible.  These are aged cheeses, with characteristics of asiago (Piedmont) or reggiano (Stonyman).  The Marble is so classic, with its vein of blue prompted by a layer of ash pressed into the cheese.
Look at that gorgeous blue!  
You can visit Everona Dairy by setting up an appointment.   Learn what goes into cheese making, straight from the farm!

"We are producing award-winning sheep's milk cheese - aged, washed-rind, and unpasteurized.  As simple as it gets.  It is exciting to introduce people to the complexities of good cheese.  We are trying to "spread the word" bite by bite.  Always looking for ways to improve our products, at Everona we strive to continue the tradition of artisan cheesemaking techniques while keeping up with the growing demand for local, farmstead cheeses."

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Life Changing" Grilled Watermelon!

Okay,  I know it sounds crazy.  The kids were seriously concerned.   "But your making the watermelon Ha-ot" was heard as we laid it to the fire. After all, watermelon is the perfect summer food.  Sweet, crisp, cool and refreshingly juicy, a good watermelon is hard to beat.  That said, everyone, and I mean everyone from my always pessimistic mother to the Summer Thanksgiving crowd thought this stuff was delicious.  I can't take credit for making this stuff up.  I found the recipe in a copy of Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living ( for the record the later has all sorts of great southern food stuffs) while lounging poolside.  It was kismet!  I happened to have brought a watermelon with me and grilled it up that very night.  The result is a caramelized, warm, buttery treat that's totally unexpected.  My uncle said, "It taste like bacon."  Others actually uttered phrases such as "life changing" and "I have been waiting for this"- as in for my whole life. I can't promise you'll have the same reaction, and all this build up may be too much, but it was worth making more than once in a few week stretch. 

Here's the deal:
Cut a ripe watermelon into 1" thick wedges leaving the rind on.
Brush both sides of each wedge with olive oil.
Grill on med. heat for about 3 minutes per side or till you start to see a caramel color developing.
Remove from heat, let cool slightly as you add a couple squeezes of fresh lime, and some cayenne to taste.
Make sure it's not too hot and enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wanted: Grocery Store

On a recent trip to southwest VA, we passed a vacant grocery with this sign in the window:

It was definitely the saddest sign we'd ever seen.  The grocery had shelves and checkout lines, but no food or people.  We heard later that the store has been that way for years. Vacant and longing.

So, I can only feel so guilty for being so completely obsessed with creating a green grocery in my neighborhood.  It is all I feel like I am capable of talking about, thinking about or working towards. On a recent trip to see my brother in Austin, (on my vacation) I asked him to take me on a tour of their neighborhood market.  We took many photos and asked strange questions to the staff regarding square footage and traffic.

Here I am, camera in hand, considering the Farm to Market produce display in Austin.

Recently, Jess and I took a trip exclusively to look at small groceries in Virginia.  Our first stop was Greenwood Gourmet Grocery in Crozet.  This lovely store has perfect picnic items for your next trip on Skyline Drive, or fancy camping trip.  We even happened upon a wine tasting there with Kirsty Harmon, the winemaker at Blenheim Vineyards.  This was a happy place for me- so charming and packed full of beautiful food and wine.
Greenwood Gourmet Grocery has pantry staples and fun treats, many from Virginia!

Staunton has two groceries we wanted to check out.  Cranberry's Grocery and Eatery has all kinds of health food items, supplements and vitamins as well as produce, meat and dairy.  This region is so rich in agricultural gifts, the grocery can easily source from several farms.

Kathleen, the owner of Cranberry's, bought me breakfast at the eatery and we talked shop.  I was so relieved that after nine years of being a small grocery owner, she said she'd do it all over again.  The 'adventure', as she called it, clearly made her happy.  This was such good news for me, as I am still on the other side of the looking glass, wondering what happens once you leap.

Cranberry's Grocery and Eatery is a lovely spot with fantastic coffee and delicious food for every eater!
We also checked out George Bowers Grocery while we were there.  This fun nightspot would be exactly where I'd want to hang out if I lived in Staunton.  Brian talked to us for hours in his shop, which is in a gorgeous converted school. He, too, was a very happy business owner, full of stories and recommendations and very sage advice.  Plus, he makes a mean hummus plate!

Jess and Brian at George Bowers
I am so grateful to all of the business owners (including my dentist) who have indulged my endless questions, (I swear, I am in the toddler phase of small business) and to my friends and family who are so supportive in this great adventure.  Thanks to our wonderful neighbors as well, who have wanted a grocery store and are enthusiastic about its potential.  We cannot wait to bring it to you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


We made these for our summer thanksgiving party on the 4th of July, and they were amazing. Life- altering, consciousness- changing, enlightening- delicious. We did add the cayenne to the brown sugar 'cause that's how we do, but I hope you get to try it either way- straight sweet or with some heat!
S'Meaches from Claire Thomas on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RFC Throwback: June and July

Gracious me, it is July already!  June was swallowed whole by the i.e.* Startup Competition so I did not post much of anything, much less a throwback for June.  I hope lumping these two months together will be inspirational for y'all- tomatoes and berries and peaches are abundant, and we've all been waiting for that!

June of 2008- Dress your table with these Edible Flowers

Think salads are out for the rest of the summer?  Think again!  This post on hearty greens  from June of 2009make fantastic options for summer salads. Look for young leaves at the markets, and keep them in mind while planning next year's garden.

More flower eating in July 2009!  This time, stuffed squash blossoms.  I love this recipe, and make it every year when the blossoms are in season!  

There are loads of recipes hidden in the archives of June 2010.  This coleslaw recipe from Shannon is the perfect side dish and summer pot luck contribution!

I'll bet this photo from July 2010 cools you off!  Dark blue and purple shades of eggplant, basil, potatoes and blackberries- very nice.

In June of 2011, we welcomed a new writer for the RFC, Rachel Rees.  Rachel and her husband Rob have a fantastic northside garden.  In this post, Rachel gives us the ins and outs of harvesting and storage of homegrown garlic, potatoes and shallots.

July of 2011 was chock full of wonderful recipes as well!  Check out the archive for Casey's corn and melon salsa recipe, my favorite salsa verde and Shannon's chocolate cherry brownies.  YUM!

Enjoy the bounty, y'all!