Friday, January 25, 2013

Best Potato and Leek Soup!

It seems lately that all I want to make is soup.  I finally made one worthy of writing about.   I started preparing for this soup a day ahead of time.  I prepped the leeks and fennel, stored them in Tupperware and made the stock.  For the stock I used the fennel greens as well as the bottom and outer most layer of the bulb.  I also used the tender interior portion of the leeks that can be uncovered when the top, dark half of the foliage is removed and discarded.  The stock had 6 cloves of garlic that were going dry/soft, 1 yellow onion cut in half, some kale stems, one large carrot, handful of parsley stems, 4 deseeded apple cores, bay leaf, salt and a turkey leg- covered in water, brought to a boil and then allowed to simmer for over two hours.  The flavor of this broth seemed perfect for the soup I wanted to make.

For the soup:

You'll need...

4 tablespoons butter
3 med. leeks (clean, remove dark foliage, cut in have lengthwise and slice about 1/4 in thick. Soak sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water washing away any grit or dirt. Rinse, repeat in fresh water- and drain.)
1 small tom med.  fennel bulb with stems ( remove fronds, chop both bulb and stems.)
1 Large yellow onion- chopped
4 small to medium red or golden potatoes (about 1/2 of skin pealed, and sliced very thin) 
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
fresh ground pepper

Prep fennel, leeks, and onion.  Melt butter in large pot and add the leeks, fennel, and onion with about 1.5 teaspoons salt and some fresh ground pepper.  Cook until soft- but not browned... about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Near the end of their cook time prep the potatoes.
Add a small amount of broth using it to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add all the potatoes, season them with salt and pepper then and the 5 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for another 25 minutes.  Blend about 1/2 of the solids in the liquid.   ( You can blend all of the solids if you like,  but I enjoy the mix of creaminess and the separate flavors of the different vegetables.)

I serve with andouille sausage on the side.

Aults Family Farm -shutting the farm down...

 Ault's Family Farm, one of our very favorite meat producers, has just sent out the letter below to those on their e-mail list.  So very sad to see them go...
Hey folks,
We wanted to bring you up to speed on what's happening with Ault's Family Farm. For the last couple years Chris and I have been working hard trying to make a living off the farm. Throughout each year we sit down and go over the books to see where we stand on profit and losses and if we are behind we rethink how we are running the farm and conducting business with our customers. As of the end of this year we are still in the red and the farm has not paid us a dime. We produced more this year than we ever have and had a record selling year. For that, we thank you. But due mainly to the increase in grain and gas prices we have decided to shut the farm down and just become a sustainable farm growing for ourselves until we can again rethink how we can make the farm profitable. We hope to ramp up our bee operation and increase our lamb and beef production.  We'll grow hogs for ourselves and may have a few extra to sell. So in saying all of that, we will miss you all and all of our fellow farmers and vendors. Stay tuned for future updates on the farm.  There may be a work shop or two coming up, lots of projects that we will be doing that may interest some of you. We may look into custom growing but for now just work, work, work and catch up on some of the things that need attention on the farm.
It is our hope for you all to have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2013.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The RFC Blog : Five Years Brings Changes for You and The RFC

The RFC was started with a short "We Love Food" post in January of  2008.  Back then we were a gang of three and totally new to the Richmond local food scene. The Richmond Area Food Systems Council (RAFSC) of which we became members was not yet established. Erin bemoaned the lack of a Richmond Slow Food Chapter . (The nearest Slow Food chapter would be Charlottesville for a couple more years.) Tricycle Gardens was gaining momentum. The Mayors Food Policy Council where Erin would eventually serve was just pie in the sky, and the wonderful William Byrd House Market was the only RVA area farmers market outside of the old 17th st. market.

We felt a bit like pioneers when we launched this blog, and it definitely has taken us into new territory.  Erin wrote for Edible Chesapeake as did Natalie.  In the summer of 2008 we hosted our first RFC event, an outdoor film viewing and tomato tasting that brought out 75 people.  Some wonderful people who we met for the first time that night quickly became our very close friends. We did the RVA mash up, (Please don't look this one up.) and were contacted by countless job seekers, farmers, producers, reporters, and interested readers who wanted to know where they might find that particular ingredient, farming job or help.  We were awed by the response, and took the task of providing information  seriously. 

We all worked outdoors as gardeners and farmers.  None of us had smart phones or day time access to computers.  We would get off work and then get to work.  Natalie's local food writing career took off and the former math major, and organic farm worker  took off for graduate school in creative writing.  Before long Erin and I were doing live (action) T.V. spots for 'Virginia This Morning' on channel six.  I feel I can call it live action when one who has never been on live t.v. before must prepare five recipes and is told to chop apples with a chef's knife while maintaining a quick pace and sensible conversation!

Erin was there to help manage the very first year of the South of the James Market.  The next year she worked with Saint Stephen's Church to create the St. Stephen's Market, and eventually their winter Market.  We attended dinners and lectures. We read dozens of books and cookbooks, taught cooking classes, did demos at markets, worked with the fabulous new Slow Food chapter , cooked food for Tricycle Gardens and  traveled to farms, restaurants, wineries, markets, breweries, kitchens, and gardens to learn all we could about our local food system. 

RFC gals Cat Hulbert, Shannon Smith, and Erin Wright

Year by year we educated ourselves, and hopefully provided some helpful information and needed inspiration to our readers. The last  five years been a time of tremendous growth for small organic farms, sustainable meat producers, food co-ops, on-line local food ordering services, restaurants that serve some degree of  local produce, cideries, breweries, wineries, and yes farmers markets.  Five years ago there was one farmers market in town that spoke to the local/ sustainable food scene.  Today there are fourteen area markets all filled with different vendors, and we have found it more than a little difficult to keep up! The latest addition... The Cary Street Farmer's Market has yet to make it onto to our list of Local Farmer's Markets.

 RFC gals Shannon, Casey Freeman, and Erin get a private tour of Twin Oaks Tofu

The local food/ sustainable food flag has been flown by the likes of Channel 12, and the Richmond Times Dispatch.  Numbers of RVA Food Blogs, and local food blogs have appeared as well.  In the mean time we have added a few wonderfully smart and fantastically interesting writers into the mix and all have found the act of keeping up with the scope of this blog daunting.  My 'day job' as Horticulturist at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has grown and taken up a good deal more time-, and Erin.... well if you read this blog then you know she's had her hands overflowingly full with the work of starting up her own green grocery with a focus on fresh, local products and produce of course! Visit Little House Green Grocery to learn more.

This post marks our 900th.  It also marks a point in our lives where we have less time and there is so much more wonderful local food news with which to keep up.  I guess we just want to fess up and say we are changing and clearly are no-longer able to maintain a highly current/ update local food and local food events blog.
   We have had so much fun and met so many tremendously fantastic people- and we know we will continue to do so.  We still will be here to post when we can find the time to share what inspires us.  The blog and all of it's 900 post will still be here if you need that perfect roll or cookie recipe from Alma, or idea for a Day Trip. You can still read our most visited post ever...  My Love Affair with October Beans.  We certainly don't feel that there's not more work to do, only we need to figure out the best ways for each of us to get it done.  Here's to new adventures, new friends and our loyal readers.  We love you all even more than we love food-
 Cat, Casey, Erin, Shannon, and Rachel- at our first "photo shoot".

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shalom Farms Third Annual Fall Farm Dinner

An invitation from our friends at Shalom Farms:

For the 3rd year in a row Todd Johnson of Mezzanine will be preparing a 4 course meal sourced from the finest local ingredients to support the work of Shalom Farms. Join us on Monday, November 19th, at Mezzanine (3433 W. Cary St.  ) to celebrate the fall harvest, reflect on what we have achieved in 2012, and look to the work ahead in 2013. Chef Johnson will be creating hors d'oeuvres and a four course prix fixe meal highlighting this season's harvest at Shalom Farms, Origins Farm (formerly Victory Farms), Manakintowne Specialty Growers and Tuckahoe Lamb and Cattle Co. among others. Tickets are $55, $45 of which is tax deductible. The price includes tax, gratuity and non-alcoholic beverages. Cash bar and vegetarian options available. All proceeds benefit Shalom Farms, an initiative of United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond. Tickets available at or by  calling 804.592.6151.

About Shalom Farms and United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond: Begun by UMUMR in the fall of 2008, Shalom Farms is a nonprofit community farm project with the overarching goal of increasing food security in the Richmond region, particularly in low-income urban neighborhoods. A collaboration with many diverse and expert partners, the project is attaining its goal by: 1) providing fresh and healthy produce to underserved communities; 2) providing educational training to children and adults on growing food, nutrition, and food-based entrepreneurship; and 3) linking community groups to a wide range of food security resources and partners. In 2012 more the 3,000 children and families will help grow 45k lbs of organic produce for Richmond's most vulnerable populations while learning about sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and food justice. More info at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tricycle Garden's 4th annual Harvest Celebration and Golden Trowel Award

It is that time again!

Join the fine folks at Tricycle Gardens for their 4th Annual Harvest Celebration and Golden Trowel Awards

November 9, 2012 
6:00 - 10:00 pm
Tickets are $50.00 and are available at
Main Street Station
1500 East Main Street, Richmond, VA

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Foode in Fredricksburg!

Foode (pronounced Foodie) is an amazingly good new spot in Fredricksburg, Va.  Okay, so it's not so new, but fairly new.. and it's only been within the last month or so that they were able to add the outdoor seating (nearly doubling their tables) that makes this a really fun dining experience beyond the food.
The Pin n' Fig - one of my friend Jody's favorites at Foode

This past Tuesday I took a day trip to Fredericksburg with some friends/ volunteers that help me out at the garden.  Our day trip started out with a tour of Belmont ( Gari Melchers home and studio) and its gardens since one of my volunteers moonlights as a volunteer for Belmont.  The art work is worth the visit in itself, the grounds and home were lovely and I felt like I made a new friend with the head gardener there.  
Tour done, and we were famished (or so it felt) so we headed straight to Historic Downtown Fredericksburg for lunch.  
Once heavy on tourist type fair this area is gaining some great food spots.   Our original intention was to check out The Gazebo at Fredericksburg .. a sort of "pop up" restaurant ... only it's not the location that changes but whether they will actually be there or not. In our case it said it was... but it was not.  You can check out their facebook page for times.   Our host- a Fredericksburgian-.assured us that if the Gazebo was not open she had a fantastic place to eat that we would love.  She was right.

 Linda went with the Black Bean Burger- house made.. it was delicious, as is the potato salad. I have had so many poor potato salads of late I don't order it anymore.  This was delicious.  Also.. a nod to the presentation here. 

Roasted Beet Salad

I ,of course,  went with two plates instead of just one. The roasted beet salad was really interesting and completely delicious with smoked pistachios, arugula micro greens, Rustica lemon cheese, and pickled red onion tossed in a light vinaigrette. Foode's menu changes frequently so this exact beet salad was not to be found on their lunch menu just a week later.  That said, everything we tried was tasty, and I'd like to go back soon just so sample whats new.

Beverages served in canning jars, and signage made from pallets add to the charm.

The chicken salad sandwich included a golden rasion aioli  and was so good I insisted on a to go box for my left overs despite being stuffed to the gills and hours away from refrigeration.  Plus, I knew I would have to carry this box around with me for the rest of the day.  No matter- it was not going to go to waste! We walked the shops along Caroline St. in Old Town Frederiksburg, checking out the wine shop, The Griffin coffee house and book store, a build your own cupcake shop, antique shops, and on and a on..It was totally worth the save-  Just as this little day trip is totally worth the drive. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple time again!

Apples are practically falling off the trees into your bushel at Carter Mountain right now, go get 'em people! (RFC visits here.)

Right now they have Golden Delicious and Jonagolds (my personal favorite) with new varieties coming all the time.

I've been working this week on Apple sauce and Apple butter. (All from this book) And I'm still up to my elbows...

If you need some more delicious inspiration for all that bounty, look here. For now, back to the kitchen!