Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lion's Mane Mushrooms

Pulled Lion's Mane Mushroom

I mentioned in my last post that this week I was going to try the Lion's Mane Mushroom. Well, try I did. I got my lion's mane mushroom from Steve Haas, of HaaShrooms at Saint Stephen's Market. He sells a a variety of mushrooms depending on the season. This past Saturday, I bought one lion's mane mushroom for $5. That's one mushroom for $5. I also bought a small handful of oyster mushrooms for the same price. I was willing to pay the money just to try this mushroom at least once. Also, I had tried the Chicken Of The Woods mushroom he sold in late summer and loved those ( Steve says those are his personal favorite).

Steve told me the bright white mushroom in my little ziplock bag would pull like crab meat, and even taste a bit like crab once sauteed with butter and garlic. Well, why not? Sampled uncooked and plain this mushroom has little flavor, but it takes on the flavor of whatever it's cook with. It did indeed pull apart nicely, but as for flavor I am afraid we messed things up by adding some onion and the oyster mushrooms into the mix to go over our pasta. I fished a couple pieces out to try on their own and with they had a consistency similar to crab, and tasted like the butter, garlic sauce they were cooked in. If I tried them again I'd skip the pasta and maybe put my garlicky butter dripping mushrooms over top a little micro greens or something similar. I'm glad I tried this mushroom that I'd never even heard of before. I ate well, and learned something, or actually a few things which mean those five dollars probably went further than many. You can check out the great HaaShoom's facebook page here to learn more , and see photos of the "wild crafted" lion's mane mushrooms he harvested just this Friday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day Tripping

Day Tripping: I thought I would start this post with a little Wikapedia defining of the term. The first thing that popped up was this..."Day Tripper" is a song by The Beatles. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was released as a double A-side single with "We Can Work It Out".[1] Both songs were recorded during the sessions for the Rubber Soul album. "Day Tripper" topped the UK Singles Chart[2] and the song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] To read on about that, click here.
Okay, but then I found this on "–noun
a person who goes on a trip, esp. an excursion, lasting all or part of a day but not overnight."
1895–1900; day trip + -er1 " Closer to what I was seeking.

So yes, my husband and I went on a day trip a couple of weekends ago, and aside from the occasional bickering caused by trying to rely solely on google maps, we had a great day. Taking off from Richmond we headed straight for Charlottesville where we ate lunch at Feast. So yummy! We both loved the sandwiches, fruit salad, and bean salads. Simple but delicious foods and lots of great treats to look over while you wait. Afterward we could of hit the Gearharts Chocolates within the same building and enjoyed some mouth watering chocolates, but we knew we had a big day full of treats ahead so we held off.

Cruising up 250 we were quickly in Crozet Virgina, about five minutes outside of Charlottesville. Our first stop, actually in the town of Ivy was The Barn Swallow, is a beautiful old barn that now holds locally made pottery, hand bags, jewelry, furniture and more. I couldn't help myself, and came away with a beautiful vase by Janice Arone.
Just about a fifteen minute drive "up the hill" is Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. Here ten nuns have been making an amazing golden Gouda cheese for twenty years in order to raise money to keep the monastery in operation. The two pound wheels of cheese are sold via mail order for $33. However if you go to the monastery each wheel is $25. I had to try some of this cheese that I have been hearing so much about. A call ahead is requested if you plan to visit. Outside of a very small , and simple chapel there is nothing to see other than the friendly face of the nun who hands you that hefty wheel of cheese. The sister helping us reminded us to use a peeler to remove the interior rind prior to "attacking the cheese."

We came prepared with a cooler in the back seat, placed the Gouda inside and took of for our next destination... Blue Mountain Brewery. Only problem, those Google maps did not mesh with the ever changing route names and we were repeatedly driving around the tiny town of White Hall in one big circle. After passing the White Hall Vineyards three times I decided to take the hint and stop in for a wine tasting. We sampled several of their varietals which I never tried before. At the same time we were able to watch the wine making staff at work through a large plate glass window near to the tasting area. My favorites from the tasting were the 2008 Petit Manseng, and the 2008 Touriga. Matt liked the 2007 Gewurztraminer. The ones I truly prefer like the Viognier, and Cabernet Franc are not available for tasting. I did however walk out with a few bottles including the 2008 Cuvee des Champs.

Refreshed, and with proper directions from the nice people at White Hall, we set out again for the Blue Mountain Brewery. Minutes later we arrived just in time to enjoy a beautiful evening on the deck overlooking the mountains, sunset included. For just five dollars you can enjoy a sampling of six different beers. The food was alright. They feature local bratwurst from Double H. Farm in Nelson Co., pulled pork BBQ from Edward's in Surry, and house pickled jalapenos. People had their dogs on leashes with them at tables further out on the lawn and children ran around in the cool grass. It was a great ending to our day.

A week after our trip we enjoyed the wine and cheese together with some good company. A nice way to share the experience of our trip with others.

Our wheel of Gouda and a Bottle of White Hall's Cuvee Des Champs

Literally translated as "blend of the fields," this Bordeaux blend also shares the owners' last name. Described as having "Bouquets of dark cherries and cinnamon" with " deep royal colors to enhance flavors of dark chocolate and rich plums that precede a well-balanced finish of vanilla and oak." The 2006 received a Platinum rating at the Virginia Wine Lovers classic.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Farmers' Dinner, with Manakintowne Specialty Growers

Farmers Dinner
Sunday, November 14 · 7:00pm - 10:30pm

Join us for an evening of food, wine, and a bit of VA history. Enjoy a dinner with Manakintowne Specialty Growers, featuring their delicious herbs and produce, and sample some of Virginia's finest wines while learning about the origins of your food and drinks. Sprout will offer a four course meal, each with a sampling of VA wine, for only $35 per person, or a dessert and wine sampling only option for $15 per person. Reservations must be paid in advance (by November 12th). You may make your reservations by calling Sprout (804) 592-5771 and paying by credit card over the phone, or by going to Sprout's website and clicking on Calendar of Events and following the prompts to pay with paypal, or by stopping by the restaurant. Space is limited, see you then!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This really happened.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Time To Try Something New

One of the great things about the local foods movement is that it pushes you to break old habits, mix up your routine and try new things. That certainly was the case for me. I eat, shop, cook, and think about food differently. I have met a host of great new people, made new friends, and visited great places I would have never thought to go.
That said, most of us are creatures of habit, and I am one shining example! Three years into my own local food adventure I had once again falling into a fairly entrenched routine. I go to the same market nearly every single week, to the point of having never made it several of our areas other markets this summer. Once at the market I make a bee line for my same four or five favorite vendors each week. This is my grocery shopping and I'm getting it done. I've even fallen away quite a bit from trying out new things there.
Same market, same foods, most often with the same preparation. Thank goodness for Seasonality or that old trap of eating way too much of just a handful of food would have had me for sure.
We'll a few weeks ago with October rolling in I gave myself a pinch. I promised myself that I would start exploring again, not just the markets, but all the great stuff around me that I'm taking for granted.
I set a very easy goal. All I need to do is try two new things a week. They can be foods, music, restaurants, places, authors, recipes etc. Sometimes life can seem exhaustingly busy. When money, time, and energy is limited it's easier to go for the safety of the well tested track, but I've found the smallest effort has lead to great rewards. Weather I like each thing or not, half of the fun is just in the mini adventure of discovery. I've found a really affordable wine that I love, a mouth watering wheel of cheese that required 15 minutes of perilous dirt road driving to get, and I found out that I really like the Chicken of the Woods Mushroom.
On this weeks list... Kohlrabi, and the Lion's Mane mushroom to name two. Happy Discovering!

Friday, October 22, 2010

This Just In From Victory Farms-Great Variety!

I decided to post this portion of the e-mail from Victory Farms because I think it's a good representation of the markets right now....
"The garden is bursting with goodies right now - thanks to cooler weather and a little rain! We'll have LOTS of great greens, roots and fruits this Saturday from 8am-noon at the South of the James Market so come on by! We still have summer items like eggplant, peppers and cucumbers as well as some gorgeous ripening and green tomatoes plus cooking and salad greens and so much more!
We need to work through this week's Henley's Orchard inventory so we won't have the new varieties mentioned earlier until next week, but the ones we have are crunchy and sweet and great for apple pies and snacks too!"

It looks like lots of great stuff and tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day.
I will not be at South of the James this weeks, but will instead be checking out other area markets I don't normally get to. However, last week I got a huge bag of mustard greens, kale, sun gold tomatoes, a chocolate croissant, eggs, kohlrabi, 2 large bags of perfect looking green beans, 2 large heads of broccoli, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, eggplant, arugula, a very large and beautiful bag of salad greens mixed will violets, asain pears, apples, "country pears," red sweet peppers and probably more that I've forgotten. Next I'll have to post the menu plan for the week that all this great stuff inspired. Happy shopping...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fresh, Local Food all Winter with the St. Stephen's Online Market

We have had such a wonderful, albeit hot, farmers market season at St. Stephen's, that we didn't want it to end! We knew it would be hard to convince folks to come out on the upcoming dark, cold mornings, so we developed an online farmers market.
Here is how it works:
  • Go to
  • Click the Join button
  • You pay $50 for 6 months access to the site. Then, all winter long, and into spring, you order food from the vendors listed.
  • You order and pay online over the weekend, then your order is sent and filled by the vendor who brings it to St. Stephen's on Thursdays for you to pick up! That is it- locally grown, artisanally produced food simplified.

Eli's Greens has three greenhouses full of veggies, Simply Abundant Farms will have lamb as well as Bronze and White Breasted Turkeys for Thanksgiving, Greenway Beef will have grass fed beef, Norwood Cottage will have their amazing breads- and the list goes on! Check out the Online Farmer's Market site for a growing list of participating vendors, and join today! Registrations are limited.

Friday, October 15, 2010

West End Farmers Market/ Storing Apples

(Although I like the double benifite of food as decoration, it may not be the best way for it to be stored.)

Here's some good info. on storing apples for the winter from the West End Farmers Market news letter. Just don't forget that the ethylene gas the apples give of will also ruin spring flowering bulbs you may be keeping in fridge till planting, along with causing other fruits and produce to spoil more quickly. I am lucky enough to have a second fridge, (okay, it's the beer and wine fridge) that I can store my apples in.
The West End Market will run through Saturday October 30, but will also hold two holiday markets on Wednesday Nov. 24 from 10a.m. to 4p.m., and Saturday Dec. 4 from 10-4.

"Apples can be stored for relatively long (3-4 months) periods of time. Cold storage at low refrigerator temperatures (35-40F/2-4C) is able to help minimize loss of nutrients. In addition, it's helpful to maintain some moisture in the cold storage area, for example, by inclusion of damp cheesecloth in the crisper bin of a refrigerator.

Over a period of time involving months, there is loss of total polyphenols from apples, including both flavonoid and non-flavonoid polyphenols. However, valuable amounts of polyphenols (and all other nutrients) remain. In some food traditions, cold storage of apples over the winter months is still counted on as a key part of dietary nourishment from fruits.

You've no doubt heard the saying, "one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch." Well, research studies agree. An apple that has been bruised from being dropped (or that has been damaged in some other way) will start to release unusual amounts of ethylene gas. This ethylene gas can pose a risk to other apples that have not been damaged and greatly decrease their shelf life. For this reason, it's important to handle apples with tender loving care, and also to remove any damaged apples from groups of apples stored in bulk."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2010 Hans Falk Lecture Series

The Hans Falk Lecture series looks into the "how, why and what could be" of our food choices. Focusing on the democratization of food, the VCU School of Social Work, St. Andrew's School and the Central Virginia Food Bank will bring expert speakers on sustainable agriculture, and resources for healthy eating.

The next lecture will be: The Democratization of Food- A Social Responsibility
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
St. Andrews School Auditorium
227 South Cherry Street

Open to the public or call 804.643.2717 for more info

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cooking with Fire

A couple of weeks ago, I got to go camping at Crabtree Falls with some (thankfully foodie) friends. After a glorious drive, on which I had no idea where I was, nor where I was going, I found that my lovely friends had set up camp by a stream. You can't imagine my relief upon my arrival- a tablecloth! Wine!
Turns out, we had each brought the essentials- olive oil, cutting boards, biodegradable soap, paring knives. And lots and lots of food.
When cooking with fire, it is important to have a plan. Or lots to drink. I had both.
Veggie skewers and Twin Oaks Tofu with skillet cooked polenta. And wine.

Skewers were soaked in water (thanks to a very forward thinking member of our party), tofu was oiled and herbed, and everything was well tended.
I didn't take photos of breakfast, but there were cinnamon rolls heated on the gas stove, coffee and omelets with leftover veggies and cheese. Well loved, we were. So, that was my bougie camping trip- the last one 'til the summer creeps back.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October at the Market

October is the best time to shop farmers' markets! Everything from summer veggies and fruits to autumn squashes and greens are available now.
Market haul from the Farmers Market at St. Stephen's:
From Wild T Bison Farms:
Raw Dog Food
Pastured Eggs

de Rochonnet delights
Chocolate peri peri spice rub

Night Sky Farms:

Rosotv's Coffee:
8oz Mama Zu's Blend, whole bean

Flores Produce:
Tiny eggplant
Brussels sprouts
White onion
Sweet potatoes
Golden potatoes
red pepper

Epic Gardens:

H2O Collect:
Emporer shiitake mushrooms
Pearl Oyster mushrooms

Evans Family Collective:
Alpaca yarn

Frog Bottom Farm

Amelia Soap and Herb Company:
Cinderella Pumpkin

Norwood Cottage Bakery:
Curry Raisin Bread
Belllevue Baguette

Petit Bouchees:
Vanilla and Lychee Macarons
Almond Biscotti

Golden Delicious apple
Honeycrisp apples

Eli's Greens
Cut flowers

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Iron Chef Challenge

My brother Alex is the best cook I know. Seriously- with out a recipe, or much planning, he can take a pile of ingredients, and turn it into the best meal you think you have ever had. He is the cook at his house, but his girlfriend Miranda does the grocery shopping, so every night is like an Iron Chef competition for them. She comes home with a pile of stuff- and he works his magic on it.
So, when they came to visit this weekend, it was like the ultimate show- Alex and Miranda came down from New York to see the farmers market I have run for the past couple of years, bringing with them some fantastic dumplings from Chinatown. Our dinner on Saturday was to be based around those dumplings.
Between us, we must have picked up everything that wasn't tied down at the market Saturday. But, oh man, what a supper.
You have got to love a man whose idea of a pre-dinner cocktail is tequila. And ice.
We were calling this salad Deep Southern/ Asian fusion- battered and fried okra, raw kohlrabi, peppers, carrots, edamame, radishes, and greens with a black sesame and ume plum vinaigrette. Oh. My. Goodness.

And- the evening's centerpiece: dumpling soup. We started a broth right when we got home from the farmers' market, and boiled the shiitake mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery with star anise, szechuan peppercorns, hot peppers and salt for hours to make a rich broth. Then, we strained the veggies and Alex added sliced shiitakes, scallions and dumplings to the broth, making the most lovely, comforting and balanced soup. I wish I could tell you how- but only Alex knows.