Friday, April 27, 2012

RVA Resturant Week

Friends, don't forget that this week is RVA Restaurant Week! We were so pleased to see that our fav neighborhood restaurant, Tastebuds, has been added to the list. To learn more about all the offers, your best bet is to visit the RVA Restaurant Week website. But, hurry (!), Saturday is the last day for the spring session.

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

RFC Throwback: April

Lots happens in April- we start gardening in earnest, we hunt for open markets, and we come out of hibernation and start traveling!  Searching for posts to highlight for the April throwback was so fun- it was hard to choose which ones to highlight!  Here are some great memories from Aprils past.
Spring veggie garden
Here is a veggie garden update from 2008 (which still holds true today...)

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
In 2010, Shannon and I took a day trip to Charlottesville to visit Feast! and several wineries.  What a fun time!  In the first post about this trip (on Feast!) Shannon says:
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!!
Delivery truck
The 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.
 Happy, happy April all!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Swiss Chard from the garden and ...Frittata!!

We are on a swiss chard kick.  I think it has something to do with the 10 enormous chard plants we started from seed this past fall.  They grew on happily in our cold frame all winter and are now the size of small shrubs.  Still tender and tasty, we've been harvesting them like crazy.  Inviting us over for a pot luck, coming here for dinner?  You can guess what's going to be on the menu.  Ten chard plants for two people is just a bit too much.  It is time we make room for that arugula and red leaf lettuce that's trying to make its way in the same bed. Last night we lifted and used up four whole plants to serve ten people wilted chard leaves with fresh lemon, lots of chopped garlic and a little olive oil. Two giant bags of chopped chard turns into paltry portions before your eyes.  Also,  this is my new favorite way to eat chard on it's own.
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. )
olive oil
1 large bunch swiss chard, stems removed
3 med. cloves garlic
6 -8 white button mushrooms
Parmesan, or other cheese
4 eggs
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

Horse and Buggy Produce

Megan and a gigantic tomato!
In an effort to get to know some of the folks working in our food system, I interviewed Megan Reynolds who works for Horse and Buggy Produce. She also plays in a superfun band and writes a foodie blog called she wears boots- all in all, a most lovely lady.

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

Peeling Fresh Eggs

Spring is here and that means some really great eggs.  Fresh eggs are perfect in every way but one.  They are crazy hard to peel.  It's entirely possible to loose a quarter of your egg white trying to wrestle with the shell of a hard boiled fresh egg.  Here's a great tip Matt showed me a couple years ago when I was making potato salad.  Add a pinch or two of salt to your water before it starts to boil.  Once cooked, run under cool water just enough to make them easier to handle. The shells will come off without a hitch.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let it grow!

I have heard a lot of folks say that they stopped growing cilantro because the window to use the leaves  is so very short.  The plant does bolt quickly in our part of the world, and the leaves taste different after the flower stalk goes up- not so tasty.

I have (in my lazy gardening) come across a lovely discovery!  Let that cilantro grow!
Cilantro flowers

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

Asparagus Time!

This time of year is grand. The Farmers’ Markets are opening. Things are popping up the garden. And soon our harvest baskets will be put to daily use as the garden kicks into full gear. Our Saturday morning schedule will be modified to include a walk to the Farmers’ Market. It has become one of our favorite times.

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

New farm and CSA- Tomten Farm

A message from new farmers Brian and Autumn Campbell of Tomten Farm:
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 (  or call 434.392.1896. 
Tomten Farm CSA
Spring/Summer share: $355 for 17 weeks The share runs for 18 weeks from the 2nd week of May to the 1st week of September. Each member can take a week off anytime throughout the season.
Fall share: $185 for 10 weeks This runs from September 16th through the week of Thanksgiving.
During 2012 we will offer both Spring/Summer (17 weeks) and Fall (10 weeks) CSA shares with pickups available in Richmond, Farmville and at the farm. We invite you to become a CSA member for our first season of Community Supported Agriculture. We welcome your involvement on the farm at whatever level suits you. For $355 (less than $21 per week) our Spring/Summer share aim’s to provide enough vegetables for two adults or a family with small children. Each week's share will be carefully selected to harmonize together for wonderful seasonal feasts. Below are three examples of the weekly share.
Spring Share: ½ lb bag Baby Lettuce Mix, 1 bunch Radishes, 1 bunch Carrots, 1 medium sized Napa Cabbage, 2-3 Daikon Radishes, 8-10 Scallions, 1 large bunch Mustard Greens, 1 bunch Cilantro.
Summer Share: 2-3 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes, 3 Italian sweet peppers, 2 lbs New Potatoes, 1 Qt Baby summer squashes, 1 Butterhead Lettuce, 1 Red leaf Lettuce head, 3 Cippolini Onions, 1 large bunch Basil.
Late Summer Share: 1 Qt Okra, 1 lb Green Beans, 2 lbs Italian Sauce Tomatoes, 1 lb Italian Eggplant, 1 bunch Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, 1 Bunch Swiss Chard, 1 small Watermelon.
Extra Benefits
Add-On: Members will be emailed add-on offerings, including poultry when available, the weekend prior to the share pickup. All products will be offered at a 10% discount.
Member Workdays: During the summer we will have two optional workday events where CSA members can come help out in the fields, meet each other, and support the operation. Members are welcome to visit at other times, just call us to schedule ahead.
Farm Dinners: Cooked by us on our farm, the dinners will offer 4-5 course meals in an idyllic setting using all delicious food from the farm. The first dinner this summer will be offered to share members exclusively.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Homemade" Honey Mustard Dressing, no Mayo Included

If you really read this blog you know Matt and I make all of our dressings.  The one pictured above is white balsamic, olive oil, mustard seed and tarragon taken before it was shaken up.  Okay, so a few weeks ago I did a post I called 'Time For Fresh' were I mentioned Matt's salad of romaine lettuce, thin sliced radishes and Kerry Gold Kilegree cheddar Cheese with Honey Mustard Dressing.  Well I had wanted then to give you the dressing recipe, but couldn't get it out of Matt in time. So here it is.... and I wish I had a pic. of the salad, oh well...  This dressing is  awesome on the above mentioned salad, or on chicken, and I'm thinking over ham with mustard potatoes.

The Recipe

2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 tsp. fresh grated Ginger
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp.  Soy Sauce
2 medium cloves Garlic (mashed into a paste with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle)
 1/2 cup Olive Oil

For best results use an immersion blender.  Put all ingredients in the cup that comes with the blender and run till smooth and oil and vinegar are emulsified.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

RVA Loves Chocolate..

Here are a handful of our favorite Chocolatiers from RVA just in case you need a quick fix.

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

All ingredients need salt.

"All ingredients need salt. The noodle or tender spring pea would be narcissistic to imagine it already contained within its cell walls all the perfection it would ever need. We seem, too, to fear that we are failures at being tender and springy if we need to be seasoned. It's not so: it doesn't reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself."

-Tamar Adler from An Everlasting Meal

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recipe: Savory Bread Pudding and Greens

I have not posted a recipe on this space for quite some time.  I have been, (sigh) uninspired.  I can tell you about it now, because spring fever has hit and I finally feel like cooking again.  This recipe was born of necessity- I had done some rather passionless grocery shopping, and had various components in the 'fridge.  But it really was the bread that started it all.
I love Billy Bread (though now the bag says Billy's Bakery- so I love them too) and my neighborhood wine shop gets it in fresh every day.  Fresh Billy Bread is amazing.
I cannot, even when very determined about it, eat an entire loaf of Billy Bread before it goes stale.  But don'tcha just know that stale bread makes fantastic bread pudding?  
This is a weird photo, I know.  I am using my phone until I get a real, grown up blogger's camera. Any recommendations?  
Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms, Fennel and Gruyere

1/2- 3/4 loaf of your favorite crusty bread, cubed
2 cups of milk
6 eggs
salt and pepper

1 pint crimini mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fennel bulb, sliced
white wine
italian herbs or rosemary

wedge of gruyere cheese (though it would be good with blue as well)

salad greens

place cubes of bread in buttered 9x13 inch pan.  Wisk milk and eggs together, add salt and pepper and pour over bread.  Let stand until all of the egg and milk mixture is absorbed into the bread- about 20 minutes.
While the bread is soaking, heat oil on medium high and brown the mushrooms.  Add onion, garlic and fennel, heating until just cooked.  Add a bit of white wine to cover the bottom of your pan, and stir to get all of the brown bits off the bottom.  Add herbs, salt and pepper and set aside until the bread is ready.  

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread veggies on top of bread, then grate cheese on top.  Cook for 30- 40 minutes, until cheese is melted and maybe a little is browned.  Serve along (or on top of) salad with a vinaigrette.

*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

Kitchen Tour: Shannon's.

 (The cake stand my most amazing co-worker and friend Susan built for our wedding sits atop the fridge my dad got us as our house warming present.  The little cow creamer, and toile print pot that holds my wine corks, also came from Susan just as little "hey I found this and thought of you" items I would find on my desk at work.  The green dishes were wedding gifts.  The tin canisters on top were saved for me by my co-worker Lucy who, like me, can't stand to see such things go to the trash.)

It such a common thing to hear, but really the place in our home where we probably spend the bulk of our 
 time is the kitchen.  It over looks our backyard, opens up to our back patio where we can sit and have coffee in the morning or a cocktail after work.  From the window over the kitchen sink, we can see the side gate and drive where we can see each other arrive home, and watch our dog Elwood as he races back and forth from fence to fence alerting us to any dogs, bikes, or passersby.  Our kitchen is a humble affair.  When we first moved in it was all chipping, nicotine- colored paint, a stove we were told didn't work, a mini fridge, (yes a mini fridge), sub flooring, and brown veneered cabinets from the 1970s.  We bought the house and got married in the back yard within 19 months, which meant a whirlwind of paint, peeling wallpaper, sanding, scrubbing, making and installing trim, shelving, windows where there was only plywood covered holes and more.  The kitchen got the least attention, but I still love our little bright green corner of the house.

Our circa 19?? 'Brown' Stove

 This is where it all happens.  The stove and oven that we were told didn't work totally does- you just need to keep a long handled lighter near the burners, and turn one of the burner knobs while holding the broiler tray open to get the oven to light.  Simple.  We had a maintenance man come out our first year in the house when all of a sudden we couldn't get the oven to light at all.  Seventy five dollars later, he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, told us he never even heard of a 'Brown' and left me to figure out that one of the switches had just been accidentally bumped from manual to auto.  This oven is definitely all manual- no auto.  Rusted out holes have finally pushed us to purchase a new one.  We're just waiting to find one that can take its place....

 If Erin has a baking station, I have a coffee station. I asked Matt to install the shelf that hangs over the stove to hold all our coffee mugs close at hand and the photo of all my family in our Celtic Festival garb to greet me each morning.

The view onto the garden from the window above the stove.

My Martha Stewart Style Open shelving
The cast iron skillet that hangs here is one of our most used items.

The shelves and pegboard came with the house (so to speak).   I just painted them all with a few coats of primer and a 'clear' gray color.  I was surprised by how well it seems to work. Many of the objects on these shelves are things I found at consignment and thrift shops.  The cake stands and big green bowls were wedding gifts.  The recipe box was part of my bridal shower gifts, painted to match my kitchen and filled with the favorite recipes of everyone who attended.
 The green wicker basket holds tea.  The giant black Le Cruset pot and the smaller green on the shelf above it we found on sale and were our anniversary gifts to each other.

What you couldn't see in the first photo- the washer and dryer that sit below.  I had to include this shot as anyone who has ever been over for dinner, pot luck, brunch etc. knows what a central role these non-kitchen appliances have played in the workings of my kitchen. Until the old washing machine finally gave out, the two appliances were the exact same height and were quickly transformed into bar, buffet, prep area, or just used as conversational seating for guest while I cooked. Just hop up! You gotta make do with what you got... someday we hope to move the duo upstairs and put in a proper counter and bar stools.

Willie and Friends
The inside of our tall cabinets original to the house. We only painted them a semi gloss white.

The chalk board that is the only part of the kitchen visible from the dining room table.  We write up weekly menus here when we're on top of things, or put up a menu for  special dinner parties. Matt made it for us using some salvaged wood we found in the attic.

An Elwood-esq tile my mom got from a potter in Vermont

El himself, always at the ready in case some tiny morsel drops.

Where it all ends up... my grandmothers dining room table with the chairs she hand embroidered.  The bar was a alley find refinished by Matt, and the stained glass doors for it were made by my father-in-law.  The mirror came from an "antique" shop in Ashland many years ago. 

Olio: Local Lunch

When you are working downtown finding fresh lunches sometimes can be a challenge, but I have a go-to steady: Olio. Olio’s first location is the Fan, but now they have a spot downtown and a food cart (food carts are my new obsession, but more on that later!).

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!