Archive | December, 2012

Happy Holidays: Free Printables & Last Minute DIY Gifts

22 Dec

Spending some extended time with the little people in your life this holiday season? We put together another assortment of seasonal activities that you can easily print, prep, and have ready for when you need to entertain them! Some of the activities can serve as last-minute gifts for an acquaintance, friend, neighbor, babysitter, or someone who makes your life a tad easier and more joyful. Have fun!

Farm Table Kids' Crafts

Printables:

Virginia apples

Last Minute DIY Activities & Gifts:

As The Farm Table winds down this year, we want to say how much we’ve appreciated our members, readers, and bloggers for their support during our second season, and our very first year blogging . We are especially thankful to the wonderful farmers who have grown such amazing food, and introduced many of us to some new seasonal pleasures (can you say watermelon radish?!).

We look forward to the 2013 season, and many exciting things to come in the New Year.

Until then: Eat well. Rest well. Be Well.

A Progressive Party, Rosedale Style

19 Dec
Spiked lemons and oranges

Vodka Spiked Lemons and Oranges

My family and I live on the North side of Richmond. Rosedale, to be exact. Our block is a modest neighborhood with wonderful neighbors who help take care of one another, and it seems that one household after another is having a baby (maybe it’s the water?).

We have a lot of young children in our neighborhood. Kids naturally want to play with other kids, and that forces us sometimes anti-social adults to interact with one another. With the neighborhood tots at the center of it all, we have formed a tight-knit community to be proud of. We look after each other’s children, celebrate their birthdays, check in on each other’s pets, and borrow a cup of sugar from each other from time to time.

I think that is something to celebrate. 

A couple of weekends ago we held our 2nd-annual progressive party. If you are not familiar with a traditional progressive party, you move from one house to the next, progressing through each course of a meal — appetizers, main course, dessert — you get the picture.

Instead of progressing through each course of a meal, we asked our hosts to pair an appetizer with a drink, and then we moved from one house to the next. The destination? A backyard campfire with desserts , and drinks.

Progressive Party

Neighbors who were not interested in hosting, brought something to share at the end, potluck style. Some of us co-hosted, and we spent about 30-45 minutes at each house. The more houses involved, the less time you generally spend at each house, but you make it what you want, and flexibility is key. In the end, it all works out.

I thought you might enjoy a recipe one of our neighbors came up with, along with links to some of the many other delicious food and drinks we enjoyed together, if not for a future progressive party, maybe for your New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Rosedale’s Mini-Tostadas

Ingredients:

  • Meat: duck, chicken or pork all work well — you get to decide.
  • Spicy Red Mole Sauce (makes approx 3 quarts): 4 tomatoes, 1 jalapeño pepper, 1 yellow onion, chopped, 1 red bell pepper, 1/2 Habanero pepper (leave Habanero out for a milder sauce). 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp. white sesame seeds, 1 tbsp chopped garlic, 1 quart chicken or veggie stock, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 star anise pod, 1tbsp chile powder, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 bunch cilantro, sour cream, 1 wheel Mexican chocolate.
  • Round tostadas (small round tortilla chips work perfectly)
  • Sour Cream (light works well)
  • Cilantro, pulled from the stem

Directions:

  • Roast meat and the pull into bite sized pieces after it is cooked.
  • To make the Spicy Red Mole Sauce: Chop peppers, onion, tomatoes. Roast in oven at 375 until they begin to brown, about 1/2 hour. Mix all other ingredients together with stock, let simmer. Add roasted veggies. Simmer until chocolate is dissolved. Purée mixture. Add 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped. Add cooked pulled meat into sauce.
  • Lay out round tostadas, place small amount of sauce covered meat on each.
  • Top with a small dollop of sour cream and 1 cilantro leaf.

Here are links to some of the other tasty treats we enjoyed:

Want to arrange your own progressive party, or celebrate the New Year? Do it. It’s easy and oh so worth it to celebrate the good people in your life.

Oh, and The Farm Table wants you to be safe, so if you have to travel, please designate a driver and come up with a special non-alcoholic beverage for your teetotaling guest. 

Happy Holidays!

Blue Bee Cider

16 Dec

Blue Bee Cider

The Farm Table had the opportunity last year to meet Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider, at the 2012 Richmond Earth Day Festival. We’ve enjoyed following the progress of this local business ever since.

Courtney, author of the Cider Apprentice Blog, started blogging about her experiences as an apprentice cidermaker at Albemarle CiderWorks in 2011. Since then, she has started her own urban cidery housed in Richmond’s Old Manchester District.

Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider

This Brite Tank was made in Oregon and shipped to RVA

The Brite Tank was built in Oregon and shipped to RVA

Expelling the juice from the apples

Pressing the apples

I had the pleasure of joining Courtney and her in December during a pressing, and came away from the visit appreciating the making of Blue Bee Cider even more. Courtney’s father, Mel, a sweet and gracious man, who is clearly committed to the success of Blue Bee Cider, gave me a tour and run down on the process of making cider

Blue Bee Cider

Apples just waiting for the magic to happen

Apples just waiting for the magic to happen

Courtney, who was in constant motion during my visit, displayed an impressive combination of dedicated work ethic, good humor, and expertise. Her staff were at ease, and fully engaged in the process of making cider — they all seemed to be having fun, despite a few setbacks when the equipment jammed, or hoses came lose. Courtney, who kept her cool, got everything back on track with a quick sleight of hand.

Courtney Mailey Blue Bee Cider

I lingered a little longer than I intended to — it was satisfying to watch someone in the process of their craft, and Courtney, a true artisan, practices her craft with a relaxed confidence that is exciting to watch.

Courtney, in the process of training staff on identifying the parts of the apple that should be cut out, was giving a tutorial on "stink bugs" and the markings they leave on apples.

Courtney, in the process of training staff on identifying the parts of the apple that should be cut out, was giving a tutorial on the markings left by “stink bugs”.

Courtney with her father, Mel, and staff, tightening a hose that transfers expressed juice into a highly sterile and sealed off bag that is "boxed" for a few weeks before filtering it.

Courtney with her father, Mel, and staff, tightening a hose that pumps extracted juice into a highly sterile and impermeable plastic bag where the juice is “boxed” prior to fermenting it.

Blue Bee Cider

Every part of the apple is used. What's left of the apple goes back to the farmer to feed the goats.

Blue Bee puts every part of the apple to good use. Russell Bell of Ringer Farms shovels what’s left of the apple into a trailer, which goes back to the farm to feed the goats.

The name, Blue Bee Cider came from Courtney’s appreciation for the Blue Orchard Bee, native to Virginia. Blue Orchard Bees are not very social, and do not make honey, but are extremely efficient pollinators of apple blossoms.  Courtney, who noted how hardworking and solitary this type of bee was, decided to brand her budding business after them.

Courtney, whose work is not solitary, but certainly determined, is bottling up her sense of good humor, and the delicious bounty of Virginia for the rest of us to enjoy.

We can certainly raise a glass to that!

IMG_4178

Courtney and her staff  have planted an urban orchard outside her urban cidery, with hopes that it may produce fruit for a future batch of cider.

You can follow Blue Bee Cider on Facebook and Twitter, where Courtney has chronicled the process of opening her cidery. She and her staff have started pressing, and selling the raw juice at her tasting room at 212 W. 6th Street, behind Scoot Richmond. The first two hard ciders will be available in the Spring of 2013, and a third in the Fall of 2013.

We hope to see you there this spring when Blue Bee Cider opens for hard cider tastings and tours.