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Ample Harvest

19 Jun
St. Thomas' Food Pantry doors welcomes guests every Thursday from 10-12

St. Thomas’ food pantry doors welcome guests every Thursday from 10-12

Nestled in what is known as Ginter Park in North Richmond, sits St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, a place of simple hospitality that has served the community since 1907. We visited St. Thomas’ a few weeks ago to learn more about their food pantry, which regularly serves people in the 23222 and 23227 zip codes. What we found was a highly organized food market with volunteers dedicated to serving the community.

The food pantry, part of a three church network including St. Paul’s Catholic Church and Ginter Park Methodist Church, is a market-style pantry where guests select the food they like to eat according to USDA nutrition guidelines.

The goal? To provide three meals for three days for each person in the household.

Food Pantry Volunteer Linc Sparks

8-year volunteer Linc Sparks prepares to register guests of the food pantry.

St. Thomas' food pantry

In May, the food pantry served a record number of people: 282 households, totaling 1,114 people. This is up from 2012 (213 households), and 2011 (105 households).

Food Pantry

To date for 2013, the food pantry has served 2,502 households, a total of 9,536 people.

USDA Guidelines

St. Thomas’ serves people in the 23222 and 23227 zip codes — a restriction based on guidelines from the Central Virginia Food Bank as part of their effort to make sure food distribution is widely spread across the areas where food is needed.

At 19 cents a pound, the food is purchased through the Central Virginia Food Bank (CVFB), which is part of Feedmore, using funds from the church budget. Through CVFB, St. Thomas is able to access the USDA surplus food, which they receive for free and distribute according to specific guidelines set by the USDA.

St. Thomas is also a Food Rescue partner with the Food Lion on Chamberlayne Avenue, gleaning good food 2 times a week that would otherwise by discarded. Other supporters of the pantry include Panera Bread, and The Little House Green Grocery, among many other supporters who provide food on a weekly basis. 

St. Thomas Volunteers

Grace Sparks and her granddaughter prepare pastries gleaned from Panera Bread

St. Thomas Volunteer, Lilly

10 year old Lilly visits every summer from Ohio and serves as the “produce manager.” This is her second year volunteering with her grandparents.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church Hospitality

Coffee, water, and pastries are prepared and served to guests waiting their turn at the food pantry. A focus on hospitality is the trademark of St. Thomas’ volunteers.

St. Thomas revamped their food pantry over a year ago — rather than giving guests a box of food, some of which the clients may not be able to eat because of dietary restriction — they allow guests to choose food for themselves using the USDA guidelines as a tool. The pantry is set up each week, resembling a market, and the people they serve are given a grocery bag where they can “shop” for the food that they are able to eat. The foods the pantry is unable to keep on the shelves include tuna, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and cereal. They offer a limited supply of perishable items, mainly because they do not have the means to store fresh food for long periods of time.

Ray Jackson preparing the bread table

Ray A. Jackson, City of Richmond retiree and World War II Army Veteran, has volunteered at the food pantry since the 1960’s. He also helped The Farm Table blogger, Michele, pronounce Norfolk properly, the place where he grew up before moving to Richmond in 1952. He is St. Thomas’ longest running food pantry volunteer.

St. Thomas' Market-style food pantry

St. Thomas’ market-style food pantry allows guests to choose items they need based on USDA requirements.

Perishable items gleaned from local grocers

Perishable items gleaned from local grocers like Food Lion and The Little House Green Grocer on Richmond’s Northside.

This is where Ampleharvest.org and you, our readers, come in. The site links home gardeners and other supporters to the nearest food pantry in the community who accepts perishable items. As gardens begin to flourish with an abundance of food, linking up your food surpluses with pantries in need is a wonderful way to offer the people who need it access to good, healthy, and fresh food.

Dried beans ready for guests to take home

Food items gleaned from local grocers

Sharing from your garden is not the only way to give! Beginning this Thursday, June 20th, we will collect non-perishable items from Farm Table members who place canned, jarred, and boxed goods in their empty boxes. We will deliver them to food pantries in need, including St. Thomas’. We think giving back is one way we can broaden our food community, and we can do that with your help!

Food pantry volunteers, Ray and Bob, preparing to open the doors for guests waiting outside for the pantry to open

Food pantry volunteers, Ray A. Jackson and Bob Wiard, preparing to open the doors for guests waiting outside for the pantry to open. Today they celebrate one of their regular guests who is officially cancer free.

Looking for other ways to give?

Consider volunteering at your nearest food pantry. St. Thomas  is always looking for volunteers to assist with gleaning throughout the week, or helping on Thursday mornings when their food pantry is open to the people who need it.

Food pantry volunteer and member of the St. Thomas community, Andrea Marcinkevicius, hopes to see more youth helping out at local food pantries this summer. “People of all ages and abilities can help!”, Andrea says.

Farm Table member and Ministry Leader at Gayton Care Ministries, Stacy Deyerle, says she regularly donates food from her Farm Table box to the pantry at Gayton Baptist Church in Short Pump. Deyerle says their pantry serves people from Goochland, as well as “folks dealing with a recent job loss or serious health issues.” Food donated to their pantry really helps people in need.

We hope you will join us in supporting your local food pantry this summer and beyond — as we all enjoy the bounty of the season, let’s share it with others.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church   3602 Hawthorne Ave   Richmond, Virginia, 23222   804-321-9548 Food Pantry is open from 10:00am-12:00 noon on Thursdays Volunteers needed: Tuesdays at 12:00 noon to help unload food purchased at CVFB. Thursdays anytime between 9am-1pm Gleaning, Tuesdays and Saturdays

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
3602 Hawthorne Ave
Richmond, Virginia, 23222
804-321-9548
Food Pantry is open from 10:00am-12:00 noon on Thursdays
Volunteers needed:
Tuesdays at 12:00 noon to help unload food purchased at CVFB.
Thursdays anytime between 9am-1pm
Gleaning, Tuesdays and Saturdays

 

 
 
 

Blue Bee Cider

7 Jun

We hope you will join us at our Pop-up Market at  Blue Bee Cider in the Old Manchester District tomorrow, June 8, from 12:00-4:00pm.

We will have fresh local produce, Harvest Hill Farms meats, Quail Cove Cheese, freshly baked goodies from Flour Garden Bakery, and Polyface chickens! Blue Bee Cider, Virginia’s first and only urban cidery, will be open for your tasting pleasure from 12-6.

Until then, enjoy this piece we did on Blue Bee Cider back in December and then come taste the real deal with us tomorrow!

Follow The Tractor

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

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 theprocess of making cider

Blue Bee Cider

Courtney, who was in constant motion during my visit, displayed an impressive combination of dedicated work ethic…

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Bok Choy Stir Fry

4 Jun

The Farm Table Pop-up Market

This recipe comes to you a few days late as we missed Flashback Friday on the blog last week. I promise we weren’t slacking! We were “in the field,” so to speak, taking pictures and working on a future post that will highlight some of the really cool things happening in Richmond that will make all of us proud!

Speaking of cool things going on — The Farm Table is excited to announce that we are expanding to the Hampton Roads area! If you have family and friends that would enjoy receiving a Farm Table box as much as you do, or if you know anyone who might want to become part of our team, please share this with them and contact support@thefarmtable.org. More details coming soon!

We are also having a lot of fun with our Pop-up Markets. Our next market, this Saturday, June 8 from 12:00-4:00pm, will be at Blue Bee Cider in the Manchester District.  We will have fresh local produce, Harvest Hill Farms meats, Quail Cove Cheese and freshly baked goodies from Flour Garden Bakery. Blue Bee Cider will be open for your tasting pleasure from 12-6. Please join us! Details HERE.

Until then, please try this Bok Choy Stir Fry from our May, 2012 newsletter, which features broccoli, snow peas, peppers, and chicken (optional). It is very important to do all of the prep work for this meal before you start cooking, as stir frying relies on being able to move and cook food quickly in a very hot pan. Also, it may seem labor intensive, but once you’ve prepped the vegetables, it cooks very quickly. Delicious!

The Farm Table Bok Choy

Bok Choy Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into strips and lightly dusted with corn starch
  • 1 small onion, halved/thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2-3 cloves sliced garlic
  • 1 cup snow peas (optional)
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (separated into medium pieces) and stems (sliced thin), keep them separate
  • 1/2 Tbs finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup red or green pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 head of bok choy, sliced into thick ribbons
  • 4 Tbs Hoisin sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat a wok or large, deep, frying pan with a heavy bottom over medium-high heat. Coat with peanut oil.
  • Add the chicken and cook 2-3 minutes, making sure to cook on all sides. Remove chicken to a bowl, or push aside.
  • Add the onions, celery, broccoli stems, red/green pepper, ginger and garlic and, stirring continuously until onions become translucent, and veggies start to soften. Add more peanut oil if needed (you need to keep the food moving).
  • Add the broccoli florets, snow peas, bok choy. Keep stirring!
  • After about 5 minutes, add 2 Tbs soy sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper, Hoisin sauce, and the cornstarch/broth mixture. Add the Chicken back to the mixture.
  • Stir for about 3-5 minutes and allow the mixture to thicken. 
  • Serve immediately over cooked rice.

Grow. Eat. Share.

17 May

Food Revolution Day

If you are a Farm Table member and received a box yesterday, you learned that today is Food Revolution Day, a global day of action focusing on good food, and keeping cooking skills alive.

Now this is something we can get behind!

Lindwood-Holton outdoor classroom

Linwood-Holton garden

We had the opportunity to visit the students at Linwood-Holton Elementary school in North Richmond today, where program staff were engaging a group of students who visited Holton’s outdoor garden and learning classroom.

Spinach

Grow food with your children!

Students were able to tour the garden, learn about composting and growing their own food, and worked together to make lunch from scratch using basic ingredients from the garden. The results were delicious!

Lettuce

Strawberry Salad

Schools and organizations across the globe are participating in activities today, in an effort to promote cooking traditions by preparing good food, and teach children the importance of passing those traditions on. We were pleased to see these traditions taught in our own backyard, and were proud sponsors of the Food Revolution Day‘s Junior Chef Cooking Contest held at Kitchen Thyme and West Broad Street yesterday. To learn more about Food Revolution Day check out Jamie Oliver’s website where you will find recipes to share with your children.

Linwood-Holton Elementary School garden

What sorts of things are you doing to get the young people in your life cooking and eating fresh, whole food that is good for them? What kind of traditions are you passing down to them? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page! Please share!

Spring Pop-Up Market at Hardywood

7 Apr

The Farm Table 2013 Spring Produce

The countdown has begun for fresh, seasonal food straight from the farmer to your doorstep! If you are getting impatient for The Farm Table’s anticipated April 18th start date, and you missed out on our last Spring Pop-Up Market join us for another fun evening at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for our 2nd Spring Pop-Up MarketWith the weather forecast showing temps in the 80’s, join us while we celebrate the beginning of the new season,  renew your membership, or become a new member. 

The Farm Table Spring Pop-Up Market

The Farm Table Pop-up Market at Hardywood
Wednesday, April 10 at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery from 4-9 pm. 2408 Ownby Lane, Richmond VA 23220. Click here for directions.

We will have eggs, honey, greens, lettuce, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pastries, bread, Amish sweet butter, Harvest Hill Farm meat, and Quail Cove Farm cheese available, while you enjoy your choice of Hardywood’s excellent selection of craft brews in a laid back venue.

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hardywood Park Craft Brews

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
If you missed out on The Hardywood Community Hopping Project for 2013, be sure to check back next year to get in on the local action while you grow hops for their RVA IPA. Some of The Farm Table staff and members got in on the action this year — we will keep you updated on how the hops grow in our backyards!
Hops for RVA IPA
The Farm Table Pop-up Market at Hardywood 
 
Join us Wednesday, April 10 at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery from 4-9 pm. 
 
Hardywood Park is located at 2408 Ownby Lane, Richmond VA 23220.

Local Meets Local

20 Mar

The Farm Table kicks off the 2013 season with a “one night only” Spring Market at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, tomorrow, March 21st from 4pm-9pm.

We’ll be selling fresh local produce, breads, pastries, honey, and more.

Shop while you enjoy some of Hardywood Park’s fantastic local brews.

Renew your membership, or bring a friend to sign up at a discounted rate.

Be There!

IMG_4903
Follow us on Twitter @TheFarmTable and @Hardywood

The Farm Table Spring Market
4:00-9:00PM
Hardywood Park is located at 2408 Ownby Lane, Richmond VA 23220.

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.

Vegan Cuisine meets The Farm Table: A Blog Give Away

18 Nov

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to review Vegan Eats World (2013), and Viva Vegan! (2010) by Terry Hope Romero, a Venezuelan-American, award-winning vegan chef, living in Queens, NYC, who is known for her bestselling cookbooks, including Veganomicon, and her blog Vegan Latina.

When the cookbooks arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago, I put my boys down for a nap, made a hot cup of tea, and sat down to pour over the recipes, (I’ll take a good cookbook over 50 shades of you know what any day…).

What I appreciate most about both cookbooks is that you don’t have to be a vegan to appreciate vegan food, rather, Terry gives you the tools to treat vegan cooking as any other cuisine, opening the door to so many possibilities. Whether you are looking to get a few meat-free meals on the dinner table during the week, have dairy-challenged members in your family, are a seasoned vegan cook, or are looking to make a lifestyle change, these cookbooks give you the basic vegan cooking know-how to expand your culinary repertoire. Secondly, Terry talks to you, not at you, which makes a cookbook like this accessible to everyone.

Vegan Eats World is a collection of recipes pulling from cooking traditions around the planet, and allows you to experience Italian, Mediterranean, Asian and many other traditions in a new, surprising, and potentially more healthful way. Vegan Eats World is broken down into three sections:

  • Kitchen Cartography: a guide to vegan pantry basics, cooking terminology, and cooking techniques. Terry guides you through the basic ingredients to keep on hand for easy vegan cooking, such as masa harina for Mexican cooking, hoisin sauce for Asian cooking, cous cous for African cooking, and aleppo-pepper flakes for Middle Eastern cooking.
  • Recipes: Terry provides a basic introduction to each recipe, giving the reader a background for each dish, variations you can try out, suggested pairings with other recipes in the book — all of which entice you to try out a dish that might otherwise intimidate. The recipe section includes, among many others: spice blends, proteins, sauces, sandwiches, entrees,  and desserts. Terry even put together easy markers, so you know if a recipe is for the beginner, if it is gluten-free, or if it is easy on the wallet.
  • Menus, Online Resources, etc: Terry crafted together menu suggestions so that the amateur or seasoned vegan cook can easily round out a meal.

Vegan Eats World helps answer the question, “What if the world was vegan?” and would be a wonderful addition to even the world’s biggest “meat-and-potatoes” cookbook library, and is a fabulous option for people with gluten allergies.

Viva Vegan! reads like a novel, and I am especially drawn to it given my affinity for Latin food. The format to Viva Vegan! is very similar to Vegan Eats World, only with a guide to creating a “Vegan Latin Pantry,” and recipes focusing solely on Latin cooking (not just Mexican cooking). The cookbook offers essential “Latino Vegan” recipes like Annatto-Infused Oil or a Basic Onion-Pepper Sofrito, to Salsas, Empanadas, Ensaladas, and mouth-watering concoctions that combine what Terry calls, “Los Dos Amigos,” also known as beans and rice.

Terry has an entire section on making vegan tamales, which includes shopping for ingredients, preparing corn husks, and prepping your work station, so that this laborious food option becomes a little less intimidating. Want to make Black Bean-Sweet Potato Tamales with Farm Table produce? Terry will walk you through it. 

Viva Vegan! is also a great option for people who would like to eat Latin food, but fear that it is too spicy. Guess what? Not all Latin food is spicy, and Terry includes these non-spicy options for those who can’t stand the heat. 

There are not a lot of photos in this cookbook, so if that is something that is important to you, know that before purchasing. My two cents? The introduction she gives to each recipe, and the way she walks you through each ingredient and how to create each dish makes the amount of photos the book contains unnecessary. 

Many thanks to Terry Hope Romero and her publishers for allowing us to present these two cookbooks to you, and to offer you the opportunity to own Vegan Eats World and Viva Vegan! in our blog give away. We are also pleased to be able to share one recipe from each book, which I will test out and post here in the coming weeks! Stay Tuned!

The outcome of my first Vegan recipe from Vegan Eats World using Shiitake Mushrooms from the The Farm Table’s Garden Box  “Takeout Stir-Fry Noodles with Mushrooms and Greens.”

To enter our Blog Give Away:

  • Farm Table members get 1 entry for simply being a Farm Table member. Just comment on this post telling us you are a current Farm Table member, and which book you would prefer if you won the give away.
  • Sign up for this blog  to the right under “Follow The Tractor” to receive email updates on future posts, then comment letting us know you’ve done so. If you already follow us, just let us know in your comment.
  • “Like” us on Facebook and then comment under this post letting us know you’ve done so.
  • Follow us on Twitter @TheFarmTable, and then comment under this post letting us know.
  • Follow us on Pinterest, and then comment under this post letting us know.
  • “Like” this post and then comment below letting us know you’ve done so.

Blog Give Away Details: Each comment counts as one entry and you have up to 6 chances to enter if you are Farm Table member, and 5 chances to enter if you are a non-member. We will choose two winners at random. One winner will receive Vegan Eats World, and a separate winner will receive Viva Vegan! Entries must be submitted by 9:00pm EST, Wednesday, November 28, 2012. The give away is open to The Farm Table blog readers in the US and Canada only. 

The give away is closed.

Congratulations to Kathleen Bowden who will be sent Viva Vegan! and Jessica Clarke who will be sent Vegan Eats World. Look for your copies in the mail!

Friday Night Is Pizza Night

16 Nov

The Farm Table would like to introduce to you to one of its members, Jennifer Burns, a mother of three: Asher (2nd grade), Grace (1st grade), and Calvin (16-month old). While she is a new member this year, the fresh and local food movement has long been  a commitment  of her’s, a commitment built on a concern for her family’s health and environmental sustainability . What draws us to Jenn are the established food traditions in her family, and the somewhat laborious tasks she takes on in the kitchen (i.e. grinding her own wheat!), both of which we have great respect for.

Allow us to introduce you to this self-proclaimed ‘army brat’ who met her husband while they both attended Georgia Southern University:

After Ryan and I moved to Richmond and had our first two children, I fell down the rabbit hole of whole foods and “natural” living, and developed roots in this city without realizing it. After an almost 3 year stint away from RVA — Redemption Hill offered Ryan a position as Director of Operations — we jumped at the chance to move back to Richmond, a place we officially call “home” now. A few months after moving back to Richmond we discovered baby Calvin would be making an appearance the next summer (Virginia is for lovers, right?). Some time during all those travels I decided that being a Christian, stay-at-home health nut mom that grinds her own wheat and makes her own deodorant and lip balm wasn’t weird enough, so we home school too. 

When we decided I would stay home after our first child was born, I began reading and learning about nutrition and natural living (he was a very mellow baby — I had time to read that year). At first  I was pretty hardcore (making deodorant? Really? Yes.). However, over the years, with the addition of children and homeschooling, I’ve had to cut back on many extracurricular “natural living” type projects in order to maintain a somewhat orderly household AND my sanity. “Different people can handle different things” has been my mantra! I was so intense about food preparation, and making as much as possible from scratch to save money so that I could use high quality food, that it’s hard for me to think of the way I cook now as being labor intensive. I admit I do still grind my own wheat berries for flour, but that’s mostly for pizza dough these days. I have been buying bread (gasp!), and I make most of our pancakes and muffins with almond meal or coconut flour. I do like to make sauces and baked goods from scratch, not just for my vampire (garlic intolerant) child, but I like having control over all the little ingredients and sneaking in veggies, like beets and kale, when I get the chance.

The biggest food tradition we have (which never occurred to me as a “food tradition” before) is Pizza Night, a tradition carried on from my childhood. Nearly every Friday we make pizza and watch a movie. When other things come up and Pizza Night cannot be bumped to Saturday, my kids tend to have a hard time. It is THAT big of a deal. I’d like to say it’s because my pizza is amazing, but it’s more likely the fact that we get to eat and watch a movie…Ok, mostly the movie. They’re rarely excited about the leftover pizza for lunch on Sunday as it is not served with television. 

Pizza dough recipe found here

I decided to give The Farm Table a go this year because it sounded like what I needed. In an ideal world we would eat primarily local, organic fruits and vegetables, and pastured animal products. Unfortunately I don’t live in that world, so we do what we can, which varies day-to-day. I like the idea of farmers markets, but I get tense and flustered in crowds. Trying to make menu, budget, and grocery decisions in that sort of environment, oh! Last year we joined a traditional CSA, which I thought was my solution. I did enjoy the idea (again with the ideas) of supporting “A Farm,” thus a specific connection to “A Food” source, but unfortunately the downside of one source is that it wasn’t feasible to supply the variety that my family would be more likely to eat with a good attitude. Also, sad though it may be, running out to the pickup location with three children very close to dinner time, wasn’t exactly roses (maybe the stems…). Enter The Farm Table. I’m told what to expect the week before (so I can plan), there’s a nice variety each week, and (drumroll please) I never have to leave my house. I would say it’s been all I hoped for, but that sounds like something my overly dramatic daughter would say (but really, it has been!). There has been much less gnashing of teeth from the vegetable-challenged members of my peanut gallery than last year. 

So far the only thing I couldn’t tackle this season was the daikon radish. There’s a good bit of food that only I enjoy (cabbage, most greens….) and I deal with that by serving it once as a dinner side that week and eating the rest for my lunches. The enormous radish just didn’t work out that way. Even I, the human garbage disposal, can only eat so much radish!

As we approach the holidays, is there a family food tradition that has been passed down in your family, a sneaky way you feed veggies to your children, or another inspiring story you have to tell?  Do you have a recipe you would like to share with The Farm Table community? We want to know?  Contact us at support@thefarmtable.org with your recipes, tips, and traditions.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing  your food and family life with us!