Tag Archives: environment

2883.74 Miles Away

17 Jun

I spent some time in Oregon last week and had the pleasure of enjoying all of this:

Oregon Carrots

Oregon Berries

Oregon Beets

Oregon Flowers

Oregon Potatoes

Easter Egg Radishes, Oregon

Where are you going this Summer? Wherever it is, consider stopping at the Farmer’s Market!

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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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!

New Beginnings

21 Feb

Signs of new life waiting to take over the 2013 season.

The 2013 season is almost here!

Home Garden

We can almost taste it.

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! 

Giving Thanks through Food

10 Nov

When my husband and I visited Monticello for the first time and came home with a packet of seeds from their gift shop, we never imagined the harvest that would come from this souvenir.

I mentioned several posts ago that my husband’s pride and joy from our garden this year were the Long Island Cheese Squash. He grew a little about a dozen of these beautiful pumpkins, and we have since gone on to make soup, desserts, pumpkin gnocchi, and bread with them.

We were excited about the opportunity to turn these tasty vegetables into an offering of thanks to our close neighbors who helped us with the arrival of our third child in September. Most of our family lives in the Pacific Northwest, so we relied on the kindness and support of our tight-knit neighborhood  to help us with our children while we were at the hospital bringing our now 2 month old into the world. They have since brought us dinners, desserts, homemade salsa’s, among a myriad of other thoughtful gestures. Seriously. You should move here.

How were we going to show our appreciation and gratitude? Through food, of course!

Needing a creative outlet, I decided to turn these glorious pumpkins into pies, and to bake a cake for our son’s 2nd birthday. How in the world was that supposed to happen with 3 children at home? Well, I did it over the course of 3 days, and enjoyed every minute of it. I am certain it could be done in 1-2 days, but not in this house!

I used Martha Stewart’s Brown-Sugar Pumpkin Pie recipe to treat our neighbors, and this Pumpkin Layer Cake recipe to celebrate our beautiful boy.

Day One: I halved 3 pumpkins total, scooped out the seeds, quartered them, and baked them individually, cut side up in the oven for 1-hour at 350 degrees. I placed a baking dish full of hot water on the bottom rack.

Out came this:

After cooling, I scooped  the pumpkin away from the skin and placed in our food processor.

I blended the squash for a few minutes and out came this  brilliant, bright orange, creamy puree. 3 pumpkins gave me approximately 13-cups of puree.

Day 2 and 3: I turned the puree into 6 desserts. One for each neighbor, and one for the birthday boy.

I had about 1 cup of puree left, and noticed after 2 days in the fridge that the puree lost its color, so recommend using the puree soon after you make it. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, or you can freeze it for a couple of months.

A local friend who attended the New England Culinary Institute, and was the head chef and manager of a Bed & Breakfast in Vermont imparted this bit of knowledge along to me, “Pumpkins that come out of the can are drained of excess moisture before they are canned. This intensifies the pumpkin taste and ensures a great pie crust. When you cook a pumpkin at home, once its out of the oven and you can safely handle it (it should still be warm), you should puree it and then put it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth – this extracts some of the excess moisture in it and intensifies the flavor. This can all be done on the counter top.”

I recommend both recipes for your upcoming holiday meals, and encourage you to purchase a packet of these happy little seeds for your garden next year. You will not be disappointed, unless of course they don’t grow. In that case — try again.

I know at least one green-thumbed friend who is getting a packet of these seeds in her holiday card this year!

What sorts of things do you make to give thanks to those around you?

Here are some suggestions I found using pumpkins:

I do believe there are Pie Pumpkins available this week as an add-on.

Hmmm. How convenient!

Get To Know: The Farm Table, Part III

18 Oct

We love the community you have helped The Farm Table build. Our Members, Area ManagersFarmers, and our Neighborhood Coordinators, together, make a difference in supporting our local economy, and building a food community that brings farmers and families together. Eating local food creates jobs, boosts the economy, promotes health and well-being, and supports a healthy environment with thriving communities.

We are thrilled with the outpouring of support our members have shown toward helping the Flores Farm expand their irrigation system. Through your generous help, Flores Farms will be able to double the amount of irrigated fields on their 50-acre farm, ultimately allowing them to increase the variety of produce they provide next season. The Farm Table and the Flores Farm are grateful for the generosity our members have shown thus far — please keep it coming. What a difference you are making! 

In our Get to Know series, we’d like to share more about the Flores Farm, and introduce you to a few more of the Farm Table team who link you to your local farmers. Thank you for reading and keeping it local!

Since immigrating to this country two decades ago, Virginia farmer Gerardo Flores has become known for his ability to grow such rare vegetables as sorrel, purslane, Japanese daikon radishes, and more than fifteen types of hot peppers. Gerardo and his son Omar farm fifty acres of produce on the Northern Neck and count Hispanic and Asian produce buyers in the Washington, DC, area among their customers. Even so, according to Omar, “With the agriculture economy the way it is, we weren’t sure we were going to make it.” Having a network of families supporting local farmers has helped to add as much as $1,000 a week to a farmer’s income,  “Some weeks that’s what keeps us in business,” says Omar. “For us, this is the future.”

Peter Pickering is a former Neighborhood Coordinator turned Area Manager.

“I manage driving the truck.

They call me The Pirate and the truck is my ship.

I plunder the 7 seas for the finest produce, and deliver only the most excellent treasures to the people.

I am a graduate student at VCU studying counselor education.

I have a small farm with my wife.

We have chickens and guineas, bunnies and ducks.”

Shari Fowler joined The Farm Table and began making deliveries early last year, shortly after The Farm Table began operations. She added newsletter duties a few weeks later and has been doing it ever since.

She is originally from Dayton, Ohio where she met her husband Chris of 23 years. She lived in Central PA, and Apex, NC before moving to Richmond two years ago with her children Dana (13), and Curtis (11), and their 14-year-old German Wirehaired Pointer, Emma.

Shari used to have her own garden, but since her current property isn’t ideally suited for it, she decided to do the “next best thing” and become a Farm Table member. A self described “foodie”, Shari likes to entice her family with fun and creative ways to eat nutritious, tasty cuisine. Her favorite new food this season were the oyster mushrooms, “They looked freakish but were oh-so-delicious simply grilled over an open flame with olive oil.”

Shari is the owner and creator of Iberian Inspirations Natural and Organic Body Polishes and Body Butters. In her spare time, Shari grows exotic plants and orchids, hikes, kayaks, practices yoga, and listens to music.

To help us celebrate our local food community, and meet The Farm Table team, join us at Grayhaven Winery on Sunday, October 21st at 1:00pm. Bring a picnic blanket, the kids, and a batch of dip to share for our second annual fall dip-off! Kick off your shoes and enjoy a glass of small-batch crafted wine by the masters at Grayhaven. Observe or participate as we create our own batch of homemade apple butter to jar and send home with our members. Kids can enjoy face painting, a corn pool, nature trails, and the animals at Grayhaven. Check your official Evite to RSVP.

A Horticultural Victory

28 Aug

Long Island Cheese Squash.

My husband’s pride and joy from our garden this year.

Long Island Cheese Squash

We picked up the seed packet during a visit to Monticello (part of The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants collection) and planted some for the first time last year. Unfortunately, we grew only one lonesome “Cheese Wheel,” most of which was enjoyed by our backyard squirrels. This year was different, though. To our delight, this old, Long Island Heirloom has been prolific and grew ten plump, delicious, and versatile winter squash that made my husband’s gardening efforts more than worthwhile this year.

We look forward to making soups and pies, and sneaking the puree of this vegetable into our children’s macaroni and cheese, muffins, and anything else we can imagine.

You can pick up your own packet of this heirloom variety at Monticello’s Heritage Harvest Festival coming up on September 14th and 15th. 

What is the pride and joy of your garden? Post a picture for us on Facebook and tell us about it!