Archive for ‘farmer’s market’

May 27, 2013

It’s All About The Choices You Make

I am a proud customer of Smith Meadows Farm and have been so since we moved back to Arlington in 2002.  Having just finished Forrest Pritchard’s narrative of how he saved his family farm, Smith Meadows, I can’t tell you how glad I am that he made the choices that he did. As a mom of a young man who will be launching into adulthood at James Madison University this fall (and who professes a desire to major in English and Philosophy), I totally understand the less than whole-hearted embracing of his decision to choose the farm over a teaching career by his parents. But he persevered and chose not to embrace his parents’ concerns about the choices he was making. Even when his take home from the market was less than an Andrew Jackson. As his customer, I am thrilled that he had the vision and stubbornness to continue to fulfill his dream. My belly, and the bellies of my family, embrace his choices.

Enough about me though. What about the book? And the farm? And let’s not forget about the meat and the pasta?

The book is wonderful. It draws the reader into a coming-of-age tale, or maybe a conquering hero tale, or a straight up historical narrative about family farming in the USA. I am not the English major in the household. I read, I cook, I spend a lot of time bring local food into my home, and preparing it simply for the family. Gaining Ground reinforced the decisions that I make every week. But while I was reading it, I really just wanted to keep reading it, and hoped that dinner would prepare itself :)! The narrative sings, the writing is lyrical, and brings you into the story as it is lived by “Farmer Forrest” and his family.  There is hardship and sadness but the story is victorious in the end, as I am sure that you all might have imagined simply by the cover!

In addition, the narrative hinges on a decision to move to farmers’ markets close to DC, specifically the Arlington Courthouse Market. As this is the market that we shopped at when we first returned to DC, listening to the description of the behind-the-scenes market culture is priceless. And if readers have been shopping at Courthouse for the past decade or more, I am sure that you will want to read the book simply to see if you can identify who the vendors are that he describes!

Highly recommended – for those of you like me who eat as much grown locally as possible, and especially for those of you who still buy your meat at the grocery store. Stop, read, and reconsider.

May 4, 2013

Time to Skip with Joy: First Spring Markets Open Today in NoVa!

I expressed my sadness about lack of strawberries and asparagus on “the right coast” too soon! When I walked into our local farmer’s market this morning, I realized that Spring Market season began today…and with that comes a sharp uptick in the number of produce vendors….and, wait for it, those strawberries and asparagus that I was so excited about seeing in San Francisco. Now, the volume is not so great as what I saw out West, but the berries are sweet, and the asparagus will be delicious.

Our favorite crepe stand is back too…

What did I come home with?

Supplies to make keeping good on our Real Food pledge from Hometown Harvest.

  • 2 ½ gallons apple cider … made from apples only!
  • 2 loaves of bread (one country white and one honey wheat), both made from whole wheat grain
  • 1 package of Honey Greek Yogurt
  • 2 packages of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 wheel of Camembert (not pictured…it got buried in one of my bags!)
  • Mixed mushrooms
  • Persian cucumbers
  • 1 quart Strawberries
  • Cilantro
  • Asparagus
  • 1 lb. rosemary garlic sausage
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 3 lb. rump round roast

This supplements what we received from our Hometown Harvest order yesterday …

  • Asparagus
  • Spring Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Bartlett Pears
  • Avocado

Next task….to see what I have in the fridge and menu plan for the week. We get our milk and eggs on Tuesday morning, so now is the time to determine what other items I’m going to need to round out our plan for the week.

P.S. The hardest part of this challenge is going to be making sure the kids have lunches that are real food. While the twins typically pack, the eldest likes to go to The Italian Store and get pizza…

May 3, 2013

The City on the Bay: Fit for Foodies

Work took me to “the left coast” last week, and I was able to find time to explore the many food-related joys of San Francisco. I got to eat at many wonderful restaurants the feature local, sustainable cuisine, including the world famous Greens, but my most favorite food-related event was when I got to spend Saturday morning at the Ferry Pier Farmer’s Market. Anyone who’s been following my blog for any period of time knows that we almost always go to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning when we are at home …. so being able to integrate it into my travel plans made it even sweeter.

Now my friends in Chicago often express jealousy over our year-round farmer’s markets. I do love my January markets, but in the fresh produce realm those markets feature root vegetables, mushrooms, and apples. Nothing like the variety that greeted me in Northern California.

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April 15, 2013

My Ten Favorite Things About Eating Local

In no particular order, here’s my top 10.

1. You Never Know Who You’ll See At The Market.
Going to the farmer’s market is a social event … we frequent three different markets in our area (yes, we are blessed), and I cannot remember the last time that we went and did not see someone who we know. Sometimes it is a family member, sometimes a friend from high school, sometimes one of our good friends, sometimes the friend of a sibling, sometimes one of our kids’ friends, sometimes the owner of our local Thai establishment …. the list goes on and on…

2. It Just Tastes Better. I have blogged about this before, but really there is nothing, nothing like eating a snap pea, or a sweet cherry tomato, or a peach, or a lamb merguez sausage, or draining a glass of cold milk or fresh apple cider….

3. What Comes Around Goes Around. My eldest works at a local deli that sources much of what it prepares from local purveyors. Not only has he learned critical kitchen skills, but he is very knowledgeable about butchering meat and the best local cheeses. And our favorite orchard owner has repeatedly asked my daughter when she turns 16 so that she can hire her… as she knows a tremendous amount about different kinds of apples and is quite an engaging young lady.

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December 3, 2012

The SOLE Routine in the Dark Days

It’s relatively easy to eat locally in the summer season. The market is overflowing with more abundance than one can possibly cook, and the CSA delivers overflowing bags of produce, and the garden outside of the kitchen door ALWAYS has something that needs to be cooked.  But as the month of December dawns, the farmers’ markets are dwindling in size, the CSA has stopped, and although our arugula is trying hard to keep on growing (and 65 degrees today surely helped), our garden is no longer a reliable source of food.

So, what is a family to do when we are trying to eat at least one  entirely SOLE-sourced meal (for those of you new to this acronym…that is Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical)?

Well this family is truly blessed to live where we do — because although the types of local food clearly reflect the realities of the winter season, we are by no means deprived.

In fact, at our market on Saturday (East Falls Church Market, our regular Saturday market), we saw, and purchased, this incredible ruby-leaved lettuce.

Can you believe the rich color of the leaves? Oh and they are delicious too!

Can you believe the rich color of the leaves? Oh and they are delicious too!

Now this lettuce played a starring role in salads that accompanied dinner both Saturday and Sunday. But before I share that with you, let me tell you our other SOLE sources over the winter season.

Our walkable Westover Farmer’s Market just got approval for a Sunday morning market, so we can get our favorite bacon and newest favorite bread (Portuguese corn bread)!

And on Tuesday morning, we wake up to our milk and eggs from South Mountain, as well as whatever else we have decided to order (Swiss cheese and sweet bologna for tomorrow).

If I need some chicken for dinner midweek or some local beer and wine, I’ll head over to The Westover Market and Beer Haus, and for some jam and organic grains The Local Market is a great source….

And so really, runs to my local grocery store are reduced to TP, organic beans and rice, and citrus needs.  I am pretty sure that I can live like this for a  long time.

And our local meals for the weekend?

Saturday morning:

Sunday morning:

Sunday night:

Easy as can be, right?

If you’d like to see what my fellow SOLE-food bloggers are up to this winter, please follow along at our Google Reader log.  Lots of wonderful stories to read, and if you eat venison, apparently we will learn lots about different ways to prepare it from Annie and Susan this winter!

Please do join in … we are looking forward to an awesome adventure through the winter months.

November 1, 2012

Our Slow Slide Into Eating Local

When did the local eating – which now seems entirely normal –  begin? Was it our time in Bolivia, when local was mostly the only  food we had? Was it with that first North Carolina peach eagerly awaited and lovingly described by my then fiance (and now husband) as we drove from Chicago to Ocracoke, and then consumed in one delicious minute? Was it when we lived in Southern California and bags of oranges awaited us at the weekly market? Who knows? All of these experiences, and many others, feed our now routine local habit.

Since we have returned to Northern Virginia, we have slowly but surely replaced much of what we eat with locally sourced food.

We started out with the farmer’s market. Produce and bread were our main purchases. Berries, apples, asparagus, and peaches were eagerly anticipated and rapidly consumed.

This initial entre was accompanied by a vegetable and herb garden of our own. Tomatoes were the primary focus here.

We began to purchase bacon at the market and slowly purchased more and more of our meat from the market.

Next up was the CSA. Weekly produce deliveries of what was most bountiful. After an underwhelming start, we now rely on the CSA from June through November. The CSA has expanded our produce comsumption and we now look forward to garlic scapes, butternut squash, and bok choy!

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October 27, 2012

Getting Ready for Sandy at the Farmer’s Market

As is true for many of us up and down the East Coast, today is focused on preparing for Sandy. And while we have stocked up on batteries and candles, filled the cars up with gas, and will be getting leaves out of the gutters this afternoon, we started our morning with our regular visit to the farmer’s market. It was relatively quiet (I’m wondering if folks were all at the grocery store instead of the market), and so we got to enjoy the bounty that was present once again, and purchased more than enough produce to feed our gang over the next week or so.

After deciding that we wouldn’t purchase any additional meat because of concerns about a power outage — we are well-stocked with meat/protein from our favorite farms already — a stewing hen for broth, flat iron steaks, two different types of spicy sausage, pancetta, ground pork, and wild caught salmon — we focused on the fruits and veggies.

Today I was struck by the colors and shapes that were everywhere at the market, and nowhere to be seen at our local grocery store.

Gorgeous Eggplant Mixture

French Breakfast Radishes

Multicolored Pole Beans

Incredible Orange Beets

The Biggest Heads of Cauliflower I’ve Ever Seen

Romanesco Cauliflower

More of the Most Amazing Chanterelle

And what did we come home with?

Most of Our Market Haul October 27, 2012

As you might be able to see, we found our favorite orange cauliflower and some parsnips….

And a late season watermelon …

An October Watermelon

Now to plan what to make. Since we have a gas range and oven, loss of power usually means lots of cooking for us…and if we are all home on Monday or Tuesday, I might even have time to cook!

Here’s sending wishes for a safe journey through Sandy to all my friends up and down the Eastern seaboard. And good cooking through the storm!

October 20, 2012

Just Another Saturday

When the morning begins with sunshine and a trip to the Falls Church Farmers’ Market, you can be pretty sure it’s going to be a good day. There were lots of wonderful things at the market today. We still have some summer produce (tomatoes and watermelon were seen today!), but lots of fall produce too.

Our two favorite finds are in the picture below: chanterelle mushrooms and fresh ginger! Must use the ginger and the Napa cabbage in a dish this week.

The chanterelle mushrooms were featured in our breakfast today – with lemon thyme from our garden. They have a wonderful flavor and texture and were quickly consumed! Eggs, cider, and bacon from our dairy delivery (South Mountain Creamery). The avocados, of course, are not. On a side note, when we lived in Bolivia, we had an avocado tree in our front yard. There is nothing like being able to wake up and walk outside and grab an avocado off the tree for breakfast….not something we can do here in Northern Virginia.

And we just had to spend some time in the back yard because it was so darn beautiful out!

 

Now to bring the day to a close with some beautiful singing.  Here’s hoping you had a wonderful Saturday too!

October 15, 2012

Shopping Local-Style

Little time to write. But still some time for shopping at the farmer’s market. Although my schedule has been less than ideal for the past month or so, I have relied on the farmer’s market, our CSA pickup, and the milk, eggs, and meat delivered from our dairy to sustain our family.  No one has gone hungry, and my time at the grocery store has been quite curtailed. I am ready for some sanity to return to my day to day, but am blessed that I can nuture my soul and body while I shop for our daily bread.

Here are some pictures of what we got at the market this week. Although the temperatures can’t quite decide whether to exist in the warm or cool zone, this hasn’t affected produce available at the market. The colors are the rich deep reds and oranges and yellows of fall.

With some deep greens, and the whites of cauliflowers to share in the reds and yellows and oranges, we are ready to start the week.

Now, if I could only get the Man of the House to prep that kale that is sitting in the fridge waiting….

What’s your favorite fall season veggie or fruit?

September 1, 2012

First of September Many Colored Market

I never realized how colorful the end of summer market is. I used to think that when the peaches and tomatoes were in prime season that the colors at the market would be most plentiful. But as we walked and shopped this morning, I was struck by the variety of colors that are available now – as the melons come into prime season, and the peppers ripen to reds and yellows and oranges, and as the eggplants are exploding in many different shades of purple.

If I cut open these beautiful canary melons and cantaloupe, we would add some more yellows and oranges to our color spectrum.  We added one of these amazing cantaloupes to our basket.

It was hard to walk away from these eggplants, but I have some from the CSA and anticipate getting more on Tuesday.

I really just want to roast all of these peppers and store them for the dark days of winter.

Rainbow peppers

The okra is an amazing color isn’t it!

Purple okra

It’s hard to believe it’s time for apples already!

After enjoying the colors, and after a crepe and some donuts, we left with several bags of delicious produce. The mushrooms are for a mushroom lasagna, the okra for gumbo, the sandwich steaks for mini-fajitas…the sausage and loaf of country white were consumed at brunch already!  Sweet potatoes, green beans, and corn will make wonderful side dishes over the week.

From the East Falls Market on the first of September

And tomorrow we’ll visit the Westover market to add peaches and apples from Twin Springs to our weekly haul, andouille for the gumbo, shallots for the lasagna…and more I’m sure!

Hope you are getting lots of wonderful food from your farmer’s market visits this weekend!

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