Archive for ‘Travel’

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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August 21, 2012

Food Trucks Invade The Beach

We love Ocracoke because it is beach and just about only beach. There is a town, but there is no boardwalk, and the beach is just beach. Like so. Usually a bit more in focus, but you get the  idea.

It’s been two years since we’ve been here, and since then, food trucks have come to Ocracoke. This is not a problem on my account.  In fact, all of the family foodie was ecstatic to see additional eating options.

The boys immediately got on their bikes and headed over to Eduardo’s Taco Truck after the beach yesterday,  but the gals decided that our first food truck adventure on the island would be the crepe stand. The Picky Eater is a crepe afficiando, and joins us at the market on Saturday morning precisely because she can have crepes. Given that, a rainy day at the beach was greeted with, “Can we get some crepes? Please?”

No way that we can say no to that.

The boys went off to do the rainy day clamming (so that we can make our Ocracoke Clam Chowder), and the gals went off to shop and eat crepes at The Corner Crepe.

Choosing required some deliberation.

Savory or sweet?

The adults went for the savory, Southpoint (avocado, bacon, jack cheese) and the Frenchie (spinach, mushrooms and swiss)

the girls, the sweet: the modified Elvis (nutella, bacon, and powdered sugar) and the Pierette (strawberries and chocolate ganache)

The modified Elvis was the favorite of all – sweet and salty is an amazingly good combination – and bacon makes everything better, right?  All of the crepes were lucious – and the boys, jealous that we went while they worked for our dinner! If ever you head down Ocracoke-way, do stop at The Corner Crepe.

August 20, 2012

Preserving Summer Produce: Quick Pickles

Many of you may think that getting ready for the beach entails laundry and shopping and packing. For me, this year, beach preparation involved thinking about how to make sure that none of the produce that we have from the garden and the CSA was wasted. And so, pickles.

We had some beets from several weeks ago, carrots, and more yellow squash than we know what to do with. A few quick Epicurious searches later, and I was in quick pickling heaven.

We made 5 quarts of pickles: yellow squash, carrots, and beets. The yellow squash pickles have already become a mainstay of our beach cuisine – everyone is pleased with them.  The best thing about quick pickles is that other than chopping, the time involved is minimal.

First – prep your veggies – cut into bite sized pieces, blanch the carrots, boil the beets, no need to cook the others.

Second – peel and smash a couple of cloves of garlic.

Third – identify any spices from the fridge you might want to add- dill or parsley or fennel in our case.

Fourth – boil some vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns and/or fennel seed for about two minutes, or until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

Fifth – pour over the veggies in a clean glass jar.

Sixth – cool and then put in the fridge.

Then, let sit for a day or so in the fridge and enjoy…

Easy peasy – and quick to be consumed!

If you want actual recipes, I found lots on Epicurious.

June 20, 2012

Paella Recipe From The Eldest

Paella Recipe.

Shared by my eldest son, direct from Spain!  For those of you who follow my blog with little kids, here is what your little ones might be  writing when they are rising seniors in high school

J-man — when you get back, you will be cooking for us!

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May 7, 2011

The Blandy Experience

The man of the house arrived back from a conference in NYC at 2 am, the twins had to be at school for a band trip at 6 am, but the morning dawned clear and crisp.  What should the adults do with their gift of a day? After a few more hours of shut eye, and a quick spin to the farmers’ market, it was decided.  A drive in the country…to a plant sale at the State Arboretum of Virginia, a.k.a. the Blandy Experimental Farm.

A friend had recommended the sale, and the conditions were perfect, so off we went!

The man of the house is always interested in plants and he was seeking some new herbs to add to our newly expanded herb garden, as well as shrubs for the hill, and anything else novel.  There were certainly many plants that you would see in your average nursery, but quite a lot of novel varieties that he hadn’t yet encountered.

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October 13, 2010

Art and Science at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival

Who’s ready to shop for Christmas?  I’m not quite ready, but a visit to the Sugarloaf Craft Festival certainly got me thinking about who needs gifts, and who might really enjoy something from the festival. Do you know someone who might need an adult-sized rocking horse?

Well that one was already sold by the time we got there on Sunday afternoon, but if you think it looks cool, you could see if The Boss Rocker will be exhibiting at the Festival when it comes back to Gaithersburg in November (19, 20, 21st).  I plan to be there again, and this time I’ll have my list in hand (planning works for meals and the holidays too!!). 

We (or perhaps I) had been wanting to visit the Sugarloaf Craft Festival for years, and when a reader of our blog offered us tickets, I accepted (friendly readers, the FTC requires that we acknowledge gifts).  I want to thank and acknowledge that gift, and now, let me share with you about our visit to the craft festival.

The Festival is a juried craft festival which holds shows in the Mid-Atlantic and New England throughout the year.  Pre-kids, we would regularly visit arts and craft festivals in the cities where we lived, but have not been regular visitors in recent years. But as the kids are older now, they are more willing partners in this sort of an event, and individual preferences lead them to unique stalls—many that we might never have considered—

The Picky Eater and I took the slow road through the jewelry stalls, considering earrings and rings and nifty necklaces.  She and her brother were fascinated to learn how the gentlemen at Symmetry Tile Works made their glazed tiles – incorporating flower stems, and sea stars, and dragon flies into their tiles, and using recycled glass to glaze the tiles.  The Picky Eater got to make her own impression in a tile, and was ready to buy enough of the completed tiles to tile her entire room.  Check out the images of their tiles on their photo gallery.

You could outfit a kitchen with pottery and wooden serving implements and cutting boards and bowls, and fill the cabinets with family-produced maple syrup (yum!!), and olive oil, and herbs, and jams…and you could even purchase a beautiful dining room table and chairs and hutch.

The boys were focused on wood and metal kitchen implements from Sharp Chef, and photos of the universe from Galactic Images (which made the Berry Hater very very happy), and, of course the Festival fare. 

How could you possibly turn down the offer of meatball-on-a-stick,

or barbeque pork sandwich with a smoothie,

or sweet potato fries?

A beautiful day filled with delicious food and impressive crafts and good company.  Works for me as a weekend event. 

Does anyone have favorite vendors that they visit at Sugarloaf?  I’d love to hear about them.

September 20, 2010

Frontier Culture Museum – Farming in the Valley of Virginia

Over summer vacation (which seems like a million years ago after two weeks of school), we took the kids to the Frontier Culture Museum.  Located in Staunton, Virginia, it is definitely worth a visit.  A living museum, it tells the story of immigrants to Colonial America from England, Ireland, Germany, and West Africa. Many of these families worked on farms or as craftsman, and the museum has recreated farms from the  countries’ homelands, and illustrated how these different farming and cultural heritages intertwined in America. 

The farms are worked throughout the year, and so we got to learn all about colonial farming techniques, how they differed by country of origin, and how they blended in the Valley of Virginia.  It’s really neat – and we all had a great time. Dad learned about different gardening techniques; the twins learned about making homemade cheese, grinding oats for porridge, that pigs are smelly and that chickens come in many different shapes and sizes; and the eldest was excited to learn about the tradition of primogeniture in 17th century England (from which our ancestors were escaping!)….

For your viewing pleasure, food and farming-related images are below.  P.S.  The West African farm wasn’t open yet when we were there, so no pictures from that venue.

We began on a 17th century English farm,

where we learned how to make cheese,

using a cheese press,

After a quick visit to the shared garden (between the English and the Irish, I believe) – note the raised beds for those of you interested in square foot gardening,

we meandered over to the Irish farm,

where there were pigs,

and chickens,

eggs from his harem,

and The Picky Eater learned how to grind her own oats (maybe for granola bars?!?).

Next up, the German farm,

where there are funny-looking chickens,

a fig tree,

and a garden with the necessary ingredients for sauerkraut,

Then we wandered over to the American side of the living museum, where we witnessed how these different heritages influenced farming, gardening, and eating in their new homeland – the Valley of Virginia.

The garden,

A teenager who doesn’t quite understand the work entailed in using a scythe on a farm,

For those of you looking for a fun place to take the family – this one should be on your list!

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