Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah Everyone

If you are making latkes at home:

Happy holidays!  Enjoy your friends and loved ones.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

RoseMERRY Christmas

I love to decorate Christmas trees. But this year, I'm going to be in Costa Rica for the holidays with my mom and sister.  So, instead, I have a rosemary bush dressed up as a tree.

Smells delicious and I'll be able to use it to cook! It is a wonderful compromise.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter CSA

Last Thursday, I picked up my first CSA share from ECO City Farm in Edmonston, MD.

I couldn't be more excited to participate in ECO's CSA. My first share included swiss chard, mustard greens, lettuce mixes, pea shoots, another other greens. The CSA will run all winter long thanks to ECO's hoop houses and dedicated farm team.

I also took home some of the harvest from the Public Health Garden of kale, lettuce and mustard greens on Thursday.  Needless to say, my fridge is full of greens, which I hope will make perfect study food as I near the end of the semester (finals are 14th and 15th of this month!).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time for Brussels Sprouts! YES!

Look at what I brought home with me from the farmers' market in Riverdale on Thurs:

Yes, that is a giant brussels sprout stalk strapped into my back seat of my car.  So awesome. Here are the sprouts as I prepared them for cooking:

Best thing to do with brussels sprouts is here on the blog.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Logan in the wild!

Logan enjoying the outdoors this weekend on a hike at Great Falls National Park

Tomatoes in Nov

Something great happened: my life is overwhelmed with tomatoes in Nov!
Green tomatoes from the Public Health Garden:

Here they are sauteed with onions and a little garlic (delicious):

I went to the Greenbelt Farmers' Market today and came home with a giant box of tomato 2nds (only cost $10!). I used them to repeat a wonderful tomato soup recipe from Smitten Kitchen that I made for my roommate's birthday last week.

Here is what I had to start with:

 I suggest you go out and find some end-of-season tomatoes and prepare this fantastic soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup (from Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) dried crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
What You Do
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Wrap garlic cloves in a tight foil packet (I used parchment paper).
  3. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil.
  6. Add packet of garlic to tray.
  7. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender (garlic will be very tender), about 1 hour.
  8. Cool slightly.
  9. Unwrap garlic packet and peel cloves.
  10. Transfer cloves, tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a blender or food processor and pulse machine on and off until tomatoes are a chunky puree.
  11. Transfer tomatoes to medium pot and add thyme, crushed red pepper and stock and bring to a boil.
  12. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.
 YUM! Here are my tomatoes getting ready to roast and coming out of the oven:

Going into the oven

Coming out of the oven!
On the table for my roommate's birthday

Visit to Larriland Farms

This season has been action packed, and I apologize for the lack of posts here on the blog. Now that Oct. is over (along with its tremendous amount of events and activities), I'm hoping to pick back up with the blog and reflecting on the fall season. I will be sharing some details of wonderful meals and adventures, I promise!

One fantastic fall activity was a visit to Larriland Farms for pick-you-our veggies with Just Saying's Deb and family. While the apples were all picked from the trees (it was a very beautiful-but busy- weekend!), I was able to pick my own swiss chard, broccoli, and cauliflower. I was also able to purchase a half bushel of apples from the barn to share with the Public Health Garden's volunteers and guests at the Harvest Festival on Food Day (Oct 24).
Here are some pictures to capture the day:
Pick your own broccoli field

Pick your own chard and spinach

Yellow cauliflower

Swiss chard

Cutting my own cauliflower-- a seasonal favorite of mine!

A very happy Allison

So many apples!

Dividing up the apples by variety
More posts and catching up to come!  I suggest you get out to your farmers' market to catch the end of the season.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall Has Arrived: Squash Soup

Wow, fall really snuck up on me this year. I am busy catching up on reading for class (it might be a bad sign that I have to catch up on week three, but I won't worry about that now).  I am also starting to prep some of the first foods of fall 2011.

Tonight, I made beet risotto from a previous post as well as crunchy, crusty loaf bread.  Additionally, I prepped a new squash soup I found when looking for an easy recipe on The Food Network. It is simple and delicious.  I suggest you try it during your fall transition to help ease you in.

Squash Soup (from Alton Brown)

What You Need

  • 6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks squash (butternut squash or other)

  • Melted butter, for brushing

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon

  • 3 cups vegetable stock

  • 4 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger

  • 4 ounces heavy cream

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • What You Do

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper.
    3. On a pan, lay the squash flesh side up.
    4. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.
    5. Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger.
    6. Bring to a simmer and for 10 minutes.
    7. Blend.
    8. Stir in heavy cream and return to a low simmer (I didn't have cream, so I skipped this step).
    9. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

    Bring on fall!
    Beautiful fall tree from The Daily Balance

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Visit to Arcadia

    I first learned about Arcadia in an article in Flavor Magazine describing the farm and its related food initiatives. While I didn't hear about Arcadia until recently, I was familiar with Birch and Barley in my old stomping ground of Logan Circle, DC. The resturant is part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group that provided the start-up funds for the project and currently sources produce from the farm. After reading the article I was immediately excited and wanted to learn more, but with the beginning of the semester and fall activities ramping up, I wasn't sure when I would have time to go out to the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation to visit. Until a friend of mine emailed me to let me know that she planned a visit and tour over there and asked if I wanted to come along.  How could I say no to a morning out of the office and on the farm talking about local farming initiatives?

    Here are some photos from the farm:

    Existing beds

    Beautiful crops

    Themed raised beds for educational programming with D.C. Farm to School Network

    Educational bed used by D.C. Farm to School Network

    Love these signs and want to replicate them at the Public Health Garden

    "Taste me" sign and boots used as containers!

    Compost and bees in the background
    In addition to the farm itself, Arcadia's food initiatives include a mobile market serving low income DC residents and the D.C. Farm to School Network.  They are also exploring opportunities to start a food hub and become a farm incubator, providing education to people who are interested in learning to farm themselves.  Not only did we get to spend time talking with Farm Manager, Mo, about the farm and the food initiatives running out of Arcadia, we also got to witness expansion of the farm.

    When we arrived, the tractor just got started on a new area for the farm.

    Ready to expand!  Taking a look at the new space and discussing the cover crop that will go in soon.
    We were so impressed and inspired by the work at Arcadia, and also the delicious vegetables we got to take home from our visit. It is so exciting to learn about projects promoting sustainable agriculture and local farms while helping to increase access to fresh produce for D.C.

    Want to visit and support this initiative? Another exciting event at Arcadia: The Vices That Made Virginia.

    Thanks to Mo and Arcadia for allowing us to visit!  We can't wait to go back.

    Fall Cider

    I promise this will be the last post on beverages for awhile but last night we had a cookout at my house (after attending the nearby Maryland Renaissance Festival) and opened up the hard cider from Albemarle Ciderworks. It was just as wonderful as I remember it from the tasting I had in their tasting room.  

    Hard cider is best made from heritage varieties of apples and can be very unique (and delicious). The transformation of the apple industry and its move to only a small homogeneous selection of sweet apples is interesting and explained very well by Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire. Cideries like Albemarle Ciderworks are bringing back American varieties of apples that were used by Jefferson and the founding fathers to make America's beverage of choice, cider. And I love Mr. Jefferson.  So, cider that was good enough for him, is certainly good enough for me.

    The other thing I love about cider is that it is perfect for fall and often inspires festivals. Consider attending some apple harvest festivals this season, like those at Albermarle Ciderworks.  

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Nelson County: More Breweries than Stoplights

    For me, trips to central Virginia often end up an ode to the University and a celebration of the food and beverages produced in the Commonwealth.  Not only is VA producing wonderful wine (as described in my previous post), but many breweries are popping up as well.  I went to meet a new friend and Sustainability Coordinator for UVA Dining at Devil's Backbone and was thrilled with their beer, although a bit intimidated by the size of the tasting.

    What was most surprising, however, was the number of breweries we passed on the way to Devil's Backbone.  Rt. 151 is filling up with breweries- it was so exciting to see.  I also learned that while there are now four breweries in Nelson County, there is still only one stoplight!

    I was thrilled to get the chance to talk about local and sustainable food with an incredible woman, Kendall Singleton who is working for UVA Dining.  We were able to discuss the successes and challenges in promoting environmental stewardship at institutional dining halls and operations.

    I also visited some lovely chickens perched in downtown Charlottesville:

    VA, beer, sustainable food, and happiness!

    Central VA Wine

    There is nothing I like better than a trip to Charlottesville, VA and the surrounding area of central VA. This summer I took a wonderful trip and visited some of my favorite wineries and some new ones as well.  With nearly 200 wineries, VA is a wonderful place to explore wine.

    Here was the wine tour:
    Grapes growing at Veritas on the porch

    Veritas wines, yum!

    Stinson wines, new but delicious

    Outside White Hall

    Inside Glass House, very unique with tons of tropical plants

    Rain storm at Glass House

    After the rain, saying goodbye