Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Local Summer Week 11

This week, thanks to finally getting tomatoes in both my share and my garden, I have enjoyed dishes that featured them prominently.
After my dd hurt her wrist I spent a long day going from doctors office to d0ctors office in the temperatures that crested in the high 90's. When we finally made it home I was in the mood for a simple, cool dinner. I sliced and toasted a local loaf of sandwich bread, rinsed some large leafs of butterhead lettuce from the farmers market, sliced up my 2nd purple russian tomato, cooked up some crisp slices of Baker's bacon, and even tried to make my own mayo.

The mayo didn't work out the way I planned so I substituted some I already had on hand but in the end what I had was the best local BLT.

Week 11 CSA

After taking last week off from driving to the farm and picking, this week was another double share. It was also the Dog Days of August festival weekend at Great Country Farm, which means that peaches were in full swing and the there were doggies every where you looked. We picked a small bag of green beans and 6 peaches for our half share u-pick bonus.

The blackberries were also in the bonus but because of our late start K was to tired to stop at a third field. We fed the goats, grabbed some hamburgers and headed home. When we got home here is what we found in our box.

The tomatoes made their first appearance and should be in full swing for the rest of the season, until the fall frosts knock them out. Another nice summer debut (at least for us) was the watermelon, so dense that the second the knife pierced the skin the whole thing burst in half, happy to be free from the constraints of its rind. The corn is in full swing and the summer squash is still coming. I'm really enjoying the head of lettuce. The cilantro will be nice to use in salsa as mine has already gone to seed.

At the Leesburg Farmers Market I picked up my usual chibatta from South Street Under and a treat for K from Lola's. Then it was off to Potomack Vegetable Farms to get some leeks and onions. A lite market trip this week as we have lots of produce from the double farm share.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

National Farmers Market Week

Did you know that this last week (Aug 2-9) was National Farmers Market Week? Well, I did thanks to the heads up and encouragement from FoodieTots. Of course, we planned on being at at least one market anyway but in true Murphys Law fashion, the one week we should be at the market almost turned into the first week of the year where we did not even get to a single market.

I don't know how I forgot to swing by the Frying Pan Park Market on Wednesday when I planned my early lunch hour specifically to take advantage of it. Or how I managed to not leave with enough time to swing by the Reston Town Center market before I had to pick K up from preschool in order to make it to swim lessons. And then came Saturday, our usuall day of local food worship with planned stops at the Leesburg Farmers Market and/or the Purcelville Market along with u-pick and share pick-up at the farm. Surely, we'd be able to pick up our regular list of goodies and at this market I could take the time and get some good pictures of K for the Flicker pool.However, Saturday morning came and I woke up 3 hours late with a killer migrain and a whole host of other ailment that kept me in bed or immobilized most of the day.

Saturday night, with only one day left, I was just sitting up to re-write my list and plan a Sunday trip to the Cascades Farmers Market when K decided that no bedtime routine would be complete without some death-defying feat of acrobatics. The scream that emanated from her room was enough to get past my migraine and I bolted out of bed. No broken bones or abnormal swelling were immediately apparent but it was certain that she had at least sprained her right wrist and was intent on making her pain known to the whole world. She couldn't sit up, lay down, read books, drink water, move blankets, reach for a stuffed animal or go to the bathroom on her own and every few hours all night long, screamed bloody murder for my assistance. I was afraid that it might be worse than it looked or that we'd both be too tired to go anywhere, much less try to maneuver the crowded market.

But I had underestimated the power of fresh food, good people, and the sights and smells that only a Farmers Market can bring. All I had to do was ask "Do you want to go to the Farmers Market?" and my frail invalid was suddenly recovered enough to get dressed on her own, complete with arm sling, and head out to the car, albeit slower than usual, with the hope of getting not only her favorite market treat, a cookie, but also yummy food for the week ahead. My list was down to only the essentials as I had too much food to use up from overfilled shares and I was in a cooking rut and unable to make even a basic meal out of the food I had on hand but I planned to get bread, bacon, eggs, and potatoes. When we got there during the last hour of the market, K happily walked very slowly back and forth with my while I browsed for the best buys on my list. I ended up with my gold standards, Becky's Whole Wheat Bread, Bakers bacon, Red, Yellow and Blue potatoes from Onyx Hill Farm and a last minute find of eggs at Bigg Rigg's along with some of their bottled Awesome Sauce and a carton of Tomatillos. K also asked for some flowers so we got a bunch of zinnias from Medinas Produce. Last, but most importantly, K got her brownie bar from MeLoveCookies.

There is something magical about spending a few minutes at the market. The people, the sounds, the smells and the moments. I like, when K lets me, to just stop and take it all in. K likes the colors and shapes, the samplers and the dogs; I like the inspiration, the motivation and the feeling of community. Today she was really drawn to all the different tomatoes and how none of the looked like the purple ones we are growing at home. She picked out a bunch of tiny purple potatoes, tasted Bigg Rigg's Peach Jam on crackers, listened very shyly as the Banjo player sang Mary Had a Little Lamb just for her, was very intent on following a rather large shepard as he and his owner browsed for corn, and reluctantly let me hold her beloved flowers so that she could use her one good hand to pet the stuffed dog at Chase Your Tale Bakery.

On what started as a miserable day K returned with a smile on her face (and chocolate brownie too) and a story to tell her grandparents. And the market turned my day around too. When I got home, my headache and my cookers-block was gone and I effortlessly whipped up bunch of local dishes like BLTs, roasted cabbage colcannon and tri-potato mash, diced potato bakes, freezer coleslaw, roasted corn, peach medley and put by a bunch of cabbage, zucchini, peaches and onions with dreams of local produce in winter soups, breads, and pies.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One Local Summer Week 10

In celebration of our first homegrown tomato and the bounty that is available here in Northern Virginia, K and I spend Monday evening washing, spinning, slicing, dicing, shredding, and throwing our very own local salad buffet party. Here is K holding the first of the Purple Russian tomato and one of the red bell peppers.

After harvesting the fresh tomato, bell pepper, spinach, chard, beet greens and nasturtium blossoms from the garden we pulled out the cucumber, green beans and peaches from our farm share and added the smoked ham and lettuce we got from the farmers market and the cheese that gets delivered, along with our milk, from South Mountain Creamery. Each got its own little bowl and once we sat down at the table we got to pick our own combination of fresh, local produce to make our party salad.

Here is what mine looked like.
And here is K adding the final touch to her creation: cheese, cheese, and mom can I have some more cheese?

Disclaimer: items pictured on this child's plate may or most likely may not have actually been eaten. This image has been provided to represent a sampling of likely edible objects. Each was tried, however not all passed the "I don't like it" test equally. The cheese, however, was delicious.

Fiber and Needlework Update

After repeatedly blowing off a number of fiber and needle work projects that have gotten nowhere I have found that over the last few weeks I got my motivation and inspiration back. First I finally finished the scarf for my mom that was intended as last years X-mas gift but was only just started by that fateful day. Gives a new meaning to X-mas in July.
Next I finally gave in and washed, sorted and organized my stash of fabric and notions. I made plans for what fabrics needed to be made into what garments and by the time I was done I was overwhelmed so I decided to start with the simplest 2 projects first. That lead me to printing out the Lazy Days Skirt from Oliver+S and quickly whipping it up. The hardest part was deciding which ribbon to use.

As you can see I went with the solid purple. It looks vary cute and K loves it. I see more of them in our future.
Next project was created out of desperation. If I was going to get more motivated to complete/start other knitting projects and get ready for this X-mas I was going to need to make it easier to see at a glance what needles and notion I have and make it easy to take them with me. I already had a very large needle case that came with a set my grandmother gave me so what I really needed was something that could hold my double pointed needles, my crochet hooks and have plenty of room for future needles. After browsing some online patters and ready-mades I dove in to some miscellaneous fat quarter I had and came up with this. Not made particularly precise but I will do for now. Things I would have done differently would be to remember to attach the ties before sewing the whole thing, adding extra fabric to re-enforce the bottom, making a few smaller rows, adding a pocket for small notions, and making the whole thing in 2 pieces, the pockets and a separate cover to keep the stitches from showing on the outside. Here is another view of it with the flap down to prevent things from slipping out and partially rolled. The ties are a little awkward but I really like it and it works well.

Lastly, I have decided that I want to learn sock and this time I will keep at it until I do. My strategy for success includes leveraging the fact that i finally signed up for Ravelry, using the correct yarn, having the right dpns, and, most importantly, starting with kids socks (they are smaller and quicker to make progress on). In fact, in the time it took me to finishing composing this post, I have already done one. I don't want to put pictures up yet as they are a gift, but soon I'll show you all of them.

Week 9 CSA

I can't believe that its already been 9 weeks. I'm so excited to see the first cobs of corn. I'm hoping to can up a bunch like I did last year because its such a treat to have your own corn in soups, on salads, and anywhere you would normally use canned corn all year round. These ears, however are destined to be enjoyed fresh. Green beans are also starting to appear in large quantities and will likely continue for the remainder of the season thanks to successive plantings.
We are starting to get the free stone peaches and I finally got a few precious donut peaches to try. I was afraid that I was going to miss the chance to try them. Another treat is the very first apple of the season! I can't wait until fall and the chance to make apple pie.
2 pints of blackberries were the u-pick bonus again along with 4 peaches but we spent our time picking an extra 2 pints of blackberries (not free) and there were some problems with the hayride so we skipped the peaches. Its OK, I think I have 6 bags of them slowly ripening and waiting to be sliced and frozen right now.
From the Leesburg Farmers Market I got more onions, garlic, and eggs from Potomac Vegetable Farm, a head of butter leaf lettuce from Endless Harvest and Boston Pork Butt from Bakers. Not sure what I'm going to do with the pork but I'm slowly restocking the fridge with both veggies and meat and the price was good so why not.

Week 7/8 CSA

I took advantage of my farms vacation hold to take a much need break from all the driving and excess of vegetables on week 7. That means I can double my share on a future week, which I did for week 8. As my fridge was indeed very full for week 7, I went easy on the Farmers Market purchases, grabbing a new bag of organic, fair trade, locally roasted coffee from the Thursday Reston Farmers Market run by Smart Market, Inc. at Reston Town Center and stocked up on onions to dice and freeze from Potomac Vegetable Farm at the Saturday Reston Farmers Market in the Lake Anne Plaza. From there we enjoyed lunch al fresco at the little latin eatery that overlooks the edge of the lake before taking a long afternoon hike along the trails that circle around that part of Reston. We had a great casual Saturday that I hope to repeat more often as the temperatures return to a reasonable level in the fall.

For week 8 we returned to the farm and picked up double our usual share. Pictured below is only one of the two boxes (my usual half)
Also as this weeks u-pick bonus, we picked 2 pints from the very last few blackberries on the over-picked first field during the blackberry festival at the farm and managed to find 4 semi-ripe peaches.

Week 6 CSA

Here is a quick snapshot of what came in my box for week 6.
And here are the green beans, plums and peaches that we picked (all but 2/3 of the peaches came as a u-pick share bonus--which means free)
Here is what I picked up this week at the Leesburg Farmers Market on our way to the farm. The smoked sliced ham and bacon is from Baker's.
Here is a close up of the delicious, indulgent chabatta bread from South Street. It was even better than I had imagined it.
At the Potomac Vegetable Farms booth I got onions, shallots, garlic scapes (probably the last until next year) and some rosemary.
At Bigg Riggs booth I stocked up on zucchini and potatoes and couldn't pass up a patty pan squash.
And for our sandwich and toasting pleasure (and because it's too hot or I'm just plain too lazy to bake my own bread right now) a nice wheat loaf from Becky's Pastries.
And i finally got around to shelling the two bags of peas that were waiting in the fridge. All it took was a good movie and a couple of hours and now I have 2 quarts of frozen blanched peas waiting for winter soups.

We've got milk!

A year and a half ago, after living here for part of the winter, I began my search for local milk and cheese (see my post In Search of Milk). After some virtual searching, I found South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, MD and we went to visit. I liked what I saw and when we got home we enjoyed their products but at the time they were not doing home delivery to our area and it was too far to drive on a regular basis on top of the driving we were doing to the farm. So that idea was put on hold and if not forgotten about, at least put on the back burner. Fast forward to last month when for some reason I thought to check their website again and behold, they are now doing delivery to our town. Shout of excitement could be heard.

We've been getting deliveries every Friday for the past 3 weeks and it has been wonderful. I'm paying about what I'd pay at the grocery store for K's organic whole milk and I'm also getting their cheeses, some meats, and K loves their yogurt. The ordering mechanism on the website is phenomenal and I'm quite pleased with customer support. There was a minor delivery issue, one item that I ordered was not delivered, but it was cleared up quickly and courteously with the credit being applied to my next order. I just happened to be home when the first delivery was made and I got the chance to meet our "milk man". I was a little nervous about leaving the cooler in the apartment hallway where the neighborhood kids hang out so he said it would be no problem to leave it on the back porch. If anyone local is looking for a local source of milk, I have not problems recommending South Mountain Creamery.

Posting Blitz on the way

I'm getting caught up on my posts. Here come a bunch of them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Harvest Monday

I forgot to hit the publish button so this is more like a harvest Thursday.

Here goes my first post to join in on Daphne’s Harvest Monday. This week I harvested lots of small things to make room for my fall plantings and plucked a few jewels too.

The prize this week goes to my first lemon cucumber. It’s a little on the small side but since it was growing on the outside of the fence where children like to run past and in full access to the pounding rains of summer thunderstorms I was worried about loosing it, so I picked it as soon as it looked ready. I’m looking forward to eating it raw or with a salad.

The carrots were about as wide as they were going to get but I knew that they were not going to get much more length being buried under the potato vines which had begun to lean their way so 14 little stub came out.

The beets, while always giving nice greens which were out-competing the chard, were beginning to push up out of the ground way too far and I could see that they too were never going do much so out they came. Speaking of chard, I trimmed off 5 large and 8 smaller leaves. I also brought in a handful of spinach from the next container over.

Next to be pulled were a middle row of onions that were being exposed by the constant drops of water running off the flower planter above them every time it rained or I watered. I found an article from Kiwi magazine about how to braid garlic and onions so these little orbs became my practice set.
I harvested 4 red and 2 yellow mini bell peppers. They are so sweet. I also pulled down all of the peas and beans along the trellis and harvested a few pods of dried half runner beans. None of the beans did too well in this strange weather and in the spots in the containers where I squeezed them in so by the end of the year I might have enough for a mixed bean soup or they may all just be saved for next years seeds.

Lastly, I trimmed all of the largest basil leaves, clipped 10 sprigs of thyme, and pulled up one dead cilantro plant for the dried coriander seeds. I washed, dried and froze the basil leaves whole. I am drying the thyme sprigs.

I’m already looking forward to next week when I should get my first purple tomato, another lemon cucumber, more herbs to dry, and lots more bell peppers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One Local Summer Week 8

It's been a trying week and with temperatures being as hot as they are I haven't felt like cooking a whole lot recently. Or when I have I haven't had the time. So when I did get the time to cook a full local dinner and inspired by Ree's beautifully photographed post, I turned to breakfast. That's right, breakfast by way of good old eggs and potatoes with a local twist. We, my daughter and I, harvested the first of our mini bell peppers. They only get to be a about 1-2.5" in diameter and are very sweet with none of the bitter after taste that I have detected in your average grocery store varieties. We also pulled up a bunch of our onions. The day before we made the potatoes. The peppers and the onions were diced and added to some diced potatoes from Bigg Riggs farmers market stand that were placed on foil squares. A dash of salt, pepper and paprika was sprinkled over each pile along with a generous spoon full of South Mountain Creamery butter. I then sealed up the foil packets and roasted in the oven. The next day I reheated a servings worth, cooked up fried eggs from Potomac Vegetable Farms and served with Becky's whole wheat toast with butter and home-canned blackberry jam made from berries we picked at Great Country Farms. All in all a very satisfying way to have a quick, local meal.