Spring Greens.

Now that the farmers market is flush with fresh, local greens again, I find myself buying several varieties from various vendors weekly.  Every meal has some sort of green worked into it, but towards the end of the week, I find I need to start getting creative with the slightly fading greens. Continue reading

Something new.

New Roots Farm has a semi-regular stand at the city market that sells produce grown at the community garden sponsored by the International Resource Committee here in Charlottesville. The garden sprung out of wanting to help refugees feel at home as many of them have a farming background, while also giving refugees access to fresh food, particularly some harder to find items from their home. By selling some of the excess produce, refugees learn new skills and earn some income.  (Here’s a nice article that ran on them this past July) When I see their stand at market, I like to check out what they have to offer because it’s a good opportunity to try something new while also supporting a wonderful project. On a recent visit, this caught my eye:

squash

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Going native.

pawpaw1Pat came across some pawpaws on a recent fishing trip and brought them home for me to experiment with. For the uninitiated, pawpaws are a native fruit not typically found in the grocery store or even at farmer’s markets.  They tend to fall off the tree when they are fully ripe, which happens to coincide with them being incredibly delicate. This delicateness is a large part as to why they aren’t well known – they don’t travel well and need to be eaten almost immediately while giving off an aroma that permeates the surrounding area. They smell like they taste, tropical and yeasty – think a slightly fermented mango-banana mix.  They aren’t much to look at – shades of green and black. Peel the skin off to find pulpy, soft flesh littered with large seeds, that require some work to get to the fruit. A 3″ pawpaw produces a surprisingly small amount of pulp. It takes a number of fruits to be able to make something with them, so if you come across some, grab more than you think you’ll need. They can be eaten raw, but they bake well too, especially when paired with dairy. Continue reading

Variations on Hot Pepper Sauces.

My friend Cynthia is always generous with both her pepper plants as well as her peppers.  For a few years now, I’ve made a hot pepper sauce using her peppers (or peppers from plants I’ve gotten from her which I still count as Cynthia’s peppers) that gets rave reviews from those who’ve had it.  My secret is that I ferment it, which is how Tabasco is made and that was the hot sauce I wanted to replicate.

About how many peppers I harvest a week thanks to the 40 or so plants I have this year.

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A workshop with the master. And a festival!

IMG_6549 (1024x683)It almost escaped my attention that Sandor Katz was speaking at the Heritage Harvest Festival up at Monticello this past weekend.  Upon discovering this news, I immediately booked myself a spot in his morning workshop that was billed as a ‘premium workshop‘, meaning in addition to forking out money for a festival ticket, I shelled out money for the workshop as well.  I mention this because I pretty sure I haven’t paid to attend any sort of food or wine related event in a solid 15 years or so, with the last one I paid for also held up at Monticello – a canning and food preservation class (which yes, was THE class that began my canning odyssey), managing to get into all the events I’ve attended over the years for free. I found out later I probably could have finagled a free entry for this, but in the interest of karma, I figured it doesn’t hurt to actually pay for something once in a while. Continue reading

Fun with peppers.

Thanks to the generosity of friends, my off-site garden is planted heavily in peppers.  I bought a few plants, but then found myself being handed oodles of pepper plants from friends and neighbors and one anonymous donor* that had run out of room in their gardens for all the pepper plants they had started/bought. I seriously have about 40 pepper plants (having bought 6) down there, most of which are heirloom chile peppers, but there are a few sweet ones too.

IMG_5713 (1280x853) Continue reading

Squashapooloza

Last week a friend asked me what we’d been having for dinner recently.  “Squash” was my quick reply.  Between what the garden has been putting out and what friends have shared with us, we’ve had squash in some form or another for at least one meal a day since some time in July.  I keep snapping photos along the way, meaning to share recipes with you (and me, because I often use this blog as one of my many recipe storage sites), but I just haven’t gotten around to it, so here we are with one big squash post instead. Continue reading