Farmers’ Market Haul 05.26.12

Although I got to walk around a bit at the farmers’ market this week, Kyle did most of the shopping again. I was too busy shopping for the SOJ Market Chef Demo to pick up everything we needed at home. Check out recaps of the demonstrations on my Market Chef page. We jam-packed this week’s demo time with a ton of dishes and samples! Richmond market shoppers really benefited from the abundance of colorful, delicious produce this week. I chatted with visitors to the demo tent and even met a blog reader who stopped by to say hello (hi Alex!). While I socialized and helped out, Kyle got some great loot this week. I think he’s really getting the hang of this!


This week at the market and into my kitchen:

  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Beets
  • Asparagus
  • Red potatoes
  • Red spring onions
  • Bombolini black pepper linguine

I used the kale and onions that very night when we hosted Adrienne from hippie itch and her husband for dinner. On the menu: dragon bowls! I set up a create-your-own-bowl bar, just like a salad bar or burrito bar, and I think it worked out pretty well.


We had so many ingredients and toppings to choose from:

  • steamed brown rice
  • baked five spice tofu
  • braised kale with rice wine vinegar, sautéed onions and fresh ginger
  • stir fried broccoli slaw and baby carrots
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • crushed wasabi peas
  • tiger sauce
  • sriracha
  • hoisin sauce
  • soy sauce
  • fresh cilantro

We ate outside on the back porch and enjoyed a few craft beers while we chatted. It was the perfect way to relax after running around at the market and on errands all day. Saturday Success!

SOJ Chef Demo 05.26.12


This week at the South of the James Farmers’ Market, there was a rainbow of fresh produce among the stalls. It was evident that everything is really starting to come in, and we can now enjoy the end of the spring harvest and the beginning of the summer. With the holiday weekend in mind, Chef Sam Baker showcased the colors and flavors of this season with a parade of salads and sides that were fit for shoppers’ cookouts, picnics and dinner tables.



First up was a kohlrabi slaw made with Norma’s kohlrabi, parsley, dill and onions, plus Amy’s organic tri-color carrots. The matchstick sliced vegetables were tossed with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil, vinegar and herbs for a refreshing seasonal salad. Next, the Chef made chips from thinly sliced beets and potatoes from Walnut Hill Farm Produce.


There was also a sautéed vegetable medley made with Amy’s organic yellow squash and tri-color carrots, Walnut Hill beets with sautéed beet greens, and a medley of sautéed beet greens and Victory Farms Swiss Chard with Ault’s Spanish chorizo.


This week marked the debut of the Vegology Veg of the Week board, which features fun facts about a particular market item each week. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ll spell it out for you: the star of this week was beets.


The Veg of the Week board also features an excessive amount of exclamation points. Apparently I can’t contain my excitement about fresh local produce. Walnut Hill Farm had gorgeous red beets and Touchstone gold beets for the feature. A lot of market shoppers hopped on the beet train for the first time this week, and I hope they have luck cooking them at home. You can learn more about beets in these past Vegology posts: We Got the Beet and (Almost) Free Greens.


Later in the morning, the Chef got fresh duck eggs from Empress Farm, which inspired a breakfast dish. Later shoppers were treated to samples of brunch food made with fresh, local ingredients. Prepared in about 15 minutes, these dishes would make an easy Sunday morning meal at home.


The Chef made French toast with Empress Farm duck eggs, Montana Gold Challah bread and Alfredo’s local honey. On the side were red and white potatoes cooked into home fries and topped with a duck egg Hollandaise sauce.


We have seen so much green at the market throughout the spring, and it was really exciting to see some bright new colors pop up on the tables this week. Who knows what next week will bring!


Thanks to Alfredo’s Honey, Amy’s Organic Garden, Ault’s Family Farm, Empress Farm, Montana Gold Bread Company, Norma’s Produce, Victory Farms, Walnut Hill Farm Produce, and all of the other featured market vendors for producing this week’s fresh and tasty ingredients.

Visit the Market Chef page to see other SOJ Market cooking demo recaps.

(Almost) Free Greens

If you love greens as much as I do, you probably pick them up weekly at the grocery store or farmers’ market. I usually get at least one or two bunches a week of kale, spinach, chard, or other greens. Today I want to let you in on a little secret that you may not have discovered for yourself yet. When you buy root vegetables with the greens on, do you discard the greens?

Did you realize that every time you buy beets or turnips at the farmers’ market, you essentially get two vegetables in one? I almost always cook the greens in addition to the root, which reduces waste and saves me money. I have found that while some greens work better with certain flavors than others, I can usually swap the greens called for in a recipe for whatever I have on hand.

Turnip greens are surprisingly delicious, and beet greens are both tasty and attractive on the plate. As with all leafy greens, these taste great simply sauteed in oil with fresh garlic, salt and pepper. A little vinegar added to the pan toward the end of cooking helps cut the bitterness of most greens.

Next time you are at the market, select produce with bright, crisp greens and you will enjoy two vegetable side dishes for the price of one. If you need ideas for preparation, here are a few of my favorite greens recipes. It is okay to substitute root vegetable greens for all of these recipes, and they should still turn out fantastic.

Vegetarian Collard Greens

Mediterranean Braised Chard (sub capers for anchovies)

Beer-Braised Turnip Greens

Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans & Tomatoes

What is your favorite way to prepare greens?

Farmers’ Market 05.19.12

This week I changed it up and sent Kyle to find our farmers’ market haul. I was helping out with the SOJ Market Chef Demonstration , so I was unavailable for grocery shopping that morning. I did manage to get a break or two to wander around the market, but Kyle had to do the deal hunting and produce gathering this week. I gave him a few guidelines and he did an awesome job! He even remembered where he got everything so I could share the grower info here as usual.

Read my recap of this week’s Chef Demo here. Chef Sam showed us a wasabi sesame crusted swordfish recipe that I bet would be great with Twin Oaks tofu for those of us who pass on the fresh fish. Also check out Kyle’s farmers’ market loot right here:

In this week’s haul. . .

  •  Mixed greens (Victory Farms)
  • Mint (Victory Farms)
  • Turnips (Victory Farms)
  • One HUGE bag of spinach (Walnut Hill)
  • Asparagus (Walnut Hill)
  • Carrots (Walnut Hill)
  • Strawberries (Agriberry)

On one of my breaks from the demo tent, I picked up this Legend brown ale mustard from Simply Savory. I can’t wait to try it out in my Engagement Tofu recipe soon!


The Local Difference

 I have been meaning to share this for a week or so. For those of you who don’t get why local, seasonal produce reigns supreme, check out these strawberries. This photo is of local Virginia strawberries picked in the last two weeks. Notice how vibrant the red color is and how deliciously juicy these look. They are fantastic this time of year.

Now consider the strawberries you get mid-winter that are imported from warmer climes. They could be from California, Mexico, or even farther away than that, but they are not fresh local strawberries. Have you ever noticed the hard white centers and pinkish flesh? These strawberries are usually picked underripe so that they can make the long trip over thousands of miles to reach your grocery store shelves. Strawberries do not continue to ripen after being plucked from the vine, so the color and flavor will never fully develop for these strawberries the same way that it does when they stay in the warm sun on the vine until ripe.

Start eating fresh local strawberries on the regular and you won’t even want the out-of-season stuff. They are that good! See also, tomatoes.

Have a lovely week!

Farmers’ Market 05.12.12

This weekend, I hit the South of the James Market right at opening with Kyle, Adrienne (hippie itch), and Adrienne’s adorable dog Roary. It was her first time at this market and I really enjoyed showing her around. I hope you enjoyed those fresh strawberries, Adrienne, and I hope the pups liked their locally made treats too!

There are so many vendors at SOTJ that it seems like you are always finding something new. This holds true especially at this time of year, when there is a new fruit or vegetable popping up each week. In the Spring, the arrival of the first batch of something new each week moves us along as we slowly build up to the fanfare of fresh produce that we will see mid-summer. This gorgeous pile of carrots joined the greens, asparagus, and strawberries at the market this week.

Also new this week was the South of the James Market Chef Demonstration. Sam Baker of the Hermitage Grill took his place next to Alfredo’s Honey at the east end of the market for the first time this week. Sam shopped the market, then prepared a fresh meal before onlookers, who then sampled Sam’s creations. On the menu this week was a pan roasted Empress Farm rabbit, marinated in oil, Bombolini vinegar, black pepper, sea salt, and Simply Savory’s Legend Brown Ale Mustard.

The Chef also prepared sauteed vegetables straight from the market stalls: yellow squash, carrots, Asian kale, Swiss chard, scallions, tomatoes, and garlic shoots. Check it out next time you’re at SOTJ and grab a sample!

Here’s what I picked up at the market this week:

  • Beets (Walnut Hill)
  • Radishes (Victory Farms)
  • Broccoli (Victory Farms)
  • Swiss chard (Victory Farms)
  • Kale (Victory Farms)
  • Turnips (Heath Farm)
  • Cilantro (Pleitez Produce)
  • Strawberries (Pleitez Produce)
  • Eggs (Black Creek Farm)

Once again we have a ton of greens to eat – more on that later. Also, Kyle has been on a radish kick lately, which has inspired me to get pretty creative with them in the kitchen. I should have a good radish recipe to share later this week.


Farmers’ Market 5.5.12

If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out my OXO Salad Dressing Shaker Giveaway and enter for your chance to win. All entries must be received by the end of the day on Monday, May 7th and I will announce the winner on Tuesday, May 8th!


The time has come! The South of the James Market opened this weekend! This was my first SOJ Market since moving into the new house, and therefore the first one I could walk to. Check out my beautiful new route for heading to and from the farmers’ market!

Forest Hill Park is so gorgeous any time of year, but especially in the spring, when everything is in bloom! Next time I plan on getting up extra early and having a coffee on my back porch before trekking over to the market. This time, Kyle and I were too excited for Crossroads iced coffee and bagels with the works to make anything at home beforehand. We wandered over unfed and uncaffeinated as soon as we were ready, and we ordered breakfast first thing.

These chewy bagels topped with cream cheese, tomatoes, micro greens, capers, basil, salt and pepper are one of the highlights of the SOJ Market. These are Kyle’s reward for helping me carry the bags of fresh produce.

Here’s the loot!

  • Swiss chard (Victory Farms)
  • Green onions (Victory Farms)
  • Mustard greens – which Kyle insisted on for some reason (Victory Farms)
  • Salad mix (Victory Farms)
  • Radishes (Walnut Hill Produce)
  • Asparagus (Walnut Hill Produce)
  • Strawberries (Agriberry)

We will definitely get our fill of greens this week! The Swiss chard looks beautiful but Victory Farms told us it is waning, so we are trying to savor it while it’s still available. We also splurged on some cookies from Hispania Bakery this week. We sampled two varieties and they were out of this world! We had a really difficult time deciding which to buy but we ultimately picked up the Spicy Chocolate Diablo cookies. We’re suckers for chocolate and chile.

The South of the James Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday in Forest Hill Park from 8am to noon, May 5th through December 1st.

Farmers’ Market 11.12.11 and Neighborhood News

On Saturday morning, Kyle and I headed out to the farmers’ market to check out the seasonal produce and take in the beautiful fall colors. We don’t have much time left to enjoy the weekly market that takes place in Forest Hill Park from Spring through Fall. The South of the James Market moves indoors in three weeks.

I was delighted to find these beautiful persimmons from Agriberry.

Here’s this week’s loot:

  • Kale (Victory Farms)
  • Sweet Potatoes (Walnut Hill)
  • Beets (Victory Farms)
  • Arugula (Victory Farms)
  • Jiru Persimmons (Victory Farms)
  • Garden Cress (Walnut Hill)

Kyle and I drive over the same bridge every week to visit the SOJ Market. It has a gorgeous view of the river, and I love taking in the scenery from Byrd Park to Westover Hills all the way to Forest Hill Park. This afternoon we decided to head out on the pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge to snap some sunset photos. Can you believe the sun went down at 5:00 PM tonight? It wasn’t a great sunset, but the company was nice.

We found out some great news this week that will cause me to miss my weekly trips over the Boulevard Bridge.

We are buying our first home and it is located south of the river. The SOJ Market moves out of Forest Hill in three weeks, and we move in in about five. Starting next spring we will be walking a very short distance to the market every week. No more driving over the bridge. No more tripping over each other in our tiny kitchen. No more capping the number of party guests at ten. We couldn’t be happier.

At this time of year, the shorter days, colder nights and falling leaves typically cause us to fixate on endings. But in light of current events in our household, all we can think about is exciting new beginnings!

Have a wonderful week!