A Farmtastic Weekend

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It has been really cold in Richmond for the last week, and I have gladly stayed bundled up indoors at work for a few days. I broke out my fleece-lined tights for the first time this winter, and I wore scarves in my office every day. Towards the end of the week, it started to warm up (a little bit), and a peek at the forecast revealed that we were expecting a sunny, chilly weekend, followed by a few days of icy rain. Early Saturday morning, I decided to seize the day and take full advantage of the sun while it lasted. First stop: South of the James Farmers Market!

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I wrote about my history with Haas Mushrooms last week, and writing that post made me realize how much I missed visiting the market every weekend. The stark difference between the cold weather outside and my warm and toasty bed inside has prevented me from making the trek to Forest Hill Park for several weeks. However, I used to make it to the market by 7:30 every Saturday, rain or shine, so this week I decided there was no room for excuses! It was below freezing while I picked out my mushrooms this week, but they were totally worth it.

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How cool is this funny looking guy? This is a lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), also known as a sheep’s head, hedgehog, or pom pom mushroom. I picked up a mixed bag from Haas and researched this odd looking mushroom that I found in my bag when I got home. Like many mushrooms, it has remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. This type of mushroom contains 20 percent protein and is specifically well known for its unique nerve regenerative properties. One article that I found particularly interesting was this one from Paul Stamets for the Huffington Post blog: “Lion’s Mane: A Mushroom that Improves your Memory and Mood?” The healing properties of food never cease to amaze me. I am so looking forward to experimenting with cooking this cool find.

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In other weird food news, it’s Romanesco Season! I could not resist picking up this gorgeous head of romanesco from Walnut Hill Farm Produce at the market this weekend. It was so cold out there that this thing had tiny icicles hanging from its florets.

After returning home and thawing out, I packed up my car, picked up a friend, and headed west to Powhatan State Park for a hike. It was only in the thirties, but the cloudless sky provided plenty of sunshine, which made me feel a little warmer on my trek through this fairly new state park.

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This park is about a 45-minute drive from Richmond and it offers hiking and mountain biking trails, campsites, playgrounds, canoe launches, and beautiful views of the James River. Established in 2003 and still under construction, the park’s facilities are in great shape. I paid $4 to enter the park and there were very few cars in the trailhead parking lots. My friend and I only saw one other hiker and one cyclist while we were there. We took the Turkey Trail and River Trail to a few gorgeous views next to the icy river.

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As the sun started to fall closer to the horizon, we headed out of the park and drove about 15 miles to Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery for their release of the Vanilla Virginia Black Bear Russian Imperial Stout.

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The brewery is located on a beautiful farm surrounded by rolling hills. We made it there in time for the sunset, and the enormous fire pit was our favorite amenity, especially as the sun faded away and the temperature started to drop. I have wanted to visit the brewery ever since they opened but had not made it out to Goochland to check it out yet. The farm and the brewhouse were beautiful and the beer was delicious. The owners and the other beer nerds in attendance were very friendly and the whole release party had a very laid back vibe.

I think I’ll really enjoy visiting the farm again when the weather warms up in the spring. I believe their next big beer release is in March. Now that I’ve had my fill of the great outdoors, and the forecast promises icy rain for the next two days, I’ll be drinking my stout indoors, in fuzzy bear slippers, until next weekend rolls around again. Cheers!

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Get Your Free Relay Foods Virginia’s Bounty Basket!

To thank me for writing a message of support for the Go With Bo campaign, my friends at Relay Foods are offering a special deal for Veg:ology readers.

They are offering a FREE Virginia’s Bounty Basket to ALL Veg:ology readers who want to give Relay Foods a try.

You can discover a wide variety of locally grown produce in this amazing mixed basket, which is also available for weekly refills, similar to a CSA share. Just to give you an idea of what is included in the basket, which changes every week, here is what was included in the Richmond basket, half share, for the week of 9/17/12:

  • Harvest Hill Farm Sweet Potatoes, about 1 lb. (2)
  • Harvest Hill Farm Collard Greens, per bunch (1)
  • Henley’s Orchard York Apples – Half Gallon (1)
  • Local Food Hub Red Juliet Tomatoes, 1 pint (1)
  • Local Food Hub Carrots, 1 lb. (2)
  • Harvest Hill Farm Virginia-Grown Yellow Squash, about 1 lb. (1)
  • Local Food Hub Red Leaf Lettuce, 1 head (2)
  • Local Food Hub Red Bell Peppers (2)
  • Vintage Virginia Apples Heirloom Apples, about 1 lb. (2)
  • Local Food Hub Yellow Onions, about 1 lb. (1)
  • Harvest Hill Farm Large Eggplant, each. (1)

To claim the offer, simply visit RelayFoods.com, build an order for one Virginia’s Bounty Basket, half share (retail value $40) plus $10 worth of additional groceries, and enter the promotional code RelayVeg at checkout. The cost of the basket will then be deducted from your total. You can select your pickup date and location, then after Relay does the shopping for you, pick up your groceries from one of their friendly employees.

It’s that easy!

Please note that you do have to live in the Relay Foods service area, and their minimum order amount is $50 so you do have to order additional groceries to take advantage of this offer.
I recommend closing the gap with some of my favorite local products:

  • Blanchard’s Coffee whole bean coffee
  • NoBull veggie burgers
  • Homestead Creamery milk
  • Twin Oaks organic tofu
  • The Farm at Red Hill salsa
  • Montana Gold Bread Co. 9-Grain Bread
  • Bearer Farms’ Local Wildflower Honey

So, tell me!

Have you tried Relay Foods before? Will you try the Virginia’s Bounty Basket? If you have tried it, what did you think?

Go With Bo 2012: Eat Local with Relay Foods

Have you heard that Relay Foods has launched Go With Bo 2012 for this year’s campaign season? It’s a campaign to get the word out on all the food-related platforms they stand for, that includes support messages from local organizations and bloggers as well as information about topics relevant to Relay Foods shoppers.

I am honored that Veg:ology is included in Bo’s “Kitchen Cabinet,” and I was very excited to write a post about eating local for the campaign kickoff.¬† Check out my article, Seasonal Changes in Local Produce, and my recipe for autumn apple slaw over on the Go With Bo tumblr page, and let me know what you think.