Archive for April, 2010

May Farmers Market Openings in Northern Virginia

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Tomorrow begins the 2010 farmers market season for much of Northern Virginia. And, our Virginia farmers tend to be the first in the area with ripe strawberries, so be on the look-out for them in the next couple weeks!

Alexandria: The West End Market in Ben Brenman Park opens this Sunday, 9am-1pm. Alma from Westmoreland Berry Farms brought fabulous homemade tamales to the market last year, perfect for a post-shopping lunch in the park. And a soup vendor will be joining the market this year, among other new additions. The Upper King Street Market opens Wednesday, in the triangle across from the King Street Metro, and runs weekly from 3pm – 7pm. (Alexandria‘s Del Ray and Old Town markets are year-round.)

Arlington/Falls Church: The Ballston Farmers Market is moving to Thursdays, 3pm-7pm. The Crystal City Farmers Market, now run by FreshFarm Markets, opens Tuesday, May 18, 3pm – 7pm. (The Courthouse, Columbia Pike, and Clarendon markets in Arlington and the Falls Church Farmers Market are year-round.)

Fairfax County: Fairfax County-sponsored markets, in Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Vienna/Oakton, Wakefield, Herndon, Annandale, Kingstowne, Burke, McLean, Reston and Lorton, all open this coming week. The independent SmartMarkets, in Centreville, Fairfax Corner, Herndon, Oakton, Reston and in Maryland at National Harbor, have staggered opening dates over the next couple weeks.

Loudoun County: The Loudoun Valley Homegrown Markets Association opens their markets in Ashburn, Brambleton, Cascades, Leesburg and Purcellville this weekend.

Grab your kids, cameras and reusable bags and get out there and enjoy the markets this weekend!

Grow Green for Earth Week (5 links for Friday)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I have a special Earth Week-themed collection of links to share today, but first a few pieces of personal news. I was too wrapped up in bake sale prep last week to share this with you all, but I’m thrilled that FoodieTots was listed on Babble.com’s Top 50 Mom Food Bloggers list! If you haven’t already, check out the full list for more great blogs to follow.

And, I have also been selected as a featured contributor at TheMushroomChannel.com. I’m really excited to share my love for healthy cooking with a great group of fellow fungi-lovers — so stay tuned for my first post over there in a couple weeks.

And now for our regularly scheduled links for your weekend reading. This week marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. For those of us who try to make every day Earth Day, here are five links to help you Grow Green:

  1. Pamela at Red, White & Grew has a registry of gardening bloggers by state, perfect to find local inspiration or someone to call on for advice if you’re a rookie gardener like me.
  2. If you don’t have space for a kitchen garden, You Grow Girl shares how to grow salad-ready microgreens on your kitchen windowsill.
  3. Growing green indoors can help improve your home’s indoor air quality. Find tips for selecting the right houseplants at Simple Organic.
  4. Putting more green on kids’ lunch plates — through school gardens and a farm-to-school program — is just one goal of the DC Healthy Schools Act, which is headed for a final vote by the full DC City Council on May 4. If you live in the District, read more from the DC Farm to School Network and please contact your council member today. (And forward to anyone else you know in DC!)
  5. I love love love this idea for a “Home for Wayward Weeds” from Laura at Chicken Counting. The foodie tot is so excited about his new gardening tools that he constantly wants to dig, rake and pick — this is perfect to keep him busy and our young seedlings protected!

And a bonus #6. Katie at goodLife {eats} put together a great list of Mother’s Day gift ideas for edible gardening, and is giving away a set of her selections, too.

Bake Sale for Kids a Sweet Success (and Lemon Cupcakes)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The DC Food Blogger Bake Sale for Share our Strength, held this past Saturday at Eastern Market, was a great success. We got off to a slow and chilly morning, but business picked up as the crowds grew throughout the morning. I’m pleased to report that we raised $612 to fight child hunger right here in DC — plus a sizable donation of leftover goodies to The Carpenter’s Shelter in Alexandria. And overall, the National Food Blogger Bake Sales raised … over $16,500!

We had about a dozen bakers providing tasty treats that included cookies, cake balls, biscotti, pound cake, whoopie pies, lemon bars, pretzels, cupcakes, granola and even dog biscuits. Here are some of our volunteers as we set up in the morning:

Ken of Indoor Garden(er), Colleen of FoodieTots, Sally of Come to the Table, Cathy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen, Martha of A Measured Memory, Amber of Live Love to Bake

My contribution was lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting. I had a hard time finding a simple lemon cupcake recipe, but the Barefoot Contessa came through with a cake recipe that was easily adapted to make yummy, moist, pound cake-like cupcakes. I got too late a start baking to put the Foodie Tot to work in the kitchen, but he contributed his artistry on our signs.

Recipe: Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Ina Garten/Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • zest and juice of 1 large lemon (1/4 cup juice)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cupcake liners in lightly greased muffin tin. In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and lemon zest and mix until combined. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, lemon juice, vanilla and lemon extracts. Gradually add flour and buttermilk mixtures to the mixer bowl, mixing until batter is just combined. Bake 17-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cool thoroughly before frosting. Makes 2 dozen.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (Organic)

Ingredients:

  • 2 8-ounce boxes of organic cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Instructions: Cream butter and cream cheese in bowl of mixer until smooth. Add sugar, mixing at medium speed until smooth, then add vanilla and lemon extracts and mix another minute. Add additional sugar if needed to reach desired consistency. Frosting will be soft, so you may want to refrigerate for 30 minutes before frosting cupcakes. Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes, and then some.

Here are some of the other treats shared on Saturday: Cathy from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen’s Fregolatta and Nutty Fruity Granola; Martha of A Measured Memory’s Oatmeal Cherry Pecan Cookies; Dskco of Lunching in the DMVs Pound Cake; lemon bars and whoopie pies from Sally of Come to the Table; and the strawberry rhubarb jam that filled Jenna of The Modern Domestic’s oatmeal cookie sandwiches. Thanks everyone who baked, shopped and helped spread the word!

Asparagus with Eggs (Meatless Monday)

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I don’t know how much of it can be attributed to the fact that asparagus is the first fresh new vegetable of the spring, but my love affair with these crisp stalks grows each year. This is my favorite way to enjoy them, and works as the ultimate market-fresh, fast-food meal whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Getting my son to embrace asparagus with the same enthusiasm has been more difficult. One day last spring, after I’d all but given up, he snatched one off my plate declaring, “Ooh, a giant string bean!” — and then proceeded to devour the rest of my serving! Since then it’s still been hit or miss, and I’ll switch between calling them asparagus or “super string beans” just in case the terminology makes a difference. I keep making them the same way I made them that time, though — pan-roasted with butter rather than oven-roasted with olive oil. I think the butter gives a sweeter carmelization, and I prefer it even if he doesn’t always appreciate them.

While I prefer them with poached eggs, the runny yolks serving double-duty as dressing, you can certainly try it with your kid’s favorite style of eggs. Mine is obsessed with hard boiled, lately.

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, poached
  • grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • fresh chives, finely sliced (optional)

Instructions: Heat a large skillet (I prefer my cast iron) over medium high heat. Melt the butter, then add asparagus and cook, turning just once or twice, until stalks begin to brown in spots, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm while you poach the eggs. Divide asparagus and arrange on dinner plates. Gently place one poached egg on each plate, on top of the asparagus, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with French bread or whole wheat toast. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Toddler-friendly tip: You can trim the asparagus into shorter pieces and encourage your little one to dip them into the yolk.

Welcome to the FoodieTots Kitchen Garden

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

As we traveled down the path of eating more locally, it was hard to escape the feeling that maybe we should try growing some of our own food, too. Because we weren’t planning to stay in our current house as long as we have, I never broke ground for a garden and just made do with an herb pot last summer. We closed on our new house on Friday, though – perfectly timed with the last frost date for our area. So what did we do Saturday? Put in our starter garden bed. (Normal people might pack or move first, but I was afraid it would be too late by the time we got settled in.)

In the past I’ve had a small blueberry bush and a very prolific raspberry patch, so I know I *can* grow something. As we’re expecting baby #2 in just two more months, I tried to start small. We (namely the husband) made a 4’x6’ bed, with 10” wide planks. The bottom is lined with cardboard, and then filled with 6 bags of organic soil and 1 bag of organic compost (the compost was unintentional, I wasn’t paying attention when the garden center employees loaded the car).

I set aside an end row for the boy, and let him pick his crops. Aside from the requested “cheeseburger plant,” we were able to plant the rest of his wishlist: carrots (orange & purple), broccoli, strawberries, and a pumpkin. My rows contain more of the carrots, French radishes, beets, and a low-growing pea, with an open space for cherry tomatoes and peppers to come later. (Why are we gardening? When I showed him my pea seeds, the boy said, “But peas don’t grow on plants! They come from the store!” The husband asked where the store gets them from, and he said, “New York!”)

Of course, I’ve already made a couple rookie mistakes: namely, trying to buy garden supplies on the first day of planting season – and a gorgeous, sunny, mid-60s day to boot. We wound up with fir planks rather than the cedar I wanted – I’d read that cedar is a natural pest deterrent. I can only assume it’s my punishment for going to Home Depot rather than an independent lumber dealer … the characteristically helpful service from Home Depot (note sarcasm) prompted me to proclaim on Facebook that I wanted to take on a new challenge: a year without Home Depot. We did go to an independent garden center for the rest of the supplies (organic soil, seeds, a window box for herbs, and the strawberry plants) – and we have at least two independent hardware stores near the new house which we will be checking out soon. The broccoli and beet seedlings came from our new neighborhood’s farmers market. Between the cost of the wood, organic soil ($14/bag) and those pricey strawberry plants ($3.99/each), I’m not sure we’ll break even on our garden this year. But it’s a learning experience, right?

At any rate, here’s week one of the FoodieTots Kitchen Garden:

See more photos of the construction at Flickr. And stay tuned for progress reports throughout the season.

Do you have a kitchen garden? What are you growing?

This post is part of GrowCookEat at goodlifeeats.com ~ visit the roundup to learn more about kitchen gardening.