Archive for April, 2011

Opening Weekend at DC/VA/MD Farmers Markets

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I’ve been spoiled to live by year-round markets, but my heart still skips a beat at the first spotting of bright green stalks of asparagus after a long, cold winter. This past weekend I lucked out and found the season’s first Northern Neck strawberries, too — much to the Foodie Tot’s joy. (Yes, he did a dance after peering into my market bag.)

black rock orchard asparagus

But May brings the opening of many of the area’s seasonal markets — including Fairfax County markets, the Alexandria West End market (Sundays, 9am-1pm — **note, opening has been delayed until next Sunday, May 8), the FreshFarm Crystal City market (Tuesdays, 3-7m), and others. happy strawberry danceThe FreshFarm Market by the White House opens next Thursday (3-7pm), and one of my favorites, West Virginia’s Bigg Riggs Farm, is joining the market this year. (You can also find them at Crystal City and Alexandria’s Old Town and Upper King Street Markets — and they’ve had ramps the past couple weeks.)

If you’re headed out in search of asparagus this weekend, Northern Virginia magazine offers some pointers on how to choose and prepare them. Me, I roast them in olive oil and sea salt for about 8-10 minutes (400 degrees), until just tender enough for the baby to gnaw on.

That’s right, the Foodie Bebe has already savored her first asparagus. The boy’s fancy for it comes and goes. (Though I did discover he likes it better if I pan roast it in the cast iron skillet with butter instead of olive oil, and a little parmesan cheese never hurts.) Do your kids like it?

Royal Rhubarb Ginger Scones

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I confess, I’m excited about the Royal wedding. My great grandmother grew up in England, after all, emigrating to the US as a teenager. (Technically, my grandfather’s family also had British origins, but as they came to America in the 1600s I think that’s stretching things a bit.) So I plan to set the alarm early on Friday, sip tea out of my great-great-grandmother’s china and enjoy a scone while watching the festivities. These rhubarb scones are the perfect blend of sweet, tart and spicy to wake you up. Too many rhubarb recipes drown rhubarb’s pleasant tang in sugar or cover it up entirely with strawberries — these go in the other direction, boosting the spice with little bits of crystallized ginger.

british rhubarb ginger scones

Recipe: Rhubarb Ginger Scones
adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add cream and mix on low speed (or by hand) until just combined.
Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured cutting board and gently knead the rhubarb and ginger into the dough.  Shape it into a round disk, about 1-inch thick, and then cut into wedges.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the wedges onto the baking sheet. Brush with the reserved 2 tablespoons of cream, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool, and enjoy! Makes 8-12 scones, depending on how big you slice them.

Bringing Greens to Inner DC

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Happy Earth Day! I was going to write with some Foodie Tots tips for going green — you know, plant a garden, join a CSA, go meatless, yada yada yada, but I’ve got some other exciting news instead. The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture — an awesome new nonprofit effort launched by local Neighborhood Restaurant Group — is just dollars away from raising the necessary funds to launch DC’s first ever Mobile Food Market. Check out the video, and if you’re so moved, consider chipping in a buck or two to get the bus on the road! (As of this post, they just need $90 dollars in the next 24 hours — so close!)

mobile market on kickstarter

I am so excited about what Arcadia has in store and look forward to visiting the farm later this spring for a first-hand look.

Foodie Tots in the Garden: Planning & Planting

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Our first year kitchen garden experiment didn’t yield a whole lot in terms of edibles, but the pride in the four-year-old’s face as he told people (family, neighbors, total strangers in the garden store…) about his garden made it all worthwhile. He may not have liked the sungold cherry tomatoes, but he loved to pick them whenever we had company and pass them around.

This year we’ve got a head start with strawberries already flowering! A rhubarb plant I was sure I had killed — let’s just say it never quite made it out of its plastic pot on the deck last summer… — grew back this spring and is more than ready for a permanent home. I tasked the boy with choosing his four plants for this year, and here’s what he drew:

foodie tots kitchen garden

In case you’re wondering, that’s a hot dog plant between the sunflowers and strawberries. The fourth plant is peas.

We’ll plant the sunflowers elsewhere around the yard, and together we’ve come up with the following list for our garden bed:

  • strawberries
  • multi-colored carrots
  • peas (a warm-weather variety this year)
  • French breakfast radishes (my choice)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • basil
  • peppers

I have a pot on the deck to replant with mint and rosemary, plus my window sill box for the rest of our herbs. I’d also like to put a few berry plants in but we’re still figuring out what to do about our rolling hillside gently-sloping backyard. Also, I’m pretty sure we have a resident groundhog (??) about, as something got through my bunny fence last fall and made of with the carrots while we were out of town.

Have you planted seeds yet this spring? What are you growing? (And don’t forget, there’s just about 24 hours left to enter to win your own copy of The Whole Family Cookbook.)

FoodieTots Review: The Whole Family Cookbook (and giveaway)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

If there’s such a thing as a family food superhero, my friend Michelle Stern surely is one. Founder of a certified-green cooking school in the San Francisco Bay area and author of the What’s Cooking with Kids blog, Michelle was invited to the White House for the launch of Chefs Move to the Schools and is leading the charge for school lunch changes in her own school district. Somehow she also found time to write The Whole Family Cookbook — a hands-on guide to getting kids into the kitchen. Her no-fuss recipes have a color-coded guide to which steps are appropriate for different age groups, and special green boxes geared to kids provide interesting facts and explanations about ingredients and sustainable eating. (And answer the question, how do those seedless watermelons reproduce, anyway?) A seasonal recipe index is a nice starting point if you’re looking for ideas for what to do with this week’s CSA or market haul. My favorite part about this book is that its recipes are simple, real food — not overly cutesy or filled with sugar. Michelle shares my philosophy that kids can get excited about healthy food, too — really!

We made the A-B-C Frittata (recipe reprinted below). He’s been very excited about learning his letters at preschool, so it was a natural choice. (For extra fun, ask your kids to think of other A-B-C combinations … like avocado, banana and coconut!) It was the boy’s first time using the box grater — grating cheese is my least favorite cooking task, so I think I may need to invest in one of the circular graters Michelle mentions in the book so he can more easily do it on his own. He also peeled the apples and cracked eggs. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, noted below, but it is definitely one we’ll be making again. The boy loves quiche, and frittatas are a little faster to put together (no crust) — also Passover-friendly for those of you observing this week, though of course you’ll want to omit the bacon if you keep kosher.

foodie tot cooks frittata

Read on for the recipe. If you’d like to win your own free copy of The Whole Family Cookbook, comment below with your kids’ favorite way to eat eggs. For an extra entry, “like” FoodieTots on Facebook and leave an additional comment here letting me know you have (or already do). Entries will be accepted until midnight (Eastern time) Thursday, April 21. Update: Congratulations to Miriam, the lucky commenter as per the random number generator. Thanks all for your comments and for joining us on Facebook!

(Can’t wait? Buy The Whole Family Cookbook on Amazon or at your local bookstore.)

Recipe: A-B-C (Apple Bacon Cheddar) Frittata
from The Whole Family Cookbook, reprinted with permission

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites**
  • 8 whole eggs**
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 slices bacon
  • Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 2 apples, Fuji or Gala
  • 1 Tablespoon butter**

Instructions:

Put the rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Crack the eggs, one at a time, over a small bowl. After checking for stray shells, pour each egg into a medium bowl. To separate the egg whites, crack the egg over an egg separator or someone’s clean hands. Carefully let the egg white slip through the fingers into the bowl, with the yolk remaining. Discard the yolk or save for another recipe. Using a whisk, beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are thoroughly combined.

Grate the cheese. Younger children can help you use a rotary cheese grater (which protects their skin). Older children can use a box grater. Add half of the grated cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to your liking.

Cook the strips of bacon. You can fry them in a skillet (watch out! They can splatter.) Or, you can bake them in the oven on a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. We like this method because we don’t have to turn the bacon over and the kids stay safe.

Once the bacon cools, crumble the strips with clean hands. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the apple. If you have an apple corer, you may use it. Or, simply cut up the apple, leaving the core behind. Slice the apple pieces very thinly. As you are cutting, be sure to put the flat side of the apple pieces down, so the chunks don’t wobble on your cutting board.

In a medium cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat the butter over medium heat.** Add egg mixture to the skillet. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles evenly over the eggs. Gently arrange the apples on top of the egg mixture, in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Move the skillet from the stovetop to the upper rack of your oven. Bake until frittata is firm in the center and cheese is browned, about 20 minutes. Use a flexible spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan. Carefully slide it onto a cutting board. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing into wedges.

Serves 4.

apple bacon cheddar frittata

** FoodieTots notes: I cooked the bacon in my cast iron skillet, and reserved about a tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan instead of using butter. I didn’t want to have two extra egg yolks leftover, so I used 9 whole eggs. And of course I used cage-free eggs from the farmers market.