Archive for July, 2011

Local Farm-to-Street Party in DC

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Washington, DC’s first ever Farm-to-Street Party takes place tomorrow, Saturday, July 16, on V Street, NW, between 13th and 14th Streets. (Right outside Busboys & Poets.)

eat local first

Part of the inaugural Eat Local First DC local foods week, the Street Party will feature activities for kids, a chance to soak Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal in a dunk tank, a pie-eating contest, and of course, locally-sourced food, beer and wine. The event is sponsored by Think Local First, a coalition of locally-owned businesses supporting sustainable economic development in DC. Buy tickets online ($15, includes 2 food tickets) or at the door.

Getting Social at the Farmers Market

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Summer’s here and farmers markets are open all across the country — even in Minnesota, I hear.* I’ve written before about how fabulous farmers markets are for kids — my son will eat anything a farmer offers him to sample, especially if it comes on a toothpick. Earlier this week we went to the Crystal City FreshFarm Market (Tuesdays, 3-7pm) after school, and after sampling our way from end to end stopped to get frozen yogurt from the Sweetgreen truck. One of the boy’s teachers spotted us in line and called him out for having dessert before dinner, to which he replied, “Actually, I already ate dinner at the market!” (He had quite a balanced meal, really — beef jerky, cheeses (though he declared the ashed-goat log was “weird”), breads, lots of cherries, berries and apple slices, and apple cider.)

frigidaire gowalla badgeThere’s nothing I love more than a good local food-social media collaboration, so I have to share this summer promotion that landed in my inbox: When you check in to a farmers market on Gowalla this summer, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children‘s Kids’ Cooking Academy Summer Session. To trigger another $1 donation and enter for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Gallery┬« French Door Refrigerator, you can make a commitment to eat fresh at www.maketimeforchange.com. (Enter daily until September 20.)

Do you follow your local farmers market on Facebook or Twitter? It’s a great way to get the scoop on what’s fresh each week. Local peeps, you can follow @FreshFarmMktsDC, @DelRayFarmMkt and the West End Market (@knerq) on Twitter. And of course, find us @foodietots.

in season june in virginia

P.S. Pictured above are the first Virginia peaches of the season! Courtesy of Westmoreland Berry Farms at the McLean Farmers Market (Fridays, 8am-noon). Look for bicolor corn, raspberries, blueberries, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, okra and much more at the markets this weekend.

* Our dear friends moved to Minnesota several years ago. The boy has it in his head that Minnesota is practically at the North Pole, so he’s always talking about how they have “snow that never melts” there. In fact, just yesterday I heard the following in the car: “When you made me be born, you didn’t just have a normal human baby, you had me with T-Rex vision! I can see all the way to the North Pole! And even Minnesota!”

Disclosure: As part of the Foodbuzz Publisher Program I received a stipend from Frigidaire for writing about this promotion. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Sour Cherries and the Trouble with Pies

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

What is it about baking a pie that strikes fear into the heart of even accomplished home cooks and, ahem, food bloggers alike? A flaky pie crust is a lovely showcase for summer’s ripest berries and fruit, but it’s that pesky crust that seems to spoil the best pie-making intentions. I’m guilty myself of scrapping plans for a pie to make a cobbler or crisp instead. Even if you have a trusty crust recipe on hand, a pie must be planned for — with the requirement to chill the dough before rolling it out, it simply cannot be left to the last minute. (And then you’re supposed to let it cool before serving — rather than immediately spooning it out and scooping a spoonful of vanilla ice cream on top.)

sampling sour cherries

I dragged lured the whole family out to the Bloomingdale Farmers Market on Sunday to secure the elusive sour cherries* for pie baking. (Reid’s Orchard at the market is one of my favorite sources of summer berries and fruits.) Seriously, the mad rush for sour cherries at the more trafficked DC markets is even to put anyone off baking. Not so at Bloomingdale, where the boy observed the modest line at the berry stand and said, “Let’s come back to this one,” before continuing down to pick an array of summer squashes from Garner’s. We selected hot dogs from Truck Patch for grilling, pastries from Panorama Bakery to consume right there (with iced coffee drinks from Big Bear Cafe next door), and some cheese from Keswick Creamery (and chocolate pudding … for the husband). After cooling down on Big Bear’s patio — where the boy joined several other children in planting himself under the mister — we picked up a pint of Dolcezza gelato to go as well.

foodietots cherry pie

But back to the pie… Pie crust is nothing complicated — butter (or lard), salt, sugar, flour, water. Use cold butter and work quickly, and chill the dough thoroughly before rolling it out. Rolling a pie crust is an essential skill┬á for any child to learn, so sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto your clean counter or cutting board and put them to work — and then, should it turn out less photogenic than you’d hoped, you can just inform your guests that your little one made the crust. ;-)

Now the good thing about pie is that once you conquer your fears of crust-making, the filling is endlessly adaptable. A couple (~4) cups of berries or fruit, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2-cup or so of sugar, squeeze of lemon juice and pinch of fresh herbs or spices. (I like nutmeg with cherries, a tiny bit of rosemary or thyme with peaches, and of course, cinnamon with apples.) Toss them together and pour into the prepared shell, dot the top with butter and arrange your top crust — or strips, latticed if you want to get fancy — over. Crimp the edges (again, no need to get fancy — a quick pinch will do), cut a few slices for venting, and bake. (400 degrees for about an hour, covering edges with a strip of foil to prevent over-browning.) Voila! Now just try to resist slicing into it until it’s cooled.

It’s #PieParty today, a virtual pie bake-fest created by GlutenFree Girl, and more than a thousand bloggers are conquering crust-phobia to share their pie creations.

When pie baking plans go awry (read: kids or life in general get in the way of baking time), here’s a fall-back strategy: pit the cherries (or otherwise wash/prep the fruit you have on hand), toss them with the cornstarch/sugar/spices, and pour into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Stick it in the freezer until another day… and enjoy almost-instant pie.

pickled cherries

* Wondering what else to do with sour cherries? Try homemade bourbon cherries (for the grown ups, of course), or pickle them for a wonderful accompaniment to cheese. If time is less of an issue for you, here’s a recipe to put up sour cherry pie filling for winter, via the domestic guru Mrs. Wheelbarrow.