Posts Tagged ‘beef’

FRESHFARM Week: Me(a)t Smith Meadows Farm

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

The capital’s own FRESHFARM Markets is celebrating their 15th anniversary this weekend. Led by co-founders Ann Yonkers and Bernadine Prince, the now 11-market network in the metro Washington area (DC, Maryland and Virginia) has been promoting “local food with a face, a place and a name” throughout the Chesapeake foodshed since July 4, 1997. Alice Waters herself shops the original Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market when she’s in town, and local chefs proudly feature FRESHFARM farmers on their menus all across town. There will be an official celebration Sunday, July 15, at Dupont. Leading up to the big day, we here at FoodieTots are going to introduce just a few of our favorite FRESHFARM producers — the farmers we know by name and whose products grace our table every week.

Up first is Smith Meadows of Berryville, Va. You see, I believe in meat. I support Meatless Monday not because I’m anti-meat, but because I believe we should think before we consume it. And when we do, it should be healthful meat raised with care by farmers who are dedicated to the environment. Grassfed meat is richer in nutrients, leaner, and free of GMO feed and other bad things that come from feedlot meat.

smith meadows short ribs

Smith Meadows is an eighth-generation family farm that converted from conventional farming to natural methods in 1989. Farmer Forrest Pritchard practices rotational grazing of the farm’s cows, lambs, pigs, turkeys and chickens on pasture that is never treated with chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

Nancy Pritchard makes fresh pasta each week from their free range eggs, organic flour and herbs, produce and cheese either from their own or other local farms {lemon verbena pasta pictured below}. Smith Meadows’ eggs are often the first to sell out at the market. We’ve enjoyed their brisket, pork, turkey, lamb and much more over the years.

smith meadows pasta

You can find Smith Meadows each week at FRESHFARM Dupont Circle — and at the Del Ray Farmers Market in Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church markets.

(You can learn more about what it takes to run a farm like Smith Meadows on Farmer Forrest’s blog or find them on Facebook. You know we’re on Facebook, too, right? Get all our latest posts, and more, right in your news feed.)

At the Fairfax County Farmers Markets: Ready-to-Eat

Friday, August 14th, 2009

So, I don’t know if you’ve heard me mention it, but last week was National Farmers Market Week. Unfortunately I didn’t top last year’s personal record of five markets during the week; in fact, I only made it to four as our weekend plans were curtailed by a sick child. But, I did take advantage of the chance to revisit the McLean Farmers Market for the first time this season, and to finally check out one of the markets managed by Smart Markets, Inc.

One of the things I love about farmers markets is that it feels so European to pop by a market and pick up something fresh for dinner that night. Unfortunately, the after work/school rush to get something to eat on the table doesn’t exactly evoke the leisurely French lifestyle I have in mind most nights. So when we can visit a market and get something already cooked, or that we can eat right on the spot, that’s a winning formula in my opinion. Here are a couple prepared food options that we came across on our market crawl.

mt olympus peppers vaMcLean Farmers Market: This market is held on Friday mornings, so if you time your visit near the end you can pick up lunch in the form of Emine’s savory baklava, some fresh peaches from Reid’s Orchard, and dessert of Middleburg Creamery ice cream or a whoopie pie (pumpkin or chocolate) from Valentine’s Country Bakery & Meat. Be sure to take home a Shoo-Fly Pie from Valentine’s for later. If there were an award for most colorful market stand, I’m pretty sure Mt. Olympus Farm would win hands down with their amazing rainbow array of sweet and hot peppers. (McLean Farmers Market, Fridays, 8:30am-12:30pm; Valentine’s can also be found at the Fairfax County Oakton, Annandale, Mount Vernon and Reston markets, not to be confused with the Reston Smart Market, below.)

Reston Smart Market: This market was lighter on produce and heavier on the condiments and baked goods, including two pastry shops and Anne’s lemonade and bread stand. There’s also a winery table, for your after-work happy hour sipping, and a children’s story-time area in the center. There was a kids’ cooking lesson taking place as well, though I have to confess that my son turned up his nose when asked if he wanted to help make a salad and made a beeline to the man offering free cake samples instead. We met two young men from New York who are learning the farming ropes in preparation for starting their own organic farm in the future; in the meantime, check out their Grinning Greens line of vinaigrettes and marinades.

reston smart market va

After a quick round of samplings we made our way to the gleaming silver food cart of Local Sixfortyseven. You may have read about this recent addition to the burgeoning local food cart scene; the husband-and-wife team of Derek and Amanda Luhowiak are taking farm-to-table on the road to area markets and cooking up juicy fresh burgers from Fauquier County’s Angelic Beef, Polyface hot dogs and soups and salads featuring ingredients from the markets or their own garden — on eco-friendly compostable dishes, no less. (Though I didn’t notice a composting bin at the market?) I’ve always lamented burger joints that don’t serve milkshakes, but after sampling Sixfortysix’s blackberry ginger thyme pie I’m fairly confident in declaring that burgers and pie may just be the new happy meal.

local sixfortyseven pie

(Reston Smart Market, Reston Town Center, Thursdays, 3:30-6:30pm; but Jane Black notes that Local Sixfortyseven is not guaranteed to be at Reston every week. Find them on Facebook to stay up-to-date.)

Don’t Forget! Submit a photo of your tot(s) at the market to the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets Flickr pool by August 31 and you’ll have a chance to win a kid-sized reusable market tote filled with foodie goodies. For an extra entry into the drawing, blog about your local farmers market with a link back to this post &/or retweet a link to the “Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets” contest. More bonus points for sharing why you love your farmers market.

Free Range, Grass-Fed Beef (and Pork and Chicken)

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Part V of the Sustainable Family Supper series, and my submission to this week’s Fight Back Friday, hosted by the Food Renegade.

It’s probably obvious by now that we are not vegetarians by any means. I actually did abstain from red meat for nearly 5 years during my idealistic youth (high school and college) for “ethical” reasons, but was converted back during a Christmas visit to my Italian grandparents who served meat three times a day. My now husband, then friend, took me out for my first post-vegetarianism steak when I got back to college after the winter break. I was ecstatic to finally be able to order In-n-Out burgers with meat, and jumped back into omnivorism with barely a second thought. Fast forward nearly a decade, and my renewed interest in healthy, sustainable food led me to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’d already sampled local, grass-fed meats from local farmers markets on occasion, but wasn’t fully committed to paying the higher price on a regular basis. Pollan’s book and my subsequent research set the ball rolling and we now strive to eat only grass-fed, pastured, hormone-free and preferably organic (and GMO-feed free) meat. I still have a little omnivore’s guilt when eating lamb or veal (cue cute baby animal images), but I was inspired to hear local sustainable agriculture hero Bev Eggleston speak at a Slow Food dinner last year about his own conversion from Berkeley vegetarian to pig farmer. As he explained, to solve the problems of conventional meat production you have to participate in the process and use your dollars to vote for sustainable solutions.

grass-fed pastured beef cows

Why Grass-Fed, aka Pastured, Meat? Without getting into the complex and hotly-debated issue of whether grass-fed cows fart more than feedlot-cows (yes, there are real scientists researching that!), there are true health benefits to grass-fed meat. Plus, you avoid supporting “Confined Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs or feedlots), which are essentially concentration camps for animals and which I am sure you have heard about elsewhere. (If not, read this, this, and/or this.) Other benefits include:

  • Grass-fed meat is higher in vitamins, especially vitamin E and D, which only comes from exposure to sunlight.
  • Grass-fed red meat is leaner, lower in fat and calories than conventional, and higher in better fats (Omega-3s).
  • Grass-fed means no genetically-modified (GMO) corn or soy feed, reducing the amount of corn byproducts (pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.) you consume. (You have seen King Corn, haven’t you?) – health benefits via Eat Wild.

One thing to note about grass-fed meat is that in much of the U.S., it is a seasonal product. Alice Waters reportedly turned down EcoFriendly’s meat for her Inaugural dinner event because it was not available fresh in January. In the winter, animals can’t always graze outdoors so be sure to ask your local vendors what they’re feeding in the winter months — ideally, it will be organic feed they grow themselves. If it is entirely grass-fed, you’ll probably have to buy it frozen. Just defrost it gently in the refrigerator and be sure not to overcook (medium rare is ideal), as leaner grass-fed meat becomes tough if overcooked.

Where to find grass-fed meat: The first place to look for local, grass-fed meat is your local farmers markets. Visit localharvest.org to find a market or ranch near you; Eat Wild‘s state-by-state grass-fed directory can also help. At the grocery store, ignore the meaningless “all natural” label and choose organic if you can, but ask the butcher if they carry any grass-fed brands. (If not, ask them to consider it!)

Grass-fed Meat in DC/NoVA: Joel Salatin’s Polyface, featured in Omnivore’s Dilemma, is right here in Virginia, and you can purchase their meats through their buying clubs. Bev Eggleston’s EcoFriendly co-operative is created in the Polyface model (Bev worked with Joel before branching out on his own) and is the gold standard for family-farmed, pastured meat in the area, with many of DC’s and NYC’s top chefs relying on EcoFriendly meats (including Cathal Armstrong at Restaurant Eve and Todd Gray of Equinox). Other smaller, family-owned farms are represented at nearly all of our local farmers markets. I’ve personally sampled and recommend the following:

  • Babes in the Woods, (Dillwyn, VA); rare-breed, forest-fed pork; at Old Town Alexandria, Clarendon and Charlottesville Farmers Markets.
  • Cibola Farms (Culpeper, VA); buffalo, pork, beef, goat, chicken; available at Dupont, Penn Quarter, Mt. Pleasant, Kingstowne, Burke, Falls Church, Reston, Dale City, Mt. Vernon, Fredericksburg Farmers Markets.
  • EcoFriendly (Moneta, VA), beef, pork, lamb, poultry, rabbit, Arlington/Courthouse and Dupont Farmers Markets.
  • Fields of Athenry (Purcellville, VA); lamb, beef, poultry; see website for drop-off locations.
  • Hilldale Farm (Palmyra, VA); organic chicken; at West End Alexandria Farmers Market.
  • Smith Meadows Farm (Berryville, VA); beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, goat; at Chevy Chase, Courthouse, Columbia Pike, Del Ray, Dupont, Falls Church, Glover Park, Palisades, Takoma Park Farmers Markets.
  • Smith Family Farm, (Gainseville, VA); beef, pork, poultry; at Burke, Kingstowne, Occoquan, Palisades, Vienna Farmers Markets – and on Twitter!

Local (NoVA) Butchers:

And look for the Spring issue of Edible Chespeake, with a cover story on buying beef directly from the farmer.

Fresh from the Fields of Athenry

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

If you’ve ever taken a close look at the lamb that floods the grocery stores around this time each year, you might have noticed that it nearly all comes from New Zealand or Australia. Even our neighborhood butcher, who sources most of his meat from here in Virginia, gets his lamb from outside the area.  But looking to create a more sustainable Passover/Easter menu last year (we celebrate both, so Easter dinner is usually leavening-free, though not strictly Kosher), I was thrilled to meet the “lamb lady,” Elaine Boland, at our local organic grocer, MOM’s. We served her leg of lamb last Easter and found it to be the freshest, most tender, and flavorful lamb any of us had ever tasted.

Sadly, MOM’s no longer stocks Elaine’s lamb (they have a largely vegetarian customer base), so on a recent sunny spring day my sister-in-law, the toddler and I hit the road to visit the farm in person. Fields of Athenry, near Middleburg, Va., is just over an hour’s drive from the District. The family farm is nestled in the foot hills of the Bull Run Mountains, and the drive through Virginia’s horse country with freshly blossoming trees and new spring grass just popping up could not be more refreshing.

sheep

Pulling up to the stately country house, a troupe of friendly dogs rushed out to greet us. A voice called from down the hill, beckoning us down to the watering station and chicken coop. Geese chased each other in the pond, while ewes and lambs lazed about in the sun. A chicken sauntered up and lured the toddler to follow him over to see the chickens and (heritage) turkeys nesting. Two llamas and a horse rounded out the menagerie, all looking content as they soaked up the sun on the grassy hillside.

chicken farm virginia

After visiting with the animals, we ventured into the store. A children’s area with chalk and crayons kept the boy entertained while Elaine and her assistant filled me in on the freshly processed, 30-day aged Black Angus beef that had literally just arrived from the butcher. (Cows and additional sheep are pastured at other locations nearby in Virginia and Pennsylvania.) I picked up some NY strip and short ribs, and selected a lamb shoulder from the freezer. They had just sold most of the lamb to one of the local restaurants they supply. (Last summer, we sampled the phenomenal Baa Baa Black Sheep pizza, with Athenry’s lamb sausage, feta, tomatoes, spinach and balsamic glaze, at Fireworks Wood-Fired Pizza in Leesburg – which, incidentally, has an impressive craft beer list as well as locally-sourced pizza toppings.)

puppy As we witnessed, all the animals raised by Fields of Athenry are able to roam and graze freely, grass-fed and well cared for. In fact, their methods met Alice Waters’ exacting standards and Athenry’s lamb was served at Waters’ exclusive Inaugural dinner party earlier this year.

We had arrived near closing time, and Elaine was rushing out to pick up her kids from school, but took a minute to invite the boy inside the house to meet her 14-day-old puppies. He had been pretty excited by the geese and sheep, (singing “We’re going to the sheep farm, the sheep farm…” as he got dressed that morning) but the look of pride and wonder as he gently held a tiny puppy under his arm was truly priceless. (Click here for more photos from our visit.)

Fields of Athenry is open this weekend (Sat. 10am-3pm, closed Sundays), and is accepting orders for Easter weekend until noon next Weds., April 8. (Note that they will be closed Easter Saturday, so all orders will have to be picked up by Friday, April 10.) They deliver to various drop-off points in Loudoun County (see below), and with enough interest, may be able to arrange a drop-off in Northern Virginia – so do sign up for their email list and let them know if you’d be interested. And if you’d like to visit the farm, be sure to check the event schedule for upcoming “Farm to Community Health Outreach” seminars.

Where to Find: Fields of Athenry’s sustainable meat products (lamb/beef/chicken and heritage turkey for Thanksgiving) are delivered by pre-order to locations in Broadlands, Ashburn, Leesburg and Reston, and are available at the farm five days a week (Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri. and Sat.).

And, their meats are served at Equinox in DC and these Loudoun County, Va., restaurants: Good Stone Inn, Tuscarora Mill, South Street Under, Fireworks, Midas Touch, Bluemont Vineyards, Natural Mercantile of Hamilton, thewinekitchenVintage 50, and American Flatbread.

Lastly, one of my favorite Passover/Easter lamb recipes is “Roasted leg of lamb with Artichokes” from Gourmet. I’ve also made one with a shallot red wine sauce, but can’t find it at the moment.

(Shared with Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday – check out the round-up for great info and ideas from fellow real foodies.)

Sesame Beef Stir-Fry

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

The weather here has suddenly plunged from 80 degrees two weeks ago to practically freezing. The first frost means the last of many vegetables at local farms, and last week we got the final batch of fresh green beans in our CSA bag. I discovered during our sushi experiment that my toddler loves sesame seeds, so that was the inspiration for this fast and easy Sesame Beef Stir-Fry. Perfect served with leftover sushi rice, or any rice or grain you have on hand.

Recipe: Sesame Beef Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 lb. flank steak, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices

Marinade:

  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 t dried ginger
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce

Sitr-Fry:

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 t chili garlic sauce (more to taste)
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T sesame seeds

Instructions: Whisk together marinade ingredients and pour over flank steak in shallow baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Heat wok or large saute pan over medium high heat. Add oil, then cook beef slices until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate or bowl and cover to keep warm. Add garlic and radishes, cook 2 minutes, until radishes soften. Add green beans and cook 2 minutes more. Return beef to pan and stir in chili sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds and remove from heat. NOTE: For heat sensitive younger eaters, you may wish to separate their portion before adding the chili sauce. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!