Posts Tagged ‘eat local challenge’

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs

Monday, October 13th, 2008

An essential component of a DC summer, we finally had our Old Bay-doused, steamed Maryland blue crabs* this weekend at Quarterdeck. Nothing like cutting it close; Columbus Day is generally the end of crab season. It was less crowded than at the peak of summer though, and these meaty, sweet jumbo crabs were worth the wait.

The toddler was pretty into the mallets, but stuck to crab balls and fries for eating. Quarterdeck is conveniently located just up hill from National airport, so the steady stream of airplanes taking off helped keep him entertain while we picked crabs. Yum.

* This year’s farm bill contained funds to help farmers reduce run-off into the Bay, to help our endangered crabs. And the environment, too.

Eat Local Challenge, Week 1: Sweet Potato & Sausage Skillet Saute

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

The first few days of the Eat Local Challenge were not terribly successful, as they coincided with a work conference that required me to eat several meals in a hotel. One lunch was particularly comic in its seasonal schizophrenia, with asparagus atop sweet potatoes. The weekend farmers market visits enabled me to re-stock the fridge with dairy, bread and produce to be better prepared headed into this week.

locally-made coffee cuff, #eatlocal bfst on TwitPicMy ulterior motive with the challenge is to be more disciplined in eating not just local foods but healthier as well. My requirement to eat something local at every meal has forced me to eat better at breakfast, which is by far my biggest problem area. I am not a morning person, and despite my love of coffee I do not have the skill or patience to make my own first thing in the morning. So I wind up eating unhealthy pastries along with my morning latte. Now, I could claim compliance by buying the locally-baked pastries at my local coffee shop, but I’m trying to improve upon that by actually eating the wonderful local yogurt I always have in the fridge. A slice of locally-baked bread, toasted, with homemade plum jam rounds out the meal and really doesn’t take all that long. I am fortunate in that my son usually eats his breakfast at daycare, so I have some time to get into a healthy routine before he learns from my bad example!

We have had some good mostly-local dinners. This hearty sweet potato and sausage saute was perfect for a rainy evening. Sunday was grilled flank steak and squash, Monday was the leftover steak in veggie-loaded salsa rice. And for those curious, scroll down to the bottom of this post for a list of the local products we’ve eaten this week, and their sources.

Recipe: Sweet Potato & Sausage Skillet Saute


  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 links Italian sausage, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch tatsoi (or spinach), rinsed
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Instructions: Bring a pot of water to boil and cook sweet potato chunks until just tender, about 6 minutes. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and brown sausage. Remove from pan, reduce heat to medium and add garlic and onion. Cook 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent. Drain sweet potatoes and add to skillet. Place tatsoi on top, pour soy sauce and additional olive oil over top, cover and let cook until tatsoi is wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in sausage, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Serve over quinoa or rice. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin

  • steak, Fauquier’s Finest via Let’s Meat on the Avenue, Va.
  • milk & butter, South Mountain Creamery, Md.
  • sweet potatoes, tatsoi, onions, Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA, Va.
  • squash, tomatoes, Medina & Sons, Va. (@ Alexandria West End market)
  • goat cheese, yogurt & Amish-baked sticky buns, Tom the cheese guy, Pa. (@ Del Ray/West End markets)
  • apples, pears, grapes, Papa’s Orchard, Pa. (@ West End market)
  • rye bread, Uptown Bakers, Md. (@ West End market)
Shop Local Purchase of the Week: A locally-crafted fabric coffee cuff (pictured above), at St. Elmo’s coffee shop. And I’ve remembered to keep it in my purse to re-use!

Beer Can Chicken + Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

This is a favorite fall meal, when we’re in the mood for roast chicken but it’s still nice enough outside to grill. The only problem is that we rarely have cans of beer in the house, but I improvised by pouring beer into an empty coke can instead. The beer steams the chicken from within resulting in an incredibly moist chicken. I also stuff the can with fresh herbs (green onions, parsley and garlic chives here) to add even more flavor. And, as with an oven-roasted chicken, the leftovers and bones can be used for several more meals during the week.

Recipe: Beer Can Chicken


  • 1 can beer
  • several stems green onions
  • fresh parsley
  • ¼ c butter
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs.

Instructions: Preheat the grill to medium (350*). Open the beer can and pour out (drink) about half. Poke several holes around the top, and stick herbs in the can’s mouth. Place on a large plate or stand. (If you don’t have a stand, you can balance the chicken on the grill using the can and its legs to form a tripod.) Soften the butter and stir in the sugar and seasonings. Rub the mixture under the chicken’s skin and all over the exterior. Place the chicken over the can and carefully transfer onto the grill. Grill over indirect medium heat for 1 hr. to 1 ¼ hrs. Remove from grill (very carefully!) and let stand for 5 minutes before carving. Serves 4.

Recipe: Grilled Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 t cumin

Instructions: Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Spread butter over cut sides, sprinkle sugar and cumin over the top. Wrap in foil and place on grill, away from the flame, for 40 minutes. Serves 2-4. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin

Eat + Shop Local Challenge

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Today is the first day of the Eat Local Challenge*, which lasts the month of October. Despite my enthusiasm for the One Local Summer challenge, I hesitated a bit before deciding to join the ELC. It’s not that I don’t think we can eat entirely local, but more that I was wondering whether we really should. I’ve decided that we will give it a go, but not be overly dogmatic about it. And I hope to discover and share a few ways busy families can incorporate local foods into their menus without going to crazy extremes.

Our Eat Local Challenge goals for the month are to:

  • Eat one local ingredient at every meal.
  • Explore local sources/alternatives for seafood, snacks and sweets – the three “s” pitfalls.
  • Extend the “buy local” enthusiasm beyond food.

As I was thinking about this post yesterday, I received an alert that DC’s oldest independent bookstore chain, Olsson’s, had abruptly gone out of business. They had recently closed my favorite location, one that (along with my favorite chef) helped revitalize a neighborhood of DC that I was told not to walk through after dark when I first moved here. Apparently they were unable to save the remaining locations in the bankruptcy proceedings. It’s a stark reminder of one of the reasons I started eating locally, which is to support our local economy, our local small and family businesses and farms. I love that we have the option, in our neighborhood, of shopping somewhere other than the Big Red Giant, and would like to keep it that way. I will be heading over to our new (!) children’s bookstore ASAP – and pledge to buy something in one of our neighborhood shops each week this month. (No, not gratuitous consumerism – I’ll be looking to get an early start on my holiday shopping.)

This month is also marked by Blog Action Day, October 15, when bloggers from around the world will blog on the topic of poverty. I launched FoodieTots on Blog Action Day last year, so you can bet we’re participating this time. Stay tuned for how.

Anyone else giving the Eat Local Challenge a try? Or here’s a starter challenge – will you buy one local ingredient each week? I’ll personally suggest a recipe or menu around your item if that helps – just shoot me an email at foodietots at gmail com! Happy eating, locally!

FarmFreshDC, September – Apples + Squash

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Local Food and Local Farms

September is a wonderful month at our local markets, with tomatoes and peaches mingling with winter squash, sweet potatoes, the return of salad greens (arugula!), and sweet, crisp apples. Now that we’ve roasted, salsa-ed, gazpachoed, and preserved a gazillion tomatoes, we’re embracing fall and highlighting a few DC-area bloggers who are making the most of the season’s fresh produce.

One of my favorite squash vendors, Three Way Farm at the Del Ray Market, reports that summer zucchini is winding down fast with the shortening days. I shredded and froze a few more pounds today, and am ready to embrace butternuts, spaghetti, acorns and all the other winter squash that add serious heft to my fall market basket…

“Appy? appy” need an appy!” is a frequent refrain in our house these days. Aside from the stash of little delicious, honey crisp and such we keep on hand for snacking, I buy some of the bigger, tarter varieties for cooking. (Jonagold and Matsu this weekend, from D&S Farms at Del Ray.)

Of course it’s not all squash and apples, check out a few other seasonal ideas.

We will be participating in the Eat Local Challenge for the month of October, so check back for updates & we’ll see you October 24 for the next FarmFreshDC round-up.