Posts Tagged ‘hollin farms’

Where to Pick Strawberries This Weekend {Virginia}

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the DC area, though our earlier-than-usual spring means we’ve already been enjoying them for weeks. (As evidenced by, well, my last ten posts, give or take…). Assuming you’re not sick of them yet, here are a few favorite places to get out and pick your own in Northern Virginia:

strawberry patch at wegmeyer farms

  • Great Country Farms Bluemont, Va. (note: GCF charges admission, but is basically a farm adventure land for the kids. Check the website to see about special events.)
  • Hollin Farms Delaplane, Va. (also has pick-your-own seasonal vegetables)
  • Wegmeyer Farms Hamilton, Va. (see comments below)
  • Westmoreland Berry Farms Oak Grove, Va. (on the Northern Neck, they serve barbecue fare and ice cream/strawberry shortcake in season)

foodie tots at Wegmeyer Farms, Va.

A few things to note for a successful berry picking trip:

  • Go early and ALWAYS call ahead to check picking conditions. The farms around here tend to get picked out quickly on nice summer days, and this weekend is sure to be busy.
  • Dress the kids in dark colors (or red) to avoid stains and wear appropriate footwear (e.g., not the flip flops my toddler refused to change out of. They were new, after all, and a girl can’t be separated from her new shoes.).
  • Bug spray and sunscreen/sun hats are a must.
  • You can’t plop a toddler down in a field of the freshest berries she’s ever seen and not expect her to nibble — so be courteous and round up your tab at check-out to cover any excessive in-field consumption.* And if you hope to have enough leftover for jam, you might want to buy twice what you think you’ll need.

We went to Wegmeyer Farms earlier this week, an easy under-60-minute drive from Arlington, and loved it. The berry patch is a manageable size (and easy walking distance from parking) for younger kids. There are a couple picnic tables but unlike some of the larger farms (Great Country and Westmoreland have full-service concessions) you’ll have to pack your own lunch.

The 19th Annual Delaplane Strawberry Festival also takes place this weekend, May 26-27, if you just want to spend the day in the country and celebrate nature’s most perfect berry.

If my kids leave any, we’ll be making strawberry shortcake this weekend. You?

virginia grown strawberries

*The foodie tot heard the farmer say, “Go ahead and taste ‘em,” and promptly shoveled three in her mouth.

Peanuts Come From the Ground, Not Jars {Blog Action Day}

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Last weekend, we headed out to the country for pumpkins and apple picking. It was a gorgeous fall day (at last!) and the farms were packed. At Hollin Farms, we came across an unexpected treat: dig-your-own peanuts! The boy and husband got to work loosening the plants and we all picked through the roots for the buried treasure.

digging peanuts at Hollin Farms

At home, I soaked, scrubbed, roasted and boiled to try our fresh peanuts two ways. FYI, fresh peanuts taste not unlike raw potatoes. With enough salt, however, they are delicious. And the boiled peanuts, still soft in their shells, are oddly addictive.

While I’m not going to start growing enough to make my own peanut butter anytime soon, at least the kids know now that peanuts come from the ground, not jars.

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2011: Food. One of my favorite local causes, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, is bringing schoolkids to their farm on the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation in Virginia to see where their food comes from. Visit their blog for updates from Farmer Mo, and if you’re so inclined, you can support their efforts by attending their upcoming November 5 fundraiser, The Vices that Made Virginia.

Apple Cider Doughnuts {and Where to Pick Apples}

Friday, September 30th, 2011

L’Shana Tova to our Jewish readers out there. It’s customary to ring in the Jewish new year with apples dipped in honey — one tradition taken very seriously by my apple-addicted son. In fact, apples and honey comprised his and his friends’ entire meal last night at dinner — at least until hours later when they were reminded that dessert was reserved for those who had eaten the main course. My son went on a buying spree last weekend at Black Rock Orchard’s stand at the farmers market — where the hand-sized Empire apples were selected as lunch-box worthy, one jumbo honey crisp for that afternoon, Jonamac, Jonathan, and Macoun apples for snacking/baking, and several toddler-hand-sized Seckel pears included for the baby. Even though we’d already gotten bottles of apple cider with our milk delivery, we couldn’t pass up a small jug of honey crisp cider to consume in the park. (Playing Transformers Tag makes one thirsty, after all.)

empire apples black rock orchard

I recently bought a doughnut pan and, in the spirit of the season, decided to test it out with baked cider doughnuts. Now they were delicious, but I’m still on the fence about the use of the word “doughnut” to describe a baked item. Healthier, yes, but really I’d have to say they’re more like muffins in the shape of doughnuts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just wanted to warn you in case you were going into this expecting that crisp fried crust of a traditional doughnut. On the bright side, you can enjoy these every day of the week without the guilt — and they’re safer to bake with kids who aren’t old enough to safely man the deep fryer.

baked apple cider doughnuts

Recipe: Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider*
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup  white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

*For the boiled cider: If making your own boiled cider, reduce one gallon fresh cider in a large, non-reactive pan over medium heat (it should boil gently). It took approximately 2.5 hours for mine to reduce down to a syrup-like consistency. Stir occasionally,  particularly as you near the end of the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. The cider should begin to thicken and coat your spoon, looking almost like maple syrup, when it’s done. Remove from heat to cool, then pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

For the doughnuts:

Preheat oven to 400*. Butter a six-count doughnut pan.

In the mixer bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and spices on medium speed. Add the cider and egg, continuing to mix for another minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix on low speed until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the doughnut pan, being sure to wipe the centers clean of any stray batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes, before turning them out onto a rack.

I dipped each doughnut’s bottom into fresh apple cider, than a bowl of cinnamon sugar for a little extra oomph, but you can serve plain or top however you wish. I’m thinking of a boiled cider glaze (like maple glaze) for next time. Makes 6 doughnuts.

Notes: Making boiled cider is easy and makes your house smell fabulous. I’m glad I made a small batch (1 gallon) so I have an excuse to make it again later in the season.

Where to Pick Apples in Northern Virginia: These are some of our favorite local orchards. They are true orchards, not the “fall fest” type of farms with entertainment and hay-rides, just fyi. Pack snacks (if you require more than fresh-picked apples for sustenance), water and bug spray and wear appropriate shoes for hiking around the orchard, potentially in mud given our soggy September. And always call or check the website before heading out to make sure they’re open for picking.

1. Crooked Run Orchard, Purcellville, Va. (540-338-6642). I’m not aware of any truly organic orchards in the are, but Crooked Run is a “low spray” orchard, meaning they use alternative pest control and fewer pesticides than conventional apples found in the supermarket. They typically have pumpkins and gourds available for purchase as well. 

2. Hollin Farms, Delaplane, Va. (540-592-3574). Hollin Farms has a corn maze, pumpkins and gourds and fall greens available to purchase. 

3. Stribling Orchard, Markham, Va. (540-364-3040). Stribling has a farm store and bakery on site so be prepared to bring home extra goodies. They’ve had very tempting caramel apples in the past.


View Pick-Your-Own Apples in Northern Virginia in a larger map

{Preserving Summer} Bourbon Peach Jam

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I mentioned we recently went peach picking at Hollin Farms in Fauquier County, Virginia. Unfortunately my preserving aspirations exceeded my hands-free time during the week (one so quickly forgets how time-consuming infants can be) so sadly we lost a few to spoilage before I got a chance to put up a batch of jam. (We did enjoy quite a few out of hand … and in smoothies … and in a pie, as well. Nothing sweetens the end of summer like fresh-picked peaches!)

The husband is a bourbon drinker, so I’d been searching peach and bourbon pairings when I came across this jam. I adapted the recipe to follow the ratios specified by Pomona Universal Pectin — if you’ve never used Pomona before, it allows you to use less sugar than regular pectin.  I didn’t weigh the peaches, but this used about 24 or so of my smaller- sized peaches.  I’d picked mostly white peaches (White Lady), but thankfully the boy had picked a few of the scarlet-tinged Red Haven orange variety — which has this brilliant reddish-orange hue beneath the skin. Aren’t they lovely?

Aside from waiting for the canning water to boil (tip: start it before you start cooking the jam), peeling peaches is probably the most time-consuming part of this process. Blanching the peaches may seem like extra work, but trust me, it does save time — and avoids wasting any of that precious peach flesh that you might lose peeling with a paring knife.

How to Peel Peaches:

Bring a pot of water — deep enough to submerge a peach — to boil. Drop peaches in and boil for 20-30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice water bath, then set on your work surface. Peels will slip right off.

Recipe: Bourbon Peach Jam
adapted from Beantown Baker

Ingredients:

1 box Pomona Universal Pectin (follow package instructions for exact amounts of calcium water and pectin)
8 cups mashed peaches
4 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split in half)
1/4 cup bourbon

Instructions: (Before you begin, make sure all equipment is clean and ready. Sterilize jars in boiling water or the dishwasher — here are prep instructions from the National Center for Home Preservation.) Prepare calcium water according to pectin package instructions. Peel, pit and mash peaches. Measure into a large, non-reactive stock pot, and stir in lemon juice, vanilla paste (or bean) and calcium water. In a large bowl, combine sugar and pectin.

Bring peach mixture to a boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, not leaning too closely over the pot as the fumes will be quite potent as the alcohol cooks off. (Remove vanilla bean, if using.)

Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel and screw on the lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and set jars on a dry kitchen towel to cool. You should hear the soft “pop” sound as the lids seal — check to make sure the inner lid is depressed, indicating it’s properly sealed. Store jam in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to enjoy. (This made nine half-pints and one full pint.)

Have you joined the Canvolution? What are you preserving for winter?
canning+across+america+logo This was a grown-up-only endeavor — my just-about-4-year-old lacks the attention span for such a time-consuming project — but if you’re looking to include your children in canning, read this article first.

Local Potluck Tuesday (and fresh picked Sweet Corn)

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

My mom, brother and sister-in-law were in town this past weekend, so naturally I took advantage of the opportunity to have extra hands and dragged them out to an orchard for peach picking. (I have a little one to carry, after all.) We went to Hollin Farms this time in Fauquier County, a hilltop orchard and farm with views that can’t be beat.

And we were in for an extra treat with pick-your-own-corn. The boy and his aunt and uncle picked a dozen ears of Silver Queen sweet white corn, which we then took home and immediately grilled up for dinner, along with our Cibola Farms buffalo burgers. It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

picking corn

Now typically when we make corn-on-the-cob, I cut the kernels off for the boy. I know some kids love biting into a big ear of corn, but I guess it’s a little intimidating when the ear is bigger than your head. Yesterday, Jan from Family Bites shared a recipe on Twitter for “corn coins,” and a light bulb went off. These “coins” are simply short pieces of corn, cut into kid-sized lengths, wrapped in foil packets with butter and seasoning and cooked on the grill. It’s proof that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Sure enough, they boy devoured five of them with dinner. (Thanks, Jan!)

I could eat plain old grilled corn-on-the-cob all summer, but I’ve seen some other corn recipes lately that look pretty tempting, too. Like this corn-and-asiago-cheese bread pudding from the Tennessee Locavore. Yum!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy summer’s sweet corn?

If you’ve got a favorite corn recipe, please share it below — or anything else you’ve cooked up lately from the farmers market, CSA or your garden!

Local Potluck Tuesday — a few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”

2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)

3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.  Of course if you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!