September 5, Day 248

This past Labor Day, despite the rain, we ventured out to Madison County to partake in the Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour. Meeting the people who grow my food means a lot to me, considering I’m putting a lot of trust (um, and my health) in their hands. Since Virginia is not a small state, there was no way I’d be able to visit all the farms I regularly purchase produce from but we were able to make it to two: Wolf Creek Farm and Brightwood Vineyard and Farm.

I was thoroughly impressed by the tour given by John Whiteside of Wolf Creek Farm. He spoke about every aspect of the failing American food culture and was honest about the dangers of not paying attention to where your food comes from. After the tour, I felt like I had learned more from him in those two hours than I had in many classes during college. That says something. (It also says something about college courses. I can’t recall a single thing from Molecular Cell Biology — I’m looking at you, Professor Wormington.) I’ve gotten to know John and Mihye this year as I frequent their stand at the Farmer’s Market every week. They’re kind and humble people who can strike up a conversation with anyone and have plenty of advice about cooking (the beef kidney sitting in my freezer right now is a testament to that). Being able to see the open pastures where the cattle live was a great thing for me to witness. I know that the beef I consume has been treated well and humanely – they’ve had good lives.

Brightwood Vineyard and Farm was up next on our tour. I venture to their stand on Saturdays and taste some of their homemade jellies and jam. As soon as we parked, it kind of felt like home. Comfortable, unhurried, patient. In an odd way, it reminded me of my grandparents’ farm in Guatemala. The animal tour was great – got to see lots of chickens, donkeys, sheep, ducks, goats, and some vegetables afterwards. We sampled the jellies and wine and bought one of each since we’re suckers for good food (who isn’t?). By the end of the tour, the rain got the better of us and we headed home shortly thereafter (not before stopping by Rev Soup for some late lunch).

Slowly but surely, I’ve been taking baby steps towards being more appreciative of my own food. I recently bought herbs to grow at home and I bought a mushroom growing kit (which my inner 5 year old could not pass up). In the coming years, I want to grow my own vegetables at the very least. It’s funny but I think I can taste the difference between produce that’s been cared for and produce from a factory (perfect-looking but flavorless). I consider myself really lucky that I have access to plenty of local, beyond-organic food here in Virginia; I wish more people were aware of how easy it is to get (and make!) good food.

August 29, Day 241

I spent a lot of walking around town today! I’ve been making an effort to use my car less and less and since I haven’t been having the best of luck trying to find a small-framed bike, I’m using my legs instead. After spending my morning at a local coffee shop, I went on a mini photo-walk on my way to the gym. Virginia is a really quirky place.

Yeah, I was confused by this, too.

Pumpkin!

I find it hilarious that I wear  kid’s size 4 Chuck Taylor’s with hearts on the inside to a CrossFit gym.

August 28, Day 240

Post-hurricane weather in Charlottesville produced the most beautiful day this summer (in my humble opinion). Sunny and bright with slight breezes to cool you down. We spent the day around town appreciating the little things that we don’t get to do year round (like Sunday brunch!). Inspired by brunch at Brookville Restaurant, I wanted to remake their steak and eggs with my own ingredients for dinner. Using all local ingredients, this was my result! Fried farm eggs over forest-fed ground pork sauté topped with asian hot sauce (side of broccoli for my daily dose of veggies).

August 27, Day 239

For those living under a rock (or you know, not the East coast), Hurricane Irene is pummeling through and actin’ a damn fool. Since Charlottesville is on the outskirts of her wrath, it’s been raining all day. Luckily, it hasn’t been anything more than that and hopefully everyone is staying safe tonight. In preparation for the storm, I made sure that our bellies would be satiated and happy throughout the night.

First up, homemade soup – the Big Girl version. Having recently bought some stew meat from Wolf Creek Farm through Relay Foods and having a lot of beef stock in the freezer, it was time for some comfort food for a rainy afternoon. Again, I acted by intuition and not by recipe (because it’s more fun that way). I added essentially every vegetable I had in the fridge: onions, red peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes (technically a fruit?). Seasoning: garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. It sat for almost four hours on medium-low heat, until the meat was tender and falling apart. Verdict: it tasted like home, which is exactly what I was aiming for.

Next up (obviously) was dessert! My challenge for today was a No Bake Chocolate Cake. I’m going dairy-free and this involves heavy cream but meh! Life’s too short and there was a hurricane coming. That being said, at least I made sure that it was grass-fed heavy cream from Natural By Nature.

This was so decadent! I didn’t let it sit for long enough so it was still a bit soft but in my opinion it only added to the velvety flavor and texture. The chocolate-coffee combo blended with the richness of the cream is to die for. And it’s boyfriend-approved! Super easy to make!

August 25, Day 237

Just wanted to share some of my experiments from today.

1) Homemade soup! Used homemade beef stock from here, added mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and let it boil & simmer for a while. Didn’t really know what I was doing but it tasted awesome! A decent little treat in the afternoon.

 

 

2) Beef kidney! Ok, people already think I’m weird enough as it is but I *heart* eating offal. My mom would buy and cook organs when I was a kid so I’m used to the odd flavors and textures, it’s quite comforting actually. We made a quick stir-fry with some miso (also from Wolf Creek Farm) and boy, that added a lot of flavor! I’m gonna admit that it was more successful than the first time we cooked beef tongue.

Days 220 – 222

Can you believe it’s (almost) the middle of August already? I think I was too busy melting in the heat to realize time was actually passing by. Soon the leaves will start turning that vibrant red I love so much. In the meantime, I’m trying to do my best to absorb as much vitamin D as I can (mosquito bites permitting).

 

 

Since completing the Whole30 back in June, I’ve lost an additional 2lbs, totaling 10lbs lost. I went from 130lbs down to 120lbs which is fine and dandy but all actions must have reactions. This has apparently affected my strength which does not please me. We did a CrossFit total (max effort on the backsquat, shoulder press, and deadlift) recently and my lifts were not what I expected. While I PR’d on my backsquat (up to 146lbs!), my shoulder press and deadlift suffered. This bruised my ego a little bit because I had worked really hard to get my shoulder press up and I love deadlifting (no, seriously). Time to hit the gym hard(er)!

 

WOD: CF Games 2011 Events 8-10 (I hate rowing and I hate wall balls. This confirmed it)

 

My go-to snack: spoonful of almond butter. Don’t judge me.Sometimes, after a long day at work, you just gotta appreciate the beautiful sunsets

 

 

Days 211 – 219

Alright, confession time: I’m definitely going through a blogging lull. It’s an incredibly busy time right now (including my first time shooting at a wedding, mastering kale, working too many doubles, double-under whip burns, driving like a mad woman around Virginia, and barely getting enough sleep) so I hope I’ll be inspired to blog/write more in the next couple of weeks. Can I get a free pass for these pictures?

Beautiful bride, beautiful wedding. A great experience for me.

A completely local breakfast. Forest-fed sausage, poached eggs on top of Swiss Chard. I love you, Charlottesville City Market.My love affair with okra is only getting worse.

Artwork done completely in chalk on the Downtown Mall’s Freedom of Speech Wall.

I was testing out my own recipe for kale chips (they’re really good, btw) but my battery died before I could photograph the entire process. Sorry :(
Red Velvet Cupcakery in Reston, VA. So rich and decadent. 
Chris has been away all summer teaching the Spirit of Atlanta drumline. As you can see, it’s a terrible life. (His friend Drake, who also teaches, laying on the floor).
Recipe for Saturday night: stuffed eggplant. Two of the main ingredients pictured.
An Italian-inspired dinner: basil cauliflower rice, topped with balsamic ground beef and peppers, side of grape tomato & almond salad, red wine for effect.
Events not pictured: slowly but surely converting my mom to the paleo diet, my first strict chin-up (!!!!), becoming a composting expert, reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, and double-under war wounds. And lots of other things that I can’t remember. C’est la vie!

Days 206, 208, 209

Do you ever have those days when you’ve got a thousand thoughts/ideas running through your head but can’t fully grasp a single one? That’s kind of how this week has been thus far. Quite frankly, I’m blaming it on coffee.

Spent Monday night at a coworker’s Good-bye get-together at a local bar. It really says something when you like hanging out with your coworkers outside of work; trust me, it’s miserable when that’s not the case.

No picture for Tuesday night because it completely slipped my mind but I had a delicious dinner with the ladies from CrossFit Charlottesville at a local burger joint.Ha, all my other friends must be sick of me talking about CrossFit but these girls understand!

Wednesdays are always long days but highly productive. It proves my theory that a person is far more productive the busiest days. Spent the evening talking photography with fellow photogs at the Charlottesville Photography Initiative’s Small Discussion Groups. For those unfamiliar with the group, it’s a great way to converse with other photographers and get inspired to try new things. The feedback you receive is priceless as they actually know what they’re talking about. I got home and made myself my favorite dessert as of late: canned coconut milk, frozen berries, and a drizzle of Barlean’s Chocolate Raspberry Swirl. Om nom.

Ah, sweet Thursdays. Thursdays are my days off and have become my mental rest days (not physical rest days). Went to the gym in the morning to complete Fran for the first time – wowza, that’s a killer. I can’t believe that there are people who can complete it RX in under two minutes (video). Spent the rest of the day reading, lounging and cooking (obviously). I’m making kale chips about once a week now and I think I’ve perfected the recipe (after several smoke alarm mishaps). I made two batches this afternoon and somehow managed to devour both by dinner (hey, a girl’s gotta eat).

Before and after.

Side note: while relaxing this afternoon, I thought I’d give the old pull-up bar a try and managed to get my first strict chin-up! I danced around for about a minute or two to celebrate.